2 Kings 23:25
And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(25) And. like unto him was there no king before him.—Comp. 2Kings 18:5-6, where a similar eulogy is passed upon Hezekiah. It is not, perhaps, necessary to insist upon any formal contradiction which may appear to result from a comparison of the two passages. A writer would not be careful to measure his words by the rule of strict proportion in such cases. Still, as the preceding account indicates, the Mosaic law does not appear to have been so rigorously carried out by any preceding king as by Josiah. (See Note on 2Chronicles 30:26.)

With all his heart . . .—An echo of Deuteronomy 6:5. That Josiah’s merits did not merely consist in a strict observance of the legitimate worship and ritual, is evident from Jeremiah 22:15-16, where he is praised for his righteousness as a judge.

2 Kings 23:25. Like unto him was there no king before him — For his diligent study in God’s law, and his exact care, and unwearied industry, and fervent zeal, in rooting out idolaters, and all kinds and appearances of idolatry, not only in Judah, but in Israel also; and in the establishment of the true religion in all his dominions, and in the conforming of his own life, and his people’s too, (as far as he could,) to the holy law of God: though Hezekiah might excel him in some particulars.

23:25-30 Upon reading these verses, we must say, Lord, though thy righteousness be as the great mountains, evident, plainly to be seen, and past dispute; yet thy judgments are a great deep, unfathomable, and past finding out. The reforming king is cut off in the midst of his usefulness, in mercy to him, that he might not see the evil coming upon his kingdom: but in wrath to his people, for his death was an inlet to their desolations.And like unto him ... - See 2 Kings 18:5 note. We must not press the letter of either passage, but regard both kings as placed among the very best of the kings of Judah. 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. Like unto him there was no king before him, to wit, for his diligent study in God’s law, and his exact care, and unwearied industry, and fervent zeal, in rooting out of idolaters, and all kinds and appearances of idolatry, not only in Judah, but in Israel also; and in the establishment of the true religion in all his dominions, and in the conforming of his own life, and his people’s too, (as far as he could,) to the holy law of God; though Hezekiah might excel him in some other particulars; of whom therefore the like is said above, 2 Kings 18:5.

And like unto him was there no king before him,.... The same is said of Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:5, Hezekiah might excel him in some things, as Josiah might excel Hezekiah in others:

that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might; with such sincerity, heartiness, zeal, and constancy:

according to all the law of Moses; having respect to every commandment, especially relative to worship, with the greatest precision and exactness:

neither after him arose there any like him; for all to the captivity were wicked princes.

And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
25. no king before him] For before the kingdom was established the religious strictness of the people had greatly degenerated, and even the best rulers never were so solemnly recalled to the legal regulations as Josiah was by the discovery of the temple-copy of the Law. The next verse makes it clear why there was no such good king after Josiah. The evil doings of Manasseh had corrupted the nation past redemption. The reforms of Josiah lasted not nearly so long.

‘The evil that men do lives after them:

The good is oft interred with their bones.’

We have now come to the last mention of the book which was found in the temple and of its influence. From the allusions to its contents we can see that it must have contained such threatenings against neglect of the Law as are found in Deuteronomy; such injunctions for the putting down of idolatry and its attendant superstitions as we have now in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and such ordinances concerning the observance of the passover as are found in Exodus and in Numbers. Without saying therefore that the book was in the form which we now possess (for that probably underwent revision in the days of Ezra and even later), yet there was in it that which represented for that time the same code and regulations as we have now in the books of Moses, from which it is seen that the portions read by Josiah and Shaphan were substantially derived. It is to be supposed that modifications would be here and there introduced into the regulations, both for civil and religious observances, according to the changed circumstances of the people. But these would only be made by persons acting in the spirit of the great lawgiver, and endued with zeal for God’s service as he was, and therefore everything thus included would continue to be called, as it continued to be in spirit, the law of Moses.

Verse 25. - And like unto him was there no king before him (see the comment on 2 Kings 18:5). The writer of Kings cannot be said to place Josiah above Hezekiah, or Hezekiah above Josiah. He accords them the same degree of praise, but, in Hezekiah's case, dwells upon his trust in God; in Josiah's, upon his exact obedience to the Law. On the whole, his judgment accords very closely with that of the son of Sirach (Ecclus. 49:4). "All, except David and Ezekias and Josias, were defective: for they forsook the Law of the Most High." That turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might. This triple enumeration is intended to include the whole moral and mental nature of man, all the energies of his understanding, his will, and his physical vitality (see the comment on Deuteronomy 6:5 - a passage which is in the writer's mind). According to all the Law of Moses. This is an indication that, in the writer's view, the whole Law was contained in the book found by Hilkiah. Neither after him arose there any like him. This is but moderate praise, since the four kings who reigned after him - Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah - were, one and all, wicked princes. 2 Kings 23:25Conclusion of Josiah's reign. - 2 Kings 23:24. As Josiah had the passover kept in perfect accordance with the precepts of the law, so did he also exterminate the necromancers, the teraphim and all the abominations of idolatry, throughout all Judah and Jerusalem, to set up the words of the law in the book of the law that had been found, i.e., to carry them out and bring them into force. For האבות and היּדּענים see at 2 Kings 21:6. תּרפים, penates, domestic gods, which were worshipped as the authors of earthly prosperity and as oracular deities (see at Genesis 31:19). גּלּלים and שׁקּצים, connected together, as in Deuteronomy 29:16, as a contemptuous description of idols in general. - In 2 Kings 23:25 the account of the efforts made by Josiah to restore the true worship of Jehovah closes with a general verdict concerning his true piety. See the remarks on this point at 2 Kings 18:5. He turned to Jehovah with all his heart, etc.: there is an evident allusion here to Deuteronomy 6:5. Compare with this the sentence of the prophet Jeremiah concerning his reign (Jeremiah 22:15-16).
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