Joash of Israel
- This article is about the king of the Northern Kingdom. For the king of the Southern Kingdom, see Joash.
Joash or Jehoash (Hebrew יהואש המלך, YHWH-given) (vr. 841-r. 839-825 BC according to Ussher, or vr. 798-r. 797-782 BC according to Thiele) was the twelfth king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the second of four generations of the House of Jehu that followed its founder.
Viceroyship and Accession
He began as executive viceroy in the last two years of the reign of his father Jehoahaz. Two years after he became viceroy, he found himself reigning alone when his father died. The statement that he began to reign "in the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah" implies the viceroyship, in that the "thirty-seventh year" began before the term-of-reign of Jehoahaz had completely elapsed.
Consultation with Elisha
Shortly after presiding over his father's funeral, Joash came to see the prophet Elisha. Elisha was ill and close to death. Joash said to him, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and its horsemen!"—exactly the same words that Elisha had uttered to the departing Elijah on the day of his own investiture. Elisha asked Joash to pick up a bow and arrows, notch an arrow into the bow, and shoot, and told Joash that he would win in war against the Syrians. Then Elisha asked Joash to strike the floor with the arrows—and Joash struck the floor only three times. Elisha told him that because he had stopped striking the floor, he would have only three victories against Syria in war.
Shortly after that prophecy was uttered, King Hazael died, and his son Benhadad II reigned in his stead. Joash led the tiny remnant of an army that his father had left him and scored three victories against Benhadad, each time recovering a number of Israelite cities.
A Loyal Son and Viceroy
Joash had a son, named Jeroboam II. Both Ussher and Thiele infer, both from Joash's stated length of reign and the second Jeroboam's synchrony with King Uzziah of the Southern Kingdom, that Jeroboam II became executive viceroy under Joash after Joash had been on the throne, in one capacity or another, for four years—in other words, in the third year of his lone reign. This suggests that Joash spent the next twelve years on military campaigns against Syria.
War with Amaziah
Syria was not the only country with whom Joash would have to fight a war. King Amaziah of the Southern Kingdom, fresh from a great victory over the Edomites, challenged Joash to a battle. This was extremely ironic, because Joash had initially accepted a hundred-talent payment in silver for the hire of 100,000 Ephraimite troops to participate in the battle against Edom. Amaziah, however, sent them back, whereupon those troops went on a rampage against some Judah-ite cities. Amaziah, perhaps having this as a provocation, threatened war against Joash and his entire country.
Joash advised Amaziah as gently as he could that he ought to revel in his recent victory and go home, rather than start a war that he would not win. Amaziah did not heed the advice. Thus the two kings met in battle at Bethshemesh, a city belonging to the Southern Kingdom. Joash won the day, took Amaziah prisoner, and then marched to Jerusalem, where he broke a hole in its wall with a breadth of four hundred cubits (about 533 US Customary feet, or about 160 meters). Then Joash took great spoil, including all the gold and silver in the Temple and palace treasuries, and returned to Samaria, his capital.
Death and Chronological Questions
Joash died soon after this battle. He had reigned for sixteen years, including twelve during which he had a good viceroy who would prove an even better lone successor.
The Bible says that Amaziah lived for another fifteen years after Joash's death. This is entirely in accord with the Ussher chronology, according to which Amaziah's son Uzziah, at the age of sixteen, began to reign in 810 BC. The Thiele chronology has a problem, however, for it has Uzziah beginning to reign in 792 BC. Joash must have lived until 782 BC by Thiele's system—and if Amaziah lived fifteen years after that, then he would have lived until 767 BC—about twenty-four or twenty-five years out of synchrony with Uzziah.
Thiele's solution, as attested by Larry Pierce, was to state that Uzziah began to reign as viceroy in the Southern Kingdom in 792 BC. But the Bible says that Uzziah began his reign when he was sixteen years of age. Only two resolutions are possible, and one of these is physically impossible:
- Uzziah was made viceroy of the Southern Kingdom fully eight years before he was born.
- Uzziah was made viceroy at sixteen and then became sole ruler of the Southern Kingdom twenty-four years later, and then reigned alone for another seventeen years. But that would mean that Amaziah sired Uzziah when he, Amaziah, was twelve years old. That is entirely possible—and in fact a future king of the Southern Kingdom must surely have sired his own successor when he was even younger. But it requires much "multiplication of guesses" because it violates the plain reading of so many verses. (This system also assumes that for ten years, Uzziah granted his son a viceroyship.)
- James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Larry Pierce, ed., Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003 (ISBN 0890513600), pghh. 546, 547, 549-551,553
- Leon J. Wood, A Survey of Israel's History, rev. ed. David O'Brien, Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1986 (ISBN 031034770X), pp. 275-276
- Authors unknown. "King Joash of Israel - Biography." The Kings of Israel, hosted at http://www.geocities.com/ Retrieved June 10, 2007.
- II_Kings 13:10
- II_Kings 13:14-19
- II_Kings 15:1
- II_Chronicles 25:6-10
- II_Kings 14:8-14
- II_Kings 14:17
- Larry Pierce, Evidentialism–the Bible and Assyrian chronology TJ 15(1):62–68 April 2001
- II_Kings 14:20-21
- Larry Pierce, "Some Objections Considered," in James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Larry Pierce, ed., Master Books, 2003, pp. 921-926 ISBN 0890513600