2 Kings 12:4
And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the LORD, even the money of every one that passes the account, the money that every man is set at, and all the money that comes into any man's heart to bring into the house of the LORD,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4-16) The restoration of the Temple.

(4) The money’ of the dedicated things.—Comp. 1Kings 15:15.

Is broughti.e., from time to time. All the silver given for the purposes of the sanctuary is meant.

Even the money of every one that passeth the account.Rather, to wit, current money (Genesis 23:16). The currency at this period consisted of pieces of silver of a fixed weight. There was no such thing as a Hebrew coinage before the exile. The reason “current money” was wanted was that it might be paid out immediately to the workpeople employed in the repairs.

The money that every man is set at.—Literally, each the money of the souls of his valuation, i.e., every kind of redemption money, such as was paid in the case of the first-born (Numbers 18:16) and of a vow (Leviticus 27:2, seq.). In the latter case, the priest fixed the amount to be paid.

And all the money that cometh into any man’s heart to bring—That is, all the free-will offerings in money. In 2Chronicles 24:6 the revenues here specified are called “the tax of Moses . . . for the tabernacle,” implying that Moses had originally instituted them. The chronicler’s language, indeed, appears to indicate that he understood the money collected to have been chiefly the tax of half a shekel, which the law ordered to be paid by every male on occasion of the census (Exodus 30:12-16), for the good of the sanctuary.

2 Kings

METHODICAL LIBERALITY

2 Kings 12:4 - 2 Kings 12:15
.

‘The sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God,’ says Chronicles. The dilapidation had not been complete, but had been extensive, as may be gathered from the large expenditure recorded in this passage for repairs, and the enumeration of the artisans employed. No doubt Joash was guided by Jehoiada in setting about the restoration, but the fact that he gives the orders, while the high priest is not mentioned, throws light on the relative position of the two authorities, and on the king’s office as guardian of the Temple and official ‘head of the church.’ The story comes in refreshingly and strangely among the bloody pages in which it is embedded, and it suggests some lessons as to the virtue of plain common sense and business principles applied to religious affairs. If ‘the outward business of the house of God’ were always guided with as much practical reasonableness as Joash brought to bear on it, there would be fewer failures or sarcastic critics.

We note, first, the true source of money for religious purposes. There was a fixed amount for which ‘each man is rated,’ and that made the minimum, but there was also that which ‘cometh into any man’s heart to bring,’ and that was infinitely more precious than the exacted tax. The former was appropriate to the Old Testament, of which the animating principle was law and the voice: ‘Thou shalt’ or ‘Thou shalt not.’ The latter alone fits the New Testament, of which the animating principle is love and the voice: ‘Though I have all boldness in Christ to enjoin thee . . . yet for love’s sake I rather beseech.’ What disasters and what stifling of the spirit of Christian liberality have marred the Church for many centuries, and in many lands, because the great anachronism has prevailed of binding its growing limbs in Jewish swaddling bands, and degrading Christian giving into an assessment! And how shrunken the stream that is squeezed out by such a process, compared with the abundant gush of the fountain of love opened in a grateful, trusting heart!

Next, we have the negligent, if not dishonest, officials. We do not know how long Joash tried the experiment of letting the priests receive the money and superintend the repairs; but probably the restoration project was begun early in his reign, and if so, he gave the experiment of trusting all to the officials, a fair, patient trial, till the twenty-third year of his reign. Years gone and nothing done, or at least nothing completed! We do not need to accuse them of intentional embezzlement, but certainly they were guilty of carelessly letting the money slip through their fingers, and a good deal of it stick to their hands. It is always the temptation of the clergy to think of their own support as a first charge on the church, nor is it quite unheard of that the ministry should be less enthusiastic in religious objects than the ‘laity,’ and should work the enthusiasm of the latter for their own advantage. Human nature is the same in Jerusalem in Joash’s time, and to-day in Manchester, or New York, or Philadelphia, and all men who live by the gifts of Christian people have need to watch themselves, lest they, like Ezekiel’s false shepherds, feed themselves and not the flock, and seek the wool and the fat and not the good of the sheep.

Next we have the application of businesslike methods to religious work. It was clearly time to take the whole matter out of the priest’s hands, and Joash is not afraid to assume a high tone with the culprits, and even with Jehoiada as their official head. He was in some sense responsible for his subordinates, and probably, though his own hands were clean, he may have been too lax in looking after the disposal of the funds. Note that while Joash rebuked the priests, and determined the new arrangements, it was Jehoiada who carried them out and provided the chest for receiving the contributions. The king wills, the high priest executes, the rank and file of the priests, however against the grain, consent. The arrangement for collecting the contributions ‘saved the faces’ of the priests to some extent, for the gifts were handed to them, and by them put into the chest. But, of course, that was done at once, in the donor’s presence. If changes involving loss of position are to work smoothly, it is wise to let the deposed officials down as easily as may be.

