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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
2 Kings 23

 

 

Verse 1

XXIII.

JOSIAH RENEWS THE COVENANT, ROOTS OUT IDOLTARY, AND HOLDS A SOLEMEN PASSOVER.HIS END.

(1) They gathered.—The right reading is probably that of the Syriac and Vulg., there gathered. Chron., LXX., and Arabic have he gathered.

All the elders.—The representatives of the nation.


Verse 2

(2) And the prophets.—That is, the numerous members of the prophetic order, who at this time formed a distinct class, repeatedly mentioned in the writings of Jeremiah (e.g., Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 5:31; Jeremiah 6:13), as well as of older prophets. The Targum has the scribes, the γραμματεύς of the New Testament, a class which hardly existed so early. Chron. and some MSS. reads the Levites. (See Note on 2 Chronicles 34:30.)

All the men of Judah . . . inhabitants of Jerusalem . . . the people.—A natural hyperbole, Of course the Temple court would not contain the entire population.

And he read.—Perhaps the king himself; but not necessarily. (Comp., e.g., 2 Kings 22:10; 2 Kings 22:16.) Qui facit per alium facit per se. The priests were charged to read the Law to the people (Deuteronomy 31:9, seq.) at the end of every seven years.

Small and great—i.e., high and low. (Comp. Psalms 49:2.)


Verse 3

(3) By a pillar.—On the stand or dais (2 Kings 11:14).

A covenant.—The covenant, which had so often been broken. Josiah pledged himself “to walk after the Lord,” and imposed a similar pledge on the people.

Stood to the covenant—i.e., entered it; took the same pledge as the king. (Comp. 2 Kings 18:28.)


Verse 4

(4) The priests of the second order.—Thenius is probably right in reading the singular, the priest of the second rank, i.e., the high priest’s deputy, after the Targum, unless the heads of the twenty-four classes be intended (“the chief priests” of the New Testament). (See also 2 Kings 25:18.)

The keepers of the door (threshold).—The three chief warders (2 Kings 25:18.)

Out of the temple—i.e., out of the principal chamber or holy place.

For Baal . . . grove.—For the Baal . . . Ashçrah (so in 2 Kings 23:6-7; 2 Kings 23:15 also).

Burned them.—According to the law of Deuteronomy 7:25; Deuteronomy 12:3. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 14:12.)

Without Jerusalem.—As unclean.

In the fields of Kidron.—North-east of the city, where the ravine expands considerably. (Comp. Jeremiah 31:40; also 1 Kings 15:13.)

Carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el.—This is undoubtedly strange, and Chronicles says nothing about it. If the ashes of the vessels were sent to Beth-el, why not also those of the idols themselves, and the fragments of the altars (2 Kings 23:6-12)? The text appears to be corrupt.


Verse 5

(5) He put down.—Syriac and Arabic, he slew.

The idolatrous priests.—The kěmârîm, or black-robed priests (Hosea 10:5, of the priests of the calf-worship at Beth-el). Only occurring besides in Zephaniah 1:4. Here, as in the passage of Hosea, the word denotes the unlawful priests of Jehovah, as contrasted with those of the Baal, mentioned in the next place. Whether the term really means black-robed, as Kimchi explains, is questionable. Priests used to wear white throughout the ancient world, except on certain special occasions. Gesenius derives it from a root meaning black, but explains, one clad in black, i.e., a mourner, an ascetic, and so a priest. Perhaps the true derivation is from another root, meaning to weave: weaver of spells or charms; as magic was an invariable concomitant of false worship. (Comp. 2 Kings 17:17; 2 Kings 21:6.) It is a regular word for priest in Syriac (chûmrâ; Psalms 110:4; and the Ep. to the Heb., passim.)

To burn incense.—So Syriac, Vulg., and Arabic. The Hebrew has, and he burnt incense. Probably it should be plural, as in the Vatican LXX. and Targum.

In the places round about.—1 Kings 6:29. Omit in the places.

Unto Baal, to the sun.—Unto the Baal, to wit, unto the sun. But it is better to supply and with all the versions. Bel and Samas were distinct deities in the Assyro-Babylonian system. When Reuss remarks that “the knowledge of the old Semitic worships, possessed by the Hebrew historians, appears to have been very superficial, for Baal and the sun are one and the same deity,” he lays himself open to the same charge.

