Saturday, May 31, 2008

Josiah Sets His Nation Back on Course

Josiah King of Judah

2 Chronicles 34

1Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he ruled thirty-one
years in Jerusalem. 2He did what the LORD said was right. He lived as his
ancestor David had lived, and he did not stop doing what was right.

3In his eighth year as king while he was still young, Josiah began to obey the
God of his ancestor David. In his twelfth year as king, Josiah began to remove
from Judah and Jerusalem the gods, the places for worshiping gods, the Asherah
idols, and the wooden and metal idols. 4The people tore down the altars for the
Baal gods as Josiah directed. Then Josiah cut down the incense altars that were
above them. He broke up the Asherah idols and the wooden and metal idols and
beat them into powder. Then he sprinkled the powder on the graves of the people
who had offered sacrifices to these gods. 5He burned the bones of their priests on
their own altars. So Josiah removed idol worship from Judah and Jerusalem, 6and
from the towns in the areas of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon all the way to
Naphtali, and in the ruins near these towns. 7Josiah broke down the altars and
Asherah idols and beat the idols into powder. He cut down all the incense altars
in all of Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem.

8In Josiah’s eighteenth year as king, he made Judah and the Temple pure
again. He sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the city leader, and Joah son of
Joahaz the recorder to repair the Temple of the LORD, the God of Josiah. 9These
men went to Hilkiah the high priest and gave him the money the Levite
gatekeepers had gathered from the people of Manasseh, Ephraim, and all the
Israelites who were left alive, and also from all the people of Judah, Benjamin,
and Jerusalem. This is the money they had brought into the Temple of God.
10Then the Levites gave it to the supervisors of the work on the Temple of the
LORD, and they paid the workers who rebuilt and repaired the Temple. 11They
gave money to carpenters and builders to buy cut stone and wood. The wood was
used to rebuild the buildings and to make beams for them, because the kings of
Judah had let the buildings fall into ruin. 12The men did their work well. Their
supervisors were Jahath and Obadiah, who were Levites from the family of
Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam, who were from the family of Kohath.
These Levites were all skilled musicians. 13They were also in charge of the
workers who carried loads and all the other workers. Some Levites worked as
secretaries, officers, and gatekeepers.

The Book of the Teachings Is Found

14The Levites brought out the money that was in the Temple of the LORD. As
they were doing this, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the LORD’S
Teachings that had been given through Moses. 15Hilkiah said to Shaphan the
royal secretary, “I’ve found the Book of the Teachings in the Temple of the
LORD!” Then he gave it to Shaphan.

16Shaphan took the book to the king and reported to Josiah, “Your officers are
doing everything you told them to do. 17They have paid out the money that was
in the Temple of the LORD and have given it to the supervisors and the
workers.” 18Then Shaphan the royal secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest
has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from the book to the king.

19When the king heard the words of the Teachings, he tore his clothes to
show how upset he was. 20He gave orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan,
Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the royal secretary, and Asaiah, the king’s
servant. These were the orders: 21“Go and ask the LORD about the words in the
book that was found. Ask for me and for the people who are left alive in Israel
and Judah. The LORD is very angry with us, because our ancestors did not obey
the LORD’S word; they did not do everything this book says to do.”

22So Hilkiah and those the king sent with him went to talk to Huldah the
prophetess. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, who
took care of the king’s clothes. Huldah lived in Jerusalem, in the new area of the

23She said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Tell the
man who sent you to me, 24‘This is what the LORD says: I will bring trouble to
this place and to the people living here. I will bring all the curses that are written
in the book that was read to the king of Judah. 25The people of Judah have left me
and have burned incense to other gods. They have made me angry by all the evil
things they have made. So I will punish them in my anger, which will not be put
out.’ 26Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to ask the LORD, ‘This is what the
LORD, the God of Israel, says about the words you heard: 27When you heard my
words against this place and its people, you became sorry for what you had done
and you humbled yourself before me. You tore your clothes to show how upset
you were, and you cried in my presence. This is why I have heard you, says the
LORD. 28So I will let you die and be buried in peace. You won’t see all the
trouble I will bring to this place and the people living here.’”

