And Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest has delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Read it before the king.—Keil suggests such passages as Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26. If it were meant that Shaphan read the whole of the book, as Thenius alleges, we should expect “all the words of the book” in 2Kings 22:11.2 Kings 22:10-11. And Shaphan read it before the king — That is, some part of it, for it cannot be supposed that he read all of it, especially at one time. When the king heard the words of the book — The dreadful comminations contained in it against them for the sins still reigning among them; he rent his clothes — Being very deeply affected with a sense of the greatness of their guilt, and an apprehension that dreadful judgments hung over them, and were ready to fall upon them. It appears from this, that whether this was the only authentic copy of the law in existence or not, yet the things contained in it were new, both to the king himself, and also to the high- priest. And if even they were strangers to them, how much more may we reasonably suppose the people in general were. It is true, every king was commanded to write a copy of the law with his own hand, (Deuteronomy 17:18,) and the law was to be publicly read every seventh year. But, it is probable, these customs had been intermitted for a long time, and that the body of the people had no other way of coming to the knowledge of God’s laws, but by word of mouth from one to another; a method which must have been attended with great imperfection and uncertainty. And accordingly we find, that even in the times of pious kings, and public reformation, the people, notwithstanding, continued in the practice of many things directly contrary to the law of Moses, such as sacrificing and burning incense on high places. And they seem to have done these things as if they did not know that they were forbidden. And certainly it must have been very difficult for them, had they been ever so desirous of it, to obtain a knowledge of all the things required of them in the law. It was no marvel that the people were so corrupt, when the book of the law was such a scarce thing, and its contents so little known among them. Where that vision is not, the people perish. From hence we may take occasion to reflect with gratitude on the great privileges we possess, in that we live in times when the art of printing has made it comparatively easy, in most Christian countries, at least in our own, for every one to have a copy of the divine law in his hands, to be his constant director, to be consulted on all occasions, and to be the matter of his meditation at all times. An advantage this of inestimable value, if it be made a right use of.2 Kings 12:9.
8-11. Hilkiah said … I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord, &c.—that is, the law of Moses, the Pentateuch. It was the temple copy which, had been laid (De 31:25, 26) beside the ark in the most holy place. During the ungodly reigns of Manasseh and Amon—or perhaps under Ahaz, when the temple itself had been profaned by idols, and the ark also (2Ch 35:3) removed from its site; it was somehow lost, and was now found again during the repair of the temple [Keil]. Delivered by Hilkiah the discoverer to Shaphan the scribe [2Ki 22:8], it was by the latter shown and read to the king. It is thought, with great probability, that the passage read to the king, and by which the royal mind was so greatly excited, was a portion of Deuteronomy, the twenty-eighth, twenty-ninth, and thirtieth chapters, in which is recorded a renewal of the national covenant, and an enumeration of the terrible threats and curses denounced against all who violated the law, whether prince or people. The impressions of grief and terror which the reading produced on the mind of Josiah have seemed to many unaccountable. But, as it is certain from the extensive and familiar knowledge displayed by the prophets, that there were numbers of other copies in popular circulation, the king must have known its sacred contents in some degree. But he might have been a stranger to the passage read him, or the reading of it might, in the peculiar circumstances, have found a way to his heart in a manner that he never felt before. His strong faith in the divine word, and his painful consciousness that the woeful and long-continued apostasies of the nation had exposed them to the infliction of the judgments denounced, must have come with overwhelming force on the heart of so pious a prince.
saying, Hilkiah the high priest hath delivered me a book; but did not say what book it was:
and Shaphan read it before the king; part of it; and it is thought by Kimchi and Ben Gersom that he particularly read the reproofs and threatenings in the book of Deuteronomy; they suppose that Hilkiah read those to Shaphan, and directed him to read them to the king, that he might take into consideration a further reformation.And Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)10. Shaphan … shewed [R.V. told] the king] The R.V. has taken the rendering in Chronicles where the Hebrew is the same. ‘Shewed’ is open to a wrong sense.
