2 Kings 23: King Josiah of Judah.
The Great King

Brit-Am Commentary (BAC).

A National Assembly is Convened
Josiah Begins the Purification.
Josiah Uproots Idolatry.
King Josiah Destroys the Altars of Beth-el and of Northern Israel.
Josiah the One and Only King of his Kind!
The Death of King Josiah
King Jehoahaz and King Jehoiakim.


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2 Kings 23: King Josiah of Judah.
The Great King.

A National Assembly is Convened

For background to the reign of King Josiah son of Amon over Judah see our article:
"Assyrians, Scythians, and the Ten Tribes".
The Almighty As a Husband to Israel.

See especially the section:
# 3. (b) Jeremiah ch. 3: As husband to the whole House of Israel and the Scythian Re-Union with Judah.

We saw (2-Kings ch. 22) how the Torah Scroll written by Moses had been found rolled to the place that warned of a coming exile.
A delegation had been sent to Hulda the Prophetess and she explained that disaster and exile was to come upon Judah.
This would not however take place in the time of King Josiah due to his righteousness.
King Josiah had already begun to reform Judah and as we shall see he was to continue to do so.
Nevertheless the common people were not whole-heartedly in favor of these measure.
cf. Jeremiah 3:10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense, says the LORD.

Josiah was aware that something was lacking. Now the Prophecy of Hulda had confirmed his worries. He therefore convened an assembly of the People in an attempt to strengthen their hearts and perhaps mollify the situation.

[2-Kings 23:1] Now the king sent them to gather all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem to him.

[2-Kings 23:2] The king went up to the house of the LORD with all the men of Judah, and with him all the inhabitants of Jerusalem' the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the LORD.

The Scroll of Moses that they had found in the Temple precincts had been open to the passage:

[Deuteronomy 28:36] 'The LORD will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone.

This passage in Deuteronomy goes on with a long list of awful happenings that are liable to befall the Israelites if they do not repent.

Usually in these studies we seek to avoid quoting long passages from Scripture that are not part of the section under study.
Nevertheless we urge our readers to read the extract below since the warnings it contains (God forbid) should be taken into consideration by our own Israelite Nations today.
Deuteronomy 28:
36 'The LORD will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other
gods'wood and stone. 37 And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the LORD will drive you.
38 'You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the locust shall consume it. 39 You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. 40 You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olives shall drop off. 41 You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity. 42 Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.
43 'The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. 44 He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.
45 'Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46 And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever.
47 'Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you. 49 The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favor to the young. 51 And they shall eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your land, until you are destroyed; they shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil, or the increase of your cattle or the offspring of your flocks, until they have destroyed you.
52 'They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the LORD your God has given you. 53 You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters whom the LORD your God has given you, in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you. 54 The sensitive and very refined man among you will be hostile toward his brother, toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the rest of his children whom he leaves behind, 55 so that he will not give any of them the flesh of his children whom he will eat, because he has nothing left in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you at all your gates. 56 The tender and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because of her delicateness and sensitivity, will refuse to the husband of her bosom, and to her son and her daughter, 57 her placenta which comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of everything in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you at all your gates.
58 'If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD, 59 then the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary
plagues'great and prolonged plagues ' and serious and prolonged sicknesses. 60 Moreover He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. 61 Also every sickness and every plague, which is not written in this Book of the Law, will the LORD bring upon you until you are destroyed. 62 You shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven in multitude, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God. 63 And it shall be, that just as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess.
64 'Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have
known'wood and stone. 65 And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul. 66 Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life. 67 In the morning you shall say, 'Oh, that it were evening!' And at evening you shall say, 'Oh, that it were morning!' because of the fear which terrifies your heart, and because of the sight which your eyes see.
68 'And the LORD will take you back to Egypt in ships, by the way of which I said to you, 'You shall never see it again.' And there you shall be offered for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.'

At the end of this section it says:
Deuteronomy 29:
1 These are the
words of the Covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb.

Because the whole section is referred to at its end as "Words of the Covenant" it is called "the Book of the Covenant" (Malbim).
We find elsewhere that Biblical sections centered on a common theme are named as if they were "books" in their own right.

The prophets. Me'Am Loez names the Prophets who were probably present at this juncture as Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and possibly Uriah ben Shemaiah of Kiriat Yaarim. Uriah is mentioned in Jeremiah 26:20 as having prophesied against Jerusalem. Uriah later fled to Egypt but he was extradited and put to death by King Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 26:23). Jehoiakim (Elyakim) was the second son of King Josiah. When Josiah was killed Jehoahaz (Shallum) became king but was deposed by Pharoah Necho after 3 months. His brother Elyakim then became King and had his name changed by Phariah Necho to Jehoiakim. This will be discussed below, at the end of this chapter.

