2 Kings 23

Listen to 2 Kings 23

Josiah's Reforms

1 1Then the king sent, and all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem were gathered to him.
2 And the king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And 2he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant 3that had been found in the house of the LORD.
3 And the king stood 4by the pillar and 5made a covenant before the LORD, 6to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.
4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests 7of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels made for 8Baal, for 9Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. 10He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel
5 And he deposed the priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and the moon and the constellations 11and all the host of the heavens.
6 And he brought out 12the Asherah from the house of the LORD, outside Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, 13and burned it at the brook Kidron 14and beat it to dust and cast the dust of it upon the graves 15of the common people.
7 And he broke down the houses of 16the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the LORD, 17where the women wove hangings for 18the Asherah.
8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had made offerings, from 19Geba to Beersheba. And he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one's left at the gate of the city.
9 20However, the priests of the high places did not come up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brothers.
10 And he defiled 21Topheth, which is 22in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, 23that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to 24Molech.[a]
11 And he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the precincts.[b] And he burned the chariots of the sun with fire.
12 And the altars 25on the roof of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars 26that Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, he pulled down and broke in pieces[c] and cast the dust of them 27into the brook Kidron.
13 And the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of 28the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had built for 29Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for 30Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for 31Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
14 And he broke in pieces the 32pillars and cut down the Asherim and filled their places with the bones of men
15 Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected 33by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, 34who made Israel to sin, 35that altar with the high place he pulled down and burned,[d] reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah.
16 And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, 36according to the word of the LORD that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things.
17 Then he said, "What is that monument that I see?" And the men of the city told him, 37"It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted[e] these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel."
18 And he said, "Let him be; let no man move his bones." So they let his bones alone, with the bones 38of the prophet who came out of Samaria.
19 And Josiah removed all the shrines also of the high places that were 39in the cities of Samaria, which kings of Israel had made, provoking the LORD to anger. He did to them according to all that he had done at Bethel
20 And 40he sacrificed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, 41and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

Josiah Restores the Passover

21 And the king commanded all the people, 42"Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, 43as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.
22 44For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah.
23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was kept to the LORD in Jerusalem.
24 Moreover, Josiah put away 45the mediums and the necromancers and 46the household gods and 47the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish 48the words of the law that were written in the book 49that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.
25 50Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.
26 Still the LORD did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, 51because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him.
27 And the LORD said, "I will remove Judah also out of my sight, 52as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, 53and the house of which I said, My name shall be there."

Josiah's Death in Battle

28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
29 54In his days 55Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates. King Josiah went to meet him, and Pharaoh Neco killed him at 56Megiddo, as soon as he saw him.
30 57And his servants carried him dead in a chariot from 58Megiddo and brought him to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. 59And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father's place.

Jehoahaz's Reign and Captivity

31 60Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother's name was 61Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
32 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, 62according to all that his fathers had done.
33 And 63Pharaoh Neco put him in bonds at 64Riblah in the land of 65Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and laid on the land a tribute of a hundred talents[f] of silver and a talent of gold.
34 And 66Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and 67changed his name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz away, 68and he came to Egypt and died there.
35 And Jehoiakim 69gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land to give the money according to the command of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, from everyone according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Neco.

Jehoiakim Reigns in Judah

36 70Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah
37 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, 71according to all that his fathers had done.

2 Kings 23 Commentary

Chapter 23

Josiah reads the law, and renews the covenant. (1-3) He destroys idolatry. (4-14) The reformation extended to Israel, A passover kept. (15-24) Josiah slain by Pharaoh-nechoh. (25-30) Wicked reigns of Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim. (31-37)

Verses 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.

Verses 4-14 What abundance of wickedness in Judah and Jerusalem! One would not have believed it possible, that in Judah, where God was known, in Israel, where his name was great, in Salem, in Zion, where his dwelling-place was, such abominations should be found. Josiah had reigned eighteen years, and had himself set the people a good example, and kept up religion according to the Divine law; yet, when he came to search for idolatry, the depth and extent were very great. Both common history, and the records of God's word, teach, that all the real godliness or goodness ever found on earth, is derived from the new-creating Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Verses 15-24 Josiah's zeal extended to the cities of Israel within his reach. He carefully preserved the sepulchre of that man of God, who came from Judah to foretell the throwing down of Jeroboam's altar. When they had cleared the country of the old leaven of idolatry, then they applied themselves to the keeping of the feast. There was not holden such a passover in any of the foregoing reigns. The revival of a long-neglected ordinance, filled them with holy joy; and God recompensed their zeal in destroying idolatry with uncommon tokens of his presence and favour. We have reason to think that during the remainder of Josiah's reign, religion flourished.

Verses 25-30 Upon reading these verses, we must say, Lord, though thy righteousness be as the great mountains, evident, plainly to be seen, and past dispute; yet thy judgments are a great deep, unfathomable, and past finding out. The reforming king is cut off in the midst of his usefulness, in mercy to him, that he might not see the evil coming upon his kingdom: but in wrath to his people, for his death was an inlet to their desolations.

