2 Kings 23:7
And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove.
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(7) The houses . . . by the house.The cabins of the Kedēshim . . . in the house. The Kedēshim were males, perhaps eunuchs, who prostituted themselves like women in honour of the Asherah. (See 1Kings 14:24; 1Kings 15:12; Hosea 4:14.) The passage shows that the last infamy of Canaanite nature-worship had been established in the very sanctuary of Jehovah. The revolt of Judah could go no farther.

Where the women wove hangings for the grove.Wherein the women used to weave tents for the Ashērah. The word we have rendered cabins and tents is bāttîm, “houses.” What is meant in the latter case is not clear. Perhaps the female harlots attached to the Temple wove portable tabernacles or sanctuaries of the goddess for sale to the worshippers; or tents (screens) for their own foul rites may be meant.

2 Kings 23:7. He brake down the houses of the sodomites — The name sometimes given to the most infamous of all prostitutes, who exposed their bodies to be abused contrary to nature, in honour of those filthy deities whom they worshipped. Their houses were near the temple, and the persons themselves were dedicated to impurity, and, that they might commit their abominations with the greater licentiousness, they had women appointed to make them tents, wherein they were wont to retire upon these detestable occasions. — Calmet. Thus corporal and spiritual whoredoms went together, and the vile affections to which they were given up were the punishment of their vain imaginations. They that dishonoured their God were justly left thus to dishonour themselves. Where the women wove hangings for the grove — For the idols worshipped in the grove, or rather for Asherah, or Ashtaroth, an idol so called, as observed before, and probably the same with the Grecian Venus. These hangings might possibly be curtains to draw before the idol, to preserve it from defilement, or to gain more reverence to it: or garments for it, or for the priests or priestesses belonging to it. But the Hebrew word בתים, bathim, here used, properly means houses; which, most likely, were either little chapels or shrines made of woven work, like those mentioned Acts 19:24, which were made of silver, within which were representations of the idol; or they were tents, encompassing the image, where the worshippers committed all manner of lewdness, and that in or near the house of the Lord, in an impudent defiance of the holiness of God and his temple. Well might the apostle call these kinds of worship abominable idolatries! Can any wonder that wrath, not to be quenched, was kindled against this city and people?

23:4-14 What abundance of wickedness in Judah and Jerusalem! One would not have believed it possible, that in Judah, where God was known, in Israel, where his name was great, in Salem, in Zion, where his dwelling-place was, such abominations should be found. Josiah had reigned eighteen years, and had himself set the people a good example, and kept up religion according to the Divine law; yet, when he came to search for idolatry, the depth and extent were very great. Both common history, and the records of God's word, teach, that all the real godliness or goodness ever found on earth, is derived from the new-creating Spirit of Jesus Christ.By the house of the Lord - This did not arise from intentional desecration, but from the fact that the practices in question were a part of the idolatrous ceremonial, being regarded as pleasing to the gods, and, indeed, as positive acts of worship (compare the marginal reference).

The "women" were probably the priestesses attached to the worship of Astarte, which was intimately connected with that of the Asherah or "grove." Among their occupations one was the weaving of coverings (literally "houses" margin) for the Asherah, which seem to have been of various colors (marginal reference).

7. brake down the houses of the sodomites—not solid houses, but tents, called elsewhere [2Ki 17:30] Succoth-benoth, "the booths of the young women," who were devoted to the service of Asherah, for which they made embroidered hangings, and in which they gave themselves to unbridled revelry and lust. Or the hangings might be for Asherah itself, as it is a popular superstition in the East to hang pieces of cloth on trees. The houses of the sodomites; wherein some males prostituted their bodies to the lusts of others; which abominable practice was both a punishment of idolatry, Romans 1:23,24,27, and a part of idol worship, this being done to the honour of some of their idols, and by the appointment and instigation of those impure and diabolical spirits which were worshipped in their idols. See 1 Kings 14:24 15:12 22:46.

Hangings, or curtains, either to draw before the idol or idols which were worshipped in the grove, to preserve them from defilement, or to gain more reverence for them; or which were set up in the grove, that the abominable filthiness last mentioned might be committed within them. Or, garments for the service of the grove, for the idols or the priests belonging to them. Heb. houses, i.e. either little chapels made of woven work, like those which were made of silver, Acts 19:24; within which there were some representations of their grove idols; or rather, tents made of those curtains for the use above mentioned.

For the grove, or, for Asherah, an idol so called, as was noted before.