In the Book of Jeremiah (11:1-8) we hear that Jeremiah  was told to speak "THE WORDS OF THIS COVENANT" ...UNTO THE MEN OF JUDAH, AND TO THE INHABITANTS OF JERUSALEM.
Daat Mikra opines that the present occasion convened by King Josiah was when Jeremiah spoke to the people.

[2-Kings 23:3]  Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant.

a pillar. Hebrew "Ha-Amud" i.e. the pillar, or the pole.
Concerning Joash when he was made king it says:
# there was the king standing by a pillar according to custom # [2-Kings 11:14].
Apparently this was a special pillar that the King would stand by to address the people.
 The word used "Ha-Amud" is derived from the root "AMD" meaning "stand up". There are those who says that in this case the intention is to some type of special podium.

Josiah Begins the Purification.

Kidron Valley Temple Mount as seen from  Mt. of Olives

[2-Kings 23:4]  And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, the priests of the second order, and the doorkeepers, to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the articles that were made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel.

The articles brought out included not only the idols themselves (if any still remained) but all their appurtenances and everything associated with them.
There is a certain logic in this. Nowadays we are seeing a minor revival of Nazi ideology. This is building on what has been maintained since World War-2 and very often centered on or encouraged by the collection of Nazi memorabilia.
Kidron is a valley to the east of Biblical Jerusalem. It separates the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives.
Yehudah Kiel ("Daat Mikra") tells us that the eastern slopes of the valley were used for burials.
They still are.
The Cemetery on the Mount of Olives is the most important burial place in Jewish tradition.
It holds about 150,000 graves. Many famous and holy Jews are buried there. When Jerusalem was under Jordanian control the Jordanian army used Jewish gravestones to build latrines.
The Jordanians initiated building projects on the site destroying 40,000 to 50,000 of the graves. King Hussein himself approved of the desecrations, at least in part. An Intercontinental Hotel and a gas station were built on top of the graves.
Nowadays the local Arabs still vandalize the grave sites as well as throwing stones at and attempting to intimidate Jewish mourners and visitors.
A new Jewish housing project has been approved in the vicinity and this may eventually lead to greater pacification of the area.

In the valley bed itself there were holes in which it was customary to burn objects of impurity (cf. Leviticus 14:40 "...they shall cast them into an unclean place outside the city).

The Valley of Kidron is to the east of the Biblical city. The Valley of Hinnom (Gehinnom) is more to the south.

Beth-el (Beit-el) was on the border of Benjamin and Ephraim. In fact there seems to have been two such places adjoining each other, one in Benjamin and the other in Ephraim. Jeroboam had set up golden calves for the Israelites to worship instead of going to Jerusalem, One calf had been placed in Dan and the other in Beth-el. At the time of King Josiah the northern Tribes had already been exiled. Most of Beth-el of Ephraim was in ruins. A handful of Scythian-Israelites may however have begun an attempt to re-settle there under the tutelage of Josiah King of Judah.
Beth-el of Ephraim was also known as Beth-Aven (Hosia 4:15) which may be a play on words (such as frequently found in scripture) where Aven connotes both sin and strength.
See the Brit-Am Commentary to Hosea 10:5 for a discussion on this matter.

Beth-el of Ephraim had been used as a pagan cultic center. King Josiah was to raze the remnants of this place. Henceforth it was to be associated with wicked impurity. It was therefore fitting that the ashes of impurity from Jerusalem should be brought there.

[2-Kings 23:5]  Then he removed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the places all around Jerusalem, and those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the constellations, and to all the host of heaven.

Priests. The word for "priests" used here is "comarim". This word in Scripture is only for priests of idolatry.
The other word translated as Priest is "cohen" which can also mean simply "officiate". The word "cohen" may be applied to a priest of the Almighty or of paganism depending on the context.

Josiah Uproots Idolatry

[2-Kings 23:6]  And he brought out the wooden image [Asherah] from the house of the LORD, to the Brook Kidron outside Jerusalem, burned it at the Brook Kidron and ground it to ashes, and threw its ashes on the graves of the common people.

 # the graves of the common people # These were not ordinary "common people" [Hebrew "ha-am"] but rather they who had been known to be worshippers of idolatry cf.
"and scattered it on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them" [2-Chronicles 34:4].

[2-Kings 23:7] Then he tore down the ritual booths of the perverted persons [kedoshim] that were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the wooden image.

