Our reading today begins with Queen Athaliah still reigning (see 22:10-12). After six years, Jehoiada the priest takes matters into his own hands and decides to make things right in Judah. He gathers some men and they make a covenant to put the true heir on the throne (23:1). In 2 Kings 11:4-11, we see the plan they hatched to protect Joash. Here, we see more of the plan unfold. They gather together the Levites and the heads of the clans of Israel, and together declare Joash king (v. 3). This was more than a small group of men, this was “all Judah” (v. 8).
The execution of Athaliah (vv. 12-15) parallels 2 Kings 11:13-16. The reforms of Jehoiada and the people (vv. 16-21) parallels 2 Kings 11:17-20, with the exception of the mention of Moses (and the Law) and David in verse 18. The Chronicler is showing the continuity of these “reforms” with what God had previously commanded. He was “bringing Judah back” to the way things used to and should be. This is important for the returning remnant to understand.
Chapter 24 begins the reign of young Joash (or Jehoash). In 24:2, we are told that Joash did what was right in the eyes of YHWH while Jehoiada was alive (compare 2 Kings 12:2). We know, however, from 2 Kings 12:3 that Joash did not take away the high places that his grandfather Jehoram had reestablished (21:11). We have seen the grave danger of allowing any sin to remain.
The account of the restoration of the Temple here parallels the account in 2 Kings 12, though it is told slightly differently. Of note is that the chronicler is sure to emphasize that the money that should be used to maintain the Temple was an ordinance of the Law of Moses (v. 6, 9). We also see again that the reforms of Jehoiada lasted during his lifetime (v. 14). But Jehoiada died (v. 15). And we see the sin of the people turned Joash’s heart from YHWH (vv. 17-18), and that God tried to call His people back to Him through chastisement (v. 18) and the words of the prophets (v. 19), all to no avail. So Jehoiada’s son is anointed by the Spirit to call the people back (v. 20). We see a reminder that the blessings of YHWH follow from obedience to YHWH. We see that the curses fall on those who forsake YHWH.
And what happens when sinners hear the truth about their sin? Well, there are two possibilities. Either they repent, or they quiet the voice of truth. The people opt for number two (v. 21). And what is the result of this great sin of breaking God’s commandments and forsaking Him? A foreign nation comes to murder and plunder Judah (v. 23) by the hand of the Lord (v. 24). The chronicler’s point to the remnant is obvious. Then we see the account of Joash’s assassination, paralleled in 2 Kings 12:19-21. But we get an important detail here. Zabad (aka Jozacar) was an Ammonite. Jehozabad was a Moabite. God again used foreigners to punish the sin of His people.
Note that at this point, the chronicler has flipped the script. Whereas many of the sins of the kings that were recorded in the book of Kings have been omitted by the chronicler, he is now including details of their sin not recorded in the book of Kings. He is showing the progression of sin in Judah as a warning to the returning remnant. We need to remember that the Bible is not just a divine book, but a human book. Each writer has a purpose in what he writes and includes, excludes, and sometimes reorders events to suit his theological purposes. This will be important to remember when we consider the other three Gospel accounts in the near future.