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This chapter contains the entire career of Joash, and is answered to by the twelfth chapter of Kings. It tells of Joash's fidelity to God, and his worship and temple, while Jehoiada's life lasted (2 Chronicles 24:1-14); of his departure from God and permission of idolatry afterwards (2 Chronicles 24:15-22); of the punishment he received at the hands of the Syrians (2 Chronicles 24:23, 2 Chronicles 24:24); and of his miserable end (2 Chronicles 24:25-27). The differences between our chapter and the parallel, in respect of what it both omits and supplies, are much larger than usual, and are very interesting and suggestive in the character of them. These points will be marked particularly in the notes underneath as they occur.
2 Chronicles 24:1
His mother's name … Zibiah of Beersheba. We do not read, in the brief account of Ahaziah, Joash's father, whom he married. Nothing is as yet known of Zibiah, but there must be some significance underlying the mention of her name and native place, or known place of residence. The references Amos 5:5 and Amos 8:14 may possibly contain the clue, in holding up Beersheba as the most idolatrous of idolatrous places. Beersheba offers another reference of unhappy associations (1 Samuel 8:2). As a terminus of the land, "Dan to Beersheba" (Judges 20:1; 2 Samuel 24:2; 1 Chronicles 21:2); as a terminus of the divided Judah, "Beersheba to Mount Ephraim" (2 Chronicles 19:4), "Geba to Beersheba" (2 Kings 23:8); and as a terminus of this Judah yet reduced after the Captivity, "Beersheba to the valley of Hinnom" (Nehemiah 11:30); its mention is notorious. The references Genesis 21:31 and Genesis 26:18, Genesis 26:31-33 are full of interest, as bearing on the way in which the spot is first known in Bible history.
2 Chronicles 24:2
All the days of Jehoiada. Of the "forty years" mentioned in the former verse, these "days of Jehoiada" will cover, some, at any rate, say, two years more than "twenty-two years;" for compare our 2 Chronicles 24:6, 2 Chronicles 24:12-15 with the parallel, 2Ki 12:6, 2 Kings 12:7, 2 Kings 12:9, noting the thenceforward silence there respecting Jehoiada, and even making ample allowance for it.
2 Chronicles 24:3
That special note is made of Jehoiada's selecting of the wives may at any rate point to the suggestion that he was all a father to Joash, and both for his own sake and the kingdom's sake anxious as to the character of the women by whom a new kingly seed should take rise in place of that destroyed by Athaliah (2 Chronicles 22:10). Our 2 Chronicles 25:1 leaves it probable that "Jehoaden of Jerusalem" was one of these, though it is likely enough that Joash married, whether her or some one else, before he had reached the age of twenty-one. It is also quite likely that we may read between the lines, that in selecting two wives for his young and loved ward, Jehoiada hoped and prayed that Joash might not fall by sin like Solomon's (1 Kings 11:3) and that of others of the kings of both Judah and Israel.
2 Chronicles 24:4
To repair. The idea of this verb (חָדַשׁ) is that of making new.
2 Chronicles 24:5
To repair. The idea of this verb (חָזַק) is that of making strong. From year to year. The compound adverbial expression חָדֵּי, here used for "from," era-braces the idea of" unfailingly from year to year." The command given here to the priests and Levites is expressed very differently, though in no degree contadictorily, in the parallel (see its 2 Chronicles 24:4, 2 Chronicles 24:5). The addition is there found, "every man of his acquaintance;" this expression may glance at the very supposable circumstance that the priest and Levite collecting deputations would naturally go respectively to the towns and cities where they had been located beforetime. A slight ambiguity is perhaps occasioned by the impression that the fourth verse (in the parallel) produces—that the priests and Levites should wait to receive, e.g; in Jerusalem. This, however, is ,sot what is said, and need not, therefore, be made into a difficulty. Howbeit the Levites hastened not. We are not told why this delay was, nor does the subsequent narrative seem to elucidate it, further than this—that the delay somehow seemed to rest with Jehoiada, as the king appealed to him for explanation.
2 Chronicles 24:6
Jehoiada the chief; so. priest, for comp. our 2 Chronicles 24:11; 2 Chronicles 19:11; 2 Chronicles 26:20. In each of those instances the Hebrew text shows הָראשׁ, and the Authorized Version "chief" except inconsistently in our 2 Chronicles 26:11. Revised Version "chief" in all the instances. The name "priest" occurs just about six hundred and sixty-six times in the Old Testament, the title "high" or "chief priest" only about twenty-six times, the first occurrence being in Le 2 Chronicles 21:10, the last Zechariah 6:11; and both set forth by the Hebrew adjective גָּדוֹל, as also in fifteen other of the occurrences. Seven times the word ראֹשׁ is the word employed, and שָׂרֵיthe other two times. In these last two cases, however (Ezra 8:24, Ezra 8:29; Ezra 10:5), it is not "high priests" nor "chief priests" that are perhaps even really intended, but the "princes" of the priests, or those who, for whatever reasons of personal characteristics, were chief. Out of Judah and out of Jerusalem. The statement here is precise, that the call of money was to be made both in the cities of Judah and in the metropolis Jerusalem. The collection; Hebrew, מַשְׁאַת; Revised Version, better, the tax of, etc. Of this we read in Exodus 30:13-15; Exodus 38:25, Exodus 38:26; Numbers 1:30. It was of the uniform amount of half a sanctuary shekel, for rich or poor, and was ordered to be set apart "for the service of the tabernacle of the conregation," here called in the Authorized Version the tabernacle of witness; Revised Version, the tent of the testimony. Exodus has מוֹעֵד for our חָעֵדוּת. This source of money for the holy design of Joash is again most specifically stated in our verse 9. The version of this whole transaction seems rather confusing as given in the parallel, where verse 4 mentions three sources of money, without any quotation as such of the ordained tax of Moses, which was apparently the first of those three, and where verse 8, at first blush at any rate, might seem to imply recusant priests. The meaning, however, is probably the contrary, the verse purporting that the priests consented to forego what they had been accustomed on receiving to apply to some personal or current-funds purpose, and who consented to forego the superintending of the outlay of the money on. the repairing, that it might be done with more expedition by "scribe" and high priest" (verse 10; comp. verse 16; both of the parallel). All these details the writer of Chronicles passes over, only pursuing the essential business, Joash's pious resolve, the delay in its execution, and how he finally overcame the obstructive delay.
2 Chronicles 24:7
The sons of Athaliah. This verse's testimony against Athaliah's sons explains 2 Chronicles 21:17, and is explained and corroborated by it. That wicked woman; Hebrew, הַמִּרְשַׁעַת; fem. noun, derivative of רַשַׁע; meaning strictly in the abstract, "the wickedness," equal to that incarnation of wickedness. All the dedicated things; i.e. the holy vessels, treasure, and holy furniture of the house of the Lord, had they desecrated, and robbed' them thence to squander them on their various Baals (2 Chronicles 17:3).
2 Chronicles 24:8
A chest; Hebrew, אֲרוֹן אֶחָד, "one chest." This is more accurately described in 2 Chronicles 24:9 of the parallel. Without at the gate of the house of the Lord; i.e. in the court opposite the porch, and, as we learn from the parallel, by the side of the altar of burnt offering. Now, not the priests generally, but simply those who kept the door (probably the north door, Eze 11:1-25 :35), receiving the contributions of the people at their hands, into their own hands deposited them in the one chest.
2 Chronicles 24:9
(See notes on 2 Chronicles 24:6.)
2 Chronicles 24:10
Until they had made an end; Hebrew, לְכִּלֵּה, piel infin. The meaning can scarcely be till enough was obtained, because day after day, as the next verso tells us, the chest was brought; but either till those who had come that day to give had all given in their contributions, or, as some think with much less probability, till the chest was full for the day. At the same time, the clause, occupying only one word in the original, may quite possibly purport to state summarily by anticipation that the same system was observed to the end, and the method of the chest not departed from.
2 Chronicles 24:11
Unto the king's office. Not "office" in the modern technical business sense; the meaning is the care, charge, or custody of the king, the Hebrew word being פְקֻדַּת; nor does this necessitate the supposition of the personal care of the king. The body of this verse leaves it quite open to possibility, in harmony with the usage of the Hebrew language and its idiom, that the process described took place, if necessary, more than once in a day, and, on the other hand, not necessarily every evening. The change of the number of the verb in "they emptied," etc; and the apparent statement that those who emptied also carried back the chest, betoken that while the king's scribe (1 Kings 4:3) and the high priest's officer stood by, the usual Levite functionaries did the work. The phrase, day by day, is not necessarily equivalent to every evening, but to time after time.
