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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

2 Chronicles 23

 

 

Verse 1

XXIII.

THE FALL OF ATHALIAH, AND SUCCESSION OF JOASH.
(Comp. 2 Kings 11:4-20.)

(1) Jehoiada strengthened himself.—Showed himself strong or courageous, behaved boldly (1 Samuel 4:9). The chronicler has substituted a favourite expression (hithchazzaq) for the term used in Kings, “Jehoiada sent.”

The captains of hundreds.—Their names, added here, are not given in 2 Kings 11:4. On the other hand, Kings reads, “the captains of the hundreds of the Carians (or body-guard) and the Runners (or couriers, i.e., royal messengers) “—terms which were probably obscure to the chronicler.

Azariah . . . and Azariah.—Heb.,’Azaryâh . . . and ‘Azaryâhû. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 21:2.) These names are introduced in the chronicler s well-known manner (by the prefix le, marking the object of the verb). His style is very visible in the additions to the narrative as compared with Kings.


Verse 2

(2) And they went about in Judah.—2 Chronicles 17:9; 1 Samuel 7:16.

The chief of the fathers.—The heads of the clans, or chiefs of houses.

This and the next verse are added by the chronicler. In Kings the narrative passes at once to the charge of 2 Chronicles 23:4 : “This is the thing that ye shall do,” which is there addressed to the “captains of the hundreds,” or centurions of the royal guard. In fact, the parallel text is nearly if not altogether silent as to the part played by the Levites in the Restoration; and the chronicler appears to have supplemented that account with materials derived from other authorities, and perhaps from Levitical traditions. That he should have done so, is only consistent with his general practice and the special purpose of his history. At the same time, allowing for certain characteristic additions, interpretations, and substitutions of phrase for phrase, which will be specified in these Notes, the narrative of the chronicler absolutely coincides with that of Kings, treating of the same events, and rigidly observing the same limits, as well as maintaining a general identity of language. We conclude, therefore, that in this case, as elsewhere, the chronicler has used as the groundwork of his relation a historical text which contained sections substantially identical with the present narratives of Kings, but accompanied by numerous details not found in those books.


Verse 3

(3) And all the congregation.—Of the assembled Levites and family chiefs, as well as the royal guard.

Made a covenant with the king.—Comp. 2 Kings 11:4 : “And he made a covenant for them,” i.e., imposed a compact on them, made them swear fidelity to the young prince. (Comp. also 2 Samuel 3:21; 2 Samuel 5:3.)

The king’s son shall reign.—Or, Behold the king’s son! Let him be king.

As the Lord hath said.—Spake concerning the sons of David, in the oracle delivered by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 7:4-17).


Verse 4

(4) This is the thing that ye shall do.—2 Kings 11:5 : “And he charged them saying, This is the thing,” (&c. There he charges the captains of the guard as being the leaders of the conspiracy.

A third.—The third. So 2 Chronicles 23:5. “The third of you who come in on the Sabbath” is read also in 2 Kings 11:5. The chronicler has added the explanatory words: “belonging to the priests and to the Levites.” This can hardly be harmonised with 2 Kings 12:4-12 - The chronicler may have misunderstood the words, which in the older account designate the royal guard; and it might have appeared to him impossible that any but members of the sacred orders would be called together in the Temple by the high priest. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 23:5-6 with 2 Kings 11:4 : “brought them into the house of the Lord.”) But he may also have had before him an account in which the part taken by the sacerdotal caste in the revolution was made much more of than m the account of Kings. Moreover the priests and Levites would be likely to play a considerable part in a movement tending to the overthrow of a cultus antagonistic to their own, especially when that movement originated with their own spiritual head, and was transacted in the sanctuary to which they were attached. The chronicler, therefore, cannot with fairness be accused of “arbitrary alterations,” unless it be presupposed that his sole authority in writing this account was the Second Book of Kings. The priests and Levites used to do duty in the Temple from Sabbath to Sabbath, so that one course relieved another at the end of each week. (See 1 Chronicles 24; Luke 1:5.) That the companies of the royal guards succeeded each other on duty in the same fashion is clear from the parallel narrative.

Shall be porters of the doors.—Warders of the thresholds, that is, of the Temple (1 Chronicles 9:19; 1 Chronicles 9:22). 1 Kings 11:5 says: “The third of you that come in on the Sabbath, they shall keep the guard of the king’s house; “the latter part of which answers to the first sentence of the next verse: “And the third part (shall be) at the king’s house.” The king’s “house” in Kings means the royal palace; the chronicler appears to mean by it his temporary dwelling within the Temple precincts.


Verse 5

(5) And a third part at the gate of the foundation.—2 Kings 11:6 reads: “the gate Sûr,” which appears there as a gate of the palace. (LXX., “the middle gate;” Syr. and Arab., “the Butchers’ gate”)

And all the people shall be in the courts of the house of the Lord.—This appears to be written from the point of view of a strict legalist, according to which none might enter the holy house itself save the priests. It looks like a protest against 2 Kings 11:4, where it is said that Jehoiada brought the centurions of the royal guard into the house of the Lord.


