Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Kings 23:8

Then he brought all the priests from the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba; and he broke down the high places of the gates which were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one's left at the city gate.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Geba;   High Places;   Iconoclasm;   Israel, Prophecies Concerning;   Jerusalem;   Joshua;   Josiah;   Prophecy;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - High Places;   Zeal;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Geba;   Jesus Christ;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Jeremiah;   Josiah;   Zephaniah;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Gods and Goddesses, Pagan;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Altar;   Geba;   Jeremiah;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Baal (1);   Beersheba;   Gate;   Geba;   Jehoiachin;   Jerusalem;   Joshua;   Kedron;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Beer-Sheba;   Bethel;   Deuteronomy, the Book of;   Ezekiel;   Geba;   High Place;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Pilgrimage;   Satyr;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Canon of the Old Testament;   Geba;   Hexateuch;   Hilkiah;   Idolatry;   Joshua;   Satyr;   Temple;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Possession;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Geba ;   Joshua ;   Josiah ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Raca;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Gate;   Geba;   Jerusalem;   Joshua;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Gate;   Governor;   Jeru'salem;   Josh'ua;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Judah;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Beersheba;   Geba;   Joshua (1);   Judah, Territory of;   Night-Monster;   Ruler;   Zebul;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Geba;   Gibeah;   Priest;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The gate of Joshua - The place where he, as governor of the city, heard and decided causes. Near this we find there were public altars, where sometimes the true God, at other times false gods, were honored.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-kings-23.html. 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

FURTHER EXTENSIONS OF JOSIAH'S REFORMATION

"And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba; and he brake down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city. Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of Jehovah in Jerusalem, but they did eat unleavened bread among their brethren. And he defiled Tophet, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech. And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entrance of the house of Jehovah, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the precincts; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. And the altars that were on the roof of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of Jehovah, did the king break down, and beat them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron. And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile. And he brake in pieces the pillars, and cut down the Asherim, and filled their places with the bones of men."

"From Geba to Beersheba" (2 Kings 23:8). "Geba is used here as the northern boundary of the kingdom of Judah."[11]

"The priests of the high places came not to the altar of Jehovah" (2 Kings 23:9). Apparently, what is indicated here is that the Levites who had accepted positions at the high places were brought back to Jerusalem and maintained there, but they were never again accepted as true priests with access to Jehovah's altar. Ezekiel reported this in greater detail (Ezekiel 44:10-14).

"He defiled Tophet" (2 Kings 23:10). Of course, this is a reference to the shrine of Molech, erected in the valley of Hinnom by king Solomon. "The root of the word Tophet means `a drum,'"[12] the same being a reference to the drums that were used to drown out the cries of the helpless infants that were cast into the red hot arms of that horrible god.

"He took away the horses ... given to the sun ... and ... burned the chariots with fire" (2 Kings 23:11). The ancient mythological conception of the sun-god pictured him as driving a chariot across the sky every day. The reprobate kings of Judah had not overlooked anything. If anyone on earth worshipped something, they adopted it! It is not hard to understand that the whole Jewish nation had, in the excesses mentioned here, passed the point of no return in their rejection of their true God.

"And the altars ... which the kings of Judah made" (2 Kings 23:12). "These `kings of Judah' we may identify as Ahaz who first constructed them and dedicated them to the host of heaven, and also Manasseh and Amon who later restored them following Hezekiah's reformation."[13]

"And the high places ... did the king defile" (2 Kings 23:13). God had warned Israel prior to the Conquest under Joshua that the Canaanite high places were to be destroyed (Numbers 33:52; Leviticus 26:27-30), but the people had rebelliously kept them for the purpose of gratifying their sensual lusts. The destruction of those high places was, in no sense whatever, due to that imaginary "Deuteronomic Code." The undeniable source of the order to destroy them was firmly reiterated in the whole Law of Moses. The usual error of radical critics is that of attributing the destruction, not to Moses, but to that mythical "D" document, as stated by Dentan, "The code of Deuteronomy solved the problem by ordering them (the high places) to be destroyed."[14] The reason why God had decreed the destruction of those high places was that, "They were so closely associated with the old Canaanite gods and goddesses of fertility and their immoral rites that it was absolutely impossible to purify them."[15]

Montgomery's opinion that one "could hardly destroy a high place,"[16] might, in a sense be true, because "the place" would remain, but it is nevertheless incorrect. When Josiah was finished with breaking down and defiling their images and burning their buildings, the usefulness of such a place for the pagan worship no longer existed.

