Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Zibiah of Beersheba.XXIV.
REIGN OF JOASH.(Comp. 2 Kings 12)
PROPHETIC MINISTRY OF ZECHARIAH BEN JEHOIADA.
The Ascendancy of the High Priest Jehoiada. Repair of the Temple (2Chronicles 24:1-14).
(1) Joash was seven years old.—This verse coincides with 2Kings 12:1-2, merely omitting the note that his accession took place “in the seventh year of Jehu.” There he is called Jehoash, of which Joash is a contraction. (Comp. Jehoram-Joram.) The meaning may be “Iahu is fire (comp. Isaiah 33:14); but more probably it is “Iahu is a man.” (Comp. Ashbel.)
And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.(2) And Joash did.—So 2Kings 13:3.
All the days of Jehoiada the priest.—Kings: “all his days, while (or because) Jehoiada the priest instructed him.” The expression “all his days” is of course relative to the clause which follows it; and the chronicler has accurately given the meaning.
And Jehoiada took for him two wives; and he begat sons and daughters.(3) And Jehoiada took for him two wives.—A statement not found in the parallel narrative, and doubtless taken by the compiler from another source. Instead of this, we read in 2Kings 12:4 : “Only the high places were not taken away; the people were still wont to sacrifice and burn incense on the high places.”
And it came to pass after this, that Joash was minded to repair the house of the LORD.(4) Was minded.—Literally, it became with the heart of Joash (2Chronicles 6:8; 2Chronicles 9:1; 1Kings 8:18).
To repair.—See margin to 2Chronicles 15:8. “To restore” is perhaps the best modern equivalent of the Hebrew term. The account of the restoration of the Temple is given here in different language from what we find in the parallel passage, which is not very clear.
The chronicler appears to have paraphrased the account he found in his authority. The Levites are not mentioned in Kings.
And he gathered together the priests and the Levites, and said to them, Go out unto the cities of Judah, and gather of all Israel money to repair the house of your God from year to year, and see that ye hasten the matter. Howbeit the Levites hastened it not.(5) Go out unto the cities of Judah, and gather of all Israel money.—This is the chronicler’s interpretation of “Let the priests take it to themselves, each from his own acquaintance” (Kings). The priests and Levites of the different districts were to collect the moneys due to the sanctuary, each in his own neighbourhood.
And see that ye hasten the matter.—Literally, and, for your part, hasten ye in regard to the matter (comp. 2Chronicles 18:8); and the Levites hastened not. This agrees with the statement in 2Kings 12:6; 2Kings 12:9 : “And it was so, that in the three and twentieth year of king Jehoash the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house.” The remissness of the priestly order is evidently inferable from these words.
And the king called for Jehoiada the chief, and said unto him, Why hast thou not required of the Levites to bring in out of Judah and out of Jerusalem the collection, according to the commandment of Moses the servant of the LORD, and of the congregation of Israel, for the tabernacle of witness?(6) And the king called for Jehoiada.—So 2Kings 12:7.
The chief.—Literally, the head, i.e., of the sacerdotal caste. Usually kôhēn, “priest,” is added, as in 2Chronicles 19:11; 2Chronicles 26:20. Kings has simply “the priest,” adding “and for the priests.”
Why hast thou not required of the Levites.—Or, Why hast thou not attended to the Levites (comp. 2Chronicles 31:9), that they might bring . . .? (i.e., seen about the Levites bringing). LXX., Διὰ τί οὐκ ἐπεσκέψω περὶ τῶν Λευιτῶν τοῦ εἰσενέγκαι, κ.τ.λ.
The collection.—Rather, the tax (Ezekiel 20:40). “The tax of Moses” is not the poll-tax of half-a-shekel, for the sanctuary, imposed Exodus 30:12-16, and collected Exodus 38:25-26; but rather a general designation of the moneys mentioned in 2 Kings 12:25. (See Note on 2Chronicles 24:4, supra.)
In Kings, the question of Joash is, “Why are ye not repairing the breaches of the house?” He then continues: “And now, receive not money from your acquaintances, for the breaches of the house ye should give it” (scil., instead of appropriating it yourselves). In consequence, “the priests obeyed so as not to take money from the people, and not to repair the breaches of the house” (2Kings 12:8).
