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THE DESTRUCTION OF IDOLATRY BY JOSIAH
CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—
2 Kings 23:1. The king sent and gathered all the elders of Judah—Not content to hide from coming ill under God’s promise of immunity to himself personally, Josiah’s patriotism led him to a fervent effort to recall his nation to the Lord, and turn aside impending doom.
2 Kings 23:6. He brought out the grove from the house of the Lord (see on 2 Kings 21:7). Cast the powder thereof on the graves of the children of the people—In 2 Chronicles 34:4 it is rendered, “upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them,” thus profaning the sepulchres of those idolaters.
2 Kings 23:7. He brake down the houses of the Sodomites—Concerning these “Sodomites” see Notes on 1 Kings 14:24. These booths were scenes of lustful revelry; these “women who wove hangings for Asherah,” being debased creatures, who, together with others of their sex, prostituted themselves in homage of this goddess. All this “in the house of the Lord.”
2 Kings 23:9. Did eat of the unleavened bread—The phrase means that they lived upon the altar offerings; they came not near God’s altar, but stayed at home enjoying the fruit of their profession “among their brethren.”
2 Kings 23:10. He defiled Topheth—The spot in the valley of Hinnon where children were sacrificed to Molech. “Tophet” is variously interpreted, as from תּוף to spit out, detest, an abomination, therefore; or from תוֹף, a drum, the dominating interpretation of Jewish writers being that the cries of the perishing children were drowned by that instrument.
2 Kings 23:11. Took away the horses—Not figures of horses, but living, kept for drawing the sun-chariot in the idolatrous processions. Horses were also sacrificed in the worship of the sun.
2 Kings 23:13. On the right hand of the mount of corruption—The hilly range on the east of Jerusalem, called the Mount of Olives, has three summits, whose central or southernmost peak is named the “Mount of Corruption.” from the idol temples there reared by Solomon.
2 Kings 23:15. Altar that was at Bethel—In Samaria; so that he traversed the land to sweep away every vestige of idolatry.
Note—A literal and remarkable fulfilment of prophecy at Bethel—Against that very altar at Bethel, where the guilty Jeroboam burned odious idolatrous incense, a man of God, 326 years before Josiah’s birth, came forth and cried, “O, altar, altar! thus saith the Lord, Behold a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name, and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee” (see the narrative 1 Kings 13:1-11.13.8). No more emphatic verification of prophecy is contained in Scripture.
2 Kings 23:21-12.23.23. The revival of the passover festival—Not only were the king’s own subjects called to this august celebration of this most sacred festival, but many of the remnant of Israel also came to the solemnity (see 2 Chronicles 35:18); not even Hezekiah’s celebration of this feast was so complete and imposing as that of Josiah.
HOMILETICS OF 2 Kings 23:1-12.23.24
CHARACTERISTICS OF A GREAT RELIGIOUS REFORM
I. It is suggested by a clearer understanding of the Divine Word (2 Kings 23:1). Josiah had begun his reforming work before the discovery of the law, but when he read the very words of God his views were expanded, and his zeal newly inflamed concerning the work he had to do. The effect on the king was like that produced on Luther by his finding an old Latin Bible in the library of the Augustine convent at Erfurt. In both cases, the character and life-work of the reformers were irresistibly influenced by what they read. The best and loftiest work we do, is that which is inspired and sustained by our study of the Divine Word. It is the light and teacher for all time.
A glory gilds the sacred page
Majestic, like the sun;
It gives a light to every age;
It gives, but borrows none.—Cowper.
