NOTES ON The Second Book of KINGS

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV

The former book of Kings had an illustrious beginning in the glory of the kingdom of Israel. This has a melancholy conclusion, in the desolations of the kingdom of Israel first, and then of Judah. Here is Elijah fetching fire from heaven, and ascending in fire to heaven, chap. 1, 2. Elisha working many miracles, chap. 3 - 7. Hazael anointed, for the correction of Israel, Jehu, for the destruction of the house of Ahab and of Baal, chap. 8 - 10. The reigns of several kings, both of Judah and Israel, chap. 11 - 16. The captivity of the ten tribes, chap. 17. The glorious reign of Hezekiah, chap. 18 - 20. The wicked reign of Manasseh, and the good one of Josiah, chap. 21 - 23. The destruction of Jerusalem by the king of Babylon, chap. 24, 25.

Chapter I

The rebellion of Moab, ver. 1. The message of Ahaziah to Baal - zebub, ver. 2. God's message to him, ver. 3 - 8. The destruction of the men sent to seize Elijah, ver. 9 - 12. He spares the third messenger, and goes to the king, ver. 13 - 16. Ahaziah's death, ver. 17 18.

1 Moab - This had been subdued by David, as Edom was; and upon the division of his kingdom, Moab was adjoined to that of Israel, and Edom to that of Judah, each to that kingdom upon which it bordered. But when the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were weak and forsaken by God, they took that opportunity to revolt from them; Moab here, and Edom a little after.
2 Chamber - In which, the lattess might be left to convey light into the lower room. But the words may be rendered, through the battlements (or through the lattess in the battlements) of the roof of the house. Where, standing and looking through, and leaning upon this lattess, it broke, and he fell down into the court or garden. Baal - zebub - Properly, the god of flies; an idol so called, because it was supposed to deliver those people from flies; Jupiter and Hercules were called by a like name among the Grecians. And it is evident, both from sacred and prophane histories, That the idol - gods, did sometimes through God's permission, give the answers; though they were generally observed, even by the Heathens themselves, to be dark and doubtful.
3 And say - Dost thou not cast contempt on the God of Israel, as if he were either ignorant of the event of thy disease, or unable to give thee relief; and as if Baal - zebub had more skill and power than he?
5 Why, &c. - Before you have been at Ekron: which he knew by their quick return.
8 An hairy man - His garment was rough and hairy, such as were worn by eminent persons in Greece, in ancient times; and were the proper habit of the prophets. Girdle - As John the baptist also had. That by his very outward habit, he might represent Elijah, in whose spirit and power he came.
9 Man of God - So he calls him by way of scorn. Come - The king commands thee to come to him: which if thou refuseth, I am to carry thee by force.
10 Let fire, &c. - Elijah did this, not to secure himself, he could have done that some other way: nor to revenge himself, for it was not his own cause that he acted in: but to prove his mission, and to reveal the wrath of God from heaven against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.
11 And said - He discovers more petulancy than the former; and shews, how little he was moved by the former example.
13 Besought - Expressing both reverence to his person, and a dread of God's judgments. There is nothing to be got by contending with God: if we would prevail with him, it must be by supplication. And those are wise who learn submission from the fatal consequences of obstinacy in others.
16 He said - To his very face. Nor durst the king lay hands upon him, being daunted with the prophet's presence, and confidence; and affrighted by the late dreadful evidence of his power with God.
17 Jehoram - His brother. The son of Jehoshaphat - Jehoshaphat, in his seventeenth year, when he went to Ahab, and with him to Ramoth - Gilead, appointed his son Jehoram his vice - roy, and (in case of his death) his successor. In the second year from that time, when Jehoram was thus made vice - king in his father's stead; this Jehoram, Ahab's son, began to reign: and in the fifth year of the reign of this Jehoram son of Ahab, which was about the twenty - fourth year of Jehoshaphat's reign, Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat was made king of Judah, together with his father.

Chapter II

Elisha keeps close to Elijah, and walks with him through Jordan, ver. 1 - 8. Elijah is taken up, and Elisha laments the loss of him, ver. 9 - 12. He divides Jordan, ver. 13, 14. Is acknowledged by the sons of the prophets, ver. 15. Who send to seek Elijah, ver. 16 - 18. Elisha heals the unwholesome waters, ver. 19 - 22. Destroys the mocking children, ver. 23 - 25

1 About to take, &c. - It is supposed, (tho' not expressly revealed) that Elijah flourished about twenty years, before he was translated, body and soul, to heaven, only undergoing such a change, as was necessary to qualify him for being an inhabitant in that world of Spirits. By translating him, God gave in that dark and degenerate age, a very sensible proof of another life, together with a type of the ascension of Christ, and the opening of the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
2 Tarry here - This he desires, either,
  1. That being left alone, he might better prepare himself for his great change. Or,
  2. Out of indulgence to Elisha, that he might not be overwhelmed with grief at so sad a sight.
  3. That he might try his love, and whet his desire to accompany him; it being highly convenient for God's honour, that there should be witnesses of so glorious a translation.
To Beth - el - Which was truth, tho' not the whole truth: for he was to go a far longer journey. But he was first to go to Beth - el, as also to Jericho, to the schools of the prophets there, that he might comfort, and strengthen their hearts in God's work, and give them his dying counsels.
3 And said - This was revealed to some of the sons of the prophets, and by them to the whole college. In the kingdom of Judah they had priest and Levites, and the temple service. The want of these in the kingdom of Israel, God graciously made up by these colleges, where men were trained up and employed, in the exercises of religion, and whither good people resorted, to solemnize the appointed feasts, with prayer and hearing, tho' they had not conveniencies for sacrifice. From thy head - Heb. from above thy head: which phrase may respect, either, the manner of sitting in schools, where the scholar sat at his master's feet. Or, the manner of Elijah's translation, which was to be by a power sent from heaven, to take him up thither. Hold you your peace - Do not aggravate my grief, nor divert me with any unseasonable discourses. He speaks as one that was himself, and would have them calm and sedate, and with awful silence waiting the event.
7 To view - To observe this great event, Elijah's translation to heaven, which they expected every moment: and whereof they desired to be spectators, not to satisfy their own curiosity, but that they might be witnesses of it to others.
8 Smote the waters - These waters of old yielded to the ark, now to the prophet's mantle; which to those that wanted the ark, was an equivalent token of God's presence. When God will take his children to himself, death is the Jordan, which they must pass through. And they find a way thro' it, a safe and comfortable way. The death of Christ has divided those waters, that the ransomed of the Lord may pass over.
9 A double portion - Or, rather double to what the rest of the sons of the prophets receive at thy request. He alludes to the double portion of the first - born, Deut 21:17. But though Elisha desired no more, yet God gave him more than he desired or expected; and he seems to have had a greater portion of the gifts of God's Spirit, than even Elijah had.
10 A hard thing - A rare and singular blessing, which I cannot promise thee, which only God can give; and he gives it only when, and to whom he pleaseth. If thou seest - This sign he proposed, not without the direction of God's Spirit, that hereby he might engage him more earnestly to wait, and more fervently to pray for this mercy.
11 A chariot of fire - In this form the angels appeared. The souls of all the faithful, are carried by an invisible guard of angels, into the bosom of Abraham. But Elijah being to carry his body with him, this heavenly guard appeared visibly: Not in an human shape, tho' so they might have borne him in their arms, but in the form of a chariot and horses, that he may ride in state, may ride in triumph, like a prince, like a conqueror. See the readiness of the angels to do the will of God, even in the meanest services for the heirs of salvation! Thus he who had burned with holy zeal for God and his honour, was now conveyed in fire into his immediate presence.
12 My father - So he calls him for his fatherly affection to him, and for his fatherly authority which he had over him, in which respect the scholars of the prophets are called their sons. He saw his own condition like that of a fatherless child, and laments it accordingly. The chariot, &c. - Who by thy example, and counsels, and prayers, and power with God, didst more for the defence and preservation of Israel than all their chariots and horses. The expression alludes to the form of chariots and horses which he had seen.
13 Which fell - God so ordering it for Elisha's comfort, and the strengthening of his faith, as a pledge, that together with Elijah's mantle, his Spirit should rest upon him. And Elijah himself was gone to a place, where he needed not the mantle, either to adorn him, or to shelter him from weather, or to wrap his face in.
14 The Lord - Who at Elijah's request divided these waters, and is as able to do it again.
15 Bowed themselves - They had been trained up in the schools: Elisha was taken from the plough. Yet, when they perceive, that God is with him, and that this is the man whom he delights to honour, they readily submit to him as their head and father, as the people to Joshua when Moses was dead. "Those that appear to have God's Spirit and presence with them, ought to have our esteem and best affections, notwithstanding the meanness of their extraction and education."
16 Strong men - Able to take such a journey. Lest, &c. - They thought, either that God had not finally taken him away from them, but only for a time; or that God had only taken away his soul, and that his body was cast down into some place, which they desired to seek, that they might give it an honourable burial.
17 Was ashamed - That is, to deny them any longer, lest they should think his denial proceeded from a neglect of his master, or a contempt of them.
19 Barren - Either it was so originally, at least, as to that part of the city where the college of the prophets was: or, it became so from the curse of God inflicted upon it, when Hiel rebuilt it. However, upon the prophet's care, it grew exceeding fruitful, and therefore is commended for its fertility in later writers.
20 A new cruse - That there might be no legal pollution in it which might offend God, and hinder his miraculous operation. Put salt - A most improper remedy; for salt naturally makes waters brackish, and lands barren. Hereby therefore he would shew, that this was effected solely by the Divine power, which could work either without means, or against them.
21 Death - Hurt, or danger, to man or beast, by drinking of it.
23 To Beth - el - To the other school of prophets, to inform them of Elijah's translation, and his succession to the same office; and to direct, and comfort, and stablish them. Children - Or, young men: as this Hebrew word often signifies. It is more than probable they were old enough to discern between good and evil. The city - Beth - el was the mother - city of idolatry, where the prophets planted themselves, that they might bear witness against it, and dissuade the people from it; though, it seems, they had but small success there. Mocked him - With great petulancy and vehemency, as the word signifies; deriding both his person and ministry, and that from a prophane contempt of the true religion, and a passionate love to that idolatry which they knew he opposed. Go up - Go up into heaven, whither thou pretendest Elijah is gone. Why didst not thou accompany thy friend and master to heaven? Bald - head - So they mock his natural infirmity, which is a great sin. The repetition shews their heartiness and earnestness, that it was no sudden slip of their tongue, but a scoff proceeding from a rooted impiety and hatred of God and his prophets. And very probably it was their usual practice, to jeer the prophets as they went along the streets, that they might expose them to contempt, and if possible drive them out of their town. Had the abuse done to Elisha been the first offence of the kind, they might not have been so severely punished. But mocking the messengers of the Lord, was one of the crying sins of Israel.
24 Cursed them - Nor was this punishment too great for the offence, if it be considered, that their mocking proceeded from a great malignity of mind against God; that they mocked not only a man, and an ancient man, whose very age commanded reverence; and a prophet; but even God himself, and that glorious work of God, the assumption of Elijah into heaven; that they might be guilty of many other heinous crimes, which God and the prophet knew; and were guilty of idolatry, which by God's law deserved death; that the idolatrous parents were punished in their children; and that, if any of these children were more innocent, God might have mercy upon their souls, and then this death was not a misery, but a real blessing to them, that they were taken away from that education which was most likely to expose them not only to temporal, but eternal destruction. In the name - Not from any revengeful passion, but by the motion of God's Spirit, and by God's command and commission. God did this, partly, for the terror and caution of all other idolaters and prophane persons who abounded in that place; partly, to vindicate the honour, and maintain the authority of his prophets; and particularly, of Elisha, now especially, in the beginning of his sacred ministry. Children - This Hebrew word signifies not only young children, but also those who are grown up to maturity, as Gen 32:22, 34:4, 37:30, Ruth 1:5.

