Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Golden Sword of Marian Apocalypse (continued 13)

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Part Thirty: Kings of the Reform

(i) Jehoash (Joash) repairs the Temple



Damien F. Mackey




Joash said to the priests, ‘Collect all the money that is brought as sacred offerings to the Temple of the Lord—the money collected in the census, the money received from personal vows and the money brought voluntarily to the Temple. Let every priest receive the money from one of the treasurers, then use it to repair whatever damage is found in the Temple’.”


2 Kings 12:4-5




The young king Jehoash (or Joash) had begun to reign “in the seventh year of Jehu” (12:1).


Reform in Judah began, as we have learned, seven years later than in Israel under the rampaging king Jehu. This was due to the six-year reign in Jerusalem of the usurper, Queen Athaliah.

With the advent of Jehoash of Judah we are still in the reign of pharaoh Amenhotep III of Egypt. And, if, as some scholars believe, there was a significant co-regency between Amenhotep III and IV (Akhnaton), then Jehoash would have begun to reign close to the time of Akhnaton’s beginning.

Whatever be the case, the reform in Egypt against Atonism, as conducted under Ay and Horemheb, would have post-dated (by about one or two decades) the reform in Judah.


Jehoash was generally a good king whose reign matched in length those of David and Solomon (12:1-3):


“Joash became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother’s name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba. Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there”.


He was blessed, like the young Solomon, to have a wise mentor. Solomon had his father, David, and Jehoash had the high priest Jehoiada.


Work on the Temple slow


There were reasons why the Temple now stood in need of repair, e.g., “the sons of Athaliah”: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/2-kings/12.html


“Though Solomon built it very strong, of the best materials and in the best manner, yet in time it went to decay, and there were breaches found in it (v. 5), in the roofs, or walls, or floors, the ceiling, or wainscoting, or windows, or the partitions of the courts. Even temples themselves are the worse for the wearing; but the heavenly temple will never wax old. Yet it was not only the teeth of time that made these breaches, the sons of Athaliah had broken up the house of God (2 Chr. 24:7 ), and, out of enmity to the service of the temple, had damaged the buildings of it, and the priests had not taken care to repair the breaches in time, so that they went worse and worse”.


Young king Jehoash may have had a strong motivation for wanting to repair the Temple.

The Matthew Henry Commentary suggests this:


“Because the temple had been both his nursery and his sanctuary when he was a child, in a grateful remembrance of which he now appeared zealous for the honour of it. Those who have experienced the comfort and benefit of religious assemblies will make the reproach of them their burden (Zep. 3:18 ), the support of them their care, and the prosperity of them their chief joy”.


However, despite the king’s own zeal to have the Temple repaired, and despite his partnership with the zealous Yahwist, Jehoiada, the work was not finished still some two decades later (12:6): “But by the twenty-third year of King Joash the priests still had not repaired the Temple”.

Even Jehoiada the priest appears to have received a rebuke over it from the king.

Matthew Henry Commentary again:


“However, we commend his zeal, and blame him not for reproving even his tutor Jehoiada himself when he saw him remiss; and so convincing was his reproof that the priests owned themselves unworthy to be any longer employed, and consented to the taking of some other measures, and the giving up of the money they had received into other hands, v. 8. It was honestly done, when they found they had not spirit to do it themselves, not to hinder other people from doing it. Another course was taken,1. For raising money, v. 9, v. 10. The money was not paid into private hands, but put into a public chest, and then people brought it in readily and in great abundance, not only their dues, but their free-will offerings for so good a work. The high priest and the secretary of state counted the money out of the chest, and laid it by in specie for the use to which it was appropriated. When public distributions are made faithfully public contributions will be made cheerfully”.


As with King Solomon, so with King Jehoash, when the influence of the mentor began to lose its impetus, and the ruler was now becoming his ‘own man’, serious errors would begin to creep in. Although King Jehoash largely receives a good press in the account given of him in 2 Kings, the corresponding account in 2 Chronicles tells of his falling into extreme wickedness with the passing of the high priest Jehoiada (24:17-22):


“After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them. They abandoned the Temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger came on Judah and Jerusalem. Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen.

Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, ‘This is what God says: ‘Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you’.’

But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the Lord’s Temple. King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, ‘May the Lord see this and call you to account’.”


This was the incident to which Jesus Christ referred, linking it all the way back to Abel of old to tell of the long history of persecution as undertaken by the inhabitants of the region (Luke 11:51): ‘… from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all’.


In light of this terrible incident, King Jehoash’s seeming zeal for the House of the Lord may have been somewhat superficial, as according to the Matthew Henry Commentary: His apostasy, at last, gives us cause to question whether he had as good an affection for the service of the temple as he had for the structure. Many have been zealous for building and beautifying churches, and for other forms of godliness, who yet have been strangers to the power of it”.


Now wrath would come to visit itself upon the king himself.


The long-lived reformer-king Hazael the Syrian (“of Aram”) of the “Sinai Commission” was still operating, and he would cause Jehoash to strip the Temple and palace to pay him off (vv. 17-18):


“About this time Hazael king of Aram went up and attacked Gath and captured it. Then he turned to attack Jerusalem. But Joash king of Judah took all the sacred objects dedicated by his predecessors—Jehoshaphat, Jehoram and Ahaziah, the kings of Judah—and the gifts he himself had dedicated and all the gold found in the treasuries of the temple of the Lord and of the royal palace, and he sent them to Hazael king of Aram, who then withdrew from Jerusalem”.  


The great King Hezekiah of Judah will act similarly at a later time, when confronted by Sennacherib and his belligerent Assyrian army.


The account of the Syrian assault as given in 2 Chronicles tells us a lot more than this.

The much larger army of Judah was routed by the small force that Hazael had sent up.

The Syrians “killed all the leaders of the people”.

The king of Jerusalem was “severely wounded” (24:23-25):


“At the turn of the year, the army of Aram marched against Joash; it invaded Judah and Jerusalem and killed all the leaders of the people. They sent all the plunder to their king in Damascus. Although the Aramean army had come with only a few men, the Lord delivered into their hands a much larger army. Because Judah had forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, judgment was executed on Joash. When the Arameans withdrew, they left Joash severely wounded”.


Zechariah’s dying words: ‘May the Lord see this and call you to account’, were now to be fulfilled, because the king’s officials conspired and killed Jehoash for his vile act (vv. 25-27):


“His officials conspired against him for murdering the son of Jehoiada the priest, and they killed him in his bed. So he died and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings. Those who conspired against him were Zabad, son of Shimeath an Ammonite woman, and Jehozabad, son of Shimrith a Moabite woman. The account of his sons, the many prophecies about him, and the record of the restoration of the Temple of God are written in the annotations on the book of the kings. And Amaziah his son succeeded him as king”.


Between them, Jehoash and his son Amaziah reigned for almost 70 years, yet Saint Matthew completely omits the two of them from his “Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David”. We now need to look at that.

Part Thirty: Kings of the Reform
(ii) Matthew’s list omits Jehoash and Amaziah

Those familiar with the sequence of the kings of Judah as recorded in Kings and Chronicles will be struck by the fact that Matthew 1 is missing these: Ahaziah; Joash (Jehoash); and Amaziah, three virtually successive kings - Matthew understandably omits the usurping Queen Athaliah before Joash - and later, Jehoiakim. Four in all!

Structure of Matthew’s Gospel

Good friend Bernard Sadler started the ball rolling aright when he, in The Structure of Matthew (“For Mary Immaculate, Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, Queen of Evangelists”), sought to learn from Matthew himself what was the Evangelist’s intended structure for his Gospel, as Bernard put it, “to explain the basic structure Matthew used composing his gospel”.

