And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, round about the king, from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple, along by the altar and the temple.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The guard.—Literally, the Couriers; not therefore the Levites.
And the temple.—And at the Temple. The guard formed in two lines, extending from the south wall to the north wall of the court, one line standing at the altar of burnt offering, which was near the entrance, the other at the sanctuary itself. The words “round about the king” are anticipative.2 Kings 11:11. The guard stood from the right to the left corner of the temple — From the south-east to the north-east side. Along by the altar — Of burnt-offerings, which was by the great eastern gate of the temple. The meaning is, they defended the temple on all sides.
4. the seventh year—namely, of the reign of Athaliah, and the rescue of Jehoash.
Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers, &c.—He could scarcely have obtained such a general convocation except at the time, or on pretext, of a public and solemn festival. Having revealed to them the secret of the young king's preservation and entered into a covenant with them for the overthrow of the tyrant, he then arranged with them the plan and time of carrying their plot into execution (see on 2Ch 22:10-23:21). The conduct of Jehoiada, who acted the leading and chief part in this conspiracy, admits of an easy and full justification; for, while Athaliah was a usurper, and belonged to a race destined by divine denunciation to destruction, even his own wife had a better and stronger claim to the throne; the sovereignty of Judah had been divinely appropriated to the family of David, and therefore the young prince on whom it was proposed to confer the crown, possessed an inherent right to it, of which a usurper could not deprive him. Moreover, Jehoiada was most probably the high priest, whose official duty it was to watch over the due execution of God's laws, and who in his present movement, was encouraged and aided by the countenance and support of the chief authorities, both civil and ecclesiastical, in the country. In addition to all these considerations, he seems to have been directed by an impulse of the Divine Spirit, through the counsels and exhortations of the prophets of the time.From the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple; from the south-east to the north-east side. By the altar; the altar of burnt-offerings, which was by the great and eastern gate of the temple.
And the temple, i.e. by and towards the other parts of the temple, which they defended on all sides. 2 Kings 11:8.
from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple from the northeast to the southeast:And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, round about the king, from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple, along by the altar and the temple.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. And the guard stood] These are the ‘runners’, the foot-soldiers, whose duty was on the outside of the temple.
round about the king, &c.] The R.V. changes the order of words here, as well as the rendering, to that which is adopted for the same Hebrew in 2 Chron. They are thus translated, from the right side of the house to the left side of the house along by the altar and the house, by the king round about. To understand how these guards were ranged it must be remembered that the altar stood in the court in front of the temple porch. Hence from each corner of the porch, on the right and left, the men were ranged in lines between the temple and the altar, so that when the king came forth he could advance between them, and the lines gradually came towards each other as they neared the altar, so that it can be said of them that they were along by the altar and by the house. The space enclosed by them would be somewhat triangular in form, the base being the width of the temple porch. Into this space Joash was brought forth, and there proclaimed and anointed in the sight of the people who in 2 Chronicles are said to have been gathered in the temple courts.Verse 11. - And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, round about the king, from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple. "Corner" is a wrong word used in this connection. The Hebrew כָתֶף is literally, "shoulder," and must mean here, not "corner," but "side" (so our Revisers). The guard was drawn up right across the temple court from wall to wall, probably in several ranks, both before and behind the king (see ver. 8). Along by the altar. The "altar" intended is, of course, the altar of burnt offering, which stood in the great court, a little way from the porch, right in front of it; not the altar of incense, which was inside the sanctuary. No one, it must be remembered, was ever allowed to enter inside the sanctuary but the priests and officiating Levites (see 2 Chronicles 23:6). And the temple. "The temple" is here the sanctuary, as in the passage of Chronicles just quoted. The guard occupied a position at the upper end of the court, immediately in front of the altar and the temple porch. 1 Chronicles 23-26 with Josephus (Ant. vii. 14, 7), who expressly says that every one of the twenty-four classes of priests had to attend to the worship of God "for eight days, from Sabbath to Sabbath," also with Luke 1:5. On the other hand, we do not know that there was any similar division and obligation to serve in connection with the royal body-guard or with the army. The current opinion, that by those who come on the Sabbath and those who go out on the Sabbath we are to understand the king's halberdiers or the guard of the palace, is therefore proved to be unfounded and untenable. And if there could be any doubt on the matter, it would be removed by 2 Kings 11:7 and 2 Kings 11:10. According to 2 Kings 11:7, two parts of those who went away (were relieved) on the Sabbath were to undertake the guarding of the house of Jehovah about the king, i.e., to keep guard over that room in the temple where the king then was. Could Jehoiada have used the royal body-guard, that was being relieved from guarding the palace, for such a purpose as this? Who can imagine that this is a credible thing? According to 2 Kings 11:10, Jehoiada gave to the captains over a hundred the weapons of king David, which were in the house of Jehovah. Did the palace-guard then return without weapons? In 2 Chronicles 23:4, "those coming on the Sabbath" are correctly described as the priests and Levites coming on the Sabbath, i.e., the priests and Levites who entered upon their week's duty at the temple on the Sabbath. According to this explanation of the words, which is the only one that can be grammatically sustained, the facts were as follows: "When Jehoiada had initiated the captains of the royal halberdiers, and with their help the heads of families of the people generally, into his plan of raising the youthful Joash to the throne and dethroning Athaliah, he determined to carry out the affair chiefly with the help of the priests and Levites who entered upon their duty in the temple on the Sabbath, and of those who left or were relived at the same time, and entrusted the command over these men to the captains of the royal halberdiers, that they might occupy the approaches to the temple with the priests and Levites under their command, so as to prevent the approach of any military from the king's palace and protect the youthful king. These captains had come to the temple without weapons, to avoid attracting attention. Jehoiada therefore gave them the weapons of king David that were kept in the temple.