II. It seeks to interest and, by solemn covenant, secure the co-operation of all classes of the community (2 Kings 23:1-12.23.2). All genuine reform must be based on intelligence. The people Josiah sought to benefit he sought first to instruct. Too much publicity cannot be given to principles which threaten to change the existing order of things. If they will not bear the light of day, and the freest public criticism, they are unworthy our adherence. Josiah set the example. It was a striking scene—the more highly dramatic because so utterly unconscious—to see the youthful king publicly entering into solemn covenant to obey the Divine commands. The people followed. In the East, whatever the king initiates and champions, the people readily accept. The broader and more searching the reform, the more important is it to interest all classes and engage all legitimate agencies. The most gigantic efforts of the reformer would be fruitless if unsupported by public opinion. He is shrewd enough to see that the first thing he has to do is to mould and educate public opinion. Hume once observed, “All power, even the most despotic, rests ultimately on opinion.”
III. It aims at the utter destruction of the system, with all its degrading practices, that had led the people astray (2 Kings 23:4-12.23.20; 2 Kings 23:24). Josiah attacked the idolatry of his kingdom with a promptness, zeal, and vigour that amounted almost to fierceness. The evil must be torn out, root and branch. The high places, the images, the vessels, were not only broken in pieces, but defiled, and their ashes scattered on the stream to be borne away for ever. The reformer warmed to his work, and grew fiercer still. He slew the idolatrous priests. He violated the graves of the dead, and burnt their bones on the altar. The reformer became a persecutor. Judging Josiah from the standard of his times, much might be said in palliation of this violence. Idolatry was the oppressive curse under which his kingdom lay crushed. As a theocratic king, he could admit no rival to Jehovah; idolatry must be utterly stamped out. Much may be forgiven a man for the excesses into which he may be betrayed in the heat of his reforming zeal. But no reforming work can be permanently advantaged by violence and persecution. Tyranny never cures tyranny; it only provokes endless reprisals.
IV. It restores the pure worship of God in its most imposing features (2 Kings 23:21-12.23.23). The festival of the Passover was held on an unexampled scale of magnificence and publicity, and in a faithful adhesion to the minute details required by the Divine law that had not been recognized for years. The iconoclastic reformer should be careful to have something to put in place of what he destroys. Man will worship, and every facility should be afforded him in keeping up fellowship with the Highest and Holiest, else he will seek inferior and degrading objects of worship, as did the Hebrews. We must not mistake the reverent and decorous observance of an elaborate ritual for true worship. Acceptable worship must be intelligent, sincere, and spiritual. “If a person were to attend the levee of an earthly prince every court day, and pay his obeisance punctually and respectfully, but at other times speak and act in opposition to his sovereign, the king would justly deem such an one a hypocrite and an enemy. Nor will a solemn and stated attendance on the means of grace in the House of God prove us to be God’s children and friends.”—Salter.
1. A genuine reformer regulates his zeal by sound discretion.
2. It is difficult to avoid excesses in carrying out great reforms.
3. The best reforms are those suggested and carried out by the teachings and spirit of the Divine Word.
4. It is an unspeakable gain to the moral life and power of a nation when the true God is better known and worshipped.
GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES
2 Kings 23:1-12.23.3. The public reading of God’s Word.—
1. An important and time-honoured institution—instructing the ignorant, and being a testimony to all.
2. A serious loss and injury to a people where neglected.
3. Worthy of the most careful study to do it with efficiency.
4. Stimulates the formation of the best resolves towards God and His service.
—This pious and patriotic king, not content with the promise of his own security, felt, after Huldah’s response, an increased desire to avert the threatened calamities from his kingdom and people. Knowing the richness of the Divine clemency and grace to the penitent, he convened the elders of the people, and, placing himself at their head, accompanied by the collective body of the inhabitants, went in solemn procession to the temple, where he ordered the book of the law to be read to the assembled audience, and covenanted, with the unanimous concurrence of his subjects, to adhere steadfastly to all the commandments of the Lord. It was an occasion of solemn interest, closely connected with a great national crisis, and the beautiful example of piety in the highest quarter would exert a salutary influence over all classes of the people, in animating their devotions and encouraging their return to the faith of their fathers.—Jamieson.
2 Kings 23:1. Instructed by the law and by the prophetess, the king does rest in security, feeling that the evil will not come in his day, but takes immediate measures to instruct the people in the law, and to destroy idolatry throughout the land.
