At that time the priests did not bring the sacrifices to Jerusalem and offer them on the Lord’s altar in the Temple. The priests lived in cities all over Judah. They burned incense and offered sacrifices at the high places in those cities. The high places were everywhere, from Geba to Beersheba. And the priests ate their unleavened bread in those towns with the ordinary people—not at the special place for priests in the Temple in Jerusalem. But King Josiah ruined the high places and brought the priests to Jerusalem. Josiah also destroyed the high places that were on the left side of the city gate, by the Gate of Joshua. (Joshua was the ruler of the city.)
The priests at the ·places where gods were worshiped [L high places; 12:3] were not allowed to ·serve [officiate; L go up] at the Lord’s altar in Jerusalem. But they could eat ·bread made without yeast [unleaven bread] with their ·brothers [fellow priests].
Then the king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, his associate priest, and The Temple sentries to clean house—to get rid of everything in The Temple of God that had been made for worshiping Baal and Asherah and the cosmic powers. He had them burned outside Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron and then disposed of the ashes in Bethel. He fired the pagan priests whom the kings of Judah had hired to supervise the local sex-and-religion shrines in the towns of Judah and neighborhoods of Jerusalem. In a stroke he swept the country clean of the polluting stench of the round-the-clock worship of Baal, sun and moon, stars—all the so-called cosmic powers. He took the obscene phallic Asherah pole from The Temple of God to the Valley of Kidron outside Jerusalem, burned it up, then ground up the ashes and scattered them in the cemetery. He tore out the rooms of the male sacred prostitutes that had been set up in The Temple of God; women also used these rooms for weavings for Asherah. He swept the outlying towns of Judah clean of priests and smashed the sex-and-religion shrines where they worked their trade from one end of the country to the other—all the way from Geba to Beersheba. He smashed the sex-and-religion shrine that had been set up just to the left of the city gate for the private use of Joshua, the city mayor. Even though these sex-and-religion priests did not defile the Altar in The Temple itself, they were part of the general priestly corruption and had to go.
The corrupted priests of the high places did not approach the Eternal’s altar in Jerusalem, but they filled their bellies with unleavened bread in the company of their families, since they would not travel to Jerusalem to perform their religious duties.
Nevertheless the priests of [the] high things went not up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but only they ate therf loaves in the midst of their brethren. (Now the priests of the hill shrines did not go up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they did eat the unleavened bread in the midst of their kinsmen.)
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