These "perverted persons" [Hebrew: kedoshim] were men or youths who gave themselves over to homosexual debasement in exchange for payment which money was dedicated to idolatry.

Yehudah Kiel ("Daat Mikra") points out that "the house of the LORD" does not necessarily mean the Temple itself but anywhere on the Temple mount which covered quite a large area.

[2-Kings 23:8]  And he brought all the priests from the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba; also he broke down the high places at the gates which were at the entrance of the Gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were to the left of the city gate.

"High Places" in Hebrew "bamot" as we have explained in the past were centers of worship and public sacrifice. These were not in most cases dedicated to idolatry but rather to worship of the Almighty.
This type of service however was forbidden even though it had been permitted before the Temple was built.
In those days the offering of sacrifices answered a need that the common people felt.
It was the custom of the nations around them and accepted practice.
It may also have been efficacious? Perhaps in many cases when a person was in trouble or in need and they offered up a sacrifice at a "high place" their problems were solved. In addition to this it was something that was done publicly and gave its participants a spiritual "high".
Fromthe above verse we see that Josiah destroyed those high places in the immediate vicinity of the Jerusalem-Temple area. Elsewhere he did not destroy them but rather rendered them "impure" and thus difficult to re-use in the future.

Geba to Beersheba: "Geba" was in the area of Benjamin to the north while Beersheba was in the south. These may have been the names of provincial areas as well as of the cities within them.
This expanse evidently was that wherein the "Jewish" subjects (from Judah and Benjamin) of Josiah were to be found. From archaeological evidence we know that the rulership of Josiah extended at least to Beit-Shean in the north and over much of the Philistine area in the south.

[2-Kings 23:9]  Nevertheless the priests of the high places did not come up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brethren.

Those priests (cohanim) who had served in the high places were evidently disbarred from the Temple Service. They were however brought into Jerusalem continue to receive a portion in the meal-offerings.
A good portion of the regular daily and ritual sacrifices consisted of meal-offerings made out of wheat or barley, mixed with olive oil, and fried or baked in different ways. There were several different types and each kind had its own function. Nearly all of them were unleavened i.e. they were prepared naturally and not allowed to "rise" or "ferment" as we do with our bread.  There were exceptions. The study of these matters is quite complicated but interesting.

[2-Kings 23:10]  And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son [sons] of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech.

Topheth was the name of the sacrifical point where human sacrifices had been made to pagan idols.
cf. Jeremiah 7:32 "Therefore behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "when it will no more be called Tophet, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Tophet until there is no room.

# the Valley of the Son [sons] of Hinnom " in Hebrew "Gai-ben-Hinnom" or "Gehinnom" for short.
The name has come to be synonymous for hell.
This valley was to the west of Jerusalem hooking round to the south of the Temple mount and linking up with the valley of Kidron in the east.

The offering up of live sacrifices was to be continued amongst the "Celts" of Ireland and Britain.

The practice had also been known in the city of Carthage (in present-day Triply in Libya) in North Africa. Carthage had been founded by the Phoenicians who were descended from Canaanites and other peoples. Some of the Israelite Tribes had been associated with them.

Concerning the Tophet in Carthage Wikipedia tells us:
Child sacrifice
Carthage was described by its competitors as practicing child sacrifice. Plutarch (ca. 46?120 AD) mentions the practice, as do
Tertullian, Orosius, Diodorus Siculus and Philo. However, Livy and Polybius do not.

In former times they (the Carthaginians) had been accustomed to sacrifice to this god the noblest of their sons, but more recently, secretly buying and nurturing children, they had sent these to the sacrifice.[3]

Some of these sources suggest that babies were roasted to death on a heated bronze statue. According to
Diodorus Siculus, "There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus extending its hands, palms up and sloping toward the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire."[3]

...several apparent "
Tophets" have been identified, chiefly a large one in Carthage, dubbed the "Tophet of Salammbo", after the neighbourhood where it was unearthed in 1921.[6]

Sites within Carthage and other Phoenician centers revealed the remains of infants and children in large numbers; many historians interpret this as evidence for frequent and prominent child sacrifice to the god
Ba'al Hammon.

Greek, Roman and Israelite writers refer to Phoenician child sacrifice.