For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the LORD did they bestow upon Baalim.(7) For the sons of Athaliah.—There is nothing corresponding to the statements of this verse in the parallel account. Literally, For Athaliah, the evildoer (or, who did wickedly, 2Chronicles 20:35), her sons had broken down (Isaiah 5:5; Psalm 80:14) the house of God. Ahaziah and his elder brothers, and perhaps other relatives, may be intended. The young princes thus gratified the queen’s hatred of the exclusive cultus of Jehovah. (Comp. 2Chronicles 22:3-4.) Perhaps some portions of the Temple buildings were demolished, in order to make room for the temple of Baal. (Comp. Notes on 2Kings 11:18.)
The dedicated things—i.e., the moneys given for the use of the sanctuary.
Did they bestow upon Baalim.—Or, they made into the Baals, i.e., used them in making idolatrous images and symbols. (Comp. the same expression, Hosea 2:8 : “Her silver and gold, which they made into Baal;” comp. also Hosea 8:4.)
And at the king's commandment they made a chest, and set it without at the gate of the house of the LORD.(8) And at the king’s commandment they made.—Literally, And the king said (commanded), and they made. (Comp. 2Kings 12:9 : “And Jehoiada the priest took a chest, and bored a hole in its lid;” details characteristic of a more original account.)
And set it without—i.e., outside of the Temple proper. The chest stood in the court, just inside the gate.
And they made a proclamation through Judah and Jerusalem, to bring in to the LORD the collection that Moses the servant of God laid upon Israel in the wilderness.(9) And they made a proclamation.—Literally, uttered a voice (or cry) in Judah. The phrase (nathan qôl) occurs here only in this sense. (Comp. Proverbs 1:20.)
To bring in to the Lord.—Comp. 2Chronicles 24:6. The meaning is, To bring into the Temple, for the Lord.
The collection.—Tax, or impost.
This verse, and the next one also, are peculiar to the chronicle. The writer is fond of dwelling on the willingness of the people in the good old time to contribute to the cause of religion; doubtless, by way of suggestion to his own contemporaries. (Comp. 1Chronicles 29:6; 1Chronicles 29:9; 1Chronicles 29:14.)
In Kings we read: “And the priests, the warders of the threshold, used to put into it all the money that was brought into the house of the Lord.”
Until they had made an end.—This is correct. The same phrase recurs, 2Chronicles 31:1. The ancient versions wrongly give “until it was filled.” Killāh does not mean “to make full,” as is asserted in Lange’s Commentary, but to finish any action.
Now it came to pass, that at what time the chest was brought unto the king's office by the hand of the Levites, and when they saw that there was much money, the king's scribe and the high priest's officer came and emptied the chest, and took it, and carried it to his place again. Thus they did day by day, and gathered money in abundance.(11) Now.—And.
At what time the chest was brought.—Literally, at the time when one used to bring the chest to the royal inspection (or, to the king’s officers pĕquddāh), by the hand of the Levites; i.e., whenever the chest was brought, &c.
The chronicler, as usual, is careful to record the participation of the Levites in the business.
The king’s scribe and the high priest’s officer came and emptied the chest.—Rather, the king’s scribe (or accountant) and the high priest’s officer would come in and empty the chest; and they (i.e., the Levites) would take it up and restore it to its place.
Kings has: “The king’s scribe and the high priest came up, and bound up and counted the money that was found in the house of the Lord.” The substitution of “the high priest’s officer” for “the high priest” seems to be made in the interest of the high priest’s dignity. In the time of the chronicler the high priesthood was invested with all the greater majesty in that the monarchy was a thing of the distant past.
Day by day.—That is, time after time, as often as the chest seemed full (lĕyôm bĕyôm). The Hebrew phrase only occurs here. (Comp. 1Chronicles 12:22.)
And the king and Jehoiada gave it to such as did the work of the service of the house of the LORD, and hired masons and carpenters to repair the house of the LORD, and also such as wrought iron and brass to mend the house of the LORD.(12) To such as did the work of the service of the house of the Lord.—Heb., to the doer (‘ôséh) perhaps in a collective sense. Here, as in 1Chronicles 23:24, some MSS., and LXX., Syriac, and Vulgate, read the plural (‘ôsê). So also the Arabic and Targum here. Those who had charge of the building, probably certain Levitical “inspectors of works,” are meant. Vulg.: “Qui præërant operibus domus.” Comp. 2Kings 12:11 : “into the hand of the doers of the work, who were charged with the house of the Lord.”
And hired.—Rather, and they (i.e., the superintendents of works) were (from time to time) hiring masons (hewers) and carpenters. (See 1Chronicles 22:15.)
To mend—i.e., to repair (2Chronicles 24:4).
The chronicler has abridged here considerably. (Comp. 2Kings 12:12.)
