Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. Prophets. Chaldean, “scribes.” But there were many prophets at this time, who were ordered to come and renew the covenant with God. — He read, in person, acting as a mediator, in imitation of Moses, Josue, Samuel, Joiada, and Ezechias. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. The step. His tribune or tribunal, a more eminent place, from whence he might be seen and heard by the people. (Challoner) — This brazen tribune is described [in] chap. xi. 14., and 2 Paralipomenon vi. 12. — To the covenant, but with much less exactitude than the king. (Calmet)
Ver. 4. Order, who presided over the 24 classes of inferior priests. (Menochius) — Jonathas understands it of those who supplied the place of the high priest when he could not attend. (Grotius) — Baal, the sun: (Calmet) in Hebrew, “for.” — The grove, Astarte, or the moon. (Haydock) — Cedron, to the east and south of Jerusalem, where Topheth and the sepulchres of the poor, and all unclean things, were placed. Here the pagans burnt their children in honour of Moloch. See 3 Kings xv. 13., and 2 Paralipomenon xxix. 16., and xxx. 14. — Bethel, out of contempt for the golden calf, (Haydock) and to remove those impurities to a greater distance. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Soothsayers. Protestants, “the idolatrous priests.” Grotius thinks that camilli, or “ministers of the gods,” (Serv.[Servius?] and Varro. vi.) may be derived from the Hebrew hacemarim, “the black-vested,” or cryers. The Rabbins give this title in derision to the religious of the Christian Church. There were some melanophori, or people “in black,” who honoured Isis, or the moon, by this dress; as if to condole with her on the absence of the sun. Plutarch Apuleius describes a shining black veil, which was carried in the procession of her statue. — Baal. Hebrew, “to Baal the son;” (Calmet) or rather, “to Baal, to the son.” (Haydock) — People are divided whether they were one and the same idol. The Hebrew mazatoth, (Calmet) Septuagint Mazouróth (Haydock) is not better understood. St. Jerome translates signs of the zodiac; others have, influences, planets, Lucifer, Venus, &c. Job (xxxviii. 32.) designates some stars by the name of Mozruth, and Mozrim. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Grove. The idol of Astarte, or the representation of a grove in sculpture. (Haydock) — People, who were not rich enough to have a sepulchre. Jeremias (xix. 11.) threatens the people of Jerusalem with such a burial. (Calmet) — The common people here means the idolaters, 2 Paralipomenon xxxiv. 4. (Haydock)
Ver. 7. Effeminate. Hebrew, “consecrated” (Calmet) or “initiated” (Montanus) in the obscene mysteries of idols. See Deuteronomy xxiii. 18., and 3 Kings xv. 12., and 2 Machabees vi. 4. These men prostituted themselves (Menochius) even in that sacred place. (Calmet) — Protestants, “he broke down the houses of the Sodomites, that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove.” These hangings, tents, or dwellings, (Haydock) were destined for the idol; (Syriac, &c.) or they were intended to hide the abominations which were committed. They were called “tents of the daughters,” chap. xvii. 30. (Calmet) — For. Literally, “of the grove:” luci. But the other translation is conformable to the Septuagint. (Vatable, &c.) (Haydock)
Ver. 8. Bersabee; to which the Israelites went in pilgrimages, Amos v. 5. This place was situated at the southern extremity of the dominions of Juda, as Gabaa was at the northern. The priests being unable to offer sacrifice in the temple, and desirous to gain a livelihood, had been so weak as to conform to the illegal practices of the country; though they seem to have intended to worship God, Deuteronomy xii. 11. — Altars. These might also be consecrated to the true God, but they were forbidden. There were others, placed in similar situations, in honour of Trivia, or the moon, Isaias lvii. 8., and lxv. 11. (Calmet) — City, to a person entering. (Chaldean) Josue was the chief lay-judge, or magistrate. (Menochius)
Ver. 9. Brethren. Thus people are degraded in the Christian Church, that they may suffer some confusion (Calmet) in this world, and repent. (Haydock) — The priests, who had offered sacrifice unlawfully, where only permitted to perform the minor offices; but provision was made for their support, that they might not be tempted to relapse, Leviticus xxi. 17, 22., and Ezechiel xliv. 10. (Calmet) — They were reduced to the rank of Levites. (Menochius)
Ver. 10. Defiled, or declared it unlawful. (Menochius) — Topheth may signify “a drum;” which the Jews say the idolaters beat, to prevent their childrens’ cries from being heard, when they were burning in the arms of Moloch. St. Jerome interprets it “latitude,” as the vale was very wide, and beautifully adorned with gardens and springs. It formed a part of the vale of Josaphat and of Cedron; (Calmet) or the same valley went by these different names, as well as (Haydock) by that of Geh-hinnon, “the vale of Ennom,” whence Gehenna is formed, and applied to hell, Matthew v. 22., and Mark ix. 44., &c. (Calmet) — Yet some think that the term denotes a place of torment on earth, which those deserve who say, thou fool. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. Nathan-melech. Septuagint, “to the treasury (room.; Pagnin) of Nathan, the king’s eunuch,” or chamberlain. (Haydock) — Pharurim, “the suburbs.” (Vatable) (Menochius) (Chaldean) — It perhaps denotes the guard-house. See 1 Paralipomenon xxvi. 18. — Chariots. The aforesaid horses were designed to draw them in honour of the sun. Some nations used to ride in this manner with all expedition, at its rising; and the Rabbins pretend that the king, or some other by his order, had been accustomed to ride from the eastern gate of the temple to the house of the governor, Nathan-melech. The horse was consecrated to the sun, on account of its agility.
