2 Kings 23:19
And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) The houses also of the high placesi.e., temples or chapels attached to the high places.

Josiah took away.—Comp. 2Chronicles 34:6, from which it appears that the king’s zeal carried him as far as Naphtali. The question has been asked, how it was that Josiah was able to proceed thus beyond the limits of his own territory. It is possible that, as a vassal of Assyria, he enjoyed a certain amount of authority over the old domains of the ten tribes. We have no record of either fact, but his opposition to Necho favours the idea that he recognised the Assyrian sovereign as his suzerain. Moreover, it is in itself likely that the remnant of Israel would be drawn towards Judah and its king as the surviving representatives of the past glories of their race, and would sympathise in his reformation, just as the Samaritans, in the times of the return, were eager to participate in the rebuilding of the Temple. (Comp. 2Chronicles 34:9.) Another supposition is that, as the fall of the Assyrian empire was imminent, no notice was taken of Josiah’s proceedings in the west.

23:15-24 Josiah's zeal extended to the cities of Israel within his reach. He carefully preserved the sepulchre of that man of God, who came from Judah to foretell the throwing down of Jeroboam's altar. When they had cleared the country of the old leaven of idolatry, then they applied themselves to the keeping of the feast. There was not holden such a passover in any of the foregoing reigns. The revival of a long-neglected ordinance, filled them with holy joy; and God recompensed their zeal in destroying idolatry with uncommon tokens of his presence and favour. We have reason to think that during the remainder of Josiah's reign, religion flourished.The cities of Samaria - The reformation which Josiah effected in Samaria, is narrated in Chronicles. It implies sovereignty to the furthest northern limits of Galilee, and is explained by the general political history of the East during his reign. Between 632-626 B.C. the Scythians ravaged the more northern countries of Armenia, Media, and Cappadocia, and found their way across Mesopotamia to Syria, and thence, made an attempt to invade Egypt. As they were neither the fated enemy of Judah, nor had any hand in bringing that enemy into the country, no mention is made of them in the Historical Books of Scripture. It is only in the prophets that we catch glimpses of the fearful sufferings of the time Zephaniah 2:4-6; Jeremiah 1:13-15; Jeremiah 6:2-5; Ezekiel 38; 39. The invasion had scarcely gone by, and matters settled into their former position, when the astounding intelligence must have reached Jerusalem that the Assyrian monarchy had fallen; that Nineveh was destroyed, and that her place was to be taken, so far as Syria and Palestine were concerned, by Babylon. This event is fixed about 625 B.C., which seems to be exactly the time during which Josiah was occupied in carrying out his reformation in Samaria. The confusion arising in these provinces from the Scythian invasion and the troubles in Assyria was taken advantage of by Josiah to enlarge his own sovereignty. There is every indication that Josiah did, in fact, unite under his rule all the old "land of Israel" except the trans-Jordanic region, and regarded himself as subject to Nabopolassar of Babylon.17. What title is that that I see?—The king's attention probably, had been arrested by a tombstone more conspicuous than the rest around it, bearing on an inscription the name of him that lay beneath; and this prompted his curiosity to make the inquiry.

the men of the city—not the Assyrian colonists—for they could know nothing about the ancient transactions of the place—but some of the old people who had been allowed to remain, and perhaps the tomb itself might not then have been discoverable, through the effects of time and neglect, had not some "Old Mortality" garnished the sepulcher of the righteous.

By what authority he did this, See Poole "2 Kings 23:15". And all the houses also of the high places,.... The temples of the idols there, and the houses for the priests to dwell in:

that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away; particularly in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, unto Naphtali, 2 Chronicles 34:6 the Israelites that remained there acknowledging Josiah as their king; and perhaps, after the defeat of Sennacherib, many of the cities of Israel might put themselves under the protection of Hezekiah, and especially upon the destruction of the Assyrian empire; and Manasseh, with his liberty, might have his kingdom enlarged by the king of Babylon; and which being continued and increased in the times of Josiah, might be the reason of his opposing the king of Egypt in favour of the king of Babylon:

and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel; defiled them, and broke down the altars in them.

And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. high places that were in the cities of Samaria] It would seem from this that when the ten tribes had been carried away the king of Judah exercised some sort of authority over the people in the northern kingdom. But the high places in Samaria were most likely the places in which purely heathen idolatry was practised. They therefore differed from the high places in Judah, and to their priests Josiah was more severe than to the Levitical priests who had conducted the worship of Jehovah on the high places in his own kingdom. The injunction to slay idolaters is found in Deuteronomy 17:2-5.Verse 19. - And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria. The writer of Chronicles enters into more detail. Josiah, he says, carried out his destruction of the high places, the groves, and the images "in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali" (2 Chronicles 34:6) - i.e. to the northern limit of the Holy Land, which was occupied by Naphtali and Asher. By what right Josiah exercised sovereign authority in the old kingdom of Samaria, which the Assyrians had conquered and attached to their empire, can only be conjectured. Some have supposed that the Assyrians had enlarged his sovereignty, and placed Samaria under his rule; others regard him as having transferred his allegiance to Nabopolassar, and having been made by him viceroy over Palestine. But it is, perhaps, most probable that he merely took advantage of the political commotions of the time to extend his dominion so far as it seemed safe to do so. Asshur-bani-pal, the last energetic King of Assyria, appears to have ceased to reign in Josiah's fourteenth year, when he was succeeded by a weak monarch, Asshur-ebil-ili. Great troubles now broke out. The Scythians ravaged Western Asia far and wide. Assyria was attacked by the Medea and Babylonians in combination. Under these circumstances, Josiah found himself practically independent, and began to entertain ambitious projects. He "extended his dominion from Jerusalem over Samaria" (Ewald). Assyria was too much occupied to take any notice. Baby-Ionia was in the thick of the struggle. Josiah found himself able to reunite under his own headship all the scattered portions of the old Israelite kingdom, except, perhaps, the trans-Jordanic district. He levied taxes in Samaria as freely as in Judaea (2 Chronicles 33:9). He reformed on the same model the religions of both countries. When finally he had to fight for his throne, he marched his army into the northern portion of Samaria, and there fought the battle which cost him his life. Which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger. The earlier kings of Israel had simply allowed the "high places" to continue, without actively increasing or multiplying them; but Manasseh had re-established them after their destruction by Hezekiah (2 Kings 21:3), and Amen had probably done the same after Manasseh's tardy reformation. Jonah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he done in Bethel (see above, ver. 15). The places of sacrifice built by Solomon upon the southern height of the Mount of Olives (see at 1 Kings 11:7) Josiah defiled, reducing to ruins the monuments, cutting down the Asherah idols, and filling their places with human bones, which polluted a place, according to Numbers 19:16. 2 Kings 23:14 gives a more precise definition of טמּא in 2 Kings 23:13 in the form of a simple addition (with Vav cop.). הר־המּשׁחית, mountain of destruction (not unctionis equals המּשׁחה, Rashi and Cler.), is the southern peak of the Mount of Olives, called in the tradition of the Church mons offensionis or scandali (see at 1 Kings 11:7). For מצּבוה and אשׁרים see at 1 Kings 14:23. מקומם are the places where the Mazzeboth and Asherim stood by the altars that were dedicated to Baal and Astarte, so that by defiling them the altar-places were also defiled.
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