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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Chronicles 34



Verse 4

2 Chronicles 34:4. Images that were on high Or, solar statues. Or, temples dedicated to the fire.

Verse 14

2 Chronicles 34:14. A book of the law—given by Moses See note on 2 Kings 22:8. The word given is not in the Hebrew. It is literally, A book of the law of Jehovah, by the hand of Moses. It is scarcely possible for words more naturally to describe a book written by Moses himself, or to vouch more fully that the manuscript of the law at this time found was in the hand-writing of Moses: and though there are fifteen places in the Old Testament (Joshua 8:31-32. 1 Kings 2:3. 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Kings 23:25. 2 Chronicles 23:18; 2 Chronicles 25:4; 2 Chronicles 30:16; 2 Chronicles 35:12. Ezra 3:2; Ezra 6:18. Nehemiah 13:1. Daniel 11:13 and Malachi 4:4.) which contain the words, law of Moses, and book of Moses; yet this one place only mentions the book of the law in the hand or by the hand of Moses: the reason of which seems to be, that the other places speak of that law in general, but this place speaks of one particular manuscript, namely, the original. As to the point of age, this manuscript might certainly be the original, distance of time leaving it very possible; for the most extended chronology does not make the interval from the death of Moses to the death of Josiah, 950 years; an age exceeded by that of several manuscripts preserved at this day. Kennicott's Diss. vol. 2: p. 299.

Verse 19

2 Chronicles 34:19. The king—rent his clothes If there were several copies of the law in Judah taken from the venerable original of Moses, under the inspection of the high-priest or some prophet, how are we to account for the surprise expressed by Josiah and the people, at his reading the copy found by Hilkiah? To this I answer, that their ignorance of the law may fairly and fully be accounted for from the history of the preceding reigns; only from recollecting what a very idolatrous king Manasseh was for fifty-five years; and that he wanted neither power nor inclination to destroy the copies of the law, had they not been secreted by the servants of the true God. The law, after being so long concealed, would be unknown to almost all the Jews; and thus the solemn reading of it by good king Josiah (to whom it might be discovered safely) would awaken his own and the people's earnest attention. The copy produced was probably the original, written by Moses, which would excite still greater veneration: but if it were not, we cannot doubt that it had the proper marks of authenticity. And it must be added, that copies of the Pentateuch had providentially been long before this time in the hands of their enemies, the Israelites and Samaritans: which single circumstance shews the impracticability of what some had been pleased to intimate, that Hilkiah might introduce a spurious Pentateuch; so that, upon the whole, there might be many copies of the law extant in Judah, and the copy produced by Hilkiah may have been the autograph or hand-writing of Moses, notwithstanding this objection. Kennicott's Diss. vol. 2 p. 301.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Josiah began very young to reign, and, probably, during his minority things continued as his ungodly father had left them: but in his sixteenth year God was pleased graciously to work upon his heart; and, notwithstanding the bad education he may be supposed to have had, he then began to seek the Lord; and when, in the twelfth year of his reign, he took the government into his own hands, he resolutely set himself to purge out the abominations of his kingdom. Nor did he merely remove them, as Manasseh did, but utterly destroyed them; reduced the idols and groves to dust, and cast it on the graves of the dead; defiled the altars by burning the dead bones of their priests upon them, and then beat them in pieces; and this reformation he carried on, not only through Judah, but through the cities of Israel, going round himself to see the work accomplished. Note; (1.) Those whom God chooses for a great work, he generally calls in the days of their youth. (2.) The business which the master himself attends, will be well done.

2nd, When the house of God was thoroughly purged, and he had returned from his progress, (which he seems to have repeated, 2 Kings 24 after the temple-service was re-established,) he gave orders for the repair of the house of the Lord, whom he had chosen for his God. By his command, money was collected, workmen of approved fidelity hired, and officers of the Levites appointed to see the work well done. Note; (1.) A ruinous church is a sad symptom of an irreligious people. (2.) An honest labourer is a worthy character.

3rdly, Concerning the book of the law, we may further observe, (1.) That tenderness of heart in hearing God's word is a gracious symptom of a penitent or converted soul. (2.) God's providence in thus preserving his written word is, even to this hour, matter of thankfulness. (3.) When God gives us his book, let us not neglect to examine it. Wilful ignorance is wilful sin. (4.) To tremble at God's word, and, under conviction of our sins, to humble our souls before him, is the way to obtain mercy; while wrath certain and terrible awaits the hardened sinner.

4thly, Concerned not less for his people, than for himself, Josiah assembles them to hear the words of God's book, and, by his example and command, engages them to renew their covenant with God. And what he so faithfully began, he persevered in all his days; so that publicly, and in profession, the service of God was diligently maintained. But with many, indeed with far the greater part, the reformation, as appears by the prophets Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and Ezekiel, was hypocritical; and their sins were exceedingly aggravated, that with so good an example before them, and such means of grace, they chose their own delusions, and were unfaithful to their covenant. Note; The great concern of a good king will be, to make his subjects acquainted with God's word. (2.) We are bound by every tie of duty to cleave to God; but, unless our hearts be bound with cords of grace, all other bonds, or vows, or covenants, will be ineffectual. (3.) They who resist the means of grace, and continue unchanged under a preached gospel, fill up most grievously the measure of their iniquities.


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 34:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

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