Placat equo Persis radiis Hyperiona cinctum,
Ne detur celeri victima tarda Deo. (Ovid, Fast. i.)
The Persians sacrificed the horse to the sun, that a slow victim may not be offered to the swift deity. The sun gives vigour to the whole material system, as the instrumental cause in the hand of God; and horses perceive the influence, more particularly in the warmer climates, and exult in their strength, Job xxxix. 21. (Haydock) — Perhaps these horses had been destined for sacrifice by the infidel kings of Juda, as well as the chariots. (Calmet) — The Rhodeans threw some into the sea every year. (Festus.) — Others think that what Josias took away, was only engraven, or, that the horses had been set at liberty for superstitious observations, as was customary among the pagans. (Tacitus, Mor. Germ.) (Suetonius, in Julio)
Ver. 12. Upper chamber, to be nearer the host of heaven, which they adored. (Haydock) — We are assured that the Arabs also adored the sun, and offered incense to it on the tops of their houses. The prophets often upbraid the people with this practice, Jeremias xix. 13., and Sophonias i. 5. (Calmet) — It is wonderful that Ezechias had not before removed these remnants of his father’s infidelity; and still more that Manasses, after his repentance, had not destroyed what he had unlawfully erected in the courts of the priests and of the people. But Amon might have restored them. — Ran. This shews the zeal of the king. Hebrew and Septuagint, “and thence he broke or tore them.”
Ver. 13. Offence; Olivet. (Haydock) — In the original, the terms are very much alike; and the Jews take a pleasure in deforming names, for which they had a horror. Solomon had erected temples here to various idols, (3 Kings xi. 7.) which had probably been demolished by Ezechias, but had been rebuilt under Amon, &c., and subsisted during the minority of Josias; (Calmet) or they had been neglected by the pious kings of Juda, as no longer dangerous. But Josias, in the fervour of his zeal, thought proper to remove every thing that had been the occasion of offence: Hebrew, “of corruption.” — Idol, and scandal, and abomination, are the same in Hebrew.
Ver. 14. Statues is more proper than the Protestant “images,” which would rather be torn. — Dead is not expressed in the Hebrew or Septuagint, but must be understood. (Haydock) — The pagans had the same idea of their impurity: incestat funere classem. (Virgil, Æneid vi.)
Ver. 15. Bethel had perhaps fallen into the hands of Juda, after the Israelites had been led away. (Calmet) — Josias exercised the like authority throughout all Samaria, (ver. 19.) as the country properly belonged to the house of David, and was God’s peculiar inheritance. (Haydock) — We may, therefore conclude that He authorized Josias to act in this manner; and the new inhabitants had no interest in maintaining the superstition of those who had lived there before them. The priest sent by Asarhaddon, had taken up his residence at Bethel; whence it is inferred that the town, at that time, was in the hands of the Samaritans, (Calmet) as it might be still, though Josias might exercise dominion in it as lord paramount. (Haydock)
Ver. 16. Spoke. Septuagint subjoin some words, which seem to be lost in the original: [“when Jeroboam was standing, on the festival day, upon the altar. And turning, he lifted up his eyes towards the tomb of the man of God,} who spoke these words.” (Haydock) — “The copies, from which this version was made, read differently from the modern copies,” and often better. (Kennicott, diss. ii. p. 335.)
