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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

2 Kings 22

Verses 1-7

Young Josiah – Commentary on 2 Kings 22:1-7 AND 2 Chronicles 34:8-13

The brief introduction to young King Josiah in the Kings account corresponds to that studied above in the Chronicles passage. Kings, however, passes over the conversion of Josiah at age sixteen and his turn to reformation of Judah at age twenty. From there the two accounts are parallel. At age twenty-six, in his eighteenth year of reign, Josiah launched into a restoration of the temple.

What brought about this religious fervor and zeal on the part of Josiah, the son of a wicked father? Nothing more is known of Jedidah, his mother, and what influence she may have had on her son is impossible to say. It is an interesting consideration that the old king, Manasseh, Josiah’s grandfather, may have recouped some good in his life in respect to his little grandson. It is very likely that Manasseh may have controlled the upbringing of the princes. Though Josiah was very young the old king may have been shrewd enough to foresee how he might do a good work for the Lord by giving this child good tutors. Perhaps the old man and the little prince doted on each other like many old grandfathers and little grandsons.

But as he approached maturity Josiah became acquainted with a young man of the Levitical priest families, and they became fast friends. Jeremiah the prophet was of the approximate age as that of Josiah when he began his program of eradication of idolatry. Read the account of Jeremiah’s call in the first chapter of his prophecy. Note also the reference at 2 Chronicles 35:25, where it is found that Jeremiah lamented at the untimely death of the king. Note also La 4:20, a possible revelation of the expectation Jeremiah hoped for in King Josiah.

Josiah turned the oversight of the temple restoration to Shaphan the scribe. Two others are associated with Shaphan in the Chronicles account. Shaphan was the king’s liaison with Hilkiah the high priest. He was to propose to him the king’s desire, that the money collected by the Levite doorkeepers be summed up and given to the men who would work for the restoration of the house of God. These included carpenters, builders, masons, artificers, and who could do any of the required work. With part of the money they were to purchase timber and hewn stone to fill up the breaches, repair the structure itself by erecting new beams (or couplings) and to install a new floor.

The Levitical overseers of the craftsmen represented several families of both the Merarites and the Kohathites. They were of such honorable reputation it was unnecessary. to make any reckoning of the money given them for the work. This is a great example for all those who profess the name of Christ today (see 2 Corinthians 8:20-21). These Levitical overseers were over the burdenbearers and the craftsmen, and were from the ranks of the scribes, officers, porters, and the musicians.

Verses 8-13

Law Book Found – Commentary on 2 Kings 22:8-13 AND 2 Chronicles 34:14-21

In the course of the temple repair work Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law, which he delivered to Shaphan. Shaphan read the book, evidently impressed by it, but his reaction is not stated. He reported the find to King Josiah in the course of a report on the progress of the work. His report was rather routine, that the money had been gathered and delivered to those who would oversee the work and workmen. The work was progressing according to the king’s command.

Then Shaphan made reference to the book which had been uncovered in the temple. He read it to the king, who was so disturbed by its contents he tore his clothing in distress. What was this upsetting volume, and why was it lost? Which book of Moses it was is not revealed, though from the things attributed to it, it seems to have been the book of Deuteronomy. It is not hard to conceive of its having been lost, though when the loss occurred cannot be ascertained. It seems to have been neglected for so long that the priests no longer were aware of its existence.

Modernists contend that the Book of Deuteronomy_ was a product of the scribes of the late period of Judaean history, with a false claim to having been written by Moses. It was supposed to strengthen their hand with the people. Thus it would have been a subtle plant in the temple, intended to be discovered and delivered to a gullible and naive king, who would immediately accept it as genuine. This is certainly a blasphemous explanation, for Christ Himself referred to Deuteronomy as the work of Moses (e.g., Matthew 19:7), and scholars agree that it contains internal linguistic evidence of his authorship.

