2 Chronicles 34:3
For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3-7) Idolatry extirpated. This brief account is parallel to 2Kings 23:4-20.

(3) For.Now.

In the eighth year.—The specifications of time in this verse are peculiar to the chronicler.

While he was yet young.—Being about sixteen.

He began to seek.2Chronicles 17:3-4; 1Chronicles 13:3.

And in the twelfth year.—When, perhaps, he began to govern alone.

He began to purge.—It is not said that the whole work was completed in the twelfth year; indeed, 2Chronicles 34:33 implies the contrary. But the writer having begun the story of the destruction of idolatrous objects, naturally continues it to its close, though that properly belongs to Josiah’s eighteenth year (2Kings 22:3, compared with 2Kings 23:4 seq.). It is not, therefore, clear (as Thenius asserts) that the chronicler has put the extirpation of idolatry first, simply to show that the pious king needed no special prompting to such a course; or that, as Noldeke supposes, the writer meant to clear this highly-extolled king from the reproach of having quietly put up with the abomination for full eighteen years.

The high places.2Kings 23:5; 2Kings 23:8-9; 2Kings 23:13.

The groves.The Asherim (2Kings 23:4; 2Kings 6:7; 2Kings 6:14). There was an Asherah in the Temple, as well as in the high places which Solomon built for Ashtoreth, Chemosh, and Milcom. The carved and molten images are not mentioned in the parallel passage, which, however, gives a much clearer and more original description of the different kinds of idolatry abolished by Josiah. (The Syriac has, “he began to root out the altars, and idols, and leopards, and chapels, and collars, and bells, and all the trees which they made for the idols.”)

2 Chronicles 34:3. While he was yet young — In the sixteenth year of his age; when he was entering into the age of temptation, and had the administration of his kingdom wholly in his own power, and none to restrain him, even then he begins to be religious in good earnest.34:1-33 Josiah's good reign in Judah. - As the years of infancy cannot be useful to our fellow-creatures, our earliest youth should be dedicated to God, that we may not waste any of the remaining short space of life. Happy and wise are those who seek the Lord and prepare for usefulness at an early age, when others are pursuing sinful pleasures, contracting bad habits, and forming ruinous connexions. Who can express the anguish prevented by early piety, and its blessed effects? Diligent self-examination and watchfulness will convince us of the deceitfulness and wickedness of our own hearts, and the sinfulness of our lives. We are here encouraged to humble ourselves before God, and to seek unto him, as Josiah did. And believers are here taught, not to fear death, but to welcome it, when it takes them away from the evil to come. Nothing hastens the ruin of a people, nor ripens them for it, more than their disregard of the attempts made for their reformation. Be not deceived, God is not mocked. The current and tide of affections only turns at the command of Him who raises up those that are dead in trespasses and sins. We behold peculiar loveliness, in the grace the Lord bestows on those, who in tender years seek to know and to love the Saviour. Hath Jesus, the Day-spring from on high, visited you? Can you trace your knowledge of this light and life of man, like Josiah, from your youth? Oh the unspeakable happiness of becoming acquainted with Jesus from our earliest years!He began to purge Judah - Jeremiah's first prophecies Jeremiah 2-3 appear to have been coincident with Josiah's earlier efforts to uproot idolatry, and must have greatly strengthened his hands. 2Ch 34:3-7. He Destroys Idolatry.

3. in the eighth year of his reign—This was the sixteenth year of his age, and, as the kings of Judah were considered minors till they had completed their thirteenth year, it was three years after he had attained majority. He had very early manifested the piety and excellent dispositions of his character. In the twelfth year of his reign, but the twentieth of his age, he began to take a lively interest in the purgation of his kingdom from all the monuments of idolatry which, in his father's short reign, had been erected. At a later period, his increasing zeal for securing the purity of divine worship led him to superintend the work of demolition in various parts of his dominion. The course of the narrative in this passage is somewhat different from that followed in the Book of Kings. For the historian, having made allusion to the early manifestation of Josiah's zeal, goes on with a full detail of all the measures this good king adopted for the extirpation of idolatry; whereas the author of the Book of Kings sets out with the cleansing of the temple, immediately previous to the celebration of the passover, and embraces that occasion to give a general description of Josiah's policy for freeing the land from idolatrous pollution. The exact chronological order is not followed either in Kings or Chronicles. But it is clearly recorded in both that the abolition of idolatry began in the twelfth and was completed in the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign. Notwithstanding Josiah's undoubted sincerity and zeal and the people's apparent compliance with the king's orders, he could not extinguish a strongly rooted attachment to idolatries introduced in the early part of Manasseh's reign. This latent predilection appears unmistakably developed in the subsequent reigns, and the divine decree for the removal of Judah, as well as Israel, into captivity was irrevocably passed.