Ver. 17. Monument. Hebrew tsiun, “an eminence” of “dry” earth, (Ezechiel xxxix. 15.) heaped upon a corpse; whence the Latin tumulus. (Servius) (Calmet) — It seems some inscription was still to be seen on the tomb. (Menochius) — Thou, &c. Septuagint, “which he proclaimed against the altar.” (Haydock)
Ver. 18. Samaria. It seems this word has been inserted instead of Juda, as it is certain the prophet came thence, ver. 17., and 3 Kings xiii. 32. (Calmet) — But thus both prophets would be identified. It would rather appear that the seducing prophet, who resided at Bethel, is here said to have come out of Samaria, though that place was not raised to the dignity of a royal city (Haydock) till 50 years afterwards. (Calmet) — There might be a town there long before; and, at any rate, he belonged to the kingdom of Jeroboam, or of Samaria. (Haydock) — His faith in the prophet’s prediction was, perhaps, thus rewarded, (Menochius) as his bones were left unmolested, on account of their being buried in the same sepulchre with the man of God. (Haydock)
Ver. 20. Slew. Most of the Israelites who had been left, (Haydock) embraced the true religion, after the captivity of their brethren, (Calmet) and adhered to the kings of Juda, (ver. 15.; Haydock) who had taken possession of the whole country (Du Hamel) after the fall of the Assyrian empire; (Tirinus) unless the emperors of Chaldea had given it to them as to their vassels. See ver. 29. (Calmet)
Ver. 21. Covenant, in Deuteronomy, chap. xxii. 8. (Menochius)
Ver. 22. No such, in all respects. (Haydock) — The number of paschal lambs was certainly greater when all Israel was assembled; but the other victims presented by the king and his officers during the octave is here noticed, (2 Paralipomenon xxxv. 7.; Menochius) as they are also styled the Phase; (Haydock) and this explains John xviii. 28. (Tirinus) — Neither ought we to push these expressions too far, as they only mean, that this solemnity was very great. See ver. 25., and chap. xviii. 5. (Calmet)
Ver. 24. Spirits. Literally, “the pythons,” Deuteronomy xviii. 11., and Numbers xxii. 5. — Idols. Hebrew Teraphim; Protestants, “images,” Genesis xxi. 19. — Uncleannesses. Hebrew, &c., “idols.”
Ver. 25. Like him. Every person has some peculiarity, which distinguishes him from every other. (Haydock) — Thus we say of many saints: There was none found like unto him, Ecclesiasticus xliv. 20. (Tirinus)
Ver. 26. Had provoked him. The impiety of this king must have been extreme, since his repentance did not avert the scourge. (Haydock) — Besides, many of the people were corrupt at heart, though they were afraid of shewing it, as we learn from the prophets Jeremias and Sophonias. God therefore withdrew the good Josias, who was their bulwark, that they might feel the effects of his just indignation.
Ver. 29. Nechao, six years (Usher, the year of the world 3394.) after he had succeeded his father Psammetichus, with whose ambitious views he was animated to attempt the conquest of Asia. (Marsham sæc. 18.) Pharao pretends that God had sent him to attack the Assyrians, 2 Paralipomenon xxxv. 21. But Josias thought he was only imposing on him, or speaking through fear. The Jews assert that Jeremias also opposed the king’s design, 3 Esdras i. 28. (St. Jerome, ad Ctesip.) But this does not appear from the canonical Scripture. (Calmet) — Meet him, in order to hinder him from passing through his dominions without leave; as this might prove dangerous. (Haydock) — Seen him, and fought. (Menochius) — He received a mortal wound at Mageddo, but died at Jerusalem, 2 Paralipomenon xxxv. 23. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] x. 6.) — Mageddo lay to the south of Cison, where Barak had fought before, Judges v. 19. Herodotus (ii. 159.) says, that Nechos gained a victory over the Syrians at Magdolum, and took Cadytis, which is probably Cades, a strong city of Galilee, though some take it to be Jerusalem, as it may be interpreted “the holy city.” (Calmet) — Mageddo is called Magdala in the Greek, and Magedan in other copies, and in the Vulgate, Matthew xv. 39.