Verse 6

(6) But let none come into the house of the Lord.—This verse is not read in Kings. Apparently it is merely an emphatic repetition of the direction of the last verse that all the people were to remain in the courts, and not to break the law by presuming to enter the holy chambers. In 2 Kings 11:7 we read instead: “And the two parts among you, all that go out on the Sabbath, they shall keep the watch of the house of the Lord, with regard to the king.” The last words of the present verse, “And all the people shall keep the watch of the Lord” repeat a portion of this, but in a different sense: “Let all the people carefully observe the legal rule against entering the sanctuary.”


Verse 7

(7) And the Levites shall compass.—Kings, “And ye (i.e., the centurions of the royal guard) shall compass.” (See Note on 2 Chronicles 23:4.) The chronicler characteristically dwells on the share of the Levites in the matter; but he does not expressly exclude the royal guard; and it is utterly unfair to allege that he has metamorphosed the guardsmen of Kings into Levites, “in order to divert to the priesthood the honour which properly belonged to the Praetorians” (Thenius). The truth may perhaps be that the high priest Jehoiada brought about a combination of the royal guard with the Levitical warders of the Temple; and that the united body acted under the command of the five centurions of the guard.

Cometh into the house.—2 Kings 11:8 has, “into the ranks;” a rare word (sedçrôth), occurring only four times, viz., in this narrative thrice, and once in 1 Kings 6:8 (in a different sense).

But be ye.—So Kings. But some MSS. and the LXX., Vulg., Targ., and Arab. read here: “and let them (i.e., the Levites) be.” (See Note on 2 Kings 11:8.)


Verse 8

(8) The Levites and all Judah.—2 Kings 11:9 reads, “the captains of the hundreds.” The rest of the verse is the same in both narratives so far as the words “go out on the Sabbath.”

For Jehoiada the priest dismissed not the courses.—The companies of priests and Levites, whose weekly duties had been fulfilled, and who under ordinary circumstances would have been formally “dismissed” by the high priest, were detained at the present emergency as auxiliaries to their brethren who were “coming in.”

Instead of this clause Kings has: “And they came to Jehoiada the priest,” i.e., the captains of the hundreds came, to him; a remark which quite naturally preludes the statement of the next verse both there and here.


Verse 9

(9) Moreover.—And. This verse is essentially identical with 2 Kings 11:10 : “And the priest delivered to the captains of hundreds the spear and the shields that had been king David’s, which were in the house of Jehovah.” The chronicler has added Jehoiada and the bucklers, and turned the spear into spears, rightly according to most critics.

Spears, and bucklers, and shields.—Each word has the article in the Hebrew.

That had been king David’s.—Comp. 1 Chronicles 18:7; 1 Chronicles 18:11; also 1 Samuel 22:10; 1 Samuel 17:7.


Verse 10

(10) And he set all the people.—2 Kings 9:11 : “And the Couriers stood.” By “the people,” the chronicler obviously means, not the mass of the congregation, but the armed body who were to “compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand” (2 Chronicles 23:7).

His weapon.—Or, his missiles, arms. LXX., ὅπλο α. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 32:5.) Kings has a commoner word. The remainder of the verse is identical with its parallel.

Along by.—Towards the altar.


Verse 11

(11) Then.—And. So in 2 Chronicles 23:14; 2 Chronicles 23:17.

They brought out . . . and put.—2 Kings 11:12 : “he (Jehoiada) brought out . . . and put.”

Put upon him the crown, and gave him the testimony.—Literally, put upon him the crown (nçzer; Exodus 29:6; 2 Samuel 1:10) and the law (ha-’êdûth; Exodus 25:21-22; Exodus 31:18). Was a scroll of the ten words wrapped round the diadem, or laid on the king’s shoulder? (Comp. Vulg., “imposuerunt ei diadema testimonium dederuntque in manu ejus tenendam legem;” as if a copy of the law was solemnly presented to the newly-crowned king.)

Jehoiada and his sons.—The chronicler adds this to make it clear that it was the priests who anointed the king. (Comp. 1 Kings 1:39.)


Verse 12

THE EXECUTION OF ATHALIAH (2 Chronicles 23:12-21).
(See 2 Kings 11:13-20.)

(12) Now when Athaliah . . . she came.—And Athaliah heard . . . and she came.

The noise of the people running and praising the king.—Or, the noise of the people, the Couriers, and those who were acclaiming the king. (1 Kings 11:13, “the noise of the runners, the people;” where the people may be an inadvertent repetition, as the same expression follows directly. The rest of the verse is the same as here.)


Verse 13

(13) Stood.—Was standing.

At his pillar.—On his stand. So 2 Kings 23:3. Kings here has, “on the stand;” LXX., ἐπὶ τῆς στάσεως αὐτοῦ; Vulg., “stantem super gradum.”