Given the periods during which the temple was closed by Ahaz, then later defiled by Manasseh, it is not surprising that the books of Moses were neglected, and this one eventually forgotten. Josiah’s alarm was caused by a realization that Judah was guilty of the sins of which Moses warns in the Book of Deuteronomy. He knew that god’s warning of judgment for such sins appertained to Judah, and they were likely to feel that judgment.

Josiah hoped for some way of escape from this impending judgment. For this reason he sent a prestigious delegation to inquire of the Lord what Judah could expect. It included both Hilkiah and Shaphan, and two other men. One of these was Ahikam, the son of Shaphan. He would be later prominent in the ministry of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:24), in saving the prophet’s life. He was also the father of Gedaliah, the Jewish governor who was assassinated after Nebuchadnezzar appointed him following the fall of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:22).

Verses 14-20

Answer from Huldah - 2 Kings 22:14-20 AND 2 Chronicles 34:22-28

Hilkiah and Shaphan and their colleagues went to the prophetess Huldah to get the word of the Lord concerning the recovery of the lost book and its dire warnings. Huldah is unknown outside this single incident. She is called the wife of Shallum, the keeper of the wardrobe. The wardrobe is thought to be a reference to the robes of the priests. Shallum was probably responsible for the care and cleaning of the robes. He is also probably the Shallum who was the uncle of Jeremiah the prophet (Jeremiah 32:7), whose son, Hanameel, sold his field to Jeremiah during the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.

Huldah is said to have lived in Jerusalem "in the college." The Hebrew word translated "college" is mishneh, the literal meaning of which is "second place." Therefore some versions translate it "second quarter," referring to that quarter of the city of Jerusalem. However, the rabbis derive the word from shanah, meaning "to teach". Thus it was rendered "college" as indicating a school of the prophets. It is not possible to positively know what is meant.

A more pertinent question would seem to be why the king sent his messengers to a prophetess when he might have inquired of the young prophet Jeremiah. One can do no more than speculate on the answer, and most speculation is to be avoided. It may have been his youth and lack of experience, or the well-known opposition of certain Jewish reli­gious leaders to his sermons. It is not to be doubted that the Lord spoke through this godly woman, nor should it be surprising. He has often spok­en through devout and dedicated women. A few of these are Miriam, Deb­orah, Hannah, Mary the mother of Jesus, old Anna in the temple, Pris­cilla, and the daughters of Philip the evangelist. This does not mean wo­men should be ordained preachers of the gospel, for the Scriptures are rather clear on that subject. They have an important place of teaching, but not from the pastoral pulpit of the churches (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

The message which the Lord gave Huldah was not optimistic. The Lord would indeed bring upon Judah and Jerusalem all the evil foretold in the book. This was not unfair, for the carelessness of Israel and their disregard for the word of God was the reason for the loss of the book. Furthermore they had not repented, and the Lord knew that most of them would not. They had presumptuously refused to obey the Lord and had instead burned incense to, and bowed themselves to, the false gods of the land. By their action they had shown their preference for the false over the true. God’s wrath was provoked and would not be quenched.

There was an exception to the pessimistic answer of the Lord, and that pertained to the king personally. Because his heart was right, and he had tried to set Judah straight in service to the Lord, because he had wept and humbled himself when he heard the book read, he would escape the curses to befall the nation. The Lord would allow Josiah to live out his days in peace; the judgment would not occur until after his death. This was the message returned by the messengers from Huldah to the king. God always accepts genuine repentance (Isaiah 66:2; cf. also Joel 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:10).

Many good lessons may be found in this study, as 1) One should not be satisfied without doing all possible to serve the Lord by his life; 2) youths dedicated to Christian service can accomplish very much for God; 3) wrongdoing let alone will become accepted practice; 4) women have a respected and important place in the worship services of the Lord; 5) the wrath of God is inescapable for those who refuse to repent, but is always reserved from the repentant who seek Him.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Kings 22". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-kings-22.html. 1985.