Melachim 2/Kings 2-Chapter 23: Yoshiyahu destroys idolatry from the land

1.      Yoshiyahu arouses the nation to repent:

  • Yoshiyahu gathers the nation to the temple: Yoshiyahu the king summoned all the elders of Yehuda and Jerusalem [to gather with him in the temple together with the rest of the people]. The king went up to the Temple, and was met there by all the people of Yehuda and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The priests and the prophets, and all the people from small to great were present.
  • Yoshiyahu reads the Torah scroll before the nation and makes a covenant with them: Yoshiyahu read to the nation that was gathered in the temple all of the words of the Torah scroll that was found in the temple. The king stood in his designated area in the temple, and made a pact between the Jewish people in front of G-d, that the Jewish people would once again accept upon themselves to follow all that is written in God’s Torah.

2.      Yoshiyahu destroys idolatry from the land:

  • Yoshiyahu instructs for all of the vessels of idolatry in the Temple to be destroyed: Yoshiyahu the king instructed Chilkiyah the high priest as well as the other priests and the guards of the temple, to take out all of the utensils of idolatry from the temple, including the vessels that were manufactured on behalf of the Baal and Asherah, and on behalf of the celestial hosts. The vessels were burnt outside Jerusalem in the plains of Kidron, and he carried their ashes to Beis Eil.
  • Yoshiyahu obliterates the priests of idolatry: Yoshiyahu obliterated the priests of idolatry who were appointed by the kings of Yehuda to offer offerings and incense on Bamos altars in the cities of Yehuda and areas of Jerusalem. He abolished all the priests who would offer burnt incense to the Baal, to the sun, to the moon, and to the constellations, and to all the hosts of heaven.
  • Yoshiyahu destroys all of the idolatry Asheira trees: Yoshiyahu took the asherah trees out of the Temple to outside Jerusalem, to the Kidron Valley. He burnt the trees in the Kidron Valley and turned it into dust. He threw its dust on the graves of those who had worshiped them in their lifetime.
  • Yoshiyahu destroys the houses of idolatry: Yoshiyahu demolished the houses of idolatry and harlotry which were designated for the Asheira tree worship within the temple, where the women weave items for the asherah.
  • Yoshiyahu influences the priests of idolatry to repent: Yoshiyahu brought all the priests of idolatry from the cities of Yehuda [and influenced them to repent[1]]. These priests of the Bamos [who were Kohanim, descendants of Aaron] were not allowed to serve God on the altar in Jerusalem, although they were allowed to partake in the eating of the gifts and offerings designated for the priests.
  • Yoshiyahu destroys all of the Bamos from the land: Yoshiyahu designated all the altars used for burning incense for use of filth and garbage, from Geva until Beersheva. Yoshiyahu demolished all the Bamos near the gates, including the Bama found by the gate of Yehoshua the governor of the city.
  • Yoshiyahu destroys the idolatry of Molech: Yoshiyahu destroyed the Tophet sculpture and building of the Molech idolatry that was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, which was used for parents to pass their son and daughter in the fire to Molech.
  • Yoshiyahu destroys the idolatry of the sun: Yoshiyahu annihilated the horses and chariots that the kings of Yehuda had designated to run towards the sun in order to worship it.
  • Yoshiyahu destroys the altars of Achaz and Menashe: Yoshiyahu destroyed and burnt all of the altars of idolatry in the courtyard of the temple and on the roof of the palace of the king that were built by Achaz and Minasheh. He took their dust threw it in and threw it into to the Kidron Valley.
  • Yoshiyahu destroys the altars on the Mount of olives: Yoshiyahu destroyed the altars that were on Mount of Olives, which were built by the wives of King Solomon on behalf of the idol Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians and Chemosh the abomination of Moav and for Milcom the abomination of Amon.
  • Yoshiyahu destroys the remaining altars: Yoshiyahu broke down the monuments, and cut down the asherim trees, and filled their area with human bones. He also destroyed the altar that was in Beis Eil, and the Bamos that Yeravam the son of Nevat-built. He turned them into dust and burnt the asherah.
  • Yoshiyahu burns the bones of idol worshipers: Yoshiyahu removed the bones of the idol worshipers from the grave that were near the above altars and burned them on the altar as Hashem had instructed. Yoshiyahu saw a unique grave in the area [with myrtles and other good scenting plants growing next to it[2]] and was told that it is the grave of a true prophet who was buried there [hundreds of years prior]. He instructed for the bones of the grave that was next to it [which was the grave of a false prophet[3]] to not be moved [lest it shake the grave of the true prophet[4]].
  • Yoshiyahu destroys all of the idolatry in the Shomron: Yoshiyahu also destroyed all the temples and altars in the cities of Shomron that the kings of Israel had built. Yoshiyahu did to these altars as he had done to all of the altars in Beis Eil.
  • Yoshiyahu killed all of the priests of idolatry: Yoshiyahu slaughtered all the priests of the Bamos on the altars of idolatry, and he burnt human bones on the se altars, and he then returned to Jerusalem.

3.      The Jewish people perform the Pesach sacrifice:

  • The king commanded the Jewish people to perform the Pesach sacrifice. Such a Pesach sacrifice [with this many people[5]] had not been performed since the time of the Shoftim [i.e. Shmuel[6]], and had not been done throughout all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Yehuda.
  • The year of the Pesach sacrifice: The Pesach sacrifice took place in the eighteenth year of King Yoshiyahu.

4.      Yoshiyahu rids the land of witchcraft:

  • Yoshiyahu also got rid of all forms of witchcraft from the land including the Ovos and Yidonim and the Terafim and the idols, following through with all the commands of the Torah that Chilkiyahu the high priest had found.

5.      The legacy of Yoshiyahu:

  • There was no king like Yoshiyahu, neither before him nor after him, who returned to Hashem with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his possessions, according to the entire Torah of Moshe.
  • The remaining events of Yoshiyahu and all that he did, are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Yehuda.

6.      Hashem nonetheless decides to exile the nation and destroy the temple:

  • Despite the above good deeds of Yoshiyahu the king, nevertheless, Hashem did not turn back from His great wrath which was kindled against Yehuda, as a result of all the sins of Minasheh. Hashem promised that He will exile the people of Yehuda just as He had exiled the people Israel and he will reject the chosen city of Jerusalem and the Temple which He had decided to rest His name upon.

7.      Yoshiyahu is killed by Pharaoh-Necho:

  • In the days of Yoshiyahu, Pharaoh-Necho went up in war against the king of Ashur by the Euphrates River. King Yoshiyahu who did not want anyone passing through his country towards war came out against Pharaoh-Necho to wage war against him. In the end, Pharaoh-Necho killed Yoshiyahu in Megiddo when he saw him.
  • Yoshiyahu is buried: The servants of Yoshiyahu transported him dead from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem and buried him in his grave.
  • His successor: The people anointed Yehoachaz the son of Yoshiyahu as king instead of his father.

8.      The reign of Yehoachaz

  • His age at the time of his reign: Yehoachaz was twenty-three years old when he became king.
  • His time of reign: Yehoachaz reigned in Jerusalem for [only] three months.
  • His mothers name: His mother’s name was Chamutal the daughter of Yeremiah from the city of Livnah.
  • His deeds: Yehoachaz performed evil in the eyes of Hashem, as his ancestors had done.
  • His capture by Pharaoh-Necho: Pharaoh-Necho imprisoned Yehoachaz in Rivlah in the land of Chamas, to prevent him from reigning in Jerusalem [as his older brother Eliakim should have reigned in his father’s stead].
  • Pharaoh-Necho imposes a fine: Pharaoh-Necho imposed a fine on the land consisting of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.
  • Pharaoh-Necho crowns Eliakim-Yehoyakim as king: Pharaoh-Necho crowned Eliakim the son of Yoshiyahu as king instead of his father Yoshiyahu, and he changed his name to Yehoyakim.
  • Yehoachaz dies in Egypt: Pharaoh-Necho brought Yehoachaz to Egypt and he died there.
  • The moneys of the land are given to Pharaoh-Necho: Yehoyakim gave the silver and gold to Pharaoh, according to Pharaoh’s orders. Every person had to give money in accordance to his wealth.

9.      The reign of Yehoyakim:

  • His age at the time of his reign: Yehoyakim was twenty-five years old when he became king.
  • His time of reign: Yehoyakim reigned in Jerusalem for eleven years.
  • His mothers name: His mother’s name was Zevudah the daughter of Pedayah from the city of Rumah.
  • His deeds: Yehoyakim performed evil in the eyes of Hashem, as his ancestors had done.

[1] Metzudos Dovid 23:8

[2] Rashi 23:17

[3] Rashi 23:17

[4] Metzudos Dovid 23:18

[5] See Rashi 23:22

[6] Rashi 23:22

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