2 Kings Chapter 23  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: 2 Kings 23
2Ki 23:1

“The king sent, and they gathered.” This verse is very similar to 2 Chron. 34:29.

2Ki 23:2(top)
2Ki 23:3(top)
2Ki 23:4

“second rank.” That is, the rank just below the High Priest.

“and carried their ashes to Bethel.” The idea was to pollute Bethel and make it unclean (cp. 2 Kings 23:15).

2Ki 23:5

“shrines.” The Hebrew word “shrines” is bamot, which referred to a place that was leveled and built up and on which were placed various idols and objects of worship. Many of the towns had such shrines (see commentary on Num. 33:52).

2Ki 23:6

“on the graves of the common people.” This was not to defile the graves, for graves were already “unclean.” This was to show contempt for, and defile, the Asherah.

2Ki 23:7

“in the house of Yahweh.” The fact that Manasseh and Amon allowed cult prostitutes to live and serve in the Temple of Yahweh shows how far from God Judah had turned before Josiah’s reforms, and why, even after his reforms, the sins of Manasseh, which had become part of the culture of Judah, had dire consequences (2 Kings 24:3-4).

“coverings.” The word is difficult because it literally means “houses,” but the women did not weave houses. It could have been coverings that were used to “house” the Asherah from the elements, they could have been little enclosures to set the Asherah apart from the rest of the shrine, or they could have been coverings like clothing around the Asherah. The ancients sometimes decorated the statues of their gods and goddesses.

2Ki 23:8

“shrines.” The Hebrew word “shrines” is bamot, which referred to a place that was leveled and built up and on which were placed various idols and objects of worship. Many of the towns had such shrines (see commentary on Num. 33:52).

“Geba to Beer-sheba.” This phrase describes the heartland of Judah, with Geba on the north and Beer-sheba on the south.

“the shrines at the gates.” Archaeologists have uncovered shrines at some gates of the ancient cities.

“the gate of Joshua the governor of the city.” The exact city is unknown, but it is quite possible the city being referred to is Beer-sheba.

2Ki 23:9

“did not come up.” It is likely that these priests who had served the pagan shrines in their cities were not allowed to minister at the altar of Yahweh in Jerusalem.

“their brothers.” That is, their brother priests, not their biological brothers.

2Ki 23:10

“Topheth, which is in the valley of the sons of Hinnom.” The “valley of the sons of Hinnom” is the valley just south of the city of Jerusalem, which was called “Gehenna” in the New Testament. “Gehenna” is the Greek for the Hebrew word ge, meaning “valley,” and Hinnom, which was the name of the Israelite man who originally owned the valley (Josh 18:16).

“Topheth” was the name of the place (cp. Jer. 7:32; 19:6, 11), or the “fireplace” itself, in the Valley of Hinnom where children were burned to death as sacrifices to pagan gods. It is associated with Moloch and Baal (Jer. 32:35).

“The name was probably derived from a word meaning ‘cook stove,’ ‘oven,’ pronounced tepāt but purposely perverted to Topheth by the substitution of the vowels of the Hebrew bst, cognate to Ugaritic btt, ‘shame,’ ‘abomination.’ The rabbinic etymology from Hebrew tp, ‘drum’ is farfetched. The name occurs only in the OT [Old Testament].”a

Jeremiah 19 contains the record of the prophet Jeremiah confronting some of the elders ruling Jerusalem and some of the ruling priests. First, Jeremiah buys a pot from a potter, then he takes the elders from Jerusalem into the Valley of Hinnom to the area of Topheth and confronts the elders about their pagan practices and about burning children to their gods. Then he smashes the clay jar in front of them and foretells that Jerusalem will be smashed as well, and that the area where they are standing will be so filled with dead bodies that there will be no room to bury them, and the birds and animals will eat the dead bodies. This prophecy was partially fulfilled when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, and it will be completely fulfilled when Christ comes back and fights the Battle of Armageddon (cp. Rev. 19:17-18, 21).

Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, “Topheth,” 5:779.
2Ki 23:11

“the horses.” It is unclear whether these were real horses or statues, but the fact that they were placed at the entrance of the Temple lends credence that these were statues. Josiah “put an end” to them; he likely destroyed them.

“Nathan-melech.” The name Nathan-melech appears only here in the Bible. It was announced in March of 2019 that a clay bulla (the impression in clay made by a stamp-seal) was found in the City of David inside the remains of a public building that had been destroyed in the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. The clay bulla read, “[Belonging to] Nathan-melech, servant of the king,” and it was written in ancient Hebrew script. While it is impossible to conclude that the Nathan-melech of the seal was the same Nathan-melech in the Bible, the dating and location of the find, and the status of the person himself, establish at least a very good possibility.

“colonnade.” The Hebrew word only occurs here and the meaning is uncertain, so the English versions vary greatly.

2Ki 23:12

“hastily removed them from there.” The Hebrew is debated by scholars and the English versions vary. The Hebrew phrase “from there” is clearly in the text, however.

2Ki 23:13

“south side.” The Hebrew is the “right hand,” which is to the south.

“Mountain of Corruption.” A derogatory term for the Mount of Olives, which had been defiled by the pagan temples that Solomon built on it (1 Kings 11:7).

“for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon.” It is amazing that these pagan shrines on the Mount of Olives, which overlooked Jerusalem from the east, survived the reign of Hezekiah.

2Ki 23:14

“standing-stones.” Most standing-stones were set up as part of the worship of pagan gods, and that is the context here. God has no tolerance for idols. They are harmful in many different ways, and God commanded that they be destroyed.

[For more on standing-stones, see commentary on Gen. 28:18. For more on idols being harmful, see commentary on Deuteronomy 7:5.]

2Ki 23:15

“he broke down that altar and the shrine.” This fulfilled the prophecy of the young prophet in the book of Kings (cp. 1 Kings 13:2-3).

2Ki 23:16(top)
2Ki 23:17(top)
2Ki 23:18

“along with the bones of the prophet.” The bones of the old prophets were buried with the bones of the young prophet (1 Kings 12:30-31).

2Ki 23:19

“all the temples at the shrines.” The Hebrew is more literally, “the houses of the shrines,” and it refers to the temples that were built at the local shrines. These “houses” were the temples of the pagan gods. A temple was often called the “house” of the god (see commentary on Num. 33:52).

“in the cities of Samaria.” So Josiah went through the territory of Israel as well as Judah destroying the pagan shrines.

2Ki 23:20

“slaughtered.” The Hebrew text uses the word that is used in animal sacrifice: “slaughtered,” or “sacrificed.”

“shrines.” The Hebrew word “shrines” is bamot, which referred to a place that was leveled and built up and on which were placed various idols and objects of worship. Many of the towns had such shrines (see commentary on Num. 33:52).

2Ki 23:21

“as it is written.” See Deuteronomy 16:1-6.

“the Book of the Covenant.” See commentary on Exodus 24:7.

2Ki 23:22(top)
2Ki 23:23(top)
2Ki 23:24

“eradicated.” The Hebrew word is “burned,” in this case figurative for totally removing them.

“had familiar spirits.” See commentary on Deuteronomy 18:11 (Deut. 18:10-12).

“and the teraphim.” Teraphim were household gods (see commentary on Gen. 31:19).

2Ki 23:25

“all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength.” Cp. Deuteronomy 6:5.

“the Law of Moses.” The Hebrew is “the torah of Moses,” where “torah” is much more than “law.” The torah involves instruction in many different ways (see commentary on Prov. 1:8).

