Categories
Recommended Posts
Fasting As A Prayer By on
Hearing Voices By on


An Almost High Point of a Complicated Story…


…or,

 

Why A Plan Is So Important

 

‘Yehoiada then made a covenant between God and the king and people that they would be God’s people. He also made a covenant between the king and the people. All the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols to pieces and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.

 

Then Yehoiada the kohen posted guards at the temple of God. He took with him the commanders of hundreds, the Carites, the guards and all the people of the land, and together they brought the king down from the temple of God and went into the palace, entering by way of the gate of the guards. The king then took his place on the royal throne. All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was calm, because Athaliah had been slain with the sword at the palace.

Yoash was seven years old when he began to reign. (II Kings 11:17-21)

 

We approach this story with a sense of having closed many outstanding issues in the history of the nation: the prophecies of Elijah, Elisha and Jonah have come to pass (Read Historical Background I, II, III, IV & V). 

 

Naboth has been avenged. 

 

Yehu rose to greatness and then fell as did so many before him. 

 

The Talmud traces the story of Yoash all the way back to King David and his indirect responsibility for the massacre by King Saul of the city of Kohanim, Nov.

There is a strong sense in the nation of having closed many painful chapters in their history, and that they are now prepared for a fresh start.

Yehoiada uses this as an opportunity to “seal the covenant,” between God and the King and the people. 

* God did not initiate this renewal of the covenant it was Yehoiada. 

* The Kohen had not received a message from God instructing him to renew the covenant.

There was no direct communication from God that He was ready to renew the covenant, and yet, Yehoiada knew that he was empowered to renew the covenant between God, the King, and the people.

 

Yehoiada knew this with absolute clarity because of all the major events that had taken place. 

 

He wanted the people to understand that all that had taken place over the past few decades had been guided by the hand of God. Yehoiada understood that with the realization of the prophecies of Elijah, Elisha and Jonah, that God had already initiated the renewal of the covenant. 

 

All that was necessary was for the people to respond to these events as being guided by God’s Hand. 

The acknowledgment of God’s guidance was the renewal of the covenant.

 

********

II.

Yehoiada then made a covenant between God and the king and people that they would be God’s people. 

He also made a covenant between the king and the people. 

All the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols to pieces and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.

Then Yehoiada the kohen posted guards at the temple of God. He took with him the commanders of hundreds, the Carites, the guards and all the people of the land, and together they brought the king down from the temple of God and went into the palace, entering by way of the gate of the guards. The king then took his place on the royal throne. All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was calm, because Athaliah had been slain with the sword at the palace.

Yoash was seven years old when he began to reign. (II Kings 11:17-21)

 

Although the translation reads, “To be a people of God,” a more accurate reading based on the musical notes would be, “To be a nation, to God.” 

 

Yehoiada did not just want the people to make a covenant with God that they would be a nation to God, he wanted them to first make a covenant to God that they would function as a nation. 

 

It was only after they made a commitment to God to live as a nation that they could then dedicate themselves to be a nation to God.

It is also important to note that their commitment to be a nation was not a commitment between themselves, it was not a commitment to each other, but a commitment to God to interact with each other as a nation.

 

As we review the Historical Background to this story, we notice that efforts to live as a nation that were not a commitment to God, resulted in failure:

Yehoram, “followed the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of God.” 

The King of Judah married the daughter of the King of the Ten Tribes to unify the nation but it resulted in disaster and a rejection of God. 

It is not enough to make a covenant to live as a nation; that covenant must be a commitment to God.

 

********

III.

 

“Between God, and between the King, and between the nation… And between the King and between the nation.” 

There are numerous covenants being sealed in this verse. 

 

We have already discussed the initial covenant between the people and God that they would relate to each other as a nation. 

Yehoiada insists that the covenant not only be between the people and God, the people to each other, but that the new and young King act as a separate participant in the sealing of this covenant.

 

As we have seen in Historical Background V, long after Ahab had violated the covenant between God and the people, he violated the covenant between the King and the people. 

