2 Kings 23:11
And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathanmelech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(11) He took away.—The same word as “put down” (2Kings 23:5). Here, as there, the Syriac and Arabic render, “he killed,” which is possibly a correct gloss.

The horses . . . the sun.—These horses drew “the chariots of the sun” in solemn processions held in honour of that deity. (See Herod, i. 189; Xenoph. Anab. iv. 5. 34, seq.; Quint. Curt. iii 3. 11.) Horses were also sacrificed to the sun. The sun’s apparent course through the heavens, poetically conceived as the progress of a fiery chariot and steeds, explains these usages.

Had giveni.e., had dedicated.

At the entering in of the house of the Lord.—This appears right. Along with the next clause it states where the sacred horses were kept; viz., in the outer court of the Temple, near the entrance. (So the LXX. and Vulgate. This rendering involves a different pointing of the Hebrew text—mě for mibbô. The latter, which is the ordinary reading, gives the sense, “so that they should not come into the house, &c.”)

By the chamber.—Rather, towards the cell; further defining the position of the stalls. As to the cells in the outer court, see the Note on 1Chronicles 9:26; Ezekiel 40:45 seq.

Nathan-melech the chamberiain, or, eunuch, is otherwise unknown. He may have been charged with the care of the sacred horses and chariots. Meleck was a title of the sun-god in one of his aspects (2Kings 23:10.)

Which was in the suburbs.—Rather, which was in the cloisters or portico. Parwārîm is a Persian word explained in the Note on 1Chronicles 26:18.

Burned the chariots . . .—Literally, and the chariots of the sun he burnt. The treatment of the chariots is thus contrasted with that of the horses. If the whole had been, as some expositors have thought, a work of art in bronze or other material, placed over the gateway, no such difference would have been made.

2 Kings 23:11. And he took away — Hebrew, וישׁבת, va-jashbeth, he put down, or made to cease; the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun — That is, had consecrated to the sun. It appears, by the testimony of many authors, that among several nations horses were dedicated to the sun, as hawks and some other creatures were, because of the swiftness of their motions. Thus the ancient Persians consecrated white horses and chariots to the sun, as Xenophon testifies, and with them were wont to adorn their processions. See Hyde’s Relig. Ver. Persar. “We can see no reason, therefore,” says Dr. Dodd, referring to the Universal Hist. and Boch. Hieroz., “why so many learned commentators should scruple to suppose that the Jews had adopted this, among other far worse heathenish idolatries; especially considering how soon the Prophet Amos, and from him St. Stephen, charged them with having carried about the tabernacle of Molech, or the sun, and the star of their god Remphan. What convinces us further that these were real chariots, drawn by horses, and bearing some image of the sun, is, that the text expressly says, that Josiah did not burn the chariots and horses, as he would have done if they had been only carved and painted, but that he took away the horses, and burned the chariots. Bochart supposes that these horses and chariots were designed to carry the king and his great officers out at the east gate of the city every morning, to salute and adore the sun, at his coming above the horizon, according to the custom of the Persian idolaters.” At the entering in of the house of the Lord — By the gate of the outward court of the temple. By the chamber of the chamberlain — Or officer, to whom the care of these horses was committed. Which was in the suburbs — Of the temple; in certain outward buildings belonging to the temple. Was it to defy or affront the Lord, that they thus brought the objects and instruments of their various idolatries as near as possible to his house, and some of them even into the courts of it?

