Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.
And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the LORD, saying,In the eighteenth year - This is the date of the finding of the Book of the Law and of the Passover (marginal reference, and 2 Kings 23:23), but is not meant to apply to all the various reforms of Josiah as related in 2 Kings 23:4-20. The true chronology of Josiah's reign is to be learned from 2 Chronicles 34:3-8; 2 Chronicles 35:1. From these places it appear that at least the greater part of his reforms preceded the finding of the Book of the Law. He began them in the 12th year of his reign, at the age of 20, and had accomplishied all, or the greater part, by his 18th year, when the Book of the Law was found.
Shaphan is mentioned frequently by Jeremiah. He was the father of Ahikam, Jeremiah's friend and protector at the court of Jehoiakim Jeremiah 26:24, and the grandfather of Gedaliah, who was made governor of Judaea by the Babylonians after the destruction of Jeruslem 2 Kings 25:22. Several others of his sons and grandsons were in favor with the later Jewish kings Jeremiah 29:3; Jeremiah 36:10-12, Jeremiah 36:25; Ezekiel 8:11. Shaphan's office was one of great importance, involving very confidential relations with the king 1 Kings 4:3.
Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the LORD, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people:Hilkiah - Hilkiah was the father (or grandfather) of Seraiah (compare 1 Chronicles 6:13-14, with Nehemiah 11:11), high priest at the time of the captivity 2 Kings 25:18. and ancestor of Ezra the scribe Ezra 7:1.
It is evident from the expressions of this verse that a collection for the repairs of the temple, similar to that established in the reign of Joash 2 Kings 12:9-10, had been for some considerable time in progress (compare 2 Chronicles 34:3), and the king now sent to know the result.
And let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the LORD, to repair the breaches of the house,See the marginal reference. The "doers" of the first part of the verse are the contractors, or overseers, who undertook the general superintendence; they are to be distinguished from a lower class of "doers," the actual laborers, carpenters, and masons of the latter portion of the verse.
Which is in the house of the Lord - Rather, "who are," etc.; i. e., the persons who were actually employed in the temple.
Unto carpenters, and builders, and masons, and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house.
Howbeit there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand, because they dealt faithfully.They dealt faithfully - Compare the marginal reference. The names of these honest overseers are given in Chronicles 2 Chronicles 34:12.
And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.Some have concluded from this discovery, either that no "book of the law" had ever existed before, the work now said to have been "found" having been forged for the occasion by Hilkiah; or that all knowledge of the old "book" had been lost, and that a work of unknown date and authorship having been at this time found was accepted as the Law of Moses on account of its contents, and has thus come down to us under his name. But this is to see in the narrative far more than it naturally implies. If Hilkiah had been bold enough and wicked enough to forge, or if he had been foolish enough to accept hastily as the real "book of the law" a composition of which he really knew nothing, there were four means of detecting his error or his fraud:
(1) The Jewish Liturgies, which embodied large portions of the Law;
(2) The memory of living men, which in many instances may have extended to the entire five books, as it does now with the modern Samaritans;
(3) Other copies, entire or fragmentary, existing among the more learned Jews, or in the Schools of the prophets; and
(4) Quotations from the Law in other works, especially in the Psalmists and prophets, who refer to it on almost every page.
The copy of the Book of the Law found by Hilkiah was no doubt that deposited, in accordance with the command of God, by Moses, by the side of the ark of the covenant, and kept ordinarily in the holy of holies (marginal reference). It had been lost, or secreted, during the desecration of the temple by Manasseh, but had not been removed out of the temple building.
And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD.Have gathered - Rather, "have poured out" or "emptied out." The allusion probably is to the emptying of the chest in which all the money collected had been placed 2 Kings 12:9.
And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.
And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.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.
And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king's, saying,
Go ye, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.Enquire of the Lord - As inquiry by Urim and Thummim had ceased - apparently because superseded by prophecy - this order was equivalent to an injunction to seek the presence of a prophet (compare 2 Kings 3:11; 1 Kings 22:5).
Because our fathers have not hearkened - Josiah, it will be observed, assumes that preceding generations had had full opportunity of hearing and knowing the Law. He thus regards the loss as comparatively recent (compare 2 Kings 22:8 note).
So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.Went unto Huldah - It might have been expected that the royal commissioners would have gone to Jeremiah, on whom the prophetic spirit had descended in Josiah's 13th year Jeremiah 1:2, or five years previous to the finding of the Law. Perhaps he was at some distance from Jerusalem at the time; or his office may not yet have been fully recognized.
Keeper of the wardrobe - literally, "of the robes." Shallum had the superintendence, either of the vestments of the priests who served in the temple, or of the royal robe-room in which dresses of honor were stored, in case of their being needed for presents (see 2 Kings 5:5 note).
In the college - The marginal translation "in the second part" is preferable; and probably refers to the new or outer city - that which had been enclosed by the wall of Manasseh, to the north of the old city 2 Chronicles 33:14.
And she said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me,
Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read:All the words of the book - The "words" here intended are no doubt the threatenings of the Law, particularly those of Leviticus 26:16-39 and Deuteronomy 28:15-68. Josiah had probably only heard a portion of the Book of the Law; but that portion had contained those awful denunciations of coming woe. Hence, Josiah's rending of his clothes 2 Kings 22:11, and his hurried message to Huldah.
Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.Have burned incense - In the marginal reference the corresponding phrase is: "have served other gods, and worshipped them." Its alteration to "have bnrned incense" points to the fact that the favorite existing idolatry was burning incense on the housetops to Baal Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 32:29 and to the host of heaven 2 Kings 21:3.
But to the king of Judah which sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard;
Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD.See the marginal references.
Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again.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.