 

When he allowed Jezebel to frame Naboth so that he could seize the vineyard, Ahab violated the covenant of a King to protect his subjects. 

 

The violation was all the greater because he stepped back and allowed Jezebel, his evil Queen, to manipulate all the events so that he could pretend to be innocent. 

 

This was not just a king seizing property; this was a King seizing property under the guise of righteousness, an innocent beneficiary of someone else’s evil plan. 

 

This was the King pretending to care about his people even as he allowed Jezebel to violate them. 

Yehoiada insisted that the new King, Yoash,  commit himself as King to this covenant of the nation, before God, to relate to each other as a nation. 

 

Yoash had to repair the damage that Ahab and Jezebel had done to the relationship between the King and the people. He would never succeed in truly serving as a king who could unify the people unless he too pledged himself to renew the covenant of a king to protect his subjects.

 

Yehoiada also had to address the damage caused by Athaliah when she massacred King David’s family (Historical Background III). The people had lost any sense of the royal families serving the people; there had been close to a century of people in power fighting only for their own power and not for the sake of the people. 

 

This renewed covenant had to reassure the people that their young and inexperienced king would focus on his role, serving God as he leads the people, and serving the nation as they relate to God.

 

********

 

IV.

 

“In the seventh year of Yehu, Yoash became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother’s name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba. Yoash did what was right in the eyes of God all the years Yehoiada the kohen instructed him. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there (II Kings 12:1-3).”

 

In these few verses we find the seeds of one of the greatest tragedies that would be part of the process that led to the destruction of the Temple and part of the actual destruction; the murder of Zechariah, whose blood would bubble and boil on the Temple floor until its destruction. 

 

The verse makes it clear that Yoash only continued to do what was right in the eyes of God as long as his teacher Yehoiada lived as a role model. 

 

Yehoiada had even assumed fatherly responsibilities: “Yehoiada chose two wives for him, and he had sons and daughters (II Chronicles 25:3).” 

 

Yoash would come to murder Yehoiada’s son, a kohen and prophet. (See: Biblical Personalities-Yoash) 

 

We also see that there was still a lack of a strong connection between the people and God’s House because they continued to worship in the “High Places.”

 

Our story will include Yoash’s efforts to strengthen the connection between the people and the Temple, however, let us first reflect on these seeds of destruction:

 

“Now Yehoiada was old and full of years, and he died at the age of a hundred and thirty. He was buried with the kings in the City of David, because of the good he had done in Israel for the Lord and His temple.                         After the death of Yehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them. They abandoned the temple of God, the Lord of their ancestors, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, the Lord’s anger came on Judah and Jerusalem. Although God sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen.

Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Zechariah son of Yehoiada the kohen. He stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: ‘Why do you disobey God’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken God, he has forsaken you.’”

But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of God’s temple. 

King Yoash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Yehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, ‘May God see this and call you to account’ (II Chronicles 24:15-22).”

 

********

 

V.

“Yoash said to the kohanim, ‘Collect all the money that is brought as sacred offerings to the temple of God—the money collected in the census, the money received from personal vows and the money brought voluntarily to the temple. Let every kohen receive the money from one of the treasurers, then use it to repair whatever damage is found in the temple’ (II Kings 12:4-5).”

In our text, the treasurers would receive money that was brought to the Temple, and then handed the money over to a kohen who was instructed to use the money to repair any damage found in the Temple. 

It didn’t matter whether the money had been brought as part of the census, whether it had been brought to pay a personal vow or donation, the King wanted all monies received to be used to repair the damage, probably the damage caused by Athaliah, the wicked queen who had massacred so much of the royal family.

It is important to note that in a different version of our story, Yehoiada had already taken steps to preserve the sanctity of the Temple and its service:

“Then Yehoiada placed the oversight of the temple of God in the hands of the Levitical kohanim, to whom David had made assignments in the temple, to present the burnt offerings of God as written in the Law of Moses, with rejoicing and singing, as David had ordered. He also stationed gatekeepers at the gates of God’s temple so that no one who was in any way unclean might enter (II Chronicles 24:18-19).”

