2 Kings 12:3
But the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.
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(3) But.—Save that; as at 2Kings 15:4. (For the statement of the verse, comp. 1Kings 15:14.)

Sacrificed . . . burnt.Were wont to sacrifice . . . burn. The worship of the high places continued even under the régime of Jehoiada.

2 Kings 12:3. But the high places were not taken away — The people were so much and so strangely addicted to these private altars, (on which they sacrificed to the true God,) that the preceding kings, though men of riper years and greater power and courage than Jehoash, and firmly established on their thrones, were not able to remove them. And, therefore, it is not strange that Jehoiada could not now take them away, when the king was young, and not well settled in his kingdom, and when the people were more corrupt and disorderly through Athaliah’s mal-administration.12:1-16 It is a great mercy to young people, especially to all young men of rank, like Jehoash, to have those about them who will instruct them to do what is right in the sight of the Lord; and they do wisely and well for themselves, when willing to be counselled and ruled. The temple was out of repair; Jehoash orders the repair of the temple. The king was zealous. God requires those who have power, to use it for the support of religion, the redress of grievances, and repairing of decays. The king employed the priests to manage, as most likely to be hearty in the work. But nothing was done effectually till the twenty-third year of his reign. Another method was therefore taken. When public distributions are made faithfully, public contributions will be made cheerfully. While they were getting all they could for the repair of the temple, they did not break in upon the stated maintenance of the priests. Let not the servants of the temple be starved, under colour of repairing the breaches of it. Those that were intrusted did the business carefully and faithfully. They did not lay it out in ornaments for the temple, till the other work was completed; hence we may learn, in all our expenses, to prefer that which is most needful, and, in dealing for the public, to deal as we would for ourselves.The worship on the "high places" seems to have continued uninterruptedly to the time of Hezekiah, who abolished it 2 Kings 18:4. It was, however, again established by Manasseh, his son 2 Kings 21:3. The priests at this time cannot have regarded it as idolatrous, or Jehoiada would have put it during his regency. 3. But the high places were not taken away—The popular fondness for the private and disorderly rites performed in the groves and recesses of hills was so inveterate that even the most powerful monarchs had been unable to accomplish their suppression; no wonder that in the early reign of a young king, and after the gross irregularities that had been allowed during the maladministration of Athaliah, the difficulty of putting an end to the superstitions associated with "the high places" was greatly increased. The people were so fondly and strangely addicted to

the high places, that the foregoing kings, though men of riper years, and great power and courage, and finally settled in their thrones, could not take them away; and therefore it is not strange if Jehoiada could not now remove them, when the king was very young and tender, and not well settled in his kingdom, and when the people were more corrupt and disorderly through Athaliah’s maladministration.

Sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places to God. But the high places were not taken away,.... Used before the temple was built, or set up in Rehoboam's time, 1 Kings 14:23 contrary to the law of God, which required that sacrifices should only be offered in the place the Lord chose to dwell in, Deuteronomy 12:4 the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places; as they had done in the times of Athaliah, and though the pure worship of God was restored at Jerusalem; and indeed this they did in all preceding reigns; nor was it in the power of the best of kings, at least they did not think it safe to attempt to remove them till Hezekiah's time; so fond were the people of them because of their antiquity and supposed sanctity, and for the sake of ease. But {b} the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.

(b) So hard a thing it is for them, that are in authority, to be brought to the perfect obedience of God.

3. But [R.V. Howbeit] the high places were not taken away] Worship having been permitted there before the temple was erected, it was difficult to draw the people away from them, as they would be nearer at hand than the one place set apart for sacrifice, viz. Jerusalem, and they would also have acquired a degree of consecration from long use.Verse 3. - But the high places were not taken away. So it had been with the best of the previous kings of Judah, as Asa (1 Kings 15:14) and Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:43); and so it was with the other "good" kings (2 Kings 14:4; 2 Kings 15:4, 35) until the reign of Hezekiah, by whom the high places were removed (see below, 2 Kings 18:4). We must remember that it was Jehovah who was worshipped in the "high places," not Baal, or Moloch, or Ashtoreth (see the comment on 1 Kings 15:14). The people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places. The people, not the king, in the earlier portion of his reign; but in the later portion, probably the king also (see 2 Chronicles 24:17, 18). Renewal of the covenant, extermination of the worship of Baal, and entrance of the king into the palace. - 2 Kings 11:17. After Jehoash was crowned and Athaliah put to death, Jehoiada concluded the covenant (1) between Jehovah on the one hand and the king and people on the other, and (2) between the king and the people. The former was simply a renewal of the covenant which the Lord had made with Israel through Moses (Exodus 24), whereby the king and the people bound themselves ליהוה לעם להיות, i.e., to live as the people of the Lord, or to keep His law (cf. Deuteronomy 4:20; Deuteronomy 27:9-10), and was based upon the "testimony" handed to the king. This covenant naturally led to the covenant between the king and the people, whereby the king bound himself to rule his people according to the law of the Lord, and the people vowed that they would be obedient and subject to the king as the ruler appointed by the Lord (cf. 2 Samuel 5:3). The renewal of the covenant with the Lord was necessary, because under the former kings the people had fallen away from the Lord and served Baal. The immediate consequence of the renewal of the covenant, therefore, was the extermination of the worship of Baal, which is mentioned at once in 2 Kings 11:18, although its proper place in order of time is after 2 Kings 11:18. All the people (הארץ כּל־עם, as in 2 Kings 11:14) went to the temple of Baal, threw down his altars, broke his images (the columns of Baal and Astarte) rightly, i.e., completely (היטב as in Deuteronomy 9:21), and slew the priest Mattan, probably the chief priest of Baal, before his altars. That the temple of Baal stood within the limits of the sanctuary, i.e., of the temple of Jehovah (Thenius), cannot be shown to be probable either from 2 Chronicles 24:7 or from the last clause of this verse. (For 2 Chronicles 24:7 see the fuller remarks on 2 Kings 12:5.) The words "and the priest set overseers over the house of Jehovah" do not affirm that Jehoiada created the office of overseer over the temple for the purpose of guarding against a fresh desecration of the temple by idolatry (Thenius), but simply that he appointed overseers over the temple, namely, priests and Levites entrusted with the duty of watching over the performance of worship according to the precepts of the law, as is more minutely described in 2 Kings 11:18, 2 Kings 11:19.
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