2 Kings 23: King Josiah of Judah.
The Great King
Brit-Am Commentary (BAC).
A National Assembly is Convened
Josiah Begins the Purification.
Josiah Uproots Idolatry.
King Josiah Destroys the Altars of Beth-el and of Northern Israel.
Josiah the One and Only King of his Kind!
The Death of King Josiah
King Jehoahaz and King Jehoiakim.
2 Kings 23: King Josiah of Judah.
The Great King.
A National Assembly is
For background to the reign of King Josiah son of Amon over Judah see our
"Assyrians, Scythians, and the Ten
The Almighty As a Husband to Israel.
See especially the section:
# 3. (b) Jeremiah
3: As husband to the whole House of Israel and the Scythian Re-Union with Judah.
We saw (2-Kings ch. 22) how the Torah Scroll written by Moses had been found
rolled to the place that warned of a coming exile.
A delegation had been sent to Hulda the Prophetess and she explained that
disaster and exile was to come upon Judah.
This would not however take place in the time of King Josiah due to his
King Josiah had already begun to reform Judah and as we shall see he was to
continue to do so.
Nevertheless the common people were not whole-heartedly in favor of these
cf. Jeremiah 3:10 And yet for all this
her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in
pretense, says the LORD.
Josiah was aware that something was lacking. Now the Prophecy of Hulda had
confirmed his worries. He therefore convened an assembly of the People in an
attempt to strengthen their hearts and perhaps mollify the situation.
[2-Kings 23:1] Now the king sent them to
gather all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem to him.
[2-Kings 23:2] The king went up to the
house of the LORD with all the men of Judah, and with him all the inhabitants of
Jerusalem' the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and
great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant
which had been found in the house of the LORD.
The Scroll of Moses that they had found in the Temple precincts had been open to
[Deuteronomy 28:36] 'The LORD will bring
you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your
fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone.
This passage in Deuteronomy goes on with a long list of awful happenings that
are liable to befall the Israelites if they do not repent.
Usually in these studies we seek to avoid quoting long passages from Scripture that are not part
of the section under study.
Nevertheless we urge our readers to read the extract below since the warnings it
contains (God forbid) should be taken into consideration by our own Israelite
36 'The LORD will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which
neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other
and stone. 37 And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword
among all nations where the LORD will drive you.
38 'You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the
locust shall consume it. 39 You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you
shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat
them. 40 You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall
not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olives shall drop off. 41 You shall
beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into
captivity. 42 Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.
43 'The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you
shall come down lower and lower. 44 He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend
to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.
45 'Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you,
until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your
God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46 And
they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever.
47 'Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart,
for the abundance of everything, 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom
the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need
of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has
destroyed you. 49 The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the
end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will
not understand, 50 a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the
elderly nor show favor to the young. 51 And they shall eat the increase of your
livestock and the produce of your land, until you are destroyed; they shall not
leave you grain or new wine or oil, or the increase of your cattle or the
offspring of your flocks, until they have destroyed you.
52 'They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified
walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall
besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the LORD your God
has given you. 53 You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your
sons and your daughters whom the LORD your God has given you, in the siege and
desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you. 54 The sensitive and
very refined man among you will be hostile toward his brother, toward the wife
of his bosom, and toward the rest of his children whom he leaves behind, 55 so
that he will not give any of them the flesh of his children whom he will eat,
because he has nothing left in the siege and desperate straits in which your
enemy shall distress you at all your gates. 56 The tender and delicate woman
among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground
because of her delicateness and sensitivity, will refuse to the husband of her
bosom, and to her son and her daughter, 57 her placenta which comes out from
between her feet and her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly
for lack of everything in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy
shall distress you at all your gates.
58 'If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written
in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR
GOD, 59 then the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary
and prolonged plagues ' and serious and prolonged sicknesses. 60 Moreover He
will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and
they shall cling to you. 61 Also every sickness and every plague, which is not
written in this Book of the Law, will the LORD bring upon you until you are
destroyed. 62 You shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of
heaven in multitude, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.
63 And it shall be, that just as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good and
multiply you, so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to
nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess.
64 'Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth
to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your
fathers have known'wood
and stone. 65 And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole
of your foot have a resting place; but there the LORD will give you a trembling
heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul. 66 Your life shall hang in doubt
before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life. 67 In
the morning you shall say, 'Oh, that it were evening!' And at evening you shall
say, 'Oh, that it were morning!' because of the fear which terrifies your heart,
and because of the sight which your eyes see.
68 'And the LORD will take you back to Egypt in ships, by the way of which I
said to you, 'You shall never see it again.' And there you shall be offered for
sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.'
At the end of this section it says:
1 These are the words of the
Covenant which the LORD commanded
Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the
covenant which He made with them in
Because the whole section is referred to at its end as "Words of the Covenant"
it is called "the Book of the Covenant" (Malbim).