Similar common sense is shown in the second step, the arrangement for ascertaining the amounts given. The king’s secretary and the high-priest {or a representative} jointly opened the chest, counted and bagged up the money. They checked each other, and prevented suspicion on either side. No man who regards his own reputation will consent to handle public money without some one to stand over him and see what he does with it. One would be wise always to suspect people who appeal for help ‘for the Lord’s work’ and are too ‘spiritual’ to have such worldly things as committees or auditors of their books. Accurate accounts are as essential to Christian work as spirituality or enthusiasm. The next stage was to hand over the money to the ‘contractors,’ as we should call them; and there similar precautions were taken against possible peculation on the part of the two officials who had received the money, for it was apparently ‘weighed out into the hands’ of the overseers, who would thus be able to check what they received by what the secretary and the high-priest had taken from the chest, and would be responsible for the expenditure of the amount which the two officials knew that they had received.

But all this system of checks seems to break down at the very point where it should have worked most searchingly, for ‘they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they delivered the money’ to pay the workmen, ‘for they dealt faithfully.’ That last clause looks like a hit at the priests who had not dealt so, and contrasts the methods of plain business men of no pretensions, with those of men whose very calling should have guaranteed their trustworthiness. The contrast has been repeated in times and places nearer home. But another suggestion may also be made about this singular lapse into what looks like unwise confidence. These overseers had proved their faithfulness and earned the right to be trusted entirely, and the way to get the best out of a man, if he has any reliableness in him, is to trust him utterly, and to show him that you do. ‘It is a shame to tell Arnold a lie; he always believes us,’ said the Rugby boys about their great head-master. There is a time for using all precautions, and a time for using none. Businesslike methods do not consist in spying at the heels of one’s agents, but in picking the right men, and, having proved them, giving them a free hand. And is not that what the great Lord and Employer does with His servants, and is it not part of the reason why Jesus gets more out of us than any one else can do, that He trusts us more?

One more point may be noticed; namely, the order of precedence in which the necessary works were done. Not a coin went to provide the utensils for sacrifice till the Temple was completely repaired. After they had ‘set up the house of God in its state,’ as Chronicles tells us, they took the balance of the funds to the king and Jehoiada, and spent that on ‘vessels for the house.’ A clear insight to discern what most needs to be done, and a firm resolve to ‘do the duty that lies nearest thee,’ and to let everything else, however necessary, wait till it is done, is a great part of Christian prudence, and goes far to make works or lives truly prosperous. ‘First things first’!-it is a maxim that carries us far and as right as far.2 Kings 12:4. And Jehoash said to the priests — The house of God having been neglected, and suffered to go to decay in the time of Athaliah and her son, Jehoash, in gratitude to God, who had preserved him there, resolved to have it repaired; and, in order thereto, commanded what money should be set apart for that purpose. All the money of the dedicated things — That had been or should hereafter be brought and dedicated to the service of God and of the temple. As it appears from 2 Chronicles 24:5, that the priests went through the land to collect money, it seems the people were required to dedicate something toward these repairs. The money of every one that passeth the account — The words, the account, are not in the Hebrew, so that it is likely this clause is to be understood of the offerings which pious people cast into the boxes prepared to receive them, as they passed into the temple. The money that every man is set at — Namely, the money that every man, who had vowed his person to God, paid or was to pay for his redemption, by the estimation made by the priest, according to the law, Leviticus 27:2-3. In the Hebrew it is the money of souls, or persons according to his taxing. As soon as this money was paid by any one, he was freed from the vow wherewith he had bound himself: but till it was paid, his life was not his own, but God’s. All the money that cometh into any man’s heart to bring, &c. — This was the third sort of money for the reparation of the temple; that which any man would give freely for that service.12:1-16 It is a great mercy to young people, especially to all young men of rank, like Jehoash, to have those about them who will instruct them to do what is right in the sight of the Lord; and they do wisely and well for themselves, when willing to be counselled and ruled. The temple was out of repair; Jehoash orders the repair of the temple. The king was zealous. God requires those who have power, to use it for the support of religion, the redress of grievances, and repairing of decays. The king employed the priests to manage, as most likely to be hearty in the work. But nothing was done effectually till the twenty-third year of his reign. Another method was therefore taken. When public distributions are made faithfully, public contributions will be made cheerfully. While they were getting all they could for the repair of the temple, they did not break in upon the stated maintenance of the priests. Let not the servants of the temple be starved, under colour of repairing the breaches of it. Those that were intrusted did the business carefully and faithfully. They did not lay it out in ornaments for the temple, till the other work was completed; hence we may learn, in all our expenses, to prefer that which is most needful, and, in dealing for the public, to deal as we would for ourselves.It is remarkable that the first movement toward restoring the fabric of the temple should have come, not from Jehoiada, but from Jehoash (compare 2 Chronicles 24:4). Jehoiada had, it seems, allowed the mischief done in Athaliah's time to remain unrepaired during the whole term of his government.