According to Lawrence and Wolff there is a consensus among scholars is that Carthaginian children were sacrificed by their parents, who would make a vow to kill the next child if the gods would grant them a favor: for instance that their shipment of goods were to arrive safely in a foreign port.[9] They placed their children alive in the arms of a bronze statue of:
.. the lady
Tanit ... . The hands of the statue extended over a brazier into which the child fell once the flames had caused the limbs to contract and its mouth to open ... . The child was alive and conscious when burned ... Philo specified that the sacrificed child was best-loved.[10]

Later commentators have compared the accounts of child sacrifice in the Old Testament with similar ones from Greek and Latin sources speaking of the offering of children by fire as sacrifices in the Punic city of Carthage, which was a Phoenician colony.
Cleitarchus, Diodorus Siculus and Plutarch all mention burning of children as an offering to Cronus or Saturn, that is to Ba`al Hammon, the chief god of Carthage.
It is worth repeating that the rationale behind child sacrifice is not much different from that used today to justify abortions.

King Josiah Destroys the Altars of Beth-el and of Northern Israel.

Ancient Israel

[2-Kings 23:11]  Then he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-Melech, the officer who was in the court; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire.

Chariot of the Sun

These chariots of the sun were metallic calendar disks representing the sun drawn by chariots. They were known of in Ancient Israel (2-Kings 23:11) and later were to be found in Scandinavia.
#1. Question: What are Chariots of the Sun'

[2-Kings 23:12]  The altars that were on the roof, the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, the king broke down and pulverized there, and threw their dust into the Brook Kidron.

"altars that were on the roof" : This apparently was part of the baal cult. Baal and his offshoots were associated with solar-sun worship.
cf. the description of roofs in Jerusalem just before its destruction by Nebuchadnessar:
# with the houses on whose roofs they have offered incense to Baal # (Jeremiah 32:29).
So too, the god known as "Bel, Bele, Belinus, etc" amongst the Celts of Italy (Cis-Alpine Gaul), Gaul, Britain and Ireland, was also a solar deity.
 In Ireland Beli is known as Bile and is referred to as "The Father of Gods and Men".
The Irish Beli was a god of death and husband to Dana.
In Wales Beli was the husband of Don.
In Gaul he was the husband of Belisama.
His symbols were the horse and also the Wheel.
His name was re-interpreted to mean "The Shining One".
He was worshipped at the Beltaine festival as practiced in Northern England, Scotland, and Scandinavia.
The Beltaine combined the worship of baal with that of Moloch.
Moloch Sacrifice and the
Beltain of Britain, Ireland, and Scandinavia.

See also notes on Hosea 2:8:

[2-Kings 23:13] Then the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, which were on the south of the Mount of Corruption, which Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the people of Ammon.

Ashtoreth is the same as Eostre who was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons.
Sidonians were the people of Sidon which was the chief city of Phoenicia. Tyre was considered an offshoot (daughter) of Sidon.

[2-Kings 23:14] And he broke in pieces the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images, and filled their places with the bones of men.

[2-Kings 23:15] Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of
Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he broke down; and he burned the high place and crushed it to powder, and burned the wooden image.

King Jeroboam of Ephraim had led the split away from Judah. He had then set up the worship of golden calves, one on Dan and the other in beth-el. It had been prophesied that a King from the house of David named Josiah would destroy this altar. Josiah fulfilled the prophecy.

cf. 1-Kings 13:
1 And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD, and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. 2 Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said, "O altar, altar! Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and
mens bones shall be burned on you.'"

In 1-Kings chapter 13 we were told how a Prophet (identified as Iddo in 2-Chronicles 9:29) had been sent to prophesy against Jeroboam.    
He came to the place in Beth-el just as King Jeroboam was offering sacrifice upon it. He shouted out that the altar would be destroyed by Josiah from the House of David who would kill pagan priests upon it and defile it with human bones.
King Jeroboam heard and in anger stretched out his arm commanding that the prophet be seized.
His arm was paralyzed in its place and he could not move it. The Prophet repeated his words against the altar. King Jeroboam then requested that the Prophet entreat the Almighty to heal his arm. The Prophet did so and Jeroboam received back again the use of his limb. King Jeroboam then invited the Prophet to eat with him and receive a reward. The Prophet replied saying that he been commanded to go and utter his prophesy and then return and not to eat or drink anything. He then set off.

Meanwhile in Beth-el lived an old prophet. His sons came and told this veteran soothsayer what had taken place. The aged
visionary set off after the Prophet from Judah and overtook him. The old man found the Prophet resting under an oak tree. He introduced himself as a Prophet like himself. After that he said that he had had a message from Above. The Prophet was to return with him and eat and drink. He did so. In the middle of the meal the Old-Timer (or rather "two-timer") received a real prophecy (until now he had been lieing): Because the Prophet had disobeyed the direct prophecy he had received he would die soon.
Then the old man saddled up the ass of the Prophet who set forth. Shortly afterwards a lion met him and killed but did not eat him. His body was taken by the Old Man who buried him in his own grave and commanded that when he die that he be buried beside him for his Prophecy would surely come to pass.

