2 Chronicles 23:1-11
And in the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and took the captains of hundreds, Azariah the son of Jeroham…
I. PREPARATIONS FOR THE CEREMONY. (Vers. 1-10.)
1. Jehoiada's covenant with the captains. (Ver. 1.)
(1) The time. In the seventh year of Joash's life, when Jehoiada felt that matters were ripe for a revolution. Six years of Athaliah as queen had put the people out of love with her person and practices. Even those about her court were becoming intolerant of her tyrannies and idolatries. Besides, six years had transformed the babe Jehoshabeath had rescued into a bey, a miniature king, who would much more easily and effectually arrest the popular imagination than an infant in arms. And, finally, Jehoiada had himself had leisure to watch the current of the times, to learn the temper and disposition of the people, to test the characters of those upon whose aid he must rely, to acquaint himself with all that would need to be done, and generally to mature his plans. In the seventh year he judged that the hour had struck for an attempt to liberate the country from the yoke of Athahah, and to restore the crown of David to its rightful heir. Many projects otherwise promising are lost by being launched forth prematurely, and many fail through want of "striking while the iron is hot" (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).
(2) The persons. Jehoiada called to his aid five centurions of the queen's body-guard, whom he probably knew to be disaffected towards the queen and favourable to a change in the government (2 Kings 11:4), and whose names are given - Azariah, "whom Jehovah aids;" the son of Jeroham, "who is loved;" Ishmael, "whom God hears," the son of Jehohanan, "Jehovah is gracious;" Azariah, the son of Obed, "worshipping;" Maaseiah, "work of Jehovah," the son of Adaiah, "whom Jehovah adorns;" Elishaphat, "whom God judges," the son of Zichri, "famous;" - all men of renown; good, if their characters were reflected in their names; capable, as their civil rank showed.
(3) The object. To depose Athaliah - trebly lawful, because, as a usurper, she had climbed into the throne by bloodshed and violence, and had therefore no just title to the sceptre; because, as a wicked ruler, her longer continuance in power would endamage the best interests, and even endanger the existence of the state; and because, so long as she wore the crown, the real heir to the throne was defrauded of his rights. Whether, in the first instance, Jehoiada mentioned the existence of Joash is doubtful.
2. The nation's covenant with the king.
(1) The representatives of the people summoned. The captains to whom this work was entrusted went about (ver. 2), no doubt privately in Judah, and invited all the Levites and heads of fathers' houses in every city to a secret convention in Jerusalem.
(2) The people's representatives convened. In obedience to the high priest's call, those invited by his messengers came. The congregation consisted of the priests and Levites, the heads of fathers' houses, and the captains of the guards, with their men (?).
(3) The people's legitimate sovereign produced. The meeting was held in the temple court. At the proper moment Joash was produced (ver. 3; 2 Kings 11:4), and the story of his preservation rehearsed.
(4) The people's duty pointed out. Skilfully done by Jehoiada, who simply said, "Behold, the king's son shall reign, as the Lord hath said of the sons of David;" it was an intimation that the crown belonged to Joash by Divine appointment, and a hint to them to see that Jehovah's promise to their ancestor should not fail.
(5) The people's assent given. The effect of Jehoiada's action in producing Joash and in citing the Messianic promise (2 Samuel 7:12) was electrical. With one heart and voice the people pledged themselves to the revolution, to depose Athaliah and to crown Joash.
3. The arrangements for the coup d'etat.
(1) The disposition of the priests and Levites. These should be divided into two main bodies, those who entered on their temple duties (ver. 4; 2 Kings 11:5) on the sabbath (the day fixed for the revolution), and those who retired from them (ver. 8; 2 Kings 11:7). The former should again divide themselves into three companies. Of these, the first should act as" porters of the doors," or "keepers of the thresholds," i.e. were to mount guard at the gates of the temple (cf. 1 Chronicles 9:19); the second should stand "at the king's house," which may have been the apartments or cloister in which Joash was concealed (Keil), but more probably signified the palace (ver. 15), the approach from which to the temple it was desirable to guard; the third should take up a position "at the gate of the foundation," or "the gate Jesod" - whether a temple gate (Stanley, Keil) or a palace gate (Bertheau) is uncertain. (On the discrepancies between these appointments and those in Kings, consult the Exposition.) The latter, i.e. the priests and Levites retiring from duty, should act as the king's body-guard when he entered into and departed from the temple. This work should be deputed to them alone, since they only as "holy" persons could pass into the temple. As their duty would be to ensure the safety of the king's person, they would be armed - "every man with his weapons in his band." To them also should be entrusted the task of seeing that no unauthorized person came within the precincts of the sacred edifice, and of executing judgment on such as without warrant did.
