|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
35:20-27 The Scripture does not condemn Josiah's conduct in opposing Pharaoh. Yet Josiah seems to deserve blame for not inquiring of the Lord after he was warned; his death might be a rebuke for his rashness, but it was a judgment on a hypocritical and wicked people. He that lives a life of repentance, faith, and obedience, cannot be affected by the sudden manner in which he is removed. The people lamented him. Many mourn over sufferings, who will not forsake the sins that caused God to send them. Yet this alone can turn away judgments. If we blame Josiah's conduct, we should be watchful, lest we be cut down in a way dishonourable to our profession.
Verse 20. - After all this. A period of about thirteen years of happy retrospect is now the portion of the good king. This period brings itself to an unhappy and even fatal termination in the year B.C. 608; when, as it would appear by the result, King Josiah did wrong, and went out of his way, in opposing the march of Pharaoh-Necho (who reigned B.C. 611-595), successor of Psammetichus King of Egypt, against Cyaxares (the monarch who, with Nabo-polassar, had taken Nineveh, B.C. 625) King of Assyria (2 Kings 23:29), or King of Babylon at Circesium on the River Phrat, the head-quarters now of the united Assyrian and Babylonian power. Where the fault or sin of Josiah lay - whether he ran before he was sent, or whether, according to our following two verses, he set out against the Divine word by Necho - is certainly a question left in obscurity. Nothing is said in our history or its parallel to accredit the tale of Necho, or to discredit the heart and motive of Josiah - nothing except what silence and the result seem to say. One other clement of interest and of difficulty may be added to the question; for of the thirteen years' interval, which we have described above as one presumably of happy retrospect in certain aspects for Josiah, we know nothing from Scripture, but have every reason to suppose that during it Josiah and his kingdom had become subject, if only nominally, to Nabopolassar; so that, in offering to resist Necho of Egypt, he was offering to strengthen so far forth the royal line which did dishonour to his own country and his country's God. Upon this supposition, however, we can lay no stress.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple,.... Purified it, and cleansed it from the filth in it, and from all idolatry, and had repaired it, and put the service of it in good order, and on a good footing, after which great prosperity in church and state might have been expected:
Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates; now called Querquisia, supposed by some to be the same with the Cadytis of Herodotus, which that historian calls a great city of Syria, whither he says Necho went after the battle with the Syrians (x); of which See Gill on Isaiah 10:9 and of this king of Egypt; see Gill on 2 Kings 23:29, Jeremiah 46:2.
and Josiah went out against him; or to meet him, and stop him from going through his land, which lay between Egypt and Syria; Egypt being on the south of Israel, and Euphrates on the north of it, as Jarchi observes.
(x) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 159. & Galei not. in ib.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2Ch 35:20-27. His Death.
20. After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple—He most probably calculated that the restoration of the divine worship, with the revival of vital religion in the land, would lead, according to God's promise and the uniform experience of the Hebrew people, to a period of settled peace and increased prosperity. His hopes were disappointed. The bright interval of tranquillity that followed his re-establishment of the true religion was brief. But it must be observed that this interruption did not proceed from any unfaithfulness in the divine promise, but from the state into which the kingdom of Judah had brought itself by the national apostasy, which was drawing down upon it the long threatened but long deferred judgments of God.
Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates—Necho, son of Psammetichus, succeeded to the throne of Egypt in the twentieth year of Josiah. He was a bold and enterprising king, who entered with all his heart into the struggle which the two great powers of Egypt and Assyria had long carried on for the political ascendency. Each, jealous of the aggressive movements of its rival, was desirous to maintain Palestine as a frontier barrier. After the overthrow of Israel, the kingdom of Judah became in that respect doubly important. Although the king and people had a strong bias for alliance with Egypt, yet from the time of Manasseh it had become a vassal of Assyria. Josiah, true to his political no less than his religious engagements, thought himself bound to support the interests of his Assyrian liege lord. Hence, when "Necho king of Egypt came up to fight Carchemish, Josiah went out against him." Carchemish, on the eastern side of the Euphrates, was the key of Assyria on the west, and in going thither the king of Egypt would transport his troops by sea along the coast of Palestine, northwards. Josiah, as a faithful vassal, resolved to oppose Necho's march across the northern parts of that country. They met in the "valley of Megiddo," that is, the valley or plain of Esdraelon. The Egyptian king had come either by water or through the plains of Philistia, keeping constantly along the coast, round the northwest corner of Carmel, and so to the great plain of Megiddo. This was not only his direct way to the Euphrates, but the only route fit for his chariots, while thereby also he left Judah and Jerusalem quite to his right. In this valley, however, the Egyptian army had necessarily to strike across the country, and it was on that occasion that Josiah could most conveniently intercept his passage. To avoid the difficulty of passing the river Kishon, Necho kept to the south of it, and must, therefore, have come past Megiddo. Josiah, in following with his chariots and horsemen from Jerusalem, had to march northwards along the highway through Samaria by Kefr-Kud (the ancient Caper-Cotia) to Megiddo [Van De Velde].
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