Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Kings 23:15

Furthermore, the altar that was at Bethel and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he broke down. Then he demolished its stones, ground them to dust, and burned the Asherah.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Altar;   Beth-El;   Calf;   Chemarim;   Iconoclasm;   Israel, Prophecies Concerning;   Josiah;   Prophecy;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Groves;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Bethel;   Jeremiah;   Jeroboam;   Josiah;   Zephaniah;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Gods and Goddesses, Pagan;   Grave;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Bethel;   Jeremiah;   Jeroboam;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Altar;   Ashtoreth;   Jehoiachin;   Jeroboam;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Asherah;   Bethel;   Deuteronomy, the Book of;   Ezekiel;   High Place;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Canon of the Old Testament;   Hexateuch;   Hilkiah;   Idolatry;   Jeremiah;   Temple;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Bethel ;   Grove;   Josiah ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - High places;   Raca;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Bethel;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Grove;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Judah;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Benjamin;   Gold;   High Place;   Images;   Judah, Territory of;   Old Prophet, the;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Altar;   Bethel;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Aquila (Β;  

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

JOSIAH EXTENDED HIS REFORMATION TO SAMARIA

"Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he brake down; and he burned the high place and beat it to dust, and burned the Asherah. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount; and he sent and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and defiled it, according to the word of Jehovah which the man of God proclaimed who proclaimed these things. Then he said, What monument is that which I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God who came from Judah, and proclaimed these things which thou hast done unto the altar of Bethel. And he said, Let him be; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria. And all the houses of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke Jehovah to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel. And he slew the priests of the high places that were there, upon the altars, and burned men's bones upon them; and he returned to Jerusalem."

"Even that altar he brake down ... burned the high place ... and burned the Asherah" (2 Kings 23:25). Thus there was rampant paganism in vogue at that altar in Bethel. The golden calf was only the half of it. His burning the high place is a reference to his burning all the buildings connected with it. "This extension of the reformation to what had been Northern Israel was due to the dissolution of the northern kingdom; so that Josiah then regarded himself as king over the entire covenant people,"[18] a fact also indicated by his inviting members of all the tribes to the Passover celebration.

"What monument is that which I see? ... It is the sepulchre of the man of God ... who proclaimed these things that thou hast done to the altar of Bethel" (2 Kings 23:17). Josiah was totally unaware of the fulfillment of the prophecy in 1 Kings 13:3 which his defilement of the altar of Bethel had accomplished, but the citizens of the place, who remembered it well, told him about it. "Josiah did not act as he did to fulfill the prophecy, but in thus acting he unconsciously fulfilled it."[19]

It is of very great significance that the prophecy of 1 Kings 13:2f gives the very name of the king of Judah who would defile the altar of Bethel. The passage reads: "O altar, altar, thus saith Jehovah: Behold a man shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he sacrifice the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall they burn upon thee." Thus, we have another prophecy comparable to that of Isaiah who prophesied the name of the king who would terminate the captivity of Israel, namely Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28-45:1). Note also that Josiah's father Amon was a pagan and that he, in no sense, would have named a son as indicated in the prophecy, if he had been aware of it.

Radical and unbelieving critics can have a fit about such prophecies as these, but the ingenuity of all the infidels on earth can not get either one of them out of the Bible. There they are!

"He slew all the priests of the high places upon the altars" (2 Kings 23:20). The severity of this destruction of the priests of the high places in what had been Northern Israel was explained by Keil as being, "Because they were idolatrous priests,"[20] completely devoted to paganism.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-kings-23.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Moreover, the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made. For the worship of the calf there:

both that altar, and the high place, he brake down; according to an ancient prophecy of the man of God, 1 Kings 13:3 and of Amos in later times, Amos 9:1.

and burnt the high place, and stamped it small to powder; that there might be no remains of it:

and burnt the grove; either the grove of trees on it, or the idol that was in it.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-kings-23.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Moreover n the altar that [was] at Bethel, [and] the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, [and] stamped [it] small to powder, and burned the grove.

