Jehoahaz Reigns in Israel
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. Then Jehoahaz sought the favor of the LORD, and the LORD listened 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 lived 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.) For there was not left to Jehoahaz an army of more than fifty horsemen and ten chariots and ten thousand footmen, for the king of Syria had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing. 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 place.
Jehoash Reigns in Israel
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. Now the rest of the acts of Joash and all that he did, and the might with which he fought against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? So Joash slept with his fathers, and Jeroboam sat on his throne. And Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.
The Death of Elisha
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!” And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows.” So he took a bow and arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, “Draw the bow,” and he drew it. And Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands. And he said, “Open the window eastward,” and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot,” and he shot. And he said, “The LORD’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria! For you shall fight the Syrians in Aphek until you have made an end of them.” And he said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground with them.” And he struck three times and stopped. Then the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.”
So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.
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.
When Hazael king of Syria died, Ben-hadad his son became king in his place. Then Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again from Ben-hadad the son of Hazael the cities that he had taken from Jehoahaz his father in war. Three times Joash defeated him and recovered the cities of Israel.
2 Kings 13 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“Then the Lord gave Israel a deliverer…”2 Kings 13:5
It’s an obscure statement of a nameless individual whom God rose up from among the ranks to bring freedom. We read such stories over and over in Judges where God raised people up. The difference is in the book of Judges “Everyone did as they saw fit because there was no king,” and here the people have had kings for centuries. However, the kings were mainly evil on their intent – God had to raise up a leader who would deliver.
How would it feel to be nameless? How would it resonate to be a person of deliverance in another’s life and not ever get the credit for what you did or how you helped? It’s an interesting question to ponder. For by and large, we are a people who want to be recognized; we want to be appreciated personally. I think if we’re honest with ourselves – there may be times it would not sit very well.
But as we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus, I propose there are many individuals that we have been an answered prayer to. We may never know it. Quite possibly we were just doing what we normally do – and God used us and our giftings to be one who stood in the gap, offered hope and yes even delivered an individual from oppression.
The challenge today is to be willing to be that of one who would deliver. It is to pray for opportunities to step up and help someone. It is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s lead and become an answer to a prayer they’ve been laboring over and bring the hope of Jesus to their darkened situation.
2 Kings 13 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
What’s the context here? Well, as we have read, 2 Kings is a terrible time for Israel. The nation is continually at war because God is using their enemies as a means of discipline. On top of this, rebellious king after rebellious king is refusing to lead the nation back to repentance, choosing instead to intermingle with foreign gods. So, on the surface, it may seem that Joash is genuinely seeking Elisha, but we know from the surrounding texts that Joash only started as a “good king.”
Joash came to Elisha because he saw him as just one of many resources he could use to get out of trouble.
And so, the fear of Joash is that he is going to lose this layer of protection if Elisha dies. It’s probably a selfish meeting, but being true to his calling and mission, even on his deathbed, Elisha gives the king a prophecy to be fulfilled. Joash, by faith, will strike down his enemies the same number of times that he strikes the ground with arrows. According to Elisha, he didn’t strike the ground as many times as he could have and this actually revealed what little faith Joash had.
The Dead Bones
Sandwiched in between the feud with Syria and their defense against the Moabites, we find the obscure story of Elisha’s bones raising a man to life. It’s definitely bizarre. These guys are ready to bury a corpse but they realize the Moabites are attacking, so they chuck the body into a tomb (pick a tomb, any tomb…) and it just so happens to be Elisha’s. Can you imagine the look on their faces when their friend comes running out of that tomb alive? I’m sure this once dead man joins them in fleeing the scene and is probably running faster than any of them. He’s thinking, “I already died once and I see these enemies coming, I’m not dying again!”
So, What’s The Point?
As I wrote earlier, I don’t believe Joash was truly seeking God at this time in his life. But through the prophet Elisha, God graciously promises victory three times. Joash already demonstrated his lack of faith only striking the ground three times, so it’s very unlikely he actually believed this prophecy. I think it’s conceivable to say that he believed those words of Elisha died with his lifeless body.
How many of us have struggled to have faith in God’s goodness when circumstances extinguish our joy?
Jesus promises there can be fruit from death (metaphorically and literally)… but how?
I believe this miracle was orchestrated by God to give Joash courage and hope so that he would engage Syria in battle and experience the victory that God promised through the life of Elisha. But Joash had to wrestle! He had to place his faith in the inspired words of a mighty prophet who was now dead. Do we trust the promises of God even when they seem so impossible?