[2-Kings 23:16] As Josiah turned, he saw the tombs that were there on the mountain. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar, and defiled it according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words.

[2-Kings 23:17] Then he said, 'What gravestone is this that I see?'
So the men of the city told him, 'It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of Bethel.'

[2-Kings 23:18] And he said, 'Let him alone; let no one move his bones.' So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria.

[2-Kings 23:19] Now Josiah also took away all the shrines of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the LORD to anger; and he did to them according to all the deeds he had done in Bethel.

[2-Kings 23:20] He executed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, and burned men's bones on them; and he returned to Jerusalem.

The "priests" killed by Josiah were non-Israelite Samaritans whom the Assyrians had settled in the area and who took up some of the practices (pagan and otherwise) of the departed Israelites see 2-kings ch.18 (see "Olam Ha-Tanach" Malacim-b p.202).   

The Bible 2-Kings 17:24-27 tells us how the King of Assyria brought in non-Israelite colonists to take the place of the exiled Israelites.

Concerning the destruction by Josiah of the pagan altars in Jerusalem and to the north cf. Josephus:
Josephus, Antiquities Book 10, ch.4

3. So these messengers, upon this prophecy of the woman [i.e. Hulda the Prophetess] , came and told it to the king; whereupon he sent to the people every where, and ordered that the priests and the Levites should come together to Jerusalem; and commanded that those of every age should be present also. And when they had gathered together, he first read to them the holy books; after which he stood upon a pulpit, in the midst of the multitude, and obliged them to make a covenant, with an oath, that they would worship God, and keep the laws of Moses. Accordingly, they gave their assent willingly, and undertook to do what the king had recommended to them. So they immediately offered sacrifices, and that after an acceptable manner, and besought God to be gracious and merciful to them. He also enjoined the high priest, that if there remained in the temple any vessel that was dedicated to idols, or to foreign gods, they should cast it out. So when a great number of such vessels were got together, he burnt them, and scattered their ashes abroad, and slew the priests of the idols that were not of the family of Aaron.

4. And when he had done thus in Jerusalem, he came into the country, and utterly destroyed what buildings had been made therein by king Jeroboam, in honor of strange gods; and he burnt the bones of the false prophets upon that altar which Jeroboam first built; and, as the prophet [
Jadon i.e. Iddo the Prophet], who came to Jeroboam when he was offering sacrifice, and when all the people heard him, foretold what would come to pass, viz. that a certain man of the house of David, Josiah by name, should do what is here mentioned. And it happened that those predictions took effect after three hundred and sixty-one years.

5. After these things, Josiah went also to such other Israelites as had escaped captivity and slavery under the Assyrians, and persuaded them to desist from their impious practices, and to leave off the honors they paid to strange gods, but to worship rightly their own Almighty God, and adhere to him. He also searched the houses, and the villages, and the cities, out of a suspicion that somebody might have one idol or other in private; nay, indeed, he took away the chariots [of the sun] that were set up in his royal palace, which his predecessors had framed, and what thing soever there was besides which they worshipped as a god. ...
These passages are paralleled in the Book of Chronicles:
2-Chronicles 34:
5 He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. 6 And so he did in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, as far as
Naphtali and all around, with axes.[Hebrew: "BeCharvoteihem" i.e. in their ruins] 7 When he had broken down the altars and the wooden images, had beaten the carved images into powder, and cut down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.

# with axes # in Hebrew "BeCharvoteihem" literally meaning "IN THEIR RUINS" from the word root "CH-R-V"" destroy, ruin, devastate".
The cities of the north had been ruined and devastated by the Assyrians. They were still in that condition even though here and there new colonists from Mesopotamia and elsewhere known as Samaritans had began to resettle them.

This explanation of the word "BeCharvoteyhem" corresponds to that of Targum Yehonatan and of Gersonides (Ralbag). Amongst Modern Commentators it is agreed to by Daat Mikra and Olam HaTanach.

The Completeness of the Exile

See points (3) and (4).                

See also BAC (Brit-Am Commentary) to
[1-Kings 13:2]

Josiah the One and Only King of his Kind!

[2-Kings 23:21] Then the king commanded all the people, saying, 'Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.'

[2-Kings 23:22] Such a Passover surely had never been held since the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah.

