Table of Contents
Josiah and His Predecessors
King Josiah reigned from 640–609 b.c. After more than a half century of moral and spiritual decline under Manasseh (2 Kings 21:1–18; 2 Chronicles 33:1–20) and Amon (2 Kings 21:19–25; 2 Chronicles 33:21–25), Judah had once again a king famous for his faithfulness and godly zeal.
Josiah was only eight years old when he began to rule (2 Kings 22:1). When he was only about 20 years of age, he made several reforms, eliminating first the high places of idol worship. “For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images” (2 Chronicles 34:3).
The prophet Jeremiah, who was called to public ministry in the king’s 13th year, supported the king. And with his help, Josiah purposed to cleanse the land of idolatry and to re-establish the worship of God (2 Chronicles 34). And it happened to pass that when the king’s servants were working to restore the Temple in the 18th year of his reign, they discovered a copy of “the book of the law” (2 Kings 22:3–20).
This discovery led to a strengthening of Josiah’s reform plan throughout the land. The king’s reform was even stretched to the territory of the northern kingdom (2 Kings 23:15–20; 2 Chronicles 34:6, 7). The deterioration of the Assyrian Empire allowed for this extension.
King Josiah faced early death as a result of his arrogant interference with Necho II of Egypt at Megiddo, 609 b.c. For “In his days Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went to the aid of the king of Assyria, to the River Euphrates; and King Josiah went against him. And Pharaoh Necho killed him at Megiddo when he confronted him. Then his servants moved his body in a chariot from Megiddo, brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own tomb…” (2 Kings 23:29, 30; 2 Chronicles 35:20–24).
King Josiah’s death was a great loss to the nation and he was deeply lamented by the people of Judah (2 Chronicles 35:24- 25). According to 2 Kings 23:25, there was no king like him “that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses.” In contrast with the great mourning at the death of Josiah, the fate of his wicked sons was to be entirely unwept (Jeremiah 22:10, 18).
In His service,