Jehoahaz’s rule as king of Israel
v1 Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, became the king of *Israel. That happened in the 23rd year of Joash’s rule. Joash, the son of Ahaziah, was the king of *Judah. Jehoahaz ruled over *Israel for 17 years. He ruled in Samaria. v2 He *sinned against the *Lord, as Nebat’s son Jeroboam had done. Jeroboam had caused the *Israelites to begin those *sins. And Jehoahaz did not stop those *sins. v3 So the *Lord was very angry with the *Israelites. He allowed Syria’s king Hazael and his son Benhadad continuously to defeat them.
v4 Then Jehoahaz prayed for the *Lord’s help. And the *Lord answered his prayer. The *Lord saw how fiercely the king of Syria was attacking *Israel. v5 The *Lord sent someone to free the *Israelites. They escaped from the power of Syria. So they lived in *peace as they had done before. v6 But the *Israelites still continued their *sins that the family of Jeroboam had made them do. Also, the image of the female god Asherah remained in Samaria.
v7 Jehoahaz had no army except 50 men with horses, 10 *chariots and 10 000 men on foot. The king of Syria had killed the rest. They became like mere dust when he attacked.
v8 You can read about all the other events during Jehoahaz’s rule. And you can read about his deeds and the things that he achieved. They are in the history of *Israel’s kings. v9 Jehoahaz died and people buried him in Samaria. His son Jehoash became the king after him.
Jehoahaz ruled from 814 to 796 *B.C.. He behaved in the same ways as Jeroboam had done. The result was that God allowed the kings of Syria to attack *Israel. Then Jehoahaz prayed for God’s help. Like many people, Jehoahaz only thought about God when he (Jehoahaz) was desperate. But God was kind to him. God still cared about the *Israelites. Their *covenant with God still existed. And so God acted on their behalf.
God listened to Jehoahaz’s prayers. God sent someone to free the *Israelites. It seems that God used a foreign king to do this. In 803 *B.C., the king of Assyria attacked Syria. The *Syrian army had to leave *Israel in order to defend their own country. And then the *Israelites had peace.
This shows how kind God is. Even if we do not obey him, he wants to forgive us. He even sent his son, Jesus, to suffer the punishment for our *sins. But we must be humble. We must confess our wrong deeds to him. And we must invite him into our lives. If we do these things, he will forgive us.
Jehoash’s rule as king of *Israel
v10 Jehoash, Jehoahaz’s son, became the king of *Israel in Samaria. That was in the 37th year of Joash’s rule. Joash was the king of *Judah. Jehoash ruled over *Israel for 16 years. v11 He *sinned against the *Lord, as Nebat’s son Jeroboam had done. Jeroboam caused the *Israelites to *sin. And Jehoash continued those *sins.
v12 You can read about the other events during Jehoash’s rule. And you can read about his deeds and the things that he achieved. They are in the history of *Israel’s kings. They include his war against King Amaziah of *Judah. v13 Jehoash died and Jeroboam became the king after him. People buried Jehoash in Samaria among the graves of *Israel’s kings.
Jehoash ruled from 798 to 782 *B.C.. He and his father probably ruled together from 798 to 796. Jehoash was not the worst king. But he still *worshipped *idols, as Jeroboam had done. We can read about his war with Amaziah. It is in 2 Kings 14:8-15.
v14 Now Elisha was suffering from the illness that would cause his death. King Jehoash of *Israel went to visit him. Jehoash wept. ‘My father, my father,’ he cried. ‘*Israel’s *chariots and horses!’
v15 Elisha told Jehoash to get a bow and some arrows. Jehoash did so. v16 ‘Take the bow in your hands,’ Elisha said to *Israel’s king. The king did so. Then Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands.
v17 ‘Open the east window,’ Elisha said. Jehoash did so. ‘Now shoot,’ said Elisha. So Jehoash shot. Elisha said, ‘This is the *Lord’s arrow that will give you success against Syria. You will fight the *Syrians at Aphek until you have completely defeated them.’
v18 Then Elisha told the king to take the arrows. And he told the king to strike the ground with them. The king did so three times and then he stopped. v19 Elisha was angry with the king. Elisha said, ‘You should have struck the ground 5 or 6 times. Then you would have won against the *Syrians completely. But now, you will only defeat them 3 times.’
v20 Elisha died and people buried him.
Every Spring, groups of soldiers from Moab used to attack the country. v21 Once some *Israelites were burying a man. Suddenly, they saw a group of soldiers from Moab. So they threw the body into Elisha’s grave. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the dead man became alive. He stood up on his feet.
