2 Kings 23:14
And he broke in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) The images . . . the groves.The pillars . . . the ashērahs. These pillars and sacred trees may have been set up at the high places mentioned in the last verse; but the Hebrew construction does not prove this, for comp. 2Kings 23:10. The reference is probably general.

Their places.Their place or station; a technical term for the position of an idol (the Heb. māqôm, equivalent to Sabæan maqâmum. and Arabic muqâm, which is still the common designation of holy sites in Palestine.

2 Kings 23:14. And filled their places — The places of the groves; with the bones of men — Of the idolatrous priests, which he caused to be taken out of their graves, 2 Kings 23:18. As he carried the ashes of the images to the graves, to mingle them with dead men’s bones, so he carried dead men’s bones to the places where the images had been, that both ways idolatry might be rendered loathsome. Dead men and dead gods were indeed much alike, and fittest to go together.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 Law attached uncleanness to the "bones of men," no less than to actual corpses Numbers 19:16. We may gather from this and other passages 2 Kings 23:20; 1 Kings 13:2, that the Jews who rejected the Law were as firm believers in the defilement as those who adhered to the Law.14. filled their places with the bones of men—Every monument of idolatry in his dominion he in like manner destroyed, and the places where they stood he defiled by strewing them with dead men's bones. The presence of a dead carcass rendered both persons and places unclean in the eyes both of Jews and heathens. i.e. of the idolatrous priests, which he caused to be taken out of their graves, 2 Kings 21:18. And he brake in pieces the images,.... Of Ashtoreth, Chemosh, and Milcom, in the above high places; which as these high places had been rebuilt by Manasseh or Amon, so new images of these deities were placed there:

and cut down the groves; in which they were set:

and filled their places with the bones of men; of idolatrous priests and worshippers, buried in parts adjacent; these he dug up and scattered in the high places and groves to defile them, bones of the dead being by law unclean, Numbers 19:15.

And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. he brake in pieces the images [R.V. pillars], and cut down the groves] R.V. the Asherim. From such passages as this we may conclude that the images of Asherah were generally of wood.

bones of men] To the mind of a Jew, trained by the Law to consider the touch of a dead body to be defilement (Numbers 5:2) a place defiled in this manner could never again be used for any religious purpose, and we may feel sure that the people would not have shaken off this feeling though they had begun to worship idols.Verse 14. - And he brake in pieces the images - or, pillars (see the comment on 1 Kings 14:23) - and out down the groves - i.e. the asherirn, or "sacred trees" - and filled their places with the bones of men. Whatever spoke of death and dissolution was a special defilement to shrines where the gods worshipped were deities of productivity and generation. Bones of men had also the actual taint of corruption about them. The "uncleanness" of dead bodies arose first out of man's natural shrinking from death, and was then further confirmed by the horrors accompanying decay. The notion was probably coeval with death itself. It received a sanction from the Law, which made it a legal defilement to touch a corpse (Numbers 19:11, 16), and placed under a sentence of uncleanness all that was in the tent where a man died (Numbers 19:14, 15). All the (Levitical) priests he sent for from the cities of Judah to Jerusalem, and defiled the altars of the high places, upon which they had offered incense, from Geba to Beersheba, i.e., throughout the whole kingdom. Geba, the present Jeba, about three hours to the north of Jerusalem (see at Joshua 18:24), was the northern frontier of the kingdom of Judah, and Beersheba (Bir-seba: see the Comm. on Genesis 21:31) the southern frontier of Canaan. It is evident from 2 Kings 23:9 that כּהנים are Levitical priests. He ordered them to come to Jerusalem, that they might not carry on illegal worship any longer in the cities of Judah. He then commanded that the unlawful high places should be defiled throughout the whole land, for the purpose of suppressing this worship altogether. He also destroyed "the altars of the high places at the gates, (both that) which was at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, (and also that) which was at the left of every one (entering) by the city gate." The two clauses beginning with אשׁר contain a more precise description of השּׁערים בּמות. The gate of Joshua the governor of the city is not mentioned anywhere else, but it was probably near to his home, i.e., near the citadel of the city; but whether it was the future gate of Gennath, as Thenius supposes, or some other, it is impossible to determine. This also applies to the opinion that העיר שׁער is the valley gate or Joppa gate (Thenius) as being the gate of greatest traffic; for the traffic through the northern or Ephraim gate was certainly not less. אישׁ על־שׂמאול, at the left of every one, sc. going into the city.
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