Day 170 (June 19): Jehoahaz and Jehoash rulers of Israel, Jehoash weak on Elisha’s command, Elisha died, King Hazael died

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

2 Kings 13:1-11

2 Kings 12:17-21

2 Chronicles 24:23-27

2 Kings 13:14-25

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Kings 13:1): Jehu was mostly good.  I wonder why his son turned evil?

A. There’s no way to tell, and that’s not really the focus of the story anyway.  It is not why you do evil (though that matters to God, just not to this author!), but what evil you do that matters.

Q. (12:18): I would call Joash a wimp!  I wonder why he didn’t ask God for help with enemies like the other kings before him.

A. That would have seemed to be a wise thing to do, but Joash appears to not be in relationship with God at this point.  A similar move by King Asa (back in 1 Kings 15) secured their survival, and it appears that this is what Joash is doing here.

Q. (2 Chronicles 24:23-24): Was the only purpose of God being with the Aramean army to conquer Judah?  The people weren’t following God, he just helped them fight, right?

A. God’s purpose in using other nations, to this point, is to get the attention of the either Israel or Judah.  Israel is further gone at this point, but it appears in this case that Judah needs some reminding as well.  So, no, the Arameans are not following God, He is using them as a “rod” to discipline His people for going astray.

Q. (24:25): Why would Joash’s officials seek revenge for Joash killing Zechariah, the son of Johoiada the priest when the leaders plotted to kill him (2 Chronicles 24:21).  Aren’t officials and leaders one in the same?

A. We are not told.  But it appears that even though they were his officials, they did not agree with the decision he made to have Zechariah murdered, and they looked for a time to avenge this murder.  The assassination can also be seen as divine judgment on Joash, which is what Zechariah asked for as he was dying (24:22)

Q. (24:25): Some kings were buried in the City of David and some weren’t, some in the royal cemetery and some not.  I don’t see a rhyme or reason to who was buried where.  The really bad ones were left for the dogs, but some who were kind of bad were still buried in the royal cemetery and some weren’t.

A. I’m not sure what the selection criterion is either, but it looks like the “royal cemetery” is the hall of fame, if you will: its where the best of the best are buried.  Others in David’s line (the major reason they are buried there at all) are buried in his city, Bethlehem, but not given the ceremonial burial.  So basically, it appears you got the royal burial for being fairly close in popularity and righteous action to the great ancestor, David himself.

Q. (24:26): I have noticed that mothers of kings and here, assassins are sometimes listed.  Why?  Is it because of royal bloodlines?

A. In some cases.  I suspect part of the reason has to do with this being an archive of sorts, so if a family member is known (or worth nothing!) they are listed.

Q. (2 Kings 13:14): 2 Kings 13:11 says that Jehoash did what was evil in the Lord’s sight.  So, it surprises me that he visited Elisha and wept because he was dying.

A. I suspect many of these men had moments of character show, and this appears to be one of those moments for these two men.  Even evil people — which on some level, we all are — are capable of great good and mercy.

Q. (13:19): There are so many riddles.  And if you don’t do them just right, you don’t get the full prize.  Why?  He obviously had more arrows and when Elisha told him to pick up his “other arrows,” he meant all of them?

A. Jehoash’s response to the challenge was half-hearted: instead of using ALL of his arrows, he only uses three.  This timid, unenthusiastic response is probably what upset Elisha.  Jehoash could not even muster a strong response when challenged.

Q. (13:23): I wonder if it weren’t for His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, if God would have given up on the Israelites.  I would say “no” because Jesus is prophesied to come from there.

A. Let’s hold on to that one for a few chapters, ok?

Q. (13:24): Hazael kills Ben-Hadad, but then names his son the same thing?  Maybe Ben-Hadad means like strong warrior or something?  That brings up another question.  There are so many kings whose name starts with a “J”.  Do the names have a meaning?  Like mine means “meadow” or something glorious like that.  I just wonder how people in Bible times decided on names for their children.

A. Ok, let’s see.  At least three people in our story have the name Ben-Hadad.  This is because, like the Egyptian “Pharaoh,” it is a title, not a name.  It means Son (ben) of Hadad — the god of the Arameans, also called Syrians in some translations.  So different people who rule as king of this nation carry this title — names like Hazael, who as king was also technically ben-hadad, probably help the readers keep up with who’s who.  So that’s why the name keeps popping up.

You’ve clearly noticed some pattern in the naming of Jewish men and to a lesser extent women.  One pattern we see is that many Jewish names are based upon the name of God in the OT — The Hebrew YHWH (which is given to us in English as Yahweh or Jehovah).  Note that those first three letters in “Jehovah” are the same ones showing up in most of the names (such as Jehoash, which means God (YHWH) has bestowed).  Many of the names that we have seen or will see come from that pattern.

The catch, if you will, is that since all of these names are translated into English from Hebrew, there have to be some editing choices.  So once you have settled on the name of God (Yahweh or Jehovah), then you have the “template” for all the other names based upon the name of God.  Feel free to ask about any names you see in the future.  I can usually find their translation from Hebrew.