The Commentary "Me'am Lo'ez brings several possible reasons as to why the Keeping of this Passover was greater than all others since the Time of Judges:

# This Passover was kept after the High Places had been abolished whereas up until now they had always remained (Radak, Abarbanel).
The existence of the High Places had served a purpose but on the other hand it had detracted from  the purity of worship.
Now the repentance of the people was with a full heart.

# King Josiah and the Princes gave the people a great number of animals to be sacrificed and eaten.
The feeling of deliverance and participation was greater than it had been for centuries.

# There was spiritual uplifting of a kind we would have difficulty to comprehend.

[2-Kings 23:23] But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was held before the LORD in Jerusalem.

[2-Kings 23:24] Moreover Josiah put away those who consulted mediums and
spiritists, the household gods and idols, all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

He put away the evil-doers.
They who commit certain types of sin trespass not only against themselves but versus the whole community.
The Almighty requires us to do the right thing in the communal sense as well as the private one.
We should resist evil-doers and they who spread wickedness and oppression.
Homosexuals are bad; New Age type witchcraft doctrines are evil.
There is a difference between tolerating others of good faith who may think a little differently from ourselves than in allowing perversions.

[2-Kings 23:25] Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.

# there was no king like him #: The Commentators ask, What was so great about Josiah?
Was he more righteous than David, Solomon, Asahel, Hezekiah?
Doubtless he was far above the average in many ways but so were the others and in many ways they same even more so.
What made Josiah different?

The answer lies in the attempt that Josiah made to re-unite Judah and Joseph-Israel.
The others had other things going for them and they played their cards as they could.

Josiah was the inner heart of Israel.
He attempted to re-untie the two halves.
He did not succeed or he succeeded only temporarily and only to a small degree.
Nevertheless he knew what the Almighty wanted and what the inner soul of the nation required and he reached out for it.

# there was no king like him - who started out with less.

# who turned to the LORD with all his heart - who turned to do what was required.

#with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses - whatever he did was done as required by the Law.

# nor after him did any arise like him - Israel will have other deliverers.
They will be more successful in many ways.
They will not be the same.
Josiah was different.
For strength of will and purity of motive he may have no equal.

The Death of King Josiah

[2-Kings 23:26] Nevertheless the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him.

King Josiah had been genuine in his service of the Almighty but the hearts of the people of Judah were not with him.
They still hankered after Idolatry.
His dedication and reforms were sufficient to delay the retribution for what had been committed by Manasseh.
Without real public support however it was not enough to ward off punishment forever.

[2-Kings 23:27] And the LORD said, 'I will also remove Judah from My sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, 'My name shall be there.''

In the same way as Israel (i.e. the Ten Tribes) had been exiled so too will Judah (the Jews) be taken away.
There was a difference however in that Judah was to be exiled and to return, at least in part. Israel on the other hand had been exiled and would not return until the End Times.

2-Chronicles 35:
20 After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple,
Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by the Euphrates; and Josiah went out against him. 21 But he sent messengers to him, saying, 'What have I to do with you, king of Judah' I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you.' 22 Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself so that he might fight with him, and did not heed the words of Necho from the mouth of God. So he came to fight in the Valley of Megiddo.
23 And the archers shot King Josiah; and the king said to his servants, 'Take me away, for I am severely wounded.' 24 His servants therefore took him out of that chariot and put him in the second chariot that he had, and they brought him to Jerusalem. So he died, and was buried in one of the tombs of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.
25 Jeremiah also lamented for Josiah. And to this day all the singing men and the singing women speak of Josiah in their lamentations. They made it a custom in Israel; and indeed they are written in the Laments.
26 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah and his goodness, according to what was written in the Law of the LORD, 27 and his deeds from first to last, indeed they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.

Note the expression above (2-Chronicles 35:21): "...I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war".
Pharoah Necho, King of Egypt was an ally of Assyria.  The King of Assyria at that time was Ashur-uballit probably a son of Assurbanipal. Assyrian records for the time are not clear. In Greek tradition the last king of Assyria is referred to as Sardanapalus which may be a derivation of Assurbanipal. It was Assurbanipal (Asenapper) who had brought non-Israelite heathens to settle in Samaria (Ezra 4:11). These became the Samaritans (2-Kings 17:24-40).
Assurbanipal had completed the conquest of Egypt began by his father Essarhaddon. He then left Egypt in the hands of Psammetichus-1 who henceforth acted as a  semi-independent but reliable vassal.
Pharoah Necho son of Psammetichus-1 in the time of King Josiah marched to the aid of Assyria. The Kingdom of Assyria was then under siege and had been virtually destroyed by the Cimmerians and Scythians and the Babylonians. A remnant of Assyrian forces were attempting a last stand in the region of Harran in Northern Syria even though Harran itself seems to have been held by the Scythians. Pharoah Necho went to help Assyria.
We have identified the Cimmerians and Scythians as being in part derived from the exiled Ten Tribes of Israel.
The Twelve Tribes of Israel had been divided into two separate Kingdoms or "Houses", the House of Judah and the House of Israel (cf. 1-Kings 20:31).
Perhaps Pharaoh Necho in saying that he had come "against the house with which I have war" meant to say that he attacking the House of Israel and not the House of Judah?