In this version of our story, Yoash is following the path begun by his teacher Yehoiada.

 

********

 

However, there are more significant differences in this story in the Book of Chronicles in which Yoash does not want the authorities to wait for funds that are brought to the Temple, but instructs them to go out and raise the funds:

 

“Some time later Yoash decided to restore the temple of God. He called together the kohanim and Levites and said to them, ‘Go to the towns of Judah and collect the money due annually from all Israel, to repair the temple of your God. Do it now.’ But the Levites did not act at once (II Chronicles 25:4-5).”

 

In our text, the King wants the people to understand that repairing the Temple is as important as participating in the census, paying their vows and making donations. 

 

Yoash wants the people to appreciate that the upkeep of the Temple is as much a part of their service of God as their participation in the offerings. 

 

Our’s is a story of the king who wants to reconnect his people with the Temple in Jerusalem.

 

In the Chronicles version of our story, Yoash is addressing the outstanding issue of all the “High Places” where the people continue to bring the offerings without coming to Jerusalem. He sends out the leaders to the people to travel the land and collect funds for the Temple as a way to motivate the people to visit Jerusalem rather than worship God in these unauthorized places.

 

In both stories, the Kohanim and the Levites do not act at once. Some suggest that they wanted the damage to remain so that people would remember the sins of Athaliah and all the tragedies that led to this point of history. Is it not strange though, that rather than debate the King they simply ignore his orders? 

 

It seems that despite Yehoiada’s sophisticated strategies (See: Haftarah-Shekalim-Reading the Text IV-Step by Step), something did not work.

 

********

 

VI.

 

“The money brought into the temple was not spent for making silver basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, trumpets or any other articles of gold or silver for the Temple of God; it was paid to the workers, who used it to repair the temple. They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty (II Kings 12:13-15).”

 

It is interesting to note that the king who was protectively hidden in the Temple chose to focus his efforts on repairing the building and not the vessels.

 

 He was not focused on the service of God, which may be a hint to the disaster that would soon follow – See “Reading the Text V-The Seeds of Destruction.” 

 

When we consider Yoash’s lack of faithfulness to Yehoiada after his death, we can posit that Yoash believed that he need only be grateful to God and His Temple, and not to Yehoiada.

 

There is another hint to Yoash’s limited vision: “They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty.” When we study the Mishnah’s description of the laws of Shekalim, we find an extraordinary insistence on avoiding any possibility of appearing guilty or dishonest:

 

THE KOHEN WHO MADE THE APPROPRIATION (of the Shekel) DID NOT ENTER THE CHAMBER WEARING EITHER A BORDERED (hemmed) CLOAK OR SHOES OR SANDALS OR TEFILLIN OR AN AMULET, LEST IF HE BECAME POOR PEOPLE MIGHT SAY THAT HE BECAME POOR BECAUSE OF AN INIQUITY COMMITTED IN THE CHAMBER (stealing by hiding coins inside one of these items), OR IF HE BECAME RICH PEOPLE MIGHT SAY THAT HE BECAME RICH FROM THE APPROPRIATION IN THE CHAMBER. FOR IT IS A MAN’S DUTY TO BE FREE OF BLAME BEFORE MEN AS BEFORE GOD, AS IT IS SAID: “AND BE GUILTLESS TOWARDS GOD AND TOWARDS ISRAEL (Numbers 32:22),” AND AGAIN IT SAYS: “SO SHALL YOU FIND FAVOR AND GOOD UNDERSTANDING IN THE SIGHT OF GOD AND MAN (Proverbs 3:4).” (Shekalim, Chapter 3:2)

 

We would think that Yoash, fully aware of the distrust of the people in power, would be more sensitive to earning the masses’ trust, but he was not. 

 

We once again find the Seeds of Destruction in Yoash’s behavior even when all seemed well.

Go Back to Previous Page

  • Other visitors also read