In the three and twentieth year of Joash the son of Ahaziah king of Judah Jehoahaz the son of Jehu began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned seventeen years.
In this chapter the history of the kingdom of Israel is traced through the two reigns of Jehoahaz and Jehoash. In 2 Kings 14 the history of Judah is resumed.
In the three and twentieth year - Rather, the "one and twentieth year." See 2 Kings 13:10.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.
And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael, all their days.
All their days - literally, "all the days." Not "all the days" of the two Syrian kings, for Ben-hadad lost to Joash all the cities which he had gained from Jehoahaz 2 Kings 13:25; but either "all the days of Jehoahaz" 2 Kings 13:22, or "all the days of Hazael" - both while he led his own armies, and while they were led by his son.
And Jehoahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him: for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them.
(And the LORD gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents, as beforetime.
The Lord gave Israel a saviour - Not immediately on the repentance of Jehoahaz but after his death (see 2 Kings 13:25).
They went out from under the hand of the Syrians - i. e. they ceased to be oppressed by the Syrians; they shook off their yoke, and became once more perfectly independent.
Tents - See 1 Kings 8:66 note.
Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel sin, but walked therein: and there remained the grove also in Samaria.)
But walked therein - Rather, "he walked therein," meaning Joash, the "saviour" of the preceding verse.
There remained the grove also in Samaria - It seems strange that Jehu had not destroyed this when he put down the worship of Baal 2 Kings 10:26-28. Perhaps the "grove" or "Asherah" worship was too closely connected with the old worship in high places to be set aside with the same ease as the rites newly introduced from Phoenicia.
Neither did he leave of the people to Jehoahaz but fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; for the king of Syria had destroyed them, and had made them like the dust by threshing.
The meaning is that "he, the king of Syria" (2 Kings 13:4 Hazael) limited the standing army of Jehoahaz.
Like the dust by threshing - An expression not only employed metaphorically, and importing defeat, conquest, and grinding oppression Jeremiah 51:33; Micah 4:12, but implying also the literal use of threshing-instruments in the execution of prisoners of war (marginal reference, and compare 2 Samuel 12:31).
Now the rest of the acts of Jehoahaz, and all that he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
And Jehoahaz slept with his fathers; and they buried him in Samaria: and Joash his son reigned in his stead.
In the thirty and seventh year of Joash king of Judah began Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned sixteen years.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD; he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin: but he walked therein.
And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, and his might wherewith he fought against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
According to ordinary laws of historical composition, these verses should form the closing paragraph of the present chapter.
And Joash slept with his fathers; and Jeroboam sat upon his throne: and Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.
Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.
The closing scene of Elisha's life. It was now at least sixty-three years since his call, so that he was at this time very possibly above ninety. He seems to have lived in almost complete retirement from the time he sent the young prophet to anoint Jehu king 2 Kings 9:1. And now it was not he who sought the king, but the king who sought him. Apparently, the special function of the two great Israelite prophets (Elijah and Elisha) was to counteract the noxious influence of the Baalistic rites; and, when these ceased, their extraordinary ministry came to an end.
The chariot of Israel ... - See the marginal reference. Joash must have known the circumstances of Elijah's removal, which were perhaps already entered in the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel;" and he must have intended to apply to Elisha his own words on that solemn occasion; "Thou too art about to leave us, and to follow Elijah - thou who hast been since his departure, that which he was while he remained on earth, the true defense of Israel."
And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows.
And he said to the king of Israel, Put thine hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it: and Elisha put his hands upon the king's hands.
Elisha put his hands upon the king's hands - A symbolic act, indicating that the successes, which the shooting typified, were to come, not from human skill, or strength, or daring, but from the presence and the power of God.
And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the LORD'S deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.
Eastward - Syria of Damascus lay partly east, but still more north, of the holy land. The arrow was to be shot, eastward, not so much against Syria itself as against the scene of the recent Syrian successes, Gilead 2 Kings 10:33, which was also to be the scene of Joash's victories over them. Aphek is almost due east from Shunem, where it is not unlikely that Elisha now was.
The arrow ... - literally, "An arrow of deliverance from the Lord, and an arrow of deliverance against Syria; and thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, even to consuming."
And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed.
Smite upon the ground - Some prefer to render - "Shoot to the ground;" i. e. "Shoot arrows from the window into the ground outside, as if thou wert shooting against an enemy."
And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.
The unfaithfulness of man limits the goodness of God. Though Joash did the prophet's bidding, it was without any zeal or fervour; and probably without any earnest belief in the efficacy of what he was doing. Compare Mark 6:5-6. God had been willing to give the Israelites complete victory over Syria 2 Kings 13:17; but Joash by his non-acceptance of the divine promise in its fulness had checked the outflow of mercy; and the result was that the original promise could not be fulfilled.
And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.
The bands of the Moabites invaded the land - The Moabites had been increasing in strength ever since their revolt from Ahaziah 2 Kings 1:1. The defeat which they suffered at the hands of Jehoram and Jehoshaphat 2 Kings 3:24 did not affect their subjugation. They spread themselves into the country north of the Arnon Isaiah 16:2, and thence proceeded to make plundering expeditious year by year into Samaria, in Spring. This was the natural season for incursions, as then in Palestine the crops began to be ripe.
And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.
They cast the man - Rather, "they thrust the man." The graves of the Jews were not pits dug in the ground, like ours, but caves or cells excavated in the side of a rock, the mouth of the cave being ordinarily shut by a heavy stone.
This miracle of Elisha's after his death is more surprising than any of those which he performed during his lifetime. The Jews regarded it as his highest glory (compare Ecclesiaticus 48:13, 14). It may be said to belong to a class of Scriptural miracles, cases, i. e. where the miracle was not performed through the agency of a living miracle-worker, but by a material object in which, by God's will, "virtue" for the time resided (compare Acts 19:12). The primary effect of the miracle was, no doubt, greatly to increase the reverence of the Israelites for the memory of Elisha, to lend force to his teaching, and especially to add weight to his unfulfilled prophecies, as to that concerning the coming triumphs of Israel over Syria. In the extreme state of depression to which the Israelites were now reduced, a very signal miracle may have been needed to encourage and reassure them.
But Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz.
And the LORD was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet.
The writer regards the captivity of Israel as God's "casting them out of His sight" (see 2 Kings 17:18, 2 Kings 17:20); and notes that this extreme punishment, though deserved, was by God's mercy not allowed to fall on them as yet.
So Hazael king of Syria died; and Benhadad his son reigned in his stead.
So Hazael ... died - literally, "And Hazael died," a fact not mentioned before.
And Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again out of the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael the cities, which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz his father by war. Three times did Joash beat him, and recovered the cities of Israel.
The cities which ... - Probably cities west of the Jordan, since the tract east of that river was conquered, mainly if not wholly, in the reign of Jehu 2 Kings 10:33.