The money of every one ... - Three kinds of sacred money are here distinguished - first, the half shekel required in the Law Exodus 30:13 to be paid by every one above twenty years of age when he passed the numbering; secondly, the money to be paid by such as had devoted themselves, or those belonging to them, by vow to Yahweh, which was a variable sum dependent on age, sex, and property Leviticus 27:2-8; and thirdly, the money offered in the way of free-will offerings.

4. Jehoash said to the priests, &c.—There is here given an account of the measures which the young king took for repairing the temple by the levying of taxes: 1. "The money of every one that passeth the account," namely, half a shekel, as "an offering to the Lord" (Ex 30:13). 2. "The money that every man is set at," that is, the redemption price of every one who had devoted himself or any thing belonging to him to the Lord, and the amount of which was estimated according to certain rules (Le 27:1-8). 3. Free will or voluntary offerings made to the sanctuary. The first two were paid annually (see 2Ch 24:5). Remembering that he owed his preservation and restoration to the temple, and that he was made by God the guardian of his temple and worship, and that he had covenanted to be so, Jehoash now takes care to repair it.

All the money of the dedicated things: this may be, either, first, The general designation of the money, the particulars whereof here follow. Or rather, secondly, A special branch of it, the money which had been either formerly or lately vowed or dedicated to the use and service of God and of his house, either by the former kings; of which see below, 2 Kings 12:18, and compare 1 Kings 7:51 15:15 2 Kings 12:18 2 Chronicles 15:8; or by this king or his people.

That is brought, or rather, that shall be brought; for though the people might vow to bring it thither in convenient time, yet it is not likely they would bring much money thither in the tyrannical and idolatrous reign of Athaliah; or if they did, that Athaliah would not seize it for her own use.

The money of every one that passeth the account, i.e. the half shekel, which was paid for every one that was numbered from twenty years old and upward; of which the very same phrase is used Exodus 30:13 compare 2 Chronicles 24:5,6,9.

The money that every man is set at, Heb. the money of souls, or persons, according to his taxing, i.e. the money which every man that had vowed his person to God paid according to the rate which the priest put upon him; of which see Leviticus 27:2, &c.

All the money that cometh into any man’s heart; all that shall be freely offered. See Exodus 25:2 35:5. And Jehoash said to the priests,.... Being minded or having it in his heart, to repair the temple, as in 2 Chronicles 24:4 not only because it was the sanctuary of the Lord, though that chiefly, but because it had been a sanctuary to him, where he was hid and preserved six years:

all the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the Lord: or rather, "that is to be brought", as De Dieu, and others render it, the particulars of which follow:

even the money of everyone that passeth the account; or that passeth among them that are numbered, as in Exodus 30:13 that were upwards of twenty years of age, and bound to pay the half shekel for the ransom of their souls; and it is called the collection or burden Moses laid on them in the wilderness, 2 Chronicles 24:6.

the money that every man is set at; the price the priest set upon or estimated a man at, or whomsoever that belonged to him, that he devoted to the Lord, which by the law he was bound to pay for his redemption, and, till that was done, he and they were not his, but the Lord's, of which see Leviticus 27:1 and here the Targum calls it, the money of the redemption of souls, which is the gift of a man for the redemption of his soul:

and all the money that cometh into any man's heart to bring into the house of the Lord: vows and freewill offerings made of their own accord.

And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the LORD, even the money of every one that passeth the {c} account, the money that every man is set at, and all the money that cometh into any man's heart to bring into the house of the LORD,

(c) That is, the money of redemption Ex 30:12, also the money which the priest valued the vows at Le 27:2, and their free gift.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. And Jehoash said to the priests] Even if we had not the definite statement which stands 2 Chronicles 24:7 of the depredations made on the temple by the sons of Athaliah, we can understand how under her rule the temple would be neglected and allowed to get out of repair. Hence the need which Jehoash recognised. It must have been some years after his accession when he gave these orders to the priests. At seven years old he would not be sensible of what was needed in such a matter.