The planets.—Or, the signs of the Zodiac. The Heb. is mazzalôth, probably a variant form of mazzarôth (Job 38:32). The word is used in the Targums, and by rabbinical writers, in the sense of star, as influencing human destiny, and so fate, fortune, in the singular, and in the plural of the signs of the Zodiac (e.g., Ecclesiastes 9:3; Esther 3:7). It is, perhaps, derived from ’azar, “to gird,” and means “belt,” or “girdle;” or from ’azal, “to journey,” and so means “stages” of the sun’s course in the heavens. (Comp. Arab, manzal.)


Verse 6

(6) And he brought out the grove . . .—The Asherah set up by Manasseh (2 Kings 21:3; 2 Kings 21:7), and removed by him on his repentance (2 Chronicles 33:15), but restored (probably) by Amon (2 Kings 21:21).

Unto the brook . . . at the brook.—Unto the ravine . . . in the ravine, or wady.

The graves of the children (sons) of the people—i.e., the common graves (Jeremiah 26:23); a mark of utter contempt: 2 Chronicles 34:4 paraphrases, “the graves of them that sacrificed unto them.”


Verse 7

(7) The houses . . . by the house.—The cabins of the Kedçshim . . . in the house. The Kedçshim were males, perhaps eunuchs, who prostituted themselves like women in honour of the Asherah. (See 1 Kings 14:24; 1 Kings 15:12; Hosea 4:14.) The passage shows that the last infamy of Canaanite nature-worship had been established in the very sanctuary of Jehovah. The revolt of Judah could go no farther.

Where the women wove hangings for the grove.Wherein the women used to weave tents for the Ashçrah. The word we have rendered cabins and tents is bâttîm, “houses.” What is meant in the latter case is not clear. Perhaps the female harlots attached to the Temple wove portable tabernacles or sanctuaries of the goddess for sale to the worshippers; or tents (screens) for their own foul rites may be meant.


Verse 8

(8) And he brought all the priests . . .—Josiah caused all the priests of the local sanctuaries of Jehovah to migrate to Jerusalem, and polluted the high places to which they had been attached, in order to get rid of the illegitimate worship once for all.

From Geba.—The present Jeba, near the ancient Ramah (1 Kings 15:22).

To Beer-sheba.—Where was a specially frequented high place (Amos 5:5, Amos 8:14; and Note on 2 Chronicles 34:6).

The high places of the gates.—Altars erected within the gates, that persons entering or leaving the city might make an offering to ensure success in their business.

That were in the entering in . . .—Thenius renders, (the high place) which was at the entry of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, (as well as) that which was on the left in the city gate. But this assumption of two localities is very precarious. The Authorised Version appears to be correct (a similar repetition of the relative referring to the same antecedent occurs in 2 Kings 23:13). Joshua is an unknown personage, and it is not clear whether “the gate of Joshua” was a gate of the city named after him, or the great gate of his residence; nor is it certain that “the gate of the city” was that now called the Jaffa Gate. It is possible that the governor’s residence lay near the principal gate of the city, on the left as one entered. Several “high places” stood in the open space in front of it, between it and the city gate. These would naturally be called “the high places of the gates.”


Verse 9

(9) Nevertheless . . . came not up to the altar.—Only the, priests of the high places used not to offer at the altar. They were not permitted to do so, being considered to be incapacitated for that office by their former illegal ministrations.

But they did eat.—They might not even eat their share of the meat offerings in company with the legitimate priests; but had to take their meals apart, “among their brethren,” i.e., in their own company. (Comp. Ezekiel 44:10-14; Leviticus 21:21-22.)

Eat of the unleavened bread.—Omit of the. The phrase is a technical one, meaning to live upon offerings. (See Leviticus 2:1-11; Leviticus 6:16-18; Leviticus 10:12.) These irregular priests were probably employed in the inferior duties of the Temple.


Verse 10

(10) Topheth.—Heb. the Topheth; i.e., the burning place, or hearth, if the word be rightly derived from the Persian tôften, “to burn.” The Hebrew word, however, has been so modified as to suggest a derivation from tôph, “to spit;” so that the epithet would mean “the abomination.” (Comp. 2 Kings 23:13.) (Comp. also Job 17:6; Isaiah 30:33; and the Coptic tâf, “spittle.”)

