2 Kings 23:9
Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brothers.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Nevertheless . . . came not up to the altar.Only the, priests of the high places used not to offer at the altar. They were not permitted to do so, being considered to be incapacitated for that office by their former illegal ministrations.

But they did eat.—They might not even eat their share of the meat offerings in company with the legitimate priests; but had to take their meals apart, “among their brethren,” i.e., in their own company. (Comp. Ezekiel 44:10-14; Leviticus 21:21-22.)

Eat of the unleavened bread.—Omit of the. The phrase is a technical one, meaning to live upon offerings. (See Leviticus 2:1-11; Leviticus 6:16-18; Leviticus 10:12.) These irregular priests were probably employed in the inferior duties of the Temple.

2 Kings 23:9. Nevertheless, the priests of the high places — Who had worshipped the true God there. Came not up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem — Were not suffered to come thither to exercise their priestly office, as a just punishment for their joining in and contributing to the corruption of God’s worship, and the transgression of so plain and positive a law of God as that in Deuteronomy 12:11; which conduct was much worse in them than in the people, as they had more knowledge to discern the will of God, and were under greater obligations to observe it. But they did eat of the unleavened bread — Of the meat-offerings allotted to the priests, wherein there was to be no leaven, (Leviticus 2:4-11,) and consequently of other provisions belonging to the priests, which are comprehended under this one kind. Thus the king mixed mercy with severity, and they were put into the condition of those priests who had corporal blemishes, (Leviticus 21:17-22,) who might not offer the bread of their God, but might eat the bread of their God, both of the most holy and the holy: they were shut out from spiritual services, but allowed necessary provisions. 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.Nevertheless - Connect this verse with the first clause of 2 Kings 23:8. The priests were treated as if they had been disqualified from serving at the altar by a bodily blemish Leviticus 21:21-23. They were not secularised, but remained in the priestly order and received a maintenance from the ecclesiastical revenues. Contrast with this treatment Josiah's severity toward the priests of the high-places in Samaria, who were sacrificed upon their own altars 2 Kings 23:20. Probably the high-place worship in Judaea had continued in the main a worship of Yahweh with idolatrous rites, while in Samaria it had degenerated into an actual worship of other gods.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).

The priests of the high places, which worshipped the true God there.

Came not up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, i.e. were not suffered to come thither to the exercise of their priestly function; as a just punishment for the corruption of God’s worship, and the transgression of so plain and positive a law of God, Deu 12:11, which was much worse in them, who had more knowledge to discern God’s mind therein, and more obligations to observe it, and to engage others to the observation of it. Compare Ezekiel 44:10.

Of the unleavened bread, i.e. of the meat-offerings allotted to the priests, wherein there was to be no leaven, Leviticus 2:4,5,10,11; and consequently of other provisions belonging to the priests, which by a synecdoche are contained under this one kind. Thus their spiritual blemish puts them into the very same state which corporal blemishes brought them, Leviticus 21:17, &c. And thus he mitigates their punishment; he shuts them out from spiritual services, but allows them natural and necessary provisions. Nevertheless, the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the Lord at Jerusalem,.... To sacrifice there, as the Targum; though they were removed from the high places, they were not admitted to officiate at the altar of the Lord, having offered in forbidden places:

but they did eat of the unleavened bread with their brethren; the priests that were pure, as the sons of Zadok; though they might not offer sacrifices, they were allowed to partake of the holy things with the priests, as the meat offerings made of flour unleavened, Leviticus 2:4 which are here meant, and put for all the rest on which the priests lived, see Ezekiel 44:10.

Nevertheless the priests of the high places {i} came not up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren.

(i) Because they who had forsaken the Lord to serve idols, were not fit to minister in the service of the Lord for the instruction of others.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. came not up to the altar of the Lord] They had been ministers of the high places, which even if they were erected in the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, were yet forbidden, and so these priests henceforth executed no sacrificial office at the temple. They had their support from the offerings made there, but were a class apart and would continue so till they were all passed away. The defect in their practice was held to disqualify them, as physical defects disqualified men from becoming priests.

the unleavened bread] Mentioned as representing those gifts which, after being offered, were devoted to the maintenance of the priests.

among their brethren] i.e. This whole class lived a life distinct from the other priests, being deposed and as it were degraded from their higher office.Verse 9. - Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem. Though Josiah recalled to Jerusalem the Levitical priests who had recently been attached to the various high places, yet he did not attach them to the temple, or assign them any part in its services. Their participation in a semi-idolatrous service had disqualified them for the temple ministrations. But they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren. They were allowed, i.e., their maintenance out of the priestly revenues, as were priests disqualified by a personal blemish (Leviticus 21:21, 22). Practically they lived on the altar gifts intended for the priests (Leviticus 6:9, 10, 22), in which it was unlawful to mix leaven. The king stood העמּוּד על, as in 2 Kings 11:14. For וגו ויּכרת see 2 Kings 11:17. ללכת, i.e., he bound himself solemnly to walk after the Lord, that is to say, in his walk to follow the Lord and keep His commandments (see at 1 Kings 2:3). - בּבּרית...ויּעמוד, all the people entered into the covenant (Luther and others); not perstitit, stood firm, continued in the covenant (Maurer, Ges.), which would be at variance with Jeremiah 11:9-10; Jeremiah 25:3., and other utterances of the prophets.
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