Haftarah-Shekalim-Reading the Text VI
“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.
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