Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.2. The Results of the Revival and the Death of Josiah
1. The People hear the law (2Kings 23:1-2; 2 Chron. 34)
2. Josiah makes a covenant (2Kings 23:3)
3. The great reformations (2Kings 23:4-20)
4. The Passover celebrated (2Kings 23:21-23; 2 Chron. 35)
5. Further statements concerning Josiah (2Kings 23:24-27)
6. The death of Josiah (2Kings 23:29-30)
It is a great scene with which this chapter opens. The king feels now his responsibility towards the people. All the elders of Judah and Jerusalem were called together by him. Then there was a great procession of people headed by the king, followed by the elders, the priests and the prophets and all the people both small and great. The king read before this vast assembly all the words of the book of the covenant. The king standing on a pillar, or Platform, made a solemn covenant to walk after the LORD and to keep His commandments. All the people stood by it. But it did not last very long. As far as the king was concerned there can be no question that it was real with him. However, if we read the opening chapters of Jeremiah we find that the people’s consecration was but skin-deep. They did not turn unto the LORD with the whole heart, but in falsehood (Jeremiah 3:10).
The description of the cleansing of Judah and Jerusalem of all the abominable things (verses 4-20) shows the awful depths of vileness and wickedness into which the professing people of God had sunk. All the abominations of the flesh connected with the worship of Baal and Ashera and a host of other things flourished in the land. “And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them and returned to Jerusalem” (verse 20).
The keeping of the Passover, the blessed feast of remembrance of what Jehovah had done, follows immediately after the cleansing of the land. The full account we find in Chronicles where we give further comment (2Chronicles 35:1-19). But the record declares that “there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah.” The same was said of Hezekiah’s passover (2Chronicles 30:26). Hezekiah’s passover was greater than any previous one and Josiah’s feast was even greater than that of his great-grandfather.
And all the workers with familiar spirits (the demon possessed mediums) and other wickedness he cut off. In all this Josiah pleased Jehovah and the Spirit of God testifies to it. “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.” Yet after these words there stands written once more the judgment message so soon to be accomplished upon Judah and Jerusalem.
Josiah died, having been shot on the battlefield at Megiddo. The Chronicles contains the details of his death (2Chronicles 35:20-27).
Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.VI. FINAL APOSTASY OF JUDAH AND THE CAPTIVITY
1. Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim
Chronicles tells us that immediately after the death of Josiah, the people of the land took Jehoahaz (which means “Jehovah holds up”) and made him king. He was not the LORD’s choice, but the people’s choice. He was not the eldest son and therefore the action of the people was an unlawful and a lawless one. He was an evil-doer; Josephus speaks of him as having been vile. In the brief period he reigned he may have attempted to restore the immoral rites which his father had so completely crushed. He may have opposed Pharaoh-necho, King of Egypt.
As Josephus explains it, “Necho had, after the battle of Megiddo, continued his march towards Syria. Thither, at Riblah, ‘in the land of Hamath,’ the victor summoned the new Jewish King. On his arrival, Jehoahaz, who had been crowned without the leave of Necho, was put in bonds. Necho does not seem, on this occasion, to have pursued his expedition against Assyria. The great battle at Carchemish, to which the chronicler refers by anticipation (2Chronicles 35:20), was fought on a second expedition, three years later, when the Egyptian army under Necho was defeated with great slaughter by Nebuchadnezzar, the son of Nabopalassar. This was after the fall of Nineveh, and when the Babylonian or Chaldean empire had taken the place of the Assyrian. But on the present occasion Necho seems to have returned, before encountering the Assyrians, into Egypt, whither ‘he brought’ with him Jehoahaz, who died in captivity.” (See Jeremiah 22:11-12.)
Then the king of Egypt took the oldest son of Josiah, Eliakim, changed his name to Jehoiakim and made him King over Judah. Jehoiakim means “Jehovah raiseth up”; this name was probably selected to impress the people. He reigned eleven years. It was a most disastrous time and the beginning of the end. God’s mighty prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Zephaniah and also Urijah were then warning and delivering their great messages.
“The reformatory work of Josiah gave place to a restoration of the former idolatry (compare 2Chronicles 36:8). As in previous reigns, it was connected with complete demoralization of the people (compare Jeremiah 7:9-15; Jeremiah 17:2; Jeremiah 19:4-9; Ezekiel 8:9-18). And this not only among the laity, high and low, but equally among the priests and prophets (compare Jeremiah 23:9-14). All the louder rose the voices of the prophets Jeremiah, Urijah and Habakkuk. But their warnings were either unheeded and scorned, or brought on them persecution and martyrdom (2Kings 24:4; Jeremiah 26:10-11, and especially verses 20-23). Otherwise, also, it was a wretched government, characterized by public wrong, violence, oppression and covetousness. While the land was impoverished, the king indulged in luxury and built magnificent palaces, or adorned towns, by means of forced labor, which remained unpaid, and at the cost of the lives of a miserable enslaved people (Jeremiah 22:13-18; Habakkuk 2:9-17)” (A. Edersheim).
The book of Jeremiah will give us much more of the history of this wicked king and our annotations will lead us back to the ending days of Judah and Jerusalem. He tried to put Urijah to death because he prophesied against Jerusalem. The prophet fled to Egypt. Jehoiakim sent for him and slew him with the sword and threw his body into the graves of the common people (Jer. 26). He himself was buried with the burial of an ass (Jeremiah 22:18-19). Another infamous deed he committed was the cutting with the penknife of the scroll upon which Jeremiah had written the Word of God, casting it into the fire (Jer. 36).