And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the LORD, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)In the eighteenth year.—See the Notes on 2Chronicles 34:3, seq. The discourses of Jeremiah, who began his prophetic ministry in the thirteenth year of Josiah, to which Thenius refers as incomprehensible on the assumption that idolatry was extirpated throughout the country in the twelfth year of this king, would be quite reconcilable even with that assumption, which, however, it is not necessary to make, as is shown in the Notes on Chronicles. Josiah did not succeed, any more than Hezekiah, in rooting out the spirit of apostasy. (See Jeremiah 2:1; Jeremiah 4:2). The young king was, no doubt influenced for good by the discourses of Jeremiah and Zephaniah; but it is not easy to account for his heeding the prophetic teachings, considering that, as the grandson of a Manasseh and the son of an Amon he must have been brought up under precisely opposite influences (Thenius).
The king sent Shaphan . . . the scribe.—Chronicles mentions beside Maaseiah, the governor of the city, and Joah the recorder. Thenius pronounces these personages fictitious, because (1) only the scribe is mentioned in 2Kings 12:10 (?); (2) Joshua was the then governor of the city (but this is not quite clear: the Joshua of 2Kings 23:8 may have been a former governor; or, as Maaseiah and Joshua are very much alike in Hebrew, one name may be a corruption of the other); (3) Maaseiah seems to have been manufactured out of the Asahiah of 2Kings 22:12 (but Asahiah is mentioned as a distinct person in 2Chronicles 34:20); and (4) Joah the recorder seems to have been borrowed from 2Kings 18:18 (as if anything could be inferred from a recurrence of the same name; and that probably in the same family !). Upon such a basis of mere conjecture, the inference is raised that the chronicler invented these names, in order “to give a colour of genuine history to his narrative.” It is obvious to reply that Shaphan only is mentioned here, as the chief man in the business. (Comp, also 2Kings 18:17; 2Kings 19:8).
Go up to Hilkiah the priest.—The account of the repair of the Temple under Josiah naturally resembles that of the same proceeding under Joash (2Kings 12:10, seq.) More than 200 years had since elapsed, so that the fabric might well stand in need of repair, apart from the defacements which it had undergone at the hands of heathenish princes (2Chronicles 34:2). The text does not say that the repair of the Temple had been “longtemps négligée par l’incurie des prêtres” (Reuss),
That he may sum—i.e., make up, ascertain the amount of . . . The LXX. reads, seal up (σφράγισον), which implies a Hebrew verb, of which that in the present Hebrew text might be a corruption.2 Kings 22:3-4. In the eighteenth year of King Josiah — Not of his life, but of his reign, as it is expressed, 2 Chronicles 34:3; 2 Chronicles 34:8. The king sent Shaphan — The secretary of state; saying, Go up to Hilkiah, that he may sum the silver — Take an exact account how much it is, and then dispose of it in the manner following. Which the keepers of the door have gathered — Who were priests or Levites, 2 Kings 8:9; 2 Chronicles 8:14. It seems, they took much the same way of raising the money that Joash took, 2 Kings 12:9. The people giving by a little at a time, the burden was not felt, and giving by voluntary contribution, it was not complained of. This money, so collected, he ordered Hilkiah to lay out for the repairs of the temple, 2 Kings 22:5-6. And now the workmen, as in the days of Joash, acquitted themselves so well, that there was no reckoning made with them. This is certainly mentioned to the praise of the workmen, that they gained such a reputation for honesty, but whether to the praise of them that employed them may well be doubted. Many will think it would not have been amiss to have reckoned with them, had it been only that others might be satisfied.2 Kings 23:23), but is not meant to apply to all the various reforms of Josiah as related in 2 Kings 23:4-20. The true chronology of Josiah's reign is to be learned from 2 Chronicles 34:3-8; 2 Chronicles 35:1. From these places it appear that at least the greater part of his reforms preceded the finding of the Book of the Law. He began them in the 12th year of his reign, at the age of 20, and had accomplishied all, or the greater part, by his 18th year, when the Book of the Law was found.
Shaphan is mentioned frequently by Jeremiah. He was the father of Ahikam, Jeremiah's friend and protector at the court of Jehoiakim Jeremiah 26:24, and the grandfather of Gedaliah, who was made governor of Judaea by the Babylonians after the destruction of Jeruslem 2 Kings 25:22. Several others of his sons and grandsons were in favor with the later Jewish kings Jeremiah 29:3; Jeremiah 36:10-12, Jeremiah 36:25; Ezekiel 8:11. Shaphan's office was one of great importance, involving very confidential relations with the king 1 Kings 4:3.