We find elsewhere that Biblical sections centered on a common theme are named as
if they were "books" in their own right.
The prophets. Me'Am Loez names the Prophets who were probably present at this
juncture as Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and possibly Uriah ben Shemaiah of Kiriat
Yaarim. Uriah is mentioned in Jeremiah 26:20 as having prophesied against
Jerusalem. Uriah later fled to Egypt but he was extradited and put to death by
King Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 26:23). Jehoiakim (Elyakim) was the second son of King
Josiah. When Josiah was killed Jehoahaz (Shallum) became king but was deposed by
Pharoah Necho after 3 months. His brother Elyakim then became King and had his
name changed by Phariah Necho to Jehoiakim. This will be discussed below, at the
end of this chapter.
In the Book of Jeremiah (11:1-8) we hear that Jeremiah was told to speak "THE
WORDS OF THIS COVENANT" ...UNTO THE MEN OF JUDAH, AND TO THE INHABITANTS OF
Daat Mikra opines that the present occasion convened by King Josiah was when
Jeremiah spoke to the people.
[2-Kings 23:3] Then the king stood by a
pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD and to keep His
commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all
his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book.
And all the people took a stand for the covenant.
a pillar. Hebrew "Ha-Amud" i.e.
the pillar, or the pole.
Concerning Joash when he was made king it says:
# there was the king standing by a
pillar according to custom # [2-Kings 11:14].
Apparently this was a special pillar that the King would stand by to
address the people.
The word used "Ha-Amud" is derived from the root "AMD" meaning "stand up".
There are those who says that in this case the intention is to some type of
Josiah Begins the
[2-Kings 23:4] And the king commanded
the high priest, the priests of the second order, and the doorkeepers, to bring
out of the temple of the LORD all the articles that were made for Baal, for
and for all the host of heaven; and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the
fields of Kidron,
and carried their ashes to Bethel.
The articles brought out included not only the idols themselves (if any still
remained) but all their appurtenances and everything associated with them.
There is a certain logic in this. Nowadays we are seeing a minor revival of Nazi
ideology. This is building on what has been maintained since World War-2 and
very often centered on or encouraged by the collection of Nazi memorabilia.
Kidron is a valley to the east of Biblical Jerusalem. It separates the Temple
Mount from the Mount of Olives.
Yehudah Kiel ("Daat Mikra") tells us that the eastern slopes of the valley were
used for burials.
They still are.
The Cemetery on the Mount of Olives is the most important burial place in Jewish
It holds about 150,000 graves. Many famous and holy Jews are buried there. When
Jerusalem was under Jordanian control the Jordanian army used Jewish gravestones
to build latrines.
The Jordanians initiated building projects on the site destroying 40,000 to
50,000 of the graves. King Hussein himself approved of the desecrations, at
least in part. An Intercontinental Hotel and a gas station were built on top of
Nowadays the local Arabs still vandalize the grave sites as well as throwing
stones at and attempting to intimidate Jewish mourners and visitors.
A new Jewish housing project has been approved in the vicinity and this may
eventually lead to greater pacification of the area.
In the valley bed itself there were holes in which it was customary to burn
objects of impurity (cf. Leviticus 14:40 "...they shall cast them into an
unclean place outside the city).
The Valley of Kidron is to the east of the Biblical city. The Valley of Hinnom (Gehinnom)
is more to the south.
Beth-el (Beit-el) was on the border of Benjamin and Ephraim. In fact there seems
to have been two such places adjoining each other, one in Benjamin and the other
in Ephraim. Jeroboam had set up golden calves for the Israelites to worship
instead of going to Jerusalem, One calf had been placed in Dan and the other in
Beth-el. At the time of King Josiah the northern Tribes had already been exiled.
Most of Beth-el of Ephraim was in ruins. A handful of Scythian-Israelites may
however have begun an attempt to re-settle there under the tutelage of Josiah
King of Judah.
Beth-el of Ephraim was also known as Beth-Aven (Hosia 4:15) which may be a play
on words (such as frequently found in scripture) where Aven connotes both sin
See the Brit-Am Commentary to Hosea 10:5
for a discussion on this matter.
Beth-el of Ephraim had been used as a pagan cultic center. King Josiah was to
raze the remnants of this place. Henceforth it was to be associated with wicked
impurity. It was therefore fitting that the ashes of impurity from Jerusalem
should be brought there.
[2-Kings 23:5] Then he removed the
idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense on the
high places in the cities of Judah and in the places all around Jerusalem, and
those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the
constellations, and to all the host of heaven.
Priests. The word for "priests" used here is "comarim". This word in Scripture
is only for priests of idolatry.
The other word translated as Priest is "cohen" which can also mean simply
"officiate". The word "cohen" may be applied to a priest of the Almighty or of
paganism depending on the context.
