Josiah Rules in Judah
1Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. 2 He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right.
3 During the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, Josiah began to seek the God of his ancestor David. Then in the twelfth year he began to purify Judah and Jerusalem, destroying all the pagan shrines, the Asherah poles, and the carved idols and cast images. 4 He ordered that the altars of Baal be demolished and that the incense altars which stood above them be broken down. He also made sure that the Asherah poles, the carved idols, and the cast images were smashed and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5 He burned the bones of the pagan priests on their own altars, and so he purified Judah and Jerusalem.
6 He did the same thing in the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, even as far as Naphtali, and in the regions[a] all around them. 7 He destroyed the pagan altars and the Asherah poles, and he crushed the idols into dust. He cut down all the incense altars throughout the land of Israel. Finally, he returned to Jerusalem.
8 In the eighteenth year of his reign, after he had purified the land and the Temple, Josiah appointed Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the governor of Jerusalem, and Joah son of Joahaz, the royal historian, to repair the Temple of the Lord his God. 9 They gave Hilkiah the high priest the money that had been collected by the Levites who served as gatekeepers at the Temple of God. The gifts were brought by people from Manasseh, Ephraim, and from all the remnant of Israel, as well as from all Judah, Benjamin, and the people of Jerusalem.
10 He entrusted the money to the men assigned to supervise the restoration of the Lord’s Temple. Then they paid the workers who did the repairs and renovation of the Temple. 11 They hired carpenters and builders, who purchased finished stone for the walls and timber for the rafters and beams. They restored what earlier kings of Judah had allowed to fall into ruin.
12 The workers served faithfully under the leadership of Jahath and Obadiah, Levites of the Merarite clan, and Zechariah and Meshullam, Levites of the Kohathite clan. Other Levites, all of whom were skilled musicians, 13 were put in charge of the laborers of the various trades. Still others assisted as secretaries, officials, and gatekeepers.
Hilkiah Discovers God’s Law
14 While they were bringing out the money collected at the Lord’s Temple, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that was written by Moses. 15 Hilkiah said to Shaphan the court secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the Lord’s Temple!” Then Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan.
16 Shaphan took the scroll to the king and reported, “Your officials are doing everything they were assigned to do. 17 The money that was collected at the Temple of the Lord has been turned over to the supervisors and workmen.” 18 Shaphan also told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” So Shaphan read it to the king.
19 When the king heard what was written in the Law, he tore his clothes in despair. 20 Then he gave these orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah,[b] Shaphan the court secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal adviser: 21 “Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for all the remnant of Israel and Judah. Inquire about the words written in the scroll that has been found. For the Lord’s great anger has been poured out on us because our ancestors have not obeyed the word of the Lord. We have not been doing everything this scroll says we must do.”
22 So Hilkiah and the other men went to the New Quarter[c] of Jerusalem to consult with the prophet Huldah. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, son of Harhas,[d] the keeper of the Temple wardrobe.
23 She said to them, “The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken! Go back and tell the man who sent you, 24 ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this city[e] and its people. All the curses written in the scroll that was read to the king of Judah will come true. 25 For my people have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them for everything they have done. My anger will be poured out on this place, and it will not be quenched.’
26 “But go to the king of Judah who sent you to seek the Lord and tell him: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the message you have just heard: 27 You were sorry and humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this city and its people. You humbled yourself and tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord. 28 So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace. You yourself will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city and its people.’”
So they took her message back to the king.
Josiah’s Religious Reforms
29 Then the king summoned all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 And the king went up to the Temple of the Lord with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the priests and the Levites—all the people from the greatest to the least. There the king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the Lord’s Temple. 31 The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the Lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. He promised to obey all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll. 32 And he required everyone in Jerusalem and the people of Benjamin to make a similar pledge. The people of Jerusalem did so, renewing their covenant with God, the God of their ancestors.
33 So Josiah removed all detestable idols from the entire land of Israel and required everyone to worship the Lord their God. And throughout the rest of his lifetime, they did not turn away from the Lord, the God of their ancestors.