2 Chronicles 24:12
Gave it to such as did the work of the service; i.e. the persons responsible for the work, or "that had the oversight of it" (2 Kings 12:11). Carpenters. It is preferable to render here literally workmen or workers. Probably this clause purports that those responsible, as above, hired masons and workmen. And also such as wrought. Supply the preposition found in the Hebrew text, "to" before "such," and render again the same word (חָרָשֵׁי) literally, workers of iron and brass.
2 Chronicles 24:13
The work was perfected by their hands. The margin gives the literal rendering, "healing" or health, or, i.e; recovery, "went up upon the work." The lively figure of the Hebrew word used (אֲרוּכָה) is very intelligible. The term is employed in only five other places, viz. Nehemiah 4:7 (Authorized Version, "The walls were made up;" Revised Version better, The repairing of the walls went forward); Isaiah 58:8; Jeremiah 8:22; Jeremiah 30:17; Jeremiah 33:6; in each of which four instances, in both Authorized Version and Revised Version, the literal rendering "health" or "healing" is found. In his state; equivalent to in its stateliness, perhaps the idea of the Hebrew word מַתְכֻּנְהּוֹ [only used four other times, and then rendered once "tale" (Exodus 5:8), twice "composition" (2Ch 30:1-27 :32, 37), once "measure" (Ezekiel 45:11)], being measure, or proportion, or rate.
2 Chronicles 24:14
And to offer withal. The insertion of the italic type in the Authorized Version "withal" unnecessarily helps suggest uncertainty in this rendering, while the Revised Version gives that word in the ordinary type; margin, both Authorized Version and Revised Version, gives "pestles." The Hebrew word is (הַעֲלוֹת) the hiph. turin, of the familiar verb עָלָה or plural of עֲלי with article prefixed; this word, however, seems to occur only once (Proverbs 27:22), and then in the singular number. The rest of the money … made vessels for the house of the Lord. This passage may harmonize not unsatisfactorily with the parallel (2 Kings 12:13), and on the very suggestion of the circumstantial evidence that arises from the place in which the information of our own text is found, by laying emphasis on the expression,."the rest of the money." The writer of Kings meant that nothing interfered with, nothing whatsoever ran even with the execution of the substantial work of reparation of the building, and he neglects to record that finally a remanet of money being available, vessels were made of it for the inner furnishing of the house.
2 Chronicles 24:15
But Jehoiada … died; an hundred and thirty years old. This good man, husband of Jehoram's daughter (2 Chronicles 22:11), only comes to view in virtue of what his wife did, and what he did,; on behalf of Joash the infant and Joash the king for the good of the nation or kingdom of Judah. We seem to know too little of him, and the parallel supplies considerably less than our text in Chronicles. His age, as stated in this verse when he died, seems very improbable, and for a very clear and admirable putting of the case, see Lord Arthur C. Hervey's article in Dr. Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 1.944. There is, however, no manifest or even suspicious symptom of corruptness in the text just here, supported as it is by the Septuagint and Josephus, by the stress laid on his old age, whether it showed a hundred and thirty years, or thirty years or fifty years (as have been variously suggested) fewer; the little fact, otherwise looking very significant, that the expression, full of days, is used beside only of Abraham, Isaac, Job, and David, loses its pertinence in that very circumstance that it is used of David, whose age was in no way extreme. The age of the other three, however, exceeded this reputed age given to Jehoiada!
2 Chronicles 24:16
The honour done Jehoiada well belonged to him, not only for his goodness, his greatness, his practical services to the kingdom, but for the fact that those practical services had entailed the necessity of his standing in loco regis for some time. His royal alliance with Jeheram's daughter, and, if it were so, his extreme patriarchal age, may all have contributed to the honour now put upon him. Little stress can be laid, however, upon this last consideration, failing any other allusion to it, or any emphasized statement of what we have in our 2 Chronicles 24:15.
2 Chronicles 24:17
The princes. These turned aside from the better part they had performed (2 Chronicles 23:13, 2 Chronicles 23:20). Made obeisance; Hebrew, יִשְׁתַּחֲווּ. This is the word that is used of the sheaves of the brethren of Joseph bowing down, according to his dream, to his sheaf; it is also the repeatedly used word of the worship paid to Jehovah the true God, and to idols and false gods. The word occurs nearly two hundred times. The obeisance of these princes, therefore, on this occasion lacked nothing of the most pronounced character, and the worst species of flattery gained its disastrous ends. Joash must have been now about thirty-six years of age; he was seven years old when he began to reign, he had reigned twenty-three years before the restoring of the temple (2 Kings 12:6), and a few years had elapsed since. The words of the princes, to which Joash hearkened, are not supplied by the parallel, which indeed at once proceeds to speak of the threatening attitude of the Syrian king Hazael, and of how Joash bought him off. Our next verse, however, shows to what end those words tended.
2 Chronicles 24:18
Served groves; Revised Version, the Asherim, correctly (see note, 2 Chronicles 14:3). For this their trespass. Comparing the emphatic language of 2 Chronicles 24:23," destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people," we may conclude that stress is to be laid on the pronoun "their" in the present verse. The worship of the true God was not left by the whole people, and we are not told it was by the king; but (very probably through want of moral courage) he incurred the severest sort of blame, and was without even the excuse of strong personal temptation.
2 Chronicles 24:19
Prophets. The name of only one, Zechariah, as in next verse, is given (see by the side of this verse the emphatic and touching language of 2 Chronicles 36:14-16).
2 Chronicles 24:20
Came upon; margin, clothed; Revised Version margin, clothed itself with (1 Chronicles 12:18). Compare the beautiful expression of Revelation 1:10, ,I was in the Spirit;" it was not merely that the Spirit deigned to visit St. John in Patmos, but so possessed him that he was in the Spirit. The son of Jehoiada; i.e. very possibly grandson of Jehoiada (Jehoiada's great age the rather countenancing this interpretation) and "son of Barachias" (Matthew 23:35). That ye cannot prosper. The Hebrew text says, "and ye will not prosper." This clause may read all the more forcibly if kept under the dominance of the why of the former, reminding us of such appeals as "Why will ye die?" etc. (2 Chronicles 15:2; Deuteronomy 18:1-22, throughout). Reading these two clauses in the preterite or present tense will make them neither less forcible nor less correct, so indicating that they, the princes and the nation, were already beginning to eat the fruit of their ways, and "rumours of war," if not war itself, were on them.
2 Chronicles 24:21
Stoned him. Yet this was their Law's punishment for themselves, for idolaters (Le 2 Chronicles 20:2). At the commandment of the king. The king, who had yielded to the flattering obeisance and worship of the princes, is now driven on a grievous length further. In the court of the house of the Lord. So Matthew 23:35, "between the temple [Revised Version, 'sanctuary'] and the altar."
2 Chronicles 24:22
Remembered not the kindness (Genesis 40:23). The Lord look upon it, and require it. So, too, the Revised Version, which also, according to its custom, removes the italic type from the two neuter pronouns "it." But probabaly a better and correcter rendering is, "The Lord will see and will require" (for it is not necessary to regard this as a prayer of Zechariah); and thus bring it into comparison with those divinest prayers of the Saviour and of St. Stephen. The words on dying Zechariah's lips were perhaps rather the vivid reminiscence of his own well-versed knowledge of the Law, or "the Scriptures" (Genesis 9:5; Genesis 42:22). The sentence of the dying priest and prophet in one, is, by the writer of Chronicles at any rate, directed in its fall with fearful straightness to the door of Joash the king himself. Remarkable as is the absence of the matter of this and the five preceding verses from the parallel, it will not escape notice how it is implied in verses 17,18 there, while the inclusion of it here is again in patent harmony with the great object of the writer.
