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Josiah reads the law to all the people, ver. 1, 2.
Renews the covenant between God and them, ver. 3.
Cleanses the temple, ver. 4.
Roots out idolatry, ver. 5 - 20.
Keeps a solemn passover, ver. 21 - 23.
Clears the land of witches, ver. 24.
A general commendation of him, ver. 25.
His untimely death, ver. 26 - 30.
The reigns of Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim, ver. 31 - 37.
2: Prophets - Either Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Urijah: or, the sons of
the prophets. It seems he read it himself. Josiah did not think it
beneath him, to be a reader, any more than Solomon did to be a preacher,
and David to be even a door keeper in the house of God. All people
are concerned to know the scripture, and all in authority, to spread the
knowledge of it.
3: Stood - They declared their consent to it, and their concurrence
with the king in that act, which possibly they did by standing up, as
the king himself stood when he took it. It is of good use, with all
possible solemnity, to oblige ourselves to our duty. And he that bears
an honest heart, does not startle at assurances.
4: Second order - Either those two who were next in degree to the
high - priest, and in case of sickness were to manage his work: or the
heads of the twenty four courses which David had appointed.
The grove - The image of the grove: it being most frequent to call
images by the names of the persons or things which they represent.
The fields - Adjoining to the brook of Kidron. To Beth - el - To shew
his abhorrence of them, and that he would not give the ashes of them
a place in his kingdom: and to pollute and disgrace that place which
had been the chief seat and throne of idolatry.
5: Priests - Heb. the Chemarim; the highest rank of priests,
employed in the highest work, which was to burn incense.
6: The people - Of that people, those idolatrous people, as it
is explained, (2Ch 34:4).
7: Sodomites - Sodomy was a part of idol - worship, being done to the
honour of some of their idols, and by the appointment of those impure
and diabolical spirits, which were worshipped in their idols.
Hangings - Or, curtains, either to draw before the idols which were
worshipped in the grove, to preserve them from defilement, or to gain
more reverence for them: Or, garments for the service of the grove, for
the idols or the priests belonging to them. Heb. houses, that is,
either little chappels made of woven work, like those which were made
of silver, (Ac 19:24), within which there were some representations
of their grove - idols: or rather, tents made of those curtains for the
use above - mentioned.
8: Priests - Belonging to the high - places following, whether such as
worshipped idols; or such as worshipped God in those forbidden places.
Defiled - By burning dead mens bones upon them, or by putting them to some
other unclean use. From Geba - The northern border of the kingdom of
Judah. Beer - sheba - The southern border, from one end to the other.
Gates - Which were erected by the gates of the city here mentioned, to the
honour of their tutelary gods, whom after the manner of the heathen they
owned for the protectors of their city and habitations.
The governor - This circumstance is noted to shew Josiah's great zeal
and impartiality, in rooting out all monuments of idolatry, without any
respects unto those great persons who were concerned in them.
9: The priest - Who worshipped the true God there.
In Jerusalem - Were not suffered to come thither to the exercise of their
priestly function; as a just punishment for the corruption of God's
worship, and the transgression of so plain and positive a law of God,(De 12:11), which was much worse in them who had more knowledge to
discern the will of God, and more obligations to observe it. Did eat - Of
the meal - offerings, allotted to the priests, wherein there was to be
no leaven, (Le 2:4,5,10,11), and consequently of other provisions
belonging to the priests, which are contained under this one kind. Thus
their spiritual blemish puts them into the very same state which corporal
blemishes brought them, (Le 21:17), &c. And thus he mitigates their
punishment: he shuts them out from spiritual services, but allows them
10: Topheth - Very near Jerusalem, where was the image of
Molech, to whom some sacrificed their children, burning them in the
fire, others dedicated them, making them pass between two fires. It is
supposed to be called Topheth, from toph, a drum; because they beat
drums at the burning of the children, that their shrieks might not be heard.
11: Horses - Such the eastern nations used to consecrate to the sun,
to signify the swiftness of his motion. The sun - Either, to be
sacrificed to the sun: or, to draw those chariots in which the kings, or
some other in their stead, went forth every morning to worship the rising
sun: for both these were the customs of the Armenians and Persians,
as Xenophon testifies. Entering in - By the gate of the outward court
of the temple. Chamberlain - Or, officer, to whom the care of these
horses were committed. Suburbs - Of the temple: in certain outward
buildings belonging to the temple. Chariots - Which were made for the
worship of the sun.
12: The top - Upon the roof of the king's house. They were so mad
upon their idols, that they were not content with all their publick high
places and altars, but made others upon their house - tops, for the worship
of the heavenly bodies. Cast - To shew his detestation of them: and to
abolish the very remembrance of them.
13: Corruption - The mount of olives, called the mount of
corruption, for the gross idolatry there practiced. Which - Not the
same individual altars; which doubtless either Solomon upon his
repentance, or some other of Josiah's predecessors had taken away, but
other altars built by Manasseh or Amon, which because erected by
Solomon's example, and for the same use, and in the same place, are
called by his name: this brand is left by the Holy Ghost upon his name
and memory, as a just punishment of that abominable practice, and a mean
to deter others from the like. Abomination - The idol, so called, because
it was abominable, and made them abominable to God.