So the workmen wrought, and the work was perfected by them, and they set the house of God in his state, and strengthened it.(13, 14) The writer concludes in his own fashion, freely modifying the older account to suit the needs of his contemporaries. (The Syriac and Arabic versions omit both verses.)
(13) So the workmen wrought.—Literally, And the makers of the work made.
And the work was perfected by them.—Literally, and a bandage was applied to the work by their hand. This curious metaphor, expressive of restoration, is used again in a similar way in Nehemiah 4:1, “a bandage was applied to the walls of Jerusalem.” Jeremiah had used it before (Jeremiah 8:22; Jeremiah 30:17; comp. also Isaiah 58:8) of the national restoration.
And they set the house of God in his state.—Rather, and they made the house of God to stand according to the measure thereof, i.e., in its original proportions. (Comp. Exodus 30:32 : màthkoneth, “measure,” “proportion.”) This verse is not read in Kings.
Before the king and Jehoiada.—The expression appears to be characteristic of the present account. (Comp. Note on 2Chronicles 24:11.)
And when they had finished it, they brought the rest of the money before the king and Jehoiada, whereof were made vessels for the house of the LORD, even vessels to minister, and to offer withal, and spoons, and vessels of gold and silver. And they offered burnt offerings in the house of the LORD continually all the days of Jehoiada.(14) Whereof were made vessels for the house of the Lord.—Literally, and he (i.e., Jehoiada) made it into vessels for the house of Jehovah, vessels of ministering and of offering, &c. For “vessels of ministering,” comp. Numbers 4:12.
Spoons.—Cups or bowls (kappôth, Exodus 25:29).
The chronicler apparently reverses the statement of 2Kings 12:13-14, “Howbeit there were not made for the house of the Lord, bowls of silver, snuffers, basons, trumpets, any vessels of gold or vessels of silver of the money that was brought into the house of the Lord. But they gave (used to give) that to the workmen, and repaired (used to repair) therewith the house of the Lord.” The solution of the difficulty may be found in the fact that the writer of Kings is relating what was done with the money so long as the repairs of the Temple were in progress, while the chronicler is accounting for the surplus after the restoration was complete. Still the appearance of contradiction is sufficiently curious, and suggests the influence of the didactic aims of the later historian.
And they offered.—And they were offering, i.e., offered habitually, as a matter of regular observance (the same construction as in 2Chronicles 24:12, “they were hiring”). The legal ritual was duly carried out in the Temple so long as the influence of Jehoiada was paramount—a remark peculiar to the chronicler. On the other hand, the present writer omits what is stated in closing the account of the Temple repairs (2Kings 12:15-16). There we are told that no reckoning was made with the overseers of the workmen in respect of the moneys entrusted to them, “for they dealt faithfully.” It is added that the priests still received the trespass and sin money.
But Jehoiada waxed old, and was full of days when he died; an hundred and thirty years old was he when he died.DEATH AND BURIAL OF JEHOIADA. NATIONAL APOSTACY AND MURDER OF ZECHARIAH BEN JEHOIADA THE PROPHET (2Chronicles 24:15-22).
This section is wholly wanting in the Kings. It serves as a moral explanation of the after-history of Joash, recorded there and here (2Kings 12:17-21).
(15) But Jehoiada . . . when he died.—Literally, And Jehoiada became old, and was satisfied with days, and he died. The verb “to be satisfied” is only so used here and in 1Chronicles 23:1. (Comp. Psalm 91:16.) The ancient expression was adjectival, “full of days” (Genesis 25:8; Genesis 35:29; Job 42:17; 1Chronicles 29:28, only).
An hundred and thirty years old.—According to some modern physiologists, one hundred and five is the proper limit of human life; that is to say, five times the period usually required for the attainment of full growth. Under favourable conditions it is even supposed that life might extend to half a century longer (M. Flourens, of the French Academy of Sciences). When persons of advanced age (eighty to one hundred) die, it is usually from preventible causes, As a French medical writer has remarked, “Men do not commonly die; they kill themselves.” The ago of Jehoiada, then, would seem to be not impossible, although an error of transcription in our text is also not impossible.
And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, both toward God, and toward his house.(16) Among the kings.—Literally, with. “Because he had done good;” and also, perhaps, as having been regent for so many years, and connected by marriage with the royal house (2Chronicles 22:11).
Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them.(17) Came the princes . . . and made obeisance to the king.—As asking a boon. What their petition was is evident from the context (2Chronicles 24:18). They sought the royal sanction of the idolatrous forms of worship, after which they hankered.
Then the king hearkened unto them.—Comp. the influence of the young nobles with Rehoboam, 2Chronicles 10:8.
