James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hephzibah.2 Kings 21:1-23:37
JUDAH UNDER JOSIAH
HIS IMMEDIATE PREDECESSORS (2 Kings 21:1-26)
Manasseh’s history shows that a good father does not always make a good son. The summary of his reign (2 Kings 21:1-9) ranks him with Ahaz, as the two
wickedest kings Judah had known. Note that the same punishment which had fallen on Israel is soon to overtake Judah (2 Kings 21:13), and this despite Manasseh’s “humbleness,” as indicated in 2 Chronicles 33:11-19.
The brief reign of Amon (2 Kings 21:19-26) was in character a continuation of that of his father, and marks the lowest period in the history of the nation until that time.
HIS RESTORATION OF THE TRUE WORSHIP (2 Kings 22)
The youth of Josiah suggests that he may have been under a regency at first as in the case of Joash (2 Kings 12:3) though there is no mention of it. The temple had not been repaired since that king, 250 years before, which explains certain things in this chapter, especially when the wickedness and idolatry of some of the intervening reigns are considered.
“The book of the law” (2 Kings 22:8) is regarded by scholars as the Pentateuch, which during the apostasy had been lost to public knowledge except as a tradition. Some of the older rabbis held that it was the original manuscript of Moses. Another theory is that Manasseh had ordered all copies to be destroyed, but that some faithful priest had concealed this copy until now.
Jeremiah and Zephaniah were prophets contemporaneous with Josiah, but the reason Huldah was inquired of, and not they, is probably because she “dwelt in Jerusalem” (2 Kings 22:14), while the others may not have been there at this time.
HIS EXTENSION OF THE REFORM MOVEMENT (2 Kings 23:1-28)
It will be noticed that after the king had put an end to all illegal worship in Judah, he extended the reform, or the revival, to the former kingdom of Israel, where that worship had originally arisen (2 Kings 23:15-20).
Observe from 2 Kings 23:26-27 that God has not changed His purpose concerning the removal of Judah, which proves that, although in this reign the law was kept externally, yet the nation was by no means converted.
HIS DEATH AND THE SUCCESSION (2 Kings 23:29-37)
The story of Josiah’s death (2 Kings 23:29-30) is more fully related in 2 Chronicles. One reason he marched against Pharaoh was that although the latter’s objective was Assyria, he was trespassing on Jewish soil to attain it.
Jehoahaz, whom the people preferred as his successor (2 Kings 23:30), was a younger son, but he was soon deposed by the Egyptians, who placed his brother on the throne, making him their vassal (2 Kings 23:34-35).
1. How long did Manasseh reign?
2. What chastisement befell him during his lifetime, and why?
3. What effect had this upon his spirit?
4. What decree is now uttered against Judah?
5. What earlier king of Judah does Josiah suggest?
6. Name two or three parallel incidents in their histories.
7. How would you explain the loss of the book of the law?
8. With what is this book identified?
9. What two prophets, whose books have come down to us, were contemporaneous with this reign?
10. Did Josiah die a natural death?