2 Chronicles 24:23
At the end of the year; Hebrew, תְּקוּפַת; margin, both of the Authorized Version and the Revised Version, revolution. The word is found three other times, Exodus 34:22; 1 Samuel 1:20; Psalms 19:7. The versions, of course, express correctly what is meant, but probably the season of spring is also conveyed (2 Samuel 11:1; 1 Chronicles 20:1). The host of Syria. Their king was Hazael (2 Kings 12:17), whether actually with them is perhaps not certain, but the last clause in the verse just quoted would seem to convey that impression. He was King of Damascus (Aram, or Syria), and having already temporarily mastered Israel (2 Kings 13:3, 2 Kings 13:4, 2 Kings 13:22), the way was paved to Gath (2 Chronicles 11:8; 2 Chronicles 17:11), whence wistful eyes were bent on Jerusalem, nearly thirty miles distant thence. Destroyed all the princes of the people; i.e. as in the next verse. And sent all the spoil. Whether intended so here or not, probably the strict subject of the verb in this clause is Joash and his counsellors, in their fright—and just fright—helpless after the slaughter chronicled in our following verse, bribing off Hazael and his host, as in parallel. The suggestion is most plausible that tidings of Zechariah's martyrdom and of the occasion of it were the very incentive to Hazael's incursion, and an illustration of the "means" by which God works, and by which he wrought his purpose in this instance. The spoil of them. If this means only the spoil of the defeated army strictly, then our text gives no trace of the contents of verse 18 in parallel just alluded to; but the frequent dislocation incident to copied extracts and matter borrowed from original sources, and so often evidenced in the present history, when we have been comparing the two derived accounts to which we are indebted for it, incline us to the above view, as one quite open at any rate to possibility.
2 Chronicles 24:24
Came with a small company … the Lord delivered a very great host (so Le 2 Chronicles 26:8; Deuteronomy 28:25, etc.). So they executed judgment against Joash. The Hebrew says literally, "and on Joash they executed judgments." What the judgments were we do not read, but surely it is probable that they are glanced at in the next verse, "For they left him in great [or, 'many'] diseases," or perhaps "in great illness" (2 Chronicles 21:15).
2 Chronicles 24:25
They left him in great diseases. See note above, and observe further that this parenthetic clause, as treated in both Authorized Version and Revised Version, prepares the way for what follows, and especially for the fact that it was on his bed that they slew him. Render thus, And after they had betaken themselves away, whereas they left him sorely ill, his own servants conspired … and slew him in his bed. His own servants. These had the opportunity the rather at hand, in that he was so ill and in bed. That he died by the conspiring together of a couple of servants, whose foreign and heathen maternity is particularly recorded, was the more ignominious end for him, who had commanded Zechariah to be openly stoned—a death highly honourable in comparison. The parallel (2 Kings 12:20) adds that it was in "the house of Mille, which goeth down to Silla" (for the explanation of which passage, see note ad loc.), that the servants' conspiracy to kill Joash took effect. The sons of Jehoiada. We know of only one son, Zechariah; there may have been other sons, or other lineal relations of Jehoiada may be covered by the word "sons." We are not obliged to interpret the avenging act of the servants as one to which their own pious and patriotic zeal led them, which, considering their maternal pedigree, is perhaps something unlikely, though of course not impossible, but one to which they were incited by the retributive providence of him who held their hearts also in his hand. In a word, it was a deed done for the bleed—required (see note and references under verse 22). Not in the sepulchres of the kings. See note on verse 16, and references there quoted; as also the ambiguous expression of the parallel (verse 21), "They buried him with his fathers in the city of David."
2 Chronicles 24:26
Zabad. The name Jozachar of the parallel is probably the correct word, and a copyist's corruption may with some plausibility be argued as the cause of the form Zabad in our text. The parallel omits the names of the mothers' nationality. Shimrith. The parallel has Shomer, probably an Hebraized form of the Moabitish name of our text.
2 Chronicles 24:27
His sons. We only know of one, Amaziah, his successor. The burdens laid upon him. Some explain this expression of the tribute and bribe Joash had to pay Hazael; others of prophetic "burdens" uttered against him; and others (much favoured by the position of the clause just before the repairing of the house, etc.) of the task which he had so voluntarily undertaken, the money-raising and all (Ezekiel 24:25; comp. our Ezekiel 24:6, Ezekiel 24:9, Ezekiel 24:11). The repairing; Hebrew, וִיסוֹר. Render, with the Revised Version, the rebuilding. The story of the book of the kings. The Revised Version renders the Hebrew text (מִדְּרַשׁ סֵפֶר) "the commentary of the book of the kings," probably to be followed by the words, "of Judah;" the parallel has "the book of the Chronicles [סִפֶד דִּבְרֵי הַיָמִים] of the kings of Judah". The word rendered "story" or "commentary" in our text is employed only once beside (2 Chronicles 13:22). Its verbal root, however, is found about a hundred and sixty-two times, invariably in the sense of inquiring, and almost invariably rendered in the Authorized Version by the word "inquire," or "seek;" so that perhaps the word "study" or "pursuit" might, idioms being allowed for, be the nearer rendering. It is rabbinic literature mostly that has determined the preference for the word "commentary."
2 Chronicles 24:1-27
The sad and strange unreliableness of human disposition and life here.
One of the strangest of all the sadnesses of human life is the uncertainty and unreliableness of human disposition, which it is so constantly exposing to view. Not only has the fairest promise vanished (like the sun of many a morning) long before the character could be supposed to be firm or even fairly formed, but after the period justly esteemed critical has passed, after fruit has set, and even after some fruit has been gathered ripe, alas for the failures and falls, the disappointments and distressing desolation, which have laid waste the scene! The turn in the life of Joash, with his miserable end, of which this chapter bears record, is a very distinct and typical instance of what has been and is still often. And in reading the present chapter, we are forcibly reminded of the apostle's language "All these things were written for our admonition." We cannot afford to regard the contents of this chapter as of merely historic interest; they are of terrible though kindly import for modern life and all life. In connection with this thought, the following points may be picked out in the matter of the present history. The life which thus in its afternoon, let us say, turned aside to evil, was—
I. ONE WHICH HAD BEEN, IN THE VERY INCEPTION, NURSING, AND FIRST REARING OF IT, ALMOST MIRACULOUSLY SAVED AND GUARDED—THE VERY CREATURE OF PROVIDENCE, THE CHILD OF DIVINE CARE AND WATCHFUL LOVE. Many an analogy really every whit as strong and impressive may be found and instanced by the practical preacher here; also cases which may be well within the knowledge of the parish or the country.
II. ONE THE RIGHT BEGINNING OF WHICH WAS CONSPICUOUS BOTH FOR THE GREATNESS AND THE WORTHINESS OF ITS ZEAL.
III. ONE WHICH HAD ENJOYED THE SUSTAINING HELP OF THE BEST AND MOST FAITHFUL OF FRIENDS. These friends had been of the kind that well remind us of the psalm of Joash's ancestor; for his "father and mother had indeed forsaken him," when "the Lord took him up," in the persons of. the. priest and. his wife. All. the incalculable advantages of the best of early associations and religious prepossessions had been the happy portion of Joash, now—when every recollection and reminiscence should have been gilding itself with fresh sacredness—to be flung away to the winds, as though they were presences to the mind as much to be dreaded as in fact they were worthy to be cherished.
IV. ONE THE WRENCH OF WHICH WITH THE PAST WAS SURPRISINGLY VIOLENT AND ABSOLUTE; AND ITS MOTIVE AS SURPRISINGLY UNJUSTIFYING OF IT. This apparently absolute reversal of what had hitherto seemed character and goodness was above all witnessed to by one central blackest blot in the conduct of Joash. Guiltily did he forget the debt his own very pulse and beating heart owed to the preservers of his life, when he commanded that Zechariah, the son of their love, be stoned to death for his righteous remonstrance and warning. His dying words, "The Lord look upon it, and require it," no doubt did not mark the spirit of unforgivingness; they did mark, and justly, the turpitude of the sin which was bound to "find out' the perpetrator of it! And then the motif of the conduct of Joash! It is written in verse 17. The brief suppressed language, which does there write it, tells the more significantly of its dishonourableness and despicableness, only fit to shun the eye of day! And the warnings of the Lord God of the fathers of Joash and his people, are so touchingly expressed, especially in verse 19! These preclude the possibility of our deducting anything of blame from Joash, on the ground of his being taken unawares, or surprised by some sudden gust of temptation. This type of thing has indeed numbered its antitypes, times without number; but was it not thus forcibly delineated, deeply graven or etched, that whoso should have eyes to see might see, and ears to hear might hear?
V. ONE THE END OF WHICH REVEALED MOST FEARFULLY ALIKE THE REVULSION OF MAN AND THE SOLEMN RETRIBUTION OF GOD. With what smitten wonder our awed thought follows unwittingly, but trembles to essay to track the ways of God's hidden judgment, when the account of this present life is once summed up,—hidden because that account is summed up! What solemn need for every man to watch and pray; to walk humbly; to take heed how he stands; and to remember the warnings of those of whom this is the record, that they "did run well"!
