2 Kings 22


Josiah succeeds Amon his father, and reigns thirty-one years,

1, 2.

He repairs the breaches of the temple, 3-7.

Hilkiah finds the book of the law tn the temple, 8.

It is read by Shaphan the scribe, before the king and his

servants, 9, 10.

The king, greatly affected, sends to inquire of Huldah the

prophetess, 11-13.

She delivers an afflictive prophecy concerning the evils that

were coming upon the land, 14-17.

But promises Josiah that these evils shall not come in his

time, 18-20.


Verse 1. Josiah was eight years old] He was one of the best, if

not the best, of all the Jewish kings since the time of David. He

began well, continued well, and ended well.

Verse 4. That he may sum the silver] As Josiah began to seek the

Lord as soon as he began to reign, we may naturally conclude that

the worship of God that was neglected and suppressed by his

father, was immediately restored; and the people began their

accustomed offerings to the temple. Ten years therefore had

elapsed since these offerings began; no one had, as yet, taken

account of them; nor were they applied to the use for which they

were given, viz., the repairing the breaches of the temple.

Verse 8. I have found the book of the law] Was this the

autograph of Moses? It is very probable that it was, for in the

parallel place; 2Ch 34:14, it is said to be the book of

the law of the Lord by Moses. It is supposed to be that part of

Deuteronomy (xxviii., xxix., xxx., and xxxi.,) which contains the

renewing of the covenant in the plains of Moab, and which contains

the most terrible invectives against the corrupters of God's word

and worship.

The rabbins say that Ahaz, Manasseh, and Amon endeavored to

destroy all the copies of the law, and this only was saved by

having been buried under a paving-stone. It is scarcely reasonable

to suppose that this was the only copy of the law that was found

in Judea; for even if we grant that Ahaz, Manasseh, and Amon had

endeavored to destroy all the books of the law, yet they could not

have succeeded so as to destroy the whole. Besides, Manasseh

endeavoured after his conversion to restore every part of the

Divine worship, and in this he could have done nothing without the

Pentateuch; and the succeeding reign of Amon was too short to give

him opportunity to undo every thing that his penitent father had

reformed. Add to all these considerations, that in the time of

Jehoshaphat teaching from the law was universal in the land, for

he set on foot an itinerant ministry, in order to instruct the

people fully: for "he sent to his princes to teach in the cities

of Judah; and with them he sent Levites and priests; and they went

about through all the cities of Judah, and taught the people,

having the book of the Lord with them;" see 2Ch 17:7-9. And if

there be any thing wanting to show the improbability of the thing,

it must be this, that the transactions mentioned here took place

in the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah, who had, from the

time he came to the throne, employed himself in the restoration of

the pure worship of God; and it is not likely that during these

eighteen years he was without a copy of the Pentateuch. The simple

fact seems to be this, that this was the original of the covenant

renewed by Moses with the people in the plains of Moab, and which

he ordered to be laid up beside the ark; (De 31:26;) and now

being unexpectedly found, its antiquity, the occasion of its being

made, the present circumstances of the people, the imperfect state

in which the reformation was as yet, after all that had been done,

would all concur to produce the effect here mentioned on the mind

of the pious Josiah.

Verse 14. Went unto Huldah the prophetess] This is a most

singular circumstance: At this time Jeremiah was certainly a

prophet in Israel, but it is likely he now dwelt at Anathoth. and

could not be readily consulted; Zephaniah also prophesied under

this reign, but probably he had not yet begun; Hilkiah was high

priest, and the priest's lips should retain knowledge. Shaphan was

scribe, and must have been conversant in sacred affairs to have

been at all fit for his office; and yet Huldah, a prophetess, of

whom we know nothing but by this circumstance, is consulted on the

meaning of the book of the law; for the secret of the Lord was

neither with Hilkiah the high priest, Shaphan the scribe, nor any

other of the servants of the king, or ministers of the temple!

We find from this, and we have many facts in all ages to

corroborate it, that a pontiff, a pope, a bishop, or a priest,

may, in some cases, not possess the true knowledge of God; and

that a simple woman, possessing the life of God in her soul, may

have more knowledge of the Divine testimonies than many of those

whose office it is to explain and enforce them.

On this subject Dr. Priestley in his note makes the following

very judicious remark:-"It pleased God to distinguish several

women with the spirit of prophecy, as well as other great

attainments, to show that in his sight, and especially in things

of a spiritual nature, there is no essential pre-eminence in the

male sex, though in some things the female be subject to the


Verse 17. My wrath shall be kindled] The decree is gone forth;

Jerusalem shall be delivered into the hands of its enemies; the

people will revolt more and more; towards them longsuffering is

useless; the wrath of God is kindled, and shall not be quenched.

This was a dreadful message.

Verse 19. Because thine heart was tender] Because thou hast

feared the Lord, and trembled at his word and hast wept before me,

l have heard thee, so far that these evils shall not come upon the

land in thy lifetime.

Verse 20. Thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace] During

thy life none of these calamities shall fall upon the people, and

no adversary shall be permitted to disturb the peace of Judea, and

thou shalt die in peace with God. But was Josiah gathered to the

grave in peace? Is it not said, 2Ki 23:29, that Pharaoh-nechoh

slew him at Megiddo? On this we may remark, that the Assyrians and

the Jews were at peace; that Josiah might feel it his duty to

oppose the Egyptian king going against his friend and ally, and

endeavour to prevent him from passing through his territories; and

that in his endeavours to oppose him he was mortally wounded at

Megiddo: but certainly was not killed there; for his servants put

him in his second chariot and brought him to Jerusalem, where he

died in peace. See 2Ch 35:24. So that, however we take the place

here, we shall find that the words of Huldah were true: he did die

in peace, and was gathered to his fathers in peace.

FROM the account in the above chapter, where we have this

business detailed, we find that Josiah should not have meddled in

the quarrel between the Egyptian and the Assyrian kings, for God

had given a commission to the former against the latter; but he

did it in error, and suffered for it. But this unfortunate end of

this pious man does not at all impeach the credit of Huldah; he

died in peace in his own kingdom. He died in peace with God, and

there was neither war nor desolation in his land: nor did the king

of Egypt proceed any farther against the Jews during his life; for

he said, "What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come

not against thee, but the house wherewith I have war; for God

commanded me to make haste: forbear then from meddling with God,

who is with me, that he destroy thee not. Nevertheless, Josiah

would not turn his face from him, and hearkened not to the words

of Nechoh, from the mouth of God. And the archers shot at King

Josiah: and the king said, Bear me away, for I am sore wounded.

And his servants took him out of that chariot, and put him in the

second chariot, and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died and

was buried in the sepulchre of his fathers;" 2Ch 35:21-24.

It seems as if the Egyptian king had brought his troops by sea

to Caesarea, and wished to cross the Jordan about the southern

point of the sea of Tiberias, that he might get as speedily as

possible into the Assyrian dependencies; and that he took this

road, for God, as he said, had commanded him to make haste.

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