And the king sent, and they gathered to him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
JOSIAH RENEWS THE COVENANT, ROOTS OUT IDOLTARY, AND HOLDS A SOLEMEN PASSOVER.HIS END.
(1) They gathered.—The right reading is probably that of the Syriac and Vulg., there gathered. Chron., LXX., and Arabic have he gathered.
All the elders.—The representatives of the nation.2 Kings 23:1. The king sent and gathered unto him all the elders — Although he had received a message from God, that there was no preventing the ruin of Jerusalem, and that he only should deliver his own soul; yet he does not therefore sit down in despair, and resolve to do nothing for his country, because he could not do all he would. But he will endeavour to do his duty, and then leave the event to God. He knew, if any thing could prevent, delay, or alleviate the threatened ruin, it must be a public reformation. He therefore makes preparations for this, by summoning a general assembly of the magistrates, or representatives of the people, with the priests and prophets, the ordinary and extraordinary ministers of God: that, these all joining in it, what was done might become a national act, and so be the more likely to prevent national judgments; and that so many principal persons advising and assisting in it, the whole business might be transacted with more solemnity, and such as were against it might be discouraged from making any opposition.2 Kings 23:29 is in verbal contradiction to this prophecy, but not in real opposition to its spirit, which is simply that the pious prince who has sent to inquire of the Lord, shall be gathered to his fathers before the troubles come upon the land which are to result in her utter desolation. Now those troubles were to come, not from Egypt, but from Babylon; and their commencement was not the invasion of Necho in 608 B.C., but that of Nebuchadnezzar three years later. Thus was Josiah "taken away from the evil to come," and died "in peace" before his city had suffered attack from the really formidable enemy.
2Ki 23:1-3. Josiah Causes the Law to Be Read.
1-3. the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders—This pious and patriotic king, not content with the promise of his own security, felt, after Huldah's response, an increased desire to avert the threatened calamities from his kingdom and people. Knowing the richness of the divine clemency and grace to the penitent, he convened the elders of the people, and placing himself at their head, accompanied by the collective body of the inhabitants, went in solemn procession to the temple, where he ordered the book of the law to be read to the assembled audience, and covenanted, with the unanimous concurrence of his subjects, to adhere steadfastly to all the commandments of the Lord. It was an occasion of solemn interest, closely connected with a great national crisis, and the beautiful example of piety in the highest quarter would exert a salutary influence over all classes of the people in animating their devotions and encouraging their return to the faith of their fathers.Josiah causeth the law to be read in a solemn assembly; reneweth the covenant of the Lord; destroyeth idolatry, 2 Kings 23:1-14; breaketh down the altar at Beth-el, and burneth thereon dead men’s bones, 2 Kings 23:15-20; keepeth the passover: other evidences of his piety, 2 Kings 23:21-25. God’s final wrath against Judah. 2 Kings 23:26-28. Josiah, warring against Pharaoh-nechoh, is slain: Jehoahaz his son is king: he is imprisoned by Pharaoh-nechoh; who puts Jehoiakim, in his place; who reigneth ill, 2 Kings 23:29-37.
(a) Because he saw the great plagues of God that were threatened, he knew no more speedy way to avoid them, than to turn to God by repentance which cannot come but from faith, and faith by hearing the word of God.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2 Kings 23:1-14. Josiah’s covenant to serve the Lord. Destruction of idolatry, and removal of idolatrous priests (2 Chronicles 34:3-7; 2 Chronicles 34:29-33)
1. And the king sent, and they gathered] The whole proceeding described in the first three verses of this chapter may be compared with the similar covenant-making in the reign of Joash (2 Kings 11:14-17). That was also followed by a destruction of the objects of idolatry.Verse 1. - And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem; i.e. all the elders of Jerusalem and of the rest of Judah. (On the important position held by "the elders" in the undivided kingdom, see 1 Kings 8:1, and the comment ad loc.; and on their position in the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, see 1 Kings 20:7, 8; 1 Kings 21:8, 11; 2 Kings 10:1, etc.) 2 Kings 22:16, 2 Kings 22:17), that the Lord would bring upon Jerusalem and its inhabitants all the punishments with which the rebellious and idolaters are threatened in the book of the law; and secondly (2 Kings 22:18-20), to the king himself, that on account of his sincere repentance and humiliation in the sight of God, he would not live to see the predicted calamities, but would be gathered to his fathers in peace. The first part of her announcement applies "to the man who has sent you to me" (2 Kings 22:15), the second "to the king of Judah, who has sent to inquire of the Lord" (2 Kings 22:18). "The man" who had sent to her was indeed also the king; but Huldah intentionally made use of the general expression "the man," etc., to indicate that the word announced to him applied not merely to the king, but to every one who would hearken to the word, whereas the second portion of her reply had reference to the king alone. הזּה המּקום, in 2 Kings 22:16, 2 Kings 22:19, and 2 Kings 22:20, is Jerusalem as the capital of the kingdom. In 2 Kings 22:16, הסּפר כּל־דּברי is an explanatory apposition to רעה. 2 Kings 22:17. "With all the work of their hands," i.e., with the idols which they have made for themselves (cf. 1 Kings 16:7). The last clause in 2 Kings 22:18, "the words which thou hast heard," is not to be connected with the preceding one, "thus saith the Lord," and על or ל to be supplied; but it belongs to the following sentence, and is placed at the head absolutely: as for the words, which thou hast heart - because thy heart has become soft, i.e., in despair at the punishment with which the sinners are threatened (cf. Deuteronomy 20:3; Isaiah 7:4), and thou hast humbled thyself, when thou didst hear, etc.; therefore, behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, etc. לשׁמּה להיות, "that they (the city and inhabitants) may become a desolation and curse." These words, which are often used by the prophets, but which are not found connected like this except in Jeremiah 44:22, rest upon Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, and show that these passages had been read to the king out of the book of the law.
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