The valley of the children of Hinnom.—Elsewhere called “the valley of the son of Hinnom,” and “the valley of Hinnom (Joshua 15:8; Jeremiah 7:31-32). Simonis plausibly explained the word Hinnom as meaning shrieking or moaning (from the Arabic hanna, arguta voce gemuit, flevit). “The valley of the sons of shrieking” would be a good name for the accursed spot. (Thenius suggests Wimmer-Kinds-Thal.)

That no man . . .—See Note on 2 Kings 16:3.

To Moloch.—Heb., to the Molech (Molech is another form of melech, “king”). In 1 Kings 11:7, the god of the Ammonites is called Molech, but elsewhere, as in 2 Kings 23:13, Milcom, another variation of the same word. The feminine molecheth, “queen,” occurs as a proper name in 1 Chronicles 7:18.


Verse 11

(11) He took away.—The same word as “put down” (2 Kings 23:5). Here, as there, the Syriac and Arabic render, “he killed,” which is possibly a correct gloss.

The horses . . . the sun.—These horses drew “the chariots of the sun” in solemn processions held in honour of that deity. (See Herod, i. 189; Xenoph. Anab. iv. 5. 34, seq.; Quint. Curt. iii 3. 11.) Horses were also sacrificed to the sun. The sun’s apparent course through the heavens, poetically conceived as the progress of a fiery chariot and steeds, explains these usages.

Had given—i.e., had dedicated.

At the entering in of the house of the Lord.—This appears right. Along with the next clause it states where the sacred horses were kept; viz., in the outer court of the Temple, near the entrance. (So the LXX. and Vulgate. This rendering involves a different pointing of the Hebrew text—měbô for mibbô. The latter, which is the ordinary reading, gives the sense, “so that they should not come into the house, &c.”)

By the chamber.—Rather, towards the cell; further defining the position of the stalls. As to the cells in the outer court, see the Note on 1 Chronicles 9:26; Ezekiel 40:45 seq.

Nathan-melech the chamberiain, or, eunuch, is otherwise unknown. He may have been charged with the care of the sacred horses and chariots. Meleck was a title of the sun-god in one of his aspects (2 Kings 23:10.)

Which was in the suburbs.—Rather, which was in the cloisters or portico. Parwârîm is a Persian word explained in the Note on 1 Chronicles 26:18.

Burned the chariots . . .—Literally, and the chariots of the sun he burnt. The treatment of the chariots is thus contrasted with that of the horses. If the whole had been, as some expositors have thought, a work of art in bronze or other material, placed over the gateway, no such difference would have been made.


Verse 12

(12) And the altars that were on the top (roof) of the upper chamber of Ahaz.—The roof of an upper chamber in one of the Temple courts. perhaps built over one of the gateways (comp. Jeremiah 35:4), appears to be meant. The altars were for star-worship, which was especially practised on housetops. (Comp. Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 32:29; Zephaniah 1:5.)

Brake them down from thence.—The Targum has removed from thence; the LXX. pulled them down from thence ( κατέσπασεν). The Hebrew probably means ran from thence; marking the haste with which the work was done. The clause thus adds a vivid touch to the narrative. It is hardly necessary to alter the points with Kimchi and Thenius, so as to read, he caused to run from thence; i.e., hurried them away.

Cast the dust of them.—Over the wall of the Temple enclosure, into the ravine beneath.


Verse 13

(13) The high places that were before the city . . .—See 1 Kings 11:5-8. “Before” means “to the east of,” because, to determine the cardinal points, one faced the sunrise. The right hand was then the south, the left hand the north, and the back the west.

The mount of corruption.—The southern summit of the Mount of Olives was so-called, because of the idolatry there practised. It still bears the name of the “Hill of Offence,” derived from the Vulg. “mons offensionis.” (The word rendered “corruption,” mashhîth, may originally have meant “anointing,” from mâshah “to anoint,” and have simply referred to the olive oil there produced. The name would thus be equivalent to the German Oelberg. In later times the term was so modified as to express detestation of idol-worship.)

Did the king defile.—As it is not said that they were pulled down, these high places may have been merely sacred sites on the mountain, consisting of a levelled surface of rock, with holes scooped in them for receiving libations, &c. Such sites have been found in Palestine; and it is hardly conceivable that chapels erected by Solomon for the worship of Ashtoreth, Chemosh, and Milcom, would have been spared by such a king as Hezekiah, who even did away with the high places dedicated to Jehovah (2 Kings 18:3).


