And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Genesis 37:29 and Job JObadiah 1:20, partly in repentance, like Ahab 1 Kings 21:27.
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.The words of the book of the law, i. e. the dreadful comminations against them for the sins still reigning among the people.
Quest. Did Josiah never see and read a copy of this book before this time? If he did not, how could he do so much towards the reformation of religion, as he did before? if he did, why was he not sooner convinced and humbled by it?
Answ. If Josiah had not yet seen a copy of this book, (which is not impossible,) yet there was so much of the law left in the minds and memories of many of the people, as might easily persuade and direct him to all that he did till this time; or if Josiah had seen and read it before, which seems more probable, yet the great reverence which he justly bore to the original book, and the strange, and remarkable, and seasonable finding of it, had very much awakened and quickened him to a more serious and diligent reading, and attentive consideration, of all the passages contained in it, than he used before. Deuteronomy 17:18 nor had read it, at least not the whole of it; and yet it seems strange that he should be twenty six years of age, as he now was, and had proceeded far in the reformation of worship, and yet be without the book of the law, and the high priest also; it looks as if it was, as some have thought, that they had till now only some abstracts of the law, and not the whole: and perhaps the reformation hitherto carried on chiefly lay in abolishing idolatry, and not so much in restoring the ordinances of worship to their purity; for it was after this that the ordinance of the passover was ordered to be kept; and when the king observed, on hearing the law read, that it had not been kept as it should, that such severe threatenings were denounced against the transgressors of it; And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. he rent his clothes] From what is said afterwards in verse 19, we can see that the portions which affected the king were such passages as Deuteronomy 28. There in verse 15, it is said, ‘If thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God … all these curses shall come upon thee’. And in verse 45 ‘all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee and overtake thee till thou be destroyed’. And in verse 37, ‘Thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb and a byword among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee’.Verse 11. - And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the Law, that he rent his clothes. To Josiah the book was evidently, as to Hilkiah, in some sort a discovery. It was not, however, a wholly new thing; rather, he accepted it as the recovery of a thing that was known to have been lost, and was now happily found. And in accepting it he regarded it as authoritative. It was not to him "a book of Law" (Ewald), but "the book of the Law." We can well imagine that, although the book may have been lost early in Manasseh's reign, yet echoes of it had lingered on
(1) in the liturgies of the Jehovistic worship;
(2) in the teachings of the prophets;
(3) in the traditional teaching of religious families; so that the pious ear recognized its phrases as familiar.
It is also probable that there were external tokens about the book indicative of its character, which caused its ready acceptance. 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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