2 Kings 12 Commentary

True worship restored in Judah (12:1-21)

Under the influence of Jehoiada, Joash encouraged the worship of Yahweh (12:1-3). But his project for repairing the temple (damaged by Athaliah and her followers; 2 Chron 24:7) was hindered by the priests. They lacked enthusiasm and were inefficient, and possibly dishonest, in handling the finances (4- 8). Joash therefore separated the funds for the priests’ personal use from the funds for the temple repairs, and placed the latter under the supervision of an official of the royal treasury. He then hired workmen who had a desire to do the work properly and honestly (9-16).

After Jehoiada’s death, Joash, no longer under the strong priestly influence of his life-long adviser, turned to idolatry. When rebuked by the new high priest Zechariah, Joash had Zechariah murdered (2 Chron 24:15-22; Matt 23:35). Judgment on Joash was swift and severe. Hazael led his troops across Israel and south into Judah as far as Gath. He then turned to attack Jerusalem, and Joash saved the city only by robbing the temple treasury and sending the money to Hazael (17-18; 2 Chron 24:23-24). But he could not buy off the judgment that was to fall on him personally. Soon after the battle he was assassinated by his officers, and was not even given a royal burial (19-21; 2 Chron 24:25-27).

The prophecy of Joel

It was possibly during the early part of Joash’s reign that the prophet Joel wrote his book. During that time Joash was still a boy and the government was largely in the hands of Jehoiada. If that is so, Joel was the first of the writing prophets (i.e. prophets who wrote books of the Bible).

However, the book of Joel mentions no date of writing, and it could possibly have been written many years later, perhaps after the return from captivity and even later than the time of Nehemiah. If that is the case, Joel was among the last of the writing prophets. The message of the book is straightforward and can be readily understood regardless of its date of writing.

Joel’s reason for writing was a severe plague of locusts that devastated Judah. He interpreted this as a judgment on Judah for its sin, and urged the people to repent. In response to their repentance, God removed the locusts and promised to give the nation productive crops again (Joel 1:4; 2:10-14,25). Joel saw the events as symbolic of God’s future judgment on all enemies and his coming blessing on all the faithful (Joel 3:16-19).

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