Josiah Uproots Idolatry
[2-Kings 23:6] And he brought out the
wooden image [Asherah]
from the house of the LORD, to the Brook
outside Jerusalem, burned it at the Brook
and ground it to ashes, and threw its ashes on the graves of the common people.
# the graves of the common people # These were not ordinary "common people"
[Hebrew "ha-am"] but rather they who had been known to be worshippers of
"and scattered it on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them"
[2-Kings 23:7] Then he tore down the
ritual booths of the perverted persons [kedoshim]
that were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the wooden
These "perverted persons" [Hebrew: kedoshim] were men or youths who gave
themselves over to homosexual debasement in exchange for payment which money was
dedicated to idolatry.
Yehudah Kiel ("Daat Mikra") points out that "the house of the LORD" does not
necessarily mean the Temple itself but anywhere on the Temple mount which
covered quite a large area.
[2-Kings 23:8] And 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; also he broke down the high places at the gates which were at the
entrance of the Gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were to the left
of the city gate.
"High Places" in Hebrew "bamot" as we have explained in the past were centers of
worship and public sacrifice. These were not in most cases dedicated to idolatry
but rather to worship of the Almighty.
This type of service however was forbidden even though it had been permitted
before the Temple was built.
In those days the offering of sacrifices answered a need that the common people
It was the custom of the nations around them and accepted practice.
It may also have been efficacious? Perhaps in many cases when a person was in
trouble or in need and they offered up a sacrifice at a "high place" their
problems were solved. In addition to this it was something that was done
publicly and gave its participants a spiritual "high".
Fromthe above verse we see that Josiah destroyed those high places in the
immediate vicinity of the Jerusalem-Temple area. Elsewhere he did not destroy
them but rather rendered them "impure" and thus difficult to re-use in the
Geba to Beersheba: "Geba" was in the area of Benjamin to the north while
Beersheba was in the south. These may have been the names of provincial areas as
well as of the cities within them.
This expanse evidently was that wherein the "Jewish" subjects (from Judah and
Benjamin) of Josiah were to be found. From archaeological evidence we know that
the rulership of Josiah extended at least to Beit-Shean in the north and over
much of the Philistine area in the south.
[2-Kings 23:9] Nevertheless the priests
of the high places did not come up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but
they ate unleavened bread among their brethren.
Those priests (cohanim) who had served in the high places were evidently
disbarred from the Temple Service. They were however brought into Jerusalem
continue to receive a portion in the meal-offerings.
A good portion of the regular daily and ritual sacrifices consisted of
meal-offerings made out of wheat or barley, mixed with olive oil, and fried or
baked in different ways. There were several different types and each kind had
its own function. Nearly all of them were unleavened i.e. they were prepared
naturally and not allowed to "rise" or "ferment" as we do with our bread. There
were exceptions. The study of these matters is quite complicated but
[2-Kings 23:10] And he defiled
which is in the Valley of the Son [sons] of
that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to
Topheth was the name of the sacrifical point where human sacrifices had been
made to pagan idols.
cf. Jeremiah 7:32 "Therefore behold, the
days are coming," says the LORD, "when it will no more be called
or the Valley of the Son of
Hinnom, but the Valley of
Slaughter; for they will bury in
Tophet until there is no room.
# the Valley of the Son [sons] of Hinnom " in Hebrew "Gai-ben-Hinnom" or "Gehinnom"
The name has come to be synonymous for hell.
This valley was to the west of Jerusalem hooking round to the south of the
Temple mount and linking up with the valley of Kidron in the east.
The offering up of live sacrifices was to be continued amongst the "Celts" of
Ireland and Britain.
The practice had also been known in the city of Carthage (in present-day Triply
in Libya) in North Africa. Carthage had been founded by the Phoenicians who were
descended from Canaanites and other peoples. Some of the Israelite Tribes had
been associated with them.
in Carthage Wikipedia
Carthage was described by its competitors as practicing child sacrifice.
Plutarch (ca. 46?120 AD) mentions the practice, as do
and Philo. However, Livy
In former times they (the Carthaginians) had been accustomed to sacrifice to
this god the noblest of their sons, but more recently, secretly buying and
nurturing children, they had sent these to the sacrifice.
Some of these sources suggest that babies were roasted to death on a heated
bronze statue. According to
"There was in their city a bronze image of
extending its hands, palms up and sloping toward the ground, so that each of the
children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit
filled with fire."
...several apparent "Tophets"
have been identified, chiefly a large one in Carthage, dubbed the "Tophet
after the neighbourhood
where it was unearthed in 1921.
Sites within Carthage and other Phoenician centers revealed the remains of
infants and children in large numbers; many historians interpret this as
evidence for frequent and prominent child sacrifice to the god
Greek, Roman and Israelite writers refer to Phoenician child sacrifice.
