2 Kings 12 COMMENTARY (Ellicott)

2 Kings 12
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
In the seventh year of Jehu Jehoash began to reign; and forty years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Zibiah of Beersheba.

THE REIGN OF JEHOASH, OR JOASH. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 24)

(1) Forty years.—A common round number. David and Solomon are each said to have reigned forty years.

His mother’s name.—The author of these short abstracts generally gives this particular in regard to the kings of Judah.

Beer-sheba.—A famous Simeonite sanctuary, and resort of pilgrims (Amos 5:5; Amos 8:14).

And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him.
(2) All his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him.—The Hebrew is ambiguous, but may certainly mean this, which is the rendering of the LXX. and Vulg. (The accent dividing the verse ought to fall on “the Lord” rather than on “his days.”) Perhaps the peculiar form of the sentence arose in this way: the writer first set down the usual statement concerning kings who supported the worship of Jehovah, and then, remembering the evils which ensued upon the death of the high priest (2 Chronicles 24:17), added as a correction of that statement, “during which Jehoiada the priest instructed him.” Thenius says the words can only be rendered, all his life long, because Jehoiada had instructed him. They certainly can, however, be rendered as our version renders them, and further, thus: “And Jehoash did . . . all his days, whom Jehoiada the priest instructed.” But the ambiguity of the statement gave an opportunity for discrediting the chronicler.

But the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.
(3) But.—Save that; as at 2 Kings 15:4. (For the statement of the verse, comp. 1 Kings 15:14.)

Sacrificed . . . burnt.Were wont to sacrifice . . . burn. The worship of the high places continued even under the régime of Jehoiada.

And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the LORD, even the money of every one that passeth the account, the money that every man is set at, and all the money that cometh into any man's heart to bring into the house of the LORD,
(4-16) The restoration of the Temple.

(4) The money’ of the dedicated things.—Comp. 1 Kings 15:15.

Is broughti.e., from time to time. All the silver given for the purposes of the sanctuary is meant.

Even the money of every one that passeth the account.Rather, to wit, current money (Genesis 23:16). The currency at this period consisted of pieces of silver of a fixed weight. There was no such thing as a Hebrew coinage before the exile. The reason “current money” was wanted was that it might be paid out immediately to the workpeople employed in the repairs.

The money that every man is set at.—Literally, each the money of the souls of his valuation, i.e., every kind of redemption money, such as was paid in the case of the first-born (Numbers 18:16) and of a vow (Leviticus 27:2, seq.). In the latter case, the priest fixed the amount to be paid.

And all the money that cometh into any man’s heart to bring—That is, all the free-will offerings in money. In 2 Chronicles 24:6 the revenues here specified are called “the tax of Moses . . . for the tabernacle,” implying that Moses had originally instituted them. The chronicler’s language, indeed, appears to indicate that he understood the money collected to have been chiefly the tax of half a shekel, which the law ordered to be paid by every male on occasion of the census (Exodus 30:12-16), for the good of the sanctuary.

Let the priests take it to them, every man of his acquaintance: and let them repair the breaches of the house, wheresoever any breach shall be found.
(5) Every man of his acquaintance.—See 2 Chronicles 24:5. From that passage it is evident that the chronicler understood that the priests were required to collect such moneys, each in his own city and district, year by year. Our text, taken alone, would seem to imply that persons going to the Temple to have the value of vows estimated, or to make free-will offerings, resorted to the priests whom they knew. (The word rendered “acquaintance” only occurs in this account.)

The breaches of the house.—The dilapidations of the Temple were serious, not because of its age—it had only stood about 130 years—but owing to the wanton attacks of Athaliah and her sons (comp. 2 Chronicles 24:7), who had, moreover, diverted the revenues of the sanctuary to the support of the Baalworship.

But it was so, that in the three and twentieth year of king Jehoash the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house.
(6) In the three and twentieth year.—Jenoash may have ordered the restoration in his twentieth year, when he came of age. It is noticeable that he and not Jehoiada takes the initiative in the matter. The chronicler states that the king had ordered the priests and the Levites “to hasten the matter,” but that “the Levites hastened it not.”

Then king Jehoash called for Jehoiada the priest, and the other priests, and said unto them, Why repair ye not the breaches of the house? now therefore receive no more money of your acquaintance, but deliver it for the breaches of the house.
(7) Now therefore receive no more money.—The account of the whole transaction is not very clear, and commentators disagree upon the question of the degree of blame attaching to the priests for their neglect. It is evident, however, that the king now took the control of the funds and the work out of their hands. Probably the revenues of the sanctuary had been in a very languishing condition during the late reigns; and the priesthood had used whatever offerings they received for their own support. They would now very naturally be unwilling to appropriate any part of the revenues which they had come to regard as their own. to the work of repair. From the account in Chronicles it would not appear that any money was collected for the purpose of restoration before the king took the matter into his own hands. The idea of Thenins, that Joash wished to humble the pride of the priests by diminishing their revenues, is not contained in either narrative. But it is in itself likely that the moral tone of the whole order had degenerated in the late period of apostasy.

