Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years.Ch. 2 Chronicles 34:1-2 (= 2 Kings 22:1-2). Josiah’s good Reign
1. In Jerusalem one and thirty years] R.V. thirty and one years in Jerusalem (as 2 Kin.). Here the Chronicler omits Josiah’s mother’s name; cp. 2 Chronicles 33:1; 2 Chronicles 33:21.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.2. in the sight] R.V. in the eyes.
declined neither … nor] R.V. turned not aside … or (as 2 Kin.).
For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.3–7 (cp. 2 Chronicles 34:33; 2 Kings 13:4-20). Josiah destroys the Symbols of Idolatry
3. in the eighth year … and in the twelfth] The two dates given in this verse seem to be “doublettes,” i.e. various readings both of which have been adopted and placed side by side in the text. Moreover it is probable that neither reading is original, for both seem to have been derived by some transcriptional error or other from 2 Kings 22:3, where the account of Josiah’s doings begins with the date, in the eighteenth year.
Thus we get:—
(a) 2 Kings 22:3 (= 2 Chronicles 34:8):
bishĕmôneh esreh “eighteenth” (the original reading).
(b) 2 Chronicles 34:3 a:
bishĕmôneh “eighth” (defective reading; esreh having dropped out).
(c) 2 Chronicles 34:3 b:
bishtçym esreh, “twelfth” (attempted correction, perhaps from memory, of the defective reading).
It should also be noticed that the order of the events of Josiah’s reign given in Chron. varies from that given in 2 Kin. Thus we have in 2 Chr.:
(1) Destruction of idolatrous symbols throughout Jerusalem, Judah and Israel; 2 Chronicles 34:3-7.
(2) Repair of the Temple and Finding of the Law; ib. 2 Chronicles 34:8-28.
(3) Renewal of the Covenant with Jehovah; ib. 2 Chronicles 34:29-32.
(4) Great Passover kept; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19.
(5) Death of Josiah; ib. 2 Chronicles 35:20-27.
In 2 Kin. on the other hand (2), (3) precede (1), and there can be little doubt that this order is right.
while he was yet young] There is no clause corresponding to this in 2 Kin., and the statement rests on the probably faulty reading “eighth.” Yet his early piety is probably a fact, for though in 2 Kin. his reformation is dated in the eighteenth year of his reign, i.e. when he was 25 years of age (hardly “young” for a king), the favourable judgement passed on him (2 Kings 12:2) is unqualified by any suggestion that he was tardy in turning to Jehovah.
in the twelfth year he began] The Chronicler spreads the cleansing of the land over six years, i.e. from the twelfth to the eighteenth; cp. 2 Chronicles 34:8.
to purge] Josiah’s measures are more fully enumerated and described in 2 Kings 23; notice e.g. the removal of the Asherah from the Temple (2 Chronicles 34:6), the destruction of the houses of the Ḳĕdeshim (cp. Deuteronomy 23:17-18) which were in the House of the Lord (2 Chronicles 34:7), the deportation of priests from the cities of Judah into Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 34:8-9), and the defiling of Topheth and of Beth-el (2 Chronicles 34:10; 2 Chronicles 34:15-16).
the groves] R.V. the Asherim; cp. 2 Chronicles 14:3 (note).
carved images] R.V. graven, images; as 2 Chronicles 33:7; 2 Chronicles 33:22.
And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them.4. Baalim] R.V. the Baalim; cp. 2 Chronicles 33:3 (note).
the images] R.V. the sun-images (so 2 Chronicles 34:7 for “the idols”). See 2 Kings 23:11.
he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images] R.V. he hewed down; and the Asherim, and the graven images.
And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem.5. he burnt the bones of the priests] Specially at Beth-el; 2 Kings 23:15-16.
cleansed] R.V. purged (as in 2 Chronicles 34:3; 2 Chronicles 34:8).
And so did he in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks round about.6. Simeon] Here as in 2 Chronicles 15:9 regarded as belonging to the Northern tribes, but their cities were in the south; cp. 1 Chronicles 4:28 ff.
with their mattocks] R.V. in their ruins (with marginal note, “The text is probably corrupt”). LXX. ἐν … τοῖς τόποις αὐτῶν i.e. “in their places.” Pesh. reads, in their broad places, and this is probably correct.
