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2 Kings 23:1-37

Context
The King Institutes Religious Reform

23:1 The king summoned all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. 1  23:2 The king went up to the Lord’s temple, accompanied by all the people of Judah, all the residents of Jerusalem, the priests, and the prophets. All the people were there, from the youngest to the oldest. He read aloud 2  all the words of the scroll of the covenant that had been discovered in the Lord’s temple. 23:3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed 3  the covenant before the Lord, agreeing to follow 4  the Lord and to obey his commandments, laws, and rules with all his heart and being, 5  by carrying out the terms 6  of this covenant recorded on this scroll. All the people agreed to keep the covenant. 7 

23:4 The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the high-ranking priests, 8  and the guards 9  to bring out of the Lord’s temple all the items that were used in the worship of 10  Baal, Asherah, and all the stars of the sky. 11  The king 12  burned them outside of Jerusalem in the terraces 13  of Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. 14  23:5 He eliminated 15  the pagan priests whom the kings of Judah had appointed to offer sacrifices 16  on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the area right around Jerusalem. (They offered sacrifices 17  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. 18  He smashed it to dust and then threw the dust in the public graveyard. 19  23:7 He tore down the quarters 20  of the male cultic prostitutes in the Lord’s temple, where women were weaving shrines 21  for Asherah.

23:8 He brought all the priests from the cities of Judah and ruined 22  the high places where the priests had offered sacrifices, from Geba to Beer Sheba. 23  He tore down the high place of the goat idols 24  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.) 25  23:10 The king 26  ruined Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom so that no one could pass his son or his daughter through the fire to Molech. 27  23:11 He removed from the entrance to the Lord’s temple the statues of horses 28  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.) 29  He burned up the chariots devoted to the sun god. 30  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 31  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, 32  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 33  with human bones.

23:15 He also tore down the altar in Bethel 34  at the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who encouraged Israel to sin. 35  He burned all the combustible items at that high place and crushed them to dust; including the Asherah pole. 36  23:16 When Josiah turned around, he saw the tombs there on the hill. So he ordered the bones from the tombs to be brought; 37  he burned them on the altar and defiled it. This fulfilled the Lord’s announcement made by the prophet while Jeroboam stood by the altar during a festival. King Josiah 38  turned and saw the grave of the prophet who had foretold this. 39  23:17 He asked, “What is this grave marker I see?” The men from the city replied, “It’s the grave of the prophet 40  who came from Judah and foretold these very things you have done to the altar of Bethel.” 23:18 The king 41  said, “Leave it alone! No one must touch his bones.” So they left his bones undisturbed, as well as the bones of the Israelite prophet buried beside him. 42 

23:19 Josiah also removed all the shrines on the high places in the cities of Samaria. The kings of Israel had made them and angered the Lord. 43  He did to them what he had done to the high place in Bethel. 44  23:20 He sacrificed all the priests of the high places on the altars located there, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

23:21 The king ordered all the people, “Observe the Passover of the Lord your God, as prescribed in this scroll of the covenant.” 23:22 He issued this edict because 45  a Passover like this had not been observed since the days of the judges; it was neglected for the entire period of the kings of Israel and Judah. 46  23:23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, such a Passover of the Lord was observed in Jerusalem.

23:24 Josiah also got rid of 47  the ritual pits used to conjure up spirits, 48  the magicians, personal idols, disgusting images, 49  and all the detestable idols that had appeared in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem. In this way he carried out the terms of the law 50  recorded on the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the Lord’s temple. 23:25 No king before or after repented before the Lord as he did, with his whole heart, soul, and being in accordance with the whole law of Moses. 51 

23:26 Yet the Lord’s great anger against Judah did not subside; he was still infuriated by all the things Manasseh had done. 52  23:27 The Lord announced, “I will also spurn Judah, 53  just as I spurned Israel. I will reject this city that I chose – both Jerusalem and the temple, about which I said, “I will live there.” 54 

23:28 The rest of the events of Josiah’s reign and all his accomplishments are recorded in the scroll called the Annals of the Kings of Judah. 55  23:29 During Josiah’s reign Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt marched toward 56  the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah marched out to fight him, but Necho 57  killed him at Megiddo 58  when he saw him. 23:30 His servants transported his dead body 59  from Megiddo in a chariot and brought it to Jerusalem, where they buried him in his tomb. The people of the land took Josiah’s son Jehoahaz, poured olive oil on his head, 60  and made him king in his father’s place.

Jehoahaz’s Reign over Judah

23:31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. 61  His mother 62  was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah, from Libnah. 23:32 He did evil in the sight of 63  the Lord as his ancestors had done. 64  23:33 Pharaoh Necho imprisoned him in Riblah in the land of Hamath and prevented him from ruling in Jerusalem. 65  He imposed on the land a special tax 66  of one hundred talents 67  of silver and a talent of gold. 23:34 Pharaoh Necho made Josiah’s son Eliakim king in Josiah’s place, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. He took Jehoahaz to Egypt, where he died. 68  23:35 Jehoiakim paid Pharaoh the required amount of silver and gold, but to meet Pharaoh’s demands Jehoiakim had to tax the land. He collected an assessed amount from each man among the people of the land in order to pay Pharaoh Necho. 69 

Jehoiakim’s Reign over Judah

23:36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem. 70  His mother was Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah, from Rumah. 23:37 He did evil in the sight of 71  the Lord as his ancestors had done.

1 tn Heb “and the king sent and all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem gathered to him.”

map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

2 tn Heb “read in their ears.”

3 tn Heb “cut,” that is, “made, agreed to.”

4 tn Heb “walk after.”

5 tn Or “soul.”

6 tn Heb “words.”