Verse 14

(14) The images . . . the groves.—The pillars . . . the ashçrahs. These pillars and sacred trees may have been set up at the high places mentioned in the last verse; but the Hebrew construction does not prove this, for comp. 2 Kings 23:10. The reference is probably general.

Their places.—Their place or station; a technical term for the position of an idol (the Heb. mâqôm, equivalent to Sabæan maqâmum. and Arabic muqâm, which is still the common designation of holy sites in Palestine.


Verse 15

(15) The altar . . . and the high place.—The and is wanting in the Hebrew, LXX., and Targum.It is supplied in the Syriac, Vulgate, and Arabic, correctly as regards the sense; see below. Grammatically, “the high place” may be in apposition to “the altar,” and may include it, as being a more general term.

Which Jeroboam the son of Nebat . . .—See 1 Kings 12:28 seq.

Burned the high place.—Was it, then, a wooden structure, as Thenius supposes? Perhaps it resembled a dolmen (many hundred such have been found in Palestine); and fire may have been kindled under it, by way of cracking the huge slabs of stone of which it was built. The fragments might then be more easily crushed.

Burned the grove.—The present text is, burned an ashçrah. Perhaps the article has fallen out; especially as this is not the only indication that the text has suffered in this place. Thenius understands the word in the general sense of an idol-image, comparing 2 Kings 17:29 seq. But it is doubtful whether the word Ashçrah is so used. It is noteworthy that the present passage indirectly agrees with Hosea 10:6, for no mention is made of what used to be the chief object of worship at Beth-el; viz., the golden bullock. It had been carried away to Assyria, as the prophet foretold.


Verse 16

(16) Turned himself.—So that he caught sight of the tombs on the hill-side opposite—not on the hill where the high place was.

The man of God proclaimed.—Some words appear to have fallen out of the Hebrew text here, for the LXX. adds, “when Jeroboam stood in the feast at the altar. And he returned and lifted up his eyes upon the grave of the man of God.” (A transcriber’s eye wandered from one “man of God” to the other.) Josiah returned, when on the point of going away.


Verses 16-18

(16-18) These verses are supposed by Stähelin to be a fictitious addition of the compiler’s. Thenius does not go so far as this, but assumes that the proper sequel of 1 Kings 13:1-32, has been transferred to this place. He argues that it must be an interpolation here, because (1) the “moreover” of 2 Kings 23:15 (wěgam) corresponds to the “and . . . also” (wěgam) of 2 Kings 23:19, which does not prove much; and because (2) Josiah could not pollute the altar (2 Kings 23:16) after he had already shattered it in pieces (2 Kings 23:15). This reasoning is not conclusive, because it is obvious that, as is so often the case, the writer has first told in brief what was done to the altar and high place at Bethel, and then related at length an interesting incident that occurred at the time. In short, the statement of 2 Kings 23:15 is anticipatory.


Verse 17

(17) What title is this?—What is yonder monument, or memorial stone? Ezekiel 39:15, “sign.” Jeremiah uses the same term of a sign-post (Jeremiah 31:21, “waymarks”). (See 1 Kings 13:29 seq.)


Verse 18

(18) Let him alone.—Or, Let him rest.

So they let his bones alone.—A different verb. And they suffered his bones to escape, scil., disturbance.

With the bones of the prophet . . .—See 1 Kings 13:31-32.

That came out of Samaria.—This simply designates the old prophet who deceived the Judæan man of God, as a citizen of the Northern kingdom, which was called Samaria, after its capital.


Verse 19

(19) The houses also of the high places—i.e., temples or chapels attached to the high places.

Josiah took away.—Comp. 2 Chronicles 34:6, from which it appears that the king’s zeal carried him as far as Naphtali. The question has been asked, how it was that Josiah was able to proceed thus beyond the limits of his own territory. It is possible that, as a vassal of Assyria, he enjoyed a certain amount of authority over the old domains of the ten tribes. We have no record of either fact, but his opposition to Necho favours the idea that he recognised the Assyrian sovereign as his suzerain. Moreover, it is in itself likely that the remnant of Israel would be drawn towards Judah and its king as the surviving representatives of the past glories of their race, and would sympathise in his reformation, just as the Samaritans, in the times of the return, were eager to participate in the rebuilding of the Temple. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 34:9.) Another supposition is that, as the fall of the Assyrian empire was imminent, no notice was taken of Josiah’s proceedings in the west.


