Day 171 (June 20): Amaziah rules in Judah, end of Jehoash’s reign in Israel, Jeroboam II takes over Israel, Amaziah ends reign in Judah, Uzziah sits on Judah’s throne, Uzziah’s pride leads to downfall, Jonah runs from God, Jonah prayed for salvation, Jonah treks to Ninevah, Jonah angered at God’s mercy

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 14:1-14

2 Chronicles 25:1-24

2 Kings 13:12-13

2 Kings 14:15-16

2 Kings 14:23-27

2 Chronicles 25:25-28

2 Kings 14:17-22

2 Kings 15:1-5

2 Chronicles 26:1-21

Jonah 1-4

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Kings 14:1-4): Why did the Judeans (is that what we call them now) kill one king just to put his son on the throne?

A. I don’t know exactly, perhaps they thought the son would be better than his father.

Q. (14:5-6): But, this law does not apply to the kings because we have read many times where God’s punishment for a king’s sins will follow his descendants for many generations.

A. You’ve already noted the distinction.  To have mercy or not on the next generation is God’s decision, and He may do as He pleases, but that doesn’t mean that we as people should seek to make the same judgment.

Q. (14:11-14): I am interested to know what the purpose behind this battle was and how it shapes the future of Israel.  Neither king was fully loyal to the Lord.  Joash of Israel plundered Jerusalem and raided the Temple.

A. The version from Chronicles makes the meaning a bit more clear: Joash’s victory is the result of Amaziah’s ambition and bragging as king.  God uses the Israelites to put Amaziah in his place.

Q. (14:15): I was going to ask the same question, “Why would a king adopt the gods of a kingdom that he just defeated?”

A. Not very smart, is it?

Q. (2 Kings 13:12-13, 14:15-16): This is the same information two places in 2 Kings. Is this a typo or different authors or what?  I know, it’s no big deal.  It just stands out.

A. It does stand out, but I don’t have any particular understanding as to why it is in there twice.

Q. (14:23): I guess although Jeroboam did not follow the Lord, he must have been a renowned king in the people’s eyes because so many kings followed his direction and here this king, Jeroboam II, is named after him?

A. Yes.  He brought freedom (as the people saw it) to Israel, and allowed them to break the yoke of the “cruel” rule of David and his descendents.

Q. (14:24, 27): Verse 24 says that Jeroboam was evil.  Then, v. 27 says that God will use him to save Israel.  Just wait, right?

A. Yep.

O. (15:3): This sounds like a broken record that the kings did good in the eyes of the Lord but did not destroy all of the false gods/idols.  I wanna say, someone just do it.  But, when you see the size of the armies (2 Chronicles 26:3) that they can muster, it must be a huge community.  And, to govern such a huge place would be very difficult.  Some of these shrines may have been hidden.  Still, it sounds like God expected them to be destroyed, no matter what.  If God is trying to establish a nation that follows Him and is like no other, then He would not want any other gods in his territory.  He has and would give them anything, if they would just follow Him.  Which, like us, is the best thing to do and will make us the happiest.  But, all of the distractions and temptations really make us question the security we have built up for ourselves.  So, those temptations make it hard to completely convert to God.  But, it’s what we are called to do and it is the right choice — really, the only choice, the way I see it.

O. (2 Chronicles 26:18-20): Don’t mess with God!

Q. (Jonah 1:17): Like many of the stories in the Bible, this one seems a little far-fetched.  But, we know it’s true.  We know from reading God’s word, that what He says is true.  So, for Jonah, what a ride!  Any idea where Jonah came from?  He just pops out of nowhere.

A. Well, as we’ve mentioned, the Bible doesn’t feel the need to fill in all of the details that we would want.  This story stands alone as one of 12 Minor Prophets (so named for the length of their story, not because they weren’t important).  But, we do get some information on Jonah, including where he came from, you just have to be able to decipher it from the text.  Our reading from 2 Kings 14:25 notes that Jonah was from Gath-Hepher, which was in Zebulun, part of the Northern Kingdom.  This means that Jonah was most likely a member of that tribe.

Q. (Jonah 3:5): Why burlap?  I think of itchy feed sacks.

A. Just like when the Israelites do it, when the citizens of Nineveh put on burlap, they are making a public display of their mourning and repentence.

Q. (Jonah 3:10-4-11): So, tell me if I have this right.  The people of Ninevah changed their ways and God was feeling sympathetic to them.  Thus, Jonah was concerned that God would change his mind and not bring destruction to Ninevah.  And, Jonah was worried about looking like a fool after proclaiming such destruction and then it doesn’t happen?  Will we learn the outcome of this?

A. Well, you’re partly right.  Jonah considered the citizens of Ninevah to be his enemies, and he did not want to proclaim a call to repentance, but not because he thought that he would look bad; it was because he was afraid that God might actually grant it!  Jonah had no interest in sharing God’s mercy with this other nation.  He wanted them destroyed!

One of the themes that the writer of Jonah (possibly Jonah himself, we can’t be sure) brings to our attention is the fact that the non-Jews in this story (the sailors, the Ninevites) act in a much more respectable way than the only Jew — Jonah!  Jonah acts in a petty and childish way, while the other characters are much more responsive to the Word of God than Jonah is.  This is a powerful conviction by the writer: the Jews are failing to be the light to the Gentiles that God has always expected them to be.  Part of their problem, as 2 Kings has told us over and over and over, is that they worship other gods while ignoring the one who gave them their Promised Land.  The Jews are counting on God’s mercy for them, but, as Jonah is doing here, they fail to see that God’s mercy extends to all people, not just to the ones He chose.  His mercy actually angers them!  Think about the great irony of that statement in light of everything we have been reading about Israel and Judah’s unfaithfulness.  Jonah is, in my opinion, one of the greatest writings of the OT for its biting commentary on the way that the Jews were abusing the very love and mercy of God that they were constantly dependent upon.

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.