2 Kings 23:2. Woe be to them that hide God’s book from the people, as they would do ratsbane from the eyes of children! Ignorant souls cannot perish without their murder. There is no fear of knowing too much; there is too much fear of practising too little.—Bp. Hall.
2 Kings 23:4-12.23.24. A violent persecution like that of Manasseh must have produced terror, bitterness, stubborn though concealed opposition, and a relentless purpose, on the part of those who had all the law and traditions of their nation, together with patriotism, on their side and who could compare with pride the moral purity of their religion with those abominations of heathenism which were shocking and abhorrent to the simplest instincts of human nature, to repay their persecutors at the first opportunity. Where those abominations were the only religious observances taught, education might avail to make them pass without protest; but where there was any, even a slight, knowledge of a purer religion and a better morality, the protest could never entirely die out. The Jehovah religion was, as compared with heathen things, austere. It warred against the base passions of men and the vices which they produce. Heathenism therefore seemed to represent enjoyment of life, while the Jehovah religion seemed to repress pleasure. It is remarkable that a boy-king should have chosen the latter. Judaism certainly had intolerance as one of its fundamental principles. Violence in the support of the Jehovah-religion was the duty of a Jewish king. In attempting to account for and understand the conduct of Josiah, it would be senseless to expect him to see and practise toleration, as to expect him to use fire-arms against Necho. We can never carry back modern principles into ancient times, and judge men by the standards of to-day.—Lange.
2 Kings 23:4. The Kedron winds along the east and south of the city, the channel of which is, throughout a large portion of the year, almost or wholly dry, except after heavy rains, when it suddenly swells and overflows. There were emptied all the impurities of the temple (2 Chronicles 29:15-14.29.16) and the city. His reforming predecessors had ordered the mutilated relics of idolatry to be thrown into that place of graves and receptacle of filth (1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chronicles 15:16; 2 Chronicles 30:14); but Josiah, while he imitated their piety, far outstripped them in zeal, for he caused the ashes of the burnt wood, and the fragments of the broken metal, to be collected and conveyed to Bethel, in order thenceforth to associate ideas of horror and aversion with that place, as odious for the worst pollutions.
2 Kings 23:7. Sin—
1. Has depths of infamy which the beginner would shudder to contemplate.
2. Finds its readiest and most zealous votaries in idolators.
3. Reigns supreme when God is abandoned.
4. Can be cured only by being thoroughly rooted out.
2 Kings 23:8. “The gate of Joshua, the governor of the city.”—A great man, but none of the best. He had a good name; but Josiah might have said to him, as Alexander did to a soldier of his own name, but a coward, Either change thy name, or put on more courage; so, more piety.—Trapp.
2 Kings 23:11. “And burned the chariots of the sun.”—Chrysostom saith that Peter, for his zeal, was like a man made all of fire walking among stubble. Josiah was surely so. Angelomus saith, that herein he represented Christ, who, by the fire of the last day, shall destroy all impiety, and not suffer any defiled one to enter into his kingdom.—Ibid.
2 Kings 23:14. Every monument of idolatry in his dominions was in like manner destroyed, and the places where they stood he defiled by strewing them with dead men’s bones. The presence of a dead carcase rendered both persons and places unclean in the eyes both of Jews and heathens.—Jamieson.
—He was resolved to make a hand with them all. We may give peace to buy truth, but we may not give truth to buy peace.—Trapp.
2 Kings 23:15-12.23.16. The unerring certitude of the Divine word.—l. Its threats and promises are faithfully and minutely fulfilled.
2. The flux of time strengthens rather than weakens its authority—350 years had elapsed since the prophecy was uttered.
3. The instrument of accomplishing the Divine word may himself be unconscious of it—Josiah was more intent in destroying idolatry than in fulfilling a Divine prediction.