At the entering in.—In the entry. LXX., ἐπὶ τῆς εἰσόδου. Kings reads, “according to the custom.” So the Syriac and Arabic here.

And the princes.—See Note on 2 Kings 11:14. Some Hebrew MSS. here also read “singers;” one MS. has “Couriers.”

Rejoiced.—Were rejoicing and sounding.

Also the singers with instruments of music, and such as taught to sing praise.—And the minstrels (or musicians) with the instruments of music, and men leading the chanting (literally, teaching to praise). This is one of the writer’s characteristic additions to the older text.

Said.—Kings, “cried,” which is more original.


Verse 14

(14) Then.—And. This verse is the same as 2 Kings 11:15, with a few formal variations.

Brought out.—Kings, “commanded.” The Heb. words are so nearly alike that one may easily be a corruption of the other. The Syriac and Arabic agree with Kings. The LXX. gives both readings.

Have her forth of the ranges.—Make her go out between the ranks of guards.

Let him be slain.—An explanation of the form used in Kings (the infinitive).

Slay her not.—Ye must not slay her. Kings, “Let her not be slain.” So the Syriac here.


Verse 15

(15) So they laid hands on her.—Rather, And they made way for her on both sides. LXX., καὶ ἔδωκαν αὐτῇ ἄνεσιν. Syriac, “And they made room for her.”

To the entering of the horse gate.—Kings reads: “And she went by the way of the entry of the horses into the king’s house.” Syriac, “And she entered into the way of the entry of the horses, and was killed there.”


Verse 16

RENEWAL OF THE THEOCRATIC COVENANT AND ABOLITION OF BAAL-WORSHIP
(2 Chronicles 23:16-21).

(16) A covenant between . . . the king.—A slight but characteristic variation from 2 Kings 11:17 : “the covenant between Jehovah and the king and the people, that they should become a people for Jehovah.”

Between him.—Or rather, himself. The high priest is thus regarded as representing Jehovah in the transaction; and the apparent irreverence of making the Deity a direct co-partner with men in a compact is avoided.

Be the Lord’s people.—Literally, become a people for Jehovah. Kings adds: “and between the king and the people,” a not unimportant clause, for it relates to certain limitations of the royal prerogative, which were usually agreed upon at the beginning of a reign (2 Samuel 3:21; 2 Samuel 5:3; 1 Samuel 10:25).


Verse 17

(17) Brake it down.—Pulled it down.

And brake.—And its altars, &c., they broke in pieces. Kings adds, “thoroughly.” (See 2 Kings 11:18.)


Verse 18

(18) Also Jehoiada appointed.—This and the next verse are a thoroughly characteristic expansion of the brief notice: “And the priest set officers over the house of the Lord” (Kings). Render, “And Jehoiada put the offices of the house of the Lord into the hand of the priests the Levites.” Syriac, “And Jehoiada made prefects (shallîtônê) in the house of the Lord, and the priests and Levites.” The LXX. renders: “And Jehoiada the priest took in hand the works of the house of the Lord, by the hand of priests and Levites.”

Whom David had distributed.—Divided into courses or classes (1 Chronicles 23:6; 1 Chronicles 23:24-25).

In the house.—For the house.

As it is written.—A reference to the Pentateuch. (Comp. Ezra 3:2.)

With rejoicing and with singing, as it was ordained by David.—See the margin, and comp. the Notes on 1 Chronicles 25:2; 1 Chronicles 25:6; 1 Chronicles 23:5.

The meaning of all this is that the high priest now restored the regular services of the Temple, as arranged by David, which had been neglected or at least irregularly conducted during the six years of Athaliah’s usurpation.


Verse 19

(19) And he set.—Stationed, or appointed.

At the gates.—Or, over the gates. (See 1 Chronicles 23:5; 1 Chronicles 26:1-19.)

That none which was unclean . . . should enter.—Comp. 2 Chronicles 23:6, and Leviticus 5:7; Numbers 5:19; Deuteronomy 24:1-3; Deuteronomy 24:10-11.


Verse 20

(20) And he took.—See 2 Kings 11:19.

The nobles, and the governors of the people.—Kings has: “And the Carians and the Couriers.” (See Note on 2 Chronicles 23:1.)

The nobles.—Comp. Psalms 16:3.

Governors of the people.—Comp. Isaiah 28:14. These “nobles and governors” are perhaps “the heads of the clans” of 2 Chronicles 23:2, and “the princes of 2 Chronicles 23:13; though the phrase certainly looks like an attempt at explaining the obscure titles of the royal guard.

And they came through the high gate.—Kings, “And they came by the way of the Couriers’ Gate.” (See Note on 2 Chronicles 23:5, supra.) The Couriers’ Gate may have been called the High Gate, as being the grand entrance to the palace. A gate of the Temple has the same designation in 2 Chronicles 27:3.

 


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 23:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-chronicles-23.html. 1905.

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