The People Hear the Law
1 King Josiah told all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem to come and meet with him. 2 Then the king went up to the LORD’S Temple. All the people of Judah and the people who lived in Jerusalem went with him. The priests, the prophets, and all the people—from the least important to the most important—went with him. Then he read the Book of the Agreement. This was the Book of the Law that was found in the Lord’s Temple. Josiah read the book so that all the people could hear it.
3 The king stood by the column and made an agreement with the LORD. He promised to follow the LORD and to obey his commands, the laws, and his rules. He promised to do this with all his heart and soul. He promised to obey the agreement written in this book. All the people stood to show that they promised to follow the agreement.
4 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, the other priests, and the gatekeepers to bring out of the LORD’S Temple all the dishes and things that were made to honor Baal, Asherah, and the stars of heaven. Then Josiah burned those things outside Jerusalem in the fields in Kidron Valley. Then they carried the ashes to Bethel.
5 The kings of Judah had chosen some ordinary men to serve as priests. These false priests were burning incense at the high places in every city of Judah and all the towns around Jerusalem. They burned incense to honor Baal, the sun, the moon, the constellations, and all the stars in the sky. But Josiah stopped those false priests.
Josiah removed the Asherah pole from the LORD’S Temple. He took the Asherah pole outside the city to the Kidron Valley and burned it there. Then he beat the burned pieces into dust and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people.*
7 Then King Josiah broke down the houses of the male prostitutes who were in the LORD’S Temple. Women also used these houses and made little tent covers to honor the false goddess Asherah.
8-9 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.)
Topheth was a place in the Valley of Hinnom’s Son where people killed their children and burned them on an altar to honor the false god Molech.†
Josiah ruined that place so that no one could use it again. 11
In the past the kings of Judah had put some horses and a chariot near the entrance to the LORD’S Temple. This was near the room of an important official named Nathan Melech. The horses and chariot were to honor the sun god.‡
Josiah removed the horses and burned the chariot.
12 In the past the kings of Judah had built altars on the roof of Ahab’s building. King Manasseh had also built altars in the two courtyards of the LORD’S Temple. Josiah destroyed all the altars and threw the broken pieces into the Kidron Valley.
In the past King Solomon built some high places on Destroyer Hill near Jerusalem. The high places were on the south side of that hill. King Solomon built one of these places of worship to honor Ashtoreth, that horrible thing the people of Sidon worship. He also built one to honor Chemosh, that horrible thing the Moabites worship. And King Solomon built one high place to honor Milcom, that horrible thing the Ammonites worship. But King Josiah ruined all these places of worship. 14
He broke all the memorial stones and Asherah poles. Then he scattered dead men’s bones over that place.§
Josiah also broke down the altar and high place at Bethel. Jeroboam son of Nebat had made this altar. Jeroboam caused Israel to sin.*
Josiah broke down both that altar and the high place. He broke the stones of the altar to pieces. Then he beat it into dust and he burned the Asherah pole. 16
Josiah looked around and saw graves on the mountain. He sent men, and they took the bones from the graves. Then he burned the bones on the altar. In this way Josiah ruined the altar. This happened according to the message from the LORD that the man of God announced.†
The man of God announced these things when Jeroboam stood beside the altar at the feast.
Then Josiah looked around and saw the grave of the man of God.‡
17 Josiah said, “What is that monument I see?”
The people of the city told him, “It is the grave of the man of God who came from Judah. This man of God told about the things you have done to the altar at Bethel. He said them a long time ago.”
18 Josiah said, “Leave the man of God alone. Don’t move his bones.” So they left his bones and the bones of the man of God from Samaria.
19 Josiah also destroyed all the temples at the high places in the cities of Samaria. The kings of Israel had built those temples, which had made the LORD very angry. Josiah destroyed them, just as he had destroyed the place of worship at Bethel.
20 Josiah killed all the priests of the high places that were in Samaria. He killed the priests on those altars and burned men’s bones on the altars so that they could never be used again. Then he went back to Jerusalem.
The People of Judah Celebrate Passover
21 Then King Josiah gave a command to all the people. He said, “Celebrate the Passover for the LORD your God. Do this just as it is written in the Book of the Agreement.”
22 The people had not celebrated a Passover like this since the days when the judges ruled Israel. None of the kings of Israel or the kings of Judah ever had such a big celebration for Passover. 23 They celebrated this Passover for the LORD in Jerusalem during Josiah’s 18th year as king.
24 Josiah destroyed the mediums, wizards, the house gods, the idols, and all the horrible things people worshiped in Judah and Jerusalem. He did this to obey the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the LORD’S Temple.
There had never been a king like Josiah before. Josiah turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his strength.§
No king had followed all the Law of Moses like Josiah. And there has never been another king like Josiah since that time.
26 But the LORD did not stop being angry with the people of Judah. He was still angry with them for everything that Manasseh had done. 27 The LORD said, “I forced the Israelites to leave their land. I will do the same to Judah. I will take Judah out of my sight. I will not accept Jerusalem. Yes, I chose that city. I was talking about Jerusalem when I said, ‘My name will be there.’ But I will destroy the Temple that is in that place.”
28 All the other things that Josiah did are written in the book, The History of the Kings of Judah.
The Death of Josiah
29 While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Neco, the king of Egypt, went to fight against the king of Assyria at the Euphrates River. Josiah went out to meet Neco at Megiddo. Pharaoh saw Josiah and killed him. 30 Josiah’s officers put his body in a chariot and carried him from Megiddo to Jerusalem. They buried Josiah in his own grave.
Then the common people took Josiah’s son Jehoahaz and anointed him. They made Jehoahaz the new king.
Jehoahaz Becomes King of Judah
31 Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he became king. He ruled three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal, daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah. 32 Jehoahaz did what the LORD said was wrong. He did all the same things that his ancestors had done.
Pharaoh Neco put Jehoahaz in prison at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Jehoahaz could not rule in Jerusalem. Pharaoh Neco forced Judah to pay 7500 pounds*
of silver and 75 pounds†
34 Pharaoh Neco made Josiah’s son Eliakim the new king. Eliakim took the place of Josiah his father. Pharaoh Neco changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. And Pharaoh Neco took Jehoahaz away to Egypt where he died. 35 Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh. But Jehoiakim made the common people pay taxes and used that money to give to Pharaoh Neco. So everyone paid their share of silver and gold, and King Jehoiakim gave the money to Pharaoh Neco.
36 Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he became king. He ruled eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebidah daughter of Pedaiah from Rumah. 37 Jehoiakim did what the LORD said was wrong. He did all the same things his ancestors had done.