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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 23

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1At the king's summons all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem were assembled, 2and he went up to the house of the LORD, taking with him all the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, and the prophets, the entire population, high and low. There he read out to them the whole scroll of the covenant which had been discovered in the house of the LORD. 3Then, standing by the pillar, the king entered into a covenant before the LORD to obey him and keep his commandments, his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart and soul, and so carry out the terms of the covenant written in the scroll. All the people pledged themselves to the covenant.

4The king ordered the high priest Hilkiah, the deputy high priest a 23:4 deputy high priest: prob. rdg; Heb. deputy high priests. , and those on duty at the entrance to remove from the house of the LORD all the objects made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven, and he burnt these outside Jerusalem on the slope by the Kidron, and carried the ashes to Bethel. 5He suppressed the heathen priests whom the kings of Judah had appointed to burn b 23:5 to burn: so Gk (Luc.); Heb. and he burnt. sacrifices at the shrines in the towns of Judah and in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, as well as those who burnt sacrifices to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the planets and all the host of heaven. 6He took the Asherah c 23:6 Asherah: or sacred pole. from the house of the LORD to the wadi of the Kidron outside Jerusalem, burnt it there, and pounded it to dust, which was then scattered over the common burial-ground. 7He also pulled down the quarters of the male prostitutes attached to the house of the LORD, where the women wove vestments in honour of Asherah.

8The king brought in all the priests from the towns of Judah and desecrated the shrines where they had burnt sacrifices, from Geba to Beersheba, and dismantled the shrines of the demons in front of the gate of Joshua, the city governor, which is to the left of the city gate. 9These priests, however, never came up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem but used to eat unleavened bread with the priests of their clan. 10He desecrated Topheth in the valley of Ben-hinnom, so that no one might make his son or daughter pass through the fire for Molech. 11He did away with the horses that the kings of Judah had set up in honour of the sun at the entrance to the house of the LORD, beside the room of the eunuch Nathan-melech in the colonnade, and he burnt the chariots of the sun. 12He demolished the altars made by the kings of Judah on the roof by the upper chamber of Ahaz and the altars made by Manasseh in the two courts of the house of the LORD; he pounded them to dust and threw it into the wadi of the Kidron. 13Also, on the east of Jerusalem, to the south of the mount of Olives d 23:13 mount of Olives: so Aram. (Targ.); Heb. mount of the Destroyer. , the king desecrated the shrines which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the loathsome goddess of the Sidonians, and for Kemosh the loathsome god of Moab, and for Milcom the abominable god of the Ammonites; 14he smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the sacred poles and filled the places where they had stood with human bones.

15At Bethel he dismantled the altar by the shrine e 23:15 by the shrine: prob. rdg; Heb. omits by. made by Jeroboam son of Nebat who led Israel into sin, together with the shrine itself; he broke its stones in pieces f he broke … pieces: so Gk; Heb. he burnt the shrine. , crushed them to dust, and burnt the sacred pole. 16When Josiah saw the graves which were there on the hill, he sent and had the bones taken from them, and he burnt them on the altar to desecrate it, thus fulfilling the word of the LORD announced by the man of God when Jeroboam stood by the altar at the feast. When Josiah saw the grave of the man of God g 23:16 when Jeroboam … man of God: so Gk; Heb. omits. who had foretold these things, 17he asked, ‘What is that monument I see?’ The people of the town answered, ‘It is the grave of the man of God who came from Judah and foretold all that you have done to the altar at Bethel.’ 18‘Leave it alone,’ he said; ‘let no one disturb his bones.’ So they spared his bones along with those of the prophet who came from Samaria. 19Josiah also suppressed all the temples at the shrines in the towns of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had set up and thereby provoked the LORD's h 23:19 the LORD's: so Gk; Heb. omits. anger, and he did to them what he had done at Bethel. 20He slaughtered on the altars all the priests of the shrines who were there, and he burnt human bones on them. Then he went back to Jerusalem.

21The king ordered all the people to keep the Passover to the LORD their God, as this scroll of the covenant prescribed; 22no Passover like it had been kept either when the judges were ruling Israel or during the times of the kings of Israel and of Judah, 23until in the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign this Passover was kept to the LORD in Jerusalem.

24Further, Josiah got rid of all who called up ghosts and spirits, and of all household gods i 23:24 household gods: Heb. teraphim. and idols and all the loathsome objects to be seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, so that he might fulfil the requirements of the law written in the scroll which the priest Hilkiah had discovered in the house of the LORD. 25No king before him had turned to the LORD as he did, with all his heart and soul and strength, following the whole law of Moses; nor did any king like him appear again.

26Yet the LORD did not abate his fierce anger; it still burned against Judah because of all the provocation which Manasseh had given him. 27‘Judah also I shall banish from my presence’, he declared, ‘as I banished Israel; and I shall reject this city of Jerusalem which once I chose, and the house where I promised that my name should be.’

28The other events and acts of Josiah's reign are recorded in the annals of the kings of Judah. 29It was in his reign that Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt set out for the river Euphrates to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah went to meet him; and when they met at Megiddo, Pharaoh Necho slew him. 30 j 23:30–34 Cp. 2 Chr. 36:1–4 . His attendants conveyed his body in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own burial-place. Then the people of the land took Josiah's son Jehoahaz and anointed him king in place of his father.

31 JEHOAHAZ was twenty-three years old when he came to the throne, and he reigned in Jerusalem for three months; his mother was Hamital daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah. 32He did what was wrong in the eyes of the LORD, as his forefathers had done. 33Pharaoh Necho removed him from the throne k 23:33 removed…throne: prob. rdg, cp. 2 Chr. 36:3 ; Heb. bound him at Riblah in the land of Hamath when he was king. in Jerusalem, and imposed on the land an indemnity of a hundred talents of silver and one talent of gold. 34He made Josiah's son Eliakim king in place of his father and changed his name to Jehoiakim. He carried Jehoahaz away to Egypt, where he died. 35Jehoiakim handed over the silver and gold to Pharaoh, taxing the country to meet Pharaoh's demands; he exacted it from the people, from every man according to his assessment, so that he could pay Pharaoh Necho.

36Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he came to the throne, and he reigned in Jerusalem for eleven years; his mother was Zebidah daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. 37He did what was wrong in the eyes of the LORD as his forefathers had done.

Notes:

a 23:4 deputy high priest: prob. rdg; Heb. deputy high priests.

b 23:5 to burn: so Gk (Luc.); Heb. and he burnt.

c 23:6 Asherah: or sacred pole.

d 23:13 mount of Olives: so Aram. (Targ.); Heb. mount of the Destroyer.

e 23:15 by the shrine: prob. rdg; Heb. omits by.

f he broke … pieces: so Gk; Heb. he burnt the shrine.

g 23:16 when Jeroboam … man of God: so Gk; Heb. omits.

h 23:19 the LORD's: so Gk; Heb. omits.

i 23:24 household gods: Heb. teraphim.

j 23:30–34 Cp. 2 Chr. 36:1–4 .

k 23:33 removed…throne: prob. rdg, cp. 2 Chr. 36:3 ; Heb. bound him at Riblah in the land of Hamath when he was king.

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