The reign of Yoshiyahu

Melachim 2-Chapter 22

1.      The reign of Yoshiyahu:

  • His age at the time of his reign: Yoshiyahu was eight years old when he became king.
  • The years of his reign: Yoshiyahu reigned in Jerusalem for thirty-one years.
  • The name of his mother: His mother’s name was Yedidah the daughter of Adayah from the city of Botzkas.
  • His deeds: Yoshiyahu did was righteous in the eyes of Hashem, and he followed in the ways of his ancestor David, and he did not sway away from his deeds either to the right or to the left.

2.      Giving over the temple treasury to the managers to renovate the temple:

  • In the eighteenth year of King Yoshiyahu, the king sent Shafan the son of Atzaliah the son of Meshullam the scribe, to the temple with a message to relay to the high priest Chilkiyah. The king instructed him to relay as follows to the high priest: “Gather all of the silver that was brought to the temple from the visitors and hand the money to the managers who are in charge of all of the repairs of the temple, who in turn will use the money to pay the workers needed to repair the temple. The money shall be used to pay carpenters, and to the builders of the walls, and to purchase wood and quarried stones, to strengthen the Temple. Do not require them to give you a reckoning of all of the expenses and what the money was used for, as they are to be trusted in their work.”

3.      A hidden scroll is found with a frightening message:

  • A hidden Torah scroll is found: Chilkiyah the high priest informed Shafan the scribe that he had found a Torah scroll buried in the temple [having been buried there by the priests in the times of Achaz, as the priests were afraid that Achaz would burn it as he had already burnt a different Torah scroll[1]]. [Some say that this was the Torah scroll that was found next to the Aron, which was written by Moshe.[2]] Chilkiyah gave the scroll to Shafan, and he read it.
  • The scroll is read before the king, and he is stricken with fright: Shafan the scribe came to the king and told him that the monies of the treasury of the temple were turned into silver coins and given over to the managers for them to use to renovate the temple. Shafan then also informed the king that Chilkiyah the priest had given him a Torah scroll and Shafan read the Torah scroll before the king. When the king heard the words of the Torah scroll, he tore his garments [as the scroll was found to be open to the area of curses in which Scripture states that the king and his nation be exiled[3]].
  • The Kings instructs his high priest and scribes to pray on their behalf before G-d: The king instructed Chilkiyah the priest, and Achikam the son of Shafan, and Achbor the son of Michayah, and Shafan the scribe, and Asayah the king’s servant, to go inquire and pray in front of God on his behalf and on behalf of all of the Jewish people and on behalf of the people of Yehuda, as the words that were read from the Torah scroll show that God’s wrath is very great being that we did not follow his instructions in His Torah.

4.      Chuldah the prophetess and her prophecy of doom:

  • The servants go to Chuldah the prophetess to consult with her: Chilkiyah the priest and Achikam and Achbor and Shafan and Asayah went to Chuldah the prophetess to consult with her about the above message of God. [The reason that they did not go to Yeremiah to consult with him but rather went to Chuldah is because a woman is more compassionate than a man. Alternatively, the reason is because Yeremiah was not in the area as he had gone to return the ten tribes from their exile.[4]]
  • Who was Chuldah? Chuldah was the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, who was the son of Charchas, who was in charge of the clothing of the king.
  • Chuldah gives a prophecy of doom: Chuldah was sitting in Jerusalem in the study-hall, when the messengers came and spoke to her. She said to them [in reply after hearing the information] that they should return and tell the king the following prophecy from God; “Hashem has said that He will bring destruction to Jerusalem and upon its inhabitants, exactly as written in the Torah scroll that was read in front of the king of Yehuda. This will be done being that the Jewish people have left me and have brought incense offerings to idols in order to anger me with their deeds and so I will spill My wrath against this place, and it shall not be extinguished. Now, concerning the king of Yehuda who sent you here to inquire from Me, you shall tell him, that since he has succumbed himself before me by tearing his garments and crying before Me, therefore I have heard his prayers, and the above will not occur in his days and he will die peacefully.” They brought back the message of the prophetess before the king.

[1] Rashi 22:8

[2] Metzudos Dovid 22:8

[3] Radak 22:11; Rashi 22:13

[4] Rashi 22:14; Megillah 14b

Chapter 23

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.

[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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