The Reign of Josiah
34 1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king. He ruled for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. 2 He behaved well before God. He kept straight on the path blazed by his ancestor David, not one step to the left or right.
3 When he had been king for eight years - he was still only a teenager - he began to seek the God of David his ancestor. Four years later, the twelfth year of his reign, he set out to cleanse the neighborhood of sex-and-religion shrines, and get rid of the sacred Asherah groves and the god and goddess figurines, whether carved or cast, from Judah. 4 He wrecked the Baal shrines, tore down the altars connected with them, and scattered the debris and ashes over the graves of those who had worshiped at them. 5 He burned the bones of the priests on the same altars they had used when alive. He scrubbed the place clean, Judah and Jerusalem, clean inside and out. 6 The clean-up campaign ranged outward to the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon, and the surrounding neighborhoods - as far north as Naphtali. 7 Throughout Israel he demolished the altars and Asherah groves, pulverized the god and goddess figures, chopped up the neighborhood shrines into firewood. With Israel once more intact, he returned to Jerusalem.
The Book of the Law Discovered
8 One day in the eighteenth year of his kingship, with the cleanup of country and Temple complete, King Josiah sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the mayor of the city, and Joah son of Joahaz the historian to renovate The Temple of God. 9 First they turned over to Hilkiah the high priest all the money collected by the Levitical security guards from Manasseh and Ephraim and the rest of Israel, and from Judah and Benjamin and the citizens of Jerusalem. 10 It was then put into the hands of the foremen managing the work on The Temple of God 11 who then passed it on to the workers repairing God's Temple - the carpenters, construction workers, and masons - so they could buy the lumber and dressed stone for rebuilding the foundations the kings of Judah had allowed to fall to pieces. 12 The workmen were honest and diligent. Their foremen were Jahath and Obadiah, the Merarite Levites, and Zechariah and Meshullam from the Kohathites - these managed the project. The Levites - they were all skilled musicians - 13 were in charge of the common laborers and supervised the workers as they went from job to job. The Levites also served as accountants, managers, and security guards.
14 While the money that had been given for The Temple of God was being received and dispersed, Hilkiah the high priest found a copy of The Revelation of Moses. 15 He reported to Shaphan the royal secretary, "I've just found the Book of God's Revelation, instructing us in God's way - found it in The Temple!" He gave it to Shaphan, 16 who then gave it to the king. And along with the book, he gave this report: "The job is complete - everything you ordered done is done. 17 They took all the money that was collected in The Temple of God and handed it over to the managers and workers." 18 And then Shaphan told the king, "Hilkiah the priest gave me a book." Shaphan proceeded to read it out to the king. 19 When the king heard what was written in the book, God's Revelation, he ripped his robes in dismay. 20 And then he called for Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Abdon son of Micah, Shaphan the royal secretary, and Asaiah the king's personal aide. 21 He ordered them all: "Go and pray to God for me and what's left of Israel and Judah. Find out what we must do in response to what is written in this book that has just been found! God's anger must be burning furiously against us - our ancestors haven't obeyed a thing written in this book of God, followed none of the instructions directed to us." 22 Hilkiah and those picked by the king went straight to Huldah the prophetess. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, who was in charge of the palace wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter. The men consulted with her. 23 In response to them she said, "God's word, the God of Israel: Tell the man who sent you here, 24 'God has spoken, I'm on my way to bring the doom of judgment on this place and this people. Every word written in the book read by the king of Judah will happen. 25 And why? Because they've deserted me and taken up with other gods; they've made me thoroughly angry by setting up their god-making businesses. My anger is raging white-hot against this place and nobody is going to put it out.' 26 "And also tell the king of Judah, since he sent you to ask God for direction, God's comment on what he read in the book: 27 'Because you took seriously the doom of judgment I spoke against this place and people, and because you responded in humble repentance, tearing your robe in dismay and weeping before me, I'm taking you seriously. God's word. 28 I'll take care of you; you'll have a quiet death and be buried in peace. You won't be around to see the doom that I'm going to bring upon this place and people.'" The men took her message back to the king.
