2 Kings 22:11
And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.
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22:11-20 The book of the law is read before the king. Those best honour their Bibles, who study them; daily feed on that bread, and walk by that light. Convictions of sin and wrath should put us upon this inquiry, What shall we do to be saved? Also, what we may expect, and must provide for. Those who are truly apprehensive of the weight of God's wrath, cannot but be very anxious how they may be saved. Huldah let Josiah know what judgments God had in store for Judah and Jerusalem. The generality of the people were hardened, and their hearts unhumbled, but Josiah's heart was tender. This is tenderness of heart, and thus he humbled himself before the Lord. Those who most fear God's wrath, are least likely to feel it. Though Josiah was mortally wounded in battle, yet he died in peace with God, and went to glory. Whatever such persons suffer or witness, they are gathered to the grave in peace, and shall enter into the rest which remaineth for the people of God.He rent his clothes - Partly grief and horror, like Reuben Genesis 37:29 and Job JObadiah 1:20, partly in repentance, like Ahab 1 Kings 21:27. 2Ki 22:8-15. Hilkiah Finds the Book of the Law.

8-11. Hilkiah said … I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord, &c.—that is, the law of Moses, the Pentateuch. It was the temple copy which, had been laid (De 31:25, 26) beside the ark in the most holy place. During the ungodly reigns of Manasseh and Amon—or perhaps under Ahaz, when the temple itself had been profaned by idols, and the ark also (2Ch 35:3) removed from its site; it was somehow lost, and was now found again during the repair of the temple [Keil]. Delivered by Hilkiah the discoverer to Shaphan the scribe [2Ki 22:8], it was by the latter shown and read to the king. It is thought, with great probability, that the passage read to the king, and by which the royal mind was so greatly excited, was a portion of Deuteronomy, the twenty-eighth, twenty-ninth, and thirtieth chapters, in which is recorded a renewal of the national covenant, and an enumeration of the terrible threats and curses denounced against all who violated the law, whether prince or people. The impressions of grief and terror which the reading produced on the mind of Josiah have seemed to many unaccountable. But, as it is certain from the extensive and familiar knowledge displayed by the prophets, that there were numbers of other copies in popular circulation, the king must have known its sacred contents in some degree. But he might have been a stranger to the passage read him, or the reading of it might, in the peculiar circumstances, have found a way to his heart in a manner that he never felt before. His strong faith in the divine word, and his painful consciousness that the woeful and long-continued apostasies of the nation had exposed them to the infliction of the judgments denounced, must have come with overwhelming force on the heart of so pious a prince.

The words of the book of the law, i. e. the dreadful comminations against them for the sins still reigning among the people.

Quest. Did Josiah never see and read a copy of this book before this time? If he did not, how could he do so much towards the reformation of religion, as he did before? if he did, why was he not sooner convinced and humbled by it?

Answ. If Josiah had not yet seen a copy of this book, (which is not impossible,) yet there was so much of the law left in the minds and memories of many of the people, as might easily persuade and direct him to all that he did till this time; or if Josiah had seen and read it before, which seems more probable, yet the great reverence which he justly bore to the original book, and the strange, and remarkable, and seasonable finding of it, had very much awakened and quickened him to a more serious and diligent reading, and attentive consideration, of all the passages contained in it, than he used before.

And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law,.... From whence it appears that he had never wrote out a copy of it, as the kings of Israel were ordered to do, when they came to the throne, Deuteronomy 17:18 nor had read it, at least not the whole of it; and yet it seems strange that he should be twenty six years of age, as he now was, and had proceeded far in the reformation of worship, and yet be without the book of the law, and the high priest also; it looks as if it was, as some have thought, that they had till now only some abstracts of the law, and not the whole: and perhaps the reformation hitherto carried on chiefly lay in abolishing idolatry, and not so much in restoring the ordinances of worship to their purity; for it was after this that the ordinance of the passover was ordered to be kept; and when the king observed, on hearing the law read, that it had not been kept as it should, that such severe threatenings were denounced against the transgressors of it;

that he rent his clothes; as expressive of the rending of his heart, and of his humiliation and sorrow for the sins he and his people were guilty of.

And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.
11. he rent his clothes] From what is said afterwards in verse 19, we can see that the portions which affected the king were such passages as Deuteronomy 28. There in verse 15, it is said, ‘If thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God … all these curses shall come upon thee’. And in verse 45 ‘all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee and overtake thee till thou be destroyed’. And in verse 37, ‘Thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb and a byword among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee’.

Verse 11. - And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the Law, that he rent his clothes. To Josiah the book was evidently, as to Hilkiah, in some sort a discovery. It was not, however, a wholly new thing; rather, he accepted it as the recovery of a thing that was known to have been lost, and was now happily found. And in accepting it he regarded it as authoritative. It was not to him "a book of Law" (Ewald), but "the book of the Law." We can well imagine that, although the book may have been lost early in Manasseh's reign, yet echoes of it had lingered on

(1) in the liturgies of the Jehovistic worship;

(2) in the teachings of the prophets;

(3) in the traditional teaching of religious families; so that the pious ear recognized its phrases as familiar.

It is also probable that there were external tokens about the book indicative of its character, which caused its ready acceptance. 2 Kings 22:11In his alarm at the words of the book of the law that had been read to him, Josiah rent his clothes, and sent a deputation to the prophetess Huldah, to make inquiry of Jehovah through her concerning the things which he had heard from the law. The deputation consisted of the high priest Hilkiah, Ahikam the supporter of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:24) and the father of Gedaliah the governor (2 Kings 25:22; Jeremiah 39:14, etc.), Achbor the son of Michaiah, Shaphan the state-secretary (2 Kings 22:3), and Asahiah the servant (i.e., an officer) of the king.
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