34 Josiah was only eight years old when he became king. He reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His was a good reign, as he carefully followed the good example of his ancestor King David. For when he was sixteen years old, in the eighth year of his reign, he began to search for the God of his ancestor David; and four years later he began to clean up Judah and Jerusalem, destroying the heathen altars and the shameful idols on the hills. He went out personally to watch as the altars of Baal were knocked apart, the obelisks above the altars chopped down, and the shameful idols ground into dust and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. Then he burned the bones of the heathen priests upon their own altars, feeling that this action would clear the people of Judah and Jerusalem from the guilt of their sin of idol worship.

Then he went to the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, even to distant Naphtali, and did the same thing there. He broke down the heathen altars, ground to powder the shameful idols, and chopped down the obelisks. He did this everywhere throughout the whole land of Israel before returning to Jerusalem.

During the eighteenth year of his reign, after he had purged the land and cleaned up the situation at the Temple, he appointed Shaphan (son of Azaliah) and Maaseiah, governor of Jerusalem, and Joah (son of Joahaz), the city treasurer, to repair the Temple. They set up a collection system for gifts for the Temple. The money was collected at the Temple gates by the Levites on guard duty there. Gifts were brought by the people coming from Manasseh, Ephraim, and other parts of the remnant of Israel, as well as from the people of Jerusalem. The money was taken to Hilkiah the High Priest for accounting, 10-11 and then used by the Levites to pay the carpenters and stonemasons and to purchase building materials—stone building blocks, timber, lumber, and beams. He now rebuilt what earlier kings of Judah had torn down.

12 The workmