King Joash of Israel - Biography

Chart of the Kings King Joash of Israel - Biography God's Judgment Regarding King Joash of Israel
Previous King: JehoahazOfIsrael   Next King: Jeroboam II

Joash was the grandson of Israel's King Jehu, and succeeded his father King Jehoahaz as king. He reigned 16 years, and continued the evil legacy of King Jeroboam's golden calf cult. His reign was marked by continued vulnerability to raids by the armies of Syria and Moab.

In spite of his commitment to paganism, he had an affinity for the LORD's prophet Elisha, whom he visited on the latter's deathbed. While Joash grieved over his nation's coming loss — for Elisha had aided his nation with powerful miracles of God — Elisha made himself busy prophesying military victories for Israel, over the invading Syrian army.

To prepare for these victories, Elisha invited King Joash to participate with him in a ritual to demonstrate faith in God — faith, after all, was the vehicle through which God would provide the prophesied victories. The king took up his bow and arrows, and the prophet carefully showed him how he was to hold the bow for this ritual. He told the king to shoot an arrow out the window, in the direction of Syria (east). When he did, the prophet announced that because of his obedience, God would give him victory in the coming battle at the border town of Aphek.

Confident that the king understood the ritual and its implications, Elisha instructed Joash to take his bow outdoors and shoot arrows into the ground. Joash shot three arrows and quit. When he returned, Elisha was angry at his halfhearted compliance, telling Joash that since he had shot only three arrows, he would have only three victories over the army of Syria, rather than destroying their war-making power completely, as the LORD had intended.

In another incident, Amaziah, king of neighboring Judah, challenged Joash to meet him for war. Joash thought Amaziah was suffering from arrogance over a recent victory, and told him he preferred peace. Amaziah refused, however, and so the battle began. Joash routed Amaziah's army, captured Amaziah, and in order to cripple his ability to make further trouble, broke a large section of the protective wall of Jerusalem, Amaziah's capital.

Reading this account in the Bible can be a little confusing, only because the story of Joash, who is also referred to as Jehoash, is intermingled with the story of a king of Judah, contemporary with Joash, and also known by the same names, Joash and Jehoash.

Where to read Joash's story: 2 Kings 13:9 - 14:16; 2 Chronicles 25:17-25

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