Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


2 Kings 23:13

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Mount of corruption - This, says Jarchi, following the Chaldee, was the mount of Olives, for this is the mount המשחה hammishchah, of unction; but because of the idolatrous purposes for which it was used, the Scripture changed the appellation to the mount המשחית hammashchith, of corruption.

Ashtoreth the abomination, etc. - See on 1 Kings 11:7; (note).

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 4-20

A parenthesis giving the earlier reforms of Josiah.

2 Kings 23:4

The priests of the second order - This is a new expression; and probably refers to the ordinary priests, called here “priests of the second order,” in contrast with the high priest, whose dignity was reviving (2 Kings 12:2 note).

The vessels - This would include the whole apparatus of worship, altars, images, dresses, utensils, etc., for Baal, etc. (2 Kings 21:3-5 notes).

The ashes of the idolatrous objects burned in the first instance in the “fields of Kidron” (i. e., in the part of the valley which lies northeast of the city, a part much broader than that between the Temple Hill and the Mount of Olives) were actually taken to Bethel, as to an accursed place, and one just beyond the borders of Judah; while those of other objects burned afterward were not carried so far, the trouble being great and the need not absolute, but were thrown into the Kidron 2 Kings 23:12, when there happened to be water to carry them away, or scattered on graves which were already unclean 2 Kings 23:6. Compare 1 Kings 15:13.

2 Kings 23:5

He put down … - or, “He caused to cease the idolatrous priests” (margin); i. e., he stopped them. The word translated “idolatrous priests” (see the margin) is a rare one, occurring only here and in marginal references. Here and in Zephaniah it is contrasted with כהן kôhên another class of high-place priests. The כהן kôhên were probably “Levitical,” the כהן kâhêm “non-Levitical priests of the highplaces.” כהן kâhêm appears to have been a foreign term, perhaps derived from the Syriac cumro, which means a priest of any kind.

Whom the kings of Judah had ordained - The consecration of non-Levitical priests by the kings of Judah (compare 1 Kings 12:31) had not been previously mentioned; but it is quite in accordance with the other proceedings of Manasseh and Amon.

The planets - See the marginal note, i. e., the “signs of the Zodiac.” Compare Job 38:32 margin. The word in the original probably means primarily “houses” or “stations,” which was the name applied by the Babylonians to their divisions of the Zodiac.

2 Kings 23:6

The ashes, being polluted and polluting, were thrown upon graves, because there no one could come into contact with them, since graves were avoided as unclean places.

2 Kings 23:7

By the house of the Lord - This did not arise from intentional desecration, but from the fact that the practices in question were a part of the idolatrous ceremonial, being regarded as pleasing to the gods, and, indeed, as positive acts of worship (compare the marginal reference).

The “women” were probably the priestesses attached to the worship of Astarte, which was intimately connected with that of the Asherah or “grove.” Among their occupations one was the weaving of coverings (literally “houses” margin) for the Asherah, which seem to have been of various colors (marginal reference).

2 Kings 23:8

Josiah removed the Levitical priests, who had officiated at the various high-places, from the scenes of their idolatries, and brought them to Jerusalem, where their conduct might be watched.

From Geba to Beer-sheba - i. e., from the extreme north to the extreme south of the kingdom of Judah. On Geba see the marginal reference note. The high-place of Beer-sheba had obtained an evil celebrity Amos 5:5; Amos 8:14.

The high places of the gates … - Render, “He brake down the high-places of the gates, both that which was at the entering in of the gate of Joshua, the governor of the city (1 Kings 22:26 note), and also that which was on a man‘s left hand at the gate of the city.” According to this, there were only two “high-places of the gates” (or idolatrous shrines erected in the city at gate-towers) at Jerusalem. The “gate of Joshua is conjectured to have been a gate in the inner wall; and the “gate of the city,” the Valley-gate (modern “Jaffa-gate”).

2 Kings 23:9

Nevertheless - Connect this verse with the first clause of 2 Kings 23:8. The priests were treated as if they had been disqualified from serving at the altar by a bodily blemish Leviticus 21:21-23. They were not secularised, but remained in the priestly order and received a maintenance from the ecclesiastical revenues. Contrast with this treatment Josiah‘s severity toward the priests of the high-places in Samaria, who were sacrificed upon their own altars 2 Kings 23:20. Probably the high-place worship in Judaea had continued in the main a worship of Yahweh with idolatrous rites, while in Samaria it had degenerated into an actual worship of other gods.

2 Kings 23:10

The word Topheth, or Topher - variously derived from toph, “a drum” or “tabour,” because the cries of the sacrificed children were drowned by the noise of such instruments; or, from a root taph or toph, meaning “to burn” - was a spot in the valley of Hinnom (marginal reference note). The later Jewish kings, Manasseh and Amon (or, perhaps, Ahaz, 2 Chronicles 28:3), had given it over to the Moloch priests for their worship; and here, ever since, the Moloch service had maintained its ground and flourished (marginal references).

