Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Eight years. After he had reigned other eight, being still but a boy, he began more seriously to seek the Lord, and purified his dominions, and the neighbouring country, from all the vestiges of idolatry, 2 Paralipomenon xxxiii. 3. He was one of the three most excellent kings of Juda, (Haydock) and might be said to be the last; as those who followed were displaced at pleasure by Egypt, &c. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 3. Scribe of. Hebrew, “to the temple.” (Chaldean; Syriac, &c.) It is not certain that there was such an officer as scribe of the temple; but the king’s secretary was ordered by Joas to take an account of the money contributed, chap. xii. 10. (Calmet) — Josias followed the same plan. (Tirinus)
Ver. 4. Together, so as to be reduced into a mass, and refined by fire. (Pagnin) — Septuagint, “seal up the money.” Protestants, “that he may sum the silver which,” &c. (Haydock) — Let him make all be paid up that is due, (Piscator) and cease to demand any more. — Door-keepers. Their office was of some consequence, 1 Paralipomenon ix. 26, 29. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Overseers, or undertakers. (Grotius) — People of the great respectability were selected, so that no reckoning with them was requisite, ver. 7. (Haydock) — They were thus encouraged to do the work with greater perfection. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. The book of the law, (that is, Deuteronomy.; Challoner.; St. Chrysostom, hom. 9. in Matthew) or the Pentateuch. (Josephus) — Achaz, Manasses, and Amon, had burnt (R. Solomon) as many copies as they could, (Haydock) but some zealous priests had concealed this copy, in a box, in the wall of the temple, (Lyranus) or in the treasury adjoining it. The very hand writing of Moses, containing the record of the covenant, (or the 28, 29, 30, and 31st chapters of Deuteronomy) which was placed in (Calmet) or beside the ark, was now happily discovered. (Haydock) — It seems it had been misplaced, as the ark itself had been removed, 2 Paralipomenon xxiv. 14., and xxxv. 3. This venerable monument, and the dreadful menaces which it denounced, made the deepest impression upon all, as we should read the autographs of St. Matthew, &c., with far greater respect and emotion than we do the printed copies. It is not at all probably that all the books of Scripture had been destroyed, as there were always some religious souls in both kingdoms; and if some kings had already made the impious attempt, (Haydock) of which, however, they are never accused in Scripture, they would not have been able to carry their malicious designs into effect. Josias had, before his 18th year, made many excellent regulations, conformably to the law, which was well understood, and carefully preserved by the priests and prophets, (Calmet) 2 Paralipomenon xvii. 9. — Read it. Scribes were generally chosen from among the Levites. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Garments, through zeal for God’s honour, and fear of his indignation. (Menochius)
Ver. 14. Holda. She is known only by this honourable embassy. It is rather wonderful that Jeremias was not consulted, as he had began to prophesy five years before. But he probably resided at Anathoth. Sophonias appeared, perhaps, only towards the end of the reign of Josias. (Calmet) — The Second, a street, or part of the city so called; in Hebrew, Massem. (Challoner) — The Septuagint retain this word, (Menochius) or rather, “in Masena;” Hebrew mishne. (Haydock) — Manasses inclosed Jerusalem with a second wall, (2 Paralipomenon xxxiii. 14.; Calmet) unless this was done by his father, 2 Paralipomenon xxxii. 5. (Tirinus) — Here Holda is said to have kept a school. (Calmet) — Chaldean, “the house of doctrine,” a place next in importance to the temple. (Vatable) — St. Jerome speaks of this Second, as of a gate, or part of Jerusalem, between the inner and the outer wall. (Contra Pelag, 2 Irad. in 2 Par. and in Sophon. i. 10.) (Menochius)
Ver. 20. Peace, before these horrors overtake the city. Josias was interred with all the usual honours, have[having?] fallen in battle, chap. xxiii. 29. (Calmet) — Instead of peace, the Alexandrian Septuagint reads, “in Jerusalem,” to which city Josias was brought from Mageddo, where he had perhaps rashly attacked the king of Egypt, with whom he had not been engaged in war. (Haydock) — This last good king was given to Juda, that he people might not pretend that they were forced to embrace idolatry by the royal power. (St. Jerome) (Du Hamel)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Josias repaireth the temple. The book of the law is found; upon which they consult the Lord, and are told that great evils shall fall upon them, but not in the time of Josias.
1 Josias *was eight years old when he began to reign; he reigned one and thirty years in Jerusalem: the name of his mother was Idida, the daughter of Hadaia, of Besecath.
2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of David, his father: he turned not aside to the right hand, or to the left.
3 And in the eighteenth year of *king Josias, the king sent Saphan, the son of Aslia, the son of Messulam, the scribe of the temple of the Lord, saying to him:
4 Go to Helcias, the high priest, that the money may be put together which is brought into the temple of the Lord, which the door-keepers of the temple have gathered of the people.
5 And let it be given to the workmen by the overseers of the house of the Lord: and let them distribute it to those that work in the temple of the Lord, to repair the temple:
6 That is, to carpenters and masons, and to such as mend breaches: and that timber may be bought, and stones out of the quarries, to repair the temple of the Lord.
7 But let there be no reckoning made with them of the money which they receive, but let them have it in their power, and in their trust.
8 And Helcias, the high priest, said to Saphan, the scribe: *I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord: and Helcias gave the book to Saphan, and he read it.
9 And Saphan, the scribe, came to the king, and brought him word again concerning that which he had commanded, and said: Thy servants have gathered together the money that was found in the house of the Lord: and they have given it to be distributed to the workmen, by the overseers of the works of the temple of the Lord.
10 And Saphan, the scribe, told the king, saying: Helcias, the priest, hath delivered to me a book. And when Saphan had read it before the king,
11 And the king had heard the words of the law of the Lord, he rent his garments.
12 And he commanded Helcias, the priest, and Ahicam, the son of Saphan, and Achobor, the son of Micha, and Saphan, the scribe, and Asaia, the king’s servant, saying:
13 Go and consult the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Juda, concerning the words of this book which is found: for the great wrath of the Lord is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened to the words of this book, to do all that is written for us.
14 So Helcias, the priest, and Ahicam, and Achobor, and Saphan, and Asaia, went to Holda, the prophetess, the wife of Sellum, the son of Thecua, the son of Araas, keeper of the wardrobe, who dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second: and they spoke to her.
15 And she said to them: Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel: Tell the man that sent you to me:
16 Thus saith the Lord: Behold, I will bring evils upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, all the words of the law which the king of Juda hath read:
17 Because they have forsaken me, and have sacrificed to strange gods, provoking me by all the works of their hands: therefore my indignation shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.
18 But to the king of Juda, who sent you to consult the Lord, thus shall you say: Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel: For as much as thou hast heard the words of the book,
19 And thy heart hath been moved to fear, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, hearing the words against this place, and the inhabitants thereof, to wit, that they should become a wonder and a curse: and thou hast rent thy garments, and wept before me; I also have heard thee; saith the Lord:
20 Therefore I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy sepulchre in peace; that thy eyes may not see all the evils which I will bring upon this place.
1: 2 Paralipomenon xxxiv. 1.; Year of the World 3363, Year before Christ 641.
3: Year of the World 3380, Year before Christ 624.
8: 2 Paralipomenon xxxiv. 15.