2 Chronicles 34:1
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years.
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(1, 2) Length and character of the reign.

(1) Josiah was eight years old.—So 2Kings 22:1, which adds, “and his mother’s name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath.”

2 Chronicles


2 Chronicles 34:1 - 2 Chronicles 34:13

Another boy king, even younger than his grandfather Manasseh had been at his accession, and another reversal of the father’s religion! These vibrations from idolatry to Jehovah-worship, at the pleasure of the king, sadly tell how little the people cared whom they worshipped, and how purely a matter of ceremonies and names both their idolatry and their Jehovah-worship were. The religion of the court was the religion of the nation, only idolatry was more congenial than the service of God. How far the child monarch Josiah had a deeper sense of what that service meant we cannot decide, but the little outline sketch of him in 2 Chronicles 34:2 - 2 Chronicles 34:3 is at least suggestive of his having it, and may well stand as a fair portrait of early godliness.

A child eight years old, who had been lifted on to the throne of a murdered father, must have had a strong will and a love of goodness to have resisted the corrupting influences of royalty in a land full of idols. Here again we see that, great as may be the power of circumstances, they do not determine character; for it is always open to us either to determine whether we yield to them or resist them. The prevailing idolatry influenced the boy, but it influenced him to hate it with all his heart. So out of the nettle danger we may pluck the flower safety. The men who have smitten down some evil institution have generally been brought up so as to feel its full force.

‘He did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah’-that may mean simply that he worshipped Jehovah by outward ceremonies, but it probably means more; namely, that his life was pure and God-pleasing, or, as we should say, clean and moral, free from the foul vices which solicit a young prince. ‘He walked in the ways of David his father’-not being one of the ‘emancipated’ youths who think it manly to throw off the restraints of their fathers’ faith and morals. He ‘turned not aside to the right hand or to the left’-but marched right onwards on the road that conscience traced out for him, though tempting voices called to him from many a side-alley that seemed to lead to pleasant places. ‘While he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father’-at the critical age of sixteen, when Easterns are older than we, in the flush of early manhood, he awoke to deeper experiences and felt the need for a closer touch of God. A career thus begun will generally prelude a life pure, strenuous, and blessed with a clearer and clearer vision of the God who is always found of them that seek Him. Such a childhood, blossoming into such a boyhood, and flowering in such a manhood, is possible to every child among us. It will ‘still bring forth fruit in old age.’

The two incidents which the passage narrates, the purging of the land and the repair of the Temple, are told in inverted order in 2 Kings, but the order here is probably the more accurate, as dates are given, whereas in 2 Kings, though the purging is related after the Temple restoration, it is not said to have occurred after. But the order is of small consequence. What is important is the fiery energy of Josiah in the work of destruction of the idols. Here, there, everywhere, he flames and consumes. He darts a flash even into the desolate ruins of the Israelitish kingdom, where the idols had survived their devotees and still bewitched the scanty fragments of Israel that remained. The altars of stone were thrown down, the wooden sun-pillars were cut to pieces, the metal images were broken and ground to powder. A clean sweep was made.

A dash of ferocity mingled with contempt appears in Josiah’s scattering the ‘dust’ of the images on the graves of their worshippers, as if he said: ‘There you lie together, pounded idols and dead worshippers, neither able to help the other!’ The same feelings prompted digging up the skeletons of priests and burning the bones on the very altars that they had served, thus defiling the altars and executing judgment on the priests. No doubt there were much violence and a strong strain of the ‘wrath of man’ in all this. Iconoclasts are wont to be ‘violent’; and men without convictions, or who are partisans of what the iconoclasts are rooting out, are horrified at their want of ‘moderation.’ But though violence is always unchristian, indifference to rampant evils is not conspicuously more Christian, and, on the whole, you cannot throttle snakes in a graceful attitude or without using some force to compress the sinuous neck.

The restoration of the Temple comes after the cleansing of the land, in Chronicles, and naturally in the order of events, for the casting out of idols must always precede the building or repairing of the Temple of God. Destructive work is very poor unless it is for the purpose of clearing a space to build the Temple on. Happy the man or the age which is able to do both! Josiah and Joash worked at restoring the Temple in much the same fashion, but Josiah had a priesthood more interested than Joash had.

But we may note one or two points in his restoration. He had put his personal effort into the preparatory extirpation of idols, but he did not need to do so now. He could work this time by deputy. And it is noteworthy that he chose ‘laymen’ to carry out the restoration. Perhaps he knew how Joash had been balked by the knavery of the priests who were diligent in collecting money, but slow in spending it on the Temple. At all events, he delegated the work to three highly-placed officials, the secretary of state, the governor of Jerusalem, and the official historian.