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
2 Chronicles 24:1, 2 Chronicles 24:2
The extremely interesting circumstances under which Joash came to the throne (2 Chronicles 23:1-21.) make us wish that there was something satisfactory to record of him when he sat upon it. Unfortunately, it is not so. One work in particular he wrought (see next homily) for which he deserves honour, but his character stands before us as that of an essentially weak man. He did what was right all the days of Jehoiada, but no longer. He allowed one man, to whom he was much indebted, to influence him aright; so far he did well. That, however, is not saying very much, for it would have been ingratitude indeed, of the deepest dye, if he had not been guided by those who first saved his life, and then, as the greatest risk to themselves, seated him upon the throne of his fathers. But goodness that goes no deeper than that is essentially weak; the worth that has to be propped up by a human hand, and that falls to the ground when the sustaining hand is withdrawn, is of small account. It has taken no root; it will have no length of life; it will bring forth no flowers and fruits. Moral weakness is—
I. DISREGARDED OF GOD AND MAN. For such men as Joash the prophet of the Lord has no word of general commendation, though he has words of rebuke to utter (2 Chronicles 24:19, 2 Chronicles 24:20). With them God "is not well pleased." And man is also and equally dissatisfied. Men that are wrong and strong will find their advocates; indeed, they find all too many to honour and praise them, both while they live and when they are departed. But men that are good and weak find none to admire them. They may start, as Joash apparently did, with fair intentions and blameless desires, but they have no force of character, and being "driven with the wind and tossed," carried about hither and thither according to the passing breeze, they are the object of disregard, if not of positive contempt. There is nothing honourable or admirable in them.
II. FRUITLESS OF ANY POSITIVE GOOD. Such men as Joash may do some good during one half of their life, or at different parts of their life; but the good they then do is counterbalanced by the harm they work during the other half or on other occasions; and no one can say which prevails over the other. The measure of many a man's life-influence is a nice sum in spiritual subtraction; and when everything is known it will perhaps be found to be a "negative quantity." It is a poor and a pitiful thing to see a man first building up and then pulling down; one day working with the people of God and the next associating with the enemies of true and pure religion; subscribing to a Christian charity and attending a demoralizing spectacle; pulling in contrary directions. What can such a man do? What witness can he bear, what work achieve, what contribution bring to the great end we should have in view—the elevation of our kind? That will be represented by a cypher—or something worse.
III. UNNECESSARY. It may indeed be said that this is a question of natural endowment, and rests with our Creator and not with ourselves; that men receive from him either strength and force of will or else pliancy of spirit, sensitiveness of soul and readiness to be affected by influences from outside. This is true, in part; but it is not the whole truth. We must not make our heavenly Father responsible for our short-comings. Moral weakness is a defect of character. It is the result of a wrong choice.
1. Let a man give himself, as he should, in full surrender to the God whoso he is and whom he is most sacredly bound to serve, to that Divine Saviour who has bought him with the price of his own redeeming blood, and he will then be in the way of gaining single-heartedness and strength.
2. Let him be regularly and repeatedly renewing his act of self-dedication. Joash did, when he was a child, pledge himself to the service of Jehovah (2 Chronicles 23:16). But he was then too young to understand all that such a covenant meant. He should have continually renewed that solemn pledge. We have the amplest opportunities and invitations to reconsecrate ourselves to the service of Christ, and if we accept these, we shall retain our thorough loyalty to him, and then we shall not be moved and swayed, but be "steadfast and immovable."
3. Let him gain strength from above. There is an unfailing Divine resource on which all the good may draw. "When I am weak, then am I strong," said Paul. For when he was most conscious of his own insufficiency, then he looked up for help to the "Lord of all power and might," to him who can and will "strengthen us with strength in our soul," who will "strengthen us with all might by his Spirit in the inner man," who will make us strong
(1) to endure;
(2) to overcome;
(3) to bear witness;
(4) to labour in the holy fields of Christian work.—C.
2 Chronicles 24:4-14
We have an interesting description of a very old instance of—
I. CHURCH RENOVATION. Here were all the elements that ordinarily occur.
1. Dilapidation, or the condition of being out of repair. In this case there had been profanation, deliberate injury, spoliation (2 Chronicles 24:7); but always there will be waste and decay even in "the house of the Lord." The elements of nature do not spare the most sacred sanctuary.
2. An energetic leader. Joash signalized his otherwise ordinary career by taking this matter much to heart and taking it thoroughly in hand. He prompted Jehoiada himself; he incited the hesitating priests (2 Chronicles 24:5-9); he called forth the energy of the people themselves.
3. Co-operation. "All the princes and all the people rejoiced" when they were zealously engaged in the work, and the masons and the carpenters did their part regularly and faithfully (2 Kings 12:15).
4. Liberality. When the chest was made the people responded freely; they all "cast into it until they made an end," until there was "much money," "money in abundance." When an appeal is made to the spontaneous liberality of Christian men, in a cause that is recognized to be good, there is usually a response. If under the Law there was this readiness to give, how much more should there be such forwardness and consecration of substance under the more constraining influences and for the/at higher privileges of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
5. Perseverance under discouragement. The king charged the priests and Levites to "hasten the matter. Howbeit the Levites hastened it not" (2 Chronicles 24:5). But the enthusiastic king was not to be daunted; he would not let this slackness on the part of those who should have been eager and diligent constitute any serious stumbling-block. He used his ingenuity to devise other and more effective measures, and his determination prevailed, as it will prevail. If we allow a good work to be dropped because some of our coadjutors are found wanting, we shall do but little. A holy perseverance under discouragement is the condition of success. As with the leaders, so with those that follow; the workmen must patiently continue until the work is perfected. Then comes the crowning circumstance, viz.:
6. The use of the building for the worship of God (vet, 14). We pass on to that which is far more important—
II. THE RENOVATION OF THE CHRISTIAN CAUSE.
1. It may be that the cause of Christ is quite "out of repair." Some "sons of Athaliah" have come in and done devastating work. Where there was all that satisfied the observant eye of the Divine Lord, there is now a sad decline and decay; there is feebleness where there should be strength, barrenness where there used to be fruitfulness, poverty and paucity where there once was fulness. There are unsightly and blameworthy breaches in the walls. Then there arises in some heart:
2. A strong, compelling eagerness to repair. First it fills one heart, then it is communicated to another and another; finally it moves "all the people," and they resolve that the flagging cause of Christ shall be revived.
3. Then they give themselves to
(1) penitence for past neglect;
(2) prayer for Divine inspiration and guidance;
(3) solemn renewal of first vows of dedication;
(4) active and energetic work.
4. Their reconsecration is crowned with sacred joy, and with a happy restoration to the end for which they were called into existence (2 Chronicles 24:14). All this is based upon—
III. THE RENEWAL OF THE INDIVIDUAL HEART. For if the cause of Christ has declined, it is because the spiritual life of the individual men has been languishing. There has been a cooling of love, a lessening of faith, an abatement of zeal, a lack of devotion. What is needed is:
1. A sense of departure and loss.
2. A humbling of the heart before God.
3. A reconsecration of heart and life to the Redeemer.
4. A patient continuance in well-doing.—C.
2 Chronicles 24:15, 2 Chronicles 24:16
A noble character and a useful life.
These are two things which are not always closely associated, though they are very frequently found together; they certainly were thus united in the person and experience of Jehoiada. In him we have—
I. A NOBLE CHARACTER. And this:
1. Was based upon true piety. Jehoiada was the man he was because he was a faithful servant of Jehovah. He was rich "toward God." His mind and heart were turned toward him, to worship in his house, to study and to do his will, to promote his glory. Everything else that was good in him rested on his religious conviction and practice as on a sure foundation; every other virtue took its root and found its source and spring in that.
2. Acquired great strength. By the exercise and cultivation of his piety and moral worth, by his confidence in God, and by all that he daily gained from God in response to his devotion, he acquired great force of goodness. He was a man that "seemed to be a pillar," and who was such; a strong stay, which no antagonism could remove, no treachery undermine. He "stood foursquare to all the winds that blew." Men felt that in him they would find a determined and powerful enemy to whatever evil thing they might propose.
