But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with you, you king of Judah? I come not against you this day, but against the house with which I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear you from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy you not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)But . . . ambassadors.—And . . . messengers.
I come not against thee.—So the old versions. The Hebrew is, “not against thee—thee—to-day,” The versions appear to have read ‘attāh, “thee,” with different points as ‘ôtheh, “coming.” (Comp. Syriac, ôthê ‘nû, “come I.”)
But against the house . . . war.—A strange expression. (Comp. 1Chronicles 18:10.) Probably the reading indicated by 3 Esdr. 1:25 is right (ὲπὶ γὰρ τοῡ Εὐφράτου δ πόλεμος μοῡ ἐστί), “but against the Euphrates is my war” (Perath for bêth). Josephus supports this. LXX. and Syriac omit; Vulg., “sed contra allain pugno domum.”
For God . . . haste.—And God . . . The Egyptian kings, like those of Israel, consulted their prophets before undertaking any expedition. So did the Assyrians, as abundantly appears from their inscriptions. So, too, we read on the Moabite stone, “Chemosh said unto me, Go; take Nebo . . . Go up against Horonaim, and take it.” These facts sufficiently explain the text, without assuming that Necho had received an oracle from Jehovah, or was referring to the God of Israel. (Comp. Herod, ii. 158.)2 Chronicles 35:21. I come not against thee, but against the house wherewith I have war — Against the house of the king of Assyria, between whom and me there is war. For God commanded me to make haste — Therefore, give me no hinderance. Some think he only pretended this, because he knew Josiah had a great reverence for God, and in obedience to him might desist from his purpose. And the Targum, with some of the Jews, thinks he called his own idol by the name of God; though Kimchi thinks, and the event makes it most probable, that he spoke of the true God, who perhaps admonished him in a dream, as he did Abimelech, or sent him a message to go against the Assyrians by the Prophet Jeremiah, many of whose prophecies are directed to foreign nations. Forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, &c. — It is at thy peril if thou engage against one who has both a better army, and a better cause, and God on his side.
God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God - These are remarkable words in the mouth of a pagan; but ancient inscriptions show that the Egyptian kings, in a certain sense, acknowledged a single supreme god, and considered their actions to be inspired by him. (e. g. The god Tum (compare) the name of his city, Pithom, Exodus 1:11 note) was worshipped as ankh, "the living One" (compare "Yahweh")). Hence, Necho merely expressed himself as Egyptian kings were in the habit of doing.Against the house wherewith I have war, Heb. against the house or family of my war, i.e. against the house of the king of Assyria, between whom and me there is war.
God commanded me; either his false god by their lying priests; or the true God, either,
1. By some prophet; for God’s prophets used sometimes to deliver or send commands from God to heathen kings. Though it is not probable either that Pharaoh would regard the command of the true God; or that a prophet of the Lord would not acquaint Josiah with this message; or that Josiah would oppose Pharaoh in a war undertaken by God’s command. Or rather,
2. By a dream, as God spoke to another heathen king, Abimelech, Genesis 20:3. Though it is not impossible that he pretended this for his own advantage, that Josiah might not assist his enemies.
saying, what have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? signifying he had no quarrel with him, he did not come to fight with him, and he had no business to intermeddle between him and another prince:
I come not against thee this day; in an hostile manner:
but against the house wherewith I have war; the king of Assyria:
for God commanded me to make haste; and oppose his enemy: according to the Targum, it was his idol; and which is the sense of other Jewish writers (y); but the true God might have appeared to him in a dream, or sent a prophet to him; or at least he might pretend this, that it might have the greater effect on Josiah; and indeed it seems to be real from the following verse:
forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not; he concluded God was with him, and would succeed him, because he had put him upon this enterprise, and hastened him to it; therefore Josiah, in opposing him, might expect to be resisted by him, and fall.But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)21. against the house wherewith I have war] In 1Es 1:27 there is a different reading “My war is upon Euphrates.”
commanded] R.V. hath commanded.Verse 21. - Not against thee this day. Possibly the suggestion couched in these last two words may have been the opposite of agreeable to King Josiah. For God commanded me to make haste. The margin reading of the Revised Version seems preferable, both for the Hebrew text and the connection, hath given command to speed me. 2 Chronicles 35:12; and חלבים, the fat of oxen, which was likewise burnt upon the altar, "but was not, as it seems, designated by the expression העלה" (Berth.). This interpretation certainly at first sight seems likely; only one cannot see why only the fat of the oxen, and not that of the paschal lambs also, should be called חלבים, since in the law the parts of all thank-offerings (oxen, sheep, and goats) which were burnt upon the altar are called חלבים. We will therefore be more correct if we take והחלבים to be a more exact definition of העלה: the burnt-offering, viz., the fat which was offered as a burnt-offering; or we may take העלה here to denote the evening burnt-offering, and החלבים the fat of the paschal lambs. But even if the first-mentioned interpretation were the only correct one, yet it could not thence be concluded that on the passover evening (the 14th Nisan) the fat not only of the 37,600 lambs and goats, but also of the 3800 oxen, were offered upon the altar; the words, that the priests were busied until night with the offering of the עלה and the חלבים, are rather used of the sacrificing generally during the whole of the seven days' festival. For the compressed character of the description appears in 2 Chronicles 35:15, where it is remarked that neither the singers nor the porters needed to leave their posts, because their brethren the Levites prepared (the meal) for them. With the words, "according to the command of David," etc., cf. 1 Chronicles 25:1 and 1 Chronicles 25:6.
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