2 Chronicles 34

2 CHRONICLES CHAPTER 34

Judah’s King Josiah (34:1 – 35:27)

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “See 2 Kings 22:1-23:30a. The considerable space that the Chronicler devotes to Josiah’s reign (640-609 BC) is a mark of his importance as an example of godly leadership. From his youth (2 Chron 34:3) Josiah demonstrates faithfulness to God. Like the other great kings before him, he promotes reform according to the Law of Moses and instructions of David, eliminating idolatry and restoring the temple (34:3-13, 33). Although the inexorable shadow of exile hangs over his reign (34:23-28), Josiah persists in leading his people into a renewal of their relationship with God and in reestablishing the Law of Moses as the basis of the nation’s future life (34:29-32). The climax of his reformation (as it was for Hezekiah) is the celebration of a Passover unexcelled in its inclusive breadth and faithfulness (35:18). Josiah is evidently a model for faithful living for the Chronicler’s own restoration community, centered on the temple and governed by the same law (see Neh 8:1-8).”

Josiah Repairs the Temple

      • Josiah was 8 years old when he became king and he ruled in Jerusalem for 31 years. He did what was right in Yahweh’s eyes and followed the ways of his ancestor David, not turning aside to the right or left.

      • He began to seek the God of his ancestor David when he was still young, in the 8th year of his reign. In his 12th year he began ridding Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, Asherah poles, carved images, and cast metal images. Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down, and the incense altars which stood above them were broken down. He smashed the Asherah poles and the carved and cast metal images, crushed them into dust, and sprinkled the dust over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. He did the same in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, even as far as Naphtali, and the ruins around them. He tore down the altars, smashed the Asherah poles and the images into dust, and cut down all the incense altars all throughout Israel. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

        • HCSB notes, “In the ‘eighth year’ Josiah would have been 16 years old, and 20 years old in his twentieth year (the year of his majority) when he began cleansing of Judah.”

        • ESV Study Bible notes, “Josiah’s decisive move against pagan worship is made as soon as he has come of age by turning 20 (see Num 1:3). The reform includes both Judah and the territories of the former northern kingdom, where the decline of Assyrian power after the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BC allowed Josiah to pursue his religious and political concerns.”

      • In the 18th year of his reign, after he had cleansed the land and the house, Josiah sent the following to repair the house of Yahweh his God: Azaliah’s son Shaphan, the city governor Maaseiah, and the recorder Joah, who was Joahaz’s son. They went to the high priest, Hilkiah, and gave him the silver that had been brought to the house of God. The Levites who guarded the door had collected it from the people of Manasseh, Ephraim, from the entire remnant of Israel, as well as from the people of Judah, Benjamin, and the residents of Jerusalem. They gave it to the construction supervisors in charge of the work on Yahweh’s house. They in turn paid the workers who were working in Yahweh’s house to repair and restore it, the carpenters and the builders, and to buy quarried stone and timber for the braces and beams for the buildings that the kings of Judah had allowed to fall into ruin. The men worked faithfully. Their supervisors were: Jahath and Obadiah, both Levites descended from Merari; Zechariah and Meshullum, both descended from Kohath. The Levites, all of whom were skilled musicians, supervised the workers and all the foremen on their various jobs. Some of the Levites were scribes, officials, and guards.

        • ESV Study Bible says, “The repair of the temple in 622 BC was part of the continuing process of reform that Josiah had initiated…The Chronicler adds that contributions came from Manasseh and Ephraim and from all the remnant of Israel, as well as Judah, pointing to the unity that now existed among the people and their shared interest in the temple (see 1 Chron 9:3). The Chronicler further states that the repair work was done under Levitical supervision…”

Hilkiah Discovers the Book of the Law

      • While they were bringing out the silver that had been brought to the house of Yahweh, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of Yahweh that had been given through Moses. Hilkiah told the court secretary, Shaphan, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of Yahweh.” He gave the book to Shaphan. Shaphan brought the book to the king and said, “Your officials are doing everything that was assigned to them. They have taken out the silver that was found in Yahweh’s house and handed it over to the supervisors and the construction foremen.” Then he told the king, “Hilkiah the priest gave me a book.” Shaphan read from it in the king’s presence. When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes. Then he gave the following orders to Hilkiah, Shaphan’s son Ahikam, Micah’s son Abdon, Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king’s servant: “Go and inquire of Yahweh for me, and for those who are left in Judah and Israel, concerning what is written in this book that has been found. The wrath of Yahweh that has been poured out on us is great because our ancestors have not obeyed the word of Yahweh. They have not acted in accordance with everything written in this book.”

        • Guzik reminds us, “According to Deuteronomy 31:24-27, there was to be a copy of this Book of the Law beside the ark of the covenant, beginning in the days of Moses. The word of God was with Israel, but it was greatly neglected in those days.”

