|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:17-21 Let us review the character of Jehoash, and consider what we may learn from it. When we see what a sad conclusion there was to so promising a beginning, it ought to make us seek into our spiritual declinings. If we know any thing of Christ as the foundation of our faith and hope, let us desire to know nothing but Christ. May the work of the blessed Spirit on our souls be manifest; may we see, feel, and be earnest, in seeking after Jesus in all his fulness, suitableness, and grace, that our souls may be brought over from dead works to serve the living and true God.
Verses 17, 18. - The war of Joash with Hazael. A considerable gap occurs between vers. 16 and 17. We learn from Chronicles some particulars of the interval. Not long after the completion of the repairs, Jehoiada, who had lived to a good old age in complete harmony with the monarch, expired. His piety, and his good services, as preserver of the house of David, as restorer of the temple-worship, and joint-repairer with Joash of the temple itself, were regarded as entitling him to extraordinary funeral honors; and by general consent he was interred within the city of Jerusalem, in the sepulchers of the kings (2 Chronicles 24:16). His removal led to a fresh religious revolution. "The Jewish aristocracy, who perhaps had never been free from the licentious and idolatrous taint introduced by Rehoboam and confirmed by Athaliah, and who may well have been galled by the new rise of the priestly order, presented themselves before Joash, and offered him the same obsequious homage that bad been paid by the young nobles to Rehoboam. He... feeling himself released from personal obligations by the death of his adopted father, threw himself into their hands. Athaliah was avenged almost upon the spot where she had been first seized by her enemies" (Stanley, 'Jewish Church,' vol. 2. p. 345). Joash began by allowing the reintroduction of idolatry and grove-worship (2 Chronicles 24:18), and then, when remonstrated with by Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, who had succeeded his father in the office of high priest, had the remonstrant set upon by the people and slain. The writer of Chronicles closely connects this murderous deed with the Syrian war, which followed it within a year (2 Chronicles 24:23), and was generally regarded as a Divine judgment. Verse 17. - Then Hazael King of Syria went up, and fought against Gath. Hitherto Judah had been safe from any attack on the part of Syria, since Israel had been interposed between the two powers. Now, however, that Hazael had conquered from Jehu the entire trans-Jordanic territory (2 Kings 10:33), the case was wholly altered - Judah and Syria had become conterminous along the line of the lower Jordan, and Syria could invade Judaea at any moment. It is surprising that Gath should have been the special object of attack, since Oath (Abu-Gheith) lay remote from the Syrian frontier, in the southwestern part of Judaea, and could only be reached from Syria by an enemy who was not afraid of leaving Jerusalem behind him. Gath, when last mentioned, was a Judaean city, and was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:8); but it was originally Philistine (1 Samuel 5:17), and the Philistines had recovered it before the time of Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6). To which power it belonged when Hazael made war upon it is uncertain. And took it - probably took it by storm, and plundered it, but did not attempt an occupation - and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem. If Gath be Abu-Gheith, as appears probable, it would be distant from Jerusalem not less than forty miles in a direct line. If Hazael, however, was returning to the trans-Jordanic country taken from Israel, it would lie in his way, and might naturally tempt him to make a dash at it, more especially as he was flushed with victory.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then Hazael king of Syria went up and fought against Gath, and took it,.... When Jehoiada was dead, and Jehoash was become an apostate, the Lord suffered the king of Syria to be a scourge to him; who first attacked Gath, and took it, which was formerly one of the principalities of the Philistines, but was subdued by David, and had been in the hands of the Israelites ever since; the king of Syria began with this, as nearest to him, to open the way for what he had further in view:
and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem; he made such preparations, and took such measures, as plainly indicated what his design was.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17, 18. Then Hazael … fought against Gath—(See on 2Ch 24:23).
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