7 tn Heb “stood in the covenant.”

8 tn Heb “the priests of the second [rank],” that is, those ranked just beneath Hilkiah.

9 tn Or “doorkeepers.”

10 tn Heb “for.”

11 tn Heb “all the host of heaven” (also in v. 5).

12 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

13 tn Or “fields.” For a defense of the translation “terraces,” see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 285.

14 map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

15 tn Perhaps, “destroyed.”

16 tn Or “burn incense.”

17 tn Or “burned incense.”

18 tn Heb “and he burned it in the Kidron Valley.”

19 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.

20 tn Or “cubicles.” Heb “houses.”

21 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.

22 tn Heb “defiled; desecrated,” that is, “made ritually unclean and unusable.”

23 sn These towns marked Judah’s northern and southern borders, respectively, at the time of Josiah.

24 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 hashÿarim), “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.

25 tn Heb “their brothers.”

26 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

27 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.

28 tn The MT simply reads “the horses.” The words “statues of” have been supplied in the translation for clarity.

29 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.”

30 tn Heb “and the chariots of the sun he burned with fire.”

31 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.

32 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.

33 tn Heb “their places.”

34 map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

35 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.

36 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.

37 tn Heb “and he sent and took the bones from the tombs.”

38 tn Heb “the king”; this has been specified as “King Josiah” in the translation for clarity (cf. TEV, CEV, NLT).

39 tc The MT is much shorter than this. It reads, “according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words.” The LXX has a much longer text at this point. It reads: “[which was proclaimed by the man of God] while Jeroboam stood by the altar at a celebration. Then he turned and saw the grave of the man of God [who proclaimed these words].” The extra material attested in the LXX was probably accidentally omitted in the Hebrew tradition when a scribe’s eye jumped from the first occurrence of the phrase “man of God” (which appears right before the extra material) and the second occurrence of the phrase (which appears at the end of the extra material).

sn This recalls the prophecy recorded in 1 Kgs 13:2.

40 tn Heb “man of God.”

41 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

42 tn Heb “and they left undisturbed his bones, the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria.” If the phrase “the bones of the prophet” were appositional to “his bones,” one would expect the sentence to end “from Judah” (see v. 17). Apparently the “prophet” referred to in the second half of the verse is the old prophet from Bethel who buried the man of God from Judah in his own tomb and instructed his sons to bury his bones there as well (1 Kgs 13:30-31). One expects the text to read “from Bethel,” but “Samaria” (which was not even built at the time of the incident recorded in 1 Kgs 13) is probably an anachronistic reference to the northern kingdom in general. See the note at 1 Kgs 13:32 and the discussion in M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 290.

43 tc Heb “which the kings of Israel had made, angering.” The object has been accidentally omitted in the MT. It appears in the LXX, Syriac, and Vulgate versions.

44 tn Heb “and he did to them according to all the deeds he had done in Bethel.”

map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

45 tn The Hebrew text has simply “because.” The translation attempts to reflect more clearly the logical connection between the king’s order and the narrator’s observation. Another option is to interpret כִּי (ki) as asseverative and translate, “indeed.”

46 tn Heb “because there had not been observed [one] like this Passover from the days of the judges who judged Israel and all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah.”

47 tn Here בִּעֵר (bier) is not the well attested verb “burn,” but the less common homonym meaning “devastate, sweep away, remove.” See HALOT 146 s.v. בער.

48 sn See the note at 2 Kgs 21:6.

49 sn See the note at 1 Kgs 15:12.

50 tn Heb “carrying out the words of the law.”

51 tn Heb “and like him there was not a king before him who returned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his being according to all the law of Moses, and after him none arose like him.”

sn The description of Josiah’s devotion as involving his whole “heart, soul, and being” echoes the language of Deut 6:5.

52 tn Heb “Yet the Lord did not turn away from the fury of his great anger, which raged against Judah, on account of all the infuriating things by which Manasseh had made him angry.”

53 tn Heb “Also Judah I will turn away from my face.”

54 tn Heb “My name will be there.”

55 tn Heb “As for the rest of the events of Josiah, and all which he did, are they not written on the scroll of the events of the days of the kings of Judah?”

56 tn Heb “went up to.” The idiom עַלעָלָה (’alah …’al) can sometimes mean “go up against,” but here it refers to Necho’s attempt to aid the Assyrians in their struggle with the Babylonians.

57 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Necho) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

58 map For location see Map1 D4; Map2 C1; Map4 C2; Map5 F2; Map7 B1.

59 tn Heb “him, dead.”

60 tn Or “anointed him.”

61 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

62 tn Heb “the name of his mother.”

63 tn Heb “in the eyes of.”

64 tn Heb “according to all which his fathers had done.”

65 tc The consonantal text (Kethib) has “when [he was] ruling in Jerusalem,” but the marginal reading (Qere), which has support from Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and Latin witnesses, has “[preventing him] from ruling in Jerusalem.”

66 tn Or “fine.”

67 tn The Hebrew term כִּכָּר (kikkar, “circle”) refers generally to something that is round. When used of metals it can refer to a disk-shaped weight made of the metal or to a standard unit of weight, generally regarded as a talent. Since the accepted weight for a talent of metal is about 75 pounds, this would have amounted to about 7,500 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold (cf. NCV, NLT); CEV “almost four tons of silver and about seventy-five pounds of gold.”

68 tn Heb “and he took Jehoahaz, and he came to Egypt and he died there.”

69 tn Heb “And the silver and the gold Jehoiakim gave to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land to give the silver at the command of Pharaoh, [from] each according to his tax he collected the silver and the gold, from the people of the land, to give to Pharaoh Necho.”

70 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

71 tn Heb “in the eyes of.”



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