And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass.(18) And they left the house of the Lord.—They, viz., the apostate princes and their following, ceased to attend the legal worship of the Temple.
And served groves and idols.—Rather, the Ashērim and the idols. (See Note on 2Chronicles 14:3.)
Upon Judah and Jerusalem.—The sin of the nobles, allowed and perhaps imitated by the king, involved the nation in its penal consequences (Comp. 1 Chronicles 21)
Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear.(19) Yet.—And.
To them.—Among them.
But they would.—And they did.
And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you.(20) And the Spirit of God came upon.—Literally, clothed, invested. (See Note on 1Chronicles 12:18.)
Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest.—“The priest,” i.e., the high priest, is an epithet of Jehoiada, not of Zechariah.
Which stood above the people.—Probably on the steps of the inner court of the Temple, facing the people who were assembled in the outer court.
Why transgress.—Wherefore are ye transgressing?
That ye cannot prosper.—Literally, and will not prosper.
Because ye have forsaken . . .—Rather, for ye have forsaken the Lord, and He hath forsaken you. (Comp. the similar language ascribed to the prophets Shemaiah and Azariah ben Oded, 2Chronicles 12:5; 2Chronicles 15:2).
And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD.(21) And they conspired against him.—The conspiracy of 2Chronicles 24:25 was the Divine recompense for this one.
At the commandment of the king.—Probably Zechariah’s words had been represented to Joash as treasonable. The Syrian invasion may have been already threatening, when his prophecy was uttered; and in that case it would be easy to allege against the prophet that his “wish was father to his thought.” (Comp. the similar case of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 32:1-5; and 1Kings 21:8-13.)
In the court of the house of the Lord.—There is little doubt that the allusion of Christ (Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51) to the death of “Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the Temple and the altar,” refers to this murder. The altar stood in the court, before the Temple. Barachias (Berechiah) may have been Zechariah’s father, and Jehoiada his grandfather. Moreover the Lord appears to be thinking of the honourable burial of Jehoiada, in contrast with the murder of his son, in Matthew 23:29-32, verses which immediately precede the mention of Zacharias.
Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it, and require it.(22) The Lord look upon it, and require it.—Jehovah behold, and avenge! literally, seek, scil., vengeance for the crime (Genesis 9:5; Psalm 10:4). This dying imprecation is in harmony with the spirit of the older dispensation, which exacted blood for blood. Contrast the prayer of St. Stephen, the first of Christian martyrs (Acts 7:50). The prayer of Zechariah was also a prophecy destined to speedy fulfilment. (See 2Chronicles 24:23, seq.)
And it came to pass at the end of the year, that the host of Syria came up against him: and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people, and sent all the spoil of them unto the king of Damascus.THE LORD’S VENGEANCE, viz., THE SYRIAN INVASION AND SLAUGHTER OF THE PRINCES, AND THE MURDER OF JOASH (2Chronicles 24:23-27). (Comp. 2Kings 12:17-21.)
(23) At the end of the year.—At the running out of the year, viz., the year of the murder of Zechariah. (See for the phrase, Exodus 34:22.)
The host of Syria came up against him.—Comp. 2Kings 12:17. Our passage seems to show that a small part (2Chronicles 24:24) of the besieging army was detached, and sent against Jerusalem. (Comp. 2Kings 18:14; 2Kings 18:17.) The princes of Judah (2Chronicles 24:17) at the head of a large force met the invaders in the field; but the Syrians routed them, and “destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people.” We may suppose that they made it their special aim to cut off the leaders of the Jewish host. (Comp. 2Chronicles 18:30.) Thus the apostate princes were overtaken by the prophetic doom. (LXX., “the princes of the people among the people; “Syriac and Vulg. and Arabic omit “from among the people.” But comp. Isaiah 7:8.)
And sent all the spoil of them.—To Hazael, who was probably still at Gath with the main body of his troops.
For the army of the Syrians came with a small company of men, and the LORD delivered a very great host into their hand, because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers. So they executed judgment against Joash.(24) For the army of the Syrians.—This verse is explanatory of 2Chronicles 24:23. Literally, For with fewness of men had the host of Syria come, and Jehovah had given into their hand a host in exceeding abundance. “Fewness of men” (miç’ar ‘anāshîm) is a phrase not found elsewhere. (Comp. Genesis 19:20.) The parallel account informs us that Hazael had intended to march against Jerusalem in person, as it would seem, after the battle in which the Syrian division had defeated the Jewish princes. Joash, however, bribed his for bearance by a present of the treasures of the Temple and palace (2Kings 12:18).