29 The king acted immediately, assembling all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem, 30 and then proceeding to The Temple of God bringing everyone in his train - priests and prophets and people ranging from the least to the greatest. Then he read out publicly everything written in the Book of the Covenant that was found in The Temple of God. 31 The king stood by his pillar and before God solemnly committed himself to the covenant: to follow God believingly and obediently; to follow his instructions, heart and soul, on what to believe and do; to confirm with his life the entire covenant, all that was written in the book. 32 Then he made everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin commit themselves. And they did it. They committed themselves to the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors. 33 Josiah did a thorough job of cleaning up the pollution that had spread throughout Israelite territory and got everyone started fresh again, serving and worshiping their God. All through Josiah's life the people kept to the straight and narrow, obediently following God, the God of their ancestors.
Josiah Keeps the Passover
35 1 Josiah celebrated the Passover to God in Jerusalem. They killed the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the first month. By popular choice, Jehoahaz son of Josiah was made king at Jerusalem, succeeding his father. 2 He gave the priests detailed instructions and encouraged them in the work of leading worship in The Temple of God. 3 He also told the Levites who were in charge of teaching and guiding Israel in all matters of worship (they were especially consecrated for this), "Place the sacred Chest in The Temple that Solomon son of David, the king of Israel, built. You don't have to carry it around on your shoulders any longer! Serve God and God's people Israel. 4 Organize yourselves by families for your respective responsibilities, following the instructions left by David king of Israel and Solomon his son. 5 "Take your place in the sanctuary - a team of Levites for every grouping of your fellow citizens, the laity. 6 Your job is to kill the Passover lambs, then consecrate yourselves and prepare the lambs so that everyone will be able to keep the Passover exactly as God commanded through Moses." 7 Josiah personally donated 30,000 sheep, lambs, and goats and 3,000 bulls - everything needed for the Passover celebration was there. 8 His officials also pitched in on behalf of the people, including the priests and the Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, leaders in The Temple of God, gave 2,600 lambs and 300 bulls to the priests for the Passover offerings. 9 Conaniah, his brothers Shemaiah and Nethanel, along with the Levitical chiefs Hashabiah, Jeiel, and Jozabad, donated 5,000 lambs and 500 bulls to the Levites for the Passover offerings. 10 Preparations were complete for the service of worship; the priests took up their positions and the Levites were at their posts as instructed by the king. 11 They killed the Passover lambs, and while the priests sprinkled the blood from the lambs, the Levites skinned them out. 12 Then they set aside the Whole-Burnt-Offering for presentation to the family groupings of the people so that each group could offer it to God following the instructions in the Book of Moses. They did the same with the cattle. 13 They roasted the Passover lamb according to the instructions and boiled the consecrated offerings in pots and kettles and pans and promptly served the people. 14 After the people had eaten the holy meal, the Levites served themselves and the Aaronite priests - the priests were busy late into the night making the offerings at the Altar. 15 The Asaph singers were all in their places following the instructions of David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun the king's seer. The security guards were on duty at each gate - the Levites also served them because they couldn't leave their posts. 16 Everything went without a hitch in the worship of God that day as they celebrated the Passover and the offering of the Whole-Burnt-Offering on the Altar of God. It went just as Josiah had ordered. 17 The Israelites celebrated the Passover, also known as the Feast of Unraised Bread, for seven days. 18 The Passover hadn't been celebrated like this since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings had done it. But Josiah, the priests, the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were there that week, plus the citizens of Jerusalem - they did it. 19 In the eighteenth year of the rule of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated.
The Death of Josiah
20 Some time later, after Josiah's reformation of The Temple, Neco king of Egypt marched out toward Carchemish on the Euphrates River on his way to war. Josiah went out to fight him. 21 Neco sent messengers to Josiah saying, "What do we have against each other, O king of Judah? I haven't come to fight against you but against the country with whom I'm at war. God commanded me to hurry, so don't get in my way; you'll only interfere with God, who is on my side in this, and he'll destroy you." 22 But Josiah was spoiling for a fight and wouldn't listen to a thing Neco said (in actuality it was God who said it). Though King Josiah disguised himself when they met on the plain of Megiddo, 23 archers shot him anyway. The king said to his servants, "Get me out of here - I'm badly wounded." 24 So his servants took him out of his chariot and laid him down in an ambulance chariot and drove him back to Jerusalem. He died there and was buried in the family cemetery. Everybody in Judah and Jerusalem attended the funeral. 25 Jeremiah composed an anthem of lament for Josiah. The anthem is still sung by the choirs of Israel to this day. The anthem is written in the Laments. 26 The rest of the history of Josiah, his exemplary and devout life, conformed to The Revelation of God. 27 The whole story, from start to finish, is written in the Royal Annals of the Kings of Israel and Judah.