Josiah Makes Judah a Better Nation
1Josiah was eight years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 31 years. 2 He 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.
3 While 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 Josiah began to get rid of the high places in Judah and Jerusalem. He removed the poles used to worship the female god named Asherah. He also removed the statues of other false gods. 4 He ordered the altars of the gods that were named Baal to be torn down. Josiah cut to pieces the altars above them that were used for burning incense. He smashed the Asherah poles. He also smashed the statues of other false gods. Josiah broke all of them to pieces. He scattered the pieces over the graves of those who had offered sacrifices to those gods. 5 He burned the bones of the priests on their altars. That’s the way he made Judah and Jerusalem pure and “clean.” 6 Josiah 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 those towns. 7 Everywhere Josiah went he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles. He crushed the statues of gods to powder. He cut to pieces all the altars for burning incense. He destroyed all those things everywhere in Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem.
8 In 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.
9 These men went to Hilkiah the high priest. They gave him the money that had been brought into God’s temple. The Levites who guarded the gates had collected it. They had received some of the money from the people of Manasseh and Ephraim. They had also received some from the other people who remained in Israel. The rest of the money came from other people. It came from all the people of Judah and Benjamin and the people living in Jerusalem. 10 Men were appointed to direct the work on the Lord’s temple. All the money collected was given to them. These men paid the workers who repaired the temple. They made it look like new again. 11 They 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.
12 The workers 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. 13 They were in charge of the laborers. They directed all the workers from job to job. Some of the Levites were secretaries and writers. Other Levites guarded the gates.
Hilkiah Finds the Book of the Law
14 The money that had been taken into the Lord’s temple was being brought out. At that time Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord. It had been given through Moses. 15 Hilkiah spoke to Shaphan the secretary. Hilkiah said, “I’ve found the Book of the Law in the Lord’s temple.” Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan.
16 Then Shaphan took the book to King Josiah. He told him, “Your officials are doing everything they’ve been asked to do. 17 They have paid out the money that was in the Lord’s temple. They’ve put it in the care of the directors and workers.” 18 Shaphan continued, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” Shaphan read some of it to the king.
19 The king heard the words of the Law. When he did, he tore his royal robes. 20 He gave orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam, Abdon, Shaphan the secretary 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 book that has been found. Do it for me. Also do it for the people who remain in Israel and Judah. The Lord has been very angry with us. That’s because our people before us didn’t obey what the Lord had said. They didn’t do everything written in this book.”
22 Hilkiah and the people the king had sent with him went to speak to Huldah the prophet. 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.
23 Huldah said to them, “The Lord is the God of Israel. He says, ‘Here is what you should 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. There are curses written down in the book that has been read to the king of Judah. All those curses will take place. 25 That’s 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 my anger will burn like a fire against this place. And 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. 27 The Lord says, “Your heart was tender. You made yourself humble in my sight. You heard what I spoke against this place and its people. So you made yourself humble. You tore your royal robes and wept. And I have heard you,” announces the Lord. 28 You will join the members of your family who have already died. You will be buried in peace. You will not see all the trouble I am going to bring. I am going to bring trouble on this place and the people who live here.’ ”
Huldah’s answer was taken back to the king.
29 Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 He 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 the words of the Book of the Covenant read to them. The book had been found in the Lord’s temple. 31 The king stood next to his pillar. He agreed to the terms of the covenant in front of the Lord. The king promised to serve the Lord and obey his commands, directions and rules. He promised to obey them with all his heart and with all his soul. So the king promised to obey the terms of the covenant that were written in that book.
32 Then 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.
33 Josiah removed all the statues of false gods from the whole territory that belonged to the Israelites. 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.