2 Kings 23:21
And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Keep the passover.Hold a passover (2Kings 23:22). (Comp. 2Chronicles 35:1-19 for a more detailed account of this unique celebration.) Josiah had the precedent of Hezekiah for signalising his religious revolution by a solemn passover (2Chronicles 30:1).

In the book of this covenant.—Rather, in this book of the covenant (2Kings 23:2). The book was that which Hilkiah had found in the Temple, and which gave the impulse to the whole reforming movement. (The LXX. and Vulg. read, in the book of this covenant—a mere mistake.)

2 Kings 23:21. The king commanded, saying, Keep the passover, &c. — Having abolished false worship, he now endeavours to set up the true worship of the true God. Thus he differed greatly from Jehu, who, when he had destroyed the worship of Baal, took no heed to walk in the commandments and ordinances of God. Josiah considered that we must not only cease to do evil, but also learn to do well, and that the way to keep out all abominable customs is to keep up all instituted ordinances. He therefore commanded all the people to keep the passover, which was not only a memorial of their deliverance out of Egypt, but a token of their being dedicated to him who brought them out, and of their communion with him. As it is written in this book of the covenant — This book which he had found, wherein is contained the covenant made between God and Israel, and the terms of it.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.See 2 Kings 23:4 note. With this verse the author returns to the narrative of what was done in Josiah's 18th year. The need of the injunction, "as it was written in the book of this covenant," was owing to the fact - not that Josiah had as yet held no Passover - but that the reading of the book had shown him differences between the existing practice and the letter of the Law - differences consequent upon negligence, or upon the fact that tradition had been allowed in various points to override the Law. 21-23. the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the Lord your God, &c.—It was observed with great solemnity and was attended not only by his own subjects, but by the remnant people from Israel (see on [355]2Ch 35:1-19). Many of the Israelites who were at Jerusalem might have heard of, if they did not hear, the law read by Josiah. It is probable that they might even have procured a copy of the law, stimulated as they were to the better observance of Jehovah's worship by the unusual and solemn transactions at Jerusalem. Keep the passover: having abolished false worship, he now endeavours to set up the true worship of the true God.

In this book of the covenant; in this book which I have found; wherein is contained the covenant made between God and Israel, and the terms of it. And the king commanded all the people,.... Not at Jerusalem only, but throughout the whole kingdom: saying:

keep the passover unto the Lord your God, as it is written in this book of the covenant; which had been lately found and read, and they had agreed to observe, and in which this ordinance was strictly enjoined, and was a commemoration of their deliverance out of Egypt, and a direction of their faith to the Messiah, the antitype of the passover.

And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21–30. He puts down superstitious rites and worship. He is slain at Megiddo when he goes against the king of Egypt (2 Chronicles 35:1-27; 2 Chronicles 36:1)

21. Keep the passover] The Chronicler gives elaborate details concerning the way in which this feast was kept to shew that all the arrangements commanded by the Law were most exactly observed. On the fourteenth day of the first month, the Levites had special injunctions given to them about the purification of themselves, and the doing of all things according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses. The king himself gave the victims, lambs and kids, for the passover offering, from his own substance, and the liberality of priests and Levites was also large. The passover was killed, roasted, divided speedily and eaten according to the prescribed rules. The whole aim of the record is to shew that whatever may have been left undone in times past, everything was now brought into harmony with the primitive ordinance. The Chronicler also mentions by name the rulers of the house of God and the chief of the Levites, as though copying from a contemporary record to which others might refer as well as himself.

in the book of this covenant] R.V. in this book of the covenant. The king desires that whatever may have come to be the manner of celebration from long usage, and the neglect which had been introduced through the sins of the kings, there should now be a precise observance of everything which the authoritative book, recently brought to light, required. It is clear from such a passage as 2 Kings 16:15 that the regular observance of the sacrificial ordinances had fallen into disuse.Verse 21. - And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the Passover. The account given of Josiah's Passover is much more full in Chronicles than in Kings. In Chronicles it occupies nineteen verses of 2 Chronicles 35. We learn from Chronicles that all the rites prescribed by the Law, whether in Exodus, Leviticus, or Deuteronomy, were duly observed, and that the festival was attended, not only by the Judaeans, but by many Israelites from among the ten tribes, who still remained intermixed with the Assyrian colonists in the Samaritan country (see 2 Chronicles 35:17, 18). Unto the Lord your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant. The ordinances for the due observance of the Passover feast are contained chiefly in Exodus (Exodus 12:3-20; Exodus 13:5-10). They are repeated, but with much less fullness, in Deuteronomy 16:1-8. The "book of the covenant" found by Hilkiah must, therefore, certainly have contained Exodus (see below, ver. 25). Extermination of idolatry in Bethel and the cities of Samaria. - In order to suppress idolatry as far as possible, Josiah did not rest satisfied with the extermination of it in his own kingdom Judah, but also destroyed the temples of the high places and altars and idols in the land of the former kingdom of the ten tribes, slew all the priests of the high places that were there, and burned their bones upon the high places destroyed, in order to defile the ground. The warrant for this is not to be found, as Hess supposes, in the fact that Josiah, as vassal of the king of Assyria, had a certain limited power over these districts, and may have looked upon them as being in a certain sense his own territory, a power which the Assyrians may have allowed him the more readily, because they were sure of his fidelity in relation to Egypt. For we cannot infer that Josiah was a vassal of the Assyrians from the imprisonment and release of Manasseh by the king of Assyria, nor is there any historical evidence whatever to prove it. The only reason that can have induced Josiah to do this, must have been that after the dissolution of the kingdom of the ten tribes he regarded himself as the king of the whole of the covenant-nation, and availed himself of the approaching or existing dissolution of the Assyrian empire to secure the friendship of the Israelites who were left behind in the kingdom of the ten tribes, to reconcile them to his government, and to win them over to his attempt to reform; and there is no necessity whatever to assume, as Thenius does, that he asked permission to do so of the newly arisen ruler Nabopolassar. For against this assumption may be adduced not only the improbability that Nabopolassar would give him any such permission, but still more the circumstance that at a still earlier period, even before Nabopolassar became king of Babylon, Josiah had had taxes collected of the inhabitants of the kingdom of Israel for the repairing of the temple (2 Chronicles 34:9), from which we may see that the Israelites who were left behind in the land were favourably disposed towards his reforms, and were inclined to attach themselves in religious matters to Judah (just as, indeed, even the Samaritans were willing after the captivity to take part in the building of the temple, Ezra 4:2.), which the Assyrians at that time were no longer in a condition to prevent.

2 Kings 23:15

"Also the altar at Bethel, the high place which Jeroboam had made-this altar also and the high place he destroyed." It is grammatically impossible to take הבּמה as an accusative of place (Thenius); it is in apposition to המּזבּח, serving to define it more precisely: the altar at Bethel, namely the high place; for which we have afterwards the altar and the high place. By the appositional הבּמה the altar at Bethel is described as an illegal place of worship. "He burned the בּמה," i.e., the buildings of this sanctuary, ground to powder everything that was made of stone or metal, i.e., both the altar and the idol there. This is implied in what follows: "and burned Asherah," i.e., a wooden idol of Astarte found there, according to which there would no doubt be also an idol of Baal, a מצּבה of stone. The golden calf, which had formerly been set up at Bethel, may, as Hosea 10:5-6 seems to imply, have been removed by the Assyrians, and, after the settlement of heathen colonists in the land, have been supplanted by idols of Baal and Astarte (cf. 2 Kings 17:29).

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