Ver. 30. Sepulchre. Paralipomenon xxxv., in the monument (or mausoleum) of his fathers. Such was the end of Josias: he fell gloriously in defence of his country, as he had spent his life in promoting religion. God therefore withdrew him from the sight of the miseries which were shortly to fall on his devoted people, chap. xxii. 20. (Haydock) — He was a prince of most excellent disposition, and receives the highest encomium, ver. 25., and Ecclesiasticus xlix. 1. Jeremias composed his funeral canticle, which was sung on his anniversary for many years, 2 Paralipomenon xxxv. 24. The mourning for this pious king became proverbial, and resembled that which should be made for the Messias, Zacharias xii. 11. The life and death of Josias prefigured those of Jesus Christ; who should be long expected as the restorer of the true religion, the teacher of a more excellent law, and the most innocent victim for the sins of the people. The glorious Phase under Josias, was but a faint representation of the eucharistic sacrifice. (Calmet)
Ver. 31. Old. Eliacim his brother was 25. (Haydock) — Perhaps Joachaz was esteemed more by the people, as fitter to defend them against the king of Egypt, who had proceeded on his journey to attack Charchamis on the Euphrates. (Calmet) — Having placed a garrison in it, he was met by Joachaz, and gained a victory over him at Rebla, (Haydock) as Sanctius gathers from Ezechiel xix. 4. Hence he treated the captive king with such severity, and sent him into Egypt to die in chains, Jeremias xxii. 11. Joachaz is called Sellum (in Jeremias) and Jechonias, 3 Esdras i. 34. (Calemt) — He was a lion only against his own subjects. (Tirinus)
Ver. 33. Rebla. Syriac and Arabic, “Deblat;” probably (Calmet) Apamea on the Orontes. (Chaldean, on Numbers xxxiv. 11.)
Ver. 34. Joakim. Thus he asserted his dominion over him, as Nabuchodonosor did afterwards over Matthanias, chap. xxiv. 17., and Daniel i. 6. (Calmet) — Eliacim means nearly the same as Joakim, “the Lord’s strength,” or “appointment.” (Menochius)
Ver. 36. Old, of course Josias had him at 15. Some suspect we ought to read 15 here. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 37. Fathers, or ancestors, not his immediate father Josias, ver. 32. (Haydock) — Joakim chose to imitate the wicked, and was not deterred by the chastisement of his brother. (Calmet) — His character was marked with avarice and cruelty. He slew the prophet Urias, Jeremias xxii. 13., and xxvi 23. (Haydock) — St. Matthew (i. 11.) calls him Jechonias, (Menochius) 1 Paralipomenon iii. 15.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Josias readeth the law before all the people: They promise to observe it. He abolisheth all idolatry; celebrateth the Phase: is slain in battle by the king of Egypt. The short reign of Joachaz, in whose place Joakim is made king.
1 And* they brought the king word again what she had said. And he sent: and all the ancients of Juda and Jerusalem were assembled to him.
2 And the king went up to the temple of the Lord, and all the men of Juda, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both little and great: and in the hearing of them all he read all the words of the book of the covenant, which was found in the house of the Lord.
3 And the king stood upon the step: and made a covenant with the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his ceremonies, with all their heart, and with all their soul, and to perform the words of this covenant, which were written in that book: and the people agreed to the covenant.
4 And the king commanded Helcias, the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the door-keepers,* to cast out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that had been made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burnt them without Jerusalem, in the valley of Cedron, and he carried the ashes of them to Bethel.
5 And he destroyed the soothsayers, whom the kings of Juda had appointed to sacrifice in the high places in the cities of Juda, and round about Jerusalem: them also that burnt incense to Baal, and to the sun, and to the moon, and to the twelve signs, and to all the host of heaven.
6 And he caused the grove to be carried out from the house of the Lord, without Jerusalem, to the valley of Cedron, and he burnt it there, and reduced it to dust, and cast the dust upon the graves of the common people.
7 He destroyed also the pavilions of the effeminate, which were in the house of the Lord, for which the women wove as it were little dwellings for the grove.
8 And he gathered together all the priests out of the cities of Juda: and he defiled the high places, where the priests offered sacrifice, from Gabaa to Bersabee: and he broke down the altars of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Josue, governor of the city, which was on the left hand of the gate of the city.
9 However, the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the Lord, in Jerusalem: but only eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren.
10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Ennom: that no man should consecrate there his son, or his daughter, through fire, to Moloch.
11 And he took away the horses which the kings of Juda had given to the sun, at the entering in of the temple of the Lord, near the chamber of Nathanmelech, the eunuch, who was in Pharurim: and he burnt the chariots of the sun with fire.