Verse 20

(20) He slew.—He slaughtered. A contrast to his mild treatment of the priests of the Judæan high places (2 Kings 23:8-9). They were Levites, and these heathenish priests. (Comp. Deuteronomy 17:2-5.) Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of 1 Kings 13:2. (Thenius considers the event historical, because that prophecy “is undoubtedly modelled upon it.”)


Verse 21

(21) Keep the passover.—Hold a passover (2 Kings 23:22). (Comp. 2 Chronicles 35:1-19 for a more detailed account of this unique celebration.) Josiah had the precedent of Hezekiah for signalising his religious revolution by a solemn passover (2 Chronicles 30:1).

In the book of this covenant.—Rather, in this book of the covenant (2 Kings 23:2). The book was that which Hilkiah had found in the Temple, and which gave the impulse to the whole reforming movement. (The LXX. and Vulg. read, in the book of this covenant—a mere mistake.)


Verse 22

(22) Surely there was not holden . . .—For there was not holden (a passover) like this passover. This and the next verse constitute a parenthetic remark, in which the historian emphasises the phrase, “As it is written in this book of the covenant.” No passover, from the time of the Judges onward had been celebrated in such strict conformity to the prescriptions of the Law. The LXX. omits the particle of comparison: ὅτι οὐκ ἐγενήθη τὸ πασχα τοῦτο. On the ground of this difference, and the one mentioned in the Note on 2 Kings 23:21, Thenius thinks it not improbable that the text of Kings has been altered to bring into harmony with the account in Chronicles about the restoration of the feast of the passover by Hezekiah—a weighty inference from such slight data. The chronicler repeats this very verse at the close of his narrative of Josiah’s passover (2 Chronicles 35:18).


Verse 23

(23) Wherein.—Omit this word. As Ewald says, the meaning of these two verses is, that the passover was never so celebrated before, especially as regards (1) the offerings over and above the paschal lamb (Deuteronomy 16:2), and (2) the strict unity of the place of this festival (Deuteronomy 16:5). The assumption that no passover had ever been held before (De Wette), is obsolete, even among “advanced critics,” and does not merit serious discussion.


Verse 24

(24) Moreover the workers . . .—After abolishing public idolatry, Josiah attacked the various forms of private superstition.

The workers with familiar spirits.—The necromancers (‘ôbôth; 1 Samuel 28:3 seq.). (See 2 Kings 21:6.)

Images.—See margin; and Genesis 31:19; Judges 17:5; 1 Samuel 19:13; Zechariah 10:2.

The idols.—The dunglings. Gresenius prefers to render, idol-blocks; Ewald, doll-images. (See 2 Kings 17:12.)

That were spied (seen).—A significant expression. Many idols were, doubtless, concealed by their worshippers.

Put away.—Or, put out, did away with (Deuteronomy 13:6; Deuteronomy 17:7); strictly, consumed. (See the law in Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:9-10.)


Verse 25

(25) And. like unto him was there no king before him.—Comp. 2 Kings 18:5-6, where a similar eulogy is passed upon Hezekiah. It is not, perhaps, necessary to insist upon any formal contradiction which may appear to result from a comparison of the two passages. A writer would not be careful to measure his words by the rule of strict proportion in such cases. Still, as the preceding account indicates, the Mosaic law does not appear to have been so rigorously carried out by any preceding king as by Josiah. (See Note on 2 Chronicles 30:26.)

With all his heart . . .—An echo of Deuteronomy 6:5. That Josiah’s merits did not merely consist in a strict observance of the legitimate worship and ritual, is evident from Jeremiah 22:15-16, where he is praised for his righteousness as a judge.


Verse 26

(26) The fierceness of his great wrath . . . kindled.—The great heat of his wrath, wherewith his wrath burnt.

Because of all the provocations that Manasseh . . .—Comp. the predictions of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:4; Jeremiah 25:2 seq.) and Zephaniah; and see the Note on 2 Chronicles 34:33.


Verse 26-27

(26, 27) The historian naturally adds these remarks to prepare the way for what he has soon to relate—the final ruin of the kingdom; and probably also to suggest an explanation of what must have seemed to him and his contemporaries a very mysterious stroke of providence, the untimely end of the good king Josiah.