But deliver it for the breaches of the house.—Rather, For to the dilapidation of the house ye should give it; scil., and not apply it to any other purposes. The king’s words certainly seem to throw suspicion on the priests.

And the priests consented to receive no more money of the people, neither to repair the breaches of the house.
(8) And the priests consented.—No doubt they made some such explanation as is suggested in the Note on 2 Kings 12:7, by way of clearing themselves from the suspicion of fraud; after which, they agreed to resign all connection with the business.

But Jehoiada the priest took a chest, and bored a hole in the lid of it, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one cometh into the house of the LORD: and the priests that kept the door put therein all the money that was brought into the house of the LORD.
(9) But.And.

Jehoiada the priest took a chest.—By order of the king (2 Chronicles 24:8).

Beside the altar, on the right side as one cometh into the house of the Lord.—Chronicles says: “in the gate of the house of the Lord outwards.” This can hardly refer to the same position. It probably describes where the chest, which became a permanent feature of the sanctuary, stood in the time after the return from the Captivity. The chronicler adds that offerings were asked by proclamation throughout the country, and that the princes and people readily contributed.

Put.—Rather, used to put. The chest was kept locked, and the Levitical doorkeepers received the money from those who offered it, and dropped it at once into the chest. This obviated all suspicion of a possible misapplication of the contributions.

And it was so, when they saw that there was much money in the chest, that the king's scribe and the high priest came up, and they put up in bags, and told the money that was found in the house of the LORD.
(10) And it was so.—Rather, And it came to pass. Whenever the chest was full the royal secretary and the high priest went up into the Temple, and emptied it.

Put up in bags, and told.—Literally, they bound up and counted. They put the pieces of silver into bags of a certain size, and then counted the bags, weighed, and sealed them up. These would be paid out as money. (Comp. 2 Kings 5:23.) Instead of “they bound up,” Ewald prefers the word used in Chronicles, “they emptied,” which is very similar in Hebrew writing. The royal secretary came, as the king’s representative, to make a record of the amount.

And they gave the money, being told, into the hands of them that did the work, that had the oversight of the house of the LORD: and they laid it out to the carpenters and builders, that wrought upon the house of the LORD,
(11) They gave.—Rather, And they used to give, i.e., every time they had emptied the chest.

Being told.—Rather, which was weighed.

Them that did the work.—Not the actual workmen, but, as is immediately explained, “those who had the oversight of the house,” or were charged with the superintendence of the work.

That wrought.—Literally, who were making.

And to masons, and hewers of stone, and to buy timber and hewed stone to repair the breaches of the house of the LORD, and for all that was laid out for the house to repair it.
(12) Masons . . . hewers.—Heb., the masons . . . the hewers.

Hewed stone.—Or, quarry stone.

That was laid out.—The Hebrew tense implies that it was done repeatedly.

To repair it.—Rather, for repair. The word (chozqah) does not recur in this sense.

Howbeit there were not made for the house of the LORD bowls of silver, snuffers, basons, trumpets, any vessels of gold, or vessels of silver, of the money that was brought into the house of the LORD:
(13) There were not made.—Rather, there used not to be made.

For the house.—Literally, in the house.

Bowls . . . basons.—Comp. 1 Kings 7:50, where the same three terms occur.

Trumpetsi.e., the straight priestly trumpets.

Of the money that was brought.—The plain meaning is that the whole amount offered was expended on the necessary work of restoring the Temple fabric.

But they gave that to the workmen, and repaired therewith the house of the LORD.
(14) But they gave that to the workmen.—Literally, for to the doers of the work they used to give it, and they used to repair, &c. In Chronicles it is added that, after the repairs were finished, the money that was left was applied to the purpose of making “spoons and vessels of gold and silver” for the house of the Lord. This certainly has the appearance of having been added to the original account, for the purpose of edifying the chronicler’s contemporaries. He may, however, have found it in the compilation on which he mainly depended.

Moreover they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen: for they dealt faithfully.
(15) Moreover they reckoned not.—Rather, and they were not wont to reckon.

To be bestowed on workmen.—Literally, to give to the doers of the work. Here the phrase “doers of the work” obviously means the artisans, not the superintendents, as in 2 Kings 12:11.

They dealt faithfully.—This is not a covert thrust at the priests, as Thenius imagines. The statement of the verse is repeated in 2 Kings 22:7, in connection with the restoration of the Temple under Josiah, where the priests are not concerned in the matter at all. All that is meant is, that the officials entrusted with the oversight of the work were above suspicion, and did not belie their reputation.