"The mount of corruption" (2 Kings 23:13). This title came to be applied to that ridge of hills where Solomon had constructed pagan temples for his wives, "Because of the rites which he had allowed to be established there."[17]

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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 23:8". "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 he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah,.... Who were of the sons of Aaron, and had served in the high places there:

and defiled the high places where the priests had burnt incense; by casting dead carcasses, or the bones of dead men, or dung, or anything that was unclean, into them, by way of contempt:

from Geba to Beersheba; which were the northern and southern boundaries of the land of Judah:

and brake down the high places of the gates: of the cities where some think tutelar gods were placed to be worshipped by persons as they went in or out of them: and particularly that

which were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city; of the city of Jerusalem, where this Joshua was chief magistrate under the king; at whose door stood an high place, which, Kimchi thinks, might he greater than the rest, and therefore mentioned alone, yet was not spared on account of its greatness, or of the person to whom it belonged.

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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 23:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-kings-23.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city.

Priests — Belonging to the high-places following, whether such as worshipped idols; or such as worshipped God in those forbidden places.

Defiled — By burning dead mens bones upon them, or by putting them to some other unclean use.

From Geba — The northern border of the kingdom of Judah.

Beer-sheba — The southern border, from one end to the other.

Gates — Which were erected by the gates of the city here mentioned, to the honour of their tutelary gods, whom after the manner of the heathen they owned for the protectors of their city and habitations.

The governor — This circumstance is noted to shew Josiah's great zeal and impartiality, in rooting out all monuments of idolatry, without any respects unto those great persons who were concerned in them.

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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 23:8". "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 23:8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that [were] in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which [were] on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city.

Ver. 8. The high places of the gates.] Where, in imitation of the heathens, they had set their tutelar and guardian gods, and had their fans profana.

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.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:8". 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

All the priests, to wit, belonging to the high places there following, whether such as worshipped idols, or rather, such as worshipped God in those forbidden places, Deuteronomy 12:11, as may be gathered from the following verse.

Defiled the high places, by burning dead men’s bones upon them, as 2 Kings 23:14,16,20, or by putting them to some other unclean or filthy use.

From Geba; the northern border of the kingdom of Judah; of which see Joshua 18:24 1 Kings 15:22. To Beer-sheba, which was the southern border; see Genesis 21:31 Jude 20:1; i.e. from one end to the other.

The high places of the gates; which were erected by the gates of the city here mentioned, unto the honour of their tutelary gods, which after the manner of the heathen they owned for the protectors of their city and habitations.

In the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city: this circumstance is noted to show Josiah’s great zeal and impartiality, in rooting out all monuments of idolatry, without any respect unto those great persons who were concerned in them, or affected to them.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:8". 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

8.Priests out of the cities of Judah — Levitical priests who had been turned aside to the service of the high places. Josiah ordered them to come to Jerusalem, but, as the next verse shows, they were not allowed to minister at the altar of the Lord.

Geba’ Beer-sheba — The northern and southern limit of the territory occupied by Judah. Geba was situated about six miles northeast of Jerusalem, (see note on 1 Samuel 13:3,) and Beer-sheba fifty miles or more southwest.