3. Shone forth in unselfish service. He fearlessly and nobly risked everything in order to rid his country of a vile usurper, and place upon the throne one that would rule in righteousness. And though he certainly lent all the weight of his influence to the support of the sovereign, he does not appear to have arrogated any undue authority (see 2 Chronicles 24:6). He was actuated by a pure, magnanimous devotion to the highest interests of his country. So he lived—
II. A USEFUL LIFE.
1. He effected a most desirable and salutary revolution; overturning a dynasty that had no right to the throne, and restoring the family of David; exchanging an idolatrous ruler for one that reigned in the fear of God.
2. He solemnly pledged the people to the service of Jehovah, and arranged for systematic services in his temple (2 Chronicles 23:16-18).
3. He sustained the hand of Joash in his work of repairing the temple. This we might assume, but this the words of the text, "toward his house," clearly indicate.
4. He did much (as the following verses show) to maintain the worship of God in the land, against all reactionary influences, whether at court or among the princes or the people. He "did good to Israel" indeed. If we except the judges and kings as those whose official positions gave them quite exceptional opportunities, we may safely say that there are not more than three or four men who rendered such distinguished service to their country as Jehoiada the priest. He was well worthy, when he died in an honoured old age, to be "buried among the kings." Probably few kinglier men than he have been "gathered to their fathers."
1. That honour rests upon faithful service, on true usefulness—such honour as is worth possessing.
2. That usefulness is the product of excellency of character. Men may be eloquent, ambitious, capable, endowed with large administrative abilities, but if they are not unselfish, if they do not know how to subordinate their own aims and interests to the public weal, they are as likely to be harmful as helpful in their course. Only solid worth of character, rectitude allied with patriotism and philanthropy, is any security for substantial usefulness.
3. That character is only sound when it is sacred; that it is only the man who reveres God, and who places himself and his life under Divine guidance, on whom we can thoroughly rely. All other defences and inspirations fail. "The fear of God" of which the devout Israelite spoke, the love and service of Jesus Christ of which we speak,—this is the rock on which to build a noble character and a useful life.—C.
2 Chronicles 24:17-25
Sad successive stages.
With the seventeenth verse of this chapter there commences a very painful record. From one who had been so mercifully spared, so admirably trained, so bountifully blessed, as was King Joash, much better things might have been expected. It is the melancholy story of rapid degeneracy, and a miserable and dishonourable end.
I. DEPARTURE FROM THE LIVING GOD. Not being "rooted and grounded" in reverence and in attachment to Jehovah, as soon as the directing and sustaining hand of Jehoiada was missed, Joash gave heed to the evil counsel of the reactionary "princes of Judah" and "left the house of the Lord." The young may be habituated to sacred services, and they may be brought up in the practice of good behaviour, but if they have not fully and firmly attached themselves to the Divine Lord whose praises they have been singing and whose will they have been respecting, their piety will not endure. "Being let go," being released, as they must be in time, from the human restraints that hold them to the right course, they follow the bent of worldly inclination; it may be that they yield to the solicitation of unholy passion; but they decline from the path of Christian worship and godly service. It is a melancholy sight for the angels of God, and for all earnest human souls, to witness—that of a man who knows what is best, who has stood face to face with Christ, who has often worshipped in his house, and perhaps sat at his table, declining to lower paths, "going after Baal," letting another power than that of his gracious Lord rule his heart and occupy his life.
II. RESENTMENT AT THE DIVINE REBUKE. The true and honoured servant of the Lord, Jehoiada, was well succeeded by a faithful son, Zechariah. He did his work right nobly, and testified against the apostasy of the king and court. But the monarch, in the haughtiness of his heart, resented the rebuke of the Lord's prophet, and only aggravated his offence by persecution and even murder (verses 20, 21). Thus sin slopes down, and at some points with sad and startling rapidity. When God's rebuke is heard, coming through the voice of one of his ministers, or coming in his Divine providence; and when that rebuke, instead of being heeded and obeyed, is resented by the rebellious spirit, then there ensues a very rapid spiritual decline. Men go "from bad to worse," from indifference or forgetfulness to hostility, from doubt to disbelief, from laxity to licentiousness, from wrongness of attitude to iniquity in action. To resent the rebuke of the Lord is to inflict upon ourselves the most serious, and too often a mortal, injury.
III. THE PENALTY OF DISOBEDIENCE. In the case of Joash, it was:
1. Humiliating defeat in battle (verses 23, 24).
2. Bodily sufferings (verse 25).
3. A violent and miserable death (verse 25).
4. Dishonour after death (verse 25).
In the case of the spiritual transgressor now, the penalty that has to be feared is:
1. Grave and grievous spiritual decline.
2. The serious displeasure of the Divine Master.
3. The loss of the esteem of the truest and best human friends.
4. Condemnation in the day of judgment.—C.
HOMILIES BY T. WHITELAW
2 Chronicles 24:1-3
The early years of Joash.
I. HIS PARENTAGE.
1. His father. Jehoabaz, Ahaziah, or Azariah (2 Chronicles 21:17; 2 Chronicles 22:1, 2 Chronicles 22:6), Jehoram's youngest son, who ascended the throne on his father's death, reigned one year, was slain by Jehu (2 Chronicles 22:9), and buried in Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David, because, though himself bad, he was a good man's son (2 Chronicles 22:9).
2. His mother. Zibiah of Beersheba, concerning whom nothing is known. Perhaps beautiful, as her name "Gazelle" may suggest; considering who her husband was, it will not be safe to say she was good, though the place she came from once had an aroma of piety about it (Genesis 21:33).
II. HIS REIGN.
1. Early begun. When seven years old. Such early promotion would not have been safe for the kingdom (Ecclesiastes 10:16) or good for himself had Jehoiada not been beside him as counsellor of his inexperience, and, in fact, as virtual ruler.
2. Long continued. Forty years. Shorter by fifteen than that of Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:1), his occupation of the throne was only one year shorter than that of Ass (2 Chronicles 16:13), and as long as that of Solomon (2 Chronicles 9:30).
III. HIS CHARACTER.
1. Promising. "He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord." But:
2. Imperfect. "The high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places" (2 Kings 12:3). And:
3. Unstable. He behaved well only so long as Jehoiada lived to counsel, and perhaps restrain him.
IV. HIS MARRIAGES. "Jehoiada took for him two wives," one of whom was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 25:1). Perhaps:
1. Good policy, to ensure a succession to the throne. But:
2. Bad morality, and against the Law of God, though recommended by a pious priest, and sanctioned by the example of godly kings. Joash's subsequent declension may have been in part due to this.
1. That early greatness is not always accompanied by early goodness.
2. That many begin to run well in youth who nevertheless decline in after-years.
3. That religious education is not sufficient in itself to overcome the force of inbred corruption.
4. That permanence is an indispensable quality in all moral and spiritual excellence.
5. That all the opinions of a good man are not necessarily good.
6. That good men sometimes occasion sin in others.—W.
2 Chronicles 24:4-11
A good intention well carried out.
I. THE CONTEMPLATED WORK.
1. The reparation of the house of the Lord.
(1) What this signified. The reconstruction, not of the whole but of such parts of the temple walls and edifices as had been overturned and destroyed. A project both becoming and right—becoming that Jehovah's house should be restored to its pristine completeness and beauty (1 Chronicles 22:3); right, inasmuch as on Judah had been devolved the duty of protecting and preserving it (2 Chronicles 7:16-22). In the same way is it proper for, and incumbent on, believers to have regard to the strength and beauty, symmetry and adornment, not merely of the material edifices, but also and chiefly of the spiritual temples of the Christian Church.
(2) Why this was needed. On account, not of the ravages of time upon its massive masonry, but of the demolition it had suffered at the hands of Athaliah (and Jehoram) in order to construct the temple of Baal, whose walls and pillars, altars and images, had just been broken in pieces by the revolutionaries of Judah (2 Chronicles 23:17). So by false systems of religion, as well as by systems of no religion, have breaches sometimes been made in the Christian Church—adherents seduced from the faith, doctrines obscured, perverted, or rendered inoperative—which demand the utmost efforts of Christians to repair, even after the false systems, like Baal's temple, have been shattered to pieces.
(3) By whom this was projected. By Joash, who, even if not impelled by higher motives, certainly had reason to remember the house in which his infant years had been sheltered, and himself when a boy had received his crown. If Joash moved in this matter of his own accord, the fact spoke well for his goodness; if even he required to be urged to it by Jehoiada—which is not stated—the fact that he listened to the priest attested the reverence he possessed for Jehovah's servant. The pity was that neither his goodness nor his reverence were deeply rooted or permanent.
