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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 23

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary


2 Kings 22:1 to 2 Kings 23:30 a . The Reign and Reforms of Josiah.— The fifty-seven years of the reigns of Manasseh and Amon were, according to Kings (not Chronicles), a period of apostasy, which probably continued for the first ten years of Josiah. The prophetic party had consequently remained out of power since the persecution of Manasseh ( 2 Kings 21:16). They regained their influence by the discovery of the “ Book of the Law” ( 2 Kings 22:8). The prophetess Huldah, on being consulted, foretold that all the calamities predicted in the book would come true, but that Josiah should go to his grave in peace and not witness the ruin of his people ( 2 Kings 22:16-20). The result of this message was, first, a drastic reformation of the Temple and the kingdom of Judah ( 2 Kings 23:1-14), and, secondly, the destruction of the famous northern sanctuary of Bethel ( 2 Kings 23:15-20). Finally, Josiah kept a solemn passover ( 2 Kings 23:21-23), and suppressed those who practised occult arts ( 2 Kings 23:24). Yet for all his unique goodness the judgment due to Manasseh was not averted ( 2 Kings 23:25-27). Josiah was killed at Megiddo in an attempt to prevent the march of the king of Egypt to the Euphrates ( 2 Kings 23:29 f.).

These chapters, like 2 Kings 21, are much influenced by Dt. The main part, like 2 Kings 11:1-21; 2 Kings 12:4 ff; 2 Kings 16:10-18, may come from the Temple archives.

Verses 1-15

2 Kings 23:3 . by the pillar . . . covenant: for the word “ pillar” see 2 Kings 11:14 and 1 Kings 7:21. In the latter passage it is used for the two great brazen pillars set up by Solomon before the porch of the Temple. In making the covenant the king takes the lead. The ceremony was accompanied by a sacrifice; hence the phrase in Heb. is to cut a covenant ( Genesis 15:17 *, Jeremiah 34:18) or divide the victims. The newly discovered volume is called ( 2 Kings 23:2) the book of the covenant; cf. Exodus 24:7, where the “ book” was sprinkled with sacrificial blood. In a covenant there was not necessarily an implication that there were two parties. The king made this before Yahweh. Skinner (Cent.B) says, “ The effect of the covenant was to give to the Deuteronomic Code the force of statute law.”

Josiah’ s reformation ( 2 Kings 23:6-16) may be classified under the following heads:

A. 2 Kings 23:4 ; 2 Kings 23:6 f ., 2 Kings 23:10-12 . Reformation of the Temple.— (i.) 2 Kings 23:4; 2 Kings 23:6. Hilkiah and the “ second priest” (? for priests of the second order; cf. 2 Kings 25:18, Jeremiah 52:24) were ordered to bring all idolatrous objects and vessels out of the Temple, which were burned by the Kidron. (ii.) 2 Kings 23:7 : All the votaries of impure rites were ejected. (iii.) 2 Kings 23:10 . The Moloch worship was abolished, and Tophet ( Jeremiah 7:31 *) in the valley of the children of Hinnom (Gehinnom, Gehenna, Matthew 5:22) was defiled. (iv.) 2 Kings 23:11 f: The cult of the heavenly bodies ( 2 Kings 21:3 *) was put down by the destruction of the “ horses of the sun” and the altars on the roofs.

B. 2 Kings 23:5 ; 2 Kings 23:8 f., 2 Kings 23:13 f . Reformation in Jerusalem and Judah.— (i) 2 Kings 23:5 . The idolatrous priests, Kemarim ( Hosea 10:15, Zephaniah 1:4), were put down, together with their high places. (ii.) 2 Kings 23:8 f. The priests of the ordinary high places where Yahweh was worshipped were removed to Jerusalem and recognised as priests, for, though not allowed to sacrifice, they were permitted to eat the unleavened bread provided for priests. (iii.) 2 Kings 23:8; 2 Kings 23:13 f; The “ high places of the gates” (or perhaps of satyrs or demons) and the idolatrous shrines erected by Solomon on the “ mount of offence,” S. of the Mt. of Olives, were defiled by the king.

C. 2 Kings 23:15 . Josiah’ s Destruction of the Altar of Bethel.— This showed that the misfortunes predicted in the “ law book” which had already befallen Israel were due to the sin of Jeroboam.