2 Kings 23:15. His zeal as a theocratic sovereign was specially directed against “the high places” reared and consecrated by Israelitish monarchs in all the Samaritan cities, as being indications of the same spirit of disloyalty to Jehovah which the policy of Jeroboam had inaugurated at Bethel and at Dan. But the altar at Bethel which had been sumptuously and elaborately fitted up in the Egyptian style of architecture, and at which the worship of the golden calf was performed with a splendour that rivalled or surpassed the pure ritual celebrated at Jerusalem, was the special object of his abhorrence, both on account of its vicinity to his own kingdom, and the outrage which its establishment, on a spot hallowed by the memory of the patriarch Jacob, inflicted on the feelings of all the pious in Judah.—Jamieson.
2 Kings 23:16. Intervention of time breaks no square in the Divine decrees; our purblind eyes see nothing but that which touches their lids; the quick sight of God’s prescience sees that, as present, which is a world off.—Bp. Hall.
2 Kings 23:17. Compare with 1 Kings 13:0. Lessons from an old tombstone. As we stand by the sepulchre of the man of God, many admonitory lessons press themselves home upon us.
I. That the path of duty is the way of safety. So long as the man of God continued in the path of duty, he was safe. The anger of the king and his command to the bystanders could not harm him a whit. No moral or spiritual danger will befall us if we continue in the path which God marks out for us. “They that be with us are more than they that be with them.”
II. That the path of duty is the path of power. So long as the man of God was faithful in the discharge of his duty, he had great moral influence. When King Jeroboam’s hand withered and his arm became rigid, he had no faith either in his false god, or in the priests who were sacrificing to him. “Entreat the Lord for me,” cried the frightened, horror-stricken king. So it is still. The good man may be persecuted and ridiculed, but often it is seen that the devout man, who continues, despite all trials, “the even tenor of his way,” is requested to intercede with God on behalf of those who would have harmed him. But power is lost the moment the good man departs from the right way.
III. The danger of tarrying upon forbidden ground. The command to the man of God was clear and decisive. He must so appear before the false priests of Jeroboam and deliver his message, and leave the place, that his appearance and disappearance may be startling in their suddenness. He must not return by the same way that he went. But he lingered in the way not far from Bethel. He was upon dangerous ground, and the temptation presented by his seducer was fitted to his physical need and circumstances, as all strong temptation is. He yielded, and we know his fate. Banyan very quaintly says, after Christian and Hopeful wandered from the right path and found themselves in Doubting Castle, “So I saw it was easier going out of the way when in, than going in when out.”
IV. The fearful crime of an enlightened man ruining another. The old prophet might take up the corpse of the disobedient man of God and attend to its interment, and mourn over him, saying, “Alas, my brother!” but he could not bring back again the lost life. He might charge his sons to bury him with the men of God, adding that the prediction which had been uttered would certainly be fulfilled; but this made no atonement, no separation. The man who will ruin another is a baser man than he who will ruin himself. And be it that this act of disobedience on the part of the man of God was a sin unto the death of the body only—as perhaps the entire context warrants—yet little did he think, when he journeyed from Judah, that he would never return again; and that being entrusted with such a message, and charged with such responsibilities, he should fail in part. Let him, therefore, who stands by his sepulchre, remember the judgment which arrested the man of God, and he will find another illustration of the need of heeding the warning, “Let him that assuredly standeth, take heed lest he fall.”—Hom. Quarterly.
