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with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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2 Kings 23

Josiah reads the law, and renews the covenant. (1-3) He destroys idolatry. (4-14) The reformation extended to Israel, A passover kept. (15-24) Josiah slain by Pharaoh-nechoh. (25-30) Wicked reigns of Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim. (31-37)

2 Kings 23 Audio:

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Josiah reads the law, and renews the covenant

1 And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.

2 And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD.

3 And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.

He destroys idolatry

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.

5 And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained 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.

6 And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.

7 And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove.

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.

9 Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren.

10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.

11 And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathanmelech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire.

12 And the altars that were on the top 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 the LORD, did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron.

13 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 Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.

14 And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.

The reformation extended to Israel, A passover kept

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.

16 And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words.

17 Then he said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Bethel.

18 And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria.

19 And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel.

20 And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.

21 And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant.

22 Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah;

23 But in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this passover was holden to the LORD in Jerusalem.

24 Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

Josiah slain by Pharaoh-nechoh

25 And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

26 Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal.

27 And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.

28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

29 In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.

30 And his servants carried him in a chariot dead from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own sepulchre. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father’s stead.

Wicked reigns of Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim

31 Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.

32 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.

33 And Pharaohnechoh put him in bands at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and put the land to a tribute of an hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold.

34 And Pharaohnechoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the room of Josiah his father, and turned his name to Jehoiakim, and took Jehoahaz away: and he came to Egypt, and died there.

35 And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh: he exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, of every one according to his taxation, to give it unto Pharaohnechoh.

36 Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.

37 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 2. Prophets. Chal. “scribes.” But there were many prophets at this time, who were ordered to come and renew the covenant with God. — He read, in person, acting as a mediator, in imitation of Moses, Josue, Samuel, Joiada, and Ezechias. C.

Ver. 3. The step. His tribune or tribunal, a more eminent place, from whence he might be seen and heard by the people. Ch. — This brazen tribune is described C. xi. 14. 2 Par. vi. 12. — To the covenant, but with much less exactitude than the king. C.

Ver. 4. Order, who presided over the 24 classes of inferior priests. M. — Jonathas understands it of those who supplied the place of the high priest when he could not attend. Grotius. — Baal, the sun: (C.) in Heb. “for.” — The grove, Astarte, or the moon. H. — 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 K. xv. 13. 2 Par. xxix. 16. and xxx. 14. — Bethel, out of contempt for the golden calf, (H.) and to remove those impurities to a greater distance. C.

Ver. 5. Soothsayers. Prot. “the idolatrous priests.” Grotius thinks that camilli, or “ministers of the gods,” (Serv. and Varro. vi.) may be derived from the Heb. hacemarim, “the black-vested,” or cryers. The Rabbins give this title in derision to the religious of the Christian Church. There were some melanophori, or people “in black,” who honoured Isis, or the moon, by this dress; as if to condole with her on the absence of the sun. Plutarch Apuleius describes a shining black veil, which was carried in the procession of her statue. — Baal. Heb. “to Baal the son;” (C.) or rather, “to Baal, to the son.” H. — The Heb. mazatoth, (C.) Sept. Mazouroth (H.) is not better understood. S. Jerom translates signs of the zodiac; others have, influences, planets, Lucifer, Venus, &c. Job (xxxviii. 32.) designates some stars by the name of Mozruth, and Mozrim. C.

Ver. 6. Grove. The idol of Astarte, or the representation of a grove in sculpture. H. — People, who were not rich enough to have a sepulchre. Jeremias (xix. 11.) threatens the people of Jerusalem with such a burial. C. — The common people here means the idolaters. 2 Par. xxxiv. 4. H.

Ver. 7. Effeminate. Heb. “consecrated” (C.) or “initiated” (Mont.) in the obscene mysteries of idols. See Deut. xxiii. 18. and 3 K. xv. 12. and 2 Mac. vi. 4. These men prostituted themselves (M.) even in that sacred place. C. — Prot. “he broke down the houses of the Sodomites, that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove.” These hangings, tents, or dwellings, (H.) were destined for the idol; (Syr. &c.) or they were intended to hid the abominations which were committed. They were called “tents of the daughters,” C. xvii. 30. C. — For. Lit. “of the grove:” luci. But the other translation is conformable to the Sept. Vatable, &c. H.

Ver. 8. 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. Deut. 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. Isai. lvii. 8. and lxv. 11. C. — City, to a person entering. Chal. Josue was the chief lay-judge, or magistrate. M.

Ver. 9. Brethren. Thus people are degraded in the Christian Church, that they may suffer some confusion (C.) in this world, and repent. H. — The priests, who had offered sacrifice unlawfully, where only permitted to perform the minor offices; but provision was made for their support, that they might not be tempted to relapse. Lev. xxi. 17. 22. Ezec. xliv. 10. C. — They were reduced to the rank of Levites. M.