Verses 28-30

(28-30) Josiah’s end. The historical abstract broken off at 2 Kings 22:2 is now continued. (Comp. the more detailed account in 2 Chronicles 35:20 seq.)


Verse 29

(29) Pharaoh-nechoh.—Necho II., the successor of Psammetichus, and the sixth king of the 26th or Saite dynasty, called νεκὼς by Herodotus (ii. 158, 159; ); he reigned circ. 611-605 B.C. , but is not mentioned in the Assyrian records, so far as they are at present known to us.

The king of Assyria.—It is sometimes assumed that Necho’s expedition was directed against “the then ruler of what had been the Assyrian empire” (Thenius and others), and that the king in question was Nabopalassar, the conqueror of Nineveh, who became king of Babylon in 626-625 B.C. If the fall of Nineveh preceded or coincided with this last event, then Nabopalassar must be intended by the historian here. But if, as the chronology of Eusebius and Jerome represents, Cyaraxes the Mede took Nineveh in 609-608 B.C. , or, according to the Armenian chronicle, apud Eusebius, in 608-607 B.C. , then Necho’s expedition (circ. 609 B.C. ) was really directed against a king of Assyria in the strict sense. After the death of Assurbanipal (626 B.C. ) it appears that two or three kings reigned at Nineveh, namely, Assur-idil-ilani-ukinni, Bel-sum-iskun and Esar-haddon II. (the Saracus of Abydenus and Syncellus). Nineveh must have fallen before 606 B.C. , as Assyria does not occur in the list of countries mentioned by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:19-26) in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, i.e., 606 B.C. The probable date of its fall is 607 B.C. A year or so later Necho made a second expedition, this time against the king of Babylon, but was utterly defeated at Carchemish. (See Schrader, K. A. T., pp. 357-361.) Josephus says that Necho went to wage war with the Medes and Babylonians, who had just put an end to the Assyrian empire, and that his object was to win the dominion of Asia.

King Josiah went against him.—Probably as a vassal of Assyria, and as resenting Necho’s trespass on territory which he regarded as his own. The Syriac adds: “to fight against him: and Pharaoh said to him, Not against thee have I come; return from me. And he hearkened not to Pharaoh, and Pharaoh smote him.” This may once have formed part of the Hebrew text, but is more likely a gloss from Chronicles.

At Megiddo.—In the plain of Jezreel (1 Kings 4:12). (Comp. Zechariah 12:11.) Herodotus calls it Magdolus (ii. 159). The fact that this was the place of battle shows that Necho had not marched through southern Palestine, but had taken the shortest route over sea, and landed at Accho (Acre). Otherwise, Josiah would not have had to go so far north to meet him.

When he had seen him.—At the outset of the encounter; as we might say, the moment he got sight of him. According to the account in Chronicles, which is derived from a different source, Josiah was wounded by the Egyptian archers, and carried in a dying state to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 35:22 seq.). Thenius thinks that Jeremiah 15:7-9 was spoken on occasion of Josiah’s departure with his army from the north, and that the prophet’s metaphor, “her sun went down while it was yet day,” refers to the eclipse of Thales, which had recently happened, 610 B.C. (Herod, i. 74, 103).


Verse 30

(30) And his servants carried him . . .—See Notes 2 Chronicles 35:24.

The people of the land.—Thenius says they were the soldiery who had fled to Jerusalem; but this is doubtful.

Took Jehoahaz.—He was not the eldest son (see 2 Kings 23:36), but he may have been thought a more capable prince amid the emergencies of the time, although Jeremiah 22:10 seq. shows that this estimate was fallacious.


Verse 32

(32) And he did that which was evil . . .—Comp. Ezekiel’s lamentation for the princes of Judah,” where Jehoahaz is called a young lion that “devoureth men,” alluding to his oppressive rapacity and shameless abuse of power (Ezekiel 19:1-4).


Verse 33

(33) And Pharaoh-nechoh put him in bands . . .—See Note on 2 Chronicles 36:3. The LXX. here has “removed him,” but the other versions “bound him.”

