2 Kings 23:5 MEANING

2 Kings 23:5
(5) He put down.--Syriac and Arabic, he slew.

The idolatrous priests.--The k?m?rim, or black-robed priests (Hosea 10:5, of the priests of the calf-worship at Beth-el). Only occurring besides in Zephaniah 1:4. Here, as in the passage of Hosea, the word denotes the unlawful priests of Jehovah, as contrasted with those of the Baal, mentioned in the next place. Whether the term really means black-robed, as Kimchi explains, is questionable. Priests used to wear white throughout the ancient world, except on certain special occasions. Gesenius derives it from a root meaning black, but explains, one clad in black, i.e., a mourner, an ascetic, and so a priest. Perhaps the true derivation is from another root, meaning to weave: weaver of spells or charms; as magic was an invariable concomitant of false worship. (Comp. 2 Kings 17:17; 2 Kings 21:6.) It is a regular word for priest in Syriac (ch-mra; Psalm 110:4; and the Ep. to the Heb., passim.)

To burn incense.--So Syriac, Vulg., and Arabic. The Hebrew has, and he burnt incense. Probably it should be plural, as in the Vatican LXX. and Targum.

In the places round about.--1 Kings 6:29. Omit in the places.

Unto Baal, to the sun.--Unto the Baal, to wit, unto the sun. But it is better to supply and with all the versions. Bel and Samas were distinct deities in the Assyro-Babylonian system. When Reuss remarks that "the knowledge of the old Semitic worships, possessed by the Hebrew historians, appears to have been very superficial, for Baal and the sun are one and the same deity," he lays himself open to the same charge.

The planets.--Or, the signs of the Zodiac. The Heb. is mazzaloth, probably a variant form of mazzaroth (Job 38:32). The word is used in the Targums, and by rabbinical writers, in the sense of star, as influencing human destiny, and so fate, fortune, in the singular, and in the plural of the signs of the Zodiac (e.g., Ecclesiastes 9:3; Esther 3:7). It is, perhaps, derived from 'azar, "to gird," and means "belt," or "girdle;" or from 'azal, "to journey," and so means "stages" of the sun's course in the heavens. (Comp. Arab, manzal.)

Verse 5. - And he put down the idolatrous priests; literally, the chemarim. The same word is used of idolatrous priests in Hosea 10:5 and Zephaniah 1:4. It is best connected with the Arabic root chamar, colere deum, and with the Syriac cumro, "priest" or "sacrificer." The Syrian priests were probably so called at the time, and the Hebrews took the word, and applied it to all false priests or idolatrous priests, reserving their own cohanim (כֹּהֲנִים) for true Jehovistic priests only. Whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem. This practice had not been mentioned previously, and can scarcely have belonged to the earlier kingdom of Judah, when "the people" (as we are told so often) "worshipped and burnt incense in the high places." But it is quite in harmony with the other doings of Manasseh and Amen, that, when they re-established the high places (2 Kings 21:3, 21), they should have followed the custom of the Israelite monarchs at Dan and Bethel (1 Kings 12:28-32), and have "ordained priests" to conduct the worship at them. Them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon (on the Baal-worship of Manasseh and Amen, see 2 Kings 21:3; on the sun-worship, compare below, ver. 11; the moon-worship was probably a form of the worship of Astarte), and to the planets; rather, to the twelve signs. The constellations or signs of the zodiac are, no doubt, intended (comp. Job 38:32, where the term מַזָּדות may be regarded as a mere variant form of the מַזָּלות of this passage). The proper meaning of the term is "mansions;" or "houses," the zodiacal signs being regarded as the "mansions of the sun" by the Babylonians (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 3. p. 419). And to all the host of heaven (see the comment on 2 Kings 21:3).

23:4-14 What abundance of wickedness in Judah and Jerusalem! One would not have believed it possible, that in Judah, where God was known, in Israel, where his name was great, in Salem, in Zion, where his dwelling-place was, such abominations should be found. Josiah had reigned eighteen years, and had himself set the people a good example, and kept up religion according to the Divine law; yet, when he came to search for idolatry, the depth and extent were very great. Both common history, and the records of God's word, teach, that all the real godliness or goodness ever found on earth, is derived from the new-creating Spirit of Jesus Christ.And he put down the idolatrous priests,.... The Cemarim, so called, because they wore black clothes, as Kimchi and others, whereas the priests of the Lord were clothed in white linen; see Gill on Zephaniah 1:4.

whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places, in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; for though those high places were destroyed by Hezekiah, they were rebuilt by Manasseh his son, and priests put in them to officiate there, whom Josiah now deposed, 2 Kings 21:3,

them also that burnt incense unto Baal; in the same high places; these were the priests, and the others in the preceding clause are thought to be ministers unto them:

to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets; the five planets besides the sun and moon, as Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, and Venus; or to the twelve celestial signs in the firmament, as some (t); though Theodoret takes it to be a single star, the evening star:

and to all the host of heaven; or even to the host of heaven, all the stars thereof: this part of worship:

burning incense, which was peculiar to the most high God, yet was frequently made by idolaters to their deities; and from the word (u) by which it is here and elsewhere expressed may "nectar" be derived, so much spoken of by the Heathen poets as of a sweet smell (w), and as delicious to their gods; and so Porphyry (x) represents the gods as living on smoke, vapours, and perfumes; and frankincense is said, by Diodorus Siculus (y), to be most grateful to them, and beloved by them; this therefore is a much better derivation of the word "nectar" than what Suidas (z) gives, that is, as if it was "nectar", because it makes those young that drink it; or than the account Athenaeus (a) gives of it, that it is a wine in Babylon so called.

(t) David de Pomis Lexic. fol. 77. 3.((u) "suffitum fecit. Et diis acceptus--" Nidor. Ovid. Metamorph. 1. 12, fab. 4. (w) Theocrit. Idyll. xvii. ver. 29. (x) De Abstinentia, l. 2. c. 42. Celsus apud Origen. l. 8. p. 417. (y) Biblioth. l. 2. p. 132. (z) In voce (a) Deipnosophist. l. 1.

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