So they took her message back to the king.

29Then the king gathered all the older leaders of Judah and Jerusalem
together. 30He went up to the Temple of the LORD, and all the people from Judah
and from Jerusalem went with him. The priests, the Levites, and all the people—
from the most important to the least important—went with him. He read to them
all the words in the Book of the Agreement that was found in the Temple of the
LORD. 31The king stood by his pillar and made an agreement in the presence of
the LORD to follow the LORD and obey his commands, rules, and laws with his
whole being and to obey the words of the agreement written in this book. 32Then
Josiah made all the people in Jerusalem and Benjamin promise to accept the
agreement. So the people of Jerusalem obeyed the agreement of God, the God of
their ancestors.

33And Josiah threw out the hateful idols from all the land that belonged to the
Israelites. He led everyone in Israel to serve the LORD their God. While Josiah
lived, the people obeyed the LORD, the God of their ancestors.

The Holy Bible, New Century Version

Title: Holman Bible Dictionary

JOSIAH (Joh si' uh) Personal name meaning, “Yahweh heals.” Judah’s king
from about 640-609 B.C. He succeeded his father Amon, an idolatrous king, who
ruled for only two years before being murdered by his servants (2 Kings 21:19-
23; 2 Chron. 33:21-24). Josiah became king at the age of eight due to wishes of
“the people of the land” who put his father’s assassins to death (2 Kings 21:24).
Josiah’s reign lasted for thirty-one years (2 Kings 22:1; 2 Chron. 34:1).

The Book of 2 Chronicles reveals much about the early years of Josiah. In his
eighth year as king he began to seek the God of David (34:3). Josiah initiated a
religious purge of Jerusalem, Judah, and surrounding areas during his twelfth
year on the throne (34:3-7). This purge included tearing down the high places,
the Asherah, and the altars to Baal. The high places were essentially Canaanite
worship centers that had been taken over by Israel. The Asherah were cult
objects associated with the worship of Baal, the fertility god of Canaan. See

In his eighteenth year as king an unexpected event turned his energies in new
directions. A “Book of the Law” was discovered while repairs were being made
on the Temple. Hilkiah, the high priest, found the book and gave it to Shaphan,
the scribe, who in turn read it to King Josiah. Upon hearing the message of the
book, Josiah tore his clothes, a sign of repentance, and humbled himself before
God. Josiah was assured that the promised destruction would not come in his
time (2 Kings 22:8-20; 2 Chron. 34:15-28). The reading of this book prompted
Josiah to instigate the most far-reaching religious reforms in Israel’s history.

What was this “Book of the Law” and when was it written? Most scholars
believe that this book included at least the core of our present Book of
Deuteronomy, either chapters 5-26 or 12-26. A major thrust of the Book of
Deuteronomy was to call the nation Israel to exclusive loyalty to Yahweh.
Perhaps a thrust such as this inspired the Josianic revival.

The Bible is silent about the remaining years of Josiah until his death. On the
international scene during those years Assyria’s power was waning, and
Babylon’s was on the rise. Assyria had aligned itself with Egypt against Babylon.
Pharoah Neco’s troops were passing through territory north of Judah en route to
join forces with Assyria. Josiah’s army blocked the movement of Egyptian troops
at Megiddo. In the battle that followed Josiah was mortally wounded (2 Kings
23:29). His body was taken to Jerusalem where he was buried. There was great
mourning for him throughout the land (2 Chron. 35:24-25). Though only thirty-
nine when he died, Josiah was remembered as Judah’s greatest king (2 Kings

“Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the
Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his
strength, in accordance with the Law of Moses” (NIV).

See Jeremiah; Deuteronomy.

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