Bernard wrote (www.structureofmatthew.com):


The structure of Saint Matthew’s gospel has long remained obscure. Scholars believe that Matthew wrote his gospel in a Semitic language, probably Hebrew. We do not know what his manuscript looked like because the original and any copies that may have been made from it have been lost. A Greek language version was made, some scholars think by Matthew himself, and that too has been lost. But copies of this Greek version, of uncertain degrees of relationship, have come down to us. These early Greek versions seem not to show any structure, and editors since have offered a wide variety of suggestions. The familiar division of the gospel into 28 chapters made in the 13th century and the further division into verses made in the 16th century do not help. They are indispensable today for reference purposes, and are retained here, but they tell us little about the gospel structure.

Understanding the structure of the gospel and how Matthew ordered the various parts to each other and to the whole is important, because unless this structure is correctly understood what Matthew is saying is likely to be misunderstood. Understanding the gospel’s structure will not prevent readers or commentators making errors of interpretation but misunderstanding the structure certainly will not help.

The purpose of this book is threefold: to explain the basic structure Matthew used composing his gospel; to present outlines showing how this basic structure is found throughout the gospel; and to provide a gospel text laid out using those structures.

Basic structure

Now, contrary to modern perceptions, early Greek versions do show the structure—but not the way modern readers expect. Matthew wrote his gospel in paragraphs grouped into larger symmetrical units called chiasms. A chiasm is a passage of several paragraphs (or other units) so written that the last paragraph of the chiasm is linked to the first paragraph, the second-last paragraph is linked to the second paragraph, and so on. It is the linking of paragraphs this way that binds them together as a chiasm. A chiasm usually has a freestanding central paragraph about which the others are arrayed. Chiasm is the only structure Matthew used in his gospel.

The linking of the paragraphs of a chiasm is done by parallelism. Parallelism consists in the repetition of words or phrases. A differently inflected form of a word may be used and occasionally a synonym is used; for example, Matthew uses the word treasures in 6:19 and repeats it in 7:6 as pearls. Sometimes two words are repeated in reverse order to produce what is called inverted parallelism.

There are other kinds of chiasms and other uses of parallelism in Hebrew literature but here we are considering only those Matthew used to shape his gospel. ….

Matthew’s Genealogy of Jesus Christ

Question: What does Saint Matthew have to say about Our Lord’s Genealogy?

A merely superficial reading of this text (Matthew 1:6-17) will not suffice to unravel its profound meaning.

According to Monsignor John McCarthy, in his Introduction to “The Historical Meaning of the Forty-two Generations in Matthew 1:17” (http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt13.html):


“For those who study deeply into the Gospel text, Matthew’s prologue, contained in his first two chapters, is one of the most masterful pieces of writing ever presented to human eyes. The genealogy with which this prologue begins displays its full share of wondrous artistry, but so subtle is its turn that many commentators have failed to grasp the logic that it implies. …”.


‘Deep study’ is indeed required to grasp the logic of it all, because it appears that Matthew has, within his neat triple arrangement of “fourteen generations” (1:17):


“Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David,

fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon,

and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah”.


completely dumped four kings of Judah whose history is written in Kings and Chronicles.

Those familiar with the sequence of the kings of Judah as recorded in Kings and Chronicles will be struck by the fact that Matthew 1 is missing these: Ahaziah; Joash (Jehoash); andAmaziah, three virtually successive kings – Matthew understandably omits the usurping Queen Athaliah before Joash -and later, Jehoiakim. Four in all!

Matthew’s omissions can be seen clearly in this chart, a comparison of him with I Chronicles (http://www.contradictingbiblecontradictions.com/?p=1179):

Matthew 1: 6-16
1 Chronicles 3:10-16
Azariah (Ozias)

What is going on here?

Was Saint Matthew the Evangelist mathematically deficient, somewhat like the schoolboy whose ‘sum of all fears’ is actually the fear of all sums?

Even a mathematical dope, however, can probably manage to ‘doctor’ basic figures in order to arrive at a pre-determined number!

