Joash or Jehoash (Hebrew יהואש המלך, YHWH-given) (884-r. 878-839 BC according to Ussher, or 841-r. 835-798 BC according to Thiele) was the seventh king of the Southern Kingdom of Israel in direct line of descent from King David. Technically, he was the eighth reigning monarch, if one includes his grandmother Athaliah in the reckoning. But because Athaliah attempted to secure her succession by an act of murder, her "reign," such as it is, is more accurately described as a period of usurpation, if not an interregnum. The high priest Jehoiada did not so much bring him to his throne as assert, by force of arms, his lawful authority to sit on it. Sadly, Joash repaid the kindness of this priest with murder, and died by an act of murder in his own turn.
Early Life and Family
Joash's life nearly ended violently before he was a year old. The son of King Ahaziah by his wife Zibia, Joash was but an infant when Ahaziah died in the Jehu Revolution in the Northern Kingdom. Queen mother Athaliah then seized the throne and killed every remaining prince and princess of the House of David—except for Joash and his aunt Jehosheba, who rescued him from the royal palace and hid him in the Temple of Jerusalem for six years. She and her husband Jehoiada raised him, while Athaliah held the reins of government.
When Joash was seven years old, his uncle Jehoiada determined to end the illegitimate rule of Athaliah and establish Joash as the rightful king. With the aid of all the company-commanding officers (literally, "captains of hundreds," equivalent to Roman centurions), Jehoiada recruited every Levite throughout the Southern Kingdom to protect Joash and shepherd him to the sanctuary of the Temple. There Jehoiada placed the crown on his head, and everyone present pledged him their service and obedience.
Athaliah burst into the assembly at this point, tore her royal robes, and cried, "Treason! Treason!" Jehoiada ordered the officers to arrest her, take her outside, and execute her. Later that day, Joash took his place in the throne room of the palace. He then gave his first order: to destroy the Temple of Baal that stood nearby to the Temple of Jerusalem.
The Temple of Jerusalem was in shocking disrepair when Joash took the throne. Twenty years of mis-rule by Jehoram, Ahaziah, and finally Athaliah had taken their toll. The temple walls had several holes in them, and the three rulers, or their agents, had taken the dedicated items out of the Temple and used them in the Temple of Baal and perhaps in various and sundry other high places throughout the Southern Kingdom. Joash asked Jehoiada to require a collection, similar to that which Moses collected to make the Tabernacle, to keep the Temple in repair.
In the twenty-third year of his reign (856 BC or 813 BC), Joash was displeased to find out that nothing, or next to nothing, had been done. He urged Jehoiada to take the situation in hand. Jehoiada did, by building a special chest for the collection and by personally seeing to the hiring of workmen to repair the Temple. With the money that was left over, Jehoiada was able to replace most of the dedicated items.
Joash kept true to God as long as Jehoiada was alive. But even the most dedicated high priest could not live forever. Jehoiada died in the thirty-ninth year of Joash's reign, at the age of 130.With Jehoiada's death, the nobles of the Southern Kingdom prevailed upon Joash to allow the same idol worship that Jehoiada had encouraged him to oppose. Joash then began to tolerate and even to practice this form of worship—a practice perhaps made easier because Joash never removed any of the high places in his territory. Several prophets warned Joash against this policy, saying,
One of these prophets was Zechariah, son of Jehoiada. In reply, Joash ordered that Zechariah be executed by stoning in the Temple court. As he died, Zechariah said,
Because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. II_Chronicles 24:20 (KJV)
The LORD look upon it, and require it. II_Chronicles 24:22 (KJV)
At the end of that year (839 BC or 798 BC), a Syrian army (probably under the command of King Hazael) invaded the Southern Kingdom with a relatively small force. This force nevertheless defeated a much larger Judean force and in the process destroyed practically all the nobility of the Southern Kingdom and took a great deal of spoil.
Death and Succession
Shortly after that humiliation, two servants of the royal household conspired together and killed Joash in his bed. Joash was buried in Jerusalem, but not in the sepulchres of the kings. Furthermore, the evangelist Matthew failed to mention him in his genealogy of Jesus Christ. (Matthew also failed to mention his father and his son, but instead skipped from Jehoram to Uzziah.) His son Amaziah succeeded him.
- James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Larry Pierce, ed., Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003 (ISBN 0890513600), pghh. 536-541, 544-545
- Leon J. Wood, A Survey of Israel's History, rev. ed. David O'Brien, Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1986 (ISBN 031034770X), pp. 296-297
- David Holt Boshert, Jr., and David Ettinger, Joash King of Judah, Christ-Centered Mall. Retrieved June 10, 2007
- Authors unknown. "King Joah of Judah - Biography." The Kings of Israel, hosted at http://www.geocities.com/ Retrieved June 10, 2007.
- Authors unknown. "Entry for Joash." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., 2007. Retrieved June 10, 2007.
- II_Kings 11:4-16
- II_Chronicles 23:1-15
- II_Kings 11:17-20
- II_Chronicles 23:16-21
- II_Kings 12:4-16
- II_Chronicles 24:4-14
- II_Kings 12:2
- II_Chronicles 24:2
- II_Chronicles 24:15
- II_Chronicles 24:23-24
- Matthew 1:8
- II_Chronicles 24:25-27