(4) When this was moved. "After this," an indefinite note of time which might mean either after the revolution or after Joash's marriages. If the former, which is doubtful, the king evinced praiseworthy alacrity—if his business demanded haste (2 Chronicles 24:5), much more did God's (2 Chronicles 15:15; 2 Chronicles 31:21; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Romans 12:11); if the latter, his dilatoriness was not without blame (Matthew 6:33).
2. The replacement of the dedicated things which had been bestowed upon the Baalim (2 Chronicles 24:7). Not the dedicated things Solomon had brought into the temple (2 Chronicles 5:1); the spoil, in articles of gold and silver, David had taken from his enemies (1 Kings 7:51), since these had been pillaged and carried off by Shishak (2 Chronicles 12:9); probably the silver, gold, and vessels dedicated by Abijah, Asa (2 Chronicles 15:18), and Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 12:18); the spoil taken by the first from Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 13:16), by the second from the Cushites (2 Chronicles 14:12), and by the third from the Ammonites (2Ch 21:1-20 :25).
II. WAYS AND MEANS. Two plans for obtaining the money requisite for the undertaking.
1. The plan that failed.
(1) What it was. That the priests and Levites should in all the cities of Judah raise a contribution to repair the house of God (2 Chronicles 24:5); that the amount levied from each man should be "the tax of Moses the servant of the Lord, and of the congregation of Israel, for the tent of the testimony" (2 Chronicles 24:6); and that this should be done annually (2 Chronicles 24:5). In 2 Kings (2 Kings 12:4) the money is defined as of three sorts (Keil):
(a) The "money of the numbered," or, "of every one that passeth the numbering," i.e. the poll tax of half a shekel required of every Israelite as a ransom for his soul (Exodus 30:12-16);
(b) the "money of the persons for whom each man is rated," i.e. the sums arising from the redemption of devoted persons (Leviticus 27:1-8); and
(c) "the money that it cometh into any man's heart to bring into the house of the Lord," i.e. the free-will offerings of the people. According to another interpretation (Bahr), only the two last sorts were intended, and the phrase, "money of the numbered," should be rendered "in current money" (Revised Version)—the reason for this instruction that the contributions should be in current money being, it is said, that the money "was to be paid out at once to mechanics for their labour" (Thenius).
(2) Why it failed. Not because the priests embezzled the money (J. D. Michaelis, De Wette), which is not stated, and should not be suggested (Psalms 140:3; Titus 3:2), but probably because of
(a) their dilatoriness in setting about the work entrusted to them—that the work should have been entrusted to them was the first mistake in the proposed plan;
(b) the difficulty they had in gathering in the money, which from the manner of its levying had the appearance of a compulsory payment—this the second mistake in the proposed plan; and
(c) the too lavish expenditure demanded by their own personal necessities (a legitimate charge upon the collected funds), leaving too small a balance for the work of temple-repairing—that the priests should have been left to distribute the taxes and offerings of the people between their own needs and the public requirements was the third mistake in the proposed plan.
"If self the wavering balance shake,
It's rarely right adjusted."
The result was that in the three and twentieth year of Joash—the year of a new reign in Israel (2 Kings 13:1)—the priests had done little or nothing in the way of repairing the breaches of the temple (2 Kings 12:6).
2. The plan that succeeded.
(1) The details of the new plan. According to 2 Kings, the work of collecting money for themselves, the temple worship, and the repair of the building was no more to be entrusted to their hands, neither were these three items of expense to be in future defrayed out of a common fund; but the trespass-money and sin-money should be assigned to the priests for the first two of these purposes, as the Law of Moses prescribed (Le 2 Kings 5:16; Numbers 5:8), while the taxes and the free-will offerings should be devoted to the third (2 Kings 12:7-16). According to the Chronicler, whose statements are supported by those of the Book of Kings, by Joash's command a chest or collection-box of wood was made with a hole bored in its lid, and placed "without at the gate of the house of the Lord," i.e. in the outer court "beside the altar as one cometh into the house of the Lord" (2 Kings 12:9). Next a proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem that the people should themselves, of their own free will and pleasure, bring in the temple rates prescribed by the Law, and the free-will offerings to which they were impelled by their own hearts, and deposit these, unseen by any eye but Jehovah's, into the box. Again, it was arranged that, as often as the chest or box was full, it should be conveyed by the hands of the Levites into the king's office, where the money should be emptied out by or before the king's secretary and the high priest's assistant, who should put it into bags, weigh it and hand it over to them "that did the service of the house of the Lord," after which the chest should be carried back again to its place at the temple gate.
(2) The recommendations of the new plan. It avoided the mistakes of the first scheme. It put the work into the hands of a board of oversight better fitted to command the confidence of the community. It avoided the irritating weapon of compulsion, and relied upon the free will of the people, even with regard to the levying of taxes. It simplified the financial arrangements by keeping the money given for the temple separate from that paid to the priests.
(3) The success of the new plan. The people entered into it as their forefathers had done when invited to contribute towards the building of the tabernacle (Exodus 35:21, etc.), universally—"all the princes and all the people cast into the chest;" cheerfully, with no sense of constraint or compulsion upon them—"they rejoiced;" liberally—money was "gathered in abundance;" unweariedly—not once or twice merely, but regularly and constantly they went on with their collecting "until they had made an end," i.e. of the enterprise they had in hand, the repairing of the temple. N.B.—The above principles should regulate Christian giving, which should be universal—"every one of you" (1 Corinthians 16:2); cheerful—"God loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7); liberal—"see that ye abound in this grace [of liberality] also" (2 Corinthians 8:7); constant—"to do good and to communicate forget not" (Hebrews 13:16).
III. THE WORK EXECUTED. From the money thus collected:
1. The cost of materials was defrayed. "Timber and hewn stone," at least, had to be bought (2 Kings 12:12).
2. The wages of workmen were paid. Masons, carpenters, and workers in iron and brass were hired.
3. The necessary vessels were constructed. The surplus money, after meeting the above charges, was devoted to the manufacture of gold and silver utensils for the temple service. "So the workmen wrought," etc. (verse 13).
1. The duty of Christian giving, which may be inferred, a fortiori, from this example of the Hebrew Church.
2. The superiority of the voluntary over the compulsory system of raising money for religious purposes, even should the latter be. deemed permissible.
3. The propriety of financial boards, especially those connected with the Church, being above suspicion.
4. The wisdom of aiming at simplicity in schemes for receiving the contributions of the faithful.
5. The advantage of adopting such measures as shall place Church-treasurers beyond the reach of temptation.—W.
2 Chronicles 24:15, 2 Chronicles 24:16
The life, death, burial, and epitaph of a great man.
I. JEHOIADA'S LIFE.
1. Pious; i.e.
(1) Good. No man really pious who is not inwardly good.
(2) Sincere. As a priest of Jehovah, he was under solemn covenant to lead a holy life.
(3) Courageous. It required no small heroism to stand forth as a servant of Jehovah in the days of Ahaziah and Athaliah.
2. Useful. "We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths," etc. (Bailey). Jehoiada's life was spent, not in indolence, but activity; this activity was directed, not by personal ambitions, but by considerations of public advantage, and ceased not until the close of his life. Besides discharging the multifarious duties devolving upon him as high priest of the nation, he practically became the nation's leader during the times of Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah; the nation's saviour, effecting the overthrow of Athaliah, the preservation of Joash, and in him the continuance of David's throne; and the nation's ruler, acting as regent during Joash's minority, and as prime minister of Joash until the end came. In particular, to him the nation owed the preservation of its king, its throne, its religion, its temple.
3. Long. Nevertheless, the end came, though long delayed. He died "full of days," satisfied with living, like Abraham (Genesis 25:8), Isaac (Genesis 35:29), David (1 Chronicles 23:1), and Job (Job 42:17), an old man of a hundred and thirty years, the longest recorded life of any Hebrew, the patriarchs excepted. "What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?" etc. (Psalms 34:12-14).
II. JEHOIADA'S DEATH.
1. To himself a gain. (Philippians 1:21.)
(1) A blessed repose after life's labours (Isaiah 57:2; Daniel 12:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Revelation 14:13). "After life's fitful labour he sleeps well" ('Macbeth,' Acts 3:0. sc. 2).
(2) A splendid exchange for time's vanities: "length of days for ever and ever" (Psalms 21:4; Psalms 37:18; John 10:28; Hebrews 11:10, Hebrews 11:16; 1 Peter 1:4; Revelation 2:10).
