Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Kings 23:4

Then the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the doorkeepers, to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Baal;   Beth-El;   Calf;   Hilkiah;   Iconoclasm;   Israel, Prophecies Concerning;   Josiah;   Prophecy;   Thompson Chain Reference - Awakenings and Religious Reforms;   Hilkiah;   Reforms, Religious;   Religious;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Temple, the First;   Zeal;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Kidron or Cedron;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Asherah, asherim;   Baal;   Jeremiah;   Josiah;   Moon;   Zephaniah;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Gods and Goddesses, Pagan;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Grove;   Jeremiah;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Baal (1);   High Priest;   Kedron;   Pentateuch;   Zephaniah;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Asherah;   Bethel;   Deuteronomy, the Book of;   Ezekiel;   Field;   High Place;   High Priest;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Asherah;   Canon of the Old Testament;   Hexateuch;   Hilkiah;   Host of Heaven;   Idolatry;   Kidron (1);   Temple;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Bethel ;   Hilkiah ;   Josiah ;   Kidron, Kedron, Brook;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Cedron;   Raca;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Kidron;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Baal;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Judah;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Asherah;   Bethel;   Deuteronomy;   Doorkeeper;   Ezekiel;   Hilkiah;   Host of Heaven;   Idolatry;   Kidron, the Brook;   Moon;   Order;   Priest, High;   Priests and Levites;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Ashtoreth;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Asherah;   Kidron;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The priests of the second order - These were probably such as supplied the place of the high priest when he was prevented: from fulfilling the functions of his office. So the Chaldee understood the place - the sagan of the high priests. But the words may refer to those of the second course or order established by David: though it does not appear that those orders were now in use, yet the distinction was continued even to the time of our Lord. We find the course of Abia, which was the eighth, mentioned Luke 1:5; (note); where see the note.

All the vessels - These had been used for idolatrous purposes; the king is now to destroy them; for although no longer used in this way, they might, if permitted to remain, be an incentive to idolatry at a future time.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-kings-23.html. 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"And the king commanded Hilkiah the High Priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the threshold, to bring forth out of the temple of Jehovah all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel. And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordered to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the Asherah from the house of Jehovah, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and beat it to dust, and cast the dust thereof upon the graves of the common people. And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were in the house of Jehovah, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah."

"And for all the host of heaven" (2 Kings 23:4). This expression, used again in 2 Kings 23:5, is a reference to the constellations. "The word from which this comes is a Hebrew term used only here in the Bible, and, according to the rabbis, it means the signs of the zodiac and the planets."[3]

"The idolatrous priests" (2 Kings 23:5). "The word for priests in this verse always refers to the priests of a foreign religion (Hosea 10:5; Zephaniah 1:4)."[4] "The word is [~chemarin], the usual Aramaic word for `priest,' which comes from a root meaning, to be black."[5] "It means black-robed and is used in Hosea 10:5; Zephaniah 1:4; and in 2 Kings 23:5."[6] Snaith denied this on the false premise that the white robes of Biblical priests was due to their having, "Followed an ancient custom,"[7] namely, that of the pagan priests. On the contrary, the Law of Moses, not the habit of pagan priests, prescribed the dress of the priests of Jehovah, and it is our conviction that the change was to distinguish God's priests from the idolaters. Furthermore, it would appear that the apostate church of Revelation 17 never made a more shocking error than that of dressing their priests in black!

We have already pointed out that the suppression of the idolatrous priests is not even mentioned in that alleged "Deuteronomic Code," and not even in the whole Book of Deuteronomy.

"And he brought out the Asherah" (2 Kings 23:6). Really out! Not merely out of the temple but out of the city of Jerusalem, where it was totally destroyed and the remains of it cast upon the graves of the common people, which was considered to be its utmost defilement. "This Asherah was the `graven image' of 2 Kings 21:7."[8]

"He brake down the houses of the sodomites" (2 Kings 23:7). The word for "sodomites" here, despite its being masculine, "Includes both men and women of that depraved class,"[9] as indicated by the mention of the women in the same verse. They were the cult prostitutes of paganism which the kings of Judah had brought into the very temple itself. Snaith mentions that, "the hangings" here were "actually curtains or tents,"[10] the usage of which was to provide privacy for the people practicing the gross immoralities accompanying the worship of the Asherah. (See Ezekiel 8:14; 16:16; Amos 5:26; 2:8). It was an especially despicable thing that the clothes of the poor, left as pledges in the temple, were used in exactly the same manner.

