2 Chronicles 34


‘Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and followed the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles and idols. Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them and smashed the Asherah poles and the idols. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem. In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them, he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles and crushed the idols to powder and cut to pieces all the incense altars throughout Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem. In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the temple of the LORD his God. They went to Hilkiah the high priest and gave him the money that had been brought into the temple of God, which the Levites who were the gatekeepers had collected from the people of Manasseh, Ephraim and the entire remnant of Israel and from all the people of Judah and Benjamin and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Then they entrusted it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the LORD’s temple. These men paid the workers who repaired and restored the temple. They also gave money to the carpenters and builders to purchase dressed stone, and timber for joists and beams for the buildings that the kings of Judah had allowed to fall into ruin. The workers laboured faithfully. Over them to direct them were Jahath and Obadiah, Levites descended from Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam, descended from Kohath. The Levites—all who were skilled in playing musical instruments—had charge of the laborers and supervised all the workers from job to job. Some of the Levites were secretaries, scribes and gatekeepers.’ 2 Chronicles 34:1-13

Josiah’s Reforms

Josiah is now king of the Southern Kingdom of Judah and he reigned for thirty-one years, 640 B.C. to 609 B.C. 2 Kings 22:1-7. Shaphan was the father of Jeremiah’s friend Ahikam, Jeremiah 26:24, and the grandfather of Gedaliah, who was made governor of Judea by the Babylonians after the fall of Jerusalem, 2 Kings 25:22. Shaphan and Nathan-Melek’s, 2 Kings 23:11, names also appear on ancient records of those who lived during these times.

Hilkiah was the father, or grandfather of Seriah, Nehemiah 11:11, who was high priest at the time of the captivity, and an ancestor of Ezra the scribe. Hilkiah appears on the seal of Azariah who was a priest, and the grandfather of Ezra, 1 Chronicles 6:13-14 / 1 Chronicles 9:11 / Ezra 7:1. Hilkiah’s name appears also on a seal of another son named Hanan.

Josiah did what was right in God’s eyes and loved and obeyed God as David did, Acts 13:22.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following concerning the purging.

‘Jeremiah’s first prophecies, Jeremiah 2-3, appear to have been coincident with Josiah’s earlier efforts to uproot idolatry, and must have greatly strengthened his hands.’

The power of Assyria had been greatly weakened and so, Josiah aimed not merely at a religious reformation, but at a restoration of the kingdom to its ancient limits, 2 Kings 23:19. He purged the nation of the high places, he smashed the Asherah poles and idols, and altars of the Baals were torn down and he burned the bones of the priests of Baal.

He even went beyond the borders of Judah and initiated restoration in places in the northern kingdom territory. He wanted some repair work done on the temple, and so he set about raising the funds needed for the repairs, similar to the way Jehoash did many years ago, 2 Kings 12:9-15. He makes a lot of effort in restoring the neglected temple, much as his predecessor Hezekiah had done, 2 Chronicles 29.

The Book Of The Law Found

‘While they were bringing out the money that had been taken into the temple of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the LORD that had been given through Moses. Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.” He gave it to Shaphan. Then Shaphan took the book to the king and reported to him: “Your officials are doing everything that has been committed to them. They have paid out the money that was in the temple of the LORD and have entrusted it to the supervisors and workers.” Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king. When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Abdon son of Micah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: “Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD’s anger that is poured out on us because those who have gone before us have not kept the word of the LORD; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.” Hilkiah and those the king had sent with him went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter. She said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people—all the curses written in the book that has been read in the presence of the king of Judah. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all that their hands have made, my anger will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched.’ Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD. Now I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here.’” So they took her answer back to the king. Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of the LORD with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the Levites—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD. The king stood by his pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD—to follow the LORD and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, and to obey the words of the covenant written in this book. Then he had everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin pledge themselves to it; the people of Jerusalem did this in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors. Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the LORD their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the LORD, the God of their ancestors.’ 2 Chronicles 34:14-33

Jeremiah 1:1-2, tells us that Jeremiah was the son of Hilkiah, which tells us that Jeremiah began his ministry during the reign of King Joash.

Hilkiah discovers ‘the Book of the Law’, Deuteronomy 31:24-27 / 2 Kings 22:8-10. Josiah’s reforms had already been going forward for a number of years. He began the purging of the temple and of Jerusalem in his twelfth year, six full years before the events in 2 Kings 22:8, and the repairs on the temple mentioned in 2 Kings 22:9 were probably commenced at the same time.

Although each king was supposed to have a copy of the Book of the Law, Deuteronomy 17:18-20 / Deuteronomy 31:9-13, we have no idea how long they have been without the Law of Moses, that is the first five books of the Old Testament, but because only those portions that referred to the responsibilities of the king were immediately read before Josiah.

Remember nobody had seen the Book of the Law for years and so when Josiah heard the word of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. In others words, God’s Word moved him to repentance, and as a result of his repentance, the whole of Israel was deeply moved towards God again.

The good news is that Josiah didn’t just go out of his way to get Israel to worship and obey God how they were supposed to in the first place, he actually went on to destroy anything which involved idolatry and the worshipping of false gods.

Hilkiah the priest and others went to speak to the prophetess Huldah, who was Shallum’s wife, 2 Kings 22:14-20. It should be noted that other prophets were now on the scene at this time, prophets like Zephaniah, Zephaniah 1:1, and Jeremiah, Jeremiah 22:15-16, who were both warning God’s people about their upcoming exile into Babylon.

It’s possible that they went to Huldah because she was closest to them, but they go to inquire of the Lord. It’s interesting because we don’t know what they asked but we do know didn’t enquire about the newly discovered Book of Law.

The Lord tells them that He will bring disaster upon the Southern Kingdom of Judah because of their apostasy but the disaster wouldn’t come anytime during the reign of Josiah. God delayed judgment on Josiah, 2 Chronicles 35:20-24, like he did with Ahab, who responded to a word of warning with a kind of repentance, 1 Kings 21:25-29. Josiah has now received news about this upcoming disaster twice, once from God’s Word and now from God’s prophet.

Josiah stood up in front of everyone and declared he would obey God and His Word with all his heart and soul. He gets everyone else to stand as a demonstration of their agreement with the covenant, Genesis 15:17 / Jeremiah 34:18 / 1 Samuel 8:11-17 / 1 Samuel 10:25 / Joshua 24.

Although Josiah had religiously cleaned up Judah by the standards of God’s Word, sadly, after his death, his descendants went back to idolatry and undone everything he had achieved.

Go To 2 Chronicles 35


"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Isaiah 41:10