(2) The disposition of the people. These should be stationed in the court in which stood the brazen altar of Solomon.
(3) The disposition of the "captains of hundreds" and their men. These, whom the Chronicler does not overlook while assigning the principal part in the forthcoming ceremony to the priests and Levites, should be employed to preserve order amongst the people, and guard against the possibility of attack from any of the queen's party who might become cognizant of what was going on.
II. PROCEEDINGS IN THE CEREMONY. (Vers. 8-11.)
1. The carrying out of the above arrangements. When the sabbath fixed for the execution of the plot arrived, "the Levites and all the men of Judah did according to all things that Jehoiada had commanded." Each priest, with his assistant Levites, went to his appointed place - those that entered on their temple duties to their different guards, as above explained; those that retired from service, instead of departing to their homes - "for Jehoiada dismissed not the courses" - to the new work of guarding the king's person, also as above explained. The former mounted guard at the temple gates, the latter assumed their places inside the temple (inner) court, "from the right side of the house to the left side of the house, along by the altar and the temple," so as to be "by the king round about." The people generally stood in the outer court, the centurions and their hundreds forming a circle round the inner court, between it and the people, so as to prevent any unauthorized person from passing within the house.
2. The arming of the captains. "Jehoiada delivered to them the spears, bucklers, and shields, that had been King David's, which were in the house of God" (ver. 9). These were intended for themselves and their men (Berthean), either because they had come into the temple unarmed (Keil), having left their weapons in the palace on leaving duty (Bahr), or because Jehoiada wished David's crown to be won back by David's weapons (Ewald, Stanley), or perhaps he judged that, as the work they were about to be employed in was God's, so the weapons they should use should also be God's.
3. The production of the boy-prince. When everything was ready, Joash, encompassed by armed Levites, marched from the priest's house into the temple court, and took up his station at one of the pillars leading into the inner court (2 Chronicles 23:13; 2 Kings 11:14), so as to be seen by the priests and Levites in the inner, and the captains and people in the outer court.
4. The coronation of the heir to the throne. Jehoiada (with the people assenting) placed upon the brow of Joash the royal diadem, "probably a band studded with jewels - the first direct example of a coronation" (Stanley).
5. The delivering to him of the testimony. Not the insignia regia, i.e. the regalia of the kingdom (Clericus), or the phylacteries of Deuteronomy 6:8 (Grotius), or Samuel's laws of the kingdom (1 Samuel 8:10); but the Law of Moses, often called the "testimony" (Exodus 25:16; Exodus 27:21; Numbers 9:15; Numbers 10:11; Numbers 17:4), which was now presented to the young king in the form of a roll, to indicate that his life and government both should be regulated by its precepts (Deuteronomy 17:18-20).
6. The anointing of the new sovereign. Done by Jehoiada and his sons, this symbolized Joash's consecration to a theocratic or holy office, that of ruling over Jehovah's people. So Saul (1 Samuel 10:1) and David (1 Samuel 16:11) were anointed by Samuel, Solomon by Zadok the priest (1 Kings 1:39), and Jehu by Elisha's messenger (2 Kings 9:6).
7. The acclamation of the people. When the coronation ceremony ended, the people clapped their hands (2 Kings 11:12) in expression of their joy (Psalm 47:1), and shouted, as their wont was at coronations, "God save the king!" or, "Let the king live!" (1 Samuel 10:24; 2 Samuel 16:16). (On "clapping of hands, see the Theological Monthly, February, 1889, p. 135.) Learn:
1. It is not always wrong for ministers of religion to take part in politics.
2. There are times when rebellion against the powers that be is a solemn duty.
3. Neither God's house nor God's day can be put to a better use than to set a crown upon the head of God's anointed.
4. In Church and state alike each man has his own place and work.
5. Kings may expect their thrones to be stable if these are erected on the good will of their subjects.
6. No sovereign can rule well who takes not the Law of God for his guide.
7. A great and good man in troubled times invaluable to Church or state. What could Judah have done without Jehoiada?
8. No man can miss the destiny God has in store for him. - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: And in the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and took the captains of hundreds, Azariah the son of Jeroham, and Ishmael the son of Jehohanan, and Azariah the son of Obed, and Maaseiah the son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat the son of Zichri, into covenant with him.
WEB: In the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and took the captains of hundreds, Azariah the son of Jeroham, and Ishmael the son of Jehohanan, and Azariah the son of Obed, and Maaseiah the son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat the son of Zichri, into covenant with him.