2 Kings 23:11

The custom of dedicating a chariot and horses to the Sun is a Persian practice. There are no traces of it in Assyria; and it is extremely curious to find that it was known to the Jews as early as the reign of Manasseh. The idea of regarding the Sun as a charioteer who drove his horses daily across the sky, so familiar to the Greeks and Romans, may not improbably have been imported from Asia, and may have been at the root of the custom in question. The chariot, or chariots, of the Sun appear to have been used, chiefly if not solely, for sacred processions. They were white, and were drawn probably by white horses. The kings of Judah who gave them were Manasseh and Amon certainly; perhaps Ahaz; perhaps even earlier monarchs, as Joash and Amaziah.

In the suburbs - The expression used here פרברים parbārı̂ym is of unknown derivation and occurs nowhere else. A somewhat similar word occurs in 1 Chronicles 26:18, namely, פרבר parbār which seems to have been a place just outside the western wall of the temple, and therefore a sort of “purlieu” or “suburb.” The פרברים parbārı̂ym of this passage may mean the same place or it may signify some other “suburb” of the temple.

2 Kings 23:12

The upper chamber of Ahaz - Conjectured to be a chamber erected on the flat roof of one of the gateways which led into the temple court. It was probably built in order that its roof might be used for the worship of the host of heaven, for which house-tops were considered especially appropriate (compare the marginal references).

Brake them down from thence - Rather as in the margin, i. e., he “hasted and cast the dust into Kidron.”

2 Kings 23:13

On the position of these high-places see 1 Kings 11:7 note. As they were allowed to remain under such kings as Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah, they were probably among the old high-places where Yahweh had been worshipped blamelessly, or at least without any consciousness of guilt (see 1 Kings 3:2 note). Manasseh or Amon had however restored them to the condition which they had held in the reign of Solomon, and therefore Josiah would condemn them to a special defilement.

The mount of corruption - See the margin. It is suspected that the original name was Har ham-mishcah, “mount of anointing,” and that this was changed afterward, by way of contempt, into Har ham-mashchith, “mount of corruption.”

2 Kings 23:14

The Law attached uncleanness to the “bones of men,” no less than to actual corpses Numbers 19:16. We may gather from this and other passages 2 Kings 23:20; 1 Kings 13:2, that the Jews who rejected the Law were as firm believers in the defilement as those who adhered to the Law.

2 Kings 23:15

And burned the high place - This “high place” is to be distinguished from the altar and the grove (אשׁרה 'ăshêrâh ). It may have been a shrine or tabernacle, either standing by itself or else covering the “grove” (2 Kings 23:7 note; 1 Kings 14:23 note). As it was “stamped small to powder,” it must have been made either of metal or stone.

2 Kings 23:16

To burn human bones was contrary to all the ordinary Jewish feelings with respect to the sanctity of the sepulchre, and had even been denounced as a sin of a heinous character when committed by a king of Moab Amos 2:1. Joshua did it, because justified by the divine command (marginal reference).

2 Kings 23:17

What title is that? - Rather, “What pillar is that?” The word in the original indicates a short stone pillar, which was set up either as a way-mark Jeremiah 31:21, or as a sepulchral monument Genesis 35:20; Ezekiel 39:15.

2 Kings 23:19

The cities of Samaria - The reformation which Josiah effected in Samaria, is narrated in Chronicles. It implies sovereignty to the furthest northern limits of Galilee, and is explained by the general political history of the East during his reign. Between 632-626 B.C. the Scythians ravaged the more northern countries of Armenia, Media, and Cappadocia, and found their way across Mesopotamia to Syria, and thence, made an attempt to invade Egypt. As they were neither the fated enemy of Judah, nor had any hand in bringing that enemy into the country, no mention is made of them in the Historical Books of Scripture. It is only in the prophets that we catch glimpses of the fearful sufferings of the time Zephaniah 2:4-6; Jeremiah 1:13-15; Jeremiah 6:2-5; 2 Kings 23:20

Here, as in 2 Kings 23:16, Josiah may have regarded himself as bound to act as he did (marginal reference “b”). Excepting on account of the prophecy, he would scarcely have slain the priests upon the altars.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
What abundance of wickedness in Judah and Jerusalem! One would not have believed it possible, that in Judah, where God was known, in Israel, where his name was great, in Salem, in Zion, where his dwelling-place was, such abominations should be found. Josiah had reigned eighteen years, and had himself set the people a good example, and kept up religion according to the Divine law; yet, when he came to search for idolatry, the depth and extent were very great. Both common history, and the records of God's word, teach, that all the real godliness or goodness ever found on earth, is derived from the new-creating Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Ellen G. White
Reflecting Christ, 57

