New European Commentary


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2Ki 22:1 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign; and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath-
Josiah means 'foundation of Yah'. It's unlikely this was the name Amon gave him, although a repentant Manasseh may have influenced it. However, at no point did even kings like Amon and Manasseh formally deny Yahweh. They worshipped Him, so they thought, through worshipping idols. So it is not impossible that indeed this was Josiah's birth name. And from that we can take yet another warning, to serve Yahweh with our whole hearts; and not assume that our service of the flesh is serving Him.

2Ki 22:2 He did that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh, and walked in all the way of David his father, and didn’t turn aside to the right hand or to the left-
There is a huge imputation of righteousness to human beings, reflected right through Scripture. God sought them, the essence of their hearts, and was prepared to overlook much ignorance and misunderstanding along the way. Consider how good king Josiah is described as always doing what was right before God, not turning aside to the right nor left- even though it was not until the 18th year of his reign that he even discovered parts of God’s law, which he had been ignorant of until then, because the scroll containing them had been temporarily lost (2 Kings 22:2,11). Josiah is described as having done "that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh"- even though he was ignorant of part of God's word and law (2 Kings 22:2,10-13), not knowing all "that is enjoined us to do" (2 Kings 22:13 RVmg.), and not knowing all that was in "the book of the covenant" (2 Kings 23:2). Full knowledge, even of some quite important things, didn't stop Josiah from being credited with doing what was right before God and not 'turning aside to the right hand or to the left'. He was judged according to how well he responded to that which he did know. And this may be a helpful window for us into how we should feel towards those who sincerely seek to follow the Lord and yet with imperfect knowledge.

2Ki 22:3 It happened in the eighteenth year of king Josiah that the king sent Shaphan, the son of Azaliah the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of Yahweh, saying-
We wonder if Meshullam was a relative of Meshullemeth, the female form of Meshullam, who was Josiah's grandmother (2 Kings 21:19). Shaphan was the father of Ahikam (:12) and the Gemariah of Jer. 36:10-12) and the grandfather of Gedaliah of Jer. 39:14; 40:5,9,11. Shaphan would have been elderly, as 35 years later his grandson Gedaliah was set up as governor of Judah by the Babylonians.

2Ki 22:4 Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the money which is brought into the house of Yahweh, which the keepers of the threshold have gathered of the people-
Hilkiah is well attested as the one who found the lost book of the law (2 Kings 22:8), helped in Josiah's reforms (2 Kings 22:14-20) and arranged the great Passover observance of 2 Chron. 35:1-19. But Hilkiah did all this despite being the son of a High Priest called Shallum (1 Chron. 6:12,13), whose name can mean 'bribe' (s.w. Mic. 7:3 about the corruption of the priesthood). Perhaps this was what he was known for. But his son / descendant rose above that bad background, as we can. The "scribe" or historian was a senior advisor in the Hebrew court (2 Sam. 8:17; 2 Kings 18:18,37; 2 Chron. 34:8) because of the huge value attached to history in the Hebrew mind, and as reflected in the Bible being largely history. Advice on how to act was to be based upon historical, or as we would now say, "Biblical", precedent.

2Ki 22:5 Let them deliver it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of Yahweh; and let them give it to the workmen who are in the house of Yahweh, to repair the breaches of the house-
The half shekel temple tax was to be paid when a census was taken, and it seems this is what he did. 2 Chron. 34:9 notes the generosity of the people even in the northern tribes, as well as the Israelites living in Judah ["the remnant of Israel"].

2Ki 22:6 to the carpenters, to the builders and to the masons, and for buying timber and cut stone to repair the house-
2 Chron. 34:10 says this was because "the kings of Judah had destroyed" the temple. The destruction of the temple by these kings may not have been because they totally rejected Yahweh. The essence of their apostacy, as ours, was to use the things of Yahweh for idolatry, to mix paganism and the way of the flesh with Yahweh worship. So it is likely that when we read of men like Manasseh building other temples or shrines to idols in the vicinity of the temple, what happened was that they took the materials from the temple structure and used them for the idol temples. For materials like cut stone and timber were expensive and hard to source; Solomon had spent huge effort in bringing them from far away to build Yahweh's temple.

