2 Kings 23-25
The Surviving Kingdom-Judah, cont’d. 2 Kings 18-25
2 Kings 23:1-4-Josiah gathers all of the people together and they read the book of the LORD. Then they all agree to a covenant to follow what it says. Josiah took actions to remove all matters and items of false worship. He also had them observe the Passover.
- The first we know of a public reading of the law is in Joshua 8:30. The next we hear of it is during the reign of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:7), more than 500 years later. Then, in the reign of Josiah there was another public reading of the law (2 Chronicles 34:30), more than 250 years after Jehoshaphat. Of course, there might have been public readings of the law as commanded here which are not recorded; but the fact that some are recorded probably means they were unusual, not typical.
David Guzik :: Study Guide for 2 Kings 23,
2 Kings 23:5-28-Josiah did all that he could to cleanse the nation of false worship..."And before him there was no king like him who turned to the LORD with all his heart and should and with all his might" (:25)...reminiscent of Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 33:37.
23:4–14 Because of their renewed dedication to the Lord, the king and people remove non-Yahwistic worship sites and implements, first from Judah, then from the old Israelite territory. N. Lohfink notes that ten separate items/issues are dealt with here.107 First, Josiah orders the priests to remove from the temple all cultic vessels used in worship of other gods. When they complete the task, the king burns them all. Second, “he causes to cease” the “pagan priests” who staff the high places where the people worship idols. These individuals may have existed with royal approval since Solomonic times (cf. 1 Kgs 11:1–8). Third, he burns the Asherah pole Manasseh placed in the temple. Fourth, Josiah demolishes the living quarters of “male shrine prostitutes,” literally, “the separate ones” (haqqĕdēšîm) where materials for Asherah are also made. Since the text mentions both males and females, perhaps all these individuals engage in sacred prostitution, a common element in Baalism.
Next, the narrative recounts Josiah’s efforts outside the temple area. Thus, his fifth act is to desecrate high places “from Geba to Beersheba,” Judah’s northern and southern boundaries. Sixth, he demolishes shrines in the city gates.110 Seventh, he defiles Topheth, where child sacrifices had been made in honor of Molech.
The three remaining actions occur near the temple and just outside the city. Josiah’s eighth reform is to take ornamental horses “dedicated to the sun” from the temple entrance. Ninth, altars on roofs, probably set aside for worship of astral deities (cf. 20:11; 21:3–5; Zeph 1:5), are removed. Tenth, Josiah desecrates, then smashes, the high places Solomon built for his wives. With this last act Josiah rolls back the clock, so to speak, to preidolatry Jerusalem, to the glory days of David when images were not welcome in the capital city of the Lord’s people. Monotheism is once again at least the official theology, whether or not the people in fact embrace what is, to them, a novel concept.
23:21–23 Not all of Josiah’s efforts are prohibitive in nature, for he also orders the Passover kept. Again the festival will be kept because of what the “Book of the Covenant” teaches. Both Exod 12:1–11 and Deut 16:1–8 command Israel to keep the Passover on an annual basis as a reminder of their deliverance from Egypt. Unfortunately, for years this festival has not been observed in the manner intended.
House, P. R. (1995). 1, 2 Kings (Vol. 8, pp. 387–388). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, Logos Bible Software
23:22 such a Passover. None had been observed in strict conformity to the law since the days of the judges, though the Passover was observed by Hezekiah, 2 Chronicles 30. Further details of this Passover are recorded in 2 Chronicles 35.
Ryrie Study Bible, 2 Kings 23:22 footnote, p. 593
2 Kings 23:29-30-Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt (609-594), went to assist the king of Assyria in war against Nabopolassar, the king of Babylon. Neco only wanted to move his army through the land of Judah…he wasn’t looking to go to war with Judah. However, Josiah did not believe him so he gathered his army against him. When Josiah confronts Neco, he is killed in battle (:29). For additional details on this see 2 Chronicles 35:20-24.
2 Kings 23:31…Jehoahaz becomes king of Judah (609)
2 Kings 23:31-33-Josiah dies in battle against Neco and his son Jehoahaz becomes king for 3 months...he was 23 years old...he did evil. Pharaoh Neco puts him in prison so that he could not be king...he dies in Egypt.
2 Kings 23:34…Jehoiakim (Eliakim) becomes king of Judah (609-597)
2 Kings 23:34-37-Pharaoh Neco makes Eliakim (renamed Jehoiakim, he was Josiah's son) king and he reigns for 11 years...for the first 4 years he pays tribute to Pharaoh Neco He did evil.
2 Kings 24:1-7-Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, defeated Egypt and then captured Jerusalem…ending the rule of Egypt over Judah. He forced Jehoiakim to pay tribute to him.
24:1 After the battle of Carchemish in 605 (which ended the rule of Egypt) Nebuchadnezzar entered Jerusalem, made Jehoiakim a vassal, and took Daniel and others to Babylon.
Ryrie Study Bible, 2 Kings 24:1 footnote, p. 595
2 Kings 24:1-3 years later, Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. Due to the turmoil of war that had taken place between Egypt and Babylon there was constant attack on Judah by other surrounding countries as they tried to gain power. Jehoiakim died.
2 Kings 24:8…Jehoiachin becomes king of Judah (597)
2 Kings 24:8-16-Jehoiachin...18 years old...became king for 3 months. Johoiachin rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, so he invaded Jerusalem again in 597 B.C. The destruction of Jerusalem is the result of what God had earlier declared. Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem and subdued it. He then began a mass deportation of all the leading citizens of Judah to Babylon (:14)…leaving only the poorest people of the land to maintain it until he brought in captives from other countries to take the place of those that he had deported. This was his strategy for managing conquered lands. Because of differences in language, social customs, religious beliefs, and other matters specific to each country…it made the possibility of a joint revolt against him almost impossible.
2 Kings 24 17…Mattaniah becomes king of Judah (597-586)
2 Kings 24:17-20-Nebuchadnezzar makes Mattaniah (Jehoiachine's uncle) king...and changed his name to Zedekiah...he was 21 years old...and reigned 11 years...he rebelled against Babylon.
2 Kings 25:1-10-Nebuchadnezzar attacks Jerusalem for the final time in January of 588 B.C. It was under siege for nearly 2 years. When Zedekiah tried to escape he was captured. His sons were killed in front of him and then his eyes were put out. He was taken to Babylon. They then burned the house of the LORD (:9) and all of Jerusalem...and broke down the walls of Jerusalem (:10).
2 Kings 25:11-21-The people who were left were deported...except for some of the poorest to care for the land.
2 Kings 25:22…Gedaliah is named Governor of Judah
2 Kings 25:22-26-Gedaliah (a friend of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 39:14) was appointed governor by Nebuchadnezzar...but he was killed by some of the rebellious Jews. This group then fled to Egypt.
2 Kings 25:27-30-Jehoiachin has been in prison in Babylon for 37 years. Nebuchadnezzar dies and the new ruler, Evil-merodach releases him and provides for him. He was trying to gain favor with the Jews. “Evil-merodach” does not mean that “merodach” was a man who was “evil”. The name is of Aramaic derivation and the term “evil” probably means “man, or soldier”. It was a title or designation of who he was.
Prayer: Lord, the words, “So Judah was led away into exile from its land” (25:21) are haunting. After all that You had done for them…they still refused to follow You and chose to go their own way…and this was the consequence. Please, Lord…keep me close to You. Renew and refresh my walk with You each and every day. Don’t ever let there be a moment that I begin to drift from Your side.