And he brake down the houses of the Sodomites that were by the house of the Lord,.... Near the temple were apartments, in which men, the worshippers of idols, prostituted their bodies to each other; committing that unnatural sin with one another, which has its name from Sodom, and from which those are so called, and which sin they committed in honour of the idols they worshipped; to such vile affections were they, in a judicial manner, delivered up, because of their idolatry; see Romans 1:27 the word signifies "Holy Ones", they being called so by an antiphrasis; though Abarbinel thinks these were the idolatrous priests, whom the worshippers of idols reckoned "holy", and so built houses for them near the temple to lodge in; the Targum is,"and broke down the houses of things consecrated to idols,''where they were put; and Theodoret on the place observes, that by an homonymy, they called the demons or idols themselves "Holy Ones"; and it is not likely, indeed, that the Sodomites should be

where the women wove hangings for the grove; that is, for Astarte, as the same writer observes: or "curtains", as the Jewish writers generally interpret it, in which either the idol was enclosed, or these made apartments for the idolaters to commit their abominable wickedness privately; though the Syriac and Arabic versions are,"they wove garments for the idols that were there;''and so the Septuagint version, of the Complutensian edition; that is, they wove garments for the goddess Astarte, which they dressed her with: the word signifies "houses", and may mean the shrines of the idol made of woven work.

And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove.
7. And he brake down] On like reforms cf. 1 Kings 15:12; 1 Kings 22:46.

by [R.V. in] the house of the Lord] The text says that these abominations were in the temple. There is no reason why the English should not represent it plainly.

the women wove hangings for the grove] R.V. the Asherah. It seems that at some of the shrines dedicated to the false gods, instead of more permanent erections, tents were put up, and it was for these that the women were employed in weaving curtains. The Hebrew word rendered ‘hangings’ is the same which is used in other passages for ‘houses’ of the high places. The Jewish tradition explains it by ‘curtains’. Some have thought that the ‘tabernacles’ alluded to in Amos 5:26 were of this character, tent-like erections which could be moved when not in use. Another allusion to such curtained structures for idolatrous worship is found in Ezekiel 16:16. ‘Of thy garments thou didst take and deckedst thy high places with divers colours’.

Verse 7. - And he brake down the houses of the sodomites; literally, of the consecrated ones. (See the comment on 1 Kings 14:24; and note that the male prostitutes, or Galli, who consecrated themselves to the Des Syra, formed an essential element in the Astarte-worship, and accompanied it wherever it was introduced.) Dollinger says ('Jew and Gentile,' vol. 1. pp. 430, 431) of these wretched persons, "To the exciting din of drums, flutes, and inspired songs, the Galli cut themselves on the arms; and the effect of this act, and of the music accompanying it, was so strong upon mere spectators, that all their bodily and mental powers were thrown into a tumult of excitement, and they too, seized by the desire to lacerate themselves, deprived themselves of their manhood by means of potsherds lying ready for the purpose. Thereupon they ran with the mutilated part through the city, and received from the houses which they threw them into, a woman's gear. Not chastity, but barrenness, was intended by the mutilation. In this the Galli only desired to be like their goddess. The relation of foul lust, which they thenceforward occupied towards women, was regarded as a holy thing, and was tolerated by husbands in their wives." That were by the house of the Lord. The near vicinity is an indication that the Galli took part in the foreign rites introduced into the temple by Manasseh and Amon. The awful profanation of the house of God by such orgies is too terrible to dwell on. Where the women wove hangings for the grove. "The women" are no doubt the priestesses of the Dea Syra, who are constantly mentioned with the Galli, and, indeed, lived with them. They employed themselves, among other occupations, in weaving "hangings" (literally, "houses," i.e. "coverings") for the Asherah. It may be gathered from Ezekiel 16:16 that these "coverings" were dainty fabrics of many colors. 2 Kings 23:7הקּדשׁים בּתּי, the houses (places of abode) of the paramours (for הקדשים see at 1 Kings 14:24), were probably only tents or huts, which were erected in the court of the temple for the paramours to dwell in, and in which there were also women who wove tent-temples (בּתּים) for Asherah (see at 2 Kings 17:30).

(Note: On this worship Movers has the following among other remarks (Phn. i. p. 686): "The mutilated Gallus (קדש) fancies that he is a woman: negant se viros esse ... muleires se volunt credi (Firmic.). He lives in close intimacy with the women, and they again are drawn towards the Galli by peculiar affection." He also expresses a conjecture "that the women of Jerusalem gave themselves up in honour of the goddess in the tents of the Galli which were pitched in the temple circle, on which account the כלב מחיר went to the temple treasury.")

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