Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
4 Kings (2 Kings)
Jehoash reigns well under the instructions of Jehoiada the priest, Kg2 12:1-3. He directs the repairing of the temple; the account of what was done, Kg2 12:4-16. Hazael takes Gath; and, proceeding to besiege Jerusalem, is prevented by Jehoash, who gives him all the treasures and hallowed things of the house of the Lord, Kg2 12:17, Kg2 12:18. The servants of Jehoash conspire against and slay him, Kg2 12:19-21.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 12:2
Jehoash did - right in the sight of the Lord - While Jehoiada the priest, who was a pious, holy man, lived, Jehoash walked uprightly; but it appears from Ch2 24:17, Ch2 24:18, that he departed from the worship of the true God after the death of this eminent high priest, lapsed into idolatry, and seems to have had a share in the murder of Zechariah, who testified against his transgressions, and those of the princes of Judah. See above, Kg2 11:20-21 (note).
O how few of the few who begin to live to God continue unto the end!
4 Kings (2 Kings) 12:3
The high places were not taken away - Without the total destruction of these there could be no radical reform. The toleration of any species of idolatry in the land, whatever else was done in behalf of true religion, left, and in effect fostered, a seed which springing up, regenerated in time the whole infernal system. Jehoiada did not use his influence as he might have done; for as he had the king's heart and hand with him, he might have done what he pleased.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 12:4
All the money of the dedicated things - From all this account we find that the temple was in a very ruinous state; the walls were falling down, some had perhaps actually fallen, and there was no person so zealous for the pure worship of God, as to exert himself to shore up the falling temple!
The king himself seems to have been the first who noticed these dilapidations, and took measures for the necessary repairs. The repairs were made from the following sources:
1. The things which pious persons had dedicated to the service of God.
2. The free-will offerings of strangers who had visited Jerusalem: the money of every one that passeth.
3. The half-shekel which the males were obliged to pay from the age of twenty years (Exo 30:12) for the redemption of their souls, that is their lives, which is here called the money that every man is set at.
All these sources had ever been in some measure open, but instead of repairing the dilapidations in the Lord's house, the priests and Levites had converted the income to their own use.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 12:6
In the three and twentieth year - In what year Jehoash gave the orders for these repairs, we cannot tell; but the account here plainly intimates that they had been long given, and that nothing was done, merely through the inactivity and negligence of the priests; see Ch2 24:6.
It seems that the people had brought money in abundance, and the pious Jehoiada was over the priests, and yet nothing was done! Though Jehoiada was a good man, he does not appear to have had much of the spirit of an active zeal; and simple piety, without zeal and activity, is of little use when a reformation in religion and manners is necessary to be brought about. Philip Melancthon was orthodox, pious, and learned, but he was a man of comparative inactivity. In many respects Martin Luther was by far his inferior, but in zeal and activity he was a flaming and consuming fire; and by him, under God, was the mighty Reformation, from the corruptions of popery, effected. Ten thousand Jehoiadas and Melancthons might have wished it in vain; Luther worked, and God worked by him, in him, and for him.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 12:9
Jehoiada - took a chest - This chest was at first set beside the altar, as is here mentioned; but afterwards, for the convenience of the people, it was set without the gate; see Ch2 24:8.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 12:10
The king's scribe and the high priest - It was necessary to associate with the high priest some civil authority and activity, in order to get the neglected work performed.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 12:13
Howbeit there were not made - bowls, etc. - That is, there were no vessels made for the service of the temple till all the outward repairs were completed; but after this was done, they brought the rest of the money before the king and Jehoiada, whereof were made vessels of gold and silver; Ch2 24:14.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 12:15
They reckoned not with the men - They placed great confidence in them, and were not disappointed, for they dealt faithfully.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 12:17
Hazael - fought against Gath, and took it - This city, with its satrapy or lordship, had been taken from the Philistines by David, (see Sa2 8:1, and Ch1 18:1); and it had continued in the possession of the kings of Judah till this time. On what pretense Hazael seized it, we cannot tell; he had the ultima ratio regum, power to do it, and he wanted more territory.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 12:18
Took all the hallowed things - He dearly bought a peace which was of short duration, for the next year Hazael returned, and Jehoash, having no more treasures, was obliged to hazard a battle, which he lost, with the principal part of his nobility, so that Judah was totally ruined, and Jehoash shortly after slain in his bed by his own servants; Ch2 24:23.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 12:19
The rest of the acts of Joash - We have already seen that this man, so promising in the beginning of his reign, apostatized, became an idolater, encouraged idolatry among his subjects, and put the high priest Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada his benefactor, to death; and now God visited that blood upon him by the hands of the tyrannous king of Syria, and by his own servants.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 12:20
The house of Millo - Was a royal palace, built by David; (see Sa2 5:9); and Silla is supposed to be the name of the road or causeway that led to it. Millo was situated between the old city of Jerusalem, and the city of David.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 12:21
For Jozachar - This person is called Zabad in Ch2 24:26; and Shimeath his mother is said to be an Ammonitess, as Jehozabad is said to be the son, not of Shomer, but of Shimrith, a Moabitess.
They buried him with his fathers in the city of David - But they did not bury him in the sepulchres of the kings; this is supposed to express the popular disapprobation of his conduct. Thus ended a reign full of promise and hope in the beginning, but profligate, cruel, and ruinous in the end. Never was the hand of God's justice more signally stretched out against an apostate king and faithless people, than at this time. Now Hazael had a plenary commission; the king, the nobles, and the people, were food for his sword, and by a handful of Syrians the mighty armies of Israel were overthrown: For the army of the Syrians came with a small company of men, and the Lord delivered a very great host into their hand, because they had forsaken the Lord God, Ch2 24:24. Thus, as righteousness exalteth a nation, so sin is the disgrace and confusion of any people. Sin destroys both counsel and strength; and the wicked flee when none pursue.