2 Kings 23:26
Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, with which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him with.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26, 27) The historian naturally adds these remarks to prepare the way for what he has soon to relate—the final ruin of the kingdom; and probably also to suggest an explanation of what must have seemed to him and his contemporaries a very mysterious stroke of providence, the untimely end of the good king Josiah.

(26) The fierceness of his great wrath . . . kindled.The great heat of his wrath, wherewith his wrath burnt.

Because of all the provocations that Manasseh . . .—Comp. the predictions of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:4; Jeremiah 25:2 seq.) and Zephaniah; and see the Note on 2Chronicles 34:33.

2 Kings 23:26. Notwithstanding, the Lord turned not, &c. — Because, though the king was most hearty in his repentance, and acceptable to God, and therefore the judgment was delayed for his time; yet the people were in general corrupt, and secretly averse from Josiah’s pious reformation, as appears from the complaints of the prophets, especially Jeremiah and Zephaniah, against them; and by the following history, wherein we see, that as soon as ever Josiah was gone, his children, and the princes, and the people, suddenly and greedily returned to their former abominations. Because of all the provocations, &c. The sins of Manasseh, and of the men of his generation, who concurred with him in his idolatrous and cruel practices, are justly punished in this generation: because of God’s sovereign right of punishing sinners when he sees fit; because of that public declaration of God, that he would visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children; and principally, because these men had never sincerely repented of their own nor of their fathers’ sins.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.See the marginal references. True repentance might have averted God's anger. But the people had sunk into a condition in which a true repentance was no longer possible. Individuals, like Josiah, were sincere, but the mass of the nation, despite their formal renewal of the covenant 2 Kings 23:3, and their outward perseverance in Yahweh-worship 2 Chronicles 34:33, had feigned rather than felt repentance. The earlier chapters of Jeremiah are full at once of reproaches which he directs against the people for their insincerity, and of promises if they would repent in earnest. 26. Notwithstanding, the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his wrath,—&c. The national reformation which Josiah carried on was acquiesced in by the people from submission to the royal will; but they entertained a secret and strong hankering after the suppressed idolatries. Though outwardly purified, their hearts were not right towards God, as appears from many passages of the prophetic writings; their thorough reform was hopeless; and God, who saw no sign of genuine repentance, allowed His decree (2Ki 21:12-15) for the subversion of the kingdom to take fatal effect. The Lord turned not from the fierceness of his great, wrath; because though the king was most hearty in his repentance, and acceptable to God, as we said before, and therefore the judgment was delayed for his time; yet the people were generally corrupt, and secretly averse from Josiah’s pious and excellent reformation, and inclined to their old lusts and idols; as appears from the complaints of the prophets, especially Jeremiah and Zephaniah, against them; and by the following history, wherein we see that as soon as ever Josiah was gone, his children, and the princes, and the people suddenly and greedily returned to their former abominations.

Because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal: the sins of Manasseh, and of the men of his generation, who complied and concurred with him in his idolatrous and cruel practices, 2 Kings 24:3,4, are justly punished in this generation; partly, because of God’s sovereign right of punishing sinners (such as these unquestionably were) when and upon what occasion he sees fit; partly, because of that public warning and declaration of God, that he would visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children; and principally, because these men had never sincerely repented of their own nor of their fathers’ sins, but their hearts still hankered after them; which, though not yet seen by men, was manifest to God, who therefore pronounced this terrible sentence against them. Notwithstanding, the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah,.... Notwithstanding the great reformation wrought among them; for though Josiah was a sincere reformer, and did what he did heartily, as to the Lord, according to his will, and for his glory; yet the people were not sincere in their compliance, they turned to the Lord not with their whole heart, but feignedly, Jeremiah 3:10.

because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal; by shedding innocent blood and committing idolatry, which the people consented to and approved of, and even now privately committed idolatry, as the prophecies of Jeremiah and Zephaniah show; and it may easily be concluded that their hearts were after their idols, by their openly returning to them in the days of the sons of Josiah.

Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the {r} fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal.

(r) Because of the wicked heart of the people, who would not turn to him by repentance.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 26. - Notwithstanding the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath. It was too late, not for God to forgive upon repentance, but for the nation to repent sincerely and heartily. Sin had become engrained in the national character. Vain were the warnings of Jeremiah, vain were his exhortations to repentance (Jeremiah 3:12-14, 22; Jeremiah 4:1-8; Jeremiah 7:3-7, etc.), vain his promises that, if they would turn to God, they would be forgiven and spared. Thirty years of irreligion and idolatry under Manasseh had sapped the national vigor, and made true repentance an impossibility. How weak and half-hearted must have been the return to God towards the close of Manasseh's reign, that it should have had no strength to resist Amon, a youth of twenty-two, but should have disappeared wholly on his accession! And how far from sincere must have been the present conformity to the wishes of Josiah, the professed renewal of the covenant (ver. 3), and revival of disused ceremonies (vers. 21-23)! Jeremiah searched in vain through the streets of Jerusalem to find a man that executed judgment, or sought the truth (Jeremiah 5:1). The people had "a revolting and rebellious heart; they were revolted and gone" (Jeremiah 5:23). Not only idolatry, but profligacy (Jeremiah 5:1) and injustice and oppression everywhere prevailed (Jeremiah 5:25-28). "From the least to the greatest of them, every one was given to covetousness" (Jeremiah 6:13); even the prophets and the priests "dealt falsely" (Jeremiah 6:13), The state of things was one which necessarily brought down the Divine judgment, and all that Josiah's efforts could do was a little to delay it. Wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. Manasseh's provocations lived in their consequences. God's judgment upon Israel was not mere vengeance for the sins that Manasseh had committed, or even for the multitudinous iniquities into which he had led the nation (2 Kings 21:9). It was punishment rendered necessary by the actual condition of the nation - the condition whereto it had been reduced by Manasseh's evil doings. All the houses of the high places that were in the (other) cities of Samaria Josiah also destroyed in the same way as that at Bethel, and offered up the priests of the high places upon the altars, i.e., slew them upon the altars on which they had offered sacrifice, and burned men's bones upon them (the altars) to defile them. The severity of the procedure towards these priests of the high places, as contrasted with the manner in which the priests of the high places in Judah were treated (2 Kings 23:8 and 2 Kings 23:9), may be explained partly from the fact that the Israelitish priests of the high places were not Levitical priests, but chiefly from the fact that they were really idolatrous priests.
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