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2 Kings 12-14
As was often the case with so many of the Kings of Israel and Judah, Jehoash attempted to reign according to the Word of God, but stopped short of complete dedication. Although he sought to learn from the Levites, he compromised with The Lord's pure truth, so "the people continued to sacrifice and burn incense on the high places."
"In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of The Lord all his days, because Jehoiada the priest [see also The Lines Of Eleazar and Ithamar] instructed him. Nevertheless the high places were not taken away; the people continued to sacrifice and burn incense on the high places." (2 Kings 12:1-3 RSV)
Along with their religious practices, the people had also failed to maintain the Temple (see Temples), so it fell into a state of disrepair. Jehoash ordered repairs to be done.
"Jehoash said to the priests, "All the money of the holy things which is brought into the house of The Lord, the money for which each man is assessed - the money from the assessment of persons - and the money which a man's heart prompts him to bring into the house of The Lord, let the priests take, each from his acquaintance; and let them repair the house wherever any need of repairs is discovered." (2 Kings 12:4-5 RSV)
Syria continued to trouble Israel and Judah through that time. After Hazael took Gath of the Philistines, he turned toward Jerusalem. Rather than defending his kingdom, Jehoash looted his own palace and some sacred things from the Temple of God that could be moved without The Lord's wrath coming upon the perpetrators (see Raiders Of The Lost Ark) to pay off Hazael.
"At that time Hazael king of Syria went up and fought against Gath, and took it. But when Hazael set his face to go up against Jerusalem, Jehoash king of Judah took all the votive gifts that Jehoshaphat and Jehoram and Ahaziah, his fathers, the kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own votive gifts, and all the gold that was found in the treasuries of the house of The Lord and of the king's house, and sent these to Hazael king of Syria. Then Hazael went away from Jerusalem." (2 Kings 12:17-18 RSV)
Joash (note the variant spelling of Jehoash) was assassinated by his own servants.
"Now 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? His servants arose and made a conspiracy, and slew Joash in the house of Millo, on the way that goes down to Silla. It was Jozacar the son of Shimeath and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, who struck him down, so that he died. And they buried him with his fathers in The City of David, and Amaziah his son reigned in his stead." (2 Kings 12:19-21 RSV)
2 Kings Chapter 13
"In the twenty-third year of Joash the son of Ahaziah, king of Judah, Jehoahaz the son of Jehu began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years. He did what was evil in the sight of The Lord, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin; he did not depart from them. And the anger of The Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them continually into the hand of Hazael king of Syria and into the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael." (2 Kings 13:1-3 RSV)
When Jehoahaz repented, a little, The Lord helped him defend his kingdom against Syria. At that time Israel was relatively defenseless, their large army having been decimated because of their unfaithfulness.
"Then Jehoahaz besought The Lord, and The Lord hearkened to him; for he saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Syria oppressed them. Therefore The Lord gave Israel a savior, so that they escaped from the hand of the Syrians; and the people of Israel dwelt in their homes as formerly. Nevertheless they did not depart from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin, but walked in them; and the Asherah also remained in Samaria.
Jehoahaz died and was buried in Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom. He was succeeded by his son Joash.
"Now the rest of the acts of Jehoahaz and all that he did, and his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? So Jehoahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria; and Joash his son reigned in his stead." (2 Kings 13:8-9 RSV)
Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz reigned as king over Israel for sixteen years, but he too was corrupt and unfaithful to The Lord.
"In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned sixteen years. He also did what was evil in the sight of The Lord; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin, but he walked in them.
Elisha, although a primary prophet of God, was nevertheless as human as any other man. When the time came for Elisha to die, he did so like any other. Interestingly, King Joash of Israel used the same term, "My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen," that Elisha did when Elijah departed (see Where Did Elijah Go?) - although Joash surely was no "Elisha." Elisha was buried in a cave, and although he surely was dead (see What Happens When You Die?), a miracle happened with Elisha's bones (see also the Fact Finder question below).
"Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash king of Israel went down to him, and wept before him, crying, "My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" (2 Kings 13:14 RSV)
Whenever the people of Israel or Judah repented of their unfaithfulness, The Lord provided relief to match their amount of repentance. Also, The Lord did not allow them to be totally destroyed, even during the times when they deserved it, for the sake of what needed to be in place for the coming Messiah (see Israelite Monarchy - The Messiah).
"Now Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. But The Lord was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them; nor has he cast them from his presence until now.
2 Kings Chapter 14
Amaziah of Judah followed the same pattern of most of his predecessors and successors - some faithfulness to The Lord, but rarely with a whole heart.
"In the second year of Joash the son of Joahaz, king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the eyes of The Lord, yet not like David his father; he did in all things as Joash his father had done. But the High Places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places." (2 Kings 14:1-4 RSV)
Royal Democracy was sometimes a bloody business, but hardly any more brutal than "democracy" sometimes happens today. Assassins (the English word assassin is derived from the Arabic word hashishi, meaning "hashish eater") faced justice, sooner or later.
"And as soon as the royal power was firmly in his hand he killed his servants who had slain the king his father. But he did not put to death the children of the murderers; according to what is written in the book of the law of Moses, where The Lord commanded, "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, or the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall die for his own sin." (2 Kings 14:5-6 RSV)
After Amaziah defeated the Edomites, he became arrogant and lusted for war - producing another major battle between Israel and Judah, one which resulted in a costly loss for Amaziah of Judah.
"He killed ten thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt and took Sela by storm, and called it Joktheel, which is its name to this day." (2 Kings 14:7 RSV)
The reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah are frequently recorded in relation to each other (see Israelite Monarchy - The Division Of Israel).
"And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead.
Jeroboam the son of Joash reigned over the (northern) kingdom of Israel forty-one years. He was a corrupt and evil king, so The Lord allowed Israel's enemies to prevail, almost to the point of their destruction.
"In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, began to reign in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. And he did what was evil in the sight of The Lord; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of The Lord, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher.
Jeroboam died and was succeeded by his son Zechariah.
"Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he fought, and how he recovered for Israel Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, the kings of Israel, and Zechariah his son reigned in his stead." (2 Kings 14:28-29 RSV)
Fact Finder: What was it that caused the man who was thrown into Elisha's grave to be resurrected back to physical life?