2Ki 22:7 However there was no accounting made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand; for they dealt faithfully-
This is exactly the same as happened in 2 Kings 12:15. This may be in implied contrast to the priests and Levites who had not done the work at that time, perhaps because of embezzlement of the funds. The money was delivered to these overseers directly from the one who had received and counted in, and not via the priesthood.

2Ki 22:8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of Yahweh. Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan, and he read it-
All spiritual endeavour leads to the Lord inviting us deeper into that endeavour; thus it was as Barnabas and Paul went about their ministering to the Lord that they were invited to go on a missionary journey (Acts 13:2). Likewise it was as the Levites were in process of collecting funds for repairing the temple, that they found the book of the law- perhaps because they needed more space in which to store the donations, and whilst making space they found the scroll. In the process of being a deacon, faith is developed (1 Tim. 3:13). The very process of service and obedience leads to greater faith in practice.

2Ki 22:9 Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again and said, Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of Yahweh-
There is an apparent parallel between money being found in the temple, and the book of the law being found (2 Kings 22:8,9). The idea is that as David often says in Ps. 119, Yahweh's law was the greatest treasure. So much so that the Chronicles record focuses so much on the book of the law being found that no mention is made of the money also found along with it. Even in Kings, the discovery of the money is only mentioned in passing, as if the greatest discovery was not wealth, but God's law. And that is an abiding principle.

2Ki 22:10 Shaphan the scribe told the king saying, Hilkiah the priest has delivered a book to me. Shaphan read it before the king-
This book was probably not the entire Pentateuch, but the curses for disobedience in Dt. 28, for Josiah's response is appropriate to someone who had just heard them read. But see on :5. Jer. 15:16 refers to this: "Your words were found, and I did eat them... [they] were to me the joy and the delight of my heart: for I am called by Your name, Yahweh". Jeremiah rejoiced in those words of judgment. And as a result, “I am called by Your name”- the language of a woman marrying and taking her husband’s name (Is. 4:1). The word of God was his “joy [and] delight”- two words used four times elsewhere in Jeremiah, and always in the context of the joy of a wedding (Jer. 7:34; 16:9; 25:10; 33:11). Jeremiah saw his prophetic task as actually a marriage to God, an inbreathing of His word and being, to the point that he could say that he personally was “full of the wrath / passion of God” (Jer. 6:11). Jeremiah's lament that the people had no joy or delight in God's word (Jer. 6:10) is the basis for this comment that when he found God's words, they were his joy.

What was read were the curses for disobedience. The harder side of the Father and the Lord Jesus should actually serve as an attraction to the serious believer. Peter knew that if it really was the Lord Jesus out there on the water, then He would bid him walk on the water to Him. Peter knew his Lord, and the sort of things He would ask men to do- the very hardest things for them in their situation. He knew how Jesus could be a demanding Lord. Jeremiah “knew that this was the word of the Lord” when he was asked to do something so humanly senseless- to buy property when he was in prison, when the land was clearly about to be overrun by the Babylonians (Jer. 31:8).  When Jeremiah had earlier found the curses for disobedience recorded in the book of the Law which had been lost, He 'ate them', those words of cursings were "the joy and rejoicing of my heart" - they so motivated him (Jer. 15:16 = 2 Chron. 34:18-21). When Ananias and Sapphira were slain by the Lord, fear came upon "as many as heard these things" .

2Ki 22:11 It happened, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he tore his clothes-
Although Josiah was personally innocent, he felt so passionately for God's people. We too need to have hearts that bleed for others, and not be solely concerned with our own standing before God. For our standing before Him involves our attitudes to others and our concern for their salvation, if we truly seek God's glory and not our own. See on :2.

2Ki 22:12 The king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant saying-
We note Josiah didn't go to her himself. For the significance of this, see on :15. 

2Ki 22:13 Go inquire of Yahweh for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found; for great is the wrath of Yahweh that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that which is written concerning us-
"Poured out" in Chronicles is "kindled" in 2 Kings; the sense was that he realized the wrath of God was kindled and was literally about to burn against them, and so repentance must be immediate with no time to lose.

2Ki 22:14 So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the second quarter); and they talked with her-
"The second quarter" may refer to a newer area of Jerusalem (Zeph. 1:10 RV), or as AV "the college", implying as a prophetess she had a kind of Bible study centre. "Keeper of the wardrobe" may refer to the priestly garments (cp. 2 Kings 10:22).