The trespass money and sin money was not brought into the house of the LORD: it was the priests'.
(16) The.—The definite article should be omitted.

Trespass money and sin money.—See Lev. V. 15-18; Numbers 5:8; Leviticus 6:26-29.

Was not brought.—Was not wont to be brought i.e., put into the chest for the restoration fund.

It was the priests’.—Literally to the priests they (these moneys) used to fall, or continued to accrue. The general sense is that the priests were not deprived of their lawful revenues by the new arrangement. They received their ancient dues from the trespass and sin offerings. The change initiated by Jehoash consisted in this, that henceforth gifts intended for the sanctuary itself were kept apart from the gifts intended for the priesthood.

Then Hazael king of Syria went up, and fought against Gath, and took it: and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem.
(17-21) Conclusion of the epitome of the reign, broken off at 2 Kings 12:4.

(17) Then.At that time, viz., after the events just related. Hazaeľs invasion of the south followed upon his successes against Jehoahaz, who became king of the northern kingdom in the very year when Jehoash took in hand the restoration of the Temple. (Comp. 2 Kings 12:6 with 2 Kings 13:1; 2 Kings 13:3.) It appears from 2 Chronicles 24:23 that the high priest Jehoiada was dead, and Jehoash had already swerved from his counsels.

Fought against Gath.—Which, therefore, at the time either belonged to, or was in league with, Judah. Rehoboam had included this town in his system of national defences (2 Chronicles 11:8); and it was perhaps at this time the only important outpost of the capital on the western side. Ewald assumes that the petty Philistine states had invited the intervention of Hazael between themselves and their suzerain, the king of Judah. Gaza, Ashdod, Ascalon, and Ekron, but not Gath, appear as Philistine kingdoms in the annals of Sennacherib and Esarhaddon, a century later. This agrees with what is stated in 2 Chronicles 26:6 as to Uzziah having destroyed the walls of Gath. (Comp. Amos 6:2.)

Set his face.—Comp. Luke 9:51.

To go up to.—Or, against.

And Jehoash king of Judah took all the hallowed things that Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram, and Ahaziah, his fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated, 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, and sent it to Hazael king of Syria: and he went away from Jerusalem.
(18) The hallowed things that . . . Jehoram, and Ahaziah . . . had dedicated—Although these kings had sought to naturalise the Baal-worship, they had not ventured to abolish that of Jehovah. On the contrary, as appears from this passage, they even tried to conciliate the powerful priesthood and numerous adherents of the national religion, by dedicating gifts to the sanctuary. The fact that there was so much treasure disposable is not to be wondered at, even after the narrative of the way in which funds were raised for repairing the Temple; because the treasure in question, especially that of the Temple, appears to have been regarded as a reserve, only to be touched in case of grave national emergency like the present.

And he went away from Jerusalemi.e., withdrew his forces. Thenius asserts that the present expedition of Hazael is distinct from that recorded in 2 Chronicles 24:23, seq., which he admits to be historical. But it is not said here that Hazael went in person against Jerusalem. (Comp, 2 Kings 12:17, “set his face to go up,” i.e., prepared to march thither.) The serious defeat of the army of Jehoash, related in Chronicles, accounts very satisfactorily for the sacrifice of his treasures here specified’; while the withdrawal of the Syrians after their victory, as told in Chronicles, is explained by the bribe which Jehoash is here said to have paid them. The two narratives thus supplement each other.

And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy, and slew Joash in the house of Millo, which goeth down to Silla.
(20) His servants.—His immediate attendants. (Comp. 2 Kings 8:15.)

Arosei.e., against him.

In the house of Millo.—Or, at Beth-Millo. The precise locality cannot be determined. Thenius supposes that the sorely wounded (?) king had retired for greater safety into “the castle palace.” Ewald says the king was murdered while engaged in the fortress. For “the Millo,” see 2 Samuel 5:9; 1 Kings 9:15. The chronicler relates that Jehoash was murdered in his bed.

Which goeth down to Silla.—These words convey no meaning to us, the name Silla being otherwise unknown. The text is probably corrupt, for Silla is almost exactly like Millo in Hebrew writing. (The Vatican LXX. omits “which goeth down.”)

For Jozachar the son of Shimeath, and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, smote him, and he died; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Amaziah his son reigned in his stead.
(21) For Jozachar . . . smote him.—Rather, And Jozachar . . . it was that smote him. The names are different in Chronicles. (See the Note on 2 Chronicles 24:26.) Thenius notices the curious coincidence of the names as given here with the last words of the murdered Zechariah, “Jehovah see, and avenge!” The prophet was avenged by Jozachar (“Jehovah remembers”), the son of shimeath (“hearing”), and Jehozabad (“Jehovah bestows”), the son of Shomer (“watcher”).

With his fathersi.e., in the city of David; but “not in the sepulchres of the kings 2)” Chron. 24:25).

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