The collection of money to restore the Temple (2 Chr 24:8-24:11)

“King Joash gave a command. They made a chest. They set it outside the gate of the house of Yahweh. A proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem to bring in the tax that Moses the servant of God laid on Israel in the wilderness for Yahweh. All the leaders and all the people rejoiced. They brought their tax and dropped it into the chest until it was full. Whenever the chest was brought to the king’s officers by the Levites, when they saw that there was a large amount of money in it, the king’s secretary and the officer of the chief priest would come and empty the chest. They took it and returned it to its place. So they did day after day. They collected money in abundance.”

This once again is loosely based on 2 Kings, chapter 12. Here it is King Joash not the priest Jehoiada who had an idea to leave a chest with a hole in top on the right side of the altar. Here it is a tax that Moses demanded in the wilderness. It is unclear when Moses imposed such a tax. All the money that was given to the temple went into this chest. Here the chest is outside the Temple while in 2 Kings, it was by the altar. When the money chest got full, the secretary and the high priest would take it away. Apparently this was on a daily basis. Here they did not count it as in 2 Kings. This program seemed to be successful as the money poured in.

 

King Joash restores the Temple (2 Chr 24:4-24:7)

“Some time afterward, King Joash decided to restore the house of Yahweh. He assembled the priests and the Levites. He said to them. ‘Go out to the cities of Judah. Gather money from all Israel to repair the house of your God, year by year. See that you act quickly!’ However, the Levites did not act quickly. So the king summoned Jehoiada the chief. He said to him. ‘Why have you not required the Levites to bring in from Judah and Jerusalem the tax levied by Moses, the servant of Yahweh, on the congregation of Israel for the tent of the covenant?’ The children of Queen Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken into the house of God. They had even used all the dedicated things of the house of Yahweh for the Baals.”

This is loosely based on 2 Kings, chapter 12. This section is kinder and gentler towards the Levites and priests than 2 Kings. King Joash had a special relationship to the priests and the temple because of his early upbringing. Here he wants them to go out all over Judah and get the money to repair the Temple quickly, instead of just from donations. Here there is no mention that he waited 23 years for the Temple to be repaired. Then he summoned his old master the priest Jehoiada with the other priests. Here the explanation for the repair of the Temple is due to the evil Queen Athaliah who let the Baal worshipers ruin the Temple and use the sacred vessels. There is nothing about not taking any more money until the Temple is repaired. Also there is no mention that the priests said that they were not going to repair the Temple.

The ransom fee (Ex 30:11-30:16)

“Yahweh spoke to Moses. ‘When you take a census of the Israelites, to register them, at registration all of them shall give a ransom for their lives to Yahweh so that no plague may come upon them for being registered.   This is what each one who is registered shall give, half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary.  The shekel is twenty gerahs.  Half a shekel is the offering to Yahweh.  Each one who is registered, from twenty years old and upward, shall give Yahweh’s offering.  The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when you bring this offering to Yahweh to make atonement for your lives.  You shall take the atonement money from the Israelites and shall designate it for the service of the tent of meeting.  Before Yahweh it will be a reminder to the Israelites of the ransom given for your lives.’”

Yahweh wants to register every person, like a census, everyone who is twenty years old or older.  Then they will give a ransom or tax to Yahweh for their lives so that no plague may come upon them.  Everyone gives half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary, no matter rich or poor.  The shekel is about twenty gerahs. A gerah was about 2 cents, so that the equivalent would be about 20 cents. The shekel was used in Babylonia as well as a weight measurement.   The atonement money was designated for the service of the tent of meeting.  This ransom tax was a reminder that Yahweh had ransomed or saved their lives.

The agricultural politics of Joseph (Gen 47:13-47:26)

“Now there was no food in all the land.  The famine was very severe.  The land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. Joseph collected all the money to be found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, in exchange for the grain that they bought.   Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.  When the money from the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan was spent, all the Egyptians came to Joseph, and said, ‘Give us food!  Why should we die before your eyes?  For our money is gone.’  Joseph answered, ‘Give your cattle, and I will give you food in exchange for your livestock, if your money is gone.’  So they brought their livestock to Joseph.  Joseph gave them food in exchange for horses, flocks, herds, and donkeys.  That year he supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock.  When that year was ended, they came to him the following year, and said to him, ‘We cannot hide from my lord that our money is all spent.  The herds of cattle are my lord’s.  There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands.  Shall we die before your eyes, both we and our land?  Buy us and our land in exchange for food.  We with our land will become slaves to Pharaoh.  Just give us seed, so that we may live, and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.’”

Things were tough because of the great famine.  Interesting the biblical author mentions Egypt and Canaan together as if they were equal, which they were not.  Joseph collected all the money for the grain that he had stored up until there was practically very little money left in Egypt or Canaan.  Next Joseph asked for livestock, if they had no money.  When all the money and livestock was spent, they said let us be slaves, but give us food.

So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh.  All the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe upon them.  The land became Pharaoh’s.  As for the people, he made slaves of them from one end of Egypt to the other.  Only the land of the priests he did not buy.  The priests had a fixed allowance from Pharaoh, and lived on the allowance that Pharaoh gave them.  Therefore they did not sell their land.  Then Joseph said to the people, ‘Now that I have this day bought you and your land for Pharaoh, here is seed for you.  Sow the land.  At the harvests you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh, and four-fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and as food for yourselves and your households, and as food for your little ones.’  They said, ‘You have saved our lives.  May it please my lord we will be slaves to Pharaoh.’  So Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt, and it stands to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth.   The land of the priests alone did not become Pharaoh’s.”

Thus Joseph bought all the land of Egypt and they all became Pharaoh’s slaves.  Only the priests were allowed to keep their land.  Next, Joseph gave seed to the people but at harvest time, they had to give 20% to Pharaoh which became a law until today, the time of the writing of this document.  What Joseph did was corner the grain market, raise the prices and eventually bankrupt the people of Egypt.  He forced all the land owning people of Egypt to become serfs, tenants, sharecroppers, and slaves to give Pharaoh 20% of their crop, exempting the priests.