2 Kings 23:12
And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, did the king beat down, and broke them down from there, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) And the altars that were on the top (roof) of the upper chamber of Ahaz.—The roof of an upper chamber in one of the Temple courts. perhaps built over one of the gateways (comp. Jeremiah 35:4), appears to be meant. The altars were for star-worship, which was especially practised on housetops. (Comp. Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 32:29; Zephaniah 1:5.)

Brake them down from thence.—The Targum has removed from thence; the LXX. pulled them down from thence (κατέσπασεν). The Hebrew probably means ran from thence; marking the haste with which the work was done. The clause thus adds a vivid touch to the narrative. It is hardly necessary to alter the points with Kimchi and Thenius, so as to read, he caused to run from thence; i.e., hurried them away.

Cast the dust of them.—Over the wall of the Temple enclosure, into the ravine beneath.

2 Kings 23:12. The altars on the top of the upper chamber, &c. — “Read,” says Mr. Locke, “the altars on the house-top.” According to Jeremiah, chap. Jeremiah 32:29, they were so mad upon their idols, that they were not content with their numerous public high places and altars, but made others upon their house-tops for the worship of Baal and others of their false gods. And the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts, &c. — We learn from 2 Chronicles 33:13-15, that when Manasseh repented he took away all the altars he had built in the mount of the house of the Lord, and in Jerusalem; and it is probable those in the court of the priests, and in that of the people, were then removed; but, it seems, Amon set them up again in the very place where Manasseh had erected them, and therefore they are here called his altars. And cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron — To show his detestation of them, and to abolish the very remembrance of them.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 upper chamber of Ahaz - Conjectured to be a chamber erected on the flat roof of one of the gateways which led into the temple court. It was probably built in order that its roof might be used for the worship of the host of heaven, for which house-tops were considered especially appropriate (compare the marginal references).

Brake them down from thence - Rather as in the margin, i. e., he "hasted and cast the dust into Kidron."

12. the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz—Altars were reared on the flat roofs of houses, where the worshippers of "the host of heaven" burnt incense (Zep 1:5; Jer 19:13). Ahaz had reared altars for this purpose on the oleah, or upper chamber of his palace, and Manasseh on some portion of the roof of the temple. Josiah demolished both of these structures. On the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, i.e. upon the roof of the king’s house. They were so mad upon their idols, that they were not content with all their public high places and altars, but made others upon their house-tops, for the worship of the heavenly bodies. See Jeremiah 19:13 Zephaniah 1:5.

Which Manasseh had made.

Quest. How could this be, when Manasseh had taken them away before, 2 Chronicles 33:15?

Answ. Either these altars were not so fully destroyed as they should have been, the foundations of them being left through the neglect of the officers appointed to do that work, upon which Amon built his new altars; or if they were wholly rooted out, Amon’s new altars are called by his father’s name, because they were built by his example, and in the very same place where his father’s altars were; as the wells which Isaac digged in the same place where Abraham had digged them before, were therefore called by their ancient names, Genesis 26:18. See more on the next verse.

In the two courts; the priests’ and the people’s. See 2 Kings 21:5.

Cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron; partly to show his detestation of them, and partly to abolish the very remembrance of them as far as he could. And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made,.... Which were on the roof of the royal palace; the roofs of houses in Judah being flat, Deuteronomy 21:8 altars might be built upon them; so, in Arabia, altars were built on the tops of houses to offer incense thereon daily to the sun (p); as here by Manasseh and Amon very probably, which might be chosen because nearer the heavens; for which reason the Heathens made use of high places to worship in, see Jeremiah 19:13.

and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord; 2 Kings 21:5.

did the king beat down; ordered to be demolished:

and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron; that there might be no remains of them to be put to any superstitious use.

(p) Strabo, Geograph l. 16. p. 539.

And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. the altars that were on the top [R.V. roof] of the upper chamber of Ahaz] This chamber must also have been erected on some of the buildings (perhaps over a gateway), by which the temple was encircled. It was evidently intended for the worship of the host of heaven. Altars on the roof are mentioned in Zephaniah 1:5, and there it is expressly said that they were erected for this worship. Cf. also Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 32:29. The worship of the heavenly host was therefore introduced into Judah as early as Ahaz’s time.

the altars which Manasseh had mode] See above 2 Kings 21:4-5.

did the king beat down [R.V. break], and brake [R.V. beat] them down from thence] The former verb is rendered ‘break down’ in verses 7, 8 and 15, and that being rendered here consistently, the second verb must be translated differently. It will be seen from the margin both of A.V. and R.V. that the latter may also be rendered ‘he ran’, and this, which is a very well-supported translation, expresses the haste and eagerness manifested to complete the work of destruction.Verse 12. - And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz. It would seem that "the upper chamber of Ahaz" was within the temple precincts, since the pollutions spoken of, both before and after, are pollutions belonging to the temple. It may have been erected on the flat roof of one of the gates, or on the top of a store-chamber. Altars upon roofs were a new form of idolatry, apparently connected with the worship of the "host of heaven" (see Jeremiah 19:13; Zephaniah 1:5). Which the kings of Judah - i.e. Manasseh and Amen, perhaps also Ahaz - had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord (see above, 2 Kings 21:4, 5). As Manasseh, on his repentance, merely "cast these altars out of the city" (2 Chronicles 33:15), it was easy for Amen to replace them. They belonged to the worship of the "host of heaven." Did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and east the dust of them into the brook Kidron (comp. ver. 6, and the comment ad loc.). The image of Asherah (האשׁרה equals הא פּסל, 2 Kings 21:3, 2 Kings 21:7), which Manasseh placed in the temple and then removed after his return from Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:15), but which Amon had replaced, Josiah ordered to be burned and ground to powder in the valley of Kidron, and the dust to be thrown upon the graves of the common people. ויּדק, from דקק, to make fine, to crush, refers to the metal covering of the image (see at Exodus 32:10). Asa had already had an idol burned in the Kidron valley (1 Kings 15:13), and Hezekiah had ordered the idolatrous abominations to be taken out of the city and carried thither (2 Chronicles 29:16); so that the valley had already been defiled. There was a burial-place there for העם בּני, i.e., the common people (cf. Jeremiah 26:23), who had no graves of their own, just as at the present day the burial-ground of the Jews there lies to the north of Kefr Silwn. Josiah ordered the ashes to be cast upon these graves, probably in order to defile them as the graves of idolaters.
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