Jehoahaz became king after his father Josiah was killed by Pharaoh Neco. He was evil in the sight of the Lord and lasted three months.
We are told in our previous reading who made Jehoahaz king; it was the people of Israel. I almost missed that when looking at our reading today. But we don’t know why he was made king over his older brother. We will see that fact borne out in our next reading. Was choosing the younger a political move? Did who his mother was have anything to do with the people’s decision for king? Or was it something to do with his character?
Again with the questions that won’t be answered this side of Heaven! I don’t know why these things interest me but they do. I like knowing the backstory. That’s probably why I get so involved in writing backstory blogs.
There are a few critical facts that we do have in our reading. The first critical one is that Jehoahaz was NOT a godly king. He turned again to idolatry and took the people of Israel with him. We know this because he did “according to all that his fathers had done” (verse 32b). NOT like his father Josiah but like the majority of the previous kings of Judah. Manasseh in particular.
The second critical fact that we know is that Pharaoh Neco did NOT like him. After three months on the throne Pharaoh Neco had Jehoahaz taken into captivity and brought to Egypt. Jehoahaz died in Egypt. He never again saw his homeland.
This brings us to our final critical fact; Pharaoh was in charge of Judah. Pharaoh had the power to depose one king and install another. This second king is Jehoahaz’s brother. They share a father but not a mother. And this older brother is willing to be a puppet for Pharaoh; probably termed a vassal.
The people of Israel had no choice but to bow to the will of Pharaoh once he put his man on the throne. And Pharaoh demanded MUCH. He insisted on a tribute of 100 talents of silver and one talent of gold. I don’t know if this was monthly, yearly or a one-time thing but it was significant. It didn’t come from the king’s treasury or the Temple. It came directly from the people. Pharaoh set it up that way. “And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land to give the money according to the command of Pharaoh” (verse 35a). Everyone bore the weight of Pharaoh’s thumb. “He extracted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, from everyone according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Neco” (verse 35b).
This was the beginning of the end of Israel’s self-government. Amon had become a vassal of Assyria for a time but his son took control. There would be no returning to independent rule for Israel in the near or distant near future. The price for their sin was coming due. God was merciful but he had limits and they reached them. But even in His judgment of His people He STILL watched over them and would bring them back when the time was right, AND when their hearts were repentant.
Father God, thank You that You NEVER forgot Your people. Even in the midst of their rightly earned distress, You still saw and heard them. Those who turned to You were cared for.
I know, that’s another story, but it is YOUR story; it’s our story. You NEVER forsake Your me. You ALWAYS love me, even when I don’t deserve it. And You will stand by me, even in the middle of the trouble I get myself into. Thank You that You are never farther away than a repentant heart. All I have to do is turn away from my sin and turn back to You. You never turned away; I did. Remind me of that every day Holy Spirit. Especially the times when I’m feeling lost and alone. I AM NEVER ALONE.
I wonder if Jehoahaz felt alone in Egypt? Did he cry out to God from there?