Josiah, son of Amon

“Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” (2Ki 22:1-2, NKJV)

During a temple restoration project in the eighteenth year of his reign, Hilkiah the high priest discovered a Torah scroll - likely an original copy written by Moses. When Shaphan the scribe read the Book of the Law to Josiah, he was greatly alarmed. The king tore his clothes and wept, and commanded his servants:

“Go, inquire of the LORD for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” (2Ki 22:13)

They sought out the counsel of the prophetess Huldah. The word of the LORD from her declared that calamity was indeed coming upon the kingdom because it had forsaken God and provoked Him to anger by burning incense to other gods. However, because of the king's sincere contrition upon hearing the words contained in the scroll, she assured Josiah that during his reign the days of judgment would not come upon the nation as predicted in the Scripture, but that he would be gathered to his fathers in peace first. The king gathered all the elders of the land unto him in Jerusalem, they went up to the house of the Lord and Josiah read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found.

“Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant.” (2Ki 23:3)

King Josiah then proceeded to execute the most aggressive and exhaustive reformation campaign in all of Judah's history (2Ki 23:4-19):

After all these things, Josiah returned to Jerusalem and commanded all the people to “keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant,” which they did - wholeheartedly as Scripture tells us:

“There had been no Passover kept in Israel like that since the days of Samuel the prophet; and none of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as Josiah kept, with the priests and the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (2Ch 35:18)

Nevertheless, as good as all these acts of reform by Josiah were, nothing could turn away the LORD's wrath because of the abject wickedness of Manasseh's sinful reign. God had already determined to remove Judah from His sight, just as He had already removed Israel (vv. 2Ki 23:26-27).

“Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.” (2Ki 23:25)

Of all the kings in David's line, including David himself, no king came as close to the royal ideal of Deuteronomy 17:14-20 than Josiah. However, even Josiah was not perfect because he had multiple wives (cf. vv. 2Ki 23:31, 36).

Toward the end of Josiah's reign, the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II (ca. 609-594 B.C.) was an ally of Assyria against the growing power of Babylon. For some unstated reason, Josiah attempted to stop Necho's army from joining the Assyrians at Carchemish (the Assyrian capital on the bank of the Euphrates River), in a war against Babylon. Josiah, possibly thinking this alliance would turn against his nation, went to stop the Egyptian army who were currently in transit across the Valley of Megiddo. Necho warned Josiah to refrain from meddling in his affairs. Necho sent messengers to Josiah saying:

“What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you.” (2Ch 35:21)

Josiah refused to heed the warning, and disguised himself so that he might fight with Necho. During the heat of the conflict, Egyptian archers shot king Josiah and severely wounded him. His servants rescued him, transferred him to a second chariot and drove him away from battle, a journey of sixty miles south back to Jerusalem. However, the good king's wounds were too great and he died. Josiah was buried in one of the tombs of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for their beloved king.

“Jeremiah also lamented for Josiah. And to this day all the singing men and the singing women speak of Josiah in their lamentations. They made it a custom in Israel; and indeed they are written in the Laments.” (2Ch 35:25)

ARCHEOLOGICAL NOTE: Recently, a religious shrine with horse figurines has been discovered in Jerusalem (cf. Ezekiel 8:16).