According to Lawrence and Wolff there is a consensus among scholars is that
Carthaginian children were sacrificed by their parents, who would make a vow to
kill the next child if the gods would grant them a favor: for instance that
their shipment of goods were to arrive safely in a foreign port. They placed
their children alive in the arms of a bronze statue of:
.. the lady Tanit
... . The hands of the statue extended over a brazier into which the child fell
once the flames had caused the limbs to contract and its mouth to open ... . The
child was alive and conscious when burned ... Philo specified that the
sacrificed child was best-loved.
Later commentators have compared the accounts of child sacrifice in the Old
Testament with similar ones from Greek and Latin sources speaking of the
offering of children by fire as sacrifices in the Punic city of Carthage, which
was a Phoenician colony.
and Plutarch all mention burning of children as an offering to
or Saturn, that is to Ba`al
the chief god of Carthage.
It is worth repeating that the rationale behind child sacrifice is not much
different from that used today to justify abortions.
King Josiah Destroys the
Altars of Beth-el and of Northern Israel.
[2-Kings 23:11] Then he removed the
horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the
house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-Melech,
the officer who was in the court; and he burned the chariots of the sun with
These chariots of the sun were metallic calendar disks representing the sun
drawn by chariots. They were known of in Ancient Israel (2-Kings 23:11) and
later were to be found in Scandinavia.
#1. Question: What are Chariots of the Sun'
[2-Kings 23:12] The altars that were on
the roof, 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, the king broke down and pulverized there, and threw their dust into
the Brook Kidron.
"altars that were on the roof" : This apparently was part of the baal cult. Baal
and his offshoots were associated with solar-sun worship.
cf. the description of roofs in Jerusalem just before its destruction by
# with the houses on whose roofs they
have offered incense to Baal # (Jeremiah 32:29).
So too, the god known as "Bel, Bele, Belinus, etc" amongst the Celts of Italy (Cis-Alpine
Gaul), Gaul, Britain and Ireland, was also a solar deity.
In Ireland Beli is known as Bile and is referred to as "The Father of Gods and
The Irish Beli was a god of death and husband to Dana.
In Wales Beli was the husband of Don.
In Gaul he was the husband of Belisama.
His symbols were the horse and also the Wheel.
His name was re-interpreted to mean "The Shining One".
He was worshipped at the Beltaine festival as practiced in Northern England,
Scotland, and Scandinavia.
The Beltaine combined the worship of baal with that of Moloch.
Moloch Sacrifice and the Beltain
of Britain, Ireland, and Scandinavia.
See also notes on Hosea 2:8:
[2-Kings 23:13] Then the king defiled
the high places that were east of Jerusalem, which were on the south of the
Mount of Corruption, which Solomon king of Israel had built for
the abomination of the Sidonians,
the abomination of the Moabites, and for
the abomination of the people of
Ashtoreth is the same as Eostre who was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons.
Sidonians were the people of Sidon which was the chief city of Phoenicia. Tyre
was considered an offshoot (daughter) of Sidon.
[2-Kings 23:14] And he broke in pieces
the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images, and filled their places with
the bones of men.
[2-Kings 23:15] Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which
Jeroboam the son of Nebat,
who made Israel sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he broke down;
and he burned the high place and crushed it to powder, and burned the wooden
King Jeroboam of Ephraim had led the split away from Judah. He had then set up
the worship of golden calves, one on Dan and the other in beth-el. It had been
prophesied that a King from the house of David named Josiah would destroy this
altar. Josiah fulfilled the prophecy.
cf. 1-Kings 13:
1 And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD,
and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. 2 Then he cried out against the
altar by the word of the LORD, and said, "O altar, altar! Thus says the LORD:
'Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on
you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you,
bones shall be burned on you.'"
In 1-Kings chapter 13 we were told how a Prophet (identified as Iddo in
2-Chronicles 9:29) had been sent to prophesy against Jeroboam.
He came to the place in Beth-el just as King Jeroboam was offering sacrifice
upon it. He shouted out that the altar would be destroyed by Josiah from the
House of David who would kill pagan priests upon it and defile it with human
King Jeroboam heard and in anger stretched out his arm commanding that the
prophet be seized.
His arm was paralyzed in its place and he could not move it. The Prophet
repeated his words against the altar. King Jeroboam then requested that the
Prophet entreat the Almighty to heal his arm. The Prophet did so and Jeroboam
received back again the use of his limb. King Jeroboam then invited the Prophet
to eat with him and receive a reward. The Prophet replied saying that he been
commanded to go and utter his prophesy and then return and not to eat or drink
anything. He then set off.
