Bible Commentary: 2 Kings 10:32-36 and Related

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2 Kings 10:32-36 and Related

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The Failure of Jehu and His Son Jehoahaz; Joash Repairs the Temple

Note on the names of the kings: The passages for the next few days refer to "Joash" or "Jehoash" as being kings of Israel and Judah. This can be confusing to the casual reader. In 2 Kings 11:2 the king of Judah is referred to as "Joash," while in 2 Kings 12:2 he is referred to as "Jehoash." The name of the king of Israel is also written both ways, even in the same chapter. Second Kings 13:9 refers to him as "Joash," while the next verse spells his name "Jehoash." In 2 Chronicles the king of Judah is referred to as "Jehoash." The New International Version uses "Jehoash" in 2 Kings 13:9-10 in both places, while other versions use the original Hebrew spellings. The answer to the dilemma is that, as in the cases of other Israelite kings, they are variations of the same name and are interchangeable—and there was a King Joash (or Jehoash) in both Judah and Israel. For the purpose of these notes, we have followed the practice of other commentators in referring to the king of Judah as "Joash" and the king of Israel as "Jehoash."

In Israel: During Jehu's reign, Israel began to pay tribute to Assyria in a partly successful effort to buy Assyrian protection (as a vassal state) from the Aramaeans (Syrians). An inscription of Shalmaneser III engraved upon his famous Black Obelisk, now in the British Museum, recorded, "The tribute of Jehu, son [i.e., royal successor] of Omri, silver, gold, bowls of gold, chalices of gold, cups of gold, vases of gold, lead, scepter for the king, and spear shafts, I have received" (quoted by T.C. Mitchell, The Bible in the British Museum, 2000, p. 47).

Yet, "because Shalmaneser III was occupied with political pressure in the east, Hazael [king of Syria] took advantage of the situation, harassing Israel throughout [Jehu's] long reign. After Jehu's death, Hazael marched freely into Israel and even into Judah ([2 Kings] 12:17, 18; 13:22). The important point of these verses is that the attacks of Hazael were part of God's judgment on Israel" (Nelson Study Bible, note on 10:32-33). It is Jehu's failure to complete the task of removing pagan worship that leads to God again taking action against Israel through the hand of the king of Syria (verses 32-33). Yet even with this punishment, when Jehu died, his son Jehoahaz failed to correct the wrongdoing (2 Kings 13:1-2).

In Judah: Meanwhile, in Judah, the Levitical priests had not undertaken the task committed to them by Joash to repair the temple (2 Kings 12:4-5). The collection commanded by Moses was of three types (verse 4): money collected in the census (Exodus 30:14), money assessed on personal vows (Leviticus 27:1-8) and voluntary offerings. Evidently, the priests were considering all that was given to them to be their personal income. "Apparently the priests were unwilling to divert 'their' income to the repair project, and were incapable of doing the work themselves. So Joash had them hand the money over directly to others who would do the work" (Bible Reader's Companion, note on 2 Kings 12:6-8).

Disappointed with the priests, Joash summoned Jehoiada the priest, and arrangements were made for the repair of the temple to be handed over to skilled workmen. The king had Jehoiada make a special box to collect the offerings, and he issued a proclamation through the land. The response of the people was magnificent and more than what was required for repairing the temple. The temple repairs were placed ahead of other requirements, yet there was still sufficient left over to provide for the various articles for the temple.

Such was the honesty of those given responsibility over the funds that they were not required to keep accounts of the money supplied. And the workmen not only restored the temple to its original splendor, but even reinforced it. Sadly, the spiritual commitment of the people exceeded that of those who were supposed to be their teachers and good examples in following the ways of God.