While he was yet young; in the sixteenth year of his age, when he was entering into the age and state of temptations and youthful lusts, and had the administration of his kingdom wholly in his own hand and power and none to rebuke or restrain him; yet even then he begins to be religious in good earnest. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young,.... Being in the sixteenth year of his age; though Kimchi thinks it was the very year he began to reign, which was the eighth of his age; and Jarchi observes, it may be interpreted, "though he was young, he began to seek after the God of David his father"; to pray unto him, to seek after the knowledge of him, and the true manner of worshipping him, what were his will, commands, and ordinances; the Targum is,"to seek instruction or doctrine of the Lord God of David his father,''to be taught his ways, such as David his great ancestor walked in, and whom he chose to follow:

and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves and the carved images, and the molten images; which were made in the times of Manasseh; and though removed by him when humbled, were restored in the reign of Amon. Now Josiah purged the land from these, by putting them down, and destroying them; and this he did when he was twenty years of age, having now more authority, being out of his minority, and from under guardians, and one year before Jeremiah began to prophesy, Jeremiah 1:1.

For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet {b} young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.

(b) When he was but sixteen years old he showed himself zealous of God's glory, and at twenty years old he abolished idolatry and restored the true religion.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3–7 (cp. 2 Chronicles 34:33; 2 Kings 13:4-20). Josiah destroys the Symbols of Idolatry

3. in the eighth year … and in the twelfth] The two dates given in this verse seem to be “doublettes,” i.e. various readings both of which have been adopted and placed side by side in the text. Moreover it is probable that neither reading is original, for both seem to have been derived by some transcriptional error or other from 2 Kings 22:3, where the account of Josiah’s doings begins with the date, in the eighteenth year.

Thus we get:—

(a)  2 Kings 22:3 (= 2 Chronicles 34:8):

bishĕmôneh esreh “eighteenth” (the original reading).

(b)  2 Chronicles 34:3 a:

bishĕmôneh “eighth” (defective reading; esreh having dropped out).

(c)  2 Chronicles 34:3 b:

bishtçym esreh, “twelfth” (attempted correction, perhaps from memory, of the defective reading).

It should also be noticed that the order of the events of Josiah’s reign given in Chron. varies from that given in 2 Kin. Thus we have in 2 Chr.:

(1) Destruction of idolatrous symbols throughout Jerusalem, Judah and Israel; 2 Chronicles 34:3-7.

(2) Repair of the Temple and Finding of the Law; ib. 2 Chronicles 34:8-28.

(3) Renewal of the Covenant with Jehovah; ib. 2 Chronicles 34:29-32.

(4) Great Passover kept; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19.

(5) Death of Josiah; ib. 2 Chronicles 35:20-27.

In 2 Kin. on the other hand (2), (3) precede (1), and there can be little doubt that this order is right.

while he was yet young] There is no clause corresponding to this in 2 Kin., and the statement rests on the probably faulty reading “eighth.” Yet his early piety is probably a fact, for though in 2 Kin. his reformation is dated in the eighteenth year of his reign, i.e. when he was 25 years of age (hardly “young” for a king), the favourable judgement passed on him (2 Kings 12:2) is unqualified by any suggestion that he was tardy in turning to Jehovah.

in the twelfth year he began] The Chronicler spreads the cleansing of the land over six years, i.e. from the twelfth to the eighteenth; cp. 2 Chronicles 34:8.

to purge] Josiah’s measures are more fully enumerated and described in 2 Kings 23; notice e.g. the removal of the Asherah from the Temple (2 Chronicles 34:6), the destruction of the houses of the Ḳĕdeshim (cp. Deuteronomy 23:17-18) which were in the House of the Lord (2 Chronicles 34:7), the deportation of priests from the cities of Judah into Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 34:8-9), and the defiling of Topheth and of Beth-el (2 Chronicles 34:10; 2 Chronicles 34:15-16).

the groves] R.V. the Asherim; cp. 2 Chronicles 14:3 (note).

carved images] R.V. graven, images; as 2 Chronicles 33:7; 2 Chronicles 33:22.Verse 3. - This, with the following four verses, forms the commentary on the statement of ver. 2, that Josiah "declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left." We cannot mistake the allusion in this verse to his personal religion at, say, sixteen years of age, as the foundation of his religious reign and of the practical devotion to reformation, instanced as commencing with his twentieth year. It may be here noted that the Prophet Jeremiah was called to his work in the year following thereupon, or, perhaps, the very same year (Jeremiah 1:1, 2). It is highly likely that Josiah and Jeremiah were given to one another providentially, to cooperate in all good works, now so needed for Church and state. The three dates of the eighth, twelfth, and (ver. 8) the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign wore dates memorable in his life. For the two kinds of images of this verse, see succeeding note. The reign of Amon. Cf. 2 Kings 21:19-26. - Both accounts agree; only in the Chronicle, as is also the case with Manasseh and Ahaz, the name of his mother is omitted, and the description of his godless deeds is somewhat more brief than in Kings, while the remark is added that he did not humble himself like Manasseh, but increased the guilt. In the account of his death there is nothing said of his funeral, nor is there any reference to the sources of his history. See the commentary on 2 Kings 21:19.
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