(3) A magnificent reward for earth's services (Psalms 16:11; Psalms 17:15; Proverbs 3:35; John 12:26; Romans 2:7; Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:17, Revelation 2:26).
2. To Joash a loss. (2 Kings 2:3.) Jehoiada's death the removal of
(1) the saviour of his infancy;
(2) the teacher of his boyhood;
(3) the counsellor of his manhood. Whether Joash recognized the greatness of his loss may be doubtful. The notion that he felt the decease of the grey-haired priest as something of a relief is not without countenance.
3. To the nation a calamity. (2 Samuel 3:38.) Born to be a king, Joash wanted the capacity to rule. The fittest man to have sat upon the throne was Jehoiada. Only Divine providence does not always assign men the posts for which they are best qualified. The incompetency of Joash would have earlier proved a curse to Judah had the statesman-priest not been at his elbow. So long as Jehoiada kept his hand upon the helm, the ship of state sailed over stormiest seas with safety; when death compelled his grasp to relax, the vessel's rocking amid the tumbling waves showed how capable a pilot he bad been.
III. JEHOIADA'S BURIAL.
1. National. The people paid him public obsequies. Not the king alone, but the entire realm lamented him, and joined in the sad ceremonial of consigning his lifeless body to the tomb. Public funerals are often gigantic hypocrisies. Not of such sort was this of the great priest of Jerusalem.
2. Royal. The grandeur of his obsequies equalled that lavished on the funerals of kings. Of some kings, among whom Joash must be numbered (verse 25), it is recorded that the people declined to honour them with royal burial (2Ch 21:19, 2 Chronicles 21:20; 2 Chronicles 26:23; 2 Chronicles 28:27); of Jehoiada, though not a king, except in nobility of soul, it is written, his people "buried him in the city of David among the kings"—as it were recognizing in him a sovereign greater than many, and equal to the best.
IV. JEHOIADA'S EPITAPH.
1. Short. One sentence of three clauses: "He did good in Israel, both toward God, and towards his house." Nothing more offensive to good taste and refined feeling, not to say more untrue to fact, than the fulsome and extravagant paragraphs which often appear on tombstones.
2. Simple. All who read might understand, and, understanding, might verify from their own experience, assisted (if need were) by the recollections of others. The last place at which to make a display of eloquence and rhetoric is the grave's month. What is here recorded of this uncrowned King of Judah stands in startling contrast with the magniloquence of Egyptian and Assyrian kings.
3. Sufficient. What more or better could be testified of any man than that in his lifetime he had done good, lived a life of piety towards God and of philanthropy towards man, promoted God's glory and advanced man's good, furthered God's kingdom and increased man's happiness?
1. The possibility of combining statesmanship and piety.
2. The commanding influence of religion when associated with talent and rank.
3. The advisability of looking beyond man in both Church and state, since statesmen and priests are not suffered to continue by reason of death.
4. The certainty that a life of philanthropy and piety will sooner or later find recognition.
5. The fitness of rewarding with becoming honour in death those who sincerely and successfully serve their generation when in life.—W.
2 Chronicles 24:17-22
The downward career of a king.
I. JOASH'S TEMPTATION. (2 Chronicles 24:17.)
1. When it came. "After Jehoiada's death,", when the weakling king, having lost his counsellor, was left to the guidance of his own vain heart and foolish understanding. Temptations mostly assail men in their moments of weakness. Eve was probably assaulted in the absence of Adam (Genesis 3:1); David, certainly, in the absence of Nathan (2 Samuel 11:2); Job, when enfeebled through affliction (Job 2:9); Peter, when deprived of strength through over-confidence (John 13:27). The devil is too wary a warrior to besiege a heart when at its strongest.
2. How it looked.
(1) Extremely pleasing; flattering to his vanity and satisfying to his pride. "The princes of Judah came, and made obeisance to him."
(2) Perfectly harmless. What they asked may be assumed to have been liberty to worship the Asherim and the idols (verse 18); not that the king should do so, though secretly they may have hoped he would, but merely that toleration should be granted to them. Tempters seldom show all their hands at once; if they did, their temptations would fail (Proverbs 1:17). To the tempted also evil courses commonly appear safe when first embarked upon; though afterwards their tree characters are discovered, when too late.
3. How it fared. It prospered. Joash, poor fool! swallowed the bait. "He hearkened unto them," because either he wanted courage to refuse, or desired, in return for their flattery, to please them (Daniel 11:32).
II. JUDAH'S DECLENSION. (Verse 18.)
1. The princes. These "left the house of the Lord God of their fathers," i.e. abandoned the worship of Jehovah, of which the temple was the centre, and embraced the abominable superstitions of the northern kingdom and of the preceding reigns in Judah. On the worship of the Asherim and idols, see 2 Chronicles 14:3 (homily).
2. The people. The language of the Chronicler (verse 18), as well as of Zechariah (verse 20), implies that Judah and Jerusalem, in their people as well as princes, had transgressed; and, indeed, it is hardly likely that the princes would have ventured upon this step had they not been able to count upon the sympathy, if not the direct support, of the community.
3. The king. Though "not stated that Joash himself worshipped idols" (Bertheau), and though, perhaps, at first he did not, it is too apparent, from the moral deterioration he suffered, as well as from the judgment he endured, that his offence was more than "not strictly maintaining the worship of Jehovah" (Bertheau).
III. JEHOVAH'S CORRECTION. (Verse 19.)
1. Its instruments. The prophets; in particular, Zechariah the son—perhaps grandson (Eadie, Ebrard, Lange, Morison)—of Jehoiada (verse 20), called also Barachias (Matthew 23:35). The prophets, of whom many have appeared in this book—Nathan (2 Chronicles 9:29), Ahijah (2 Chronicles 10:15), Azariah (2 Chronicles 15:1), Hanani (2 Chronicles 16:7), Micaiah (2 Chronicles 18:8), Jehu (2 Chronicles 19:2), Jahaziel (2 Chronicles 20:14), Elijah (21:12)—were the recognized medium of communication between God and the people. The prophets at this time sent to testify for Jehovah against the people are not named, with one exception; which may suggest that one may be an honoured, true, and faithful servant of God in Church or state, and may render important services to both without having his name chronicled on the registers of time.
2. its tenor. A testimony against the nation, in terms similar to those of Zechariah. Their idol-worship was:
(1) A direct transgression of Jehovah's commandments (Exodus 20:3-5, Exodus 20:23; Exodus 23:13; Le Exodus 26:1, Exodus 26:30; Deuteronomy 4:15-19; Deuteronomy 27:15).
(2) An express violation of the covenant into which they had entered with Jehovah (2 Chronicles 23:16).
(3) A fatal obstacle to their prosperity, whether national or individual (Numbers 14:41; Deuteronomy 28:29; Psalms 1:3, Psalms 1:4 , Psalms 16:4; Psalms 97:7; Jonah 2:8).
(4) A sure sign of their abandonment by God (2Ch 12:5; 2 Chronicles 15:2; Deuteronomy 31:16, Deuteronomy 31:17; Joshua 24:20; 1 Chronicles 28:9).
3. Its reception. "They would not give ear." Unwilling to obey, they would not listen. The truth was unpalatable, and hence they rejected it. They loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19); they hated the truth, because it condemned them (Psalms 50:17; Amos 5:10).
IV. ZECHARIAH'S ASSASSINATION. (Verse 20.) A deed of:
1. Atrocious inhumanity. Murdered by his countrymen, the princes of Judah, in some sort his near kinsmen, considering that he himself was a collateral descendant of the royal line, his mother having been Ahaziah's sister (2 Chronicles 22:11).
2. Revolting cruelty. Stoned with stones. Lapidation, a peculiarly Jewish form of punishment, is described in the Mishna. "The condemned, if a man, was led naked to the place of torture, but a woman was allowed to retain her clothes. The offender was always taken out of the city … All that was necessary was that the place should be in a valley, or foss, with steep banks, from the top of which one of the witnesses threw the accused down. If he fails on his back and is killed, well and good; if not, another witness throws a stone on his chest. The first stones were cast at the head, so as to hasten death and shorten the sufferings of the victim. There were no regular executioners. In the time of the kings, the sovereigns appointed men to carry out the sentence". This terrible mode of executing capital punishment the Law reserved for aggravated offences (Leviticus 20:2, Leviticus 20:27; Leviticus 24:14; Numbers 15:35), in particular for practising and enticing to idolatry (Deuteronomy 13:10; Deuteronomy 18:5). Victims of stoning were, in Old Testament times, Achan (Joshua 7:25), Naboth (1 Kings 21:13), Hadoram (2 Chronicles 10:18), Zechariah; in New Testament times, Stephen (Acts 7:58), Paul (Acts 14:19), and (perhaps) Antipas (Revelation 2:13).