Meanwhile in Beth-el lived an old prophet. His sons came and told this veteran
soothsayer what had taken place. The aged
visionary set off after the Prophet from Judah and overtook him. The old man
found the Prophet resting under an oak tree. He introduced himself as a Prophet
like himself. After that he said that he had had a message from Above. The
Prophet was to return with him and eat and drink. He did so. In the middle of
the meal the Old-Timer (or rather "two-timer") received a real prophecy (until
now he had been lieing): Because the Prophet had disobeyed the direct prophecy
he had received he would die soon.
Then the old man saddled up the ass of the Prophet who set forth. Shortly
afterwards a lion met him and killed but did not eat him. His body was taken by
the Old Man who buried him in his own grave and commanded that when he die that
he be buried beside him for his Prophecy would surely come to pass.
[2-Kings 23:16] As Josiah turned, he saw
the tombs that were there on the mountain. And he sent and took the bones out of
the tombs and burned them on the altar, and defiled it according to the word of
the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words.
[2-Kings 23:17] Then he said, 'What
gravestone is this that I see?'
So the men of the city told him, 'It is the tomb of the man of God who came from
Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of
[2-Kings 23:18] And he said, 'Let him alone; let no one move his bones.' So they
let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria.
[2-Kings 23:19] Now Josiah also took away all the shrines of the high places
that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to
provoke the LORD to anger; and he did to them according to all the deeds he had
done in Bethel.
[2-Kings 23:20] He executed all the priests of the high places who were there,
on the altars, and burned men's bones on them; and he returned to Jerusalem.
The "priests" killed by Josiah were non-Israelite Samaritans whom the Assyrians
had settled in the area and who took up some of the practices (pagan and
otherwise) of the departed Israelites see 2-kings ch.18 (see "Olam Ha-Tanach"
The Bible 2-Kings 17:24-27 tells us how the King of Assyria brought in
non-Israelite colonists to take the place of the exiled Israelites.
Concerning the destruction by Josiah of the pagan altars in Jerusalem and to the
north cf. Josephus:
Josephus, Antiquities Book 10, ch.4
These passages are paralleled in the Book of Chronicles:
3. So these messengers, upon this
prophecy of the woman [i.e. Hulda
the Prophetess] , came and told it to the king; whereupon he sent to the people
every where, and ordered that the priests and the Levites should come together
to Jerusalem; and commanded that those of every age should be present also. And
when they had gathered together, he first read to them the holy books; after
which he stood upon a pulpit, in the midst of the multitude, and obliged them to
make a covenant, with an oath, that they would worship God, and keep the laws of
Moses. Accordingly, they gave their assent willingly, and undertook to do what
the king had recommended to them. So they immediately offered sacrifices, and
that after an acceptable manner, and besought God to be gracious and merciful to
them. He also enjoined the high priest, that if there remained in the temple any
vessel that was dedicated to idols, or to foreign gods, they should cast it out.
So when a great number of such vessels were got together, he burnt them, and
scattered their ashes abroad, and slew the priests of the idols that were not of
the family of Aaron.
4. And when he had done thus in Jerusalem, he came into the country, and utterly
destroyed what buildings had been made therein by king Jeroboam, in honor of
strange gods; and he burnt the bones of the false prophets upon that altar which
Jeroboam first built; and, as the prophet [Jadon
the Prophet], who came to Jeroboam when he was offering sacrifice, and when all
the people heard him, foretold what would come to pass, viz. that a certain man
of the house of David, Josiah by name, should do what is here mentioned. And it
happened that those predictions took effect after three hundred and sixty-one
5. After these things, Josiah went also
to such other Israelites as had escaped captivity and slavery under the
Assyrians, and persuaded them to desist from their impious practices, and to
leave off the honors they paid to strange gods, but to worship rightly their own
Almighty God, and adhere to him. He also searched the houses, and the villages,
and the cities, out of a suspicion that somebody might have one idol or other in
private; nay, indeed, he took away the chariots [of the sun] that were set up in
his royal palace, which his predecessors had framed, and what thing
there was besides which they worshipped as a god. ...
5 He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and cleansed Judah
and Jerusalem. 6 And so he did in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon,
as far as Naphtali
and all around, with axes.[Hebrew:
i.e. in their ruins] 7 When he had broken down the altars and the wooden images,
had beaten the carved images into powder, and cut down all the incense altars
throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.
# with axes # in Hebrew "BeCharvoteihem" literally meaning "IN THEIR RUINS" from
the word root "CH-R-V"" destroy, ruin, devastate".
The cities of the north had been ruined and devastated by the Assyrians. They
were still in that condition even though here and there new colonists from
Mesopotamia and elsewhere known as Samaritans had began to resettle them.
This explanation of the word "BeCharvoteyhem" corresponds to that of Targum
Yehonatan and of Gersonides (Ralbag). Amongst Modern Commentators it is agreed
to by Daat Mikra and Olam HaTanach.