Chapter III

The character of Jehoram, ver. 1 - 3. He and his allies invade Moab, ver. 4 - 8. Their distress and relief, ver. 9 - 20. Their success, ver. 21 - 25. The king of Moab sacrifices his son, and they retire, ver. 26, 27.

3 The sins - The worship of the calves: which all the kings of Israel kept up as a wall of partition between their subjects and those of Judah. So that altho' he had a little religion, yet he had not enough to over - rule this policy.
4 A sheep - master - A man of great wealth (which in those times and places consisted much in cattle) which enabled and emboldened him to rebel against his sovereign.
7 He said - He joins with him in this war; because the war was just in itself, and convenient for Jehoshaphat, both in the general, that revolters should be chastised: lest the examples should pass into his dominions, and the Edomites be encouraged to revolt from him, as they did from his son; and in particular, that the Moabites should be humbled, who had invaded his land before this time, 2Chron 20:1, and might do so again if they were not brought low; for which a fair opportunity now offered.
9 King of Edom - That is, the vice - roy under Jehosaphat, 1Kings 22:47, here called king: because that word is sometimes used for any prince or chief ruler. Seven days - Because they made a great army, which could move but slowly; and they fetched a greater compass than was usual, for some advantage which they expected by it. No water - A frequent want in those parts; and now, it seems, increased by the extraordinary heat and dryness of the season.
11 Is there not, &c. - This he should have asked before, when they first undertook the expedition, as he did in a like case, 1Kings 22:5, and for that neglect he now suffers; but better late than never: his affliction brings him to the remembrance of his former sin, and present duty. Poured water - Who was his servant; this being one office of a servant: and this office was the more necessary among the Israelites, because of the frequent washings which their law required. Probably it was by a special direction from God, that Elisha followed them, unasked, unobserved. Thus does God prevent us with the blessings of his goodness; and provide for those who provide not for themselves.
12 The word, &c. - He is a true prophet. Which Jehoshaphat might easily understand, because being a good man, many would be ready to inform him of. Went - To his tent; which was either in the camp, or not far from it: they did not send for him, but went to him, that by giving him this honour, they might engage him to give them his utmost assistance.
13 What have I, &c. - I desire to have no discourse with thee. Get thee - To the calves, which thou after thy father's example dost worship; and to the Baals which thy mother yet worshippeth by thy permission; let these idols whom thou worshippest in thy prosperity, now help thee in thy distress.
14 Jehoshaphat - Whom I reverence and love for his piety. It is good being with those who have God's favour, and the love of his people. Wicked men often fare the better, for the friendship and society of good men.
15 Minstrel - One that can sing and play upon a musical instrument. This he requires, that his mind which had been disturbed at the sight of wicked Jehoram, might be composed, and that he might be excited to more fervent prayer whereby he was prepared to receive the prophetic inspiration. Those that desire communion with God must keep their spirits quiet and serene. All hurry of spirit, and all turbulent passions, make us unfit for divine visitations. The hand, &c. - The spirit of prophecy, so called, to note that it was no natural nor acquired virtue inherent in him; but a singular gift of God, given to whom and when he pleased.
19 Ye shall smite - And if this command seem severe, it must be considered, that the Moabites were a very wicked people, perfidious, cruel, implacable enemies to God's people upon all occasions, and now in a state of rebellion.
20 The meal - offering - That is, the morning sacrifice: which doubtless was attended with the solemn prayers of God's people. At this time Elisha joined his prayers with the prayers of God's people, especially those at Jerusalem. And this time God chose to answer their prayers, and to work this miracle, that thereby he might determine the controversy between the Israelites and the Jews, about the place and manner of worship, and give a publick testimony from heaven for the Jews, and against the Israelites. God that commands all the waters both above and beneath the firmament, sent them abundance of water on a sudden.
21 The border - Of their country, to defend the passage.
25 Kir - haraseth - This was the royal city of the Moabites, into which the remnant of the Moabites were gathered, where also their king was with them. The stones - The walls and buildings of this city only were left; their whole country being destroyed. The slingers - Such as slung great stones against the walls to break them down, according to the manner of those times. Made breaches in the walls, by which they might enter the city, and take it.
26 To break thro' - That he might make an escape: which he chose to do on the king of Edom's quarter; because he thought his was the weakest side.
27 His son - Or rather, his own son: whom he sacrificed; partly, to obtain the favour of his god, according to the manner of the Phoenicians and other people in publick calamities; and partly, to oblige the Israelites to quit the siege out of compassion; or, as despairing to conquer (at least without greater loss of men than it was worth) him who was resolved to defend the city to the utmost extremity. On the wall - That the besiegers might see it, and be moved by it. There was, &c. - Or, great trouble or repentance upon Israel, the Israelitish king and people (who was the first cause of the war, and had brought the rest into confederacy with him) were greatly grieved for this barbarous action, and resolved to prosecute the war no farther.

Chapter IV

Elisha multiplies the widow's oil, ver. 1 - 7. Obtains a son for the Shunamite, ver. 8 - 17. Raises him again to life, ver. 18 - 37. Heals the deadly pottage, ver. 38 - 41. Feeds an hundred men with twenty small loaves, ver. 42 - 44.

1 Prophets - Who, though they were wholly devoted to sacred employment, were not excluded from marriage, any more than the priests and Levites. Fear the Lord - His poverty therefore was not procured by his idleness, or prodigality; but by his piety, because he would not comply with the king's way of worship, and therefore lost all worldly advantages. Bondmen - Either, to use them as his slaves, or to sell them to others, according to the law.
2 What shall I - How shall I relieve thee, who am myself poor?
7 Unto her son - To one of them: for she had two, ver.1. The oil stayed - To teach us, that we should not waste any of his good creatures; and that God would not work miracles unnecessarily. We are never straiten'd in God, and in his power and bounty, and the riches of his grace. All our straitness is in ourselves. It is our faith that fails, not his promise. Were there more vessels, there is enough in God to fill them, enough for all, enough for each.
8 Great - For estate, or birth and quality.
9 This is - A prophet, and that of eminent holiness: by our kindness to whom, we shall procure a blessing to ourselves.
10 On the wall - That he may be free from the noise of family business, and enjoy that privacy, which, I perceive, he desireth for his prayers and meditations. A bed, &c. - He will not be troublesome or chargeable to us: he cares not for rich furniture or costly entertainment, and is content with bare necessaries.
12 She stood - The relation seems to be a little perplexed, but may be thus conceived. It is in this verse recorded in the general, that the prophet sent Gehazi to call her, and that she came to him upon that call: then follows a particular description of the whole business, with all the circumstances, first, of the message with which Gehazi was sent when he went to call her, and of her answer to that message, ver.13, and of Gehazi's conjecture thereupon, ver.14, and then of her coming to the prophet at his call: which is there repeated to make way for the following passages.
13 I dwell - I live among my kindred and friends; nor have I any cause to seek relief from higher powers.
14 He said - Hast thou observed any thing which she wants or desires? For the prophet kept himself much in his chamber, whilst Gehazi went more freely about the house, as his occasions led him.
16 Do not lie - Do not delude me with vain hopes. She could not believe it for joy.
17 Time of life - See note on Gen 18:10.
21 Bed of the man of God - Being apt to believe, he that so soon took away what he had given, would restore what he had taken away. By this faith women received their dead raised to life. In this faith she makes no preparation for the burial of her child, but for his resurrection.
23 New moon, &c. - Which were the usual times in which they resorted to the prophets for instruction. It shall be well - My going will not be troublesome to him, nor prejudicial to thee or me.
26 It is - So it was in some respects, because it was the will of a wise and good God, and therefore best for her. When God calls away our dearest relations by death, it becomes us to say, it is well both with us and them. It is well, for all is well that God doth: all is well with them that are gone, if they are gone to heaven. And all is well with us that stay behind, if by the affliction we are furthered in our way thither.
27 The feet - She fell at his feet and touched them, as a most humble and earnest supplicant. Withal, she intimated, what she durst not presume to express in words, that she desired him to go along with her. Let her alone - Disturb her not, for this gesture is a sign of some extraordinary grief. Hid it - Whereby he signifies, that what he knew or did, was not by any virtue inherent in himself, but from God, who revealed to him only what and when he pleased.
28 She said - This child was not given to me upon my immoderate desire, for which I might have justly been thus chastised, but was freely promised by thee in God's name, and from his special favour. Deceive me - With vain hopes of a comfort that I should never have. And I had been much happier if I had never had it, than to lose it so quickly.
29 Gird up - Tie up thy long garments about thy loins for expedition. If thou meet, &c. - Make no delay nor stop by the way, neither by words nor actions.
30 Will not leave thee - Until thou goest home with me. For she had no great confidence in Gehazi, nor was her faith so strong as to think that the prophet could work so great a miracle at this distance.
31 Neither voice - Neither speech, nor sense, nor any sign of life, in the child. This disappointment might proceed from hence, that Elisha having changed his mind, and yielded to her importunity to go with her, did alter his course, and not join his fervent prayers with Gehazi's action. Not awaked - Not revived.
33 Shut the door - Upon himself and the dead child, that he might pray to God without distraction, and might more freely use those means which he thought fit.
34 And put - One part upon another successively; for the disproportion of the bodies would not permit it to be done together. Grew warm - Not by any external heat, which could not be transmitted to the child's body by such slight touches of the prophet's body; but from a principle of life, which was already infused into the child, and by degrees enlivened all the parts of his body.
35 He walked - He changeth his postures for his own necessary refreshment, and walked to and fro, exercising his mind in prayer to God. And went - Repeating his former actions, to teach us not to be discouraged in our prayers, if we be not speedily answered. Opened his eyes - So the work begun in the former verse is here perfected. Although miracles were for the most part done in an instant, yet sometimes they were done by degrees.
36 Unto him - To the door.
40 Death - That is, some deadly thing.
41 Into the pot - Together with the pottage which they had taken out of it.
42 First fruits - Which were the priests due, Numb 18:12, but these, and probably the rest of the priests dues, were usually brought by the pious Israelites, according to their ability and opportunity, to the Lord's prophets, because they were not permitted to carry them to Jerusalem.

Chapter V

Naaman hears of Elisha, ver. 1 - 4. The king of Syria sends him to the king of Israel, ver. 5 - 7. He goes to Elisha and is healed, ver. 8 - 14. His grateful acknowledgment to Elisha, ver. 15 - 19. Gehazi follows him, and receives gifts from him, ver. 20 - 24. The leprosy of Naaman entailed on Gehazi's family, ver. 25 - 27.