Ver. 10. Defiled, or declared it unlawful. M. — Topheth may signify “a drum;” which the Jews say the idolaters beat, to prevent their childrens’ cries from being heard, when they were burning in the arms of Moloch. S. Jerom interprets it “latitude,” as the vale was very wide, and beautifully adorned with gardens and springs. It formed a part of the vale of Josaphat and of Cedron; (C.) or the same valley went by these different names, as well as (H.) by that of Geh-hinnon, “the vale of Ennom,” whence Gehenna is formed, and applied to hell. Matt. v. 22. Mark ix. 44. &c. C. — Yet some think that the term denotes a place of torment on earth, which those deserve who say, thou fool. H.

Ver. 11. Nathan-melech. Sept. “to the treasury (room. Pagnin) of Nathan, the king’s eunuch,” or chamberlain. H. — Pharurim, “the suburbs.” Vatable. M. Chal. — It perhaps denotes the guard-house. See 1 Par. xxvi. 18. — Chariots. The aforesaid horses were designed to draw them in honour of the sun. Some nations used to ride in this manner with all expedition, at its rising; and the Rabbins pretend that the king, or some other by his order, had been accustomed to ride from the eastern gate of the temple to the house of the governor, Nathan-melech. The horse was consecrated to the sun, on account of its agility.

Placat equo Persis radiis Hyperiona cinctum,

Ne detur celeri victima tarda Deo. Ovid, Fast. i.

The Persians sacrificed the horse to the sun, that a slow victim may not be offered to the swift deity. The sun gives vigour to the whole material system, as the instrumental cause in the hand of God; and horses perceive the influence, more particularly in the warmer climates, and exult in their strength. Job xxxix. 21. H. — Perhaps these horses had been destined for sacrifice by the infidel kings of Juda, as well as the chariots. C. — The Rhodeans threw some into the sea every year. Festus. — Others think that what Josias took away, was only engraved, or, that the horses had been set at liberty for superstitious observations, as was customary among the pagans. Tacit. Mor. Germ. Sueton. in Julio.

Ver. 12. Upper chamber, to be nearer the host of heaven, which they adored. H. — We are assured that the Arabs also adored the sun, and offered incense to it on the tops of their houses. The prophets often upbraid the people with this practice. Jer. xix. 13. Soph. i. 5. C. — It is wonderful that Ezechias had not before removed these remnants of his father’s infidelity; and still more that Manasses, after his repentance, had not destroyed what he had unlawfully erected in the courts of the priests and of the people. But Amon might have restored them. — Ran. This shews the zeal of the king. Heb. and Sept. “and thence he broke or tore them.”

Ver. 13. Offence; Olivet. H. — In the original, the terms are very much alike; and the Jews take a pleasure in deforming names, for which they had a horror. Solomon had erected temples here to various idols, (3 K. xi. 7.) which had probably been demolished by Ezechias, but had been rebuilt under Amon, &c. and subsisted during the minority of Josias; (C.) or they had been neglected by the pious kings of Juda, as no longer dangerous. But Josias, in the fervour of his zeal, thought proper to remove every thing that had been the occasion of offence: Heb. “of corruption.” — Idol, and scandal, and abomination, are the same in Heb.

Ver. 14. Statues is more proper than the Prot. “images,” which would rather be torn. — Dead is not expressed in the Heb. or Sept. but must be understood. H. — The pagans had the same idea of their impurity: incestat funere classem. Virgil, Æneid vi.

Ver. 15. Bethel had perhaps fallen into the hands of Juda, after the Israelites had been led away. C. — Josias exercised the like authority throughout all Samaria, (v. 19.) as the country properly belonged to the house of David, and was God’s peculiar inheritance. H. — 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, (C.) as it might be still, though Josias might exercise dominion in it as lord paramount. H.

Ver. 16. Spoke. Sept. subjoin some words, which seem to be lost in the original: ["when Jeroboam was standing, on the festival day, upon the altar. And turning, he lifted up his eyes towards the tomb of the man of God,] who spoke these words.” H. — “The copies, from which this version was made, read differently from the modern copies,” and often better. Kennicott, diss. ii. p. 335.

Ver. 17. Monument. Heb. tsiun, “an eminence” of “dry” earth, (Ezec. xxxix. 15.) heaped upon a corpse; whence the Latin tumulus. Servius. C. — It seems some inscription was still to be seen on the tomb. M. — Thou, &c. Sept. “which he proclaimed against the altar.” H.

Ver. 18. Samaria. It seems this word has been inserted instead of Juda, as it is certain the prophet came thence, v. 17. and 3 K. xiii. 32. C. — But thus both prophets would be identified. It would rather appear that the seducing prophet, who resided at Bethel, is here said to have come out of Samaria, though that place was not raised to the dignity of a royal city (H.) till 50 years afterwards. C. — There might be a town there long before; and, at any rate, he belonged to the kingdom to Jeroboam, or of Samaria. H. — His faith in the prophet’s prediction was, perhaps, thus rewarded, (M.) as his bones were left unmolested, on account of their being buried in the same sepulchre with the man of God. H.

Ver. 20. Slew. Most of the Israelites who had been left, (H.) embraced the true religion, after the captivity of their brethren, (C.) and adhered to the kings of Juda, (v. 15. H.) who had taken possession of the whole country (D.) after the fall of the Assyrian empire; (T.) unless the emperors of Chaldea had given it to them as to their vassels. See v. 29. C.