14: Men - Of the idolatrous priests, which he caused to be taken out
of their graves, ver.(18). As he carried the ashes of the images to the
graves, to mingle them with dead mens bones, so he carried dead mens bones
to the places where the images had been, that both ways idolatry might be
rendered loathsome. Dead men and dead gods were indeed much alike, and
fittest to go together.
15: Beth - el - Probably this city was now under the kingdom of
Judah, to which it was added by Abijah long since. And it is
probable, since the ten tribes were carried away, many cities had put
themselves under the protection of Judah. The golden calf, it seems,
was gone; but Josiah would leave no remains of that idolatry.
16: Himself - Josiah's care and zeal was so great, that he would
not trust his officers with these things, but would see them done with
his own eyes. These words - Three hundred years before it was done.
20: The priests - By this relation it appears, that after the
departure of the king of Assyria, divers of the Israelites who had
retired to other parts, and kept themselves out of the conqueror's
hands, returned together with their priests to their own land, and
to their old trade, worshipping idols; to whom, peradventure, they
ascribed this their deliverance from that judgment which Jehovah had
brought upon them. And burnt - According to that famous prophecy,(1Ki 13:1,2).
22: Such a passover - Celebrated with such solemn care, and great
preparation, and numerous sacrifices, and universal joy of all good men;
which was much the greater, because of their remembrance of the former
wicked and miserable times under Manasseh, and Amon; and the good
hopes they now had of the happy establishment of their nation, and the
true religion; and of the prevention of God's judgments denounced against
them. Judges - Or, from the days of Samuel, the last of the judges;
as it is expressed (2Ch 35:18). None of the kings had taken such
care to prepare themselves, the priests, and people, and accurately to
observe all the rites, and diligently to purge out all uncleanness, and
to renew their covenant with God. And undoubtedly God was pleased to
recompense their zeal in destroying idolatry with uncommon tokens of his
presence and favour. All this concurred to make it such a passover as had
not been, even in the days of Hezekiah.
24: Images, &c. - Three words noting the same thing, to shew, That
all the instruments and monuments of idolatry were destroyed, as God had
commanded. Spied - All that were discovered; not only such as were in the
place of worship, but such as their priests or zealots had removed, and
endeavoured to hide.
25: No king - For his diligent study in God's law, and his exact
care, and unwearied industry, and fervent zeal, in rooting out idolators,
and all kinds and appearances of idolatry, not only in Judah, but in
Israel also; and in the establishment of the true religion in all his
dominions, and in the conforming of his own life, and his peoples too,
(as far as he could) to the holy law of God: though Hezekiah might excel
him in some particulars.
26: Notwithstanding - Because though the king was most hearty in his
repentance and acceptable to God, and therefore the judgment was delayed
for his time; yet the people were in general corrupt, and secretly averse
from Josiah's pious reformation, as appears from the complaints of the
prophets, especially Jeremiah and Zephaniah, against them: and by
the following history, wherein we see, that as soon as ever Josiah was
gone, his children, and the princes, and the people, suddenly and greedily
returned to their former abominations. Because - The sins of Manasseh,
and for the men of his generation; who concurred with him in his idolatrous
and cruel practices, are justly punished in this generation: because of
God's sovereign right of punishing sinners when he sees fit: because of
that publick declaration of God, that he would visit the iniquity of the
fathers upon the children: and principally, because these men had never
sincerely repented of their own, nor of their fathers sins.
27: I said - Upon the conditions in sundry places expressed, which
they broke, and therefore God justly made them to know his breach of
29: The king, &c. - The king of Babylon, who having formerly
rebelled against the Assyrian had now conquered him; as appears by the
course of the sacred, and the concurrence of the prophane history; and
therefore is here and elsewhere called the Assyrian, and the king of
Assyria, because now he was the head of that empire.
Euphrates - Against Carchemish by Euphrates, as it is expressed,(2Ch 35:20),
which the Assyrian had taken from Pharaoh's confederates, who
therefore sends forces against the Assyrian, that he might both help
them, and secure himself. Josiah went - Either to defend his own country
from Pharaoh's incursions; or to assist the king of Babylon, with
whom he seems to have been in league. Slew - Gave him his death wound
there; though he died not 'till he came to Jerusalem. Seen him - When
he fought with him, or in the first onset. It does not appear, that
Josiah had any clear call to engage in this war; possibly he received
his death wound, as a punishment of his rashness.
30: Dead - Mortally wounded. Jehoahaz - Who was younger than
Jehoiakim, yet preferred by the people before the elder brother;
either because Jehoiakim refused the kingdom for fear of Pharaoh,
whom he knew he should hereby provoke. Or because Jehoahaz was the more
stout and warlike prince; whence he is called a lion, (Eze 19:3).
32: His fathers - His grand - parents, Manasseh, and Amon.
He restored that idolatry which his father had destroyed. Jerusalem saw
not a good day, after Josiah was laid in his grave; but one trouble came
after another, 'till within two and twenty years it was destroyed.
33: In bands - Either, because he presumed to take the kingdom
without his consent: or because he renewed the war against Pharaoh.
34: Jehoiakim - The giving of names was accounted an act of dominion;
which therefore parents did to their children, and conquerors to their
vassals or tributaries.