5 Go to, &c. - It was very natural for a king to suppose, that the king of Israel could do more than any of his subjects.
10 Elisha sent - Which he did, partly, to exercise Naaman's faith and obedience: partly, for the honour of his religion, that it might appear he sought not his own glory and profit, but only God's honour, and the good of men.
11 Was wroth - Supposing himself despised by the prophet.
12 Are not, &c. - Is there not as great a virtue in them to this purpose? But he should have considered, that the cure was not to be wrought by the water, but by the power of God.
13 My father - Or, our father. So they call him, to shew their reverence and affection to him.
16 He refused - Not that he thought it unlawful to receive presents, which he did receive from others, but because of the special circumstances of the case; this being much for the honour of God that the Syrians should see the generous piety, and kindness of his ministers and servants, and how much they despised all that worldly wealth and glory, which the prophets of the Gentiles so greedily sought after.
17 Two mules burden of earth - So he seems to farm the money which he brought with him, to express how little value he now set upon it. Ten talents (above three thousand five hundred pounds) in silver, with six thousand pieces of gold, (beside ten changes of raiment) were a burden for several mules. Shall I not give this to thy servant, Gehazi, if thou thyself will accept of nothing? This seems a more probable interpretation than the common one, that he wanted to build an altar therewith. For what altar could be built of the earth which two mules could carry into Syria? Unless they were as large and as strong as Elephants.
18 Rimmon - A Syrian idol, called here by the LXX, Remman, and Acts 7:43, Remphan. My hand - Or, arm, upon which, the king leaned, either for state, or for support.
20 Gehazi - One would expect Elisha's servant should have been a saint: but we find him far otherwise. The best men, the best ministers, have often had those about them, that were their grief and shame. This Syrian - A stranger, and one of that nation who are the implacable enemies of God's people. As the Lord - He swears, that he might have some pretence for the action to which he had bound himself by his oath; not considering, that to swear to do any wicked action, is so far from excusing it, that it makes it much worse.
23 Urged him - Who at first refused it upon a pretence of modesty.
26 Olive yards, &c. - Which Gehazi intended to purchase with this money: and therefore the prophet names them, to inform him, that he exactly knew, not only his outward actions, but even his most secret intentions. What a folly is it, to presume upon sin in hopes of secrecy? When thou goest aside into any bye - path, doth not thy own conscience go with thee? Nay, doth not the eye of God go with thee? What then avails the absence of human witnesses?
27 For ever - That is, for some generations; as that word is often used and as may be thought by comparing this with Exod 20:55. (?) White - Which is the worst kind of leprosy, and noted by physicians to be incurable. Those who get money by any way displeasing to God, make a dear purchase. What was Gehazi profited by his two talents, when he lost his health, if not his soul, forever?

Chapter VI

Elisha causes iron to swim, ver. 1 - 7. Discloses to the king of Israel the secret counsels of the king of Syria, ver. 8 - 12. Saves himself out of the hands of those who were sent to apprehend him, ver. 13 - 23. Samaria is besieged by the Syrians, and reduced to extremity, ver. 24 - 33.

2 Jordan - To the woods near Jordan. A beam - A piece of timber for the building. Hence it may be gathered, that although the sons of the prophets principally devoted themselves to religious exercises, yet they sometimes employed themselves about manual arts.
10 Sent - Soldiers to secure the place and passage designed.
16 They - Angels, unspeakably more numerous, God, infinitely more powerful.
17 He saw, &c. - Fire is both dreadful and devouring: that power which was engaged for Elisha, could both terrify and consume the assailants. Elijah gave a specimen of Divine justice, when he called for flames of fire on the heads of his persecutors to consume them. Elisha gives a specimen of Divine mercy, in heaping coals of fire on the heads of his persecutors to melt them.
22 Wouldest thou smite - It is against the laws of humanity, to kill captives, though thou thyself hast taken them with thy own sword and bow; which might seem to give thee some colour to destroy them; but much more unworthy will it be in cold blood to kill these, whom not thy arms, but God's providence hath put into thy hands. Set bread - Give them meat and drink, which may refresh and strengthen them for their journey. This was an action of singular piety and charity, in doing good to their enemies, which was much to the honour of the true religion; and of no less prudence, that hereby the hearts of the Syrians might be mollified towards the Israelites.
23 No more - For some considerable time.
24 Ben - hadad - He whom Ahab wickedly spared, now comes to requite his kindness, and to fulfil that Divine prediction. Ben - hadad was a name very frequent among the kings of Syria, if not common to them all.
25 Famine in Samaria - Probably the siege was so sudden, that they had no time to lay in provisions. Pieces - Supposed to be shekels; and the common shekel being valued at fifteen pence of English money, this amounts to five pounds. A vast price, especially for that which had on it so little meat, and that unwholesome and unclean. A kab - A measure containing twenty - four eggs. Dung - This Hebrew word is of a doubtful signification, and no where else used, probably it means a sort of pease, which in the Arabick language (near a - kin to the Hebrew) is called doves dung: for this was a food much in use amongst the poorer Israelites, and was a very coarse food, and therefore fit to be joined with the asses head: and a kab was the usual measure of all sorts of grains and fruits of that sort.
27 Whence shall I help thee - Dost thou ask of me corn or wine, which I want for myself? If God does not, I cannot help thee. Creatures are helpless things without God. Every creature is all that, and only that which God makes it to be.
29 We boiled - A dreadful judgment threatened to them in case of their apostacy, Deut 28:56,57, in which they were now deeply plunged.
31 God do so, &c. - Because he had encouraged them to withstand the Syrians, by promising them help from God.
32 He said - Being admonished by God of his danger. This son - The genuine son of that wicked Ahab the murderer of the Lord's prophets. This expression may seem very harsh and unfit; nor is it to be drawn into imitation by others: but it must be considered, that he was an extraordinary prophet, intrusted with a power in some sort superior to that of Joram, and had authority to control and rebuke him in the name of the king of kings. Hold him - That he may not break in upon me, and take away my life, before the king comes.
33 He said - Or, the king, who, though not here named, may be presumed to be present, both by the prophet's prediction of his speedy coming, and by the presence of the lord, on whose hand the king leaned, chap.7:2. This evil - This dreadful famine, which is now so extreme, that women are forced to eat their own children. The Lord - Hath inflicted it, and (for ought I see) he will not remove it. All penal evil is of the Lord, as the first cause and sovereign judge. And this we ought to apply to particular cases: if all evil, then this evil which we are groaning under. Whoever are the instruments, God is the principal agent. What should I, &c. - Thou bidst me wait upon God for help: but I perceive I may wait long enough before deliverance comes: I am weary with waiting, I can wait no longer.

Chapter VII

Elisha foretells plenty, and the death of the unbelieving lord, ver. 1, 2. Four lepers discover that the Syrians are fled, and bring the news into the city, ver. 3 - 11. The king sends messengers in order to be assured of the truth, ver. 12 - 15. Sudden plenty and the death of the unbelieving lord, ver. 16 - 20.

1 Measure - Heb. Seah, a measure containing six cabs, or about a peck and pottle of our measure.
2 Windows - Through which he could rain down corn, as once he did Manna.
6 Hittites - Under which name (as elsewhere under the name of the Amorites) he seems to understand all the people of Canaan. For though the greatest number of that people were destroyed, yet very many of them were spared, and many of them upon Joshua's coming, fled away, some to remote parts, others to the lands bordering upon Canaan, where they seated themselves, and grew numerous and powerful. Kings - Either the king of Egypt, the plural number being put for the singular, or, the princes and governors of the several provinces in Egypt.
7 Fled - None of them had so much sense as to send scouts to discover the supposed enemy, much less, courage enough to face them. God can when he pleases, dispirit the boldest, and make the stoutest heart to tremble. They that will not fear God, he can make them fear at the shaking of a leaf. Perhaps Gehazi was one of these lepers, which might occasion his being taken notice of by the king, chap.8:4.
13 Behold, &c. - The words may be rendered, Behold, they are of a truth (the Hebrew prefix, Caph, being not here a note of similitude, but an affirmation of the truth and certainty of the things, as it is taken Numb 11:1 Deut 9:10,) all the multitude of the horses of Israel that are left in it: behold, I say, they are even all the multitude of the horses of the Israelites, which (which multitude) are consumed, reduced to this small number, all consumed except these five. And this was indeed worthy of a double behold, to shew what mischief the famine had done both upon men and beasts, and to what a low ebb the king of Israel was come, that all his troops of horses, to which he had trusted, were shrunk to so small a number.
20 And so it fell out, &c. - See how heinously God resents our distrust of his power, providence and promise! Whenever God promises the end, he knows where to provide the means.

Chapter VIII

Elisha's advice to the Shunamite, ver. 1, 2. The king restores her land, ver. 3 - 6. Elisha's prophecy to Hazael, and the death of Ben - hadad, ver. 7 - 15. The reign of Jehoram, ver. 16 - 24. Succeeded by Ahaziah, ver. 25 - 29.

1 Sojourn - In any convenient place out of the land of Israel. The Lord, &c. - Hath appointed to bring a famine. This expression intimates, that all afflictions are sent by God, and come at his call or command. Seven years - A double time to the former famine under Elijah, which is but just, because they were still incorrigible under all the judgments of God, and the powerful ministry of Elisha.
3 Her house - Which having been forsaken by her, were possessed by her kindred.
4 Gehazi the servant - Formerly his servant. The law did not forbid conversing with lepers, but only dwelling with them.
8 Enquire of the Lord, &c - In his health he bowed down in the house of Rimmon; but now he tends to enquire of the God of Israel. Among other instances of the change of mens minds by affliction or sickness, this is one; that it often gives them other thoughts of God's ministers, and teacheth them to value those whom they before hated and despised.
9 Thy son - He who before persecuted him as an enemy, now in his extremity honours him like a father.
10 Howbeit - Here is no contradiction: for the first words contain an answer to Benhadad's question, shall I recover? To which the answer is, thou mayest, notwithstanding thy disease, which is not mortal. The latter words contain the prophet's addition to that answer, which is, that he should die, not by the power of his disease, but by some other cause.
11 He settled - The prophet fixed his eyes upon Hazael. Until - 'Till Hazael was ashamed, as apprehending the prophet discerned something of an evil and shameful nature in him.
13 A dog - So fierce, barbarous, and inhuman. King - And when thou shalt have power in thy hand, thou wilt discover that bloody disposition, and that hatred against God's people, which now lies hid from others, and possibly from thyself.
15 Spread it - So closely, that he choaked him therewith.
16 Jehoram - Jehoram was first made king or vice - roy, by his father divers years before this time, at his expedition to Ramoth - Gilead, which dominion of his, ended at his father's return. But now Jehoshaphat, being not far from his death, and having divers sons and fearing some competition among them, makes Jehoram king the second time, as David did Solomon upon the like occasion.
18 He walked - After his father's death. The daughter - Athaliah. This unequal marriage, though Jehoshaphat possibly designed it as a means of uniting the two kingdoms under one head, is here and elsewhere noted, as the cause both of the great wickedness of his posterity, and of those sore calamities which befel them. No good could be reasonably expected from such an union. Those that are ill matched are already half - ruined.
19 Alway - Until the coming of the Messiah: for so long, and not longer, this succession might seem necessary for the making good of God's promise and covenant made with David. But when the Messiah, was once come, there was no more need of any succession, and the scepter might and did without any inconvenience depart from Judah, and from all the succeeding branches of David's family, because the Messiah was to hold the kingdom forever in his own person, though not in so gross a way as the carnal Jews imagined. A light - A son and successor.
29 Ramah - The same place with Ramoth, or Ramoth - Gilead.

Chapter IX

A prophet commissions Jehu to take upon him the government, and destroy the house of Ahab, ver. 1 - 10. Jehu communicates this to his captains, ver. 11 - 15. Marches to Jezreel, ver. 16 - 20. Kills Joram, ver. 21 - 26. Ahaziah, ver. 27 - 29. And Jezebel, ver. 30 - 37.