Verses 16-20

2 Kings 23:16-20 . The grave of the prophet. This is evidently an addition to the original story. The altar, which in 2 Kings 23:15 had been destroyed, is supposed to be still standing. “ The man of God” is, of course, the disobedient prophet of 1 Kings 13. Samaria ( 2 Kings 23:18 f.) is evidently the province and not the city. Josiah is represented as purifying the whole district from the high-place worship. From Jeremiah 41:9 we learn that even after the destruction of the Temple the ruins were visited by devout Israelites from that district.

Verses 21-35

2 Kings 23:21-24 . Celebration of the Passover. The mention of the eighteenth year ( 2 Kings 23:23; cf. 2 Kings 22:3) shows that the reforms of Josiah occupied six months. The book was discovered in the first month of the civil year, in autumn. It was read ( cf. Deuteronomy 31:10-12) at the Feast of Tabernacles. The Passover contemplated in Deuteronomy 16:6 was celebrated in the central sanctuary. It was not the domestic feast of the Priestly Code (Exodus 12), but a general assembly of the nation. In 2 Chronicles 30 Hezekiah is said to have kept a similar feast, but this is denied in 2 Kings 23:22.

2 Kings 23:29 f . Death of Josiah.— Pharaoh-necoh (pp. 60, 72) is the first Pharaoh in the Bible whose name is given. He belonged to the 26th Dynasty. Apparently, when he advanced to occupy a position on the Euphrates, Josiah, prompted either by loyalty to his former masters, the Assyrians, or confident that his reforms had secured him Divine support, tried to stop the progress of the Egyptians at Megiddo. His defeat sealed Judah’ s ruin ( Jeremiah 22:10). Megiddo is the Armageddon ( Har-magedon) of the Apocalypse ( Revelation 16:16). The date of Josiah’ s defeat is about 608 B.C.

2 Kings 23:31 to 2 Kings 25:21 . Fall and Captivity of Judah.— The last kings of Judah were Jehoahaz and Eliakim (Jehoiakim), sons of Josiah; Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim; and Zedekiah (Mattaniah), another son of Josiah. The history of this period is related or alluded to throughout the Book of Jeremiah. Its most important feature is the rise of the Babylonian or Chaldean empire under Nabopolassar and his son Nebuchadrezzar (pp. 60, 72f.).

2 Kings 23:31-35 . Jehoahaz.— This king was also called Shallum ( Jeremiah 22:11). His captivity in Egypt is the subject of an elegy by Ezekiel ( Ezekiel 19:1-4). The scene of his first imprisonment, “ Riblah in the land of Hamath,” was also that of Zedekiah’ s humiliation ( 2 Kings 25:21, Jeremiah 39:5).

Verses 36-37

2 Kings 23:36 to 2 Kings 24:7 . Jehoiakim.— A fuller account of the reign is given by Jeremiah, who consistently opposed the king (see Jeremiah 25-27, 35 f., and especially 2 Kings 22:13-19).

The external events of the time are as follows (p. 60). The Assyrian empire came to an end with the fall of Nineveh, about 606 B.C. In 605 B.C. the Egyptians were utterly defeated and driven out of Syria after the battle of Carchemish ( Jeremiah 46:2; see 2 Kings 24:7). Nebuchadrezzar succeeded his father in that year, when Jehoiakim transferred his allegiance from Egypt to Babylon ( 2 Kings 24:1). After three years he rebelled, and was harried by raids ( 2 Kings 24:2). His end is obscure; Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 22:19) foretold a disgraceful burial. 2 Chronicles 36:6 says that he was taken captive to Babylon. Here ( 2 Kings 24:6) it is simply said that “ he slept with his fathers.”

2 Kings 24:4 . The innocent blood ( Jeremiah 27:16-22). The king tried to kill Jeremiah, but the elders remonstrated. He actually put to death a prophet named Urijah.

2 Kings 24:7 . The king of Egypt had been at first the suzerain of Jehoiakim. The Jews to the last, as they had done in the time of Isaiah (Isaiah 31), hoped for help from Egypt ( Jeremiah 37:7).

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/2-kings-23.html. 1919.
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