(n) Which Jeroboam had built in Israel, (1 Kings 12:28-29).
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-kings-23.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove.

Beth-el — Probably this city was now under the kingdom of Judah, to which it was added by Abijah long since. And it is probable, since the ten tribes were carried away, many cities had put themselves under the protection of Judah. The golden calf, it seems, was gone; but Josiah would leave no remains of that idolatry.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-kings-23.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Kings 23:15 Moreover the altar that [was] at Bethel, [and] the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, [and] stamped [it] small to powder, and burned the grove.

Ver. 15. Moreover the altar that was at Bethel.] It is probable that the king of Babylon, when he sent home Manasseh, gave him also dominion of the greatest part of the country of Samaria, indenting with him to defend the same against the Egyptian. Howsoever, good Josiah faileth not to root out idolatry in all those parts also, [2 Kings 23:19] it being an abandoned country, which, in a manner, had no lord at all.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-kings-23.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Kings 23:15. High place Houbigant thinks it may be collected from hence, that the high places were made of wood raised up in the manner of a theatre. See 2 Kings 23:13.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-kings-23.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The altar that was at Beth-el.

Question. How could he rightly do this, seeing Beth-el was a part of the kingdom of Israel, not of Judah?

Answer. Either, first, This city was now under the kingdom of Judah, to which it was added by Abijah long since, 2 Chronicles 13:19. Or, secondly, He did this by virtue of that ancient right which David and his posterity had to the kingdom of Israel, which though suspended for a time by God’s grant of the ten tribes to Jeroboam, and the succeeding kings of Israel; yet these being all extinct, it might seem to return to him, at least so far as to pluck up idolatry out of the land of Israel, as he had opportunity, and especially out of those parts of it which bordered upon Judah. Or, thirdly, The king of Babylon having engaged in a war with the Assyrian, Hezekiah’s great enemy, and having thereupon occasion for Hezekiah’s friendship, did (as some suppose) enlarge his dominion, and give him some power over the kingdom of Israel, at least as to matters of religion; which may seem not improbable from 2 Chronicles 30:1-6. And the same power seems to have been continued, and some kind of league made, between the king of Babylon and Manasseh, (who thereupon was restored to his kingdom, 2 Chronicles 33:13) and after him Josiah, who therefore was so zealous in his quarrel against the king of Egypt, 2 Chronicles 35:20, &c. Or, fourthly, He did it in pursuance of God’s prediction concerning this action, 1 Kings 13:2, which (in a matter so good, and so agreeable to God’s will and word, as the extirpation of idolatry unquestionably was) had the force of a warrant or command upon him to do it, as God’s prediction of the conversion of the Gentiles by the Messias was a command to his apostles to preach to them, Acts 13:47.

The high place; which seems to have been some little temple or house erected for that worship, or for the priests attending upon it.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-kings-23.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15.The altar’ at Beth-el — See 1 Kings 13:1-2. Having destroyed idolatry in Judah, the king proceeds northward to the chief seat of the calf-worship, where Jeroboam’ made Israel to sin. Josiah seems to have assumed that after the kingdom of Samaria ceased he was the rightful ruler of the whole land of Israel.

Burned the high place — Every thing that pertained to the false worship there — buildings, altars, images. The calf which had been set up at Beth-el had been carried into Assyria, (Hosea 10:6,) and the remaining inhabitants seem to have devoted the house and altars to the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth. Hence the grove, or Asherah image (1 Kings 14:15, note) mentioned here.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-kings-23.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Kings 23:15. The altar that was at Beth-el he brake down — Probably this city was now under the kingdom of Judah, to which it was added by Abijah long before this time. And it is probable, since the ten tribes were carried away, many cities had put themselves under the protection of Judah. The golden calf, it seems, was gone; but Josiah would leave no remains of that idolatry.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:15". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-23.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Bethel had perhaps fallen into the hands of Juda, after the Israelites had been led away. (Calmet) --- Josias exercised the like authority throughout all Samaria, (ver. 19.) as the country properly belonged to the house of David, and was God's peculiar inheritance. (Haydock) --- We may, therefore conclude that He authorized Josias to act in this manner; and the new inhabitants had no interest in maintaining the superstition of those who had lived there before them. The priest sent by Asarhaddon, had taken up his residence at Bethel; whence it is inferred that the town, at that time, was in the hands of the Samaritans, (Calmet) as it might be still, though Josias might exercise dominion in it as lord paramount. (Haydock)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:15". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-kings-23.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

the altar. Compare 1 Kings 12:32, 1 Kings 12:33.

made Israel to sin. See note on 1 Kings 14:16.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-kings-23.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove.

