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people, who gave so freely, that the temple, besides all reparations, was enriched with vessels of gold and silver, and with all other utensils. The sacrifices likewise were offered, as under godly kings they had been, and the service of God was magnificently celebrated.
The death of Jehoiada, and apostacy of Joash.
But this endured no longer than the life of Jehoiada the priest; who, having lived a hundred and thirty years, died before his country could have spared him. He was buried among the kings of Judah, as he well deserved, having preserved the race of them, and restored the true religion, which the late princes of that house, by attempting to eradicate, failed but a little of rooting up themselves and all their issue. Yet this honourable funeral seems to have been given to him at the motion of the people; it being said, 'they buried him in the city of David.' As for the king himself, who did owe to him no less than his crown and life, he is not likely to have been author of it, seeing that he was as easily comforted after his death, as if he had thereby been discharged of some heavy debt.
For after the death of Jehoiada, when the princes of Judah began to flatter their king, he soon forgot not only the benefits received by this worthy man, his old counsellor, but also the good precepts which he had received from him, yea, and God himself, the author of all goodness. Ihese princes drew him to the worship of idols, wherewith Jehoram and Athaliah had so infected the country, in fifteen or sixteen years, that thirty years, or thereabouts, of the reign of Joash, wherein the true religion was exercised, were not able to clear it from that mischief. The king himself, when once he was entered into these courses, ran on headlong, as one that thought it a token of his liberty, to despise the service of God; arid a manifest proof of his being now king indeed, that he regarded no longer the sour admonitions of devout priests. Hereby it appears, that his former zeal was only counterfeited, wherein, like an actor upon the stage, he had striven to express much more lively affection, than they could shew that were indeed religious.
The causes and time of the Syrians invading Judah, in the days ofjoash.
But God, from whom he was broken loose, gave hiin over into the hands of men that would not easily be shaken off". Hazael, king of Aram, having taken Gath, a town of the Philistines, addressed himself towards Jerusalem, whither the little distance of way, and great hope of a rich booty, did invite him. He had an army heartened by many victories, to hope for more; and for ground of the war, (if his ambition cared for pretences,) it was enough, that the kings of Judah had assisted the Israelites, in their enterprises upon Aram, at Ramoth-Gilead. Yet I think he did not want some further instigation. For if the kingdom of Judah had molested the Aramites, in the time of his predecessor, this was thoroughly recompensed, by forbearing to succour Israel, and leaving the ten tribes in their extreme misery, to the fury of Hazael himself.. Neither is it likely, that Hazael should have gone about to awake a sleeping dog, and stir up against himself a powerful enemy, before he had assured the conquest of Israel, that lay between Jerusalem and his own kingdom, if some opportunity had not promised such easy and good success, as might rather advance, than any way disturb, his future proceedings against the ten tribes. Wherefore I hold it probable, that the sons of Athaliah, mentioned before, were with him in this action, promising (as men expelled their countries usually do) to
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draw many partakers of their own to his side; and not to remain, as Joash did, a neutral in the war between him and Israel, but to join all their forces with his, as they had cause, for the rooting out of Jehu's posterity, who, like a bloody traitor, had utterly destroyed all the kindred of the queen their mother, even the whole house of Ahab, to which he was a subject. If this were so, Hazael had the more apparent reason to invade the kingdom of Judah. Howsoever it were, we find it plainly, that Joash was afraid of him, and therefore • took all the hallowed * things, and all the gold that was found in the trea'sures of the house of the Lord," or in his own house, with which present he redeemed his peace; the Syrian, (questionless,) thinking it a better bargain, to get so much readily paid into his hand for nothing, than to hazard the assurance of this, for the possibility of not much more. So Hazael departed with a rich booty of unhappy treasure, which, belonging to the living God, remained a small while in the possession of this mighty, yet corruptible man, but sent him quickly to the grave. For in the thirty-seventh year of Joash, which was the fifteenth of Jehoahaz, he made this purchase; but in the same, or the very next year, he died, leaving all that he had unto his son Benhadad, with whom these treasures prospered none otherwise than ill-gotten goods are wont.
This enterprise of Hazael is, by some, confounded with that war of the Aramites upon Judah, mentioned in the second book of Chronicles. But the reasons alledged by them that hold the contrary opinion, do forcibly prove, that it was not all one war. For the former was compounded without bloodshed or fight; in the latter, Joash tried the fortune of a battle, wherein, being put to the worst, he lost all his princes, and hardly escaped with life: in the one, Hazael himself was present; in the other, he was
I 1 2 Kings xu II.
not named; but contrariwise, the king of Aram then reigning, (who may seem to have then been the son of Hazael,) is said to have been at Damascus. The first army came to conquer, and was so great that it terrified the king of Judah; the second was a small company of men *, which did animate Joash, (in vain, for God was against him,) to deal with them, as having a very great army.
Now, concerning the time of this former invasion, I cannot perceive that God forsook him, till he had first forsaken God. There are indeed some, very learned, who think that this expedition of Hazael was in the time of Jehoiada the priest, because that story is joined unto the restoration of the temple. This had been probable, if the death of Jehoiada had been afterwards mentioned in that place of the second book of Kings, or if the apostacy of Joash, or any other matter implying so much, had followed in the relation. For it is not indeed to be doubted, that the Lord of all may dispose of all things, according to his own will and pleasure; neither was he more unjust in the afflictions of Job, that righteous man, or the death of Josiah, that godly king, than in the plagues which he laid upon Pharaoh, or his judgments upon the house of Ahab. But it appears plainly, that the rich furniture of the temple, and the magnificent service of God therewithal, which are joined together, were used ' in the house 'of the Lord continually, all the days of Jehoia1 da3;' soon after whose death, if not immediately upon it, that is, (as some very learnedly collect,) in the thirty-sixth or tlurty-seventh year of this
his father, became a foul idolator.
And indeed we commonly observe, that the crosses which it hath pleased God sometimes to lay upon his servants, without any cause notorious in the eyes of men, have always tended unto the bettering
Joash's reign, the king, fallin.
from the God of
of their good. In which respect, even the suffering of the blessed martyrs, ( * the death of the saints be'ing precious in the sight of the Lord V) are to their great advantage. But with evil and rebellious men, God keepeth a more even, and more strict account; permitting usually their faults to get the start of their punishment, and either delaying bis vengeance, (as with the Aramites,) till their wickedness be full; or not working their amendment by his correction, but suffering them to run on in their wicked courses, to their greater misery. So hath he dealt with many, and so it appears that he dealt with Joash; for this unhappy man did not only continue
and all goodness, as if he had striven to exceed the wickedness of all that went before him, and to leave such a villainous pattern unto others, as few or none of the most barbarous tyrants should endure to imitate.
Sundry prophets having laboured in vain to reclaim the people from their superstition, Zachariah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, was stirred up at length by the spirit of God to admonish them of their wickedness, and make them understand the punishment due unto it, whereof they stood in danger. This Zachariah was a man s6 honourable, and son to a man so exceedingly beloved in his life-time, and reverenced, that if Joash had reputed him, (as Ahab did Elias,) his open enemy, yet ought he in common honesty to have cloaked his ill affection, and have used at least some part of the respect that was due to such a person; on the other side, the singular affection which he and his father had borne unto the king, and the urxrecountable benefits which they had done
an obstinate idolator, but grew
How Zachariah was murdered by Joash.