Hilkiah … hath delivered me a book] Though Shaphan is represented as speaking of a book, there can be no question that he knew what the book was. ‘The book of the Law’ had a well-defined meaning for him. How far the king understood what such a book contained is questionable. The sacrifices and other religious observances in which he had taken part he of course understood. It is manifest that there was in this book something more than he had known before, from his alarm when he heard it read.
And Shaphan read it] i.e. Portions of it. The Hebrew in 2 Chronicles expresses this, and says ‘he read in it’.Verse 10. - And Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. Shaphan does not venture to-characterize the book, as Hilkiah has done. He is not officially learned in the Law. And he has only read a few passages of it. To him, therefore, it is only "a book," the authorship and value of which he leaves it to others to determine. And Shaphan read it before the king. It is most natural to understand hero, as in ver. 8, that Shaphan read portions of the book. Where the author intends to say that the whole book was read, he expresses himself differently (see 2 Kings 23:2, "The king read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant"). 2 Chronicles 34:8-18). - When Josiah sent Shaphan the secretary of state (סופר, see at 2 Samuel 8:17) into the temple, in the eighteenth year of his reign, with instructions to Hilkiah the high priest to pay to the builders the money which had been collected from the people for repairing the temple by the Levites who kept the door, Hilkiah said to Shaphan, "I have found the book of the law." 2 Kings 22:3-8 form a long period. The apodosis to וגו ויהי, "it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah-the king had sent Shaphan," etc., does not follow till 2 Kings 22:8 : "that Hilkiah said," etc. The principal fact which the historian wished to relate, was the discovery of the book of the law; and the repairing of the temple is simply mentioned because it was when Shaphan was sent to Hilkiah about the payment of the money to the builders that the high priest informed the king's secretary of state of the discovery of the book of the law in the temple, and handed it over to him to take to the king. המּלך שׁלח, in 2 Kings 22:3, forms the commencement to the minor clauses inserted within the principal clause, and subordinate to it: "the king had sent Shaphan," etc. According to 2 Chronicles 34:8, the king had deputed not only Shaphan the state-secretary, but also Maaseiah the governor of the city and Joach the chancellor, because the repairing of the temple was not a private affair of the king and the high priest, but concerned the city generally, and indeed the whole kingdom. In 2 Kings 22:4, 2 Kings 22:5 there follows the charge given by the king to Shaphan: "Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may make up the money, ... and hand it over to the workmen appointed over the house of Jehovah," etc. יתּם, from תּמם, Hiphil, signifies to finish or set right, i.e., not pay out (Ges., Dietr.), but make it up for the purpose of paying out, namely, collect it from the door-keepers, count it, and bind it up in bags (see 2 Kings 12:11). יתּם is therefore quite appropriate here, and there is no alteration of the text required. The door-keepers had probably put the money in a chest placed at the entrance, as was the case at the repairing of the temple in the time of Joash (2 Kings 12:10). In 2 Kings 22:5 the Keri יתנהוּ is a bad alteration of the Chethb יתנה, "and give (it) into the hand," which is perfectly correct. המּלאכה עשׁי might denote both the masters and the workmen (builders), and is therefore defined more precisely first of all by יי בּבית המּפקדים, "who had the oversight at the house of Jehovah," i.e., the masters or inspectors of the building, and secondly by יי בּבית אשׁר, who were (occupied) at the house of Jehovah, whilst in the Chronicles it is explained by י עשׂים ב אשׁר. The Keri יי בּית is an alteration after 2 Kings 22:9, whereas the combination בּבית מפקדים is justified by the construction of הפקיד c. acc. pers. and בּ rei in Jeremiah 40:5. The masters are the subject to ויתּנוּ; they were to pay the money as it was wanted, either to the workmen, or for the purchase of materials for repairing the dilapidations, as is more precisely defined in 2 Kings 22:6. Compare 2 Kings 12:12-13; and for 2 Kings 22:7 compare 2 Kings 12:16. The names of the masters or inspectors are given in 2 Chronicles 34:12. - The execution of the king's command is not specially mentioned, that the parenthesis may not be spun out any further.
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