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2 Kings 23:3-20

Context
23:3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed 1  the covenant before the Lord, agreeing to follow 2  the Lord and to obey his commandments, laws, and rules with all his heart and being, 3  by carrying out the terms 4  of this covenant recorded on this scroll. All the people agreed to keep the covenant. 5 

23:4 The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the high-ranking priests, 6  and the guards 7  to bring out of the Lord’s temple all the items that were used in the worship of 8  Baal, Asherah, and all the stars of the sky. 9  The king 10  burned them outside of Jerusalem in the terraces 11  of Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. 12  23:5 He eliminated 13  the pagan priests whom the kings of Judah had appointed to offer sacrifices 14  on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the area right around Jerusalem. (They offered sacrifices 15  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. 16  He smashed it to dust and then threw the dust in the public graveyard. 17  23:7 He tore down the quarters 18  of the male cultic prostitutes in the Lord’s temple, where women were weaving shrines 19  for Asherah.

23:8 He brought all the priests from the cities of Judah and ruined 20  the high places where the priests had offered sacrifices, from Geba to Beer Sheba. 21  He tore down the high place of the goat idols 22  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.) 23  23:10 The king 24  ruined Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom so that no one could pass his son or his daughter through the fire to Molech. 25  23:11 He removed from the entrance to the Lord’s temple the statues of horses 26  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.) 27  He burned up the chariots devoted to the sun god. 28  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 29  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, 30  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 31  with human bones.

23:15 He also tore down the altar in Bethel 32  at the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who encouraged Israel to sin. 33  He burned all the combustible items at that high place and crushed them to dust; including the Asherah pole. 34  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; 35  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 36  turned and saw the grave of the prophet who had foretold this. 37  23:17 He asked, “What is this grave marker I see?” The men from the city replied, “It’s the grave of the prophet 38  who came from Judah and foretold these very things you have done to the altar of Bethel.” 23:18 The king 39  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. 40 

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. 41  He did to them what he had done to the high place in Bethel. 42  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.

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

2 tn Heb “walk after.”

3 tn Or “soul.”

4 tn Heb “words.”

5 tn Heb “stood in the covenant.”

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

7 tn Or “doorkeepers.”

8 tn Heb “for.”

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

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

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

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

13 tn Perhaps, “destroyed.”

14 tn Or “burn incense.”

15 tn Or “burned incense.”

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

17 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.

18 tn Or “cubicles.” Heb “houses.”

19 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.

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

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

22 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.

23 tn Heb “their brothers.”

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

25 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.

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

27 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.”

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

29 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.

30 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.

31 tn Heb “their places.”

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

33 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.

34 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.

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

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

37 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.

38 tn Heb “man of God.”

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

40 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.

41 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.

42 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.



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