Ver. 21. Covenant, in Deuteronomy, C. xxii. 8. M.

Ver. 22. No such, is all respects. H. — The number of paschal lambs was certainly greater when all Israel was assembled; but the other victims presented by the king and his officers during the octave is here noticed, (2 Par. xxxv. 7. M.) as they are also styled the Phase; (H.) and this explains Jo. xviii. 28. T. — Neither ought we to push these expressions too far, as they only mean, that this solemnity was very great. See v. 25. C. xviii. 5. C.

Ver. 24. Spirits. Lit. “the pythons.” Deut. xviii. 11; Num. xxii. 5. — Idols. Heb. Teraphim; Prot. “images,” Gen. xxi. 19. — Uncleannesses. Heb. &c. “idols.”

Ver. 25. Like him. Every person has some peculiarity, which distinguishes him from every other. H. — Thus we say of many saints: There was none found like unto him. Eccli. xliv. 20. T.

Ver. 26. Had provoked him. The impiety of this king must have been extreme, since his repentance did not avert the scourge. H. — Besides, many of the people were corrupt at heart, though they were afraid of shewing it, as we learn from the prophets Jeremias and Sophonias. God therefore withdrew the good Josias, who was their bulwark, that they might feel the effects of his just indignation. C.

Ver. 29. Nechao, six years (Usher, A. 3394.) after he had succeeded his father Psammetichus, with whose ambitious views hew as animated to attempt the conquest of Asia. Marsham sæc. 18. Pharao pretends that God had sent him to attack the Assyrians. 2 Par. xxxv. 21. But Josias thought he was only imposing on him, or speaking through fear. The Jews assert that Jeremias also opposed the king’s design. 3 Esd. i. 28. S. Jer. ad Ctesip. But this does not appear from the canonical Scripture. C. — Meet him, in order to hinder him from passing through his dominions without leave; as this might prove dangerous. H. — Seen him, and fought. M. — He received a mortal wound at Mageddo, but did at Jerusalem. 2 Par. xxxv. 23. Joseph. x. 6. — Mageddo lay to the south of Cison, where Barak had fought before. Judg. v. 19. Herodotus (ii. 159.) says, that Nechos gained a victory over the Syrians at Magdolum, and took Cadytis, which is probably Cades, a strong city of Galilee, though some take it to be Jerusalem, as it may be interpreted “the holy city.” C. — Mageddo is called Magdala in the Greek, and Magedan in other copies, and in the Vulg. Mat. xv. 39.

Ver. 30. Sepulchre. Par. xxxv. in the monument (or mausoleum) of his fathers. Such was the end of Josias: he fell gloriously in defence of his country, as he had spent his life in promoting religion. God therefore withdrew him from the sight of the miseries which were shortly to fall on his devoted people. C. xxii. 20. H. — He was a prince of most excellent disposition, and receives the highest encomium, v. 25. and Eccli. xlix. 1. Jeremias composed his funeral canticle, which was sung on his anniversary for many years. 2 Par. xxxv. 24. The mourning for this pious king became proverbial, and resembled that which should be made for the Messias. Zac. xii. 11. The life and death of Josias prefigured those of Jesus Christ; who should be long expected as the restorer of the true religion, the teacher of a more excellent law, and the most innocent victim for the sins of the people. The glorious Phase under Josias, was but a faint representation of the eucharistic sacrifice. C.

Ver. 31. Old. Eliacim his brother was 25. H. — Perhaps Joachaz was esteemed more by the people, as fitter to defend them against the king of Egypt, who had proceeded on his journey to attack Charchamis on the Euphrates. C. — Having placed a garrison in it, he was met by Joachaz, and gained a victory over him at Rebla, (H.) as Sanctius gathers from Ezec. xix. 4. Hence he treated the captive king with such severity, and sent him into Egypt to die in chains. Jer. xxii. 11. Joachaz is called Sellum (in Jer.) and Jechonias, 3 Esd. i. 34. C. — He was a lion only against his own subjects. T.

Ver. 33. Rebla. Syr. and Arab. “Deblat;” probably (C.) Apamea on the Orontes. Chal. on Num. xxxiv. 11.

Ver. 34. Joakim. Thus he asserted his dominion over him, as Nabuchodonosor did afterwards over Matthanias. C. xxiv. 17. Daniel i. 6. C. — Eliacim means nearly the same as Joakim, “the Lord’s strength,” or “appointment.” M.

Ver. 36. Old, of course Josias had him at 15. Some suspect we ought to read 15 here. D.

Ver. 37. Fathers, or ancestors, not his immediate father Josias, v. 32. H. — Joakim chose to imitate the wicked, and was not deterred by the chastisement of his brother. C. — His character was marked with avarice and cruelty. He slew the prophet Urias. Jer. xxii. 13. and xxvi 23. H. — S. Matthew i. 11. calls him Jechonias. (M.) 1 Par. iii. 15.