It appears that for some time a collection had been going on for Temple repairs; probably it had been begun six years before, when the ‘purging’ of the land began. It had been carried on by the Levites, and had been contributed to even by ‘the remnant of Israel’ in the northern kingdom, who, in their forlorn weakness, had begun to feel the drawings of ancient brotherhood and the tie of a common worship. This fund was in the keeping of the high priest, and the three commissioners were instructed to require it from him. Here 2 Kings is clearer than our passage, and shows that what the three officials had mainly to do was to get the money from Hilkiah, and to hand it over to the superintendents of the works.

There are two remarkable points in the narrative; one is the observation that ‘the men did the work faithfully,’ which comes in rather enigmatically here, but in 2 Kings is given as the reason why no accounts were kept. Not an example to be imitated, and the sure way to lead subordinates sooner or later to deal unfaithfully; but a pleasant indication of the spirit animating all concerned.

Surely these men worked ‘as ever in the great Taskmaster’s eye.’ That is what makes us work faithfully, whether we have any earthly overseer or audit or no. Another noteworthy matter is that not only were the superintendents of the work-the ‘contractors,’ as we might say-Levites, but so were also the inferior superintendents, or, as we might say, ‘foremen.’

And not only so, but they were those that ‘were skilful with instruments of music.’ What were musicians doing there? Did the building rise

‘with the sound

Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet?’

May we not gather from this singular notice the great thought that for all rearing of the true Temple, harps of praise are no less necessary than swords or trowels, and that we shall do no right work for God or man unless we do it as with melody in our hearts? Our lives must be full of music if we are to lay even one stone in the Temple.

2 Chronicles 34:1. Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign — The reader will find the principal parts of this chapter explained at large in the notes on 2 Kings 22. and 23., to which he is referred.

34:1-33 Josiah's good reign in Judah. - As the years of infancy cannot be useful to our fellow-creatures, our earliest youth should be dedicated to God, that we may not waste any of the remaining short space of life. Happy and wise are those who seek the Lord and prepare for usefulness at an early age, when others are pursuing sinful pleasures, contracting bad habits, and forming ruinous connexions. Who can express the anguish prevented by early piety, and its blessed effects? Diligent self-examination and watchfulness will convince us of the deceitfulness and wickedness of our own hearts, and the sinfulness of our lives. We are here encouraged to humble ourselves before God, and to seek unto him, as Josiah did. And believers are here taught, not to fear death, but to welcome it, when it takes them away from the evil to come. Nothing hastens the ruin of a people, nor ripens them for it, more than their disregard of the attempts made for their reformation. Be not deceived, God is not mocked. The current and tide of affections only turns at the command of Him who raises up those that are dead in trespasses and sins. We behold peculiar loveliness, in the grace the Lord bestows on those, who in tender years seek to know and to love the Saviour. Hath Jesus, the Day-spring from on high, visited you? Can you trace your knowledge of this light and life of man, like Josiah, from your youth? Oh the unspeakable happiness of becoming acquainted with Jesus from our earliest years!Compare the parallel history of 2 Kings 22 notes; 2 Kings 23:1-30 notes; the writer here being more full on the celebration of the Passover. The only approach to a discrepancy between the two narratives is with respect to the time of the religions reformation, which the writer of Chronicles distinctly places before, the author of Kings after, the repair of the temple. The best explanation seems to be, that the author of Kings has departed from the chronological order, to which he makes no profession of adhering. CHAPTER 34

2Ch 34:1, 2. Josiah's Good Reign.

1. Josiah was eight years old—(See on [473]2Ki 22:1). The testimony borne to the undeviating steadfastness of his adherence to the cause of true religion places his character and reign in honorable contrast with those of many of his royal predecessors.Josiah’s good reign, 2 Chronicles 34:1,2. He destroyeth idolatry, 2 Chronicles 34:3-7. He repairs the temple, 2 Chronicles 34:8-13. The book of the law found, 2 Chronicles 34:14-22. Huldah prophesieth the destruction of Jerusalem, 2 Chronicles 34:23-28. Josiah’s covenant with God, 2 Chronicles 34:29-33.

Of this chapter, see the notes on 2 Kings 22 2Ki 23.

Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign,.... Of these two verses; see Gill on 2 Kings 22:1; see Gill on 2 Kings 22:2. Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years.
Ch. 2 Chronicles 34:1-2 (= 2 Kings 22:1-2). Josiah’s good Reign

1. In Jerusalem one and thirty years] R.V. thirty and one years in Jerusalem (as 2 Kin.). Here the Chronicler omits Josiah’s mother’s name; cp. 2 Chronicles 33:1; 2 Chronicles 33:21.

Verse 1. - Again the name of the mother is omitted. From the parallel we learn she was "Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath." 2 Chronicles 34:1Duration and spirit of Josiah's reign; agreeing with 2 Kings 22:1, 2 Kings 22:2, only the note as to Josiah's mother being here omitted.
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