2 Kings 23:8
And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba, and broke down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) And he brought all the priests . . .—Josiah caused all the priests of the local sanctuaries of Jehovah to migrate to Jerusalem, and polluted the high places to which they had been attached, in order to get rid of the illegitimate worship once for all.

From Geba.—The present Jeba, near the ancient Ramah (1Kings 15:22).

To Beer-sheba.—Where was a specially frequented high place (Amos 5:5, Amos 8:14; and Note on 2Chronicles 34:6).

The high places of the gates.—Altars erected within the gates, that persons entering or leaving the city might make an offering to ensure success in their business.

That were in the entering in . . .—Thenius renders, (the high place) which was at the entry of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, (as well as) that which was on the left in the city gate. But this assumption of two localities is very precarious. The Authorised Version appears to be correct (a similar repetition of the relative referring to the same antecedent occurs in 2Kings 23:13). Joshua is an unknown personage, and it is not clear whether “the gate of Joshua” was a gate of the city named after him, or the great gate of his residence; nor is it certain that “the gate of the city” was that now called the Jaffa Gate. It is possible that the governor’s residence lay near the principal gate of the city, on the left as one entered. Several “high places” stood in the open space in front of it, between it and the city gate. These would naturally be called “the high places of the gates.”

2 Kings 23:8. He brought all the priests — Belonging to the high places following, whether such as worshipped idols, or such as worshipped God in those forbidden places. Out of the cities of Judah — That they might not continue to corrupt the people. And defiled the high places — Casting dead carcasses there, and other such like unclean things, and thus making them receptacles of impurity, and burning dead men’s bones upon the altars that were there. From Geba — The northern border of the kingdom of Judah. To Beer-sheba — The southern border; that is, throughout the whole country. And brake down the high places of the gates — Dedicated to their tutelary gods, whom their idolatrous kings, after the manner of the heathen, owned for the protectors of their city and habitations. These places seem to have been erected at the gates, in order that all who entered or went out of the city might pay some kind of adoration to them. In the gate of Joshua, the governor of the city — This circumstance is mentioned to show Josiah’s great zeal and impartiality in rooting out all monuments of idolatry, without any respect unto those great persons who were concerned in them.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.Josiah removed the Levitical priests, who had officiated at the various high-places, from the scenes of their idolatries, and brought them to Jerusalem, where their conduct might be watched.

From Geba to Beer-sheba - i. e., from the extreme north to the extreme south of the kingdom of Judah. On Geba see the marginal reference note. The high-place of Beer-sheba had obtained an evil celebrity Amos 5:5; Amos 8:14.

The high places of the gates ... - Render, "He brake down the high-places of the gates, both that which was at the entering in of the gate of Joshua, the governor of the city (1 Kings 22:26 note), and also that which was on a man's left hand at the gate of the city." According to this, there were only two "high-places of the gates" (or idolatrous shrines erected in the city at gate-towers) at Jerusalem. The "gate of Joshua is conjectured to have been a gate in the inner wall; and the "gate of the city," the Valley-gate (modern "Jaffa-gate").

8, 9. he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places, &c.—Many of the Levitical order, finding in the reigns of Manasseh and Amon the temple-worship abolished and the tithes and other offerings alienated, had been betrayed into the folly of officiating on high places, and presenting such sacrifices as were brought to them. These irregularities, even though the object of that worship was the true God, were prohibited in the law (De 12:11). Those who had been guilty of this sin, Josiah brought to Jerusalem. Regarding them as defiled, he debarred them from the service of the temple, but gave them an allowance out of the temple revenues, like the lame and disabled members of the priesthood (Le 21:21, 22).

from Geba to to Beer-sheba—the most northern and the most southern places in Judah—meaning all parts of the kingdom.

the high places … which were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua—The governor's house and gate were on the left of the city gate, and close by the entrance of that civic mansion house were public altars, dedicated, it might be, to the true God, but contrary to His own ordinance of worship (Isa 57:8).

All the priests, to wit, belonging to the high places there following, whether such as worshipped idols, or rather, such as worshipped God in those forbidden places, Deu 12:11, as may be gathered from the following verse.

Defiled the high places, by burning dead men’s bones upon them, as 2 Kings 23:14,16,20, or by putting them to some other unclean or filthy use.

From Geba; the northern border of the kingdom of Judah; of which see Joshua 18:24 1 Kings 15:22. To Beer-sheba, which was the southern border; see Genesis 21:31 Judges 20:1; i.e. from one end to the other.

The high places of the gates; which were erected by the gates of the city here mentioned, unto the honour of their tutelary gods, which after the manner of the heathen they owned for the protectors of their city and habitations.

