2 Chronicles 24:1-27 – Joash
SummaryJoash, under the tutelage of Jehoiada the priest, starts off well and even carries out needed temple repairs. But following the death of his mentor, and contrary to the judgment of 2 Kings 12, Joash lapses into apostasy and is assassinated in his bed by his servants.
AnalysisWith the reign of Joash, the Chronicler returns his approach to the reigns of Rehoboam and Asa and begins a series of three kings whose reigns are divided into two periods. Verses 1-16 describe Joash positively while Jehoiada his advisor was alive. Joash's repair of the temple dominates this period (vv. 4-14). Unusual for Chronicles, the Levites are criticized for their slow response (vv. 5-6). The account of Jehoiada's death (vv. 15-16, not mentioned in Kings) is important for two reasons. While serving the literary function of dividing the account of Joash's reign into two periods, it is also the only death and burial report of someone other than a king. Coupled with the notice of his long life (130 years), Jehoiada's burial among the kings of Judah indicates the high esteem in which the Chronicler held this faithful priest.
The second, negative period of Joash's reign finds the king succumbing to bad advice, this time from "the officials of Judah" (vv. 17-27). There is some disagreement as to what was "abandoned" in verse 18. The Hebrew text reads the "house/temple (byt) of the LORD," while the Greek and Syriac versions read the "covenant" (bryt), a small but obviously crucial difference that has led some to suppose that both "house" and "covenant" are additions attempting to clarify Joash's "abandonment of the LORD." The Chronicler's overall perspective, as well as this chapter's emphasis upon the temple, however, suggests that Joash abandoned the temple that he had recently restored (though one should note v. 24).
This passage is another example of the Chronicler's theme of retributive justice. Joash and his army were defeated by a smaller Syrian force (the army of Aram) because of divine assistance (vv. 23-24), and Joash, himself, is assassinated by his servants in answer to Zechariah's dying request for justice, "May the LORD see and avenge!" (v. 22).