Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 12

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Jehoash’s contributions 11:21-12:3

Jehoash was the youngest king to mount Judah’s throne. He began reigning at age seven and ruled for 40 years (835-796 B.C.). His father was Ahaziah, the most recent male ruler of Judah, and his grandmother was Athaliah.

Jehoash followed the Law of Moses and ruled well as long as his mentor Jehoiada, the high priest, lived. However when Jehoiada died, evidently shortly after Jehoash’s temple repairs were complete (2 Chronicles 24:15), the king began to follow the advice of certain Judean officials who led him into unfaithfulness to Yahweh. He stubbornly refused the warnings God sent him by prophets (2 Chronicles 24:17-19) and by Zechariah, who had replaced his father as high priest (2 Chronicles 24:20-22). He even executed Zechariah. In the earlier years of his reign he was faithful to God, except that he allowed the high places of worship to remain in Judah (cf. Deuteronomy 12:2-7; Deuteronomy 12:13-14).

Verse 21

3. Jehoash’s good reign in Judah 11:21-12:21

With the beginning of Jehoash’s reign, Judah began to enjoy over 100 years of consecutive leadership by four men whom the writer of Kings judged good. None of these four (Jehoash, Amaziah, Azariah, and Jotham) was as good for Judah as Asa and Jehoshaphat had been, or as Hezekiah or Josiah would be. Nevertheless, together they provided the longest continuous span of God-approved leadership in Judah’s history.

Verses 4-16

Jehoash’s restoration of the temple 12:4-16

This was the first such project the writer recorded in Kings. Later, Hezekiah and Josiah also repaired the temple. Until now, temple expenses came out of the royal treasury, but Jehoash moved this obligation into the private sector. [Note: Jones, 2:490.] Jehoash’s original plan was to use part of the money that the people contributed for the maintenance of the priesthood to pay for the restoration (cf. Exodus 30:11-16; Leviticus 27; Numbers 30). Apparently the priests did not cooperate with this plan, perhaps out of selfishness. Consequently the king adopted a completely freewill offering approach and appointed non-priests to supervise its administration. This plan proved effective. Many other ancient Near Eastern governments used this approach to maintaining their temples at this time. [Note: A. L. Oppenheim, "A Fiscal Practice of the Ancient Near East," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 6 (1947):116-20; Victor Hurowitz, "Another Fiscal Practice in the Ancient Near East: 2 Kings 12:5-17 and a Letter to Esarhaddon (Las 277)," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 45:4 (October 1986):289-94.] The administrators of the program proved trustworthy. Integrity returned to Judah, partially, when the people rededicated themselves to Yahweh (2 Kings 11:17).

Verses 17-21

Jehoash’s unfaithfulness and assassination 12:17-21

King Hazael of Aram had defeated Israel during the reigns of Jehu and Jehoahaz (2 Kings 13:3; 2 Kings 13:22). He then pressed south along the Mediterranean coast toward Judah. He captured Gath and then sent soldiers against Jerusalem who killed many Judean leaders. Rather than turning to Yahweh for deliverance, Jehoash bought Hazael off with gold from the renovated temple. Later, Hazael returned to Judah and Jerusalem with a small company of men, destroyed all the nobility of Judah, and sent their spoil to the king of Damascus (2 Chronicles 24:23).

The Arameans had wounded Jehoash, who went to recuperate in a town named Beth Millo (2 Chronicles 24:25). There, several of his officials assassinated him (2 Kings 12:20), primarily because he had slain the high priest Zechariah (2 Chronicles 24:20-22). The king was buried in Jerusalem but not in the royal tombs (2 Chronicles 24:25) because the people did not have great respect for him.

"Once a promising, God-fearing young ruler, Joash died a disappointment. By bribing Hazael with Temple treasures, he tarnished his one great achievement, the Temple restoration." [Note: Hubbard, p. 185.]

Jehoash’s reign started off well but ended poorly because he turned from Yahweh. Instead of continuing to follow the high priest’s counsel, he silenced him by killing him. Consequently, God’s blessing on his earlier years in office turned into chastening later in his life.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Kings 12". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.