Day 169 (June 18): Queen Athaliah rules in Judah, Johoiada organizes revolt, Athaliah killed, Jehoiada moves people to tear down Baal’s temple, 7-year-old Joash now ruler of Judah, Joash repairs temple, Jehoiada diess, Joash turns to idols, Jehu dies

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

2 Kings 11:1-3

2 Chronicles 22:10-12

2 Kings 11:4-12

2 Chronicles 23:1-11

2 Kings 11:13-16

2 Chronicles 23:12-15

2 Kings 11:17-21

2 Chronicles 23:16-21

2 Kings 12:1-16

2 Chronicles 24:1-16

2 Chronicles 24:17-22

2 Kings 10:32-36

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Kings 11:1): By killing all of Ahaziah’s (except for one) family, Athaliah was making herself the only choice for the throne?  So, not only did greed for the throne cause discord, jealousy and rivalry, it fostered murder!  Was Athaliah a descendant of David?  She’s the first queen in all of Judah and Israel?  There’s nothing to say a woman couldn’t be queen, right?

A. She is the first recorded sole female ruler for either kingdom, and yes, her plan is to kill all the other “options” for king.  She is basically ruling for the position of “queen mother,” which is a recognized position in most courts (its where Jezebel was serving when she got what she deserved).  As far as I can tell, she is related to David only by marriage, not blood.

Q. (11:12): Jehosheba saved Joash.  We don’t know if she was worried about the kingdom not having a king or if she was simply saving a baby from imminent death.  Nevertheless, do we know if Joash was chosen by God?

A. I suspect that those who protected Joash felt that because he had survived his grandmother’s onslaught, he was the one God had chosen to be king.  The other important thing to remember is that as the son of the (dispatched) king, his right to rule was assumed — he was the rightful heir to the throne.  Only without a known heir was the queen mother allowed to rule Judah.

Q. (2 Chronicles 23:1-3): This version sounds more trusting than the 2 Kings 11:4 version.  In Chronicles, Jehoiada the priest said that he summoned the Levites and charged them with helping him seat Joash as king.  But, 2 Kings said he summoned commanders, Carite mercenaries and palace guards.  I would think that some of them may have loyalties to the queen.  So, which version is correct?  It’s probably of no importance.  What’s important is that Joash was anointed king of Judah.

A. There is no reason to assume that both versions of the story are not accurate: it is quite possible that Jehoiada worked with both groups (that would be your ruling parties: the priesthood and the royal guardians) to get the proper king installed.  Remember, as we discussed in the previous question, Joash was the legitimate ruler, not his grandmother.

Q. (2 Chronicles 23:7): I wonder what this boy thought about being king at 7 years old?  He had guards surrounding him wherever he went.  I wonder if he knew why he was surrounded.  Athaliah must have not had a strong, loyal military because she did not muster any resistance to Jehodiada’s movement.

A. Jehoiada appears to have talked to the right group of people.  I suspect that Athaliah thought she was safe because she believed that she had killed all the other relatives and would be unchallenged for the throne.

Q. (2 Kings 11:16): Why do the dethroned rulers have to be killed?  Most of them die in battle.  But, I would think Athaliah could have been exiled.

A. Since she had demonstrated a willingness to kill family to get her throne, it is little surprise that she was killed.  It can be dangerous for a young king to have bloodthirsty relatives who might make an attempt to get the throne back.  The only thing between her and being the legitimate ruler is a seven year old boy.  That’s dangerous!

Q. (11:18): Baal was already destroyed by Jehu, but that was in Israel, right?  This is Judah.  It’s getting difficult to keep it all straight.

A. Yes, this is Judah.  Honestly, the “choppiness” of the readings between Kings and Chronicles is not helping me keep it straight either.

Q. (12:3): Why is it so hard to get rid of all of the pagan shrines?  Several kings have done really well in the eyes of God, except for leaving a little bit of materials for worshipping false gods.

A. I don’t have a good answer for that.  My notes indicate that the regions where this pagan worship is taking place are supposed to be places of worship of God, but the people in these areas keep “slipping” back into pagan worship.  I don’t know why.

Q. (2 Chronicles 24:7): Is the Temple of the Lord the same temple that Solomon built?

A. Yes, the temple in Jerusalem.  It was apparently being plundered by Athaliah’s followers to generate funding for pagan worship.

Q. (24:21): What happened to that verse about if you “raise someone up in the Lord, he/she will always return to the Lord” or something like that.  Joash was raised and taught by Jehoiada and yet, as soon as he dies, he is swayed to false gods.

A. As we discussed in Proverbs, such wisdom (Proverbs 22:6) is generally true, but not ironclad law.  The biggest problem, the story tells us, is that this young man stopped listening to the right advice.  If he had just stayed with what he already knew, he probably would have been all right, but he chose to follow the path of his corrupt advisors.