1 Ramoth - The kings of Israel and Judah were both absent, and Jehu, as it seems, was left in chief command.
7 I may avenge,&c. - That they were idolaters was bad enough: yet that is not mentioned here: the controversy God has with them, is for being persecutors. Nothing fills the measure of the iniquity of any prince so as this doth, nor brings a surer or sorer ruin.
11 Mad fellow - They perceived him to be a prophet by his habit, and gestures, and manner of speech. And these prophane soldiers esteemed the prophets mad - men. Those that have no religion, commonly speak of those that are religious with disdain, and look upon them as crack - brained. They said of our Lord, He is beside himself; of St. Paul, that much learning had made him mad. The highest wisdom is thus represented as folly, and they that best understand themselves, as men beside themselves.
13 They hasted - God putting it into their hearts thus readily to own him. Under him - Under Jehu. A ceremony used in the eastern parts towards superiors, in token of reverence to his person, that they would not have his feet to touch the ground, and that they put themselves and their concerns under his feet, and into his disposal. The stairs - In some high and eminent place, whence he might be seen and owned by all the soldiers, who were called together upon this great occasion.
21 Portion of Naboth - The very sight of that ground was enough to make Jehu triumph and Joram tremble. The circumstances of events are sometimes so ordered by Divine providence, as to make the punishment answer the sin, as face answers face in a glass.
22 Whoredoms, &c. - This may be understood, either literally; spiritual whoredom, which is idolatry, being often punished with corporal: and witchcraft was often practised by idolaters: or spiritually, of her idolatry, which is often called whoredom, because it is a departing from God, to whom we are tied by many obligations; and witchcraft, because it doth so powerfully bewitch men's minds; and because it is a manifest entering into covenant with the devil. He mentions not Joram's, but his mother's sins; because they were more notorious and infamous: and because they were the principal cause why God inflicted, and he was come to execute these judgments. The way of sin can never be the way of peace.
24 The arrow - It was one of God's arrows, which he ordained against the persecutor.
27 He died - The history is briefly and imperfectly described here, and the defects supplied in (the book of Chronicles, is great part written for that end, to supply things omitted in the book of Kings) out of both it may be thus compleated: he fled first to Megiddo, and thence to Samaria, where he was caught, and thence brought to Jehu, and by his sentence was put to death at Megiddo.
31 Had Zimri - Remember thy brother traitor Zimri had but a very short enjoyment of the benefit of his treason.
34 And said - It seems he had forgot the charge given him above, ver.10. A king's daughter - He doth not say, because she was a king's wife, lest he should seem to shew any respect to that wicked house of Ahab, which God had devoted to utter destruction.

Chapter X

Jehu cuts off all Ahab's sons, ver. 1 - 10. And kindred, ver. 11 - 14. Takes Jehonadab with him, ver. 11 - 17. Slays the worshippers of Baal, ver. 18 - 25. Abolishes his worship, ver. 26 - 28. Yet retains the worship of the Calves, ver. 29 - 31. Which God punishes by Hazael, ver. 32 - 33. Jehu's death, ver. 34 - 37

5 The house - The chief governor of the kings palace. City - The chief magistrate or military governor.
7 Sent them - Jehu justly required this, because the sovereign lord of all mens lives commanded it, but the Samaritans wickedly obeyed it, without any knowledge of, or regard to God's command.
11 Left none - In that place and kingdom; for he did leave some of the royal seed of Judah.
15 Rechab - A Kenite, 1Chron 2:55, and a man of singular prudence and piety. Coming - To congratulate with him, for the destruction of that wicked family; and to encourage him to proceed in fulfilling the will of God. Him - Jehu saluted Jehonadab. Is, &c. - Dost thou heartily approve of me, and my present proceedings.
18 Jehu said - The words being manifestly false, and spoken with a design to deceive, cannot be excused, this being an unmovable principle, That we must not do the least evil, that the greatest good may come.
25 City - To some buildings belonging to this house of Baal, which may be here called the city; because they were very numerous and capacious. For as there were divers chambers and rooms built without the temple, belonging to it, for the use of the priests, and Levites. So it may probably be conceived, That this famous temple of Baal had many such buildings; in some of which, the priests of Baal, or of the groves, (whereof there were great numbers belonging to the king's court, 1Kings 18:19,) peradventure might dwell; and others of them might be for divers uses belonging to the house, and service of Baal.
27 Draught - house - A sink or common shore.
29 Jehu departed not - So that it is plain, his religion was but superficial: otherwise it would not have given way to his policy.
30 Done well - In part, and so far as is here expressed.
31 Took no heed - Sin, clearly shewed that his heart was not right with God.

Chapter XI

Athaliah usurps the government and destroys all the seed royal; only Joash escapes, ver. 1 - 3. He is made king, ver. 4 - 12. Athaliah is slain, ver. 13 - 16. Joash reigns well, ver. 17 - 21.

1 She destroyed - This was the fruit of Jehoshaphat's marrying his son to a daughter of that idolatrous house of Ahab. And this dreadful judgment God permitted upon him and his, to shew how much he abhors all such affinities.
2 They hid - Jehosheba and her husband Jehoiada. Bed - chamber - Which was in the house of the Lord. So that it was one of those chambers adjoining to the temple, that were for the uses of the priests and Levites only: which made it more proper for this purpose. Now was the promise made to David bound up in one life. And yet it did not fail. Thus to the Son of David will God, according to his promise, secure a spiritual seed: which tho' sometimes reduced to a small number, brought very low, and seemingly lost, yet will be preserved to the end of time. It was a special providence that Joram tho' a king, a wicked king, married his daughter to Jehoiada, a priest, an holy priest. This some might think a disparagement to the royal family; but it saved the royal family from ruin. For Jehoiada's interest in the temple, gave her an opportunity to preserve the child: and her interest in the royal family, gave him an opportunity of setting him on the throne. See what blessings they lay up in store for their families who marry their children to those that are wise and good.
4 The house - Into the courts of that house, for into the house none but the priests or Levites might enter.
5 Of you - Levites, who were distributed into twenty four courses, to minister in turns, each course consisting of about a thousand men for a week. Enter in - That come into the temple to attend your ministry. King's house - Of that part which lead to the king's palace, which Athaliah now possessed.
6 Sur - The chief gate of the temple. The guard - Either,
  1. the king's guard. Or,
  2. the guard of the temple; this gate was in the south - side.
So, &c. - So you shall guard all the gates or entrances into the temple that neither Athaliah nor any of her soldiers may break in.
7 That go, &c. - Who having finished their course, should have gone home, but were detained, 2Chron 23:8. Shall keep - While the rest guard the entrances into the temple; these shall have a special care of the king's person.
8 Ranges - Or, fences, the wall wherewith the courts of the temple were environed.
12 Testimony - The book of the law, which he put into the king's hand, to mind him of his duty at his entrance upon his kingdom, which was to read and write out that holy book, Deut 17:18, and to govern himself and his kingdom by it: the law of God being frequently and most properly called a testimony, because it is a witness of God's will, and man's duty.
15 Host - Of these companies of Levites, who are elsewhere called the Lord's host, and now were the king's host.
17 A covenant - A sacred covenant whereby he solemnly engaged both the king, and people, that they should be the Lord's people; that they should renounce, and root out all idolatry, and set up and maintain God's true worship. Between the king - This was a civil covenant, whereby the king engaged himself to rule them justly, and in the fear of God; and the people obliged themselves to defend and obey him.

Chapter XII

Jehoash reigns well while Jehoiada lives, ver. 1 - 3. Repairs the temple, ver. 4 - 16. Compounds with Hazael, ver. 17, 18. Dies ingloriously, ver. 19 - 21.

3 Burnt incense - To the true God.
4 And Jehoash said, &c. - Remembering that he owed his preservation and restoration to the temple, and that he was made by God the guardian of his temple, he now takes care to repair it. Dedicated things - The money which had been either formerly or lately vowed or dedicated to the service of God and of his house. That is brought - Or rather, that shall be brought: for though the people might vow to bring it thither in convenient time, yet it is not likely they would bring much money thither in the tyrannical and idolatrous reign of Athaliah. The money - The half shekel, which was paid for every one that was numbered from twenty years old and upward. Is set at - Heb. the money of souls, or persons according to his taxing, the money which every man that had vowed his person to God, paid according to the rate which the priest put upon him. That cometh - All that shall be freely offered.
15 Faithfully - For they perceived by many experiments that they were faithful.
20 And slew Joash - We are told, in the Chronicles, that his murdering the prophet, Jehoiada's son, was the provocation. In this, how unrighteous so ever they were, yet the Lord was righteous. And this was not the only time, that he let even kings know, it was at their peril, if they touched his anointed, or did his prophets any harm. Thus fell Joash, who began in the spirit, and ended in the flesh. And indeed God usually sets marks of his displeasure upon apostates, even in this life.

Chapter XIII

The reign of Jehoahaz, ver. 1 - 9. A general account of the reign of Joash, ver. 10 - 13. Elisha falls sick, encourages Joash and dies, ver. 14 - 19. A dead body is raised by touching his bones, ver. 20 - 21. Hazael oppresses Israel, and dies, ver. 22 - 24. Joash beats the Syrians, ver. 25.

6 The grove - Which Ahab had planted for the worship of Baal, and which should have been destroyed, Deut 7:5.
7 He - The king of Syria. People - Of his army, or men of war.
8 His might - For though his success was not good, he shewed much personal valour. Which is noted to intimate, that the Israelites were not conquered, because of the cowardice of their king, but merely from the righteous judgment of God, who was now resolved to reckon with them for their apostacy.
14 Fallen sick, &c. - He lived long: for it was sixty years since he was first called to be a prophet. It was a great mercy to Israel and especially to the sons of the prophets, that he was continued so long, a burning and a shining light. Elijah finished his testimony, in a fourth part of that time. God's prophets have their day set them, longer or shorter, as infinite wisdom sees fit. But all the latter part of his time, from the anointing of Jehu, which was forty five years before Joash began his reign, we find no mention of him, or of any thing he did, 'till we find him here upon his death bed. Yet he might be useful to the last, tho' not so famous as he had sometimes been.
17 Eastward - Toward Syria, which lay north - eastward, from the land of Israel: this arrow is shot against the Syrians, as a token what God intended to do against them.
18 Smite - The former sign portended victory, this was to declare the number of the victories.
20 Moabites invaded - The mentioning this immediately on the death of Elisha intimates, that the removal of God's faithful prophets, is a presage of judgments approaching.
21 He revived - Which miracle God wrought, to do honour to that great prophet, and that by this seal he might confirm his doctrine, to strengthen the faith of Joash, and of the Israelites, in this promise of their success against the Syrians; and in the midst of all their calamities to comfort such Israelites as were Elisha's followers, with the hopes of eternal life, whereof this was a manifest pledge, and to awaken the rest of that people to a due care and preparation for it.
23 Had compassion - The slowness of God's process against sinners even when they remain impenitent must be construed to the advantage of his mercy, not the impeachment of his justice.

Chapter XIV

The good character of Amaziah, ver. 1 - 4. He avenges his father's death, ver. 5, 6. Overthrows the Edomites, ver. 7. Is defeated by Joash, ver. 8 - 14. The death and burial of Joash, ver. 15, 16. Amaziah is killed by conspirators, ver. 17 - 20. The beginning of Azariah's reign, ver. 21, 22. The reign and death of Jeroboam, ver. 23 - 29.

4 High places - It is hard to get clear of those corruptions, which by long usage have gained prescription.
6 Slew not - Wherein he shewed faith and courage, that he would obey this command of God, though it was hazardous to himself, such persons being likely to seek revenge for their father's death.
7 Joktheel - Which signifies, the obedience of God, that is, given him by God as a reward of his obedience to God's message by the prophet, 2Chron 25:8,9.
8 Sent - This challenge he sent, from self - confidence, and a desire of advancing his glory. But he that is fond either of fighting or going to law, will probably be the first that repents it.
9 Saying, &c. - By the thistle, a low and contemptible, yet troublesome shrub, he understands Amaziah; and by the cedar, himself, whom he intimates to be far stronger than he, and out of his reach. Trod down - And with no less ease shall my soldiers tread down thee and thy forces.
10 Glory - Content thyself with that glory, and let not thine ambition betray thee to ruin.
12 Tents - Josephus says, when they were to engage, they were struck with such a terror, that they did not strike a stroke, but every man made the best of his way.
13 Ahaziah - Amaziah's pedigree comes in somewhat abruptly, the son of Joash, the son of Ahaziah: Probably because he now smarted, for the iniquity of his ancestors.
20 On horses - Or, with horses, in a chariot.
21 Azariah - This Azariah is called Uzziah, chap.15:30, both names signifying the same thing for substance; that, God's help; and this, God's strength. But this was not done till twelve years after his father's death: so long the government was in the hands of protectors.
25 The sea - Unto the dead sea, once a goodly plain, Gen 13:10, which was their southern border.
26 Was bitter - Whereby he was moved to pity and help them, though they were an unworthy people. Nor any left - Both towns and country were utterly laid waste.
27 Said not - Not yet; he had not yet declared this, as afterwards he did by the succeeding prophets.
29 Jeroboam - It was in the reign of this Jeroboam, that Hosea began to prophesy, and he was the first that wrote his prophecies. At the same time Amos prophesied, soon after Micah, and then Isaiah in the days of Ahaz and Hezekiah. Thus God never left himself without witness, but in the darkest ages of the church, raised up some to be burning and shining lights, to their own age, by their preaching and living; and a few by their writings to reflect light upon us, on whom the ends of the world are come.

Chapter XV

The reign of Azariah, ver. 1 - 7. Of Zachariah, ver. 8 - 12. Of Shallum, ver. 13 - 15. Of Menahem, ver. 16 - 22. Of Pekahiah, ver. 23 - 26. Of Pekah, ver. 27 - 31. Of Jotham, ver. 32 - 38.

1 To reign - Solely and fully to exercise his regal power.
5 A leper - The cause whereof see 2Chron 26:16.
8 Six months - After the throne had been vacant several years, thro' the dissentions that were in the kingdom.
13 Full moon - That dominion seldom lasts long, which is founded in blood and falsehood.
30 Twentieth year - The meaning is, that he began his reign in the twentieth year after the beginning of Jotham's reign; or, which is the same thing, in the fourth year of Ahaz, son of Jotham.
33 To reign - Alone: for he had reigned before this, as his father's deputy.
35 Gate - Not of the temple, but of one of the courts of the temple, probably that which led to the king's palace.

Chapter XVI

The idolatry of Ahaz, ver. 1 - 4. He hires the king of Assyria to invade Syria and Israel, ver. 5 - 9. He erects a new altar in the temple, ver. 10 - 16. Spoils the temple, ver. 17 - 18. Dies, ver. 19, 20.

3 Pass - By way of oblation, so as to be consumed for a burnt - offering, which was the practice of Heathens, and of some Israelites, in imitation of them.
5 Could not overcome - Because God of his own mere grace, undertook his protection, and disappointed the hopes of his enemies.
7 Sent messengers, &c. - But was it because there was no God in Israel, that he sent to the Assyrian for help? The sin itself was its own punishment; for tho' it served his present turn, yet he made but an ill bargain, seeing he not only impoverished himself, but enslaved both himself and his people.
12 Offered - A sacrifice, and that not to God, but to the Syrian idols, to whom that altar was appropriated.
13 Peace - offerings - For the Heathens; and Ahaz, in imitation of them, offered the same sorts of offerings to their false gods, which the Israelites did to the true.
14 Brazen attar - Of burnt - offerings, made by Solomon, and placed there by God's appointment. From between, &c. - His new altar was at first set below the brazen altar, and at a farther distance from the temple. This he took for a disparagement to his altar; and therefore impiously takes that away, and puts his in its place. And put, &c. - So he put God's altar out of its place and use! A bolder stroke than the very worst of kings had hitherto given to religion.
15 Great altar - This new altar; which was greater than Solomon's. Sacrifice - Whatsoever is offered to the true God, either in my name (for possibly he did not yet utterly forsake God, but worshipped idols with him) or on the behalf of the people, shall be offered on this new altar. Enquire by - That shall be reserved for my proper use, to enquire by; at which I may seek God, or enquire of his will, by sacrifices joined with prayer, when I shall see fit. Having thrust it out from the use for which it was instituted, which was to sanctify the gifts offered upon it, he pretends to advance it above its institution, which it is common for superstitious people to do. But to overdo is to underdo. Our wisdom is, to do just what God has commanded.
18 The covert - The form and use whereof is now unknown. It is generally understood of some building, either that where the priests after their weekly course was ended, abode until the next course came; which was done upon the sabbath - day: or that in which the guard of the temple kept their station; or that under which the king used to sit to hear God's word, and see the sacrifices; which is called, the covert of the sabbath, because the chief times in which the king used it for those ends, was the weekly sabbath, and other solemn days of feasting, or fasting (which all come under the name of sabbaths in the Old Testament) upon which the king used more solemnly, to present himself before the Lord, than at other times. The entry - By which the king used to go from his palace to the temple.

Chapter XVII

The reign of Hoshea, ver. 1, 2. The king of Assyria imprisons him, and carries Israel captive, ver. 3 - 6. The cause of this captivity, ver. 7 - 23. The strange nations transplanted into Canaan are plagued with lions, ver. 24 - 26. An Israelitish priest is sent to them, ver. 27 - 28. The mongrel religion which followed, ver. 29 - 41.

1 To reign - He usurped the kingdom in Ahaz's fourth year; but either was not owned as king, by the generality of the people; or was not accepted and established in his kingdom, 'till Ahaz's twelfth year. Nine - After his confirmation and peaceable possession of his kingdom: for in all, he reigned seventeen, or eighteen years; twelve with Ahaz, who reigned sixteen years, and six with Hezekiah.
2 But not, &c. - For he neither worshipped Baal, as many of his predecessors did; nor compelled the people to worship the calves; (one of them, that of Dan, being destroyed, or carried away before, as the Hebrew writers affirm;) nor, as some add, hindered those by force, who were minded to go to Jerusalem to worship. And yet, the measure of the Israelites sins, being now full, vengeance comes upon them without remedy.
3 Shalmaneser - The son, or successor of Tiglath - pileser. The ancient Hebrew writers made him the same with Sennacherib, who eight years after this time, invaded the kingdom of Judah; it being very frequent in the Eastern parts, for one man to be called by several names. Josephus affirms, that he met with his name in the annals of the Tyrians, which were extant in his days. He came against him, either because he denied the tribute which he had promised to pay; or that he might make him tributary.
6 Carried Israel away, &c. - There, we have reason to think, after some time, they were so mingled with the nations, that they were lost, and the name of Israel was no more in remembrance. They that forgot God, were themselves forgotten, and they that studied to be like the nations, were buried among them. Thus ended Israel as a nation. When we read their entry into Canaan, under Hoshea the son of Nun, who would have thought, that such would be their exit, under Hoshea, the son of Elah? Yet we find St. James writing to the twelve tribes scattered abroad. So that tho' we never read of the return of those that were carried captive, nor have any ground to believe, that they still remain a distinct body in some remote corner of the world, yet a remnant of them did escape, and will remain 'till all Israel shall be saved.
9 Did secretly - This belongs, either,
  1. To their gross idolatries, and other abominable practices, which they were ashamed to own before others; or,
  2. to the worship of calves: and so the words are otherwise rendered; they covered things that were not right towards the Lord: they covered their idolatrous worship of the calves, with fair pretences of necessity, the two kingdoms being now divided, and at enmity; and of their honest intention of serving the true God, and retaining the substance of the Jewish religion.
City - In all parts and places, both in cities, and in the country; yea, in the most uninhabited parts, where few or none dwell, beside the watchmen, who are left there in towers, to preserve the cattle and fruits of the earth, or to give notice of the approach of enemies.
13 Seers - To whom he declared his mind, by revelations and visions, and by whom he published it, bearing witness, from heaven to their doctrine by eminent and glorious miracles.
14 Hardened, &c. - Refused to submit their neck to the yoke of God's precepts. A metaphor from stubborn oxen, that will not bow to the yoke.
15 Vanity - Idols; so called because of their nothingness, impotency, and unprofitableness; and by the long worship of idols, they were made like them, vain, sottish, and senseless creatures.
16 Left all - They grew worse and worse; from a partial disobedience to some of God's laws, they fell by degrees to a total apostacy from all. The host - The stars, as Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus.
18 Judah only - And the greatest part of the tribe of Benjamin, with those of the tribes of Simeon and Levi who were incorporated with them.
19 Judah kept not - Judah's idolatry and wickedness are here remembered, as an aggravation of the sin of the Israelites, which was not only evil in itself, but mischievous to their neighbour, who by their examples were instructed in their wicked arts, and provoked to an imitation of them.
20 All Israel - All the tribes of Israel: first, one part of them, and now the rest. But this extends not to every individual person of these tribes; for many of them removed into the kingdom of Judah, and were associated with them.
21 They made - Which action is here ascribed to the people, because they would not tarry 'till God by his providence, had invested Jeroboam with the kingdom which he had promised him; but rashly, and rebelliously, rose up against the house of David, to which they had so great obligations; and set him upon the throne without God's leave or advice. Drave - He not only dissuaded, but kept then, by force from God's worship at Jerusalem, the only place appointed for it. A great sin - So the worship of the calves is called, to meet with that idle conceit of the Israelites, who esteemed it a small sin, especially when they were forced to it by severe penalties; which yet he shews did not excuse it from being a sin, and a great sin too.
25 Therefore - For their gross neglect, and contempt of God, which was contrary to the principles and practices of the Heathens, who used to worship the gods of the nations where they lived, and gave that honour to their false Gods, which here they denied to the true. Hereby also God asserted his own sovereignty over that land, and made them to understand, that neither the Israelites were cast out, nor they brought in by their valour, or strength, but by God's providence, who as he had cast the Israelites out for their neglect of God's service; so both could, and would in his due time, turn them out also, if they were guilty of the same sins.
28 Taught them - The manner of God's worship, as it was practised in Israel; as may be gathered both from the quality of this person, who was an Israelitish priest; and from the place of his residence, Beth - el, a place infamous for the worship of the calves, and from the manner of their making priests by this man's direction.
32 Sacrificed - Unto the true God: for as to the worship of their own gods, they needed no instruction, and would not permit a person of another religion to minister therein.
33 They feared - They worshipped God externally in that way which the Israelites used. But every nation made gods of their own besides.
34 Unto this day - That is, till the time when this book was written, above three hundred years in all, till the time of Alexander the Great, when they were prevailed upon to call away their idols. Former manners - As the Israelites before their captivity, gave these nations an ill example, in serving the Lord, and Baal together; so, or after their former manner, they do unto this day, in the land of their captivity. They fear not - Though they pretended to fear, and serve both the Lord and idols, yet in truth they did not, and do not fear or worship the Lord, but their own calves, or other vain inventions: and God will not accept that mongrel and false worship, which they pretend to give to the true God. Statutes - God's law delivered to their fathers, and to them, as their inheritance, Psal 119:111. This is alleged as an evidence, that they did not fear the Lord, whatsoever they pretended, because they lived in the constant breach of his statutes. Israel - A name, signifying his special interest in God, and power with him, which was given to him, not only for himself, but for his posterity also, whom God frequently honours with that name. And by this great favour he aggravates their sin.
41 So - In like manner, and after their example. These - Who came in their stead.

Chapter XVIII

Hezekiah reforms his kingdom, ver. 1 - 6. Prospers in all his undertakings, even at the time the ten tribes are led captive, ver. 7 - 12. Yet is invaded, and his country put under contribution by Sennacherib, ver. 13 - 16. Jerusalem is besieged, ver. 17. The virulent speech of Rabshakeh, ver. 18 - 25. He incites the people to revolt, ver. 26 - 37.

2 To reign - It is not certain that Ahaz lived only thirty six years, for those sixteen years which he reigned, may be computed, not from the first beginning of his reign, when he reigned with his father; which was at the twentieth year of his age, but from the beginning of his reigning alone.
4 Serpent - The most of them, or such as the people most frequented: for all were not taken away, chap.23:13,14, tho' his own father had set them up. We must never dishonour God, in honour to our earthly parents. Brazen serpent - Which had been hitherto kept as a memorial of God's mercy; but being now commonly abused to superstition, was destroyed. To it - Not doubtless as to a god, but only as to an instrument of God's mercy, by and through which, their adoration was directed to God, and given to that only for God's sake. Nehushtan - He said, this serpent, howsoever formerly honoured, and used by God as a sign of his grace, yet now it is nothing but a piece of brass which can do you neither good nor hurt.
5 Trusted - Without calling in foreign succours to establish or help him; which his father Ahaz did; and before him Asa. Before him - Of the kings of Judah only; for David and Solomon were kings of all Israel. The like is said of Josiah, chap.23:25. Each of them, excelled the other in several respects. Hezekiah in this, that he fell upon this work in the beginning of his reign, which Josiah did not, and with no less resolution, undertaking to do that which none of his predecessors durst do, even to remove the high places, wherein Josiah did only follow his example.
7 Rebelled - He shook off that yoke of subjection, to which his father had wickedly submitted, and reassumed that full and independent sovereignty which God had settled in the house of David. And Hezekiah's case differs much from that of Zedekiah, who is blamed for rebellion against the king of Babylon, both because he had engaged himself by a solemn oath and covenant, which we do not read of Ahaz; and because he broke the covenant which he himself had made; and because God had actually given the dominion of his own land and people to the king of Babylon, and commanded both Zedekiah and his people to submit to him. And whereas Hezekiah is here said to rebel; that word implies, only a defection from that subjection which had been performed to another; which sometimes may be justly done, and therefore that word doth not necessarily prove this to be a sin. And that it was not a sin in him, seems certain, because God owned and assisted him therein; and did not at all reprove him for it, in that message which he sent to him by Isaiah, nor afterwards, though he did particularly reprove him, for his vain - glory, and ostentation, 2Chron 32:25,26.
13 Them - Many of them; universal particles being frequently so used both in scripture, and other authors; and this success God gave him; to lift him up to his own greater and more shameful destruction: to humble and chastise his own people for their manifold sins, and, to gain an eminent opportunity to advance his own honour by that miraculous deliverance which he designed for his people.
14 Three hundred talents, &c. - Above two hundred thousand pounds.
17 Sent - Having received the money, upon which he agreed to depart from Hezekiah and his land, he breaks his faith with Hezekiah, thereby justifying his revolt, and preparing the way for his own destruction.
19 Thus saith, &c. - But what are the greatest men when they come to compare with God, or when God comes to contend with them?
21 This broken reed - Whoever trusts in man, leans on a broken reed: but God is the rock of ages.
22 Is not, &c. - Thus boldly he speaks of the things which he understood not, judging of the great God, by their petty gods; and of God's worship by the vain fancies of the Heathens, who measured piety by the multitude of altars.
25 Am I, &c. - He neither owned God's word, nor regarded his providence; but he forged this, to strike a terror into Hezekiah and the people.
27 To the men - To tell them to what extremities and miseries he will force them.
28 Jews language - The tradition of the Jews is, that Rabshaketh was an apostate Jew. If so, his ignorance of the God of Israel was the less excusable, and his enmity the less strange: for apostates are usually the most bitter and spiteful enemies.
31 A present - Upon which terms, I will give you no disturbance; but quietly suffer each of you to enjoy his own possession.

Chapter XIX

Hezekiah sends to Isaiah to desire his prayers, ver. 1 - 5. And receives from him an answer of peace, ver. 6, 7. Sennacherib sends a threatening letter to Hezekiah, ver. 8 - 13 Who recommends his case to God, ver. 14 - 19. God by Isaiah sends him a comfortable message, ver. 20 - 34. The army of the Assyrians is destroyed, ver. 35 - 37

1 Rent his cloaths, &c. - Great men must not think it any disparagement to them, to sympathize with the injured honour of the great God.
3 The children - We are like a poor travailing woman in great extremity, having no strength left to help herself, and to bring forth her infant into the world. We have attempted to deliver ourselves from the Assyrian yoke; and had carried on that work to some maturity, and as we thought, brought it to the birth; but now we have no might to finish. We have begun an happy reformation, and are hindered by this insolent Assyrian, from bringing it to perfection.
4 For the remnant - For Judah, which is but a remnant, now the ten tribes are gone: for Jerusalem, which is but a remnant, now the defenced cities of Judah are taken.
8 Returned - To the king, to give him an account of the treaty; leaving behind him the army under the other commanders.
15 O Lord God of Israel, &c. - He calls him the God of Israel, because Israel was his peculiar people; but yet the God of the whole earth, not as Sennacherib fancied, the God of Israel only. Let them say what they will, thou art sovereign Lord, the God of gods, even thou alone: Universal Lord of all the kingdoms of the earth; and rightful Lord; for thou hast made heaven and earth. Being creator of all, by an incontestable title thou art owner and ruler of all.
16 Him - Rabshakeh: he would not do him the honour to name him.
21 Virgin - So he calls Zion, or Jerusalem; because she was pure in good measure from that gross idolatry wherewith other people were defiled, which is called spiritual whoredom: and to signify, that God would defend her from the rape which Sennacherib intended to commit upon her with no less care than parents do their virgin daughters from those who seek to force and deflower them.
23 Mountains - I have brought up my very chariots to those mountains which were thought inaccessible by my army. Lebanon - An high hill, famous for cedars and fir - trees. Cut down - I will cut down the trees that hinder my march, and plane the way for my numerous army and chariots. Lodgings - Those cities (which he calls lodgings in way of contempt) which are in his utmost borders. I am come into the land of Canaan at one border, Lebanon, and I resolve to march on to the other border, and so destroy the whole country, from one border to the other. Carmel - The forest of mount Carmel, which may seem to be another inaccessible place, like Lebanon.
24 Strange waters - Such as were never discovered by others. Dried up - And as I can furnish my army with water digged out of the earth; so I can deprive my enemies of their water, and can dry up their rivers, and that with the sole of my feet; with the march of my vast and numerous army, who will easily do this, either by marching through them, and each carrying away part with them: or by making new channels, and driving the waters of the river into them.
25 Hast thou not, &c. - Hast thou not long since learned, that which some of thy philosophers could teach thee; that there is a supreme and powerful God, by whose decree and providence all these wars and calamities were sent, and ordered; whose mere instrument thou art, so that thou hast no cause for these vain boastings? This work is mine, not thine. I have, &c. - I have so disposed of things by my providence, that thou shouldest be a great and victorious prince, and that thou shouldest be so successful as thou hast hitherto been, first against the kingdom of Israel, and now against Judah.
26 Therefore - Because I had armed thee with my commission and strength, and taken away their spirit and courage.
27 I know - Though thou dost not know me, yet I throughly know thee, and all thy designs and actions, all thy secret contrivances in the place of thy abode, in thy own kingdom and court; and the execution of thy designs abroad, what thou intendest in thy going out, and with what farther thoughts thou comest in, or returnest to thy own land.
28 My hook, &c. - What a comfort is it, that God has a hook in the nose and a bridle in the jaws of all his and our enemies?
29 A sign - Of the certain accomplishment of the promises here made: that God will not only preserve the city from his present fury, but also, bless his people with a durable prosperity, ver.30,31. The third year - This was an excellent sign; especially, considering the waste and havock which the Assyrians had made in the land; and that the Jews had been forced to retire into their strong hold, and consequently to neglect their tilling, and sowing, and reaping; and yet this year they should have sufficient provision from those fruits of the earth which the Assyrians left; and the second year, which was the year of release, in which they might neither sow, nor reap, from such fruits as the earth brought forth of its own accord; and so in the third year. And eat - You shall not sow, and another reap, as lately you did; but you shall enjoy the fruit of your own labours.
30 The remnant, &c. - They shall be well fixt and provided for themselves, and then do good to others.
31 Go forth - That handful of Jews who were now gathered together, and shut up in Jerusalem, shall go out of their several habitations, and by my singular blessing increase exceedingly. The zeal - Although when you reflect upon yourselves, and consider either your present fewness, and weakness, or your great unworthiness, this may seem too great a blessing for you to expect; yet God will do it from the zeal which he hath, both for his own name, and for the good of his undeserving people.
32 He shall not - The army sent with Rabshaketh did not form a close siege against it, but only disposed themselves so as to block it up at some distance; possibly waiting 'till the king of Assyria had taken Libnah and Lachish, (which they presumed he would speedily do.)
35 Angel - Such an angel as destroyed the first - born of Egypt. Arose - The few that were left alive: all their companions were dead.
36 So Sennacherib, &c. - The manner of the expression intimates the great disorder and distraction of mind he was in.
37 Was worshipping, &c. - The God of Israel had done enough to convince him, that he was the only true God. Yet he persists in his idolatry. Justly then is his blood mingled with his sacrifices, who will not be convinced by so dear - bought a demonstration, of his folly in worshipping idols.

Chapter XX

Hezekiah's sickness and recovery, ver 1 - 7. The sign given him, ver. 8 - 11. He shews the Babylonians all his treasures, ver. 12 - 13. The Babylonish captivity foretold, ver. 14 - 19. He dies, ver. 20, 21

1 Those days - In the year of the Assyrian invasion. Set, &c. - Make thy will, and settle the affairs of thy family and kingdom. Not live - Such threatenings, though absolutely expressed, have often secret conditions.
2 Turned his face - As he lay in his bed. He could not retire to his closet, but he retired as well as he could, turned from the company, to converse with God.
3 In truth - Sincerely with an honest mind. I am not conscious to myself of any gross exorbitances, for which thou usest to shorten mens days. Wept - For that horror of death which is and was common to men, especially, in the times of the Old Testament, when the grace of God in Christ was not so fully manifested, as now it is: and, for the distracted condition in which the church and state were then likely to be left, through the uncertainty of the succession to the crown.
4 Court - Of the king's palace. This is noted to shew God's great readiness to hear the prayers of his children.
5 God of, &c. - I am mindful of my promise made to David and his house, and will make it good in thy person. Shalt go - To give me solemn praise for this mercy.
6 Fifteen years - We have not an instance of any other, who was told before - hand just how long, he should live. God has wisely kept us at uncertainties, that we may be always ready.
10 Go down - In an instant: for that motion of the sun is natural for the kind of it, though miraculous for the swiftness of it; but the other would be both ways miraculous.
11 Degrees - These degrees were lines in the dial: but whether each of these lines or degrees noted an hour, or half an hour, or a quarter of an hour, is uncertain. But the sun itself went back, and the shadow with it. This miracle was noted by the Babylonians, who, having understood that it was done for Hezekiah's sake, sent to enquire into the truth and manner of it, 2Chron 32:31. Of Ahaz - Which Ahaz had made in the king's palace. This dial he mentions, because the truth of the miracle might be best and soonest discovered there, this dial possibly being visible out of the king's chamber, and the degrees being most distinct and conspicuous in it.
12 Berodach - baladan - He seems to have been the king of Assyria's vice - roy in Babylon, and upon that terrible slaughter in the Assyrian host, and the death of Sennacherib, and the differences among his sons, to have usurped absolute sovereignty over Babylon. And either himself or his son destroyed the Assyrian monarchy, and translated the empire to Babylon. Sent - Partly, for the reasons mentioned, 2Chron 32:31, and partly, to assure himself of the assistance of Hezekiah against the Assyrians, their common enemy.
13 His treasures - For though his country had lately been harassed by the Assyrians, yet he had reserved all his treasures and precious things, which he and his fathers had gathered in Jerusalem. Besides, he had considerable spoils out of the Assyrian camp. Also he had many presents sent to him, 2Chron 32:23. Shewed - Which he did through pride of heart, 2Chron 32:25,26, being lifted up by the great honour which God had done him, in working such glorious miracles for his sake, and by the great respects rendered to him from divers princes, and now by this great Babylonian monarch. So hard a matter is it even for a good man to be high and humble.
17 Behold - This judgment is denounced against him for his pride; for his ingratitude, whereby he took that honour to himself which he should have given entirely to God; and for his carnal confidence in that league which he had now made with the king of Babylon, by which, it is probable, he thought his mountain to be so strong, that it could not be removed.
18 Thy sons - Of thy grand - children. Eunuchs - They shall be servants to that heathen monarch, whereby both their bodies will be subject to slavery, and their souls exposed to the peril of idolatry, and all sorts of wickedness.
19 Good is, &c. - I heartily submit to this sentence, as being both just, and merciful. True penitents, when they are under divine rebukes, call them not only just, but good. Not only submit to, but accept of the punishment of their iniquity. So Hezekiah did, and by this it appeared, he was indeed humbled for the pride of his heart.

Chapter XXI

The wicked reign of Manasseh, ver. 1 - 9. Judgment denounced against him and Jerusalem, ver. 10 - 16. His death, ver. 17, 18. The wicked reign of Amon, ver. 19 - 22. He is slain, and succeeded by Josiah, ver. 23 - 26.

1 Reigned - In which time the years of his imprisonment are comprehended.
3 He built, &c. - Trampling on the dust and affronting the memory of his worthy father. All the host of heaven - The sun, moon and stars.
6 Through the fire - Between two fires, by which he dedicated him to Molock, in contempt of the seal of circumcision by which he had been dedicated to God. Times - Lucky, or unlucky days according to the superstitious practice of the heathens.
7 An image - The image of that Baal which was worshipped in the grove.
9 More evil - Partly, because they were not contented with those idols which the Canaanites worshipped, but either invented, or borrowed from other nations many new idols, and partly, because as their light was far more clear, their obligations to God infinitely higher, and their helps against idolatry much stronger than the Canaanites had; so their sins, though the same in kind, were unspeakably worse in respect of these dreadful aggravations.
13 The line - She shall have the same measure, the same judgments which Samaria had. The line is often put for one's lot or portion, because mens portions or possessions used to be measured by lines. A dish - As men do with a dish that hath been used, first wholly empty it of all that is in it, then throughly cleanse and wipe it; and lastly, turn it upside down, that nothing may remain in it; so will I deal with Jerusalem, throughly empty and purge it from all its wicked inhabitants. Yet the comparison intimates, that this should be in order to the purifying, not the final destruction of Jerusalem. The dish shall not be broken in pieces, or wholly cast away, but only wiped.
15 Since, &c. - This forejudgment, though it was chiefly inflicted for the sins of Manasseh and his generation, yet had a respect unto all their former sins.
16 Blood - The blood of those prophets and righteous men who either reproved his sinful practices, or refused to comply with his wicked commands. His sin - His idolatry, which is called sin, by way of eminency. The tradition of the Jews is, that he caused Isaiah in particular to be sawn asunder.
18 Garden - Not in the sepulchre of the kings; probably, by his own choice and command, as a lasting testimony of his sincere repentance and abhorrence of himself for his former crime.
21 He walked, &c. - He revived that idolatry which Manasseh in the latter end of his reign had put down. Those who set bad examples, if they repent themselves, cannot be sure that they whom their example has drawn into sin will repent. It is often otherwise.

Chapter XXII

The general character of Josiah, ver. 1, 2. He repairs the temple, ver. 3 - 7. The high - priest brings him the original book of the law, ver. 8 - 10. He sends to consult Huldah the prophetess, ver. 11 - 14. The destruction of Jerusalem foretold, ver. 15 - 20.

3 The scribe - The secretary of state.
8 The book - That original book of the law of the Lord, given or written by the hand of Moses, as it is expressed, 2Chron 34:14, which by God's command was put beside the ark, Deut 31:26, and probably taken from thence and hid, by the care of some godly priest, when some of the idolatrous kings of Judah persecuted the true religion, and defaced the temple, and (which the Jewish writers affirm) burnt all the copies of God's law which they could find. It was now found among the rubbish, or in some secret place.
11 The words - The dreadful comminations against them for the sins still reigning among the people. If Josiah had seen and read it before, which seems more probable, yet the great reverence which he justly bare to the original book, and the strange, and remarkable, and seasonable finding of it, had awakened and quickened him to a more serious and diligent consideration of all the passages contained in it. And what a providence was this, that it was still preserved! Yea, what a providence, that the whole book of God is preserved to us. If the holy scriptures had not been of God, they had not been in being at this day. God's care of the bible, is a plain proof of his interest in it. It was a great instance of God's favour, that the book of the law was thus seasonably brought to light, to direct and quicken that blessed reformation, which Joash had begun. And it is observable, they were about a good work, repairing the temple, when it was found. They that do their duty according to their knowledge, shall have their knowledge increased.
13 Enquire - What we shall do to appease his wrath, and whether the curses here threatened must come upon us without remedy, or whether there be hope in Israel concerning the prevention of them.
14 Huldah - The king's earnest affection required great haste; and she was in Jerusalem, which is therefore noted in the following part of the verse, when Jeremiah might at this time be at Anathoth, or in some more remote part of the kingdom; and the like may be said of Zephaniah, who also might not be a prophet at this time, though he was afterward, in the days of Josiah. College - Where the sons of the prophets, or others, who devoted themselves to the study of God's word, used to meet and discourse of the things of God, and receive the instructions of their teachers.
15 The man - She uses no compliments. Tell the man that sent you - Even kings, though gods to us, are men to God, and shall be so dealt with: for with him there is no respect of persons.
17 The works - Gods made with hands.
19 Tender - He trembled at God's word. He was grieved for the dishonour done to God by the sins of his people. He was afraid of the judgments of God, which he saw coming on Jerusalem. This is tenderness of heart.
20 In peace - That is, in a time of public peace: for otherwise he died in battle. Besides, he died in peace with God, and was by death translated to everlasting peace.

Chapter XXIII

Josiah reads the law to all the people, ver. 1, 2. Renews the covenant between God and them, ver. 3. Cleanses the temple, ver. 4. Roots out idolatry, ver. 5 - 20. Keeps a solemn passover, ver. 21 - 23. Clears the land of witches, ver. 24. A general commendation of him, ver. 25. His untimely death, ver. 26 - 30. The reigns of Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim, ver. 31 - 37.

2 Prophets - Either Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Urijah: or, the sons of the prophets. It seems he read it himself. Josiah did not think it beneath him, to be a reader, any more than Solomon did to be a preacher, and David to be even a door keeper in the house of God. All people are concerned to know the scripture, and all in authority, to spread the knowledge of it.
3 Stood - They declared their consent to it, and their concurrence with the king in that act, which possibly they did by standing up, as the king himself stood when he took it. It is of good use, with all possible solemnity, to oblige ourselves to our duty. And he that bears an honest heart, does not startle at assurances.
4 Second order - Either those two who were next in degree to the high - priest, and in case of sickness were to manage his work: or the heads of the twenty four courses which David had appointed. The grove - The image of the grove: it being most frequent to call images by the names of the persons or things which they represent. The fields - Adjoining to the brook of Kidron. To Beth - el - To shew his abhorrence of them, and that he would not give the ashes of them a place in his kingdom: and to pollute and disgrace that place which had been the chief seat and throne of idolatry.
5 Priests - Heb. the Chemarim; the highest rank of priests, employed in the highest work, which was to burn incense.
6 The people - Of that people, those idolatrous people, as it is explained, 2Chron 34:4.
7 Sodomites - Sodomy was a part of idol - worship, being done to the honour of some of their idols, and by the appointment of those impure and diabolical spirits, which were worshipped in their idols. Hangings - Or, curtains, either to draw before the idols which were worshipped in the grove, to preserve them from defilement, or to gain more reverence for them: Or, garments for the service of the grove, for the idols or the priests belonging to them. Heb. houses, that is, either little chappels made of woven work, like those which were made of silver, Acts 19:24, within which there were some representations of their grove - idols: or rather, tents made of those curtains for the use above - mentioned.
8 Priests - Belonging to the high - places following, whether such as worshipped idols; or such as worshipped God in those forbidden places. Defiled - By burning dead mens bones upon them, or by putting them to some other unclean use. From Geba - The northern border of the kingdom of Judah. Beer - sheba - The southern border, from one end to the other. Gates - Which were erected by the gates of the city here mentioned, to the honour of their tutelary gods, whom after the manner of the heathen they owned for the protectors of their city and habitations. The governor - This circumstance is noted to shew Josiah's great zeal and impartiality, in rooting out all monuments of idolatry, without any respects unto those great persons who were concerned in them.
9 The priest - Who worshipped the true God there. In Jerusalem - Were not suffered to come thither to the exercise of their priestly function; as a just punishment for the corruption of God's worship, and the transgression of so plain and positive a law of God, Deut 12:11, which was much worse in them who had more knowledge to discern the will of God, and more obligations to observe it. Did eat - Of the meal - offerings, allotted to the priests, wherein there was to be no leaven, Lev 2:4,5,10,11, and consequently of other provisions belonging to the priests, which are contained under this one kind. Thus their spiritual blemish puts them into the very same state which corporal blemishes brought them, Lev 21:17, &c. And thus he mitigates their punishment: he shuts them out from spiritual services, but allows them necessary provisions.
10 Topheth - Very near Jerusalem, where was the image of Molech, to whom some sacrificed their children, burning them in the fire, others dedicated them, making them pass between two fires. It is supposed to be called Topheth, from toph, a drum; because they beat drums at the burning of the children, that their shrieks might not be heard.
11 Horses - Such the eastern nations used to consecrate to the sun, to signify the swiftness of his motion. The sun - Either, to be sacrificed to the sun: or, to draw those chariots in which the kings, or some other in their stead, went forth every morning to worship the rising sun: for both these were the customs of the Armenians and Persians, as Xenophon testifies. Entering in - By the gate of the outward court of the temple. Chamberlain - Or, officer, to whom the care of these horses were committed. Suburbs - Of the temple: in certain outward buildings belonging to the temple. Chariots - Which were made for the worship of the sun.
12 The top - Upon the roof of the king's house. They were so mad upon their idols, that they were not content with all their publick high places and altars, but made others upon their house - tops, for the worship of the heavenly bodies. Cast - To shew his detestation of them: and to abolish the very remembrance of them.
13 Corruption - The mount of olives, called the mount of corruption, for the gross idolatry there practiced. Which - Not the same individual altars; which doubtless either Solomon upon his repentance, or some other of Josiah's predecessors had taken away, but other altars built by Manasseh or Amon, which because erected by Solomon's example, and for the same use, and in the same place, are called by his name: this brand is left by the Holy Ghost upon his name and memory, as a just punishment of that abominable practice, and a mean to deter others from the like. Abomination - The idol, so called, because it was abominable, and made them abominable to God.
14 Men - Of the idolatrous priests, which he caused to be taken out of their graves, ver.18. As he carried the ashes of the images to the graves, to mingle them with dead mens bones, so he carried dead mens bones to the places where the images had been, that both ways idolatry might be rendered loathsome. Dead men and dead gods were indeed much alike, and fittest to go together.
15 Beth - el - Probably this city was now under the kingdom of Judah, to which it was added by Abijah long since. And it is probable, since the ten tribes were carried away, many cities had put themselves under the protection of Judah. The golden calf, it seems, was gone; but Josiah would leave no remains of that idolatry.
16 Himself - Josiah's care and zeal was so great, that he would not trust his officers with these things, but would see them done with his own eyes. These words - Three hundred years before it was done.
20 The priests - By this relation it appears, that after the departure of the king of Assyria, divers of the Israelites who had retired to other parts, and kept themselves out of the conqueror's hands, returned together with their priests to their own land, and to their old trade, worshipping idols; to whom, peradventure, they ascribed this their deliverance from that judgment which Jehovah had brought upon them. And burnt - According to that famous prophecy, 1Kings 13:1,2.
22 Such a passover - Celebrated with such solemn care, and great preparation, and numerous sacrifices, and universal joy of all good men; which was much the greater, because of their remembrance of the former wicked and miserable times under Manasseh, and Amon; and the good hopes they now had of the happy establishment of their nation, and the true religion; and of the prevention of God's judgments denounced against them. Judges - Or, from the days of Samuel, the last of the judges; as it is expressed 2Chron 35:18. None of the kings had taken such care to prepare themselves, the priests, and people, and accurately to observe all the rites, and diligently to purge out all uncleanness, and to renew their covenant with God. And undoubtedly God was pleased to recompense their zeal in destroying idolatry with uncommon tokens of his presence and favour. All this concurred to make it such a passover as had not been, even in the days of Hezekiah.
24 Images, &c. - Three words noting the same thing, to shew, That all the instruments and monuments of idolatry were destroyed, as God had commanded. Spied - All that were discovered; not only such as were in the place of worship, but such as their priests or zealots had removed, and endeavoured to hide.
25 No king - For his diligent study in God's law, and his exact care, and unwearied industry, and fervent zeal, in rooting out idolators, and all kinds and appearances of idolatry, not only in Judah, but in Israel also; and in the establishment of the true religion in all his dominions, and in the conforming of his own life, and his peoples too, (as far as he could) to the holy law of God: though Hezekiah might excel him in some particulars.
26 Notwithstanding - Because though the king was most hearty in his repentance and acceptable to God, and therefore the judgment was delayed for his time; yet the people were in general corrupt, and secretly averse from Josiah's pious reformation, as appears from the complaints of the prophets, especially Jeremiah and Zephaniah, against them: and by the following history, wherein we see, that as soon as ever Josiah was gone, his children, and the princes, and the people, suddenly and greedily returned to their former abominations. Because - The sins of Manasseh, and for the men of his generation; who concurred with him in his idolatrous and cruel practices, are justly punished in this generation: because of God's sovereign right of punishing sinners when he sees fit: because of that publick declaration of God, that he would visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children: and principally, because these men had never sincerely repented of their own, nor of their fathers sins.
27 I said - Upon the conditions in sundry places expressed, which they broke, and therefore God justly made them to know his breach of promise.
29 The king, &c. - The king of Babylon, who having formerly rebelled against the Assyrian had now conquered him; as appears by the course of the sacred, and the concurrence of the prophane history; and therefore is here and elsewhere called the Assyrian, and the king of Assyria, because now he was the head of that empire. Euphrates - Against Carchemish by Euphrates, as it is expressed, 2Chron 35:20, which the Assyrian had taken from Pharaoh's confederates, who therefore sends forces against the Assyrian, that he might both help them, and secure himself. Josiah went - Either to defend his own country from Pharaoh's incursions; or to assist the king of Babylon, with whom he seems to have been in league. Slew - Gave him his death wound there; though he died not 'till he came to Jerusalem. Seen him - When he fought with him, or in the first onset. It does not appear, that Josiah had any clear call to engage in this war; possibly he received his death wound, as a punishment of his rashness.
30 Dead - Mortally wounded. Jehoahaz - Who was younger than Jehoiakim, yet preferred by the people before the elder brother; either because Jehoiakim refused the kingdom for fear of Pharaoh, whom he knew he should hereby provoke. Or because Jehoahaz was the more stout and warlike prince; whence he is called a lion, Ezek 19:3.
32 His fathers - His grand - parents, Manasseh, and Amon. He restored that idolatry which his father had destroyed. Jerusalem saw not a good day, after Josiah was laid in his grave; but one trouble came after another, 'till within two and twenty years it was destroyed.
33 In bands - Either, because he presumed to take the kingdom without his consent: or because he renewed the war against Pharaoh.
34 Jehoiakim - The giving of names was accounted an act of dominion; which therefore parents did to their children, and conquerors to their vassals or tributaries.

Chapter XXIV

Judah severely punished, ver. 1 - 4. Jehoiakim dies, ver. 5 - 6. Nebuchadnezzar's conquests, ver. 7. The wicked reign of Jehoiachin, ver. 8, 9. Nebuchadnezzar takes Jerusalem and carries the people captive, ver. 10 - 16. The wicked reign of Zedekiah, ver. 17 - 20.

2 Bands - For Nebuchadnezzar's army was made up of several nations, who were willing to fight under the banner of such a puissant and victorious emperor.
3 The sins - Properly and directly for their own sins, and occasionally for the sins of Manasseh, which had never been charged upon them, if they had not made them their own by their repetition of them.
6 With his fathers - But it is not said, he was buried with them. No doubt the prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled, that he should not be lamented as his father was, but buried with the burial of an ass.
7 Came not - In this king's days. He could not now come to protect the king of Judah, being scarce able to defend his own kingdom.
8 To reign - In his eighth year he began to reign with his father, who made him king with him as divers other kings of Israel and Judah had done in times of trouble; and in his eighteenth year he reigned alone.
12 Went out - Yielded up himself and the city into his hands; and this by the counsel of Jeremiah, and to his own good. His reign - Of Nebuchadnezzar's reign; as appears by comparing this with chap.25:8, and because Jehoiachin reigned not half a year. Had he made his peace with God, and taken the method that Hezekiah did in the like case, he needed not to have feared the king of Babylon, but might have held out with courage, honour and success. But wanting the faith and piety of an Israelite, he had not the resolution of a man.
13 Vessels - The most and choicest of them, by comparing this with chap.25:14,15. Solomon made - Though the city and temple had been rifled more than once both by the kings of Egypt and Israel, and by the wicked kings of Judah; yet these golden vessels were preserved from them, either by the case of the priests, who hid them; or by the clemency of the conquerors, or by the special providence of God, disposing their hearts to leave them. Or, if they had been taken away by any of these kings, they might afterwards be recovered good, at the cost of the kings of Judah.
14 All - Not simply all, but the best and most considerable part, as the following words explain it. Captives - Which are more particularly reckoned up, ver.16, where there are seven thousand mighty men, and a thousand smiths; and those mentioned ver.15, make up the other two thousand. Craftsmen and smiths - Who might furnish them with new arms, and thereby give him fresh trouble.
17 Zedekiah - That he might admonish him of (what this name signifies) the justice of God, which had so severely punished Jehoiakim for his rebellion; and would no less certainly overtake him, if he should be guilty of the same perfidiousness.
20 Came to pass - Thus the peoples sins were the true cause why God gave them wicked kings, whom he suffered to do wickedly, that they might bring the long - deserved, and threatened punishments upon themselves and their people.

Chapter XXV

Jerusalem is taken, ver. 1 - 4. Zedekiah taken and sentenced, ver. 5 - 7. Nebuzaradan burns the city, breaks down the walls, and carries away the spoils, with most of the people, ver. 3 - 17. The chief officers are put to death, ver. 18 - 21. The very remnant of the people is scattered, ver. 22 - 26. Jehoiachin is countenanced, after thirty seven years imprisonment, ver. 27 - 30.

1 Came - To chastise Zedekiah for his rebellion and perjury. Built - To keep all supplies of men or provisions from entering into the city: and that from thence they might shoot darts, or arrows, or stones.
3 The people - For the common people, but only for the great men. Now they eat their own children for want of food, Lam 4:3, &c. Jeremiah in this extremity, earnestly persuaded the king to surrender; but his heart was hardened to his destruction.
6 Riblah - Where Nebuchadnezzar staid, that he might both supply the besiegers with men, and military provisions, as their occasions required; and have an eye to Chaldea, to prevent or suppress any commotions which might happen there in his absence. They - The king's officers appointed thereunto, examined his cause, and passed the following sentence against him.
7 Slew, &c. - Tho' they were but children, that this spectacle, the last he was to behold, might leave a remaining impression of grief and horror upon his spirit. And in slaying his sons they in effect declared, that the kingdom was no more, and that he nor any of his breed were fit to be trusted: therefore not fit to live. Babylon - Thus two prophecies were fulfilled, which seemed contrary one to the other, that he should go to Babylon, Jer 32:5, 34:3, and that he should never see Babylon: which seeming contradiction, because Zedekiah the false prophet could not reconcile, he concluded both were false, and it seems Zedekiah the king might stumble at this difficulty.
8 Months, &c. - So the Chaldeans did not put all to fire and sword, as soon as they had taken the city: but about a month after, orders were sent, to compleat the destruction of it. This space God gave them to repent after all the foregoing days of his patience. But in vain; they still hardened their hearts: and therefore execution is awarded to the utmost.
9 Burnt the house of the Lord - One of the apocryphal writers tells us, that Jeremiah got the ark out of the temple, and conveyed it to a cave in mount Nebo, 2Macc 2:4,5. But this is like the other tales of that author, who has no regard either to truth or probability. For Jeremiah was at this time a close prisoner. By the burning of the temple God would shew, how little he cares for the outward pomp of his worship, when the life and power of religion are gone. About four hundred and thirty years the temple of Solomon had stood. And it is observed by Josephus, that the second temple was burnt by the Romans, the same month, and the same day of the month, that the first temple was burnt by the Chaldeans.
11 People - Whom neither the sword nor famine had destroyed, who were eight hundred and thirty two persons, Jer 52:29, being members and traders of that city: for it is likely, there were very many more of the country people fled thither, who were left with others of their brethren to manure the land. Multitude - Of the inhabitants of the country.
12 Left of the poor - So while the rich were prisoners in a strange land, the poor had liberty and peace in their own country! Thus providence sometimes humbles the proud, and favours them of low degree.
21 Out of the land - This compleated their calamity, about eight hundred and sixty years after they were put in possession of it by Joshua.
22 Gedaliah - A righteous and good man, and a friend to the prophet Jeremiah.
24 Sware - Assured them by his promise and oath, that they should be kept from the evils which they feared. This he might safely swear, because he had not only the king of Babylon's promise but also God's promise deliver'd by Jeremiah. And it might seem, a fair prospect was opening again. But how soon was the scene changed! This hopeful settlement is quickly dashed in pieces, not by the Chaldeans, but by some of themselves.
25 Came - Moved with envy to see so mean a person advanced into their place. Ten men - Ten captains or officers, and under each of them many soldiers.
26 Egypt - And here they probably mixt with the Egyptians by degrees, and were heard of no more as Israelites.
27 Seven and twentieth - Or, on the twenty fifth day, as it is, Jer 52:31. For then the decree was made, which was executed upon the twenty seventh day.
30 All the days of his life - Let none say, they shall never see good again, because they have long seen little but evil. The most afflicted know not what blessed turn providence may yet give to their affairs.

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