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JEHOAHAZ REIGNS IN ISRAEL
Jehoash reigned in Judah 40 years (ch.12:1), and in his 23 rd year Jehoahaz took the throne of Israel (v.1). He reigned 17 years, so it would appear both these kings died about the same time, but verse 10 seems inconsistent with this, whatever may be the explanation.
Jehoahaz followed the sins of Jereboam the son of Nebat, as his father Jehu had done (v.2). None of the kings who reigned in Israel (the twelve tribes) were godly men, but all followed the idolatry that Jereboam had introduced. Again the Lord's anger was aroused against Israel, so that they were oppressed by Hazael the king of Syria and by his son Ben-Hadad (v.3).
Such oppression was required by Jehoahaz before he would turn in any measure to the Lord, but then he did plead with the Lord who answered him graciously by giving relief through an unnamed deliverer (vv.4,5), and they were restored to their former status of dwelling in tents.
In spite of God's kindness in answering prayer, Israel continued in their idolatrous worship of the idols Jereboam had set up and also a wooden image in Samaria. The army of Israel was left pathetically weak with only 50 horsemen, ten chariots and 10,000 foot soldiers, as a result of the destruction brought upon them by the Syrians. The 17 years of the reign of Jehoahaz issued only in defeat and disaster, but verse 8 tells us that the rest of his acts and his might are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel, though these are not the scripture books of Chronicles. At his death his son Joash succeeded him on Israel's throne (v.9).
THE REIGN OF JOASH OVER ISRAEL
Verse 10 indicates that the reign of Joash over Israel overlapped the reign of Jehoash of Judah for three years. Joash of Israel reigned 16 years and maintained the same character of disobedience to God as did the former kings of Israel, clinging still to the idol worship that Jereboam had introduced. Other acts of Joash are said to be recorded in the books of the chronicles of the kings of Israel (v.12), and the death of Joash is mentioned in verse 13. However, there are other matters recorded in this chapter and up to chapter 14:15 concerning the reign of Joash, so that chapter 14:16 repeats the information concerning his death.
Until this time Elisha remained the one real link with God that was available to the kings of Israel, - a testimony against their evil, but a testimony to the grace of God that was available to them if they would only seek Him. The time had come now that Elisha was to be taken away by death. Joash, knowing this, and feeling his own incompetence, went to visit Elisha and wept over him. He was deeply affected, for even an unbeliever can be affected by the prospect of a godly man dying. Though he may have had no intention whatever of being godly himself, yet he respected the godliness of Elisha and realised that his intercession for Israel was keeping the nation from ruin. How striking it is that Joash repeats the very words of Elisha spoken on the occasion of Elijah's translation (ch.2:12), "O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!" (v.14). Elisha had felt the loss of Elijah, now Joash anticipated the loss of Elisha and felt it. After all, he was the king of God's nation Israel. He knew something of the history of his nation and of God's miraculous translation of Elijah, and was affected by this.
King Joash of Israel, in visiting Elisha on his deathbed, needed a serious message from Elisha. Though Elisha was a prophet of grace, yet he spoke rather of warfare to Joash, for Israel had enemies that they ought to destroy, just as saints of God now have enemies to whom they must show no mercy, - enemies who are not merely human, but satanic, who seek to deprive us of our proper spiritual blessings. Elisha told Joash to take a bow and arrows, then when the king held the bow, Elisha put his hands on the king's hands (v.15:16). Opening a window to the east (toward Syria), the king was told to shoot the arrow, which he did. What did Elisha mean by this? That Joash was to strike the Syrians till they were destroyed (v.17). Syria, meaning "exalted" stands for that principle of evil spoken of in 2 Corinthians 10:5, "arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God." We today must not use carnal weapons for this, but spiritual weapons, "mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4).
Elisha then told Joash to take the arrows and strike the ground, which Joash did three times (v.18). Elisha was angry with him for stopping at three times, telling him he ought to have struck the ground five or six times. But the obedience of Joash was only half-hearted, with the result that he would only defeat Syria three times. We too may be only half-hearted in our resisting the enemies of God. This is compromise which only leads to further trouble.
Elisha died and was buried (v.20). Elijah had been caught up to heaven without dying, as many saints will be at the coming of the Lord. Elijah thus pictures the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus. But Elisha, in his death, pictures the value of the death of Christ to give life to those who contact Him by faith. For as the Israelites were burying a man a band of Moabite raiders appeared and they hurriedly put the man into Elisha's grave. When his body touched the bones of Elisha the man revived (v.21). Thus too does everyone who by genuine faith contacts the Lord Jesus in His sacrificial death, find the reviving power of resurrection life.
OPPRESSION AND RELIEF
As Elisha had told Hazael he knew all the evil Hazael would bring to Israel (ch.8:12), so Hazael pursued a course of cruel oppression against Jehoahaz and his kingdom (v.22). Yet in spite of this cruelty, the Lord had compassion on Israel to give them some real help, because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so they were not cast out of their land. The longsuffering patience of God is wonderful, but patience is not indifference, and God must eventually judge.
Hazael died, however, and his son Ben Hadad became king of Syria. Then Joash, son of Jehoahaz, recaptured the cities Hazael had taken from his father. As Elisha had promised, Joash defeated Ben Hadad three times, but this did not destroy the power of Syria.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent