2 Kings 23:20
And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there on the altars, and burned men's bones on them, and returned to Jerusalem.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) He slew.He slaughtered. A contrast to his mild treatment of the priests of the Judæan high places (2Kings 23:8-9). They were Levites, and these heathenish priests. (Comp. Deuteronomy 17:2-5.) Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of 1Kings 13:2. (Thenius considers the event historical, because that prophecy “is undoubtedly modelled upon it.”)

2 Kings 23:20. He slew all the priests of the high places — By this relation it appears, that after the departure of the king of Assyria, divers of the Israelites, who had retired to other parts, and kept themselves out of the conqueror’s hands, returned together with their priests to their own land, and to their old trade, worshipping idols; to whom, peradventure, they ascribed this their deliverance from that judgment which Jehovah had brought upon them. And burned men’s bones upon them — According to that famous prophecy, 1 Kings 13:1-2.23:15-24 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.Here, as in 2 Kings 23:16, Josiah may have regarded himself as bound to act as he did (marginal reference "b"). Excepting on account of the prophecy, he would scarcely have slain the priests upon the altars. 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.

The priests of the high places; either,

1. The priests which Jeroboam had made of the meanest of the people, whom he slew, both for their presumptuous usurpation of that sacred office, which of itself was punishable with death by God’s law, Numbers 3:10, and for their idolatry. Or rather,

2. The priests of Baalim; by comparing this verse with the former, where speaking of the same high places, he doth not say, which Jeroboam made, as is usual when he speaks of the high places of the calves; but, which the other kings of Israel made, who were divers of them worshippers of Baal; and by considering the parallel place, 2 Chronicles 34:4, where it is said, they brake down the altars of Baalim, &c. By this relation it appears, and from the nature of the thing, and common practice in like cases, it is more than probable, that after the departure of the king of Assyria, divers of the Israelites who had retired to other parts, and kept themselves out of the conqueror’s hands, returned together with their priests to their own land, and to their old trade of worshipping idols; to whom, peradventure, they ascribed this their deliverance from that judgment which Jehovah had brought upon them.

That were there upon the altars; according to that famous prophecy, 1 Kings 13:1,2. And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there,.... The idolatrous priests who sacrificed to Baal, and other Heathen deities; for as for others that burnt incense in high places, yet to the true God, those he spared, though they were not suffered to officiate at the altar of God: the others he slew

upon the altars; where they sacrificed:

and burnt men's bones upon them: the bones of the priests, and worshippers of idols, as he had done at Bethel:

and returned to Jerusalem; after he had gone through the land, both of Judah and Israel, and abolished idolatrous worship everywhere.

And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men's bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. and burnt men’s bones upon them] To the heathen, as well as to the Jew, this would be a pollution that would make the place for ever unfit for worship.Verse 20. - And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars. It is not directly said that he had done this at Bethel, though it had been prophesied that he would do so (1 Kings 13:2). Possibly there were no priests at Bethel at the time, since the "calf" set up by Jeroboam had been carried off (Hosea 10:6) by the Assyrians. The difference between the treatment of the high-place priests in Israel and in Judah (ver. 9) clearly implies that the former were attached to the worship of false gods, while the latter were priests of Jehovah who worshipped him with superstitious and unauthorized rites and ceremonies. And burned men's bones upon them (comp. ver. 16), and returned to Jerusalem. 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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