2 Chronicles 34


Josiah reigns thirty-one years; destroys idolatry in Judah, as

also in Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon, and even to Naphtali, 1-7.

He begins to repair the temple, and collects money for the

purpose, and employs workmen, 8-13.

Hilkiah the priest finds the book of the law in the temple,

which is read by Shaphan before the king, 14-19.

He is greatly troubled, and consults Huldah the prophetess,


Her exhortation, and message to the king, 23-28.

He causes it to be read to the elders of Judah, and they make

a covenant with God, 29, 32.

Josiah reforms every abomination, and the people serve God all

his days, 33.


Verse 2. He declined neither to the right hand, nor to the

left.] He never swerved from God and truth; he never omitted

what he knew to be his duty to God and his kingdom; he carried on

his reformation with a steady hand; timidity did not prevent him

from going far enough; and zeal did not lead him beyond due

bounds. He walked in the golden mean, and his moderation was known

unto all men. He went neither to the right nor to the left, he

looked inward, looked forward, and looked upward. Reader, let

the conduct of this pious youth be thy exemplar through life.

Verse 4. The altars of Baalim] How often have these been broken

down, and how soon set up again! We see that the religion of a

land is as the religion of its king. If the king were idolatrous,

up went the altars, on them were placed the statues, and the smoke

of incense ascended in ceaseless clouds to the honour of that

which is vanity, and nothing to the world; on the other hand, when

the king was truly religious, down went the idolatrous altars,

broken in pieces were the images, and the sacrificial smoke

ascended only to the true God: in all these cases the people were

as one man with the king.

Verse 5. He burnt the bones of the priests] kumeraiya,

the kemarim, says the Targum. See this word explained, 2Ki 23:5.

Verse 6. The cities of Manasseh] Even those who were under the

government of the Israelitish king permitted their idols and

places of idolatry to be hewn down and destroyed: after the truth

was declared and acknowledged, the spade and the axe were employed

to complete the reformation.

Verse 9. And they returned to Jerusalem.] Instead of

vaiyashubu, "they returned," we should read yoshebey, "the

inhabitants;" a reading which is supported by many MSS., printed

editions, and all the versions, as well as by necessity and

common sense. See Clarke on 2Ch 19:8, where a similar

mistake is rectified.

Verse 12. All that could skill of instruments of music] Did the

musicians play on their several instruments to encourage and

enliven the workmen? Is not this a probable case from their

mention here? If this were really the case, instrumental music was

never better applied in any thing that refers to the worship of

God. It is fabled of Orpheus, a most celebrated musician, that

such was the enchanting harmony of his lyre, that he built the

city of Thebes by it: the stones and timbers danced to his

melody; and by the power of his harmony rose up, and took their

respective places in the different parts of the wall that was to

defend the city! This is fable; but as all fable is a

representation of truth, where is the truth and fact to which

this refers? How long has this question lain unanswered! But have

we not the answer now? It is known in general, that the cities of

Herculaneum and Pompeii were overwhelmed by an eruption of Mount

Vesuvius, about the seventy-ninth year of the Christian era. It is

also known that, in sinking for wells, the workmen of the king of

Naples lighted on houses, &c., of those overwhelmed cities; that

excavations have been carried on, and are now in the act of

being carried on, which are bringing daily to view various

utensils, pictures, and books, which have escaped the influence

of the burning lava; and that some of those parchment volumes have

been unrolled, and facsimiles of them engraved and published; and

that our late Prince Regent, afterwards George IV., king of Great

Britain, expended considerable sums of money annually in searching

for, unrolling, and deciphering those rolls. This I record to his

great credit as the lover of science and literature. Now, among

the books that have been unrolled and published, is a Greek

Treatise on Music, by Philodemus; and here we have the truth

represented which lay hidden under the fables of Orpheus and

Amphion. This latter was a skilful harper, who was frequently

employed by the Theban workmen to play to them while engaged in

their labour, and for which they rewarded him out of the proceeds

of that labor. So powerful and pleasing was his music, that

they went lightly and comfortably through their work; and time and

labour passed on without tedium or fatigue; and the walls and

towers were speedily raised. This, by a metaphor, was attributed

to the dulcet sounds of his harp; and poetry seized on and

embellished it, and mythology incorporated it with her fabulous

system. Orpheus is the same. By his skill in music he drew stones

and trees after him, i.e., he presided over and encouraged the

workmen by his skill in music. Yet how simple and natural is the

representation given by this ancient Greek writer of such matters!

See Philodemus, Col. viii. and ix. Orpheus, and Amphion, by

their music, moved the workmen to diligence and activity, and

lessened and alleviated their toil. May we not suppose, then, that

skilful musicians among the Levites did exercise their art among

the workmen who were employed in the repairs of the house of the

Lord? May I be allowed a gentle transition? Is it not the power

and harmony of the grace of Jesus Christ in the Gospel, that

convert, change, and purify the souls of men, and prepare them for

and place them in that part of the house of God, the New

Jerusalem? A most beautiful and chaste allusion to this fact and

fable is made by an eminent poet, while praying for his own

success as a Christian minister, who uses all his skill as a poet

and musician for the glory of God:-

Thy own musician, Lord, inspire,

And may my consecrated lyre

Repeat the psalmist's part!

His Son and thine reveal in me,

And fill with sacred melody

The fibres of my heart.

So shall I charm the listening throng,

And draw the LIVING STONES along

By Jesus' tuneful name.

The living stones shall dance, shall rise,

And FORM a CITY in the skies,

The New Jerusalem.


Verse 14. Found a book of the law] See on 2Ki 22:8.

Verse 22. Huldah the prophetess] See on 2Ki 22:14.

Verse 27. Because thine heart was tender] "Because thy heart was

melted, and thou hast humbled thyself in the sight of the WORD of

the Lord, meymera daya, when thou didst hear his words,

yath pithgamoi, against this place," &c. Here the

Targum most evidently distinguishes between meymera, the

PERSONAL WORD, and pithgam, a word spoken or expressed.

Verse 28. Gathered to thy grave in peace]

See particularly Clarke's note on "2Ki 22:20".

Verse 30. The king went] See on 2Ki 23:1.

Verse 31. Made a covenant] See on 2Ki 23:3. And see the notes

on that and the preceding chapter, for the circumstances detailed


Verse 32. To stand to it.] It is likely that he caused them all

to arise when he read the terms of the covenant, and thus testify

their approbation of the covenant itself, and their resolution to

observe it faithfully and perseveringly.

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