2 Kings 23:1
And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.
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(1) They gathered.—The right reading is probably that of the Syriac and Vulg., there gathered. Chron., LXX., and Arabic have he gathered.

All the elders.—The representatives of the nation.

2 Kings 23:1. The king sent and gathered unto him all the elders — Although he had received a message from God, that there was no preventing the ruin of Jerusalem, and that he only should deliver his own soul; yet he does not therefore sit down in despair, and resolve to do nothing for his country, because he could not do all he would. But he will endeavour to do his duty, and then leave the event to God. He knew, if any thing could prevent, delay, or alleviate the threatened ruin, it must be a public reformation. He therefore makes preparations for this, by summoning a general assembly of the magistrates, or representatives of the people, with the priests and prophets, the ordinary and extraordinary ministers of God: that, these all joining in it, what was done might become a national act, and so be the more likely to prevent national judgments; and that so many principal persons advising and assisting in it, the whole business might be transacted with more solemnity, and such as were against it might be discouraged from making any opposition.

23:1-3 Josiah had received a message from God, that there was no preventing the ruin of Jerusalem, but that he should only deliver his own soul; yet he does his duty, and leaves the event to God. He engaged the people in the most solemn manner to abolish idolatry, and to serve God in righteousness and true holiness. Though most were formal or hypocritical herein, yet much outward wickedness would be prevented, and they were accountable to God for their own conduct.In peace - The death of Josiah in battle 2 Kings 23:29 is in verbal contradiction to this prophecy, but not in real opposition to its spirit, which is simply that the pious prince who has sent to inquire of the Lord, shall be gathered to his fathers before the troubles come upon the land which are to result in her utter desolation. Now those troubles were to come, not from Egypt, but from Babylon; and their commencement was not the invasion of Necho in 608 B.C., but that of Nebuchadnezzar three years later. Thus was Josiah "taken away from the evil to come," and died "in peace" before his city had suffered attack from the really formidable enemy. CHAPTER 23

2Ki 23:1-3. Josiah Causes the Law to Be Read.

1-3. the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders—This pious and patriotic king, not content with the promise of his own security, felt, after Huldah's response, an increased desire to avert the threatened calamities from his kingdom and people. Knowing the richness of the divine clemency and grace to the penitent, he convened the elders of the people, and placing himself at their head, accompanied by the collective body of the inhabitants, went in solemn procession to the temple, where he ordered the book of the law to be read to the assembled audience, and covenanted, with the unanimous concurrence of his subjects, to adhere steadfastly to all the commandments of the Lord. It was an occasion of solemn interest, closely connected with a great national crisis, and the beautiful example of piety in the highest quarter would exert a salutary influence over all classes of the people in animating their devotions and encouraging their return to the faith of their fathers.Josiah causeth the law to be read in a solemn assembly; reneweth the covenant of the Lord; destroyeth idolatry, 2 Kings 23:1-14; breaketh down the altar at Beth-el, and burneth thereon dead men’s bones, 2 Kings 23:15-20; keepeth the passover: other evidences of his piety, 2 Kings 23:21-25. God’s final wrath against Judah. 2 Kings 23:26-28. Josiah, warring against Pharaoh-nechoh, is slain: Jehoahaz his son is king: he is imprisoned by Pharaoh-nechoh; who puts Jehoiakim, in his place; who reigneth ill, 2 Kings 23:29-37.

The chief governors both of church and state.

And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. Josiah sent messengers throughout the land, and convened all the principal men in it at Jerusalem. And the king {a} sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.

(a) Because he saw the great plagues of God that were threatened, he knew no more speedy way to avoid them, than to turn to God by repentance which cannot come but from faith, and faith by hearing the word of God.

Chap. 2 Kings 23:1-14. Josiah’s covenant to serve the Lord. Destruction of idolatry, and removal of idolatrous priests (2 Chronicles 34:3-7; 2 Chronicles 34:29-33)

1. And the king sent, and they gathered] The whole proceeding described in the first three verses of this chapter may be compared with the similar covenant-making in the reign of Joash (2 Kings 11:14-17). That was also followed by a destruction of the objects of idolatry.

Verse 1. - And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem; i.e. all the elders of Jerusalem and of the rest of Judah. (On the important position held by "the elders" in the undivided kingdom, see 1 Kings 8:1, and the comment ad loc.; and on their position in the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, see 1 Kings 20:7, 8; 1 Kings 21:8, 11; 2 Kings 10:1, etc.) 2 Kings 23:1Reading of the law in the temple, and renewal of the covenant (cf. 2 Chronicles 34:29-32). Beside the priests, Josiah also gathered together the prophets, including perhaps Jeremiah and Zedekiah, that he might carry out the solemn conclusion of the covenant with their co-operation, and, as is evident from Jeremiah 1-11, that they might then undertake the task, by their impressive preaching in Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, of making the people conscious of the earnestness of the covenant duties which they had so recently undertaken (see Oehler in Herzog's Cycl.). Instead of the prophets, the Levites are mentioned in the Chronicles, probably only because the Levites are mentioned along with the priests in other cases of a similar kind. ויּקרא, he read, i.e., had it read; for the duty of reading the law in the temple devolved upon the priests as the keepers of the law (Deuteronomy 31:9.).
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