The Moabite Stone is a small monument inscribed with details about the conflict between the Israelites and the Moabites (3:4–27). Written by the Moabites, it emphasizes their victories over Israel. More importantly, it features the earliest known reference to the Lord’s personal name (YHWH; see note on Gen. 2:4) outside of the Bible.
Though bears no longer live in the region of Palestine, the bear God used to punish the disrespectful boys (2:24) was probably of a type that could grow up to 7 feet (2 m) tall and reach 500 pounds (227 kg).
Israel and Judah’s sins continue. Picking up where 1 Kings left off, Israel and Judah continued to decline through false worship and disobedience. They were led into sin by their kings, most of whom failed to follow the Lord.
What happened to the ark of the covenant? After the fall of Jerusalem, the ark completely disappeared from historical records. It is unlikely that the Babylonians took it because there is no mention of it in Babylonian records.
Josiah’s reforms reveal the true extent of Judah’s idolatry (23:1–27). Despite God’s commands to worship him alone, his people adopted Canaanite gods, including Baal, Asherah, and Molech. They also worshiped the stars and small household idols.
The host of heaven refers in 23:4 to false gods, represented by celestial bodies such as the sun, moon, and planets. King Josiah ordered the destruction of all these symbols of pagan worship.
Why did Josiah tear his clothes when the Law was read? As the Book of the Law was read in public for the first time in nearly 60 years, King Josiah tore his clothes as a sign of his grief. He grieved when he realized that he, as the nation’s leader, had not been fulfilling the commandments of the Lord.