2Ki 23:26

“Yahweh did not turn from the fierceness of his great wrath.” This is not because God does not forgive sins, because He does. It was because the sin and idolatry in Judah ran so deep that Josiah’s reforms did not penetrate into the hearts of the people. As soon as Josiah was killed in battle, his three sons who were three of the next four kings of Judah, all did evil in the sight of Yahweh, and the fourth king, who was a grandson, did too (2 Kings 23:31-32, 36-37; 2 Kings 24:8-9, 17-19). In this verse, God piles on words for anger to express how angry He was because of the sins of His people, Judah, who had entered into a covenant with Him to obey Him. The “anger words” include: Aph (#0639 אַף 'aph) a noun, literally “nostril, nose, face” but used idiomatically of anger because of the way the face changes when someone is angry. Charon (#02740 חָרוֹן), a noun, “heat, anger.” Charah (#02734 חָרָה), a verb, “be hot, be burning, be angry.” Kaas (#03708 כַּעַס), a noun, “anger, vexation, provocation.” Kaas (#03707 כָּעַס), a verb, “to be angry, be vexed, be provoked.” All these words are used leaving the abundantly clear message that God was very angry with Judah because of their sins, especially the sins of King Manasseh, some of which are listed in 2 Kings 21:2-3.

2Ki 23:27

“and the house.” The “house” is the Temple.

2Ki 23:28

“the Book of the Chronicles.” The parallel chapters in Chronicles that cover Josiah are 2 Chronicles 34-35.

2Ki 23:29

“went up to help the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates.” Pharaoh Neco saw that Assyria was falling, and the king of Assyria was fleeing west to escape from Babylon. Pharaoh Neco saw that Babylon was getting stronger and stronger, so he traveled north to help the Assyrians because he foresaw that the real problem he would have in the future was with Babylon. Josiah likely felt that Assyria had been the historic enemy of Judah, and besides that, if the Assyrians were defeated there would have likely been a power vacuum in the Middle East, and Josiah likely thought that Egypt would be the natural power to fill that vacuum and take over territory in Judah. In any case, Josiah unwisely attacked Pharaoh Neco’s army and was defeated and killed. This record is also spoken of in Jeremiah 46:2.

Although a few English versions say that Pharaoh Neco was going up to the Euphrates River to fight against the Assyrians, that is not the case (cp. ASV; CEB; JPS; KJV; YLT).

“but Pharaoh Neco killed him.” The Hebrew text reads that “he killed him,” but the pronoun use is confusing so many English versions change the “he” to Pharaoh Neco for clarity. Josiah’s death is recorded as happening almost by accident because he disguised himself when he entered battle and was killed by archers (2 Chron. 35:20-25). Thus his death was somewhat similar to the death of wicked King Ahab of Israel (1 Kings 22:30-37).

“when he saw him.” In this case, “saw” means much more than just “to see,” it means to see and to engage in battle.

2Ki 23:30

“took Jehoahaz...and anointed him and made him king.” Cp. 2 Chron. 36:1.

2Ki 23:31

“Jehoahaz.” Jehoahaz is also known as Shallum (1 Chron. 3:15; Jer. 22:11).

“Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah.” This is not Jeremiah the prophet, but someone else named Jeremiah. Hamutal is the mother of two of Josiah’s sons: Jehoahaz and Zedekiah, who was the last king of Judah to reign in Jerusalem.

2Ki 23:32(top)
2Ki 23:33

“Riblah.” A town in northern Syria.

“in the land of Hamath.” There is a town in northern Syria that was called Hamath and is now called Hama, and the area around Hamath is “the land of Hamath.”

“fine.” This is a penalty, so “fine” captures the meaning of the text very well.

“100 talents of silver and a talent of gold.” At this time in history, a “talent” was 75 pounds, with each pound being 16 ounces. Thus the fine leveled on Judah by Pharaoh Neco was 7,500 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold.

2Ki 23:34

“Eliakim.” The name means “God will raise up.”

“Jehoiakim.” The name means “Yahweh will raise up.”

2Ki 23:35(top)
2Ki 23:36

“Rumah.” Rumah is a city in the Galilee, but there are a couple of possible candidates for its location. If Josiah married a woman from the Galilee then we have an indication of how large his influence was in the ancient territory of Israel.

2Ki 23:37(top)

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