2Ki 22:15 She said to them, Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel: ‘Tell the man who sent you to Me-
We see here how Josiah had no direct vision from God. He was dealing all the time through the prophetic word relayed to him, and his obedience to it is the more commendable. Because it reflects his humility to God's revealed word, in a way more impressive than if these words had come directly to him. We are in his position, and should learn from him.

2Ki 22:16 Thus says Yahweh, Behold, I will bring evil on this place and on its inhabitants, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read-
2 Chron. 34:24 adds: "even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah". The reference to curses suggests that the scrolls discovered contained at least Dt. 28 and Dt. 27:15-26.

2Ki 22:17 Because they have forsaken Me, and have burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore My wrath shall be kindled against this place, and it shall not be quenched-
God can be grieved [s.w. 'provoke to anger']. He has emotions, and His potential foreknowledge doesn't mean that these feelings are not legitimate. They are presented as occurring in human time, as responses to human behaviour. This is the degree to which He has accommodated Himself to human time-space limits, in order to fully enter relationship and experience with us. As He can limit His omnipotence, so God can limit His omniscience, in order to feel and respond along with us. 

Idolatrous Israel never consciously  tried to provoke Yahweh to anger with their apostasy; the words of the prophets must have seemed to them a gross exaggeration. But this was really how God saw it (2 Chron. 34:25).

Although "it shall not be quenched", Josiah knew God well enough to try to quench it, by getting all His people to make a from the heart commitment to Him.  Even though God had told Josiah that His wrath with His people would not be quenched, it would seem that there was still some possibility of "remedy", had the people accepted God's word in their hearts (2 Chron. 36:16). We see here His absolute eagerness for their repentance, and unwillingness that any of His people should have to perish. And that is the same God with whom we have to do.

2Ki 22:18 But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of Yahweh, thus you shall tell him, Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel: Concerning the words which you have heard-
See on :15 for the significance of Josiah not receiving these words directly.

2Ki 22:19 because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before Yahweh when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and have torn your clothes, and wept before Me; I also have heard you, says Yahweh-
We see here the mutuality between God and man; He hears the man who hears Him. We see the root of humility as being in having a heart / mind sensitive to Him. But "tender heart" is the same phrase used for being "faint hearted" in time of battle (Dt. 20:3; Is. 7:4; Jer. 51:46). It was as if Josiah saw the judgment of God coming, as if it had come, and was faint hearted before the soldiers he saw coming against him. And yet even such a tender heart can be given by God (s.w. Job 23:16), for He can also give attitudes of mind by His sovereign operation  .  

Josiah’s zealous reforms started with reading “the book of the covenant” (2 Kings 23:2), probably the list of curses which were to come for disobedience (2 Kings 22:19 =  Lev. 26:31,32). In this sense Paul used the terror of possible condemnation to persuade men (2 Cor. 5:11). Interestingly, the very words which Jeremiah was tempted not to speak forth, so stern was their message of judgment to come, were what had the power to lead Israel to repentance (Jer. 26:2,3).

2Ki 22:20 Therefore behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, neither shall your eyes see all the evil which I will bring on this place’. They brought back this message to the king-

There are times when God takes away the righteous from the evil of this life (Is. 57:1- probably alluding to what God did to Joash, 2 Kings 22:20 cp. 23:29). There are other Biblical instances where the wicked have long life and prosperity in this world. This is because the Bible presents the ultimate judgment and reward of human life and faith as being at the last day, and not right now.

This is a similar situation to the promise to Hezekiah and Ahab (1 Kings 21:29). It is as if God judged the entire weight of sin to be such that even Josiah's reformation could only delay and not remove the judgment for it. However, if the people had all repented in their hearts, rather than passively allowing a reformer like Josiah to remove the external evidence of idolatry, then surely the outcome could have been different. See on :31.

The reality was that Josiah died in battle, not in peace (2 Chron. 35:22-24). Yet he had been promised to be gathered to his grave in peace (2 Chron. 34:28). Here we have an example of God making a statement about the future which is conditional upon human behaviour. Thus He stated that Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days; but it wasn't, because they repented. There is a gap between the pronouncement and its fulfilment, and in that gap our behaviour can change the outcome. We too must waste so many potential futures.