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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Kings 22

Verse 8

2 Kings 22:8. I have found the book of the law This is generally agreed to have been the archetype written by Moses, and by him ordered to be deposited with the ark, in the most holy place, but which some pious high-priest had caused to be thus hid in the reign of Ahaz or Manasseh, to prevent its being destroyed with all the other copies of it; for it plainly appears by the tenour of the history, that this was the only perfect one left. But it is much disputed, whether it was the whole Pentateuch, emphatically called התורה hattorah, the law, or only Deuteronomy, or even barely the 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st chapters of it. Josephus, by calling it "the sacred books of Moses," seems to declare entirely for the former; others have declared for the latter, because the book of Deuteronomy is a kind of repetition or epitome of the Mosaic law. Calmet, among some others, holds the last of these three opinions, and thinks that nothing more is meant here than that short luminary which is found in the above-mentioned chapters of that book, in which are contained all the blessings and curses that so alarmed the pious monarch. But if either this short epitome, or even the whole Deuteronomy, was all that the high-priest found hid in the temple, when was the rest of the Pentateuch recovered? If it be said, that there might be some copies of this last still extant, then this luminary must have been in it; and it would be surprising that some one or more should not have been brought to so good a king, after he had given such signal proofs of his piety and zeal; and if any such had been presented to him, he must be supposed to have neglected the reading of it, or he could never have been under such surprize and fear at the reading of that which the high-priest sent to him. We therefore think, with the far greater number of Jews and Christians, that it was the whole Pentateuch; and that there might be still several imperfect and mutilated copies dispersed here and there, which might be now rectified by this prototype, after it was thus brought to light. If it be asked, how the king could run over those five books so quickly as to come presently to the blessings and curses; it may be answered, that as their manner was to write upon volumes of a considerable length, which were rolled up round one or two sticks, it might so happen, that these last chapters were on the outside; and that the king, impatient to know the contents of it, might have curiosity to read in it, before he had unfolded a round or two. We are, however, very far from rejecting the notion of the Jews, who believe that Providence directed him to that very part. Something like this we find happened under the Gospel, Luke 4:17. Acts 8:28; Acts 8:40. What appears most surprising is, that all the copies of the Scripture, which the good king Hezekiah seems to have caused to be written and dispersed about the kingdom, (see Proverbs 25:1.) should have so soon vanished, that neither Josiah, nor the high-priest, had ever seen any of them till this one was brought to light. All that can be said in this case is, that Manasseh, during the former part of his reign, had made such havock of them, that if there were any left, they were only in a few private hands, who preserved them with the utmost caution and secrecy. See the Universal History.

REFLECTIONS.—One merciful respite more is given to idolatrous Judah; another good king, to prove them, if yet they will bring forth fruit, before the axe is laid to the root of the tree.

1. Though Josiah was very young, but eight years of age, when he came to the crown, he gave very early symptoms of uncommon piety, and all his days the fruit answered the promising blossoms. Note; Early piety is peculiarly pleasing and promising.

2. As soon as he was fit to take the reins of government into his own hand, he began to reform the interrupted worship, and repair the decayed temple of God. Nearly the same method seems to be taken, as in the days of Joash, chap. 12: to collect the money, and the same integrity appears in the persons employed. Note; They who delight in the temple-service, may be trusted for their fidelity and honesty in the repairs of it.

3. In the repairs of the temple, the book of the law was happily found, generally supposed to be the very copy, Deu 31:26 that Moses laid up in the most holy place. Note; (1.) The preservation of the inspired writings through so many ages, and amidst so many enemies, is a standing witness to their divine authority. (2.) When God's word is thrust into a corner, unnoticed by, or cruelly withheld from the people, no marvel that iniquity abounds. (3.) They who have never read through all the book of God, know not how much it contains to make them tremble, or how much to comfort them: and yet how many christians, yea, protestants, are thus negligent, and never once in their lives read God's word entire!

4. Hilkiah, having first read the book himself to Shaphan, desires him to convey it to the king, and read it in his ears, as it contained matters so deeply and nearly affecting him. Note; (1.) Reading their Bibles, is among the best employments in which kings can be engaged. (2.) They are inexcusable, who have this sacred book in their hands, and continue wilfully ignorant of its contents.

Verse 14

2 Kings 22:14. Huldah the prophetess This is the only mention that we have of this prophetess; and certainly it tends much to her honour that she was consulted upon this important occasion, when both Jeremiah and Zephaniah were at that time prophets in Judah. But Zephaniah, perhaps, at that time might not have commenced a prophet, because, though we are told that he prophesied in the days of Josiah, Zep 1:1 yet we are nowhere informed in what part of his reign he entered upon the prophetic office. Jeremiah too might at that time be absent from Jerusalem, at his house at Anathoth, or some more remote part of the kingdom; so that, considering Josiah's haste and impatience, there might be no other proper person to apply to than this prophetess; well assured of whose fidelity in delivering the mind and counsel of God, the king, and the ministers who went from him to inquire, concluded rightly, that it was much more important what message God sent, than by whose hand it was that he conveyed it. See Poole, and Smith's Select Discourses, p. 252.

Verse 16

2 Kings 22:16. Even all According to all. Nold. 868.

Verses 18-19

2 Kings 22:18-19. As touching the words which thou hast heard, &c.— Because thy heart was terrified at the words which thou hast heard, and thou hast humbled, &c. Houbigant. See also 2 Chronicles 34:26.

Verse 20

2 Kings 22:20. Thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace The death of Josiah was indeed sudden and immature; he fell in battle against the Egyptians, (see the next chap. 2 Kings 23:29.); and yet he may be said to have gone to his grave in peace, because he was recalled from life while his kingdom was in a prosperous condition, before the calamities wherewith it was threatened were come upon it, and whilst he himself was in peace and reconciliation with God. Thus, when the righteous are taken away from the evil to come, though in the sight of the universe they seem to die, and their departure is taken for misery; yet, in what manner soever their exit be, they may well be said to die in peace, who, after their dissolution here, are numbered among the children of God, and have their lot among the saints. See Isaiah 57:1. Wis 3:2, &c.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Kings 22". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.