Reign of Jehoahaz of Israel. 1In the twenty-third year of Joash, son of Ahaziah, king of Judah, Jehoahaz, son of Jehu, became king over Israel in Samaria for seventeen years.
2He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight: he did not depart from following the sins that Jeroboam, son of Nebat, had caused Israel to commit. 3The LORD was angry with Israel and for a long time gave them into the power of Hazael, king of Aram, and of Ben-hadad, son of Hazael. 4Then Jehoahaz entreated the LORD, who heard him, since he saw the oppression to which the king of Aram had subjected Israel.a 5So the LORD gave Israel a savior,* and the Israelites, freed from the power of Aram, dwelt in their own tents as formerly. 6Nevertheless, they did not desist from the sins the house of Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit, but persisted in them. The Asherah* remained even in Samaria.b 7No army was left to Jehoahaz, except fifty horses with ten chariots and ten thousand foot soldiers, since the king of Aram had destroyed them and trampled them like dust.
8The rest of the acts of Jehoahaz, with all that he did and his valor, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. 9Jehoahaz rested with his ancestors; he was buried in Samaria and his son Joash succeeded him as king.
Reign of Joash of Israel. 10In the thirty-seventh year of Joash, king of Judah, Joash, son of Jehoahaz, became king over Israel in Samaria sixteen years.
11He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight; he did not desist from any of the sins Jeroboam, son of Nebat, had caused Israel to commit, but persisted in them.
12* The rest of the acts of Joash, with all that he did and his valor, and how he fought with Amaziah, king of Judah, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. 13Joash rested with his ancestors. Then Jeroboam sat on his throne. Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.
Elisha’s Deathbed Prophecy. 14When Elisha was suffering from the sickness of which he was to die, Joash, king of Israel, went down to weep over him. “My father, my father!”* he exclaimed, “Israel’s chariot and steeds!”c 15Elisha said to him, “Take bow and arrows,” and he took bow and arrows. 16* Elisha said to the king of Israel, “Rest your hand on the bow,” and he rested his hand on it. Elisha placed his hands over the king’s hands 17and said, “Open the window toward the east.” He opened it. Elisha said, “Shoot,” and he shot. He said,
“An arrow of victory for the LORD!
An arrow of victory over Aram!
You will beat Aram at Aphek and finish him!”
18Then he said to the king of Israel, “Take the arrows,” which he did. Elisha said to the king of Israel, “Beat the ground!” He beat the ground three times and stopped. 19The man of God became angry with him and said, “You should have beat five or six times. You would have beaten Aram and finished him. Now you will beat Aram only three times.”
20And so Elisha died and was buried.
At that time of year, bands of Moabites used to raid the land. 21Once some people were burying a man, when suddenly they saw such a raiding band. So they cast the man into the grave of Elisha, and everyone went off. But when the man came in contact with the bones of Elisha, he came back to life and got to his feet.d
22King Hazael of Aram oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. 23But the LORD was gracious with Israel and looked on them with compassion because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was unwilling to destroy them or to cast them out from his presence even up to now. 24So when King Hazael of Aram died and his son Ben-hadad succeeded him as king, 25Joash, son of Jehoahaz, took back from Ben-hadad, son of Hazael, the cities Hazael had taken in battle from Jehoahaz, his father. Three times Joash beat him, and thus recovered the cities of Israel.
* [13:5] A savior: i.e., a military leader (cf. Jgs 3:9, 15). Here the identity of the savior is unclear, but the reappearance of a militant Elisha in this chapter after an absence of several chapters and nearly thirty years suggests the narrator may have had him in mind. Two generations later Joash’s grandson, Jeroboam II, will also “save” Israel (14:27).
* [13:6] Asherah: see note on Ex 34:13.
* [13:12–13] The conclusion to the reign of Joash is given again in 14:15–16. In both places it disrupts the standard pattern followed in the Books of Kings. The account of Joash’s reign ends in vv. 12–13; this leaves the story of Elisha’s last illness (in which Joash figures prominently) suspended between regnal accounts, much as the story of Elisha’s succession to Elijah’s prophetic office (chap. 2) was suspended between the accounts of Ahaziah and Joram. In 14:15–16 the concluding formula for Joash’s reign interrupts the account of the reign of Amaziah of Judah (14:1–22), much as Joash himself invaded Amaziah’s kingdom (14:11–14).
* [13:14] My father, my father: the way the king addresses the dying Elisha echoes Elisha’s address to Elijah in 2:12.
* [13:16–19] Symbolic acts, like prophetic oracles, were understood to unleash the power they expressed. Similar symbolic acts are seen in Ex 17:8–13; Jos 8:18–20; Ez 4:1–3.
a. [13:4] 2 Kgs 14:26–27.
b. [13:6] Ex 34:13; 1 Kgs 16:33.
c. [13:14] 2 Kgs 2:12.