In the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city: this circumstance is noted to show Josiah’s great zeal and impartiality, in rooting out all monuments of idolatry, without any respect unto those great persons who were concerned in them, or affected to them. And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah,.... Who were of the sons of Aaron, and had served in the high places there:

and defiled the high places where the priests had burnt incense; by casting dead carcasses, or the bones of dead men, or dung, or anything that was unclean, into them, by way of contempt:

from Geba to Beersheba; which were the northern and southern boundaries of the land of Judah:

and brake down the high places of the gates: of the cities where some think tutelar gods were placed to be worshipped by persons as they went in or out of them: and particularly that

which were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city; of the city of Jerusalem, where this Joshua was chief magistrate under the king; at whose door stood an high place, which, Kimchi thinks, might he greater than the rest, and therefore mentioned alone, yet was not spared on account of its greatness, or of the person to whom it belonged.

And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. all the priests out of the cities of Judah] These were the priests who had betaken themselves to the various high places throughout the land, and conducted the worship there (2 Chronicles 33:17). These services were offered ‘to the Lord their God only’. But such forbidden places Josiah destroyed and defiled their sites so that they should never be restored. The priests were brought to Jerusalem and were hereafter employed on lower duties as Levites.

from Geba to Beer-sheba] That is, throughout all Judah just as ‘from Dan to Beersheba’ is used (Jdg 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:20) for the whole land of Canaan. Geba was in the northern border of the tribe of Benjamin. It is probably the same as Gibeah which is spoken of in Jdg 20:31 : Beersheba was in the extreme south of Judah. We know from Amos 8:14 that a ‘manner’ (R.V. way) of idolatrous worship prevailed there.

the high places of the gates] The open spaces kept about the gates of Oriental cities afforded exactly the site which would be chosen for some shrine of the popular worship, especially when the kings, Manasseh and Amon, had given their strong support to idolatry. It would be thought to harmonize with the royal wishes if an altar were erected close to the place where the king’s public judgement-seat was wont to be.

in [R.V. at] the entering in, &c.] As the English of both A.V. and R.V. stands, ‘the gate of Joshua the governor of the city’ must be the same which is called in the next clause ‘the gate of the city’. In that case, as the text speaks of ‘high places’, we must understand that there was more than one ‘high place’ in the same neighbourhood. But as they are called ‘high places of the gates’ it has seemed necessary to some to render the words as if a conjunction were omitted, ‘The high places of the gates, that which was in the entering in of the gate of Joshua … and also that which was … at the gate of the city’. Thus the two localities would be different. As ‘the gate of Joshua’ is mentioned nowhere else, we cannot say where it was, or whether a gate so described could also be called ‘a gate of the city’. It seems more probable that it was some inner gate, near the governor’s official residence.Verse 8. - And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah. Here the writer diverges from his proper subject - the reforms in and near Jerusalem - to speak of changes which were made in other parts of Judaea. The Levitical priests, who in various cities of Judah had conducted the worship at the high places, were summoned to Jerusalem by Josiah, and forced to remain there, that the unauthorized worship which they had conducted might be brought to an end. And defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense. Hezekiah had "removed the high places, and broken the images, and cut down the groves" throughout his dominions (2 Kings 18:4), but he had not in any way "defiled the high places;" and therefore no sooner did a king take a different view of his duties than the worship was at once restored (2 Kings 21:3), and flourished as before. Josiah conceived the idea that, if the high places were "defiled," it would be impossible to renew the worship at them. From Geba to Beersheba. Geba takes here the place of Bethel as the northern limit of Judah. It was situated at a very short distance from Bethel, and was made to supersede it on account of the idolatries by which Bethel had been disgraced. The exact site is probably the modern Jeba, on the southern edge of the Wady Suweinit. And brake down the high places of the gates. The high-place worship had, it would seem, invaded Jerusalem itself. In some of the gates of the city, which were "large open buildings for public meetings and intercourse" (Bahr), altars, or more elaborate places of worship, had been established, and an unauthorized ritual of the high-place type had been set up. That were - rather, that which was - in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city. This and the succeeding clauses are limitations of the general statement concerning the "high places of the gates," and indicate that two gates only had been polluted by high-place worship, viz. "the gate of Joshua," and the gale known κατ ἐξοχὴν as "the city gate." Neither of these can be determinately fixed, since they are only mentioned in the present passage. Which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city; rather, and also that which was on the left-hand side in the gate of the city. (So Thenius, Keil, and Bahr.) Reading of the law in the temple, and renewal of the covenant (cf. 2 Chronicles 34:29-32). Beside the priests, Josiah also gathered together the prophets, including perhaps Jeremiah and Zedekiah, that he might carry out the solemn conclusion of the covenant with their co-operation, and, as is evident from Jeremiah 1-11, that they might then undertake the task, by their impressive preaching in Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, of making the people conscious of the earnestness of the covenant duties which they had so recently undertaken (see Oehler in Herzog's Cycl.). Instead of the prophets, the Levites are mentioned in the Chronicles, probably only because the Levites are mentioned along with the priests in other cases of a similar kind. ויּקרא, he read, i.e., had it read; for the duty of reading the law in the temple devolved upon the priests as the keepers of the law (Deuteronomy 31:9.).
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