23:4-14 What abundance of wickedness in Judah and Jerusalem! One would not have believed it possible, that in Judah, where God was known, in Israel, where his name was great, in Salem, in Zion, where his dwelling-place was, such abominations should be found. Josiah had reigned eighteen years, and had himself set the people a good example, and kept up religion according to the Divine law; yet, when he came to search for idolatry, the depth and extent were very great. Both common history, and the records of God's word, teach, that all the real godliness or goodness ever found on earth, is derived from the new-creating Spirit of Jesus Christ.The custom of dedicating a chariot and horses to the Sun is a Persian practice. There are no traces of it in Assyria; and it is extremely curious to find that it was known to the Jews as early as the reign of Manasseh. The idea of regarding the Sun as a charioteer who drove his horses daily across the sky, so familiar to the Greeks and Romans, may not improbably have been imported from Asia, and may have been at the root of the custom in question. The chariot, or chariots, of the Sun appear to have been used, chiefly if not solely, for sacred processions. They were white, and were drawn probably by white horses. The kings of Judah who gave them were Manasseh and Amon certainly; perhaps Ahaz; perhaps even earlier monarchs, as Joash and Amaziah.

In the suburbs - The expression used here פרברים parbārı̂ym is of unknown derivation and occurs nowhere else. A somewhat similar word occurs in 1 Chronicles 26:18, namely, פרבר parbār, which seems to have been a place just outside the western wall of the temple, and therefore a sort of "purlieu" or "suburb." The פרברים parbārı̂ym of this passage may mean the same place or it may signify some other "suburb" of the temple.

11. took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun—Among the people who anciently worshipped the sun, horses were usually dedicated to that divinity, from the supposed idea that the sun himself was drawn in a chariot by horses. In some cases these horses were sacrificed; but more commonly they were employed either in the sacred processions to carry the images of the sun, or for the worshippers to ride in every morning to welcome his rise. It seems that the idolatrous kings, Ahaz, Manasseh, and Amon, or their great officers, proceeded on these horses early on each day from the east gate of the temple to salute and worship the sun at his appearing above the horizon. The horses; either,

1. The carved or graven horses, to which were adjoined a graven chariot, in which there might be the picture of the sun, which the heathens used to represent in this manner. Or rather,

2. Living horses; for,

1. Such the eastern nations used to consecrate to the sun, to signify the swiftness of his motion.

2. These horses are mentioned apart from the chariots, and are said to be

given to the sun, which is not said of the chariots; and to be taken away, when the chariots were burnt, &c.; and a certain place is here allotted to the horses, not to the chariots. To the sun; either to be sacrificed to the sun; or to draw those chariots in which the kings, or some other in their stead, and by their appointment, went forth every morning to worship the rising sun; for both these were the customs of the Armenians and Persians, as Xenophon testifies.

At the entering in of the house of the Lord, i.e. by the gate of the outward court of the temple; for the courts are oft contained under the name of the house or temple.

The chamberlain, or officer, to whom the care of these horses was committed.

In the suburbs; either,

1. Of the city of David; or rather, of the temple; in certain outward buildings belonging to the temple, and the uses thereof. See Ezekiel 45:2. Heb. in Parvarim; a place near the temple, called also Parbar, 1 Chronicles 26:18, though it be not now known either where it was, or why it was so called. Tie chariots of the sun; which were made for the honour and worship of the sun, as was before expressed.

And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun,.... Consecrated to it; these were not images of horses, as some have thought, but real living ones; and the kings that gave them for the service of the sun, and for sacrifice to it, very probably were Manasseh and Amon: that horses were sacred to the sun with many Heathen nations, as the Massagetae, a people in Scythia, and the Persians, and Babylonians, and Ethiopians, is affirmed by various writers (c): and from them the Jews received this notion. According to the Jewish commentators, these were horses provided for the worshippers of the sun to ride upon, and meet the sun in the morning at its rising, and pay their homage to it; but certain it is that the Heathen nations before mentioned slew the horses, and sacrificed them as burnt offerings to the sun, as is asserted by Herodotus (d), Xenophon (e), Strabo (f), Pausanias (g), Philostratus (h), and other writers (i); and so the Indians of India (k) sacrificed them to Apollo, the same with the sun; these being the swiftest of creatures, they offered them to the swiftest of their gods, as Herodotus and Heliodorus observe, in the places before referred to. The stables in which these horses were kept were

