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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 13

Ironside's Notes on Selected BooksIronside's Notes

Verses 1-9



2 Kings 13:1-9

Contemporary Prophets: Elisha, Jonah.

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”-Proverbs 29:2

“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. 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.” There is no variation from the same sorrowful formula usually used in describing the moral conduct of these Israelitish kings: “He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.” His ways may not have appeared sinful in the sight of his fellows; but God, who “seeth not as man seeth,” pronounced it “evil,” and sent upon him and his subjects the chastisement their wicked idolatry deserved.

“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 Ben-hadad the son of Hazael, all their days.” Hazael’s conquest of the kingdom had begun in the days of Jehu, Jehoahaz’ father: “In those days the Lord began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel; from Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan” (2 Kings 10:32, 2 Kings 10:33). Jehu, though so “swift to shed blood” in the beginning of his reign, was more slow to take the sword in defence of the land and people of God toward its close. Men of this class are seldom really “good soldiers.” They may be exceedingly active in obtaining the position they love and covet, while very careless about the true interests of the people of God. There is no hint of his having made the slightest attempt to resist these inroads of the king of Syria in his dominion. He probably remained timorously passive at Samaria while the encroachments on God’s territory were being made. The Black Obelisk records that he (“Jahua”) sent gold and silver to Shalmaneser I. at this time, probably to invoke the Assyrian’s aid against Hazael. Certainly valor was not characteristic of Jehu. Impetuosity is not courage, nor must we mistake enthusiasm for the earnestness of conviction. To boast when putting on the harness is an easy matter; the wise will wait until the time to put it off (1 Kings 20:11); and then the truly wise will glory only in the Lord.

“And Jehoahaz besought the Lord, and the Lord harkened 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. Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin, but walked therein: and there remained the grove (Asherah, N. Tr.) also in Samaria.” In this parenthetic paragraph we see how Elisha’s prophecy of Hazael’s pitiless oppression of the children of Israel was fulfilled (2 Kings 8:12). Well might the man of God, who so dearly loved Israel, weep as before him stood the destined perpetrator of these cruelties against his people-God even thus seeking to turn them back to repentance from their idolatries. This bitter chastisement appears to have had a salutary effect upon Jehoahaz, for he “besought Jehovah.” When the “goodness” of God fails to bring men to repentance, His “severity “is required, and used. See Psalms 78:34; Hosea 5:15. “Accordingly God accepted of his repentance,” Josephus says; “and being desirous rather to admonish those that might repent, than to determine that they should be utterly destroyed, He granted them deliverance from war and dangers. So the country having obtained peace, returned to its former condition, and flourished as before” (Ant. ix. 8, § 5). This restoration to prosperity began under Joash son of Jehoahaz, and culminated during the reign of his grandson Jeroboam II.21 So prayer is frequently answered after the petitioner has passed away. Let none say, then, like the wicked of old, in reference to God, “What profit should we have, if we pray unto Him?” (Job 21:15.)22 What profit? Ah, true prayer is always heard at the Throne: “Whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him” (1 John 5:15).

“Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz” (2 Kings 13:22). There was no respite until Joash’s day. This must have been a test to Jehoahaz’ faith, if his repentance was really the result of “godly sorrow” for his and the nation’s sins. But when has faith, untried, ever flourished? Stagger not, then, nor stumble, beloved fellow-believer, at “the trial of your faith.” God “harkened” to Jehoahaz, though he died with Hazael busy at his work of devastation in his realm. “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.” See Amos 1:3.

“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.”

21 A temporary deliverance may have been granted as 2 Kings 13:4, 2 Kings 13:5, seems to imply; and the reason of being only temporary given in the 6th verse: “Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam” etc.-[Ed.

22 The very need of the creature, even though unintelligent, is like a prayer-an appeal to God:” Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God” (Job 38:41).-[Ed.

Verses 10-25

Joash (Or, Jehoash)


2 Kings 13:10-25; 2 Kings 14:8-16

Contemporary Prophet: Jonah (?)

“A man shall not be established by wickedness; but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.”-Proverbs 12:3

“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” (2 Kings 13:10). It is evident from a comparison of the figures of this verse with those given in verse one of same chapter, and first verse of the chapter following, that Joash (Jehoash, abbreviated) reigned jointly with his father (a thing not uncommon in ancient times) during the last two years of the latter’s life. This readily explains an otherwise inexplicable chronological difficulty, and it is quite likely that the seeming discrepancies of chronology in Scripture (those most difficult of solution) could-excepting a few which undoubtedly owe their origin to errors of transcription- be as simply and as satisfactorily explained.

“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 to sin: but he walked therein.” Josephus calls him a “good man” (Ant. ix. 8, § 6). This misjudgment of the character of Joash is probably based on the incident of his visit to the dying prophet Elisha. A little manifestation of religious, or even semi-religious, sentiment goes a long way, with some persons, in accounting people “good.” It has been supposed by some that Joash reformed, or repented, toward the end of his life (founded partly, perhaps, on his mild treatment, toward the close of his reign, of Amaziah, when he had it in his power to take that combative meddler’s life-see Amaziah), and that Josephus refers to this latter period of his reign. But the words, “ He departed not from the sins of Jeroboam,” forbid all thought of any real, or lasting repentance at any period of his life. God is more anxious to record, than any of His people are to read, any good in any of these monarchs’ lives. He has noted none in Joash’s; and where He is silent, who will dare to speak?

The episode of Joash’s visit to the dying prophet has been alluded to; we quote it here in full: “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. 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 thy hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it: and Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands. 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 (even, N. Tr.) the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them. 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. 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 application of all this is simple. Joash could not but realize that the prophet’s departure from them would be a serious loss to the nation. And in calling him “the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof,” he meant that the prophet’s presence in their midst was to them what chariots and horsemen were to other nations-their main defence.23 And by putting his dying hands upon those of the king, Elisha meant him to understand the truth of what God said more than three hundred years later, through the prophet Zecha- riah, “Not by might [or forces, or army], nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). “Without Me, ye can do nothing,” this would be in New Testament phraseology. The shooting of the arrow eastward, toward the territory conquered by Syria, signified Joash’s victory over Ben-ha-dad’s forces at Aphek (“on the road from Syria to Israel in the level plain east of Jordan; a common field of battles with Syria.”- Fausset). See 1 Kings 20:26. Only Joash’s lack of faith, manifested in his halfhearted smiting the ground with arrows but thrice, prevented his destroying the Syrians utterly. And it was unto him according to his faith. “And Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again out of the hand of Ben-hadad 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.”

Like Asa [see], he had the opportunity given him to end the power of Syria (2 Chronicles 16:7), which from its beginning had been such a plague to both Judah and Israel. But, like Asa, he let it pass, and the work was left to the Assyrian, who destroyed both it (Syria) and them (Israel and Judah).

“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? And Joash slept with his fathers; and Jeroboam sat upon his throne: and Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.”

23 The whole narrative here brings vividly to mind the departure of Elijah, when the chariot and horses of fire bore him away as by a whirlwind to heaven, and Elisha exclaimed, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof!” King Joash (fully acquainted, no doubt, with the circumstances of Elijah’s carrying away to heaven) repeats Elisha’s very words at the taking away of his master, Jehovah’s faithful and honored servant. Like many another disobedient heart unreconciled to God, king Joash has a sense of the loss that Elisha’s death would be to the kingdom-Jehovah’s defence, as well as His reproofs, was departing. Yet Elisha (like Elijah dropping his mantle) would leave a blessing and help for poor Israel, limited only by Israel’s and their king’s unbelief.- [Ed.

Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/isn/2-kings-13.html. 1914.
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