3, 4. in the eighteenth year of king Josiah—Previous to this period, he had commenced the work of national reformation. The preliminary steps had been already taken; not only the builders were employed, but money had been brought by all the people and received by the Levites at the door, and various other preparations had been made. But the course of this narrative turns on one interesting incident which happened in the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign, and hence that date is specified. In fact the whole land was thoroughly purified from every object and all traces of idolatry. The king now addressed himself to the repair and embellishment of the temple and gave directions to Hilkiah the high priest to take a general survey, in order to ascertain what was necessary to be done (see on 2Ch 34:8-15).In the eighteenth year, not of his life, but of his reign, as it is expressed, 2 Chronicles 34:3,8. What he did before this time, see 2 Chronicles 34:3, &c. The scribe; the king’s secretary. 2 Chronicles 34:8 nor is what follows the first remarkable act he did in a religious way; for elsewhere we read of what he did in the eighth and twelfth years of his reign, 2 Chronicles 34:3,
that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam the scribe, to the house of the Lord; the king's secretary; the Septuagint version is, the scribe of the house of the Lord, and so the Vulgate Latin version; that kept the account of the expenses of the temple; with him two others were sent, 2 Chronicles 34:8,And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the LORD, saying,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)3. And it came to pass in the eighteenth year] The Chronicler gives two dates anterior to this for events in the course of Josiah’s life. He says (2 Chronicles 34:3-7 R.V.) ‘In the eighth year of his reign while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the Asherim, and the graven images and the molten images. And they brake down the altars of the Baalim in his presence, and the sun-images that were on high above them he hewed down, and the Asherim and the graven images and the molten images he brake in pieces, and made dust of them and strewed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them. And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars and purged Judah and Jerusalem. And so did he in the cities of Manasseh and Ephraim and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, in their ruins round about. And he brake down the altars and beat the Asherim and the graven images into powder, and hewed down all the sun-images throughout all the land of Israel, and returned to Jerusalem’. It is clear that we have here, a most comprehensive summary of the destruction of idolatry in the whole of Josiah’s reign and not what he began to do in his twelfth year. The Chronicler however having given us the date at which Josiah first manifested his disposition to destroy the idols out of the land, includes in the same sentences all that was done by the king in the after part of his reign. We cannot but think that the chief impulse toward the utter destruction of the idols was given, as the writer of Kings tells us (2 Kings 23:3) when the king made a covenant to walk after the Lord, according to the words of the book of the Law, and all the people stood to the covenant. Then began the extermination of all remaining traces of idolatry, which the king himself had begun to remove in some degree in his twelfth year.
The LXX. adds to the date given in this verse, ἐν τῷ μηνὶ τῷ ὀγδόῳ, ‘in the eighth month’, but with no warrant from the original.
the king sent Shaphan … the scribe] The event on which all else in Josiah’s reformation seems to hinge is the restoration of the temple. There it was that the book of the Law was discovered which stirred both king and people to attempt a thorough reformation. Therefore the writer of Kings passes to that undertaking without pausing over minor matters which preceded it.
Shaphan … the scribe] Shaphan whose father and grandfather are here mentioned, was the father of Ahikam mentioned below (verse 12) and of Gemariah (Jeremiah 36:10-12), and the grandfather of Gedaliah (Jeremiah 39:14; Jeremiah 40:5; Jeremiah 40:9; Jeremiah 40:11, &c.). The office of Scribe in his time was clearly an important one. He is sent by the king to take oversight of the funds for the restoration of the temple, and seems to have ranked with the governor of the city and the recorder. We have no notice of Shaphan’s afterlife. He must have been advanced in years at this time, for thirty-five years after this date his grandson Gedaliah was set by the Chaldæans to be governor of the country.Verse 3. - And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of King Josiah (comp. 2 Chronicles 34:8). The writer of Kings, bent on abbreviating as much as possible, omits the early reforms of Josiah, which are related in 2 Chronicles 34:3-7, with perhaps some anticipation of what happened later. The young king gave marked indications of personal piety and attachment to true religion as early as the eighth year of his reign, when he was sixteen, and had just attained his majority (Ewald, 'History of Israel,' vol. 4. p. 232, note). Later, in his twelfth year, he began the purging of the temple and of Jerusalem, at the same time probably commencing the repairs spoken of in ver. 9. Jeremiah's prophesying, begun in the same or in the next year (Jeremiah 1:2), must have been a powerful assistance to his reformation. That the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the Lord, saying. Shaphan held the office, which Shebna had held in the later part of Hezekiah's reign (2 Kings 18:18), an office of much importance and dignity. According to the author of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 34:8), there were associated with him on this occasion two other personages of importance, viz. Maaseiah, the governor of the city (comp. 1 Kings 22:26), and Joah the son of Joahaz, the "recorder," or "remembrancer." 2 Chronicles 26:1), put the conspirators to death and made Josiah the son of Amon king, when he was only eight years old.
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