Herodotous mentions the encounter of Josiah with Pharoah Necho and refers to Judah as "the Syrians".

Necos.. also engaged in a pitched battle at Magdolos with the Syrians, and conquered them; and after this he took Cadytis (Kadesh), which is a great city of Syria. He sent the clothes he had worn in these battles to Branchidae of Miletus and dedicated them to Apollo.

[2-Kings 23:28] Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

[2-Kings 23:29] In his days Pharaoh
Necho king of Egypt went to the aid of the king of Assyria, to the River Euphrates; and King Josiah went against him. And Pharaoh Necho killed him at Megiddo when he confronted him.

Necho captured Kadesh on the Orontes River and moved forward, joining forces with Ashur-uballit. Together they crossed the Euphrates and laid siege to Harran. They failed to capture Harran, and retreated back to northern Syria.
At this point, Ashur-uballit vanishes from history. The Assyrian city of Nineveh was conquered by Scythians and Medes. The rest of the Assyrian Empire was also overtaken by an alliance of Scythians, Medes, and Babylonians.

Meanwhile Necho had returned to Egypt but left a sizable force behind in the north.
On his way back to Egypt, Necho found that the Judeans had selected Jehoahaz to succeed his father Josiah.
Necho deposed Jehoahaz and replaced him with Jehoiakim, his brother. He took Jehoahaz back to Egypt as his prisoner, where Jehoahaz ended his days (2-Kings 23:31; 2-Chronicles 36:1-4).

Meanwhile the Medes betrayed their Scythian allies and massacred the leadership. The Scythians were to be pushed out of the Middle East area. The exit of the Scythians from the region was accelerated in the reign of Nebuchadnessar King of Babylon. Nevertheless it was still done in stages. Archaeology shows the Scythians retained significant influence in the region for quite some times after having lost political pre-eminence. The Medes and Babylonians divided the Assyrian Empire between them. Pharoah Necho returned to the north to eventually be defeated by the Babylonians.

King Jehoahaz and King Jehoiakim.

[2-Kings 23:30] Then his servants moved his body in a chariot from Megiddo, brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, anointed him, and made him king in his father's place.

The servants of King Josiah, who had been killed in battle against the Egyptians at Megiddo, took his body and buried it in Jerusalem.

The offspring of King Josiah are listed in Chronicles.
1-Chronicles 3:
15 The sons of Josiah were
Johanan the firstborn, the second Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, and the fourth Shallum. 16 The sons of Jehoiakim were Jeconiah his son and Zedekiah his son.

It is thought the Johanan was already dead when Josiah was killed.
Shallum according to Iben Ezra was re-named Jeohahaz.
Jehoiakim was also known as Eliakim. The two names in Hebrew are virtually the same.

Jeohahaz was anointed King by the "people of the land".
Jeohahaz was made king instead of his brother Jehoiakim who would normally have had precedence.
The expression "people of the land" and their anointment of Jeohahaz could suggest a popular coup carried out against the Royal Counselors and officials who would normally help decide such matters.

"Anointment"  in Hebrew is "Mashicha" and an anointed person is a "Mashiach".
Monarchs were only anointed when there was some previous doubt as to their legitimacy.
David was anointed because he was replacing the dynasty of Saul.
Solomon was anointed since his brother Adoniyahu was attempting to claim the throne at the same time as he was.
Rehoboam was NOT anointed since he was the son of King Solomon and there was no-one who contested his right to rule.
Joash was anointed ("they made him king and anointed him" 2-Kings 111:12) because his grandmother Athalia had usurped the throne before him and there was a need to re-establish his lineage.
Anointment comes to confirm and emphasize legitimacy when there is a need to do so.
The future Savior of Israel, the Messiah, will be Anointed since though a descendant of David there will have been no intervening rulership of his immediate ancestors beforehand.

In this case Jehoahaz was anointed because he was not the first-born son. His brother, Jehoiakim (who would reign later) was two years older than him. In principle the monarchy was inherited through the male line. The oldest son had the first right to succession but not an automatically exclusive one. If there was something wrong with the eldest son or if one of the younger boys had markedly superior qualities then the eldest son could be passed over. This is somewhat similar to the de facto principals of succession in a Hassidic dynasty today.