All the money of the dedicated [R.V. hallowed] things] The change is to the rendering of the same word in verse 18 of this chapter. The money here spoken of is that which was given for the provision of vessels and implements for temple-service. Cf. 1 Kings 7:51 and the verses preceding.

even the money of every one that passeth the account] R.V. in current money. The R.V. is supported by the rendering of A.V. in Genesis 23:16 where the same participle is used as in this verse. We are not however to understand by ‘current’, money that was coined, which neither in Abraham’s time nor in Joash’s was in use among the Jews. They employed pieces of silver of varying weight, and the weighing was the mode of estimating its value. The translation of A.V. makes the word refer to the numbering which is described in Exodus 30:12, where the Israelites are directed to pay half a shekel each, as redemption money, on attaining the age of twenty years.

the money that every man is set at] R.V. the money of the persons for whom each man is rated. The literal rendering of the Hebrew is ‘each man the money of the souls of his estimation’. The allusion is to such vows, and the assessments connected with them, as are described in Leviticus 27:2-8, in the case of those who made special singular vows, e.g. of a Nazirite.

the money that cometh [R.V. that it cometh] into any man’s heart to bring] These were freewill offerings. Of the nature and occasions of such freewill offerings cf. Leviticus 22:18-23; Deuteronomy 16:10, with the parallel passages.

There are three kinds of offerings mentioned in the verse. (1) Current money offered for the provision of vessels and other things required for the temple. (2) The money which the priests were instructed to assess on those who had bound themselves by vows. (3) Voluntary gifts of which the appropriation was not prescribed. The offerings are said in Chronicles to be such as had been prescribed by Moses and by the congregation of Israel for the tabernacle of witness.Verses 4-16. - The repair of the temple. It is rather surprising that the temple had not been thoroughly repaired by Jehoiada during the long minority of Joash, when he must practically have had the sole management of affairs. Probably he did repair the worst of the damage done by Athaliah's orders (2 Chronicles 24:7), which may have been very considerable, but neglected the restoration of such portions of the edifice as appeared to him of secondary importance, as the walls of the courts and the outbuildings. Joash, however, when his minority came to an end, and he succeeded to the administration of the state, took a different view. To him the completion of the repairs seemed a pressing business. Probably he thought the honor of God required the entire obliteration of Athaliah's wicked proceedings, and the renewal of the temple's old glories. His six years' residence within the temple precincts may have also inspired him with a love of the building as a building. Verse 4. - And Jehoash said to the priests. The initiative of Joash is strongly marked, alike in Kings and Chronicles (2 Chronicles 24:4). The general weakness of his character, and want of vigor and decision, make it the more surprising that he should in this particular matter have shown himself capable of taking his own line and adhering to it (ver. 7). He has scarcely received from historians the credit that is due to him for his persistent and successful efforts to accomplish an object which was for the honor of religion, and which was yet not pressed forward by the priesthood. Certainly he was no mere puppet of the priestly order. All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the Lord; rather, all the money of the holy gifts that is brought into the house of the Lord; i.e. all that ye receive from the people in the way of money. This money accrued from three sources, which the king proceeded to enumerate. First, even the money of every one that passeth the account; i.e. the census money - the aggregate of the half-shekels received from the males of above twenty years old, whenever a census was taken (Exodus 30:12-16). The rendering, "current money," preferred by Thenius, Bahr, and our Revisers, is shown by Keil to be untenable. Secondly, the money that every man is set at; i.e. the redemption money, derived in part from the payments made for redeeming the firstborn (Numbers 18:15, 16); in part from the sums which the priests exacted from such as had vowed themselves (Leviticus 27:2-8), or those belonging to them, to God. And [thirdly] all the money that cometh into any man's heart to bring into the house of the Lord; i.e. all the free-will offerings that should be made in money by any of the Israelites. And he took the captains, and they brought the king down out of the house of Jehovah, etc. The word יקּח is not to be pressed, but simply affirms that Jehoiada entrusted the persons named with the duty of conducting the king into his palace. Beside the captains over a hundred (see at 2 Kings 11:4) there are mentioned והרצים הכּרי, i.e., the royal halberdiers (the body-guard), who had passed over to the new king immediately after the fall of Athaliah and now followed their captains, and הארץ כּל־עם, all the rest of the people assembled. Instead of the halberdiers there are mentioned in the Chronicles בּעם המּושׁלים האדּירים, the nobles and lords in the nation-a completion implied in the facts themselves, since Jehoiada had drawn the heads of the nation into his plan, and on the other hand the express allusion to the body-guard might be omitted as of inferior importance. We cannot infer from ירידוּ that the bridge between Moriah and Zion was not yet in existence, as Thenius supposes, but simply that the bridge was lower than the temple-courts. Instead of הרצים שׁער, the gate of the runners (i.e., of the halberdiers), we find in the Chronicles העליון שׁער, the upper gate, which appears to have been a gate of the temple, according to 2 Kings 15:35 and 2 Chronicles 27:3. The statement that they came by the way of the runners' gate into the house of the king is not at variance with this, for it may be understood as meaning that it was by the halberdiers' gate of the temple that the entry into the palace was carried out. - In 2 Kings 11:20 this account is concluded with the general remark that all the people rejoiced, sc. at the coronation of Joash, and the city was quiet, when they slew Athaliah with the sword. This is the way, so far as the sense is concerned, in which the last two clauses are to be connected.
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