Posted by: mattcolvin | November 13, 2011

2 Kings 22: Josiah and the Rediscovery of the Book of the Law

Tuesday of the 21st week after Trinity: 2 Kings 22

Much of this chapter is taken up with lists of names in Josiah’s administration, and with their genealogies. A few things struck me:

22:3 – Josiah became king at age 8, but the Book of the Law is discovered when he is 26.

22:7 – It’s noteworthy that the Law is discovered by men whom Josiah has set to repair the temple. Also interesting that Josiah declines to audit the accounts of the workmen in charge of these repairs “because they deal faithfully.” Compare the story of Phidias, the chief architect and sculptor of the Parthenon, who faced charges of embezzling gold that was used in the decoration of the cult statue of Athena.

22:11 – The Book of the Law is read, presumably portions of Deuteronomy, especially the section that contains the curses of the covenant. Josiah’s reaction is to tear his robes when he realizes that the nation is under a curse because of its idolatry. This reaction is seen in many other stories: Job 1:20, when Job hears of the deaths of his family; Genesis 37:34, when Jacob receives the false report of Joseph’s death; 2 Samuel 1:11, when David hears that Saul and Jonathan are dead; 2 Samuel 13:31, when David hears news that Absalom has assassinated Amnon; Isaiah 37:1, when Hezekiah receives report of the threats of Assyria; and most famously, Caiaphas the high priest after Jesus does not deny being the Messiah at His trial before the Sanhedrin. In light of all the torn robes in Samuel, which invariably symbolize the kingdom, Josiah’s action here may be more than a gesture of intense grief.

22:14-20 – Huldah the prophetess gives bad news and good news. The bad news is that judgment is coming on Judah. The good news for Hezekiah is that he will not live to see it. This is similar to God’s promise to Solomon that He would not tear the kingdom in two during his reign, but only in the days of his son Rehoboam. Cf. also the previous chapter of 2 Kings, where Hezekiah is content that there will be peace in his days.


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