That he might not reign.—This is the reading of the Hebrew margin, some MSS., and the LXX., Vulg., and Targum. The Syriac and Arabic have, “when he reigned,” which is the ordinary Hebrew text. The original text of the whole was perhaps this: “and Pharaoh-nechoh bound him at Riblah . . . and removed him from reigning in Jerusalem;” i.e., he threw him into bonds, and pronounced his deposition. (Comp, the construction in 1 Kings 15:13.) Riblah (now Ribleh) lay in a strong position on the Orontes, commanding the caravan route from Palestine to the Euphrates. Necho had advanced so far, after the battle of Megiddo, and taken up his quarters there, as Nebuchadnezzar did afterwards (2 Kings 25:6; 2 Kings 25:20-21). Josephus relates that Necho summoned Jehoahaz to his camp at Riblah. The passage, Ezekiel 19:4, suggests that he got the king of Judah into his power by fraud: “he was taken in their pit.” It used to be supposed, on the strength of Herod, ii. 159, that Necho captured Jerusalem. What Herodotus says is this: “And engaging the Syrians on foot at Magdolus, Nechoh was victorious. After the battle he took Kadytis, a great city of Syria.” Kadytis has been thought to be either Hadath (“the new town;” referring to the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the Return), or el-Kuds(“the holy;” the modern Arabic title of Jerusalem), or Gaza. In reality it is Kadesh on the Orontes, one of the great Hittite capitals, and not far from Hamath.

A talent of gold.—So Chronicles. The LXX. here reads, an hundred talents of gold (a transcriber’s error). The Syriac and Arabic, ten talents, which may be right. (Comp. 2 Kings 18:14, where the proportion of silver to gold is ten to one.)

Tribute.—The Hebrew word means fine. The Vulg. renders rightly, “et imposuit multum terrae.”


Verse 34

(34) Turned his name to Jehoiakim.—A slight change. Eliakim is “El setteth up;” Jehoiakim, “Jah setteth up.” Necho meant to signify that the new king was his creature. Eliakim, the elder son, may have paid court to Necho; or the Egyptian may have deposed Jehoahaz, as elected without his consent, and perhaps as likely to prove a stronger king than his brother. Necho may have fancied a resemblance between the name Yahû (i.e., Jah; so it was then pronounced) and Aah, the name of the Egyptian moon-god. (See Note on 1 Chronicles 4:18.)

And he came to Egypt, and died there.—LXX. and Vulg. as Chronicles: and he brought him to Egypt (by a slight change of the pointing in the Hebrew.) Jeremiah had foretold the fact (Jeremiah 22:10-12).


Verses 35-37

THE REIGN OF JEHOIAKIM (2 Kings 23:35 to 2 Kings 24:7).

(35) And Jehoiakim gave.—And the silver and the gold did Jehoiakim give . . . He had to pay for his elevation. The raising of the fine of 2 Kings 23:33 is described in this verse.

But he taxed . . .—The king kept his pledge to Pharaoh, but not out of his own means. He exacted the money from “the people of the land,” i.e., the people of all classes, levying a fixed contribution even upon the poorest of his subjects. As in 2 Kings 11:14; 2 Kings 14:21; 2 Kings 21:24, Thenius insists that “the people of the land” are the national militia, and he renders: “he exacted the silver and the gold, along with (i.e., by the help of) the people of the land.” But this is, to say the least, very questionable. (See Note on 2 Kings 11:14.)

(36) He reigned eleven years.—Not eleven full years. (Comp. Jeremiah 25:1 with 2 Kings 24:12; and Jeremiah 3 with 2 Kings 25:8.)

His mother’s name was Zebudah.—So the Hebrew margin and Targum. Hebrew text, Syriac, Vulg., Arabic, Zebidah. Zebadiah may have been the real name. The mother of Jehoahaz was Hamutal (2 Kings 23:31). Thus Josiah had at least two wives, and probably more. (Comp. 2 Kings 24:15.) He could not have been over fourteen when he begot Jehoiakim.

Rumah.—Perhaps Arumah, near Shechem (Judges 9:41), as Josephus has Abumah. This is interesting as a slight indication that Josiah’s power extended over the territory of the former kingdom of Samaria.

(37) He did that which was evil . . .—Jeremiah represents him as luxurious, covetous, and violent (Jeremiah 22:13 seq.). He murdered Urijah a prophet (Jeremiah 26:20 seq.). Ewald thinks that he introduced Egyptian animal-worship (Ezekiel 8:7 seq.), which is rendered highly probable by his relation of dependence on Necho. (Comp. the introduction of Assyrian star-worship under Ahaz.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-23.html. 1905.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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