Monsignor McCarthy, when discussing Fr. Raymond Brown’s attempted resolution of this textual difficulty, begins by asking the same question:

“Could Matthew count? Raymond Brown, reading Matthew’s genealogy from the viewpoint of a modern reader, does not plainly see fourteen generations in each of the three sets of names, but by using ingenuity he can “salvage Matthew’s reputation as a mathematician.” He cautions, for one thing, that we should not expect too much logic in Matthew’s reasoning, since omissions are frequently made in tribal genealogies “for reasons that do not seem logical to the Western scientific mind” (pp. 82-84). …”.

On the face of things – or, as Monsignor McCarthy puts it, “reading Matthew’s genealogy from the viewpoint of a modern reader” – what Saint Matthew may seem to have done would be like, say, a horse owner whose nag had come fourth in the Melbourne Cup, who later decided to re-write the story by completely ignoring any reference to the first three winners (trifecta), so that his horse now came in ‘first’. We however, believing the Scriptures to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, cannot simply leave it at that: a supposed problem of the sacred writer’s own making. Though this is apparently where the more liberally-minded commentators are prepared to leave matters in the case of a scriptural difficulty that it is beyond their wisdom to solve; thereby, as Monsignor McCarthy writes with reference to Fr. Brown, leaving things “in a very precarious state”.

In the case of Fr. Brown, there is a failure to attempt to “salvage” the sacred text.

Rightly, therefore, does Monsignor McCarthy proceed to suggest:

“Brown’s reasoning leaves a big problem. In the light of the deficiencies that he sees in Matthew’s counting, how can one seriously believe that Matthew really shows by his 3 x 14 pattern that “God planned from the beginning and with precision the Messiah’s origins” …? What kind of precision is this? And what could the number fourteen seriously mean in the message of Matthew? Brown believes that for Matthew fourteen was, indeed, “the magic number” … but he cannot surmise what that number was supposed to mean. He knows of no special symbolism attached to the number fourteen, and, therefore, he cannot grasp at all the point that Matthew is trying to make. So, rather than “salvage” Matthew’s reputation as a theologian, Brown leaves Matthew’s theology of 3 x 14 generations in a very precarious state”.

Monsignor McCarthy will, like Bernard Sadler above, seek to determine what Matthew himself is saying. Thus: “Let us look at the plain message of the text of Mt 1:17”. Contrary to what Fr. Brown had imagined: “Matthew is not plainly saying that there were fourteen immediate biological generations in each period. In fact, when in his opening verse Matthew speaks of Jesus as “Son of David, son of Abraham,” he is setting up a definition of terms which enlarges the notion of a generation”.

The Evangelist’s ways are not our ways – not how we might operate in a modern context. Accordingly, Monsignor McCarthy will allow Matthew to speak for himself:

“Just as Matthew can use the word ‘son’ to mean any descendant in the direct line, so can he use the word ‘begot’ to mean any ancestor in the direct line. Therefore, he does not err in saying in the second set of names that “Joram [Jehoram] begot Oziah [Uzziah]” (Mt 1:8), even though there were three immediate biological generations in between. Matthew is saying that there were fourteen undisqualified generations in each period of time, and his point has force as long as there is a discernible reason for omitting some of the immediate generations in keeping with the purpose of his writing”.

This brings us to that exceedingly interesting matter of the “discernible reason for omitting some of the immediate generations”. For, how to justify bundling out of a genealogical list two such mighty Judaean kings as Jehoash and Amaziah? Between them they occupied the throne of Jerusalem for not much less than three quarters of a century!

Well, say some liberals, Matthew was using faulty king lists.

No, say some conservatives, those omitted kings of Judah were very evil, and that is why Matthew had chosen to ignore them.

But, can that really be the case?

2 Kings 12:2: “Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him”.

2 Kings 14:3: “[Amaziah] did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not as his father David had done. In everything he followed the example of his father Joash”.