And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.7. And when … all the idols] R.V. And he brake down the altars, and beat the Asherim and the graven images into powder, and hewed down all the sun-images.
he returned] R.V. and returned.
Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land, and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, and Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz the recorder, to repair the house of the LORD his God.8–28 (= 2 Kings 22:3-20). Repair of the Temple. Discovery of the Book of the Law
8. Shaphan] According to 2 Kin. he was Scribe. See 1 Chronicles 18:16 (note).
the governor of the city] Render, a ruler of the city; cp. 2 Chronicles 29:20.
the recorder] R.V. mg. the chronicler; cp. 1 Chronicles 18:15 (note). Neither Maaseiah nor Joah is mentioned in 2 Kin.
And when they came to Hilkiah the high priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites that kept the doors had gathered of the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, and of all the remnant of Israel, and of all Judah and Benjamin; and they returned to Jerusalem.9. And when they came … they delivered] R.V. And they came … and delivered. The matter is somewhat differently stated in 2 Kin. according to which they are sent to Hilkiah with a message to him to “sum” i.e. to reckon the total of the money collected in the Temple.
the Levites that kept the doors] R.V. the Levites, the keepers of the door. In 2 Kings 12:9 the keepers of the doors are called priests; cp. ib. 2 Kings 25:18.
of the hand of Manasseh etc.] In 2 Kin. simply “of the people.”
and they returned to Jerusalem] R.V. and of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The A.V. (cp. for the meaning of this rendering, 2 Chronicles 24:5) follows one reading of the Hebrew (the Ḳ’rî), the R.V., in agreement with the LXX., follows the other reading (C’thib).
And they put it in the hand of the workmen that had the oversight of the house of the LORD, and they gave it to the workmen that wrought in the house of the LORD, to repair and amend the house:10. put it in] R.V. delivered it into.
and they gave it to the workmen that wrought in the house of the LORD] R.V. and the workmen that wrought in the house of the LORD gave it. The “workmen” are distinguished from the “carpenters and builders” (2 Chronicles 34:11); overseers of some kind are meant. To oversee the work and to do the work are used as synonymous phrases in 1 Chronicles 23:4 and ibid. 1 Chronicles 23:24.
to repair and mend] R.V. to amend and repair. “To amend” is to fill up a breach.
Even to the artificers and builders gave they it, to buy hewn stone, and timber for couplings, and to floor the houses which the kings of Judah had destroyed.11. to the artificers and builders] R.V. to the carpenters and to the builders.
to floor] R.V. to make beams for.
the houses] Cp. 1 Chronicles 28:11.
And the men did the work faithfully: and the overseers of them were Jahath and Obadiah, the Levites, of the sons of Merari; and Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to set it forward; and other of the Levites, all that could skill of instruments of musick.12. the overseers] There is no parallel in 2 Kin. for the rest of this verse and for 2 Chronicles 34:13.
to set it forward] The same Heb. word is used in 1 Chronicles 23:4.
could skill] “Skill” is used as a verb also in 2 Chronicles 2:7-8. skill of instruments = “play skilfully upon instruments.”
Also they were over the bearers of burdens, and were overseers of all that wrought the work in any manner of service: and of the Levites there were scribes, and officers, and porters.13. were overseers of all that wrought the work] R.V. set forward all that did the work.
in any manner] R.V. in every manner.
scribes] Transcribers of the Law; Ezra 7:6; Ezra 7:11.
officers] Cp. 2 Chronicles 19:11.
porters] Cp. 1 Chronicles 26:1 ff.
And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the LORD given by Moses.14. This verse has no parallel in 2 Kin.
a book of the law] R.V. the book of the law. This book was not the complete Pentateuch in its present shape, for the redaction of the Pentateuch as a whole, is attributed by the ablest critics to a later period than this. Similarly it cannot have been the book of Deuteronomy in the complete form in which we have it, for there are traces in Deuteronomy of the work of an editor who must have lived at a later time than the days of Josiah. This “book of the law” seems to have consisted (roughly reckoned) of Deuteronomy 5-26 with 28.
And Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan.15. answered and said] For the use of “answer” where no question had been asked cp. 2 Chronicles 29:31, note.