Day 167 (June 16): The healing of Naaman, Gehazi’s greed, a floating ax, Elisha traps Arameans, Ben-Hadad captures Samaria, lepers visit enemy camp, Israel plunders camp, Shunem woman is proof, Hazael murders Ben-Hadad

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

2 Kings 5-8:15

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Kings 5:1): I am confused.  Aram was an enemy of Israel, right?  Why would God give the king of Aram, Ben-Hadad, victory over Israel.  Is it because Naaman believed in God?

A. Aram and Israel were at war.  The story didn’t say that Naaman had victory over Israel, only that he was given victory by God.  I don’t think the reason for this had anything to do with Naaman’s belief in the God of his enemy Israel, but rather by God’s mercy.  Remember, God did not ordain this war between Israel and Aram.  The evil kings of both of these nations brought it about.  God is, in this case, not necessarily on one side exclusively.

Q. (5:2): Israel must not have been following God at this time because Israel has been pillaged.  Joram is the king of Israel at this time?

A. Yes, Ahab’s son.

Q. (5:7): Why would Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram, think that Israel would help heal the commander of his army, after Aram had invaded Israel?

A. He believed it because Naaman told him so.  The whole reason Naaman even comes to Israel was because of his slave girl informing him about Elisha, who had the power, via God, to heal his leprosy.  I suspect your answer is that if that was good enough for Naaman, it was good enough for Ben-Hadad.

Q. (5:15): Why would Elisha not accept the gifts from Naaman?  Because of God’s grace, he does not require gifts?  But, he does like sacrifices, which include gifts.  I probably have this wrong?

A. God’s curing Naaman’s leprosy was a mercy, and did not require a gift.   I suspect it also had to do with the treasures were from Aram, and were probably acquired via pagan ritual.

Q. (5:18,19): So, since Elisha said, “Go in peace” to Naaman’s request of being pardoned when he, with his master King Ben-Hadad, bows to the god Rimmon?  I wouldn’t think God would appreciate this from someone who was just healed of leprosy.

A. Naaman is obligated to bow to Rimmon out of respect for his king; it was a requirement.  But what the text tells us is that Naaman understands who the true God is.

O. (5:20-27): Goes to show you what lies and greed will get you: not ahead like Gehazi thought, but behind with leprosy.

Q. (6:9): So you said that because the kings were not following God, Elisha and other prophets would step in to set them on the right path or give them a glimpse of what God can do if they remain loyal to him.

A. That is the purpose a prophet serves, yes.  In this case, Elisha is keeping Israel out of trouble with Aram.

Q. (6:21-22): Elisha had mercy on the soldiers who came to seize him.  I don’t know why he didn’t do this with the boys who were mocking him in 2 Kings 2:23-24?

A. Well, I don’t have a great answer to that, but part of the answer is the mocking itself: the soldiers were merely under orders to bring in Elisha, but were not disrespecting him.  By tricking the soldiers into basically coming into the capital, he was essentially making them prisoners of war.  Even in ancient society, there were rules about proper ways to treat POWs, and killing them wasn’t acceptable.

Q. (6:25): I read this verse to my husband.  His question is: Why would anyone want a donkey’s head and, especially, dove’s dung?

A. In the midst of a famine, it was apparently all that was left that was edible.  This rather gross imagery is meant to show the extent of the famine.

Q. (6:31): Why is burlap significant?

A. It was a symbol of mourning.  The king was in a state of mourning, but he was unwilling to go all the way and be exclusively dressed in burlap, which was probably a pride thing.  He wanted to mourn the terrible situation, but was unwilling to give up his majestic robes.

Q. (6:31): Is this a “be careful what you wish for” question?

A. It was pretty unwise, yes.

Q. (7:1): Bad flour is punishment for the king for ordering Elisha’s death?

A. Um, not bad flour, cheap flour.  What Elisha means is that the famine will be over, and crops, including flour, will be readily available.

Q. (7:19-20): They couldn’t eat the cheap flour because: A) they were mourning their kings death and had no appetite, B) the soldiers were away plundering so no matter what the price, there was no one to buy it or eat it, C) the people left behind were distracted and had no interest in going to the market, D) it was trampled just like the king, E) none of the above?

A. NOTA.  There’s no “they”, the prophecy only refers to the king’s servant who scoffs at Elisha’s promise.  The king does not die in this story, only this man, who is trampled at the gate by the people rushing to get food.  So he lived to see the cheap flour, and the end of the famine, but he was not able to enjoy it because he was trampled to death.

Q. (8:7-15): I guess being a prophet isn’t all fun.  It obviously has its hardships and requires a stomach of steel.  Hazael seemed to be blindsided by the news that he would be the leader of such destruction — which he did call “great things.”  Why would God cause such horror?  Will we learn why?

A. Well, you already know part of the reason: Israel and Aram are at war, and Hazael has just made himself king by killing the previous king.  But, yes, I believe the full reason will become clear.