The Completeness of the Exile
See points (3) and
(Brit-Am Commentary) to
Josiah the One and Only
King of his Kind!
[2-Kings 23:21] Then the king commanded
all the people, saying, 'Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is
written in this Book of the Covenant.'
[2-Kings 23:22] Such a Passover surely had never been held since the days of the
judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and the
kings of Judah.
The Commentary "Me'am Lo'ez brings several possible reasons as to why the
Keeping of this Passover was greater than all others since the Time of Judges:
# This Passover was kept after the High
Places had been abolished whereas up until now they had always remained (Radak,
The existence of the High Places had served a purpose but on the other hand it
had detracted from the purity of worship.
Now the repentance of the people was with a full heart.
# King Josiah and the Princes gave the people a great number of animals to be
sacrificed and eaten.
The feeling of deliverance and participation was greater than it had been for
# There was spiritual uplifting of a kind we would have difficulty to
[2-Kings 23:23] But in the eighteenth
year of King Josiah this Passover was held before the LORD in Jerusalem.
[2-Kings 23:24] Moreover Josiah put away those who consulted mediums and
the household gods and idols, all the abominations that were seen in the land of
Judah and in Jerusalem, 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.
He put away the evil-doers.
They who commit certain types of sin trespass not only against themselves but
versus the whole community.
The Almighty requires us to do the right thing in the communal sense as well as
the private one.
We should resist evil-doers and they who spread wickedness and oppression.
Homosexuals are bad; New Age type witchcraft doctrines are evil.
There is a difference between tolerating others of good faith who may think a
little differently from ourselves than in allowing perversions.
[2-Kings 23:25] Now before him there was
no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul,
and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any
arise like him.
# there was no king like him #: The Commentators ask, What was so great about
Was he more righteous than David, Solomon, Asahel, Hezekiah?
Doubtless he was far above the average in many ways but so were the others and
in many ways they same even more so.
What made Josiah different?
The answer lies in the attempt that Josiah made to re-unite Judah and
The others had other things going for them and they played their cards as they
Josiah was the inner heart of Israel.
He attempted to re-untie the two halves.
He did not succeed or he succeeded only temporarily and only to a small degree.
Nevertheless he knew what the Almighty wanted and what the inner soul of the
nation required and he reached out for it.
# there was no king like him - who
started out with less.
# who turned to the LORD with all his heart - who turned to do what was
#with all his soul, and
with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses - whatever he did was done
as required by the Law.
# nor after him did any arise like him - Israel will have other deliverers.
They will be more successful in many ways.
They will not be the same.
Josiah was different.
For strength of will and purity of motive he may have no equal.
The Death of King Josiah
[2-Kings 23:26] Nevertheless the LORD
did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was
aroused against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had
King Josiah had been genuine in his service of the Almighty but the hearts of
the people of Judah were not with him.
They still hankered after Idolatry.
His dedication and reforms were sufficient to delay the retribution for what had
been committed by Manasseh.
Without real public support however it was not enough to ward off punishment
[2-Kings 23:27] And the LORD said, 'I
will also remove Judah from 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.''
In the same way as Israel (i.e. the Ten Tribes) had been exiled so too will
Judah (the Jews) be taken away.
There was a difference however in that Judah was to be exiled and to return, at
least in part. Israel on the other hand had been exiled and would not return
until the End Times.
20 After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple,
king of Egypt came up to fight against
by the Euphrates; and Josiah went out against him. 21 But he sent messengers to
him, saying, 'What have I to do with you, king of Judah' I have not come against
you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me
to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy
you.' 22 Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised
himself so that he might fight with him, and did not heed the words of
from the mouth of God. So he came to fight in the Valley of Megiddo.
23 And the archers shot King Josiah; and the king said to his servants, 'Take me
away, for I am severely wounded.' 24 His servants therefore took him out of that
chariot and put him in the second chariot that he had, and they brought him to
Jerusalem. So he died, and was buried in one of the tombs of his fathers. And
all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.
25 Jeremiah also lamented for Josiah. And to this day all the singing men and
the singing women speak of Josiah in their lamentations. They made it a custom
in Israel; and indeed they are written in the Laments.
26 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah and his goodness, according to what was
written in the Law of the LORD, 27 and his deeds from first to last, indeed they
are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.
Note the expression above (2-Chronicles 35:21): "...I have not come against you
this day, but against the house with which I have war".
Pharoah Necho, King of Egypt was an ally of Assyria. The King of Assyria
at that time was Ashur-uballit probably a son of Assurbanipal. Assyrian records
for the time are not clear. In Greek tradition the last king of Assyria is
referred to as Sardanapalus which may be a derivation of Assurbanipal. It was
Assurbanipal (Asenapper) who had brought non-Israelite heathens to settle in
Samaria (Ezra 4:11). These became the Samaritans (2-Kings 17:24-40).
