King Joash of Judah - Biography

Chart of the Kings King Joash of Judah - Biography God's Judgment Regarding King Joash of Judah
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Joash, King at Seven
Reconstruction of the Temple
Joash Becomes a Murderer
Joash Assassinated


Joash arose as a bright star in a dark time. For 15 years Judah had been ruled by Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah, a family infamous for their brutality. As a baby, Joash was rescued from murder by his aunt Jehosheba, and was raised by her and her husband, the priest Jehoiada. These two were a beacon for God in an otherwise cruel and vice-ridden age.

At the age of seven Joash, who was of the kingly line of David, became king of Judah. Mentored by godly Jehoiada, he eliminated many of the evils instituted by his forebears. Most notably, he supervised the reconstruction of Solomon's temple, now deteriorating with age.

In kindness to Joash, raised without the benefit of father or mother or a stable community, God allowed Jehoiada to live to an extreme age, past at least Joash's 30th year. All this time Joash followed the wise counsel of this great man of God.

Even so, when Jehoiada died, Joash fell victim to political pressures and abandoned the LORD, letting his newly refurbished temple fall again into disrepair, and entering into cult worship and the sins associated with it. The LORD sent prophets to warn the king, but he refused to hear. Climactically, the LORD sent Jehoiada's son Zechariah to rebuke Joash. But rather than repent, Joash coldly plotted the murder of his rescuer's son.

Not long after, Joash himself was killed in a conspiracy.

Where to read Joash's story: 2 Kings 11 - 12; 2 Chronicles 22:10 - 24:27

Joash, King at Seven

When Prince Joash was just a baby, his father King Ahaziah was present during a coup in neighboring Israel, and was killed. Immediately the queen mother Athaliah seized the throne herself, killing all her own male descendents as rivals. Baby Joash, however, was rescued by the late king's sister, Joash's aunt Jehosheba. The wife of the LORD's priest Jehoiada, she hid him in the temple, and the two of them raised him.

When Joash was seven Jehoiada, in a stunning display of courage and loyalty to the LORD, overthrew the usurper Athaliah, and placed Joash, the LORD's choice, on the throne, providing him with a written copy of the LORD's instructions for a king, and presiding over a renewing of the national covenant to follow the LORD.

The king's first royal act, under Jehoiada's supervision, was to destroy the nearby temple of Baal, the idol whose worship had plunged the nation into a time of violence and vice. After this, there was a great celebration, for the people had suffered under the last three evil sovereigns.

Source: 2 Kings 11; 2 Chronicles 22:10 - 23:21

Reconstruction of the Temple

Young King Joash, seeing Solomon's temple, now about 150 years old and deteriorating, gave orders to have it repaired, invoking a previously authorized tax to pay for the work. In his inexperience, though, he failed to establish good lines of responsibility and accountability, and so for years the project floundered.

At age 30, Joash took a renewed interest in the temple, this time soliciting voluntary contributions, which were provided in abundance. He installed a proper organization, accountable to Jehoiada, and he hired professional builders rather than trying to fit the work into the priests' spare time, as in the first attempt. The work was a splendid success. The structure was completely refurbished, and with surplus funds they replaced the aging furnishings and trappings.

This done, the temple was restored to full time round-the-clock services of worship, as had been established in King David's day.

Source: 2 Kings 12:1-16; 2 Chronicles 24:1-16

Joash Becomes a Murderer

The LORD allowed Jehoiada to live to the extreme age of 130 years, thereby helping the nation recover from the preceding evil rulers. All this time, the faithful priest mentored Joash, who followed his lead with great respect. When Jehoiada died, he was buried in the cemetery of the kings, in recognition of his stellar work in rebuilding the nation.

After Jehoiada's death, the ousted pagans saw their opportunity. They flattered the king, who favored them by sponsoring their cults, which he had crushed in Jehoiada's day. He stopped worshipping the LORD, who then sent troubles on the nation in an effort to provoke them to repentance. He also sent prophets to clearly explain the connection between their faithlessness and their problems, but the king and his new cronies refused to hear.

Among the problems resulting from Joash's apostasy was an attack by Syria against Jerusalem. Rather than call on the LORD for aid, as other successful kings had done, Joash plundered the valuables from the LORD's temple and offered them as a bribe to the king of Syria, who then withdrew for the time being.

Finally, the LORD sent Jehoiada's son Zechariah to plead with the king. Because of his deep debt to Jehoiada, Joash should surely have paid at least a minimum of respect to his son, but instead he cooperated with a conspiracy against him. The pagan leaders brought capital accusations against Zechariah. Though clearly a frame job, the king sentenced Zechariah to death by stoning. As he lay dying, Zechariah said, “May the LORD see this and call you to account.”

It was this martyrdom to which Jesus later referred when he said, “From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.” (Luke 11:51)

Source: 2 Kings 12:17-18; 2 Chronicles 24:15-22

Joash Assassinated

Syria launched a second attack against Jerusalem, slaughtering the nobility and plundering their wealth. Since this was only a small strike force, Joash quickly assembled a full army and struck in defense of his kingdom. However, lacking the LORD's support, he was unable to fight well, and was defeated by Syria's tiny force. Joash himself was badly wounded.

There was much discontent over Joash's recent poor leadership, and especially his ruthless treatment of Jehoiada's son, and so a group of opponents took this opportunity to conspire, killing him as he lay recuperating in his bed. In recognition of his turn to evil, Joash was refused burial in the cemetery of the kings, being laid to rest in a commoner's grave.

Source: 2 Chronicles 24:23-27
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