The name "Jehoahaz" [pronounced in Modern Hebrew as "Yeho-Achaz"] could mean "Cling to God" or "God will Strengthen".

 [2-Kings 23:31] Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.

[2-Kings 23:32]  And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.

The father of Jehoahaz was King Josiah son of Amon. Josiah had been an exceedingly righteous person. The previous ancestors of Jehoahaz  (Amon, Menasseh) however had been mainly wicked ones.
There is a principal in Biblical thought if one does good then one is rewarded; do evil then punishment is due. If you are not righteous and your ancestors have been bad then you are liable to be punished for your own sins along with additional severity accruing from the reprobate forebears.
On the other hand if one does good then rewards are received. Merit is stored up like credit in a bank and can be given out to your descendants when they need it. Payment is made as you would want it to be if you would know all the options available.
The rewards for good deeds is vastly greater in proportion than the punishment for bad ones.

Deuteronomy 7:
9 'Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;10 and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them.

Deuteronomy 5:
9....For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 10 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Exodus 20:
5...For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Numbers 14:
18 'The LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation.'

[2-Kings 23:33]  Now Pharaoh Necho put him in prison at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and he imposed on the land a tribute of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.

[2-Kings 23:34]  Then Pharaoh
Necho made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. And Pharaoh took Jehoahaz and went to Egypt, and he died there.

[2-Kings 23:35] So
Jehoiakim gave the silver and gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give money according to the command of Pharaoh; he exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land, from every one according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Necho.

[2-Kings 23:36] 
Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Zebudah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.

Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim were brothers but had different mothers.
The mother of  Jehoahaz was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah (2-Kings 23:31). [This is not Jeremiah the prophet who also lived at this time, but someone else by the same name.]

It has been suggested (Yechiel Zvi Moskowitz, "Daat Mikra" on Sefer Yechezkiel ch. 19) that the mother of Jehoahaz may have been instrumental  in obtaining his initial preference.
Hamutal was the mother of Jehoahaz and Zedekiah (also known as Matanya).
Jehoahaz was king for three months but then deposed and taken to Egypt. In his place reigned Jehoiakim. The son of Jehoiakim was Jehoiacin (also known as Jeconia, Conia) who was taken into exile to Babylon. Then Zedekiah became king. Zedekiah was later taken in chains to Babylon.

Ezekiel 19 tells a parable of a mother lioness who nourished her cubs. One became a young lion and devoured men but was then trapped and taken in chains to Egypt. She then brought up another of her cubs who also devoured men and was taken in nets to Babylon (Ezekiel 19:1-9).
"Daat Mikra" opiners that the intention is to Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah whose son Jeohahaz became King but was then taken to Egypt and then later her other son Zedekiah was also made King and then exiled to Babylon.

In the Brit-Am Commentary to Ezekiel
we have explained this parable of a mother-lioness as representing Israel when it was united under King Solomon. The Kingdom divided into two represented by two young lions who misbehaved. The first lion was taken away to Egypt. This represents the Lost Ten Tribes who were taken away mainly to Assyria but also to Egypt. An exile of a portion of  the Ten Tribes to "Egypt" is hinted at several times in Scripture. ...in Hebrew "Egypt" is "Mitsrayim". The term "Mitsrayim" usually refers to "Egypt" but not always so. It could also mean an area to the north including "Scythia" in the southern regions of what was once known as the USSR.  The Lost Ten Tribes from areas of "Assyria", i.e. the Assyrian Empire, did move to Scythia, which could also have been known as "Mitsrayim".  ...the Assyrians referred to Egypt as "Mutsri" but there was also at least one other place in the north that was also referred to by that name.

There is no contradiction between our interpretation of the parable and its being based on Hamutal and her sons by King Josiah.
Such is the way of Scripture. Several different teaching and manifold messages may be encompassed by the one passage.

Concerning King Jehoiakim we are told:

[2-Kings 23:37]  And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.

Jehoiakim burnt one of the manuscripts of the Prophet Jeremiah.

Another prophet, Uriah ben Shemaiah from Kiriah-Jearim (Kirat Yaarim) fled to Egypt but Jeoiakim had him extradited and then killed him (Jeremiah 26:20-23).

Continued in Chapter 24.

To Make an Offering to Brit-Am!

After the Death of Solomon:
The Divided Kingdom

The Divided Kingdom
Source of Map:

2-Kings ch.22
2-Kings Contents
2-Kings ch.24