Assurbanipal had completed the conquest of Egypt began by his father Essarhaddon.
He then left Egypt in the hands of Psammetichus-1 who henceforth acted as a
semi-independent but reliable vassal.
Pharoah Necho son of Psammetichus-1 in the time of King Josiah marched to the
aid of Assyria. The Kingdom of Assyria was then under siege and had been
virtually destroyed by the Cimmerians and Scythians and the Babylonians. A
remnant of Assyrian forces were attempting a last stand in the region of Harran
in Northern Syria even though Harran itself seems to have been held by the
Scythians. Pharoah Necho went to help Assyria.
We have identified the Cimmerians and Scythians as being in part derived from
the exiled Ten Tribes of Israel.
The Twelve Tribes of Israel had been divided into two separate Kingdoms or
"Houses", the House of Judah and the House of Israel (cf. 1-Kings 20:31).
Perhaps Pharaoh Necho in saying that he had come "against the house with which I
have war" meant to say that he attacking the House of Israel and not the House
Herodotous mentions the encounter of Josiah with Pharoah Necho and
refers to Judah as "the Syrians".
also engaged in a pitched battle at
with the Syrians, and conquered them; and after this he took
which is a great city of Syria. He sent the clothes he had worn in these battles
and dedicated them to Apollo.
[2-Kings 23:28] 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?
[2-Kings 23:29] In his days Pharaoh
king of Egypt went to the aid of the king of Assyria, to the River Euphrates;
and King Josiah went against him. And Pharaoh
killed him at Megiddo when he confronted him.
Necho captured Kadesh on the Orontes River and moved forward,
joining forces with Ashur-uballit. Together they crossed the Euphrates and laid
siege to Harran. They failed to capture Harran, and retreated back to northern
At this point, Ashur-uballit vanishes from history. The Assyrian city of Nineveh
was conquered by Scythians and Medes. The rest of the Assyrian Empire was also
overtaken by an alliance of Scythians, Medes, and Babylonians.
Meanwhile Necho had returned to Egypt but left a sizable force behind in the
On his way back to Egypt, Necho found that the Judeans had selected Jehoahaz to
succeed his father Josiah.
Necho deposed Jehoahaz and replaced him with Jehoiakim, his brother. He took
Jehoahaz back to Egypt as his prisoner, where Jehoahaz ended his days (2-Kings
23:31; 2-Chronicles 36:1-4).
Meanwhile the Medes betrayed their Scythian allies and massacred the leadership.
The Scythians were to be pushed out of the Middle East area. The exit of the Scythians from the region was accelerated in the reign of Nebuchadnessar King of Babylon.
Nevertheless it was still done in stages. Archaeology shows the Scythians retained significant influence in the region for quite
some times after having lost political pre-eminence. The Medes and Babylonians divided the Assyrian Empire
between them. Pharoah Necho returned to the north to eventually be defeated by
and King Jehoiakim.
[2-Kings 23:30] Then his servants moved
his body in a chariot from Megiddo, brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in
his own tomb. And the people of the land took
the son of Josiah, anointed him, and made him king in his father's place.
The servants of King Josiah, who had been killed in battle against the Egyptians
at Megiddo, took his body and buried it in Jerusalem.
The offspring of King Josiah are listed in Chronicles.
15 The sons of Josiah were
Johanan the firstborn, the second
the third Zedekiah, and the fourth
16 The sons of Jehoiakim
his son and Zedekiah his son.
It is thought the Johanan was already dead when Josiah was killed.
Shallum according to Iben Ezra was re-named Jeohahaz.
Jehoiakim was also known as Eliakim. The two names in Hebrew are virtually the
Jeohahaz was anointed King by the "people of the land".
Jeohahaz was made king instead of his brother Jehoiakim who would normally have
The expression "people of the land" and their anointment of Jeohahaz could
suggest a popular coup carried out against the Royal Counselors and officials
who would normally help decide such matters.
"Anointment" in Hebrew is "Mashicha" and an anointed person is a "Mashiach".
Monarchs were only anointed when there was some previous doubt as to their
David was anointed because he was replacing the dynasty of Saul.
Solomon was anointed since his brother Adoniyahu was attempting to claim the
throne at the same time as he was.
Rehoboam was NOT anointed since he was the son of King Solomon and there was
no-one who contested his right to rule.
Joash was anointed ("they made him king and anointed him" 2-Kings 111:12)
because his grandmother Athalia had usurped the throne before him and there was
a need to re-establish his lineage.
Anointment comes to confirm and emphasize legitimacy when there is a need to do
The future Savior of Israel, the Messiah, will be Anointed since though a
descendant of David there will have been no intervening rulership of his
immediate ancestors beforehand.