So they executed judgment against Joash.—A phrase always used of Divine requital. (Comp. Exodus 12:12; Ezekiel 5:10.) (The construction here is unique: “they did judgments with Joash,” whereas the ordinary form would be, “they did judgments in Joash.” )
As compared with Kings, the present narrative regards the Syrian invasion from a prophetic and religious point of view, and, therefore, while it omits certain details which are there clearly specified, it is careful to mention such facts as most vividly point its moral, e.g., the destruction of the idolatrous princes, and the rout of “a great host” by the attack of “a small company.”
And when they were departed from him, (for they left him in great diseases,) his own servants conspired against him for the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and slew him on his bed, and he died: and they buried him in the city of David, but they buried him not in the sepulchres of the kings.(25) And when they were departed from him.—Omit were. The Syrians retired, instead of besieging Jerusalem, as they had purposed to do.
For they left him in great diseases.—Some refer this to the wounds which Joash had received from the Syrians in battle. But it is not said that Joash himself was wounded, but only that the destruction of his princes and the defeat of his army were judgments upon him. The word rendered “diseases” (mahălûyîm) only occurs here; but it is obviously a near synonym of the term used of the last sickness of Jehoram (tahălû’îm, 2chron xxi, 19), and the probable meaning is “pains,” or “suffering.” Calamity may have brought about the sickness of Joash, or perhaps the invasion had come upon him when already prostrate with disease, and unable to resist in person.
For the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest.—The LXX. and Vulgate correct this, and read “son,” meaning Zechariah the prophet (2Chronicles 24:22), and the plural may be due to a transcriber’s mistake. More probably it is used rhetorically, as in 2Chronicles 28:16, and elsewhere.
The writer does not mean to say that revenge for the death of Jehoiada’s posterity was the motive which actuated the conspirators, but that their deed was a judgment upon the king for that crime. In Kings the place of the assassination is specified, “Beth-millo that goeth down to Silla.” But nothing is there said of the sickness of Joash, and his being murdered in his bed.
But they buried him not in the sepulchres of the kings.—See Note on 2Chronicles 21:20, where the same remark is made about the burial of Jehoram.
And these are they that conspired against him; Zabad the son of Shimeath an Ammonitess, and Jehozabad the son of Shimrith a Moabitess.(26) Zabad the son of Shimeath an Ammonitess, and Jehozabad the son of Shimrith a Moabitess.—2Kings 12:21 : “Jozachar the son of Shimeath and Jehozabad the son of Shomer.”Probably “Jozachar” is right, “Zabad” being an easy corruption of “Zachar,” a normal contraction of Jozachar. Yet many MSS. of Kings read “Joza-bad.” “Shomer” in Kings should probably be Shemer (1Chronicles 7:32; 1Chronicles 7:34), of which Shimri (1Chronicles 4:37) and Shimrith might be by-forms. Reuss is incorrect in asserting that the names of the mothers are substituted by the chronicler for the names of the fathers. Thenius even knows the reason why the chronicler has added the epithets “Ammonitess,” “Moabitess.” The writer wished to show that the idolatry into which he makes Joash lapse (?), was avenged by two sons of idolatrous wives (!). This is fancy determined by prejudice. The additions “Ammonitess,” “Moabitess,” indicate the use of another source than the canonical book of Kings; and the same may be said of the strikingly original account of the death of Zechariah (2Chronicles 24:17-22). What that source was the next verse declares, viz., “The Midrash of the book of the Kings.”
Now concerning his sons, and the greatness of the burdens laid upon him, and the repairing of the house of God, behold, they are written in the story of the book of the kings. And Amaziah his son reigned in his stead.(27) Now concerning his sons, and the greatness of the burdens laid upon him, and the repairing of the house of God.—Rather, And his sons, and the multitude of oracles upon him, and the founding of the house of God. The word “burden” (massa’)is common in the sense of a threatening prophecy (2Kings 9:25; Isaiah 13:1; Habakkuk 1:1). In 2Chronicles 24:19 it is expressly said that prophets were sent to warn the princes of Judah. If this be the meaning here, the word massa’ is used collectively. Another possible rendering is, “and the greatness of the tribute laid upon him” by Hazael. (Comp. 2Chronicles 17:11 for this sense of massa’) The Heb. margin suggests, and as to his sons, may the burden concerning him multiply;” i.e., may the dying words of Zechariah be fulfilled in them even more disastrously! This is wholly improbable.
In the story of the book of the kings.—See margin, and Introduction.