23:4 The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the high-ranking priests, 1 and the guards 2 to bring out of the Lord’s temple all the items that were used in the worship of 3 Baal, Asherah, and all the stars of the sky. 4 The king 5 burned them outside of Jerusalem in the terraces 6 of Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. 7 23:5 He eliminated 8 the pagan priests whom the kings of Judah had appointed to offer sacrifices 9 on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the area right around Jerusalem. (They offered sacrifices 10 to Baal, the sun god, the moon god, the constellations, and all the stars in the sky.) 23:6 He removed the Asherah pole from the Lord’s temple and took it outside Jerusalem to the Kidron Valley, where he burned it. 11 He smashed it to dust and then threw the dust in the public graveyard. 12 23:7 He tore down the quarters 13 of the male cultic prostitutes in the Lord’s temple, where women were weaving shrines 14 for Asherah.
23:8 He brought all the priests from the cities of Judah and ruined 15 the high places where the priests had offered sacrifices, from Geba to Beer Sheba. 16 He tore down the high place of the goat idols 17 situated at the entrance of the gate of Joshua, the city official, on the left side of the city gate. 23:9 (Now the priests of the high places did not go up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they did eat unleavened cakes among their fellow priests.) 18 23:10 The king 19 ruined Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom so that no one could pass his son or his daughter through the fire to Molech. 20 23:11 He removed from the entrance to the Lord’s temple the statues of horses 21 that the kings of Judah had placed there in honor of the sun god. (They were kept near the room of Nathan Melech the eunuch, which was situated among the courtyards.) 22 He burned up the chariots devoted to the sun god. 23 23:12 The king tore down the altars the kings of Judah had set up on the roof of Ahaz’s upper room, as well as the altars Manasseh had set up in the two courtyards of the Lord’s temple. He crushed them up 24 and threw the dust in the Kidron Valley. 23:13 The king ruined the high places east of Jerusalem, south of the Mount of Destruction, 25 that King Solomon of Israel had built for the detestable Sidonian goddess Astarte, the detestable Moabite god Chemosh, and the horrible Ammonite god Milcom. 23:14 He smashed the sacred pillars to bits, cut down the Asherah pole, and filled those shrines 26 with human bones.
23:15 He also tore down the altar in Bethel 27 at the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who encouraged Israel to sin. 28 He burned all the combustible items at that high place and crushed them to dust; including the Asherah pole. 29
1 tn Heb “the priests of the second [rank],” that is, those ranked just beneath Hilkiah.
2 tn Or “doorkeepers.”
3 tn Heb “for.”
5 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
6 tn Or “fields.” For a defense of the translation “terraces,” see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 285.
8 tn Perhaps, “destroyed.”
9 tn Or “burn incense.”
10 tn Or “burned incense.”
11 tn Heb “and he burned it in the Kidron Valley.”
12 tc Heb “on the grave of the sons of the people.” Some Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, Aramaic, and Latin witnesses read the plural “graves.”
tn The phrase “sons of the people” refers here to the common people (see BDB 766 s.v. עַם), as opposed to the upper classes who would have private tombs.
13 tn Or “cubicles.” Heb “houses.”
14 tn Heb “houses.” Perhaps tent-shrines made from cloth are in view (see BDB 109 s.v. בַּיִת). M. Cogan and H. Tadmor (II Kings [AB], 286) understand this as referring to clothes made for images of the goddess.
15 tn Heb “defiled; desecrated,” that is, “made ritually unclean and unusable.”
16 sn These towns marked Judah’s northern and southern borders, respectively, at the time of Josiah.
17 tc The Hebrew text reads “the high places of the gates,” which is problematic in that the rest of the verse speaks of a specific gate. The translation assumes an emendation to בָּמוֹת הַשְּׁעָרִים (bamot hashÿ’arim), “the high place of the goats” (that is, goat idols). Worship of such images is referred to in Lev 17:7 and 2 Chr 11:15. For a discussion of the textual issue, see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 286-87.
18 tn Heb “their brothers.”
19 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
20 sn Attempts to identify this deity with a god known from the ancient Near East have not yet yielded a consensus. For brief discussions see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor II Kings (AB), 288 and HALOT 592 s.v. מֹלֶךְ. For more extensive studies see George C. Heider, The Cult of Molek, and John Day, Molech: A God of Human Sacrifice in the Old Testament.
21 tn The MT simply reads “the horses.” The words “statues of” have been supplied in the translation for clarity.
22 tn Heb “who/which was in the […?].” The meaning of the Hebrew term פַּרְוָרִים (parvarim), translated here “courtyards,” is uncertain. The relative clause may indicate where the room was located or explain who Nathan Melech was, “the eunuch who was in the courtyards.” See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 288-89, who translate “the officer of the precincts.”
23 tn Heb “and the chariots of the sun he burned with fire.”
24 tc The MT reads, “he ran from there,” which makes little if any sense in this context. Some prefer to emend the verbal form (Qal of רוּץ [ruts], “run”) to a Hiphil of רוּץ with third plural suffix and translate, “he quickly removed them” (see BDB 930 s.v. רוּץ, and M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings [AB], 289). The suffix could have been lost in MT by haplography (note the mem [מ] that immediately follows the verb on the form מִשֳׁם, misham, “from there”). Another option, the one reflected in the translation, is to emend the verb to a Piel of רָצַץ (ratsats), “crush,” with third plural suffix.
25 sn This is a derogatory name for the Mount of Olives, involving a wordplay between מָשְׁחָה (mashÿkhah), “anointing,” and מַשְׁחִית (mashÿkhit), “destruction.” See HALOT 644 s.v. מַשְׁחִית and M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 289.
26 tn Heb “their places.”
28 tn Heb “And also the altar that is in Bethel, the high place that Jeroboam son of Nebat who encouraged Israel to sin, also that altar and the high place he tore down.” The more repetitive Hebrew text is emphatic.
29 tn Heb “he burned the high place, crushing to dust, and he burned the Asherah pole.” High places per se are never referred to as being burned elsewhere. בָּמָה (bamah) here stands by metonymy for the combustible items located on the high place. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 289.