12 And the altars that were upon the top of the upper chamber of Achaz, which the kings of Juda had made, and the altars which Manasses had made in the two courts of the temple of the Lord, the king broke down: and he ran from thence, and cast the ashes of them into the torrent Cedron.
13 The high places also that were at Jerusalem, on the right side of the mount of offence, *which Solomon, king of Israel, had built to Astaroth, the idol of the Sidonians, and to Chamos, the scandal of Moab, and to Melchom, the abomination of the children of Ammon, the king defiled.
14 And he broke in pieces the statues, and cut down the groves: and he filled their places with the bones of dead men.
15 *Moreover, the altar also that was at Bethel, and the high place, which Jeroboam, the son of Nabat, who made Israel to sin, had made: both the altar, and the high place, he broke down and burnt, and reduced to powder, and burnt the grove.
16 And as Josias turned himself, he saw there the sepulchres that were in the mount: and he sent and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burnt them upon the altar, and defiled it according to the word of the Lord, which the man of God spoke, who had foretold these things.
17 *And he said: What is that monument which I see? And the men of that city answered: It is the sepulchre of the man of God, who came from Juda, and foretold these things which thou hast done upon the altar of Bethel.
18 And he said: Let him alone, let no man move his bones. So his bones were left untouched with the bones of the prophet, that came out of Samaria.
19 Moreover all the temples of the high places which were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord, Josias took away: and he did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel.
20 And he slew all the priests of the high places, that were there, upon the altars; and he burnt men’s bones upon them: and returned to Jerusalem.
21 *And he commanded all the people, saying: Keep the Phase to the Lord your God, according as it is written in the book of this covenant.
22 Now there was no such a Phase kept from the days of the judges, who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, and of the kings of Juda,
23 As was this Phase, that was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem, in the eighteenth year of king Josias.
24 Moreover the diviners by spirits, and soothsayers, and the figures of idols, and the uncleannesses, and the abominations, that had been in the land of Juda and Jerusalem, Josias took away: that he might perform the words of the law, that were written in the book, which Helcias the priest had found in the temple of the Lord.
25 There was no king before him like unto him, that returned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his strength, according to all the law of Moses: neither after him did there arise any like unto him.
26 But yet the Lord turned not away from the wrath of his great indignation, wherewith his anger was kindled against Juda: because of the provocations, wherewith Manasses had provoked him.
27 *And the Lord said: I will remove Juda also from before my face, as I have removed Israel: and I will cast off this city Jerusalem, which I chose, and the house, of which I said: My name shall be there.
28 Now the rest of the acts of Josias, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the words of the days of the kings of Juda?
29 *In his days, Pharao Nechao, king of Egypt, **went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josias went to meet him: and was slain at Mageddo, when he had seen him.
30 And his servants carried him dead from Mageddo: and they brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own sepulchre. And the people of the land took Joachaz, the son of Josias: and they anointed him, and made him king in his father’s stead.
31 *Joachaz was three and twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem: the name of his mother was Amital, the daughter of Jeremias, of Lobna.
32 And he did evil before the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.
33 And Pharao Nechao bound him at Rebla, which is in the land of Emath, that he should not reign in Jerusalem: and he set a fine upon the land, of a hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold.
34 And Pharao Nechao made Eliacim, the son of Josias, king in the room of Josias his father: and turned his name to Joakim. And he took Joachaz away and carried him into Egypt, and he died there.
35 And Joakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharao, after he had taxed the land for every man, to contribute according to the commandment of Pharao: and he exacted both the silver and the gold of the people of the land, of every man according to his ability: to give to Pharao Nechao.
36 *Joakim was five and twenty years old when he began to reign: **and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem: the name of his mother was Zebida, the daughter of Phadaja, of Ruma.
37 And he did evil before the Lord according to all that his fathers had done.
1: 2 Paralipomenon xxxiv. 28. and 29.; Year of the World 3380, Year before Christ 624.
4: Ecclesiasticus xlix. 3.
13: 3 Kings xi. 7.
15: 3 Kings xiii. 32.
17: 3 Kings xiii. 1.
21: 2 Paralipomenon xxxv. 1.; Year of the World 3381.
27: 4 Kings xxiv. 2.
29: 2 Paralipomenon xxxv. 20. — ** Year of the World 3394, Year before Christ 610.
31: 2 Paralipomenon xxxvi. 2.
36: 2 Paralipomenon xxxvi. 5. — ** Year of the World 3395, Year before Christ 609.