at the entering of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathanmelech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs; so that they reached from the temple to the suburbs of Jerusalem, to that part of them where this officer had a chamber, or lodgings, being in some place of power and authority there; though, according to L'Empereur (l), it is the same with Parbar, 1 Chronicles 26:18 and should not be rendered "suburbs", it being between the compass or wall of the temple, and the court:

and burnt the chariots of the sun with fire; these were either chariots, in which the king and his nobles rode, when they went to meet and worship the rising sun; or rather such as were sacred to the sun, as well as the horses, or Josiah would not have burnt them; they seem to be such in which the images of the sun were carried. Herodotus (m) makes mention as of sacred horses, so of a sacred chariot. Xenophon (n) speaks of the chariot of the sun as being of a white colour, and drawn in procession at the worship of the sun; as does also Pausanias (o) of a chariot, in which were the sun, Jupiter, and Juno, and near them other deities; which notion of sacred chariots the Heathens might take from the chariot of the cherubim Jehovah sat and rode in, 1 Chronicles 28:18.

(c) Justin e Trogo, l. 1. c. 10. Curt. Hist. l. 3. c. 3. Ovid. Fast. l. 1. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 6. c. 26. Heliodor. Ethiop. l. 10. c. 6. 28. (d) Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 216. (e) Cyropaed. l. 8. c. 23, 24. (f) Geograph. l. 11. p. 353. (g) Laconica, sive, l. 3. p. 201. (h) Vit. Apollon. l. 1. c. 20. (i) Vid. Lactant. de fals. Relig. l. 1. c. 21. (k) Laon. Chalcondyl. de Rebus Turc. l. 3. p. 108. (l) Not. in Misn. Middot, c. 2. sect. 3. No. 3. So Boehart. Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 10. col. 177. (m) Polymnia, sive, l. 7. c. 55. (n) Ut supra, (Cyropaed. l. 8.) c. 23. (o) Eliac. 1. sive, l. 5. p, 307.

And he took away the {l} horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathanmelech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire.

(l) The idolatrous kings had dedicated horses and chariots to the sun, either to carry about the image of it as the heathen did, or else to sacrifice them as a most agreeable sacrifice.

11. the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun] The course of the sun has been in many languages compared to the careering of a chariot drawn through the sky. Hence when men began to adore the heavenly bodies, it was natural to dedicate a triumphal car to the sun-god and to keep splendid horses for use in the procession in his honour. Such had been provided in Judah during the days of Manasseh and Amon, and were still kept close to the entrance of the temple court.

by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain] Nothing more is known of this man. It may be that he was in attendance on the horses of the sun.

which was in the suburbs [precincts] and [R.V. adds he] burnt] The word, written here Parvar is most probably the same as Parbar in 1 Chronicles 26:18, where the word occurs twice. The most accepted signification is ‘an open portico’ into which the chambers of the official persons opened. This must have been somewhere outside the temple building, and is fairly represented by ‘precincts’.

