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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
2 Kings 22

 

 

Introduction

2 Kings 22:1 to 2 Kings 23:30 a. The Reign and Reforms of Josiah.—The fifty-seven years of the reigns of Manasseh and Amon were, according to Kings (not Chronicles), a period of apostasy, which probably continued for the first ten years of Josiah. The prophetic party had consequently remained out of power since the persecution of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:16). They regained their influence by the discovery of the "Book of the Law" (2 Kings 22:8). The prophetess Huldah, on being consulted, foretold that all the calamities predicted in the book would come true, but that Josiah should go to his grave in peace and not witness the ruin of his people (2 Kings 22:16-20). The result of this message was, first, a drastic reformation of the Temple and the kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 23:1-14), and, secondly, the destruction of the famous northern sanctuary of Bethel (2 Kings 23:15-20). Finally, Josiah kept a solemn passover (2 Kings 23:21-23), and suppressed those who practised occult arts (2 Kings 23:24). Yet for all his unique goodness the judgment due to Manasseh was not averted (2 Kings 23:25-27). Josiah was killed at Megiddo in an attempt to prevent the march of the king of Egypt to the Euphrates (2 Kings 23:29 f.).

These chapters, like 2 Kings 21, are much influenced by Dt. The main part, like 2 Kings 11:1-21; 2 Kings 12:4 ff; 2 Kings 16:10-18, may come from the Temple archives.


Verses 1-20

2 Kings 22:1 to 2 Kings 23:30 a. The Reign and Reforms of Josiah.—The fifty-seven years of the reigns of Manasseh and Amon were, according to Kings (not Chronicles), a period of apostasy, which probably continued for the first ten years of Josiah. The prophetic party had consequently remained out of power since the persecution of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:16). They regained their influence by the discovery of the "Book of the Law" (2 Kings 22:8). The prophetess Huldah, on being consulted, foretold that all the calamities predicted in the book would come true, but that Josiah should go to his grave in peace and not witness the ruin of his people (2 Kings 22:16-20). The result of this message was, first, a drastic reformation of the Temple and the kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 23:1-14), and, secondly, the destruction of the famous northern sanctuary of Bethel (2 Kings 23:15-20). Finally, Josiah kept a solemn passover (2 Kings 23:21-23), and suppressed those who practised occult arts (2 Kings 23:24). Yet for all his unique goodness the judgment due to Manasseh was not averted (2 Kings 23:25-27). Josiah was killed at Megiddo in an attempt to prevent the march of the king of Egypt to the Euphrates (2 Kings 23:29 f.).

These chapters, like 2 Kings 21, are much influenced by Dt. The main part, like 2 Kings 11, 2 Kings 12:4 ff., 2 Kings 16:10-18, may come from the Temple archives.

2 Kings 22:4. Hilkiah the high priest: it is doubtful whether this title was used before the Exile. Jehoiada is once thus called (2 Kings 12:10), but he and Hilkiah are generally styled "the priest."

2 Kings 22:8. the book of the law: the general identity of this book with a large section of Dt. is now commonly assumed, though the question is by no means decided (pp. 74f., 89f., 231f.). The facts related in Kings which must be borne in mind are: (a) The "apostasy," after the death of Hezekiah, had lasted for over seventy years, and the persecution (2 Kings 21:16) may have included the destruction of the law-books. The "finding" of a copy is, therefore, not incredible. (b) It is called "the book of the law" here, and more generally "a book" in 2 Kings 22:10. In 2 Kings 23:25 mention is made of the Law of Moses, but he was regarded as the source of all Israelite law. The Chronicler (2 Chronicles 34:14) expressly identifies the discovery of Hilkiah with the Law of Moses. (c) The book contained prophecies of destruction, and caused certain reforms to be carried out. These latter were: (i.) objects of idolatry and for the worship of the "host of heaven" were destroyed; (ii.) the priests of the high places were removed, and Jerusalem was made the only sanctuary; (iii.) Bethel, the great rival sanctuary, was destroyed. Deuteronomy, in addition to being full of threats against apostasy like those implied in this chapter, denounces the same sort of evils as those which Josiah endeavoured to extirpate. It should be noted that the account of Hilkiah's discovery does not directly attribute the book to Moses (but see 2 Kings 23:25); it is the Chronicler who, more than three centuries later, assigns it to Moses, and implies that Hilkiah discovered the Pentateuch. The suggestion that Hilkiah himself forged the book and pretended to discover it is unworthy of consideration.

2 Kings 22:14. in the second quarter: the AV has the strange rendering, "in the college." The fact that at this great crisis an otherwise unknown person like the prophetess Huldah, and not Jeremiah, was consulted, is an argument for the genuineness of the statement.

2 Kings 22:19. The Heb. as it stands indicates that something has fallen out. Perhaps, following LXX and Vulg., we should read: "Inasmuch as thou hast heard my words and thine heart was tender." Josiah, like Ahab (1 Kings 21:29), was told that he should not see the downfall of his house. Between 1 Kings 22:30 and 2 Chronicles 35:22 there is a curious coincidence, that both these kings, so different in character, disguised themselves before entering into the battles in which they died.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Kings 22:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/2-kings-22.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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