And so did he in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even to Naphtali, with their mattocks round about.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And so did he in the cities . . . unto Naphtali.—Sec 2Kings 23:15; 2Kings 23:19, according to which Josiah destroyed the sanctuary of Bethel, and the high places “in the cities of Samaria,” i.e., the northern kingdom.
Simeon is again mentioned somewhat strangely, as in 2Chronicles 15:9, no doubt because Beersheba, a famous sanctuary within its territory, was a place of pilgrimage for the northern tribes.
With their mattocks.—Rather, in their ruins; reading behorbuthêhem, instead of behorbôthêhem, which means “with their swords.” (Comp. Ezekiel 26:9.) The phrase qualifies the word “cities.” The cities of Israel had been ruined by the Assyrians, Sargon. and Shalmaneser, the latter of whom took Samaria, after a three years’ siege, and carried the people captive to Assyria, in 721 B.C., replacing them by foreign colonists. This explains how it was that Josiah was able to desecrate the northern sanctuaries, and slay their priests (2Kings 23:20). The ordinary Hebrew text divides the word thus: behar bûtthêhem, so as to suggest the reading behar bûtthêhem, “in the hill of their houses.” The LXX. has “in their places round about”; the Vulg. omits the phrase; and the Syriac reads “in their streets around.” The whole verse should be connected with 2Chronicles 34:7, thus: “And in the cities of Manasseh and Ephraim and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, to wit, in their ruins round about, he pulled down the altars and the Asherim; and the carven images he dashed into pieces unto pulverising.” Hedaq is an unusual form of the infinitive, not a perfect, as Bertheau supposes.2 Chronicles 34:6. Even unto Naphtali — Which was in the utmost borders of the kingdom of Israel. For it must be remembered, that the ten tribes were now gone into captivity; and those who were come in their stead were weak and few, and not able to withstand the power of Josiah.2 Kings 23:19 note).
With their mattocks ... - Or "in their desolate places" (compare Psalm 109:10). Another reading gives the sense, "he proved their house round about."Even unto Naphtali; which was in the utmost and northern borders of the kingdom of Israel. For it must be remembered that the ten tribes were now gone into captivity; and those who were come in their stead were weak and few, and not able to withstand the power of Josiah. 2 Kings 23:19,
with their mattocks round about; or hammers or mauls, as Kimchi, or pick axes, such sort of instruments as were used in demolishing altars and images: the Targum is,"in the house of their desolation;''
and so other versions, "in their desolate places" (x), which were become such, the inhabitants being carried captive, and few left behind.And so did he in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks round about.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. Simeon] Here as in 2 Chronicles 15:9 regarded as belonging to the Northern tribes, but their cities were in the south; cp. 1 Chronicles 4:28 ff.
with their mattocks] R.V. in their ruins (with marginal note, “The text is probably corrupt”). LXX. ἐν … τοῖς τόποις αὐτῶν i.e. “in their places.” Pesh. reads, in their broad places, and this is probably correct.Verse 6. - In the cities of Manasseh,... Ephraim,... Simeon, even unto Naphtali. Manasseh and Ephraim lay very nearly in the centre of the whole land, while Simeon and Naphtali were respectively at the southern and northern extremities. With their mattocks. This rendering may be correct, and cannot be said to be foreign to the sense and connection of the passage, the Hebrew word in that ease being the feminine plural of חֶרֶב Perhaps, however, the word is one with that found in Psalm 109:10, and may be rendered "in their ruined," i.e. semi-ruined, "condition." Note Keri also, which favours the latter reading; the Septuagint shows simply words which may best translate, and in their neighbourhoods respectively. 2 Kings 21:19-26. - Both accounts agree; only in the Chronicle, as is also the case with Manasseh and Ahaz, the name of his mother is omitted, and the description of his godless deeds is somewhat more brief than in Kings, while the remark is added that he did not humble himself like Manasseh, but increased the guilt. In the account of his death there is nothing said of his funeral, nor is there any reference to the sources of his history. See the commentary on 2 Kings 21:19.
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