—This is one of the most remarkable prophecies contained in the Bible. Had the prediction referred to the entire suppression of idolatry throughout the kingdom of Israel, and its reunion with that of Judah in the common celebration of national worship at Jerusalem, the spirit of patriotism would assuredly have kept alive the remembrance of the announcement both in the court and throughout the country, making a consummation so devoutly to be wished the favourite and distinguishing policy of the best kings. But the demolition of the single altar at Bethel was too limited an enterprise, too trivial an act, to stimulate the ambition of a Jewish king, or to continue a subject of interest in the councils of his cabinet; and hence the prophecy seems to have fallen into comparative neglect or oblivion. But not one jot nor tittle of the Divine word ever fails to be fulfilled. God chooses his own time, as well as his own accomplishments of His providential purposes; and although no king of Judah before Manasseh had an opportunity of passing the confines of his kingdom; although Manasseh, with Amon, had not, probably, the slightest knowledge of the prophecy, and was influenced solely by motives of humble penitence and devout gratitude for his own temporal and spiritual deliverance in bestowing the name of Josiah upon his grandson; he was unconsciously, but by an unseen overruling power, led to do what verified the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed to Jeroboam, regarding the overthrow of the altar at Bethel.—Jamieson.
2 Kings 23:21-12.23.24. The building up of a new life must follow upon the eradication of sin. The Passover cannot be celebrated until all the old leaven is removed. The Passover was the feast with which each new year begun; we also have a Passover or Easter lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7-46.5.8). The festivals and fasts are the framework of the common life of the congregation; where they are neglected this life is decaying. If Israel had kept up the celebration of its appointed feast, it would never have fallen so low.—Lange.
2 Kings 23:24. The Bible and reform.
1. The Bible exposes the dangers and abuses of all false systems.
2. Supplies clear and authoritative ideas of what is right, and the most powerful motives to act up to those ideas.
3. Demands that all efforts of reform shall be thorough and complete.
CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—
2 Kings 23:26. Notwithstanding the Lord turned not—The nation’s heart was not changed by all this fervour of the king and the reformation of external worship. Jeremiah’s ministry during Josiah’s reign shows the gross moral corruption and total spiritual falsity of this hopelessly apostate people.
2 Kings 23:28-12.23.30. Josiah slain at Megiddo—Necho, the son of Psammeticus, ascended the throne of Egypt in the twentieth year of Josiah. The two rival monarchies of Egypt and Assyria were then still struggling for ascendancy. Palestine was a coveted frontier territory. From Manasseh’s time Juda’ was tributary to Assyria, and Josiah felt necessitated to rally to Assyria’s side against Necho of Egypt. On the Egyptian monarch’s way to Charchemish, by the Euphrates, Josiah intercepted his line of advance by meeting his in the great vale of Migeddo, in the plain of Esdraelon. Although Necho remonstrated (Chronicles account), yet Josiah opposed him, and was slain.
2 Kings 23:31-12.23.34. Jehoahaz—It was the people’s act to raise Shallum, Josiah’s youngest son, afterwards named Jehoahaz, to the throne in preference to his elder brother Eliakim. This popular choice may be accounted for by Shallum’s military spirit (Ezekiel 19:3), and his resolute opposition to the Egyptian monarchy; for there were two parties in the Jewish state, the one favouring allegiance with Assyria, the other with Egypt. He was quickly deposed by Necho.
2 Kings 23:34-12.23.37. Eliakim, named Jehoiakim by Pharoah-Necho, followed an evil course, and was a reckless ruler. Jeremiah portrays his character most vividly (2 Kings 22:13-12.22.19).—W. H. J.
HOMILETICS OF 2 Kings 23:25-12.23.37
FAILURE IN THE WORK OF REFORMATION
I. That the work of Reformation may fail, notwithstanding the exemplary character of the principal agent (2 Kings 23:25). High praise is here accorded to Josiah. It is usually maintained that Hezekiah equalled or surpassed him in trusting Jehovah (2 Kings 18:5), but that he excelled Hezekiah in his scrupulous adherence to the minute details of the Mosaic law. It is, however, evident from this verse that Josiah was also conspicuous for his trust in Jehovah, for he turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might. The eulogy of Josiah, as of Hezekiah, may be regarded as a passage worded after the manner of oriental hyperbole, not to be literally understood, but as intended to distinguish a person who was gifted with specially great qualities. Josiah was the best character that age could produce, and was the fittest to grapple with the abuses that others deplored, but were powerless to rectify. With all the high personal qualifications and supreme royal influence possessed by Josiah, his reforming work was not permanently successful. He was not the first, or the last, great man who has attempted a great and much-needed reform, and failed.
