Josiah Makes Judah a Better Nation
1Josiah was eight years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 31 years.
2He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He lived the way King David had lived. He didn't turn away from it to the right or the left.
3While he was still young, he began to worship the God of King David. It was the eighth year of Josiah's rule.
In his 12th year he began to get rid of the high places in Judah and Jerusalem. He removed the poles that were used to worship the goddess Asherah. He also removed the wooden and metal statues of gods. 4He ordered the altars of the gods that were named after Baal to be torn down. He cut to pieces the altars for burning incense that were above them. He smashed the Asherah poles. He also smashed the wooden and metal statues of gods. He broke all of them to pieces. He scattered the pieces over the graves of those who had offered sacrifices to those gods. 5He burned the bones of the priests on their altars. That's the way he made Judah and Jerusalem pure and clean.
6He went to the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon. He went all the way to Naphtali. He also went to the destroyed places around all of those towns. 7Everywhere he went he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles. He crushed the statues of gods to powder. He cut to pieces all of the altars for burning incense. He destroyed all of those things everywhere in Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem.
8In the 18th year of Josiah's rule, he decided to make the land and temple pure and clean. So he sent Shaphan, Maaseiah and Joah to repair the temple of the Lord his God. Shaphan was the son of Azaliah. Maaseiah was ruler of the city. And Joah, the son of Joahaz, kept the records.
9They went to the high priest Hilkiah. They gave him the money that had been brought into God's temple. The Levites who guarded the doors had collected it. They had received some of the money from the people of Manasseh, Ephraim and the others who remained in Israel. They had received the rest of it from the people of Judah and Benjamin and those who lived in Jerusalem.
10They put all of the money in the care of the men who had been appointed to direct the work on the Lord's temple. Those men paid the workers who repaired the temple and made it look like new again. 11They also gave money to the builders and those who worked with wood. The workers used it to buy lumber and blocks of stone. The lumber was used for the supports and beams for the buildings. The kings of Judah had let the buildings fall down.
12The men were faithful in doing the work. Jahath and Obadiah directed them. They were Levites from the family line of Merari. Zechariah and Meshullam also directed them. They were from the family line of Kohath. The Levites were skilled in playing musical instruments. 13They were in charge of the laborers. They directed all of the workers from job to job. Some of the Levites were secretaries and writers. Others guarded the doors.
Hilkiah Finds the Scroll of the Law
14The money that had been taken into the Lord's temple was being brought out. At that time the priest Hilkiah found the Scroll of the Law of the Lord. It had been given through Moses. 15Hilkiah spoke to the secretary Shaphan. He said, "I've found the Scroll of the Law in the Lord's temple." He gave it to Shaphan.
16Then Shaphan took the scroll to King Josiah. He told him, "Your officials are doing everything they've been asked to do. 17They have paid out the money that was in the Lord's temple. They've put it in the care of the directors and workers." 18Shaphan continued, "The priest Hilkiah has given me a scroll." Shaphan read some of it to the king.
19The king heard the words of the Law. When he did, he tore his royal robes. 20He gave orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam, Abdon, the secretary Shaphan and Asaiah. Ahikam was the son of Shaphan. Abdon was the son of Micah. And Asaiah was the king's attendant. Josiah commanded them, 21"Go. Ask the Lord for advice. Ask him about what is written in this scroll that has been found. Do it for me. Also do it for those who remain in Israel and Judah. The Lord has poured out his burning anger on us. That's because our people before us didn't obey what the Lord had said. They didn't do everything that is written in this scroll."
22Hilkiah and those the king had sent with him went to speak to the prophet Huldah. She was the wife of Shallum. Shallum was the son of Tokhath. Tokhath was the son of Hasrah. Shallum took care of the sacred robes. Huldah lived in the New Quarter of Jerusalem.
23She said to them, "The Lord is the God of Israel. He says, 'Tell the man who sent you to me, 24"The Lord says, 'I am going to bring horrible trouble on this place and its people. All of the curses that are written down in the scroll that has been read to the king of Judah will take place. 25That is because the people have deserted me. They have burned incense to other gods. They have made me very angry because of everything their hands have made. So I will pour out my burning anger on this place. The fire of my anger will not be put out.' " '
26"The king of Judah sent you to ask for advice. Tell him, 'The Lord is the God of Israel. He has a message for you about the things you heard. 27He says, "Your heart was tender. You made yourself low in my sight. You heard what I spoke against this place and its people. So you made yourself low. You tore your royal robes and sobbed. And I have heard you," announces the Lord.
28" ' "You will join the members of your family who have already died. Your body will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all of the trouble I am going to bring on this place and those who live here." ' "
Huldah's answer was taken back to the king.
29Then the king called together all of the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30He went up to the Lord's temple. The people of Judah and Jerusalem went with him. So did the priests and Levites. All of them went, from the least important of them to the most important. The king had all of the words of the Scroll of the Covenant read to them. The scroll had been found in the Lord's temple.
31The king stood next to his pillar. He agreed to the terms of the covenant in front of the Lord. He promised to follow him and obey his commands, directions and rules. He promised to obey them with all his heart and with all his soul. So he promised to obey the terms of the covenant that were written down in that scroll.
32Then he had everyone in Jerusalem and in Benjamin commit themselves to the covenant. The people of Jerusalem did it in keeping with the covenant of the God of Israel.
33Josiah removed all of the statues of gods from the whole territory that belonged to the people of Israel. The Lord hated those statues. Josiah had everyone in Israel serve the Lord their God. As long as he lived, they didn't fail to follow the Lord, the God of their people.