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:7. RC 57.1

When the book of the law was found in the house of the Lord, in the time of ancient Israel, it was read before Josiah the king. And he rent his garments, and bade the men in holy office to inquire of the Lord for him, and for his people; for they had departed from the statutes of the Lord. He called together all the men of Israel, and the words of the book were read in the hearing of the congregation. The sin of the rulers and the people was pointed out, and the king stood up before them, and confessed his transgression. He manifested his repentance, and made a covenant to keep the statutes of the Lord with his whole heart. Josiah did not rest until the people did all they could to return from their backsliding, and serve the living God. RC 57.2

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Ellen G. White
Conflict and Courage, 200.4

His once noble character, bold and true for God and righteousness, became deteriorated. His profligate expenditure for selfish indulgence made him the instrument of Satan's devices. His conscience became hardened. His conduct as a judge changed from equity and righteousness to tyranny and oppression.... Solomon tried to incorporate light with darkness, Christ with Belial, purity with impurity. But in the place of converting the heathen to the truth, pagan sentiments incorporated themselves with his religion. He became an apostate.27Manuscript 47, 1898. CC 200.4

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 2 (EGW), 1032

As long as life shall last, there is need of guarding the affections and the passions with a firm purpose. There is inward corruption, there are outward temptations, and wherever the work of God shall be advanced, Satan plans so to arrange circumstances that temptation shall come with overpowering force upon the soul. Not one moment can we be secure only as we are relying upon God, the life hid with Christ in God (Letter 8b, 1891). 2BC 1032.1

4-6. Why God Broke His Covenant With Solomon—[1 Kings 11:4-6 quoted.] Solomon lost his connection with heaven, and set Israel an example so misleading that God could not vindicate him. God broke His covenant with Solomon because Solomon was disloyal. Had Solomon heeded the instruction given him, God would have worked through him to reveal to the world His power and majesty. 2BC 1032.2

Those today to whom the Lord has given great light will find their only safety in walking in the way of the Lord, placing themselves where He can carry out His will through them. God will do large things for those who will learn of him, not taking counsel of themselves, but of Him who never makes a mistake. Our safety, our wisdom, is in recognizing and heeding God's instructions. The most valuable knowledge that we can obtain is the knowledge of God. Those who walk humbly before Him, loving Him supremely and obeying His Word, will be blessed with wisdom. They will be given the knowledge of heaven to impart to others. Wisdom is God's gift, to be kept pure from all contamination. Its possession lays upon every one on whom it is bestowed a peculiar obligation to glorify God by blessing his fellow men. He is ever to keep before him the fear of God, enquiring at every step, “Is this the way of the Lord?” 2BC 1032.3

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 2 (EGW), 1039

2 (2 Chronicles 34:30). Josiah's View of His Highest Position—To be a reader of the Book of the law, containing a “Thus saith the Lord,” Josiah regarded as the highest position that he could occupy.... The highest work of princes in Israel,—of physicians, of teachers in our schools, as well as of ministers and those who are in positions of trust in the Lord's institutions,—is to fulfill the responsibility resting upon them to fasten the Scriptures in the minds of the people as a nail in a sure place, to use their God-given talent of influence to impress the truth that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” For the leaders in Israel to extend a knowledge of the Scriptures in all their borders is to promote spiritual health; for God's Word is a leaf from the tree of life (Manuscript 14, 1903). 2BC 1039.1

10. Children Need Not Be Sacrificed to Moloch—Religion in the home—what will it not accomplish? It will do the very work that God designed should be done in every family. Children will be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They will be educated and trained, not to be society devotees, but members of the Lord's family. They will not be sacrificed to Moloch. Parents will become willing subjects of Christ. Both father and mother will consecrate themselves to the work of properly training the children given them. They will firmly decide to work in the love of God with the utmost tenderness and compassion to save the souls under their guidance. They will not allow themselves to be absorbed with the customs of the world. They will not give themselves up to parties, concerts, dances, to give feasts and attend feasts, because after this manner do the Gentiles (NL No. 29, p. 2). 2BC 1039.2

13, 14 (1 Kings 11:4-8). Memorials of Apostasy—Goodness alone is true greatness. Everyone will transmit a heritage of good or of evil. On the southern eminence of the Mount of Olives were the memorial stones of Solomon's apostasy. Huge idols, unshapely blocks of wood and stone, appeared above the groves of myrtle and olive. Josiah, the youthful reformer, in his religious zeal destroyed these images of Ashtoreth and Chemosh and Moloch, but the broken fragments and masses of ruins remained opposite Mount Moriah, where stood the temple of God. As strangers in after generations asked, “What mean these ruins confronting the temple of the Lord?” they were answered, “There is Solomon's Mount of Offense, where he built altars for idol worship to please his heathen wives” (Letter 8b, 1891). 2BC 1039.3

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