Moreover the altar that was at Beth-el ... Not satisfied with the removal of every vestige of idolatry from his own dominions, this zealous iconoclast made a tour of inspection through the cities of Samaria and all the territory formerly occupied by the ten tribes, destroying the altars and temples of the high places, consigning the Asherim to the flames, putting to death [2 Kings 23:20, yizbach (Hebrew #2076), he sacrificed; Septuagint, ethusiase (cf. 1 Kings 13:2)] the priests of the high places, and chewing his horror at idolatry by ransacking the sepulchres of idolatrous priests, and strewing the burnt ashes of their bones upon the altars before he demolished them. In narrating the proceedings of this stern iconoclast in the cities of Samaria, the sacred historian speaks of his destroying 'all the houses of the high places which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger.'

Whether Josiah interfered with the sauctuaries and altars which the pagan colonists had erected to their idols (see the notes at 2 Kings 17:29-31), we are not informed; but it is distinctly affirmed that his zeal as a theocratic sovereign was specially directed against "the high places" reared and consecrated by Israelite monarchs in all the Samaritan cities, as being indications of the same spirit of disloyalty to Yahweh which the policy of Jeroboam had inaugurated at Beth-el and at Dan. But the altar at Beth-el, 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 rivaled or surpassed the purer 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. The royal sanctuary (Amos 7:13), therefore, with its altar, was overturned, and its huge stones scattered along the adjoining ravines (see Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 219).

The question naturally occurs, Did not Josiah, in thus purging the cities of Samaria of all idolatrous relics, transgress the limits of his proper jurisdiction? Was not the kingdom of Israel, since its conquest and the deportation of its people, a tributary province of Assyria? And must not the proceedings of the king of Judah within that territory have tended to provoke the resentment and vengeance of the Assyrian monarch as an insult to his authority, as well as daring sacrilege in his eyes? The answer is, that Assyria had at this time become so greatly reduced by internal commotions at home, and especially by the invasion and ultimate ascendency of the Scythians in the region of the Euphrates and Tigris, as to have neither power nor leisure to maintain an active and vigorous superintendence of its distant colonies.

For twenty-eight years, during which those barbarians maintained their successful usurpation, the political connection between Assyria and Palestine was virtually, though not actually, dissolved; and Josiah was thus left at liberty, without any risk of molestation or challenge from the Assyrian ruler and without any detriment to his possession, to carry out his thorough-going reforms by demolishing the altar at Beth-el, as well as by extending his measures for the extermination of all idolatrous edifices and symbols throughout the whole length and breadth of the land occupied by the tribes of Israel on the western side of the Jordan.

That altar and ... brake down ... and burned the grove. The altar and high place of Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:28; 1 Kings 12:31), with the Asherah and the worship of Astarte that had been gradually clustered around it, he razed, and consumed the fragments in the flames.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-kings-23.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-23.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove.
the altar
10:31; 1 Kings 12:28-33; 14:16; 15:30; 21:22
stamped
Reciprocal: Exodus 32:20 - took the calf;  1 Kings 13:2 - Josiah by name;  1 Kings 15:26 - in his sin;  2 Chronicles 15:16 - cut down;  2 Chronicles 31:1 - in Ephraim;  2 Chronicles 34:6 - in;  Jeremiah 32:31 - this city;  Jeremiah 32:35 - to cause;  Hosea 8:6 - shall;  Hosea 10:8 - their altars;  Amos 3:14 - I will;  Micah 1:7 - all the graven

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-kings-23.html.