3. Gross profanity. Murdered in the court of Jehovah's house, "between the sanctuary and the altar" (Matthew 23:35), always regarded as an aggravation of the original crime (Lamentations 2:10), and a special form of defilement (Ezekiel 9:7). Jehoiada would not shed there the blood of Joash's grandmother (2 Chronicles 23:14); Joash did not hesitate to spill there the blood of Jehoiada's son.
4. Horrible impiety. Murdered, although a prophet of Jehovah (1 Kings 19:10); murdered, because he told them the truth (cf. John 8:40); murdered by men themselves guilty of death and deserving to be stoned (see above); murdered in Jehovah's house and before his altar, in defiance of his Law and contempt for his religion.
5. Monstrous ingratitude. Murdered "at the king's commandment;" done to death by a man to whom his father (or grandfather) had given life, education, a crown, a kingdom, a reformed religion, a settled country (2 Chronicles 22:11-21). The vocabulary of vituperation has been exhausted to set forth the wickedness, odiousness, and loathsomeness of this vice. It has been likened to "a sharp-toothed vulture," "a marble-hearted fiend, more hideous than the sea-monster;" it has been spoken of as "the most detestable act" a person can commit, a vice more abominable "than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness;" a monster whose tooth is keener than the winter wind. Nor is it too much to say that, amongst this hideous crew of God-forsaken wretches, Joash stands pre-eminent. A creature as mean anti despicable the earth surely is seldom called on to support and nourish.
6. Unavoidable avengement. Zechariah himself, feeling this, ere his eyes closed and his lips became silent in death, uttered a prayer or invocation, "The Lord look upon it, and require it," in reality a prediction which soon became a history. Contrast the prayer of Stephen for his murderers (Acts 7:60). Zechariah the murdered prophet, and Stephen the martyred deacon, each embodied and illustrated the spirit of the dispensation under which he lived; that under which Zechariah lived, a dispensation
(1) of law and penalty,
(2) of wrath and condemnation;
that under which Stephen flourished, a dispensation
(1) of grace and mercy, and
(2) of forgiveness and justification (2 Corinthians 3:7-11).
1. The danger of listening to flattery; it makes men, even kings, foolish.
2. The duty of resisting the first approaches of temptation. Obsta principiis.
3. The downward course of sin—Facilis descensus Averno (Virgil, 'AEneid,' 6.126).
4. The folly of forsaking God; it can only end in being forsaken by God.
5. The courage needed to be a true servant of God in any age. He who would speak for God will often require to speak against man.
6. The surest evidence of original and innate depravity is the fact that men do not naturally care for, but rather dislike, and are averse to, God's Word.
7. The certainty that they who will live godly must suffer persecution. God's witnesses are often slain (Revelation 11:7).
8. The baseness of ingratitude towards God; inferred from that of ingratitude towards man.
9. The contrast between the Law and the gospel; illustrated by Zechariah's imprecation and Stephen's invocation. 10. The certainty of Divine retribution: God will avenge his saints (Luke 18:7, S).—W.
2 Chronicles 24:23-27
Divine retributions; or, the predictions and prayers of a dying mar, coming true.
I. JUDAH INVADED BY THE SYRIANS. (2 Chronicles 24:23.) Zechariah had predicted that prosperity should no longer attend Judah in consequence of her apostasy from Jehovah (verse 20); and, before breathing his last, had prayed, and so practically predicted (James 5:16), that Jehovah would avenge his murder upon the king, his princes, and people (verse 22). That this incursion of Hazael (1 Kings 19:15), who had first assassinated Benhadad II. and seized upon the throne (2 Kings 8:7-15), and whose historicity is guaranteed by an inscription on Shalmaneser's black obelisk, which says, "In my eighteenth year, for the sixteenth time the Euphrates I crossed. Hazael of Damascus to battle came … In my twenty-first campaign, to the cities of Hazael of Damascus I went. Four of his fortresses I took"—that this incursion of the Syrian monarch into Judaean territory, as far even as to Jerusalem, was an instalment of the wrath which the nation's apostasy had stirred up against itself, several things convinced the Chronicler.
1. The time when it happened. "At the end," or revolution, "of the year." No doubt Divine judgment often tarries, and when it does inert are apt to question its existence (Psa 1:1-6 :20). But sometimes it hastens on the heels of crime, as it did in the cases of Cain (Genesis 4:8, Genesis 4:9), Pharaoh (Exodus 14:27), Israel in Shittim (Numbers 25:4), the murderers of Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 4:12), Ahab (1 Kings 22:34-37), Haman (Esther 7:10), Judas (Acts 1:18; Matthew 27:5), and others; and their observers instinctively exclaim, "Verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth" (Psalms 58:11).
2. The success it attained.
(1) The Syrian army, having probably conquered Israel, succeeded in capturing Gath, one of the five cities of the Philistines (Joshua 13:3), which David annexed to Judah (1 Chronicles 18:1), and which may still have belonged to the kingdom of Jonah.
(2) Next it moved upon Jerusalem, which was not far distant, and defeated the Judaean troops in a pitched battle, in which all the princes of Judah were cut off, and Joash himself seriously wounded.
(3) As an inducement to make peace and withdraw his forces from the capital, Hazael obtained from Joash "all the hallowed things that Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram, and Ahaziah his fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated," which had been recovered from the temple of Baal (verse 7), "and his own hallowed things, and all the gold that was found in the treasures of the house of the Lord and in the king's house" (2 Kings 12:18).
(4) That which specially revealed the hand of God in this disaster was not so much the extent as the incidence of it. The blow descended, indeed, upon the common people, who are chief sufferers in most wars; but in this instance a striking fitness was visible in the cutting off of the princes who had instigated the sovereign and his subjects to idolatry, and in the despoliation of the temple, which they had desecrated by their idolatries.
3. The weapon it employed. A small army, which had routed Judah's large host. This was reversing the experience of Judah, as, e.g; when Asa with five hundred and eighty thousand soldiers defeated Zerah with a million of infantry and three hundred charioteers (2 Chronicles 14:10). As Asa's victory was due to Jehovah's help, so Joash's surrender was explicable only on the supposition that Jehovah had forsaken him and Hazael been commissioned to execute wrath upon him.
II. JOASH SLAIN BY CONSPIRATORS. (Verse 25.)
1. When? "After the Syrians had departed from him." Though he had escaped the doom which sought him on the battlefield, it seemed as if justice would not suffer him to live (cf. Acts 28:4). Scarcely had the Syrians departed than the sleuth-hound of retribution was again upon his trail. Only wounded by soldiers' spears, he was slaughtered by assassins' swords.
2. Where? In his castle-palace at Mille (2 Kings 12:20), and on his bed, i.e. while invalided by his wounds. Death found him in a fortress, behind which he doubtless expected to be secure, and at a moment when, perhaps, that expectation was high through the healing of his wounds.
3. By whom? His own servants, whose names are given: "Zabad [or Jozakat, Kings] the son of Shimeath an Ammonitess, and Jehozabad the son of Shimrith a Moabitess." Led astray by those who should have been his servants, the princes, he was put to death by his actual servants. He had betrayed his country to foreign gods, by men of foreign extraction he was destroyed. Divine retributions frequently correspond to the character of the offence they punish.
4. Why? Because of the "blood of the son of Jehoiada the priest." They meant to reward him for his truculent deed against Zechariah. How they came to champion the cause of Jehoiada's murdered son is not said. Perhaps they shared the popular feeling, which trod never wholly approved of the murder; and when they witnessed the disaster which had come upon their arms, with the judgment that had fallen on the princes, they concluded that Zechariah's blood must be avenged if prosperity was again to return to Judah; and believing they would find, in the public mind, approval for their action, they despatched the wounded man upon his bed at Mille. Their calculations concerning the verdict of the people were not astray. Nobody regretted Joash's untimely end. His subjects "buried him in the city of David," where his fathers lay entombed, but they suffered not his carcase to desecrate the mausoleum of the kings.
1. The overruling providence of God. Things come to pass at his ordering.
2. The certainty that sin will be punished. Though judgment be delayed, it is not averted.—W.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 24". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27