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2 Chronicles 34:5 . He burnt the bones of the priests, and so, perhaps without intending it, he fulfilled the prophecy of the man of God that came to Bethel. 1 Kings 13:2.
As the nipping frosts of winter spoil the glory of the summer, and as the spring comes and revives nature again, so were the good and the bad kings in their succession on the throne of Judah; only with this sad difference, vice and idolatry grew stronger and stronger, and reformation became more and more difficult till there was no more remedy. The old idolatrous princes, who had seduced Manasseh to every crime, being either slain or dead, the new generation was not so forward to corrupt Josiah the infant king. He received a religious education; and at the age of sixteen, taking the reins of government wholly into his own hands, he discovered a strong propensity to piety. He began so early, even at the age of twelve, to purge his capital, by repairing the Lord’s house, which the wicked apostates of the late reign had either pillaged, or after it was pillaged by the Babylonians, they had done nothing to repair it. His zeal exceeded the zeal of Jehoshaphat, of Asa, and of Hezekiah. He destroyed the statues of Ashtaroth, that is, Astartè or Venus, wherever he found them: Baal also, and the horses of the sun; that is, the chariot and horses dedicated to the sun. He demolished in like manner the retiring houses for wickedness which cannot be named. The image of the grove, that is, of Astartè, which was in the house of God, he utterly destroyed, and put down the priests of those profane altars; and many of them he slew for the murders and sorceries they had committed, and defiled their altars with their bones, it is good when we begin for God, to do his work heartily: a glory attends it which remains for ever.
After the house was repaired, and the reserve of the money employed for this purpose, Hilkiah found a treasure preferable to gold. He found concealed in the side of the ark, or in some chest, the copy of the law which Moses wrote with his own hand. This was a treasure indeed; for it was supposed to have been destroyed, or stolen in idolatrous times. And though neither the king nor the priests were unacquainted with the law; yet on this occasion, Josiah was so affected by hearing the curses of the law read, and probably those in the latter part of Deuteronomy, that he rent his robes, and sent to enquire of the Lord for the remnant which was left in Israel and in Judah. Hence we learn, that we should most diligently read the law of the Lord, and feelingly weep under its violated precepts.
It was some consolation to the weeping king, that there was in Jerusalem a Huldah, a woman highly honoured with the prophetic gift, and so reputable that she was preferred to the judgment of the Urim. She was not the first who had predicted the ruin of Jerusalem, but she joined her testimony to theirs: and though unable to reverse the high decrees of heaven, she at last gave the king of Judah some token for good; and perceiving that his heart was tender, she comforted him with the assurance that in his days there should be no evil.
The pious king, trembling for his sinful country, hasted to convene the elders of Jerusalem and Judah to hear the law, and renew the covenant, which was enjoined to be done every seventh year, anxiously desirous of exciting in them alarms for their safety, and true repentance for their sins. After the solemnities of this covenant, fresh efforts were made to destroy if possible every vestige of idolatry. The hopes of Judah now assumed a smiling aspect; and who would not have augured that God, delighted with the repentance of his people, would now turn away his fierce anger? But ah, the devotion was too much that of the lips; the hearts of the people were still attached to their idols and their sins. Therefore they gradually began, and on the open hills, to practise their abominations again. Jeremiah 3:7; Jeremiah 3:10. Well did Isaiah say, why should ye be striken any more? Ye will revolt yet more and more. So it is with the old and hardened sinner, whom mercy and judgment have failed to reform. Let the righteous be sanctified by the thought, and cleave the closer to the Lord and to one another.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 34". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14