Elisha had been a *prophet for more than 60 years. There had been a period of about 45 years since he selected Jehu as king. We do not know what Elisha did from that time until this event. King Jehoash came to visit Elisha. He came to receive Elisha’s advice and *blessing before he (Elisha) died.
The king wept. He used the same words that Elisha had used earlier. Elisha had spoken them before God took Elijah away. Elisha used those words to express his *faith in God. Elisha had seen some of God’s powerful army of *angels. And Elisha realised that the *chariots and horsemen of that army were *Israel’s real defence.
But Jehoash seemed to use the same words with a different meaning. Jehoash was weeping because Elisha would soon die. Jehoash did not have *faith in God; and Jehoash did not see the army of *angels. So his words were a cry of despair. He did not know who would defend *Israel against the *Syrians. He respected Elisha as a great man, but Jehoash did not trust Elisha’s God.
Elisha said that King Jehoash would succeed against the *Syrians. He ordered Jehoash to shoot an arrow towards the *Syrians. Elisha put his own hands on the king’s hands. In that way, he was showing that the king would not succeed by his own efforts. Instead, the king must trust God for success. Elisha ordered the king to shoot towards the east. That was because the *Syrians had *conquered that area. To shoot an arrow in that way meant to declare war. Jehoash would defeat the *Syrians at Aphek, where Ahab had defeated them 60 years earlier.
Then Elisha told King Jehoash to strike the arrows on the ground. In that way, he tested whether Jehoash would attack the *Syrians more strongly than Ahab. Jehoash only struck the ground 3 times. That showed that he would not win completely against his enemies. Even as Ahab had not won completely, Jehoash too would not have complete success.
We do not know why Jehoash did not continue to strike the arrows against the ground. Some people have thought that he did not want to defeat Syria completely. Another country called Assyria was becoming very powerful. And in the future, Syria might support *Israel in their battles against Assyria. Probably however, Jehoash’s reason was simpler. Jehoash did not trust God. And he did not really believe that the *prophet’s words had much value. Jehoash had already struck the ground three times because Elisha asked him to do that. But Jehoash did not think that the action had any purpose. He thought that it was nonsense. He did not have any *faith that God would fight on his behalf. So he did not continue to obey the *prophet.
Elisha was angry. The king’s actions showed that he did not trust God. God wanted to fight on behalf of *Israel. God loved the *Israelites and he had made special promises to them. But, like all the kings of *Israel, Jehoash would not trust God completely. All these kings *worshipped the *idols at Bethel and Dan which Jeroboam established. They loved their *sin more than they loved God. The *Israelites would never be completely loyal to God.
Elisha died and the people buried him. A short time afterwards, a group of soldiers from Moab attacked. This happened often in the Spring. They would steal whatever they could take. And they would lead people away to be their slaves. So the *Israelites had to watch carefully as they carried out their daily tasks. They did not know when they might need to run away.
Some people were burying a dead man. But before the grave was ready, someone saw a group of soldiers from Moab. The people who were burying the body would have to run away. So they threw the body quickly into Elisha’s grave. The dead man became alive again and he stood up. That shows that God’s power makes people alive. That was an astonishing *miracle. It showed that, even after Elisha’s death, his God was still alive. It proved that God was still active in *Israel. He would still work on behalf of his people.
This is also a very special *miracle because God used something dead (Elisha’s bones) to give life. For Christians, that is an exciting idea. It reminds them how God gave new life to them by means of Jesus’ death. And God even gives life to people’s bodies by that same event. In Matthew 27:52-53, we read that after Jesus’ death, this happened. ‘Many among God’s people that had died became alive again. They left the graves.’ And that will happen again in the future (1 Corinthians 15:50-57).
v22 King Hazael of Syria dealt cruelly with the *Israelites while Jehoahaz was their king. v23 But the *Lord was kind to the *Israelites. He showed his love and care. He did that because of his *covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The *Lord did not want to kill all the *Israelites. And he did not want to end his relationship with the *Israelites.
v24 Hazael, the king of Syria, died. His son Benhadad became the king. v25 Then Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz, fought Syria. He took back all the cities that Benhadad had taken in war from Jehoash’s father Jehoahaz. Jehoash defeated Benhadad three times. So he got back the *Israelites’ towns.
Jehoash was successful because God was kind to *Israel. But although God did all these wonderful things for Jehoash, Jehoash still did not trust God. Jehoash *worshipped false gods as all the kings of *Israel had done. God was kind to *Israel because of his promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God always performs his promises. So although the *Israelites were not loyal to him, his special relationship with them continued.
Jehoash took back the cities that Benhadad had taken from Jehoash’s father. But Jehoash only defeated the *Syrians three times, as Elisha had *prophesied.