High places of the gates — Those located near the gates of the city, either outside or within. The gate of Joshua and the gate of the city cannot now be determined. The latter, from its being called so indefinitely gate of the city, would seem to be the most common entrance; the former was probably so called because Joshua the governor had his residence near it.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:8". "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 23:8. He brought all the priests — Belonging to the high places following, whether such as worshipped idols, or such as worshipped God in those forbidden places. Out of the cities of Judah — That they might not continue to corrupt the people. And defiled the high places — Casting dead carcasses there, and other such like unclean things, and thus making them receptacles of impurity, and burning dead men’s bones upon the altars that were there. From Geba — The northern border of the kingdom of Judah. To Beer-sheba — The southern border; that is, throughout the whole country. And brake down the high places of the gates — Dedicated to their tutelary gods, whom their idolatrous kings, after the manner of the heathen, owned for the protectors of their city and habitations. These places seem to have been erected at the gates, in order that all who entered or went out of the city might pay some kind of adoration to them. In the gate of Joshua, the governor of the city — This circumstance is mentioned to show Josiah’s great zeal and impartiality in rooting out all monuments of idolatry, without any respect unto those great persons who were concerned in them.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:8". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-23.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Bersabee; to which the Israelites went in pilgrimages, Amos v. 5. This place was situated at the southern extremity of the dominions of Juda, as Gabaa was at the northern. The priests being unable to offer sacrifice in the temple, and desirous to gain a livelihood, had been so weak as to conform to the illegal practices of the country; though they seem to have intended to worship God, Deuteronomy xii. 11. --- Altars. These might also be consecrated to the true God, but they were forbidden. There were others, placed in similar situations, in honour of Trivia, or the moon, Isaias lvii. 8., and lxv. 11. (Calmet) --- City, to a person entering. (Chaldean) Josue was the chief lay-judge, or magistrate. (Menochius)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:8". "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 high places. Seemingly (from 2 Kings 23:9) some were used for the worship of Jehovah. See notes on 2 Kings 18:20; 2 Kings 19:10, 2 Kings 19:14.

Geba. NOW Jeba (Joshua 18:24).

Beer-sheba. Southern boundary (Genesis 21:31. Judges 20:1). Compare Amos 5:5; Amos 8:14.

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Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:8". "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 he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city.

He brought all the priests ... and defiled the high places, ... Numbers of the Levitical order, finding in the reigns of Manasseh and Amon the temple worship abolished, and the tithes and other offerings alienated, had been betrayed into the folly of officiating on high places, and presenting such sacrifices as were brought to them. These irregularities, even though the object of that worship was the true God, were prohibited in the law (Deuteronomy 12:11). Those who had been guilty of this sin Josiah brought to Jerusalem, and, regarding them as defiled, debarred them from the service of the temple, but gave them an allowance of the temple revenues, like the lame and disabled members of the priesthood (Leviticus 21:21-22).

From Geba to Beer-sheba - the most northern and the most southern places in Judah; meaning all parts of the kingdom.

The high places ... that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua. The governor's house and gate were on the left of the city gate, and close by the entrance of that civic mansion-house were public altars, dedicated, it might be, to the true God, but contrary to His own ordinance of worship (Isaiah 57:8).

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:8". "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

(8) And he brought all the priests . . .—Josiah caused all the priests of the local sanctuaries of Jehovah to migrate to Jerusalem, and polluted the high places to which they had been attached, in order to get rid of the illegitimate worship once for all.

From Geba.—The present Jeba, near the ancient Ramah (1 Kings 15:22).

To Beer-sheba.—Where was a specially frequented high place (Amos 5:5, Amos 8:14; and Note on 2 Chronicles 34:6).

The high places of the gates.—Altars erected within the gates, that persons entering or leaving the city might make an offering to ensure success in their business.

That were in the entering in . . .—Thenius renders, (the high place) which was at the entry of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, (as well as) that which was on the left in the city gate. But this assumption of two localities is very precarious. The Authorised Version appears to be correct (a similar repetition of the relative referring to the same antecedent occurs in 2 Kings 23:13). Joshua is an unknown personage, and it is not clear whether “the gate of Joshua” was a gate of the city named after him, or the great gate of his residence; nor is it certain that “the gate of the city” was that now called the Jaffa Gate. It is possible that the governor’s residence lay near the principal gate of the city, on the left as one entered. Several “high places” stood in the open space in front of it, between it and the city gate. These would naturally be called “the high places of the gates.”

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:8". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-23.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city.
from, etc
The northern and southern borders of Judah.
Geba
Joshua 21:17; 1 Kings 15:22; 1 Chronicles 6:60; Isaiah 10:29; Zechariah 14:10
Beer-sheba
Genesis 21:31; 26:23; Judges 20:1; 1 Kings 19:3
Reciprocal: Leviticus 26:30 - I will destroy;  Ezekiel 44:10 - the Levites

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 23:8". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-kings-23.html.