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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 23:4". "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

And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order,.... Or the second course of the priests; the course of Jedaiah, 1 Chronicles 24:7 as some think; or rather, the two chief priests next to the high priest, who were of the line both of Eleazar and Ithamar; though the Targum interprets it of the Sagan of the priests, a deputy of the high priest, such as in later times the high priest had always appointed for him on the day of atonementF18Misn. Yoma, c. 1. sect. 1. :

and the keepers of the door: the porters at the door and gates of the temple; or rather the treasurers, as the Targum; such as were appointed over the vessels of the sanctuary, as the Jewish writers generally interpret it, and which best agrees with what follows:

to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal: used in burning incense, or offering sacrifices to him:

and for the grove: the idol of the grove, or Asherah, that is, Ashtoreth, or Astarte, the same with Venus, or the moon, as Baal was the sun, the one the husband, and the other the wife, according to the JewsF19Zohar in Gen. fol. 34. 3. :

and for all the host of heaven: the stars:

and he burnt them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron; or plain of Kidron, as the Targum; through which the brook Kidron ran:

and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel; where one of Jeroboam's calves was set, and was the source of idolatry; and this he did in contempt of that place; and, to show his detestation of the idolatry there, he made it a dunghill of ashes of things used in idolatrous service; this he could do, that place being in the hands of the kings of Judah from the times of Ahijah, 2 Chronicles 13:19.

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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 23:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-kings-23.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the d priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried e the ashes of them unto Bethel.

(d) Meaning, they who were next in dignity to the high priest.

(e) In contempt of the altar Jeroboam had built there to sacrifice to his calves.

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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-kings-23.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

2 Kings 23:4-28. He destroys idolatry.

the king commanded Hilkiah, etc. — that is, the high priest and other priests, for there was not a variety of official gradations in the temple.

all the vessels, etc. — the whole apparatus of idol-worship.

burned them without Jerusalem — The law required them to be consigned to the flames (Deuteronomy 7:25).

in the fields of Kidron — most probably that part of the valley of Kidron, where lies Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. It is a level, spacious basin, abounding at present with plantations [Robinson]. The brook 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, 2 Chronicles 29:16) and the city. His reforming predecessors had ordered the mutilated relics of idolatry to be thrown into that 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 Beth-el, in order thenceforth to associate ideas of horror and aversion with that place, as odious for the worst pollutions.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-kings-23.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel.

Second order — Either those two who were next in degree to the high-priest, and in case of sickness were to manage his work: or the heads of the twenty four courses which David had appointed.

The grove — The image of the grove: it being most frequent to call images by the names of the persons or things which they represent.

The fields — Adjoining to the brook of Kidron.

To Beth-el — To shew his abhorrence of them, and that he would not give the ashes of them a place in his kingdom: and to pollute and disgrace that place which had been the chief seat and throne of idolatry.

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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 23:4". "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 23:4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel.

Ver. 4. And the priests of the second order.] Ithamar’s race.

And carried the ashes of them unto Bethel.] Called also Bethaven, because there had stood one of Jeroboam’s golden calves: hither therefore this good king sent the ashes of those burnt idols and their trinkets to disgrace it, and that such wicked dust might not remain in Judah, that holy land, saith Cajetan.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-kings-23.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The priests of the second order; either those two who were next in degree to the high priest, and in case of his sickness were to manage his work; of whom see 2 Samuel 8:17; or the heads of the twentyfour courses which David had appointed, 1Ch 24.

The keepers of the door: See Poole "2 Kings 22:4".

To bring forth, i.e. to take care that they should be brought forth.

For the grove, i.e. the image of the grove; of which See Poole "2 Kings 21:7"; it being most frequent to call images by the names of the persons or things which they represent.

In the fields of Kidron, i.e. adjoining to the brook of Kidron.

Carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el; partly to show his abhorrency of them, and that he would not give the ashes of them a place in his kingdom; and partly to pollute and disgrace that place which had been the chief seat and throne of idolatry.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:4". 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

4.Priests of the second order — Those who ranked next in order to the high priest. The great body of the priesthood were of this order, but some among them were more distinguished than others. Compare 2 Kings 25:18.

Keepers of the door — Levites who guarded the entrance to the temple, called porters in 1 Chronicles 23:5.

All the vessels — Such as altars, images, and symbols, that had been used in the false worship.

Baal’ grove’ host of heaven — See at 2 Kings 23:3-7.

Burned them — As the law commanded. Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 7:25; Deuteronomy 12:3.

Fields of Kidron — Probably at the upper part of the Kidron valley, and a little northeast of Jerusalem, where, according to Robinson, “the valley spreads out into a basin of some breadth, which is tilled, and contains plantations of olive and other fruit trees.” It was probably in the same spot that Asa burned the Asherah idol of his mother. 1 Kings 15:13.

Carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el — To signify that all this idolatry originated, not at Jerusalem, but at Beth-el, where Jeroboam’s false worship had been inaugurated, (1 Kings 12:29,) and thence spread and opened the way for all manner of idolatrous practices.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:4". "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 23:4. The king commanded Hilkiah and the priests of the second order Either those two who were next in degree to the high-priest, and in case of sickness were to manage his work; or the heads of the twenty-four courses which David had appointed. To bring forth out of the temple — Or to take care they should be brought forth. All the vessels made for Baal — So that, even in the house of the Lord, the sacred temple built by Solomon, and dedicated to the honour and worship of the God of Israel, were found vessels, and all manner of utensils, for the worship of Baal, for the grove, and all the host of heaven — It appears, therefore, that although Josiah had suppressed the worship of idols, yet the provisions made for that worship were carefully preserved by some persons in power, even in the temple itself, to be used again whenever the present restraint should be taken off: nay, even the image of the grove, probably Ashtaroth or Venus, was yet kept standing in the temple. How Josiah could suffer all this, till the eighteenth year of his reign, is difficult to say; perhaps it was done without his knowledge. He now, however, gives orders that all these instruments of idolatry should be burned, in the fields adjoining to the brook Kidron; and that the ashes of them should be carried out of his kingdom to Beth-el: in token of his abhorrence of every species of idolatry, and to pollute and disgrace that place which had been the chief seat and throne of it.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-23.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Order, who presided over the 24 classes of inferior priests. (Menochius) --- Jonathas understands it of those who supplied the place of the high priest when he could not attend. (Grotius) --- Baal, the sun: (Calmet) in Hebrew, "for." --- The grove, Astarte, or the moon. (Haydock) --- Cedron, to the east and south of Jerusalem, where Topheth and the sepulchres of the poor, and all unclean things, were placed. Here the pagans burnt their children in honour of Moloch. See 3 Kings xv. 13., and 2 Paralipomenon xxix. 16., and xxx. 14. --- Bethel, out of contempt for the golden calf, (Haydock) and to remove those impurities to a greater distance. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-kings-23.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

priests of the second order (or degree), i.e. ordinary priests.

the grove = the "Asherah. See App-42.

host of heaven. Compare 2 Kings 21:3.

burned them. As prescribed in Deuteronomy 7:25.

unto Beth-el. To defile the altar there, according to the prophecy in 1 Kings 13:2.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:4". "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

And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel.

The king commanded Hilkiah ... - i:e., the high priest and other priests, because there was no greater variety of official gradations in the temple.

All the vessels ... - the whole apparatus of idol worship.

Burned them without Jerusalem. The law required them to be consigned to the flames (Deuteronomy 7:25).

In the fields of Kidron - most probably that part of the Valley of Kidron where lies Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. It is a level, spacious basin, abounding at present with plantations (Robinson, 'Biblical Researches,'

i., pp. 342, 396, 402; 2:, p. 249). The brook 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 was emptied all the impurities of the temple (2 Chronicles 29:15-16) 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; because he caused the ashes of the burnt wood and the fragments of the broken metal to be collected and conveyed to Beth-el, in order thenceforth to associate ideas of horror and aversion with that place, as odious for the worst pollutions.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:4". "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

(4) The priests of the second order.—Thenius is probably right in reading the singular, the priest of the second rank, i.e., the high priest’s deputy, after the Targum, unless the heads of the twenty-four classes be intended (“the chief priests” of the New Testament). (See also 2 Kings 25:18.)

The keepers of the door (threshold).—The three chief warders (2 Kings 25:18.)

Out of the temple—i.e., out of the principal chamber or holy place.

For Baal . . . grove.—For the Baal . . . Ashçrah (so in 2 Kings 23:6-7; 2 Kings 23:15 also).

Burned them.—According to the law of Deuteronomy 7:25; Deuteronomy 12:3. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 14:12.)

Without Jerusalem.—As unclean.

In the fields of Kidron.—North-east of the city, where the ravine expands considerably. (Comp. Jeremiah 31:40; also 1 Kings 15:13.)

Carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el.—This is undoubtedly strange, and Chronicles says nothing about it. If the ashes of the vessels were sent to Beth-el, why not also those of the idols themselves, and the fragments of the altars (2 Kings 23:6-12)? The text appears to be corrupt.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-23.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel.
priests of the second order
These were either such as occasionally supplied the high priest's office, or those of the second course or order established by David. See the References.
1 Chronicles 24:4-19; Matthew 26:3; 27:1
the keepers
22:4; 1 Chronicles 26:1-19
to bring
21:3,7; 2 Chronicles 33:3,7; 34:3,4
Baal
17:16; Judges 2:13; 1 Kings 16:31; 18:19,26,40; 19:18; Isaiah 27:9; Jeremiah 7:9
Kidron
2 Samuel 15:23; John 18:1
Cedron
Beth-el.
1 Kings 12:29; Hosea 4:15; Amos 4:4
Reciprocal: Deuteronomy 4:19 - when thou;  2 Kings 11:18 - went;  2 Kings 12:9 - the priests;  2 Kings 13:6 - and there remained;  2 Kings 18:4 - brake;  2 Kings 21:5 - in the two courts;  1 Chronicles 9:11 - the ruler;  2 Chronicles 29:16 - Kidron;  2 Chronicles 34:9 - Hilkiah;  2 Chronicles 34:33 - took away;  Nehemiah 13:22 - I commanded;  Isaiah 30:22 - defile;  Jeremiah 7:30 - they;  Jeremiah 11:13 - For according;  Ezekiel 8:6 - even;  Zephaniah 1:4 - the remnant

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-kings-23.html.