And Shaphan carried the book to the king, and brought the king word back again, saying, All that was committed to thy servants, they do it.16. and brought the king word back again] R.V. and moreover brought the king word again.
And they have gathered together the money that was found in the house of the LORD, and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers, and to the hand of the workmen.17. have gathered together] R.V. have emptied out.
Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath given me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.18. Then Shaphan] R.V. And Shaphan.
hath given] R.V. hath delivered (as in 2 Chronicles 34:15).
read it] R.V. read therein. The Heb. expression is partitive.
And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes.19. rent his clothes] A sign of grief. “Clothes” is in the plur. because both inner and outer garments are meant. See Ezra 9:3 (with Ryle’s note).
And the king commanded Hilkiah, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Abdon the son of Micah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king's, saying,20. Ahikam the son of Shaphan] Cp. Jeremiah 26:24; Jeremiah 40:5.
Abdon the son of Micah] In 2 Kin. “Achbor the son of Micaiah.”
a servant of the king’s] R.V. the king’s servant.
Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book.21. Go] R.V. go ye (as in 2 Kin.).
that is poured out upon us] In 2 Kin. “that is kindled against us,” so LXX. ἐκκέκαυται. Cp. here, 2 Chronicles 34:25 (note).
after all] R.V. according until all (cp. 2 Chronicles 28:3).
And Hilkiah, and they that the king had appointed, went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college:) and they spake to her to that effect.22. they that the king had appointed] R.V. they whom the king had commanded. The verb âmar has seemingly fallen out of the Heb. text.
the prophetess] This title is given to Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah (Jdg 4:4), Anna (Luke 2:36); cp. also Nehemiah 6:14; Revelation 2:20.
Tikvath] R.V. Tokhath. In 2 Kin. “Tikvah.”
Hasrah] In 2 Kin. “Harhas.”
keeper of the wardrobe] Lit. “keeper of the garments.” The Heb. word for garments (bĕgâdim) is applied to a king’s robes (2 Chronicles 18:29), to a high priest’s vestments (Exodus 28:2; Exodus 28:4), and to clothes in general; it is therefore not easy to say what office precisely is here referred to. Some in consideration of 2 Kings 10:22 have thought that the garments here meant were ecclesiastical and not royal.
in the college] R.V. in the second quarter; so Zephaniah 1:10 (R.V.). A second, newer division of the city seems to be meant, but precisely what part is not known. Cp. Nehemiah 11:9 (with Ryle’s note on second over the city).
And she answered them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell ye the man that sent you to me,23. she answered them] R.V. she said unto them.
Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah:24. all the curses] Deuteronomy 27:15-26; Deuteronomy 28:15-68.
Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched.25. therefore my wrath shall be poured out] R.V. therefore is my wrath poured out (agreeing with 2 Chronicles 34:21). Some of its effects were already manifest.
And as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, so shall ye say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel concerning the words which thou hast heard;26. And as for the king] R.V. But unto the king.
the Lord God of Israel concerning the words] R.V. the LORD, the God of Israel: As touching the words.
Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD.27. humbledst … and didst rend … and weep] R.V. hast humbled … and hast rent … and wept.
I have men heard thee also] R.V. I also have heard thee.
Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same. So they brought the king word again.28. of the same] R.V. thereof. Cp. the similar promise made to Ahab (1 Kings 21:29).
Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem.29–33 (cp. 2 Kings 23:1-3). The Renewal of the Covenant with Jehovah
This renewal of the covenant should be compared with Hezekiah’s great service of atonement for the breach of the covenant (2 Chronicles 29:20 ff.). See also Exodus 24:3-8.
And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests, and the Levites, and all the people, great and small: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of the LORD.30. the Levites] In 2 Kin. “the prophets.”
And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book.31. to walk after the Lord] Cp. Deuteronomy 10:12-13.
which are written] R.V. that were written.
And he caused all that were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand to it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers.32. he caused all that were found … to stand to it] In 2 Kin., “all the people stood to the covenant.”
And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the LORD their God. And all his days they departed not from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.33. And Josiah took away] Cp. 2 Chronicles 34:3-7.
made all that were found … to serve] i.e. made the remnant of the Northern tribes his subjects.
even to serve] Render, that they might serve.
all his days] The case was altered under his son Jehoiakim.