II. That the work of Reformation fails when it does not prevent the accomplishment of the threatened doom (2 Kings 23:26-12.23.27).—After all the colossal and drastic efforts of Josiah to remove the dark curse that lowered over his kingdom and people, we learn from these verses the fateful sentence is still unrepealed. The evil was too deep and inveterate to be easily eradicated. By a comparatively early death, the good king was removed from the evil to come. Scarcely had the wail of lamentation for the popular monarch died away, ere the people relapsed into their former sins. The nation sank into deeper gloom, and the vial of Divine wrath, so long and patiently restrained, was at length poured out. The position of Judah at this time was similar to that of the Netherlands when William the Silent retired for a time from his loved Fatherland, which he felt himself unable to save, and a thunderbolt burst upon the land in the savage onslaught of the Duke of Alva and his butchering army—the thunderbolt that ultimately fell on Israel being Sennacherib and his victorious legions.
III. That the work of Reformation fails when it does not raise up competent agents to perpetuate its policy (2 Kings 23:28-12.23.37).—Josiah left no successor, either clerical or lay. The priests whose cause he had so bravely championed, had not the ability, or the will, to press forward the good work; and his two sons—Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim—who held the sceptre but as vassals under the dominating authority of the Egyptian monarch, showed their dislike to their father’s reforming work by throwing in their lot with the opposing party. They forsook the God of their father, and became idolaters. A great work of genuine reform usually creates its own agents, who perpetuate and consolidate the work, when the pioneer advocate is no more; and there must have been something defective about the plans and methods of Hezekiah’s work that failed to do this. “Reformation,” says Sir Joshua Reynolds, “is a work of time. A national taste, however wrong it may be, cannot be totally changed at once; we must yield a little to the prepossession which has taken hold on the mind, and we may then bring people to adopt what would offend them if endeavoured to be introduced by violence.”
IV. That the work of Reformation fails when it does not thoroughly penetrate the heart and life of every member of the community.—Reform, to be real and abiding, must be personal, convincing the judgment, biassing the will, changing the spirit. “Reform, like charity, must begin at home. Once well at home, how will it radiate outwards, irrepressible, into all that we touch and handle, speak and work; kindling ever new light by incalculable contagion, spreading in geometric ratio, far and wide, doing good only wherever it spreads, and not evil” (Carlyle). National evils are thoroughly cured only so far as the individual is morally transformed and exalted.
1. The mightiest efforts of reform may come too late.
2. The failure of any worthy effort is an occasion of sincere sorrow to the good.
3. Failure should lead to self-examination and more complete trust in God.
GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES
2 Kings 23:25-12.23.28. We cannot doubt that the sanguinary acts of Josiah, no less than of Elijah and Jehu, are condemned by Him in whom was fulfilled the spirit of the true Deuteronomy, the Revived Law, which the impetuous king carried out only in its external observances, and by its own hard measures. It was the first direct persecution that the kingdom of Judah had witnessed on behalf of the True Religion. Down to this time the mournful distinction had been reserved for the half-Pagan king Manasseh. But cruelty had here, as in all like cases, provoked a corresponding cruelty; and the reformation of Josiah, if from his youth and zeal it has suggested his likeness to our Edward VI., by its harsher features encouraged the rough acts which disfigured so many of the last efforts of that and other like movements of the Christian Church. But, in spite of all this effort, the kingdom of Judah was doomed. Perhaps the very vehemence of the attempt carried with it its own inefficacy. Even the traditions which invested Josiah with a blaze of preternatural glory, maintained that in his day the sacred oil was for ever lost. Too late is written on the pages even which described his momentary revival. It did not reach the deeply-seated, wide-spread corruption which tainted rich and poor alike.—Stanley.