Verse 11. - And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun. The custom of dedicating horses to the sun was practiced by many ancient nations; but it is only in Persia that we find horses and chariots so dedicated (Xen., 'Cyrop.,' 8:3. § 12). The idea of the sun-god as a charioteer, who drove his horses daily across the sky, is one common to several of the Aryan nations, as the Greeks, the Romans, the Hindoos, and others;but we do not find it either in Egypt or among the Semitic peoples. The sacrifice of the horse to the sun was more general (Herod., 1:216; Xen., 'Cyrop.,' 8:3. § 24; 'Anab.,' 4:5. § 35; Rig Veda, vol. 2. pp. 112, et seqq., etc.), but does not seem to have been adopted by the Hebrews. It is not at all clear whence the "kings of Judah" - i.e. Ahaz, Manasseh, and Amon - derived the idea of maintaining sacred chariots and horses to be used in their sun-worship. They certainly could not have received it, as Keil thinks, "through the Assyrians." At the entering in of the house of the Lord - the horses, i.e., were kept near one of the entrances to the temple, to be ready for use in sacred processions - by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs. There were many "chambers" attached to the temple, which were sometimes used as store-rooms for different materials (1 Chronicles 9:26; 2 Chronicles 31:11, 12; Nehemiah 10:38; Nehemiah 13:5), sometimes as residences (Nehemiah 13:7). In Josiah's time, "Nathan-melech the chamberlain," or rather "the eunuch," occupied one of these. It was situated בַפַדְוָרִים - "in the outskirts" or "purlieus" of the temple. And burned the chariots of the sun with fire (comp. vers. 4, 6, 15, etc.). Josiah burnt all the material objects that had been desecrated by the idolatries; the persons and animals so desecrated he "removed," or deprived of their functions. 2 Kings 23:11He cleared away the horses dedicated to the sun, and burned up the chariots of the sun. As the horses were only cleared away (ויּשׁבּת), whereas the chariots were burned, we have not to think of images of horses (Selden, de Diis Syr. ii. 8), but of living horses, which were given to the sun, i.e., kept for the worship of the sun. Horses were regarded as sacred to the sun by many nations, viz., the Armenians, Persians, Massagetae, Ethiopians, and Greeks, and were sacrificed to it (for proofs see Bochart, Hieroz. i. lib. ii. c. 10); and there is no doubt that the Israelites received this worship first of all from Upper Asia, along with the actual sun-worship, possibly through the Assyrians. "The kings of Judah" are Ahaz, Manasseh, and Amon. These horses were hardly kept to be offered to the sun in sacrifice (Bochart and others), but, as we must infer from the "chariots of the sun," were used for processions in connection with the worship of the sun, probably, according to the unanimous opinion of the Rabbins, to drive and meet the rising sun. The definition יי בּית מבּא, "from the coming into the house of Jehovah," i.e., near the entrance into the temple, is dependent upon נתנוּ, "they had given (placed) the horses of the sun near the temple entrance," אל־לשׁכּת, "in the cell of Nethanmelech." אל does not mean at the cell, i.e., in the stable by the cell (Thenius), because the ellipsis is too harsh, and the cells built in the court of the temple were intended not merely as dwelling-places for the priests and persons engaged in the service, but also as a dept for the provisions and vessels belonging to the temple (Nehemiah 10:38.; 1 Chronicles 9:26). One of these depts was arranged and used as a stable for the sacred horses. This cell, which derived its name from Nethanmelech, a chamberlain (סריס), of whom nothing further is known, possibly the builder or founder of it, was בּפּרורים, in the Pharvars. פּרורים, the plural of פּרור, is no doubt identical with פּרבּר in 1 Chronicles 26:18. This was the name given to a building at the western or hinder side of the outer temple-court by the gate Shalleket at the ascending road, i.e., the road which led up from the city standing in the west into the court of the temple (1 Chronicles 26:16 and 1 Chronicles 26:18). The meaning of the word פרור is uncertain. Gesenius (thes. p. 1123) explains it by porticus, after the Persian frwâr, summer-house, an open kiosk. Bttcher (Proben, p. 347), on the other hand, supposes it to be "a separate spot resembling a suburb," because in the Talmud פרורין signifies suburbia, loca urbi vicinia.
2 Kings 23:11 Interlinear
2 Kings 23:11 Parallel Texts

2 Kings 23:11 NIV
2 Kings 23:11 NLT
2 Kings 23:11 ESV
2 Kings 23:11 NASB
2 Kings 23:11 KJV

2 Kings 23:11 Bible Apps
2 Kings 23:11 Parallel
2 Kings 23:11 Biblia Paralela
2 Kings 23:11 Chinese Bible
2 Kings 23:11 French Bible
2 Kings 23:11 German Bible

Bible Hub

2 Kings 23:10
Top of Page
Top of Page