Verses 31-37 After Josiah was laid in his grave, one trouble came on another, till, in twenty-two years, Jerusalem was destroyed. The wicked perished in great numbers, the remnant were purified, and Josiah's reformation had raised up some to join the few who were the precious seed of their future church and nation. A little time, and slender abilities, often suffice to undo the good which pious men have, for a course of years, been labouring to effect. But, blessed be God, the good work which he begins by his regenerating Spirit, cannot be done away, but withstands all changes and temptations.

Cross References 71

  • 1. For ver. 1-3, see 2 Chronicles 34:29-32
  • 2. See Deuteronomy 31:11
  • 3. 2 Kings 22:8
  • 4. 2 Kings 11:14
  • 5. [2 Kings 11:17]
  • 6. Deuteronomy 13:4
  • 7. [2 Kings 25:18; Jeremiah 52:24]
  • 8. 2 Kings 21:3
  • 9. See Deuteronomy 16:21
  • 10. ver. 15
  • 11. 2 Kings 21:3
  • 12. See Deuteronomy 16:21
  • 13. ver. 15
  • 14. ver. 15; [2 Chronicles 15:16]
  • 15. [2 Chronicles 34:4]
  • 16. 1 Kings 14:24; 1 Kings 15:12; See Deuteronomy 23:17
  • 17. [Ezekiel 16:16]
  • 18. [See ver. 6 above]
  • 19. 1 Kings 15:22
  • 20. See Ezekiel 44:10-14
  • 21. Isaiah 30:33; Jeremiah 7:31, 32; Jeremiah 19:6, 11-14
  • 22. See Joshua 15:8
  • 23. See Leviticus 18:21
  • 24. See 1 Kings 11:7
  • 25. [Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 32:29; Zephaniah 1:5]
  • 26. 2 Kings 21:5
  • 27. ver. 4, 6
  • 28. [1 Kings 11:7]
  • 29. See 1 Kings 11:5
  • 30. [Numbers 21:29]
  • 31. [1 Kings 11:5]
  • 32. See Exodus 23:24
  • 33. 1 Kgs. 12:28, 29, 33
  • 34. See 1 Kings 14:16
  • 35. ver. 6
  • 36. 1 Kings 13:2
  • 37. 1 Kings 13:1, 30
  • 38. 1 Kings 13:11, 31
  • 39. [2 Chronicles 34:6, 7]
  • 40. [2 Kings 11:18; Exodus 22:20; 1 Kings 18:40]
  • 41. 2 Chronicles 34:5
  • 42. See 2 Chronicles 35:1-17
  • 43. See Exodus 12:3-11; Leviticus 23:5, 8; Numbers 9:2-4; Deuteronomy 16:2-8
  • 44. 2 Chronicles 35:18, 19
  • 45. 2 Kings 21:6; See Leviticus 19:31
  • 46. See Genesis 31:19
  • 47. 2 Kings 21:11, 21
  • 48. Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:11
  • 49. 2 Kings 22:8
  • 50. [2 Kings 18:5]
  • 51. 2 Kings 21:11; 2 Kings 24:3, 4; Jeremiah 15:4
  • 52. 2 Kings 17:18, 20; 2 Kings 18:11; 2 Kings 21:13
  • 53. See 2 Kings 21:4
  • 54. For ver. 29, 30, see 2 Chronicles 35:20-24
  • 55. Jeremiah 46:2
  • 56. [Judges 5:19; Zechariah 12:11]
  • 57. [2 Kings 9:28]
  • 58. [See ver. 29 above]
  • 59. For ver. 30-34, see 2 Chronicles 36:1-4
  • 60. [1 Chronicles 3:15; Jeremiah 22:11]
  • 61. 2 Kings 24:18
  • 62. [2 Kings 24:9, 19]
  • 63. [See ver. 29 above]
  • 64. 2 Kings 25:6, 20, 21; Jeremiah 39:5, 6; Jeremiah 52:9, 10, 26, 27
  • 65. See 1 Kings 8:65
  • 66. [See ver. 29 above]
  • 67. [2 Kings 24:17; Daniel 1:7]
  • 68. Jeremiah 22:11, 12; [Ezekiel 19:3, 4]
  • 69. ver. 33
  • 70. 2 Chronicles 36:5
  • 71. [See ver. 32 above]

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. Hebrew might cause his son or daughter to pass through the fire for Molech
  • [b]. The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
  • [c]. Hebrew pieces from there
  • [d]. Septuagint broke in pieces its stones
  • [e]. Hebrew called
  • [f]. A talent was about 75 pounds or 34 kilograms

Chapter Summary


This chapter treats of Josiah's reading the book of the law, and of him and the people renewing the covenant with God, 2Ki 23:1-3, and of his removing idols and idolatry in every shape, and witchcraft, out of the land, which he did in the sincerity of his heart, 2Ki 23:4-25, yet the wrath of God was still determined upon the land, 2Ki 23:26-28 and Josiah was taken away by an untimely death, 2Ki 23:29,30 and was succeeded by two sons of his, one after another, whose reigns were wicked, 2Ki 23:31-37.

2 Kings 23 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.