Why, then, does Matthew’s Genealogy include the likes of Jehoram (Joram), and Ahaz (Achaz), for instance, about whom Kings and Chronicles have nothing whatsoever favourable to say?

2 Chronicles 21:6 “[Jehoram] followed the ways of the kings of Israel, as Ahab’s family had done, because his wife was Ahab’s daughter. So he did what the Lord considered evil”.

2 Kings 16:2-4 “Unlike David his father, [Ahaz] did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites”.

Monsignor McCarthy, wisely basing himself upon the Church Fathers, seems to have come up with a plausible explanation for why these particular kings were omitted from the genealogy, and why the name of the wicked Jehoram, for instance, was genealogically preserved:

“Regarding the second set of “fourteen” generations, we read that “Joram begot Oziah” (Mt 1:18). But we know that Joram [Jehoram] was actually the great-great-grandfather of Oziah [Uzziah], because Oziah is another name for Azariah (cf. 2 Chr 26:1; 2 Kg [4 Kg] 14:21), and in 1 Chr 3:11-12 we read: “and Joram begot Ochoziah [Ahaziah], from whom sprang Joas [Joash], and his son Amasiah begot Azariah [Uzziah].” Hence, Matthew omits the generations of Ochoziah, Joas, and Amasiah from his list, and the judgments given in the Old Testament upon these people may tell us why.

St. Jerome 3 sees a reason in the fact that Joram married Athalia [Athaliah], the daughter of Jezebel of Sidon, who drew him deeper and deeper into the practices of idolatry, and that the three generations of sons succeeding him continued in the worship of idols. In the very first of the Ten Commandments given by God through Moses on Mount Sinai it was stated: “Thou shalt not have foreign gods before me. … Thou shalt not adore or serve them. I am the Lord thy God, powerful and jealous, visiting the iniquity of fathers upon their children unto the third and fourth generation of those that hate me, and showing mercy unto thousands to those that love me and keep my commandments” (Ex 20:3-6). Now Solomon was a sinner and an idolater (1 Kg f3 Kg] 11: 7-8), but he had a good man for his father and was therefore not punished in his own generation (1 Kg [3 Kg] 11:12).

St. Augustine 4 points out that the same was true of Joram, who had Josaphat for his father, and therefore did not have his name removed from Matthew’s genealogy (cf. 2 Chr 21:7).

St. John Chrysostom 5 adds the further reason that the Lord had ordered the house of Ahab to be extirpated from the face of the earth (2 Kg [4 Kg] 9:8), and the three kings eliminated by Matthew were, as descendants of Athalia, of the seed of Ahab. Jehu eradicated the worship of Baal from Israel, but he did not forsake the golden calves in Bethel and Dan. Nevertheless, the Lord said to him: “Because you have diligently performed what was right and pleasing in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab in keeping with everything that was in my heart, your children shall sit upon the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation (2 Kg [4 Kg] 10:28-31). So it is interesting to note that while these generations of Jehu were inserted into the royal lineage of Israel, the three generations of Ahab were taken out of the genealogy of Jesus by the judgment of God through the inspired pen of St. Matthew”.

A Further Note on Matthew 1:17

Matthew 1:1 has an apparent toledôt: “This is the genealogy[a] of Jesus the Messiah”, supposedly the only one in the New Testament, that may seem at first to contradict the thesis of P. J. Wiseman that toledôt are colophon endings, rather than headings. Though it does conform nicely with his argument that toledôt refer to “ancestors” not “descendants”.

But the Gospel of Matthew is, like so many other Bible books, chiastically structured, with the first division coming at 1:17 according to Bernard Sadler’s findings. In other words Matthew 1:1 chiastically connects with 1:17. And, guess what? “Generations” is mentioned four times in 1:17. So this latter may be our actual colophon, whereas 1:1 is a link to this (perhaps Wiseman’s ‘catch-line’ theory).

Perhaps, more importantly, 1:1 constitutes the title, in the way that Genesis 1:1 does.

It may open up a whole new field for study.