Jehoash, son of Jehoahaz

“In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned sixteen years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, but walked in them.” (2Ki 13:10-11)

At this juncture, Elisha the prophet had become sick unto death:

“Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Jehoash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!” (2Ki 13:14)

The last previous reference to Elisha was when Jehu was anointed king of Israel, some 40 years earlier. Since he began ministering with Elijah during the kingship of Ahab, Elisha was now over 70 years old. Jehoash cried “my father” which was a title of great respect and a humble indication of his dependence upon Elisha's anointed counsel. This same title was used by Elisha as he cried out to Elijah when he was caught up by a whirlwind into heaven (2Ki 2:10-12). Jehoash added “the chariots of Israel and their horsemen” to his mournful cry. He acknowledged through this metaphor that the Lord working through Elisha was the real strength and power of Israel against all her adversaries.

Elisha told Jehoash to take hold of a bow and arrows, and the prophet then put his hands on the king's hands. This symbolic act indicated that Jehoash would exert power over the Syrians that came from the Lord through His prophet.

“And he said, Open the east window; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, 'Shoot'; and he shot. And he said, 'The arrow of the LORD's deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them.' Then he said, 'Take the arrows'; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, 'Strike the ground'; so he struck three times, and stopped.” (2Ki 13:17-18)

Jehoash aimed his bow east towards the Transjordan region controlled by Syria, but shot only three arrows into the distant ground instead of emptying the whole quiver. This lack of zeal and faith on the king's part angered the prophet who said:

“You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.” (2Ki 3:19)

Elisha interpreted this action to mean that Jehoash would prevail in battle only three times against Syria, instead of completely destroying them. Then the prophet who was Israel's defense died, and it was the season for war campaigns to begin after the rains of winter. An extremely curious event occurred that spring when in the middle of burying a man; Moabite raiders appeared on the horizon. Needing to quickly hide themselves, those conducting the burial stashed the dead man's body in the most convenient spot, which just happened to be Elisha's tomb. Scripture records that when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet! This miracle demonstrated that God's power continued to work in relationship to His prophet even after his death.

Hazael, king of Syria, had oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz, but because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God was merciful in preserving Israel from total destruction. After Hazael's death, his son Ben-Hadad took the Syrian throne. What God had promised to Jehoash through Elisha on his deathbed now came to pass:

“And Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz recaptured from the hand of Ben-Hadad, the son of Hazael, the cities which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz his father by war. Three times Joash defeated him and recaptured the cities of Israel.” (2Ki 13:25)

He was afterwards involved in a war with Amaziah, king of Judah, who sought an alliance with Israel by offering his daughter in marriage to Jehoash's son. This offer was rebuffed by Israel's king in a parable which compared Amaziah to an irritating worthless thistle, who sought to become the equal of Jehoash who saw himself as a majestic cedar, but a wild beast haphazardly crushed the thistle. Seemingly, a recent victory over Edom had gone to Amaziah's head for he now challenged the superior army of Israel to war in response to Jehoash's insult. Battle ensued at Beth Shemesh and Judah was soundly defeated by Jehoash's forces. Amaziah was captured, his palace and the Temple at Jerusalem were plundered, and hostages were taken back to Samaria (2Ki 14:7-14; 2Ch 25:23-24).

So Jehoash died and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel. Then his son Jeroboam II, sat on his throne.