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Kings of Judah


Jehoash from "Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum "

Jehoash or Joas (in Douay-Rheims) (Hebrew: יוֹאָשׁ or יהואש המלך‎, "Jehovah-given"; Greek: Ιωας; Latin: Joas; fl. c. 800 BC), sometimes written Joash or Joas, was the king of the ancient Kingdom of Judah, and sole surviving son of Ahaziah.

William F. Albright has dated his reign to 837 – 800 BC, while E. R. Thiele offers the dates 835 – 796 BC.[1]

While yet an infant, he was saved from the general massacre commanded by Athaliah of the family by his aunt Jehosheba (or Josaba in Douay-Rheims), and was apparently the only surviving male descendant of his grandfather Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:4,17). His great-uncle, the high priest Jehoiada, brought him forth to public notice when he was seven years of age, and had Jehoash crowned and anointed king. Athaliah was taken by surprise when she heard the shout of the people, "Long live the king"; and when she appeared in the temple to challenge this coup, Jehoiada commanded her to be led forth out of the Temple to be put to death (2 Kings 11:13-20).

While the High Priest lived, Jehoash favored the worship of God and observed the Law; but on his death Jehoash was led into supporting other gods; Zechariah, the son and successor of the High Priest, was put to death. For these deeds, the author of the Books of Kings believed Jehoash brought down on the land the judgement of God, and it was oppressed by the Aramean invaders. He was buried in the City of David (2 Kings 12:21).

He is one of the four kings omitted by Matthew (1:8) in the genealogy of Jesus, the other three being Ahaziah, Amaziah, and Jehoiakim. However, his killing of Zechariah ben Jehoiada is referred to in Matthew 23:35.

In 2001, an unprovenanced inscription was published, known as the Temple Inscription, which appears to be a record of repairs made to Solomon's Temple during Jehoash's reign. Following extensive scientific tests the Israeli archaeological authorities declared it to be a forgery and are prosecuting the perpetrator.

When the Syrian king Hazael marched against Jerusalem, Joash bribed him with the gold of the royal and sacred treasuries to turn back (2 Kings 12:18-19 (AV 17-18)); this proved fruitless (2 Chronicles 24:23-25) for the Syrian army persisted to destroy all the princes of Judah and the soldiers "executed judgment against Joash," and they left him severely wounded. Joash was assassinated by his own servants at Beth-milo, after a reign of forty years, and his assassination is recorded as an act of revenge for the blood of Zechariah the son of Jehoiada 2 Kings 12:1,21; 2 Chronicles 24:1,25).

Joash was buried together with his fathers in the city of David (2 Kings 12:22), although he was "not (buried) in the sepulchres of the kings" (2 Chronicles 24:25).


Chronological notes

The calendars for reckoning the years of kings in Judah and Israel were offset by six months, that of Judah starting in Tishri (in the fall) and that of Israel in Nisan (in the spring). Cross-synchronizations between the two kingdoms therefore often allow narrowing of the beginning and/or ending dates of a king to within a six-month range. For Jehoash, the Scriptural data allow the narrowing of his accession to some time between Nisan 1 of 835 BC and the day before Tishri 1 of the same BC year. For calculation purposes, this should be taken as the Judean year beginning in Tishri of 836/835 BC, or more simply 836 BC. His death occurred at some time between Nisan 1 of 796 BC and the day before Tishri 1 of that BC year, i.e. in 797/796, or more simply, 797 BC. During his reign, the Judean court recorders were still using the non-accession system of measuring years that was adopted in the days of Jehoshaphat from the practice of the northern kingdom, whereby the king's first partial year in office was counted as his first year of reign.

In Rabbinical Literature

As the extermination of the male descendants of David was a divine retribution for the extermination of the priests by Saul, who had commanded his servant Doeg to perform this task (comp. 1 Sam. 22:17-21), Joash escaped death because in the latter case one priest, Abiathar, survived (Sanh. 95b). The hiding-place of Joash was, according to R. Eleazar, one of the chambers behind the Holy of Holies; according to R. Samuel b. Naḥman, one of the upper chambers of the Temple (Cant. R. i. 66).

Although a king who is the son of a king need not be anointed, exception was made in the case of Joash, as well as of Solomon and Zedekiah, the succession of each of whom was contested (Lev. R. x. 8). Particular mention is made of the crown placed on Joash's head (2 Kings 11:12), because it fitted exactly, showing that he was qualified for kingship (Ab. Zarah 44a).

He was assassinated by two of his servants, one of whom was a son of an Ammonite woman and the other the offspring of a Moabite (2 Chron. 24:26); for God said: "Let the descendants of the two ungrateful families chastise the ungrateful Joash" (Yalk., Ex. 262). Ironically, Moab and Ammon were the two offspring of Lot's tryst with his two daughters as described in Gen. 19:30-38

Jehoash of Judah
Preceded by
King of Judah
836 – 797 BC
Succeeded by

External links

This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia article "Joash" by Emil G. Hirsch and M. Seligsohn, a publication now in the public domain.


  1. ^ Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (3rd ed.; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan/Kregel, 1983) 217.


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