With regard to the distribution of the different posts, the fact that two-thirds are spoken of first of all in 2 Kings 11:5, 2 Kings 11:6, and then two parts in 2 Kings 11:7, occasions no difficulty. For the two-thirds mentioned in 2 Kings 11:5, 2 Kings 11:6 were those who came on the Sabbath, whereas the "two divisions" (היּדות שׁתּי) referred to in 2 Kings 11:7 were all who went away on the Sabbath. Consequently the priests and Levites, who came on the Sabbath and entered upon the week's service, were divided into three sections; and those who should have been relieved, but were detained, into two. Probably the number of those who came this time to perform service at the temple was much larger than usual, as the priests were initiated into Jehoiada's secret; so that it was possible to make three divisions of those who arrived, whereas those who were about to depart could only be formed into two. The three divisions of those who were entering upon duty are also distinctly mentioned in the Chronicles; whereas, instead of the two divisions of those who were relieved, "all the people" are spoken of. The description of the different posts which were assigned to these several companies causes some difficulty. In general, so much is clearly indicated in 2 Kings 11:7 and 2 Kings 11:8, that the two divisions of those who were relieved on the Sabbath were to keep guard over the young king in the house of Jehovah, and therefore to remain in the inner spaces of the temple-court for his protection; whereas the three divisions of those who were entering upon duty were charged with the occupation of the external approaches to the temple. One-third was to "keep watch over the king's house," i.e., to observe whatever had to be observed in relation to the king's palace; not to occupy the king's palace, or to keep guard in the citadel at the palace gate (Thenius), but to keep watch towards the royal palace, i.e., to post themselves so that no one could force a way into the temple, with which the indefinite המּלך בּבית in the Chronicles harmonizes, if we only translate it "against (at) the king's house." The idea that the palace was guarded is precluded not only by 2 Kings 11:13, according to which Athaliah came out of the palace to the people to the house of Jehovah, which she would not have been able to do if the palace had been guarded, but also by the circumstance that, according to 2 Kings 11:19, the chief men were in the temple with the whole of the (assembled) people, and did not go out of the house of Jehovah into the king's house till after the anointing of Joash and the death of Athaliah. The other third was to station itself at the gate Sur (סוּר), or, according to the Chronicles, Yesod (יסוד), foundation-gate. There is no doubt as to the identity of the gate Sur and the gate Yesod; only we cannot decide whether one of these names has simply sprung from a copyist's error, or whether the gate had two different names. The name יסוד שׁער, foundation-gate, suggests a gate in the outer court of the temple, at the hollow of either the Tyropoeon or the Kedron; for the context precludes our thinking of a palace gate. The third division was to be posted "at the gate behind the runners;" or, as it is stated in 2 Kings 11:19, "at the gate of the runners." It is very evident from 2 Kings 11:19 that this gate led from the temple-court to the royal palace upon Zion, and was therefore on the western side of the court of the temple. This also follows from 2 Kings 11:4 of the Chronicles, according to which this division was to act as "doorkeepers of the thresholds" (הסּפּים לשׁערי), i.e., to keep guard at the gate of the thresholds. For we may safely infer, from a comparison with 1 Chronicles 9:19, that הסּפּים were the thresholds of the ascent to the temple. The last clause, "and shall keep guard over the house for defence," refers to all three divisions, and serves to define with greater precision the object for which they were stationed there. מסּח is not a proper name (lxx, Luther, and others), but an appellative in the sense of defence or resistance, from נסח, depellere. The meaning is, that they were to guard the house, to keep off the people, and not to let any of the party of Athaliah force a way into the temple. - In 2 Kings 11:7, הש יצאי כּל is an explanatory apposition to בּכם ot היּדות וּשׁתּי, "and the two parts in (of) you," namely, all who go out on the Sabbath, i.e., are relieved from duty. Their task, to observe the watch of the house of Jehovah with regard to the king, is more precisely defined in 2 Kings 11:8 as signifying, that they were to surround the king with weapons in their hands, and slay every one who attempted to force a way into their ranks. וּבבאו בּצאתו, i.e., in all his undertakings, or in all his steps; ובוא צאת being applied to the actions and pursuits of a man, as in Deuteronomy 28:6; Deuteronomy 31:2, etc. (see the Comm. on Numbers 27:17). Thenius has explained this incorrectly: "in his going out of the temple and entering into the palace."
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