2 Kings 23:26-12.23.27. The downward course of sin.
1. May reach a depth from which recovery is hopeless.
2. The best considered efforts of reform may fail to arrest.
3. Sinks at last to its inevitable doom.
2 Kings 23:29-12.23.30. The hope of Judah.
1. Rose to its brightest zenith amid the reforming efforts of Josiah.
2. Was quenched in that monarch’s death.
3. Rose no more in the history of the kingdom.
4. Will revive and burst into perfect glory, only under the sceptre of the Messiah-King.
—The early death of the king was no punishment for him, for he was thus gathered in peace to his fathers; but it was a chastisement for his unrepentant people, who now lamented him, and saw, when it was too late, what noble purposes he had had in their behalf.
2 Kings 23:30. His fall caused a universal mourning. Jeremiah wrote a lamentation for him (Lamentations 4:20). His loss formed the burden of regular songs even after the captivity, when “the mourning of Hadad-rimmon in the valley of Megiddon” was still the type of the deepest national affliction (Zechariah 12:11). “Well might such feelings be excited by the battle of Megiddo. That great valley of Esdraelon, the lists of Palestine, the scene of the great victories of Barak and of Gideon, was now stained with a second defeat more disastrous than that in which Saul lost his life. Then it had witnessed the fall of the short-lived dynasty of the people’s choice, but now it saw the virtual end of the earthly monarchy of the house of David. Hence may be traced the mystic significance which surrounds the name of this battlefield. The prophet Zechariah employs the mourning of Megiddo as a type of the more wholesome sorrow of Judah, in the day when God shall pour out upon them the spirit of grace and prayer, as a preparation for His final destruction of all the nations that come up against Jerusalem; and his imagery is adopted in the visions of the Apocalypse. On the very scene of the two most signal defeats of Israel and Judah by their most inveterate enemies, the Philistines and Egypt, the seer beholds the mystic “Battle of Armageddon,” which avenges all such defeats by the final overthrow of the kings of all the world in the great day of God Almighty” (Zechariah 12:9-38.12.14; Revelation 16:14-66.16.16).—Dr. Smith’s Student’s Scripture History.
—What eye doth not now pity and lament the untimely end of Josiah? Whom can it choose but affect to see a religious, just, virtuous prince, snatched away in the vigour of his age? After all our foolish moan, the Providence that directed that shaft to his lighting place, intends that wound for a stroke of mercy. The God whom Josiah serves, looks through his death at his glory, and by this sudden violence will deliver him from the view and participation of the miseries of Judah. O the wonderful goodness of the Almighty, whose very judgments are merciful! O the safe condition of God’s children, whom very pain easeth, whom death revives, whom dissolution unites, whom their very sin and temptation glorifies!—Bp. Hall.
2 Kings 23:31-12.23.37. Royal automata.
1. Divested of personal freedom and power, and manipulated by a grasping and imperious will (2 Kings 23:33-12.23.35).
2. Imitating with mechanical helplessness and precision the worst features of wicked predecessors (2 Kings 23:32-12.23.37).
3. Maintained by the privations and sufferings of their subjects (2 Kings 23:35).
4. Indicate a lowering of natural spirit and prestige.
2 Kings 23:32. The reassertive power of sin.
1. Repressed for a time by the influence of public reformation.
2. Ready to take advantage of the slightest relaxation of restraint.
3. Defiantly awaits its unavoidable punishment.
2 Kings 23:35. “He exacted the silver and the gold of the people.” Though he received likely from the subjects no less sums of curses than of coin.—Trapp.
2 Kings 23:37. Jehoiakin was a most unprincipled and oppressive tyrant. Jeremiah sternly rebukes his injustice and oppression, his cruelty and avarice, and his reckless luxury in building himself a magnificent palace; and contrasts all this with his father’s justice to the poor (Jeremiah 22:13-24.22.19). In the Chronicles his name is dismissed with an allusion to “all the abominations that he did.” To all his other evils he added this, that he slew Urijah, the prophet (Jeremiah 26:20; Jeremiah 26:23).
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent