How Jesus Christ viewed the fall of ancient Israel
Wrapping up 2nd Kings (Nov 98)
This is a continuation of my Sep 98 article, "Supernatural" vs. "Spiritual" Interpretations of the Scriptures, in which we will examine "first-heaven" (1-hvn), "second-heaven" (2-hvn) and "third-heaven" (3-hvn) interpretations of the remaining chapters in 2nd Kings starting with chapter 14. If you are unfamiliar with what I mean by those three levels of interpretation, you should read my explanation of them near the beginning of that Sep 98 article. In this article, we shall specifically examine (from these three points of view) the issue of why ancient Israel fell. In subsequent articles, we'll examine specifically how these three points of view of that situation influenced the visions recorded in the Book of Daniel and the teachings of Jesus Christ. As before, the following quotation pretty well summarizes the overall nature of the problems that were documented by the authors of 1st and 2nd Kings.
For this is the fact of our time, that increasing technology has created a world society which interacts with increasing (and often abrasive) intimacy. That society exists already, like it or no. And the condition of a society without structure is anarchy-the chaos of lawlessness. Such a society is a happy hunting ground for predators. Worse yet, it forces those with decent impulses to also become predators in order to survive amid the chaos. The only way out is to establish structure-law and order.
-- Dale Hiller (30 Aug 98)
(The this entire article "borrows heavily" from the New King James Version of the Bible)
In Chapter 14 of 2nd Kings, we learn that in the second year of Joash the son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, became king. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like his father David; he did everything as his father Joash had done. However the high places were not taken away, and the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. Now it happened, as soon as the kingdom was in his hand, he executed his servants who had murdered his father the king. But the children of the murderers he did not execute, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, in which the LORD commanded, saying, "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; but a person shall be put to death for his own sin."
[2-hvn: This quotation from the "Book of the Law of Moses" was from Deuteronomy 24:16. It represents a significant departure from the teachings of King David, Ahijah, and others who were satanically inspired to believe that "God demanded" the total annihilation of not just an offender but all of the offender's descendants as well. It's also an Old Testament repudiation of the elderly Samuel who satanically demanded the genocidal extermination of the Amalekites, because of an incident that had occurred 300 years earlier.]
Amaziah killed ten thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt, and took Sela by war, and called its name Joktheel to this day. Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, "Come, let us face one another in battle." And Jehoash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, "The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, 'Give your daughter to my son as wife'; and a wild beast that was in Lebanon passed by and trampled the thistle. "You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Glory in that, and stay at home; for why should you meddle with trouble so that you fall--you and Judah with you?" But Amaziah would not heed. Therefore Jehoash king of Israel went out; so he and Amaziah king of Judah faced one another at Beth Shemesh, which belongs to Judah. And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his tent.
[2-hvn: Don't you get the impression that Amaziah was not very bright? This is just one of many examples of Biblical SATIRE in the Old Testament which many of our religious leaders have failed to recognize, due to their erroneous (un-Christlike) presumption that everyone the Old Testament who CLAIMED to represent God did in fact represent God.]
Then Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash, the son of Ahaziah, at Beth Shemesh; and he went to Jerusalem, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Gate of Ephraim to the Corner Gate--four hundred cubits. And he took all the gold and silver, all the articles that were found in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the king's house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did--his might, and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah--are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Jehoash rested with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel. Then Jeroboam his son reigned in his place.
[2-hvn: So Amaziah "bites the dust", another victim of Ahijah's satanically inspired breakup of David's kingdom. (Also a victim of his own stupidity.)]
Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, lived fifteen years after the death of Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel. Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And they formed a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish and killed him there. Then they brought him on horses, and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the City of David. And all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah.
He built Elath and restored it to Judah, after the king rested with his fathers. In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, became king in Samaria, and reigned forty-one years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin. He restored the territory of Israel from the entrance of Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which He had spoken through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher. For the LORD saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter; and whether bond or free, there was no helper for Israel.
[2-hvn: Evidently, as far as the common Israelites were concerned, their own kings were no better than the foreign kings who occupied their land from time to time. They all seemed to enjoy starting wars and conscripting commoners to fight in them.]
And the LORD did not say that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven; but He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash. Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did-- his might, how he made war, and how he recaptured for Israel, from Damascus and Hamath, what had belonged to Judah--are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Jeroboam rested with his fathers, the kings of Israel. Then Zechariah his son reigned in his place.
In Chapter 15 of II Kings, in the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, became king. He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done, except that the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.
Then the LORD struck the king, so that he was a leper until the day of his death; so he dwelt in an isolated house. And Jotham the king's son was over the royal house, judging the people of the land. Now the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? So Azariah rested with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the City of David. Then Jotham his son reigned in his place.
[2-hvn: Since no wars are mentioned, it appears that the Israelites lived pretty much in peace under the 52-year reign of Azariah. He indeed did "what was right in the sight of the Lord." It's interesting that some of the authors of 2nd Kings blamed the Lord for the fact that Azariah caught the disease of leprosy. Some of the Old Testament authors (Levites, primarily) were inclined to attribute or blame "the Lord" for just about everything that happened. That gave them an immense range of options for "interpreting the Will of God." Jesus, on the other hand, taught us to make a distinction between the acts and teachings of God and the acts and teachings of Satan, based on whether or not those acts or teachings conformed with both of God's two most fundamental commandments. Jesus taught us how to use our OWN minds to seek and recognize the true Will of God. Actually, it was the "third-heaven" authors of Genesis who first taught such lessons, as did Moses before he started wearing that "veil".]
In the thirty-eighth year of Azariah king of Judah, Zechariah the son of Jeroboam reigned over Israel in Samaria six months. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin. Then Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him, and struck and killed him in front of the people; and he reigned in his place. Now the rest of the acts of Zechariah, indeed they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
[2-hvn: Zechariah must have done a considerable amount of evil in the sight of the people as well, as indicated by the fact that they so readily accepted his assassin as their new king.]
This was the word of the LORD which He spoke to Jehu, saying, "Your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation." And so it was. Shallum the son of Jabesh became king in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah king of Judah; and he reigned a full month in Samaria. For Menahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah, came to Samaria, and struck Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria and killed him; and he reigned in his place. Now the rest of the acts of Shallum, and the conspiracy which he led, indeed they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
[2-hvn: Keep in mind that this practice of "royal succession by assassination" was started by Ahijah, a "prophet" who falsely CLAIMED to represent God. As Jesus said, "you will know them by their fruits."]
Then from Tirzah, Menahem attacked Tiphsah, all who were there, and its territory. Because they did not surrender, therefore he attacked it. All the women there who were with child he ripped open. In the thirty-ninth year of Azariah king of Judah, Menahem the son of Gadi became king over Israel, and reigned ten years in Samaria. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin. Pul king of Assyria came against the land; and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to strengthen the kingdom under his control. And Menahem exacted the money from Israel, from all the very wealthy, from each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and did not stay there in the land. Now the rest of the acts of Menahem, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Menahem rested with his fathers. Then Pekahiah his son reigned in his place.
[2-hvn: Evidently, Menahem felt that he had to rely on terror-tactics in order to collect taxes and maintain his rule, much like Saddam Hussein. Those times could hardly be considered ancient Israel's "glory days."]
In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah the son of Menahem became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned two years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin. Then Pekah the son of Remaliah, an officer of his, conspired against him and killed him in Samaria, in the citadel of the king's house, along with Argob and Arieh; and with him were fifty men of Gilead. He killed him and reigned in his place. Now the rest of the acts of Pekahiah, and all that he did, indeed they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
[1-hvn: Pekahiah was punished for doing "evil in the sight of the LORD" just like Jeroboam.]
[2-hvn: The evil of Ahijah's teachings continues to bear ungodly "fruits."]
In the fifty-second year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekah the son of Remaliah became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned twenty years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin. In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maachah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria. Then Hoshea the son of Elah led a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and struck and killed him; so he reigned in his place in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah. Now the rest of the acts of Pekah, and all that he did, indeed they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
[2-hvn: Here we have an example where authors of 2nd Kings appear to have repeated themselves in the process of extracting information from a variety of documents. Notice the two-year difference between these two accounts regarding the year when Pekahiah [a.k.a. Pekah] became king. Such discrepancies indicate that 1st and 2nd Kings (and 1st and 2nd Samuel) were hastily compiled and edited to serve some contemporary purpose. When the time came to compile the Hebrew scriptures into what became the Old Testament, these documents were included pretty much as they existed at that time, because they (and 1st and 2nd Chronicles) were probably the best accounts of Ancient Israel's history that were available at that time. It's doubtful that the authors of these documents ever expected their writings to be idolized they way Christian "fundamentalists" have tended to idolize them. If they had known that, they probably would have "proof read" them far more carefully.]
In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, Jotham the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jerusha the daughter of Zadok. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD; he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done. However the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. He built the Upper Gate of the house of the LORD. Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? In those days the LORD began to send Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah against Judah. So Jotham rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David his father. Then Ahaz his son reigned in his place.
[2-hvn: Here again, some of the authors or editors of 2nd Kings are attributing evil to God. Why would God "send" the evil Pekah "against Judah"?]
In Chapter 16 of II Kings, in the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, began to reign. Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD his God, as his father David had done. But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.
Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to make war; and they besieged Ahaz but could not overcome him. At that time Rezin king of Syria captured Elath for Syria, and drove the men of Judah from Elath. Then the Edomites went to Elath, and dwell there to this day. So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, saying, "I am your servant and your son. Come up and save me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who rise up against me." And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasuries of the king's house, and sent it as a present to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria heeded him; for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and took it, carried its people captive to Kir, and killed Rezin.
[3-hvn: Such is the nature of the "beast" we presently call "the national sovereignty system."]
Now King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus; and King Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the design of the altar and its pattern, according to all its workmanship. Then Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus. So Urijah the priest made it before King Ahaz came from Damascus. And when the king came from Damascus, the king saw the altar; and the king approached the altar and made offerings on it. So he burned his burnt offering and his grain offering; and he poured his drink offering and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings on the altar. He also brought the bronze altar which was before the LORD, from the front of the temple--from between the new altar and the house of the LORD--and put it on the north side of the new altar.
Then King Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, "On the great new altar burn the morning burnt offering, the evening grain offering, the king's burnt sacrifice, and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, their grain offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice. And the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by." Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that King Ahaz commanded. And King Ahaz cut off the panels of the carts, and removed the lavers from them; and he took down the Sea from the bronze oxen that were under it, and put it on a pavement of stones. Also he removed the Sabbath pavilion which they had built in the temple, and he removed the king's outer entrance from the house of the LORD, on account of the king of Assyria. Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? So Ahaz rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. Then Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.
[2-hvn: This level of detail regarding the new alter and temple sacrifices strongly indicates the Urijah the priest was probably the original author of this portion of 2nd Kings. Those complaints about sacrifices being performed in "the high places" (i.e. complaints about religious competition) may well have been his idea originally. The alterations to the Temple described above were apparently done to increase the Temple's "capacity" for processing animal sacrifices in preparation for the centralization of all Judean animal sacrifice activities.]
THE FALL OF ISREAL, THE NORTHERN KINGDOM
In Chapter 17 of II Kings, in the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel who were before him. Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him; and Hoshea became his vassal, and paid him tribute money. And the king of Assyria uncovered a conspiracy by Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and brought no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.
Now the king of Assyria went throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria and besieged it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. Also the children of Israel secretly did against the LORD their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom the LORD had carried away before them; and they did wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger, for they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, "You shall not do this thing."
Yet the LORD testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, "Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets." Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God. And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them that they should not do like them. So they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone.
Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight. For He tore Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD, and made them commit a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the LORD removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.
[1-hvn: The author of this portion of 2nd Kings clearly attributes the fall of Samaria (a.k.a. "The Northern Kingdom") to the fact that they were worshipping man-made idols rather than God. Ahijah's claim that it was God who "tore Israel from the house of David" appears to be reaffirmed.]
[2-hvn: If it was indeed God who "tore Israel from the house of David", they why did that event produce such a lengthy succession of ungodly results ("fruits")? As Jesus viewed it, it was actually Satan (posing as God) who inspired the breakup of David's kingdom thereby producing all those ungodly "fruits". The Israelites in Samaria were indeed worshipping man-made idols, but the idol that ultimately "did them in" was their worship of "Samarian national sovereignty" which was continually being redefined by each successive king.]
Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities. And it was so, at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they did not fear the LORD; therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which killed some of them. So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, "The nations whom you have removed and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the rituals of the God of the land; therefore He has sent lions among them, and indeed, they are killing them because they do not know the rituals of the God of the land." Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, "Send there one of the priests whom you brought from there; let him go and dwell there, and let him teach them the rituals of the God of the land." Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.
[2-hvn: Notice that the king of Assyria resorted to extraordinary measures (short of actually killing all of the Israelites in Samaria) in order to insure that those Israelites would never regain their beloved "national sovereignty." Notice also that he saw no problems with reestablishing the rituals of the Hebrew religion among the new residents of Samaria. It wasn't their religion that worried him.]
However every nation continued to make gods of its own, and put them in the shrines on the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities where they dwelt. The men of Babylon made Succoth Benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.
[2-hvn: It should not be surprising to find that they brought their former religions with them.]
So they feared the LORD, and from every class they appointed for themselves priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. They feared the LORD, yet served their own gods-- according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away. To this day they continue practicing the former rituals; they do not fear the LORD, nor do they follow their statutes or their ordinances, or the law and commandment which the LORD had commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel, with whom the LORD had made a covenant and charged them, saying: "You shall not fear other gods, nor bow down to them nor serve them nor sacrifice to them; but the LORD, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, Him you shall worship, and to Him you shall offer sacrifice. And the statutes, the ordinances, the law, and the commandment which He wrote for you, you shall be careful to observe forever; you shall not fear other gods. And the covenant that I have made with you, you shall not forget, nor shall you fear other gods. But the LORD your God you shall fear; and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies." However they did not obey, but they followed their former rituals. So these nations feared the LORD, yet served their carved images; also their children and their children's children have continued doing as their fathers did, even to this day.
[2-hvn: Notice the ambiguity described here as "fearing the LORD" yet "serving their own gods." This comment on the ideological confusion in Samaria appears to have been written a generation or so after the fall of Samaria. It reflects a sense of hopelessness with the whole situation.]
In Chapter 18 of II Kings, it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the LORD God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. For he held fast to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses. The LORD was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. He subdued the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city. Now it came to pass in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it. And at the end of three years they took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is, the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away captive to Assyria, and put them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed His covenant and all that Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded; and they would neither hear nor do them.
[2-hvn. This is another instance where two different accounts of the same events were included in the same document. This one appears to have been written a generation or so after the fact by a Judean author who greatly admired King Hezekiah. Evidently, Hezekiah yielded to the wishes of the Temple priests in Jerusalem to outlaw all animal sacrifices other than those performed by the Temple priests in Jerusalem. The Israelites had been taught that it was ungodly to slaughter and eat the meat of their own livestock unless those animals were "sacrificed to God" in ceremonies conducted by a Levite Priest. So this "reform" by King Hezekiah in effect put all of the Levites in Judea (except for those Temple priests) out of a job! It also forced all of the Israelites in Judea to take their livestock to the Temple in Jerusalem to be sacrificed if they wish to eat meat. Although many of our present religious leaders view such "reforms" to have been "godly", because the Temple priests claimed that God "decreed" them, they were in fact satanically inspired (quite selfish, actually).]
[3-hvn: It's interesting to note that King Hezekiah also destroyed the bronze symbol of a "serpent" that Moses made to remind the children of Israel of the evil consequences that accompany the teachings Satan. When Moses held that symbol of a serpent up to the sun in Number 21:8-9, he was "exposing Satan to the Light of Day" by reminding his people of the allegorical teachings incorporated in the Garden of Eden story. The fact that King Hezekiah destroyed it shows that he and those Temple priests were probably unaware of those allegorical teachings and had no idea HOW that symbol was SUPPOSED to be used.]
And in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, "I have done wrong; turn away from me; whatever you impose on me I will pay." And the king of Assyria assessed Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. So Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the king's house. At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the LORD, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.
[2-hvn. Demanding "tribute or death" (i.e. extortion) was a common practice under the "rules of national sovereignty" in those days. This explanation of why the Assyrians left without sacking Jerusalem is corroborated by the Assyrian records of that campaign (records carved in stone). However, the compilers/editors of 2nd Kings evidently also decided to include the following (conflicting) account of what happened.]
Then the king of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakeh from Lachish, with a great army against Jerusalem, to King Hezekiah. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. When they had come up, they went and stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool, which was on the highway to the Fuller's Field. And when they had called to the king, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came out to them. Then the Rabshakeh said to them, "Say now to Hezekiah, 'Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: "What confidence is this in which you trust? You speak of having plans and power for war; but they are mere words. And in whom do you trust, that you rebel against me? Now look! You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. But if you say to me, 'We trust in the LORD our God,' is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, 'You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem'?"' Now therefore, I urge you, give a pledge to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses--if you are able on your part to put riders on them! How then will you repel one captain of the least of my master's servants, and put your trust in Egypt for chariots and horsemen? Have I now come up without the LORD against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, 'Go up against this land, and destroy it.'"
[2-hvn: I suspect that its was the "Redactors" (a.k.a. "R") who added that observation from the mouth of the Assyrian emissary "But if you say to me, 'We trust in the LORD our God,' is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, 'You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem'?" That was in fact a valid point, worthy of consideration. Apparently the "Redactors" had to portray that point as coming out of the mouth of the Assyrian emissary in order to sneak it past the censorship practices of Ezra and Nehemiah.]
Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, "Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people who are on the wall." But the Rabshakeh said to them, "Has my master sent me to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, who will eat and drink their own waste with you?" Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out with a loud voice in Hebrew, and spoke, saying, "Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! Thus says the king: 'Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he shall not be able to deliver you from his hand; nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, "The LORD will surely deliver us; this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria."' Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: 'Make peace with me by a present and come out to me; and every one of you eat from his own vine and every one from his own fig tree, and every one of you drink the waters of his own cistern; until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive groves and honey, that you may live and not die. But do not listen to Hezekiah, lest he persuade you, saying, "The LORD will deliver us." Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim and Hena and Ivah? Indeed, have they delivered Samaria from my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?'"
But the people held their peace and answered him not a word; for the king's commandment was, "Do not answer him." Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.
In Chapter 19 of II Kings, when King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD. Then he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz. And they said to him, "Thus says Hezekiah: 'This day is a day of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth. It may be that the LORD your God will hear all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the LORD your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.'"
So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah. And Isaiah said to them, "Thus you shall say to your master, 'Thus says the LORD: "Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land."'"
Then the Rabshakeh returned and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah, for he heard that he had departed from Lachish. And the king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, "Look, he has come out to make war with you." So he again sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, "Thus you shall speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying: 'Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying, "Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria." Look! You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by utterly destroying them; and shall you be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered those whom my fathers have destroyed, Gozan and Haran and Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?'"
And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. Then Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said: "O LORD God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. Truly, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men's hands--wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone."
Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard.' This is the word which the LORD has spoken concerning him: 'The virgin, the daughter of Zion, has despised you, laughed you to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem has shaken her head behind your back! Whom have you reproached and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice, and lifted up your eyes on high? Against the Holy One of Israel. By your messengers you have reproached the Lord, and said: "By the multitude of my chariots I have come up to the height of the mountains, to the limits of Lebanon; I will cut down its tall cedars and its choice cypress trees; I will enter the extremity of its borders, to its fruitful forest. I have dug and drunk strange water, and with the soles of my feet I have dried up all the brooks of defense." Did you not hear long ago how I made it, from ancient times that I formed it? Now I have brought it to pass, that you should be for crushing fortified cities into heaps of ruins. Therefore their inhabitants had little power; they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field and the green herb, as the grass on the housetops and grain blighted before it is grown. But I know your dwelling place, your going out and your coming in, and your rage against Me. Because your rage against Me and your tumult have come up to My ears, therefore I will put My hook in your nose and My bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way which you came. This shall be a sign to you [Hezekiah]: you shall eat this year such as grows of itself, and in the second year what springs from the same; also in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and those who escape from Mount Zion. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.' Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: 'He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor build a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return; and he shall not come into this city,' says the LORD. For I will defend this city, to save it for My own sake and for My servant David's sake.' "
And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses--all dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh. Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.
[2-hvn: So Isaiah's prophecies came true, according to the authors of 2nd Kings. Perhaps someone poisoned the drinking water used by the Assyrian soldiers or perhaps they caught some deadly disease. The Assyrian records of this incident contain no mention of such losses. As pointed out previously, those records indicate that the Assyrian army went back home because King Hezekiah paid the tribute that they demanded. So were the authors of this account of what happened engaging in a "rewriting of history"? Perhaps. It's interesting though, that in spite of the contradictory nature of these two accounts, the compilers of 2nd Kings decided to retain both accounts in the same text. The first account may have been more factual, but the second account addresses the theological issues that no doubt played a role as well.]
Chapter 20 of II Kings reports that when King Hezekiah was sick and near death, Isaiah the prophet went to him and said, "Thus says the LORD: 'Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.'" [Wrong!] Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the LORD, saying, "Remember now, O LORD, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD. And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David."
[2-hvn: So even the prophecies of great Isaiah can be reversed, if the Lord chooses to do so. The key is to repent and follow God.]
Then Isaiah said, "Take a lump of figs." So they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered. And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "What is the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the LORD the third day?" Then Isaiah said, "This is the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing which He has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees or go backward ten degrees?" And Hezekiah answered, "It is an easy thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees; no, but let the shadow go backward ten degrees." So Isaiah the prophet cried out to the LORD, and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down on the sundial of Ahaz.
[2-hvn: Was this a "supernatural occurrence" or a mere trick? It's not difficult to figure out ways to create such an illusion. What's interesting about this is that King Hezekiah felt it necessary for Isaiah to demonstrate an apparent "supernatural sign" in order to be convinced that he would live another 15 years. When we examine the Book of Isaiah in January (1999), we'll see that Isaiah had a much better understanding of God than that.]
At that time Berodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. And Hezekiah was attentive to them, and showed them all the house of his treasures--the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory--all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them.
[2-hvn: Evidently, King Hezekiah wasn't very bright either. Talk about "inviting disaster"... There are LESSONS to be learned here. Hint! Hint!]
Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah, and said to him, "What did these men say, and from where did they come to you?" So Hezekiah said, "They came from a far country, from Babylon." And he said, "What have they seen in your house?" So Hezekiah answered, "They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them." Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD: 'Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,' says the LORD. And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.'"
So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!" For he said, "Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?" Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah-- all his might, and how he made a pool and a tunnel and brought water into the city-- are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? So Hezekiah rested with his fathers. Then Manasseh his son reigned in his place.
[2-hvn: So, like his Temple priests, King Hezekiah was rather selfish at heart. He wasn't really the "great hero" our religious leaders often portray him to be.]
Chapter 21 of 2nd Kings reports that Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hephzibah. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; he raised up altars for Baal, and made a wooden image, as Ahab king of Israel had done; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He also built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, "In Jerusalem I will put My name." And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. Also he made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.
He even set a carved image of Asherah that he had made, in the house of which the LORD had said to David and to Solomon his son, "In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever; and I will not make the feet of Israel wander anymore from the land which I gave their fathers-- only if they are careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that My servant Moses commanded them." But they paid no attention, and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.
[2-hvn: So Manasseh clearly didn't share his father's loyalty to the interests of the Temple priests in Jerusalem (perhaps because he was so young when he became king). Perhaps he felt a need to "undo the damage" that his father had done to the Levites and other religious leaders throughout the rest of Judea. One thing is for sure, the authors of the remaining chapters of 2nd Kings didn't like him. The fact that he reigned for 55 years without engaging in any major wars speaks favorably on his behalf, although as you will see below, the authors of 2nd Kings accused him of "shedding much innocent blood." It's clear that Manasseh was NOT seriously concerned with following God's two most fundamental commandments, but then neither were those Temple priests.]
And the LORD spoke by His servants the prophets, saying, "Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols), therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. So I will forsake the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become victims of plunder to all their enemies, because they have done evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.'"
Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the LORD. Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh-- all that he did, and the sin that he committed-- are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? So Manasseh rested with his fathers, and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza. Then his son Amon reigned in his place.
Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Meshullemeth the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, as his father Manasseh had done. So he walked in all the ways that his father had walked; and he served the idols that his father had served, and worshiped them. He forsook the LORD God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the LORD. Then the servants of Amon conspired against him, and killed the king in his own house. But the people of the land executed all those who had conspired against King Amon. Then the people of the land made his son Josiah king in his place. Now the rest of the acts of Amon which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And he was buried in his tomb in the garden of Uzza. Then Josiah his son reigned in his place.
[2-hvn: Note that in this case, the people did NOT tolerate the assassination of their king by accepting the assassin as their new king. Evidently, King Manasseh was reasonably well liked by his people, in spite of what the authors of 2nd Kings said about him.]
In Chapter 22 of II Kings, Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Now it came to pass, in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the scribe, the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the house of the LORD, saying: "Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may count the money which has been brought into the house of the LORD, which the doorkeepers have gathered from the people. And let them deliver it into the hand of those doing the work, who are the overseers in the house of the LORD; let them give it to those who are in the house of the LORD doing the work, to repair the damages of the house--to carpenters and builders and masons--and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house. However there need be no accounting made with them of the money delivered into their hand, because they deal faithfully."
Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, "I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD." And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. So Shaphan the scribe went to the king, bringing the king word, saying, "Your servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of those who do the work, who oversee the house of the LORD." Then Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read it before the king. Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Achbor the son of Michaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king, saying, "Go, inquire of the LORD for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us."
[2-hvn: This is rather curious. The "Book of the Law" which was "found" during Josiah's renovation of the Temple is generally thought to have been the original text of the Book of Deuteronomy. And yet, as pointed out at the beginning of this article, the authors of chapter 14 of 2nd Kings specifically quoted Deuteronomy 24:16 as the reason why King Amaziah did not kill the descendants of the people who had murdered his father, and that incident occurred several generations earlier. It's another indication that 2nd Kings was rather hastily compiled and edited. Some Biblical scholars have built cases to show that the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1st and 2nd Samuel, and 1st and 2nd Kings were initially compiled and edited (possibly by Jeremiah and his scribe Baruch) beginning sometime during the reign of Josiah. It appears that those books were initially written for the purpose of reestablishing (and more specifically defining) the philosophies and rules of the Hebrew religion, as viewed by the Levite priests in Jerusalem. That could explain how such a discrepancy may have been made without being detected and corrected. There's also considerable evidence that theses texts were further edited and expanded by various authors during the "Second Temple" era (after the Jewish exiles returned from Babylon).]
So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke with her. Then she said to them, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel, 'Tell the man who sent you to Me, "Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants--all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read--because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore My wrath shall be aroused against this place and shall not be quenched.'"' But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, in this manner you shall speak to him, 'Thus says the LORD God of Israel: "Concerning the words which you have heard--because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you," says the LORD. Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place."'" So they brought word to the king.
[2-hvn: Keep in mind that it was Isaiah who first predicted the demise of Judea. The prophetess Huldah was reaffirming that prediction and adding some more details as to why it would happen, and like Isaiah, Huldah predicted that it would not happen under the reign of the current king. It's interesting that the authors of 2nd Kings would give this much "air time" to a female prophet in light of the demeaning way that females were normally treated in those days. Perhaps she was given that "air time", because she was a key part of the team that initially wrote/compiled/edited Deuteronomy through 2nd Kings.]
In Chapter 23 of II Kings, the king sent them to gather all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. The king went up to the house of the LORD with all the men of Judah, and with him all the inhabitants of Jerusalem-- the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the LORD. Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant.
And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, the priests of the second order, and the doorkeepers, to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the articles that were made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. Then he removed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the places all around Jerusalem, and those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the constellations, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the wooden image from the house of the LORD, to the Brook Kidron outside Jerusalem, burned it at the Brook Kidron and ground it to ashes, and threw its ashes on the graves of the common people. Then he tore down the ritual booths of the perverted persons [male and female temple prostitutes] that were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the wooden image. And he brought all the priests from the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba; also he broke down the high places at the gates which were at the entrance of the Gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were to the left of the city gate.
[2-hvn: Many present-day interpreters of Bible prophecy teach that the "end of the age" will occur when the "coming world dictator" or "Antichrist" installs an idol (referred to as the "abomination of desolation") in a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. They portray the "abomination of desolation" as being something like the heathen idol that Antiochus Epiphanes installed in the "Second Temple" (an event that inspired a successful Jewish revolt.). But as you can see here, many of the kings of ancient Judea got away with installing "heathen" idols and alters in King Solomon's Temple without causing an "end of an age" to occur within their lifetimes. Those weren't the idols that ultimately brought an end to the Davidic Dynasty.]
Nevertheless the priests of the high places did not come up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brethren. And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech. Then he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-Melech, the officer who was in the court; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. The altars that were on the roof, the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, the king broke down and pulverized there, and threw their dust into the Brook Kidron.
Then the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, which were on the south of the Mount of Corruption, which Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the people of Ammon. And he broke in pieces the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images, and filled their places with the bones of men. Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he broke down; and he burned the high place and crushed it to powder, and burned the wooden image. As Josiah turned, he saw the tombs that were there on the mountain. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar, and defiled it according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words. Then he said, "What gravestone is this that I see?" So the men of the city told him, "It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of Bethel." And he said, "Let him alone; let no one move his bones." So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria.
[2-hvn: Since Josiah was no doubt aware of the prophecy made by that unnamed "man of God", that prophecy turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.]
Now Josiah also took away all the shrines of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the LORD to anger; and he did to them according to all the deeds he had done in Bethel. He executed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, and burned men's bones on them; and he returned to Jerusalem.
[2-hvn: Yikes! Talk about religious intolerance... Based on what the authors of 2nd Kings have said so far, it appears that such actions by Josiah should have convinced God to change His mind about the impending demise of Judea, just like He changed his mind regarding how many more years King Hezekiah would live. Right? We shall see...]
Then the king commanded all the people, saying, "Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant." Such a Passover had never been held since the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was held before the LORD in Jerusalem. Moreover Josiah put away those who consulted mediums and spiritists, the household gods and idols, all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.
[2-hvn: According to some translations, that term "put away" was a euphemism for "terminated" or "executed." Whatever happened to the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" which was reiterated in Deuteronomy 5:17?]
Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him. Nevertheless the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him. And the LORD said, "I will also remove Judah from My sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, 'My name shall be there.'" Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
[2-hvn: So, in spite of what the priestly authors of 2nd Kings had taught, and in spite of the fact that King Josiah had done virtually everything that had told him to do, they ultimately had to admit, "Nevertheless the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah." Of course, they "blamed in his predecessors" (how many times have we seen people do that?), but that still leaves the question, "Why didn't obedience to the so-called "Laws of Moses" produce the results that those priests had expected?" Could it be that they were obeying those "laws" but still not following God? By requiring that all animal sacrifices in Judea be performed at the Temple in Jerusalem and murdering off all of their religious competition, they may indeed have been conforming with their so-called "Laws of Moses", but they were definitely NOT following God's two most fundamental commandments as summarized by Jesus Christ in Matthew 22:37-40.]
In his days Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went to the aid of the king of Assyria, to the River Euphrates; and King Josiah went against him. And Pharaoh Necho killed him at Megiddo when he confronted him. Then his servants moved his body in a chariot from Megiddo, brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, anointed him, and made him king in his father's place.
[2-hvn: Another Judean king "bites the dust." Since the Solomon's kingdom broke up, nearly all of them seem to have died violently. Such were the ways of "national sovereignty" in those days.]
Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done. Now Pharaoh Necho put him in prison at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and he imposed on the land a tribute of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. Then Pharaoh Necho made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. And Pharaoh took Jehoahaz and went to Egypt, and he died there.
So Jehoiakim gave the silver and gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give money according to the command of Pharaoh; he exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land, from every one according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Necho. Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Zebudah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.
[2-hvn: So in spite of his obedience to the so-called "Laws of Moses", King Josiah not only lost his life while playing "the national sovereignty game", he lost his kingdom" to the Egyptians, and then his descendants "did evil in the sight of the Lord."]
Chapter 24 of II Kings reports that in his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him. And the LORD sent against him raiding bands of Chaldeans, bands of Syrians, bands of Moabites, and bands of the people of Ammon; He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken by His servants the prophets. Surely at the commandment of the LORD this came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also because of the innocent blood that he had shed; for he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the LORD would not pardon. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? So Jehoiakim rested with his fathers. Then Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place.
[2-hvn: This is getting even more "curious." We established at the beginning of this article that the latest guidance from God (Deuteronomy 24:16) was that "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; but a person shall be put to death for his own sin." And yet, here we see the authors of 2nd Kings attributing Jehoiakim's problems to the sins of his grandfather, Manasseh, even though Menasseh was killed before Jehoiakim was even born. They might have a case if they could show that Jehoiakim was following some specific teachings of Manasseh, but they make no attempt to do so.]
And the king of Egypt did not come out of his land anymore, for the king of Babylon had taken all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the Brook of Egypt to the River Euphrates. Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother's name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done. [Wait a minute! Jehoiachin's father was Josiah, the king who supposedly did such a great job obeying the "Laws of Moses."] At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, as his servants were besieging it. Then Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his servants, his princes, and his officers went out to the king of Babylon; and the king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took him prisoner. And he carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king's house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said. Also he carried into captivity all Jerusalem: all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land. And he carried Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. The king's mother, the king's wives, his officers, and the mighty of the land he carried into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. All the valiant men, seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths, one thousand, all who were strong and fit for war, these the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon.
[2-hvn: The was the first Babylonian "sacking" of Jerusalem. Apparently, Nebuchadnezzar considered Jehoiachin to be an ally of Egypt and therefore considered him to be an "enemy." Besides, he probably wanted to get his hands on all that gold and stuff in the king's house and Temple. More likely than not, if King Solomon were ruling Judea at that time, he would have saved his kingdom by "cutting a deal" with all of the parties concerned (and making them thank him for it afterwards).]
Then the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin's uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah. Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. He also did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For because of the anger of the LORD this happened in Jerusalem and Judah, that He finally cast them out from His presence. Then Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
[2-hvn: That was dumb. Zedekiah was clearly putting his faith in "Jewish national sovereignty" rather than God.]
In Chapter 25 of II Kings, it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem and encamped against it; and they built a siege wall against it all around. So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine had become so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then the city wall was broken through, and all the men of war fled at night by way of the gate between two walls, which was by the king's garden, even though the Chaldeans were still encamped all around against the city. And the king went by way of the plain. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and they overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his army was scattered from him. So they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they pronounced judgment on him. Then they killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon.
[3-hvn: National sovereignty is like a "conceptual vampire"; it often deals most brutally with those who worship it the most.]
And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the LORD and the king's house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire. And all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the walls of Jerusalem all around. Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive the rest of the people who remained in the city and the defectors who had deserted to the king of Babylon, with the rest of the multitude. But the captain of the guard left some of the poor of the land as vinedressers and farmers.
The bronze pillars that were in the house of the LORD, and the carts and the bronze Sea that were in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans broke in pieces, and carried their bronze to Babylon. They also took away the pots, the shovels, the trimmers, the spoons, and all the bronze utensils with which the priests ministered. The firepans and the basins, the things of solid gold and solid silver, the captain of the guard took away. The two pillars, one Sea, and the carts, which Solomon had made for the house of the LORD, the bronze of all these articles was beyond measure. The height of one pillar was eighteen cubits, and the capital on it was of bronze. The height of the capital was three cubits, and the network and pomegranates all around the capital were all of bronze. The second pillar was the same, with a network. And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the second priest, and the three doorkeepers. He also took out of the city an officer who had charge of the men of war, five men of the king's close associates who were found in the city, the chief recruiting officer of the army, who mustered the people of the land, and sixty men of the people of the land who were found in the city. So Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, took these and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. Then the king of Babylon struck them and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah was carried away captive from its own land. Then he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, governor over the people who remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left.
[2-hvn: This was the second "sacking" of Jerusalem, the one that destroyed King Solomon's Temple. In a way, the victims in Jerusalem (or at least their leaders) "brought it upon themselves" for the sake of "Jewish national sovereignty." THAT is the "abomination of desolation" (a.k.a. "abomination that causes desolation) referred to by Daniel--the ungodly, highly destructive conceptual idol which, when worshipped by the Jews, not only brought down King Solomon's Temple, but King's Herod's Temple as well.]
Notice that there is no mention of what happened to the Ark of the Covenant. There is a sect of Jews in Ethiopia today who claim to have it, but in accordance with Hebrew traditions, their Chief Priest is the only one allowed to actually see it. Many scholars disagree with their claim and believe it was probably destroyed when the Temple was burned down. In either case, it wasn't really serving God's purposes by being idolized as it was by the Hebrews.]
Now when all the captains of the armies, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah-- Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, Johanan the son of Careah, Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of a Maachathite, they and their men. And Gedaliah took an oath before them and their men, and said to them, "Do not be afraid of the servants of the Chaldeans. Dwell in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you." But it happened in the seventh month that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the royal family, came with ten men and struck and killed Gedaliah, the Jews, as well as the Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah. And all the people, small and great, and the captains of the armies, arose and went to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.
[2-hvn: Once again, the Jews inflicted damage but paid a heavy price for their worship of "Jewish national sovereignty."]
Now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. He spoke kindly to him, and gave him a more prominent seat than those of the kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin changed from his prison garments, and he ate bread regularly before the king all the days of his life. And as for his provisions, there was a regular ration given him by the king, a portion for each day, all the days of his life.
[2-hvn: It's interesting that 2nd Kings would end up portraying the Babylonian monarchy in a favorable light. As we will see in future articles on this web site, most of the deported Jews eventually became loyal (and grateful) citizens of Babylon, even though they refused to worship Babylon's idols.]
In January (1999), we'll continue this story by examining the Book of Isaiah.
("one grain of salt")
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Last modified on Friday, May 03, 2002