        • What Pulpit Commentary has to say about the debate regarding the contents of this Book of Law also bears repeating:

          • There has been great difference of opinion as to what it was which Hilkiah had found. Ewald believes it to have been the Book of Deuteronomy, which had, he thinks, been composed some thirty or forty years before in Egypt by a Jewish exile, and had found its way, by a sort of chance, into Palestine, where ‘some priest’ had placed a copy of it in the temple (‘History of Israel,’ vol. 4. pp. 233-235). Thenius suggests ‘a collection of the laws and ordinances of Moses, which was afterwards worked up into the Pentateuch;’ Bertheau, ‘the three middle books of the Pentateuch, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers;’ Gramberg, ‘Exodus by itself.’ But there seem to be no sufficient grounds for questioning the ancient opinion – that of Josephus, and of the Jews generally – that it was a copy of the entire Pentateuch. (So De Wette, ‘Einleitung in das Alt. Test.,’ § 162 a; Keil, ‘Commentary on Kings,’ pp. 477, 478; Bahr, ‘Commentary,’ vol. 6. p. 257; and others). The words…’the book of the Law,’ are really sufficient to decide the point; since, as Keil says, they ‘cannot mean anything else, either grammatically or historically, than the Mosaic book of the Law (the Pentateuch), which is so designated, as is generally admitted, in the Chronicles and the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.’ The same conclusion follows from the expression, ‘the book of the covenant’…in 2 Kings 23:2, and also from 2 Kings 23:24, 25, and 2 Chronicles 34:14. Whether or no the copy was the actual original deposited in the ark of the covenant by Moses (Deuteronomy 31:26), as Keil believes, is doubtful. As Egyptian manuscripts which are from three to four thousand years old still exist in good condition, there can be no reason why a manuscript of Moses’ time should not have been found and have been legible in Josiah’s. But, if not the actual handwriting of Moses, it was probably its lineal descendant – the copy made for the temple service, and kept ordinarily ‘in the side of the ark’ – which may well have been lost in the time of Manasseh or Amen, and which was now happily ‘found.’ We need not suppose that Shaphan read the whole. But he read enough to show him how important the work was, and how necessary it was to make it known to the king.”

Huldah’s Prophecy of Judgment

      • So Hilkiah and those the king had sent with him went to Huldah the prophetess. Her husband’s name was Shallum and he was Tokhath’s son and Hasrah’s grandson. He was the keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in the Second Quarter of Jerusalem. They stated their business and she said to them, “This is what Yahweh, the God of Israel says: ‘Tell the man who sent you to Me, “This is what Yahweh says: I am about to bring disaster on this place and its residents, all the curses that are recorded in the book that they read in the presence of the king of Judah. My wrath will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched, because they have abandoned Me and offered sacrifices to other gods in order to provoke Me to anger with the works of their hands.’” Say this to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of Yahweh, “This is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard, ‘Your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words concerning this place and its residents. You humbled yourself before Me, tore your clothes, and wept before Me. I have heard you,’ Yahweh declares. ‘Therefore, I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace. You will not have to witness all the disaster I will bring on this place and its residents.’”’” Then they reported back to the king.

        • On the names of Shallum’s father and grandfather, NET Bible points out, “The parallel account in 2 Kgs 22:14 has the variant spelling “son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas.”

        • Guzik remarks, “We know little of this woman other than this mention here (and the similar account recorded in 2 Kings 22:14). With the apparent approval of King Josiah, Hilkiah the priest consulted this woman for spiritual guidance. It wasn’t because of her own wisdom and spirituality, but that she was recognized as a prophetess and could reveal the heart and mind of God. There were certainly other prophets in Judah…Yet for some reason – perhaps spiritual, perhaps practical – they chose to consul Huldah the prophetess…Josiah knew that Judah deserved judgment, and that judgment would indeed come. Judah and its leaders had walked against the LORD for too long, and would not genuinely repent so as to avoid eventual judgment…Josiah’s heart was tender in two ways. First, it was tender to the word of God and was able to receive the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit. Second, it was tender to the message of judgment from Huldah in the previous verses.”

        • On Yahweh’s promise that Josiah would be gathered to his grave in peace, ESV Study Bible says,”The promise is not negated by Josiah’s death in battle; Huldah’s prophecy means that the destruction and exile would not occur during Josiah’s lifetime…”

Affirmation of the Covenant by Josiah and the People

      • Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the house of Yahweh, accompanied by all the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem, the priests, the Levites- all the people from the youngest to the oldest. He read aloud to them all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in Yahweh’s house. The king stood by his pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of Yahweh, to follow Yahweh and to obey His commandments, His statutes, and His decrees with all of his heart and soul by carrying out the words of the covenant that were written in this book. Then he made all those who were present in Jerusalem and in Benjamin pledge themselves to it. The residents of Jerusalem acted in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors. Josiah removed all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel, and he made all those who were present in Israel serve Yahweh their God. Throughout the rest of his reign, they didn’t turn aside from following Yahweh, the God of their ancestors.

        • Guzik says, “Josiah heard the promise of both eventual judgment and the immediate delay of judgment. He did not respond with indifference or simple contentment that he would not see the judgment in his day. He wanted to get the kingdom right with God, and he knew that he could not do it all by himself – he needed all the elders of Judah to join in broken repentance with him…He was so concerned that the nation would hear the word of God that he read it to them himself.”

      • ESV Study Bible writes, “Josiah imposes on the people a pledge of obedience to the Mosaic covenant, which they maintain in all the territory…of Israel (i.e., in both the north and south)- but only while Josiah lives…When Josiah dies, so too does the people’s commitment to their covenant…”

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