In this case Jehoahaz was anointed because he was not the first-born son. His
brother, Jehoiakim (who would reign later) was two years older than him. In
principle the monarchy was inherited through the male line. The oldest son had
the first right to succession but not an automatically exclusive one. If there
was something wrong with the eldest son or if one of the younger boys had
markedly superior qualities then the eldest son could be passed over. This is
somewhat similar to the de facto principals of succession in a Hassidic dynasty
The name "Jehoahaz" [pronounced in Modern Hebrew as "Yeho-Achaz"] could mean
"Cling to God" or "God will Strengthen".
was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in
Jerusalem. His mother's name was
Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah
[2-Kings 23:32] And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that
his fathers had done.
The father of Jehoahaz was King Josiah son of Amon. Josiah had been an
exceedingly righteous person. The previous ancestors of Jehoahaz (Amon,
Menasseh) however had been mainly wicked ones.
There is a principal in Biblical thought if one does good then one is rewarded;
do evil then punishment is due. If you are not righteous and your ancestors have
been bad then you are liable to be punished for your own sins along with
additional severity accruing from the reprobate forebears.
On the other hand if one does good then rewards are received. Merit is stored up
like credit in a bank and can be given out to your descendants when they need
it. Payment is made as you would want it to be if you would know all the options
The rewards for good deeds is vastly greater in proportion than the punishment
for bad ones.
9 'Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps
covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep
His commandments;10 and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy
9....For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the
fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate
Me, 10 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My
5...For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the
fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate
Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My
18 'The LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and
transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of
the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation.'
[2-Kings 23:33] Now Pharaoh
put him in prison at Riblah
in the land of Hamath,
that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and he imposed on the land a tribute of
one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.
[2-Kings 23:34] Then Pharaoh
the son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah, and changed his name to
And Pharaoh took Jehoahaz
and went to Egypt, and he died there.
[2-Kings 23:35] So Jehoiakim
gave the silver and gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give money
according to the command of Pharaoh; he exacted the silver and gold from the
people of the land, from every one according to his assessment, to give it to
[2-Kings 23:36] Jehoiakim
was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in
Jerusalem. His mother's name was
Zebudah the daughter of
Continued in Chapter 24.
Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim were brothers but had different mothers.
The mother of Jehoahaz was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah (2-Kings
23:31). [This is not Jeremiah the prophet who also lived at this time, but
someone else by the same name.]
It has been suggested (Yechiel Zvi Moskowitz, "Daat Mikra" on Sefer Yechezkiel
ch. 19) that the mother of Jehoahaz may have been instrumental in obtaining his
Hamutal was the mother of Jehoahaz and Zedekiah (also known as Matanya).
Jehoahaz was king for three months but then deposed and taken to Egypt. In his
place reigned Jehoiakim. The son of Jehoiakim was Jehoiacin (also known as
Jeconia, Conia) who was taken into exile to Babylon. Then Zedekiah became king.
Zedekiah was later taken in chains to Babylon.
Ezekiel 19 tells a parable of a mother lioness who nourished her cubs. One
became a young lion and devoured men but was then trapped and taken in chains to
Egypt. She then brought up another of her cubs who also devoured men and was
taken in nets to Babylon (Ezekiel 19:1-9).
"Daat Mikra" opiners that the intention is to Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah
of Libnah whose son Jeohahaz became King but was then taken to Egypt and then
later her other son Zedekiah was also made King and then exiled to Babylon.
In the Brit-Am Commentary to Ezekiel
we have explained this parable of a mother-lioness as representing Israel when
it was united under King Solomon. The Kingdom divided into two represented by
two young lions who misbehaved. The first lion was taken away to Egypt. This
represents the Lost Ten Tribes who were taken away mainly to Assyria but also to
Egypt. An exile of a portion of the Ten Tribes to "Egypt" is hinted at several
times in Scripture. ...in Hebrew "Egypt" is "Mitsrayim". The term "Mitsrayim"
usually refers to "Egypt" but not always so. It could also mean an area to the
north including "Scythia" in the southern regions of what was once known as the
USSR. The Lost Ten Tribes from areas of "Assyria", i.e. the Assyrian Empire,
did move to Scythia, which could also have been known as "Mitsrayim". ...the
Assyrians referred to Egypt as "Mutsri" but there was also at least one other
place in the north that was also referred to by that name.
There is no contradiction between our interpretation of the parable and its
being based on Hamutal and her sons by King Josiah.
Such is the way of Scripture. Several different teaching and manifold messages
may be encompassed by the one passage.
Concerning King Jehoiakim we are told:
[2-Kings 23:37] And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that
his fathers had done.
Jehoiakim burnt one of the manuscripts of the Prophet Jeremiah.
Another prophet, Uriah ben Shemaiah from Kiriah-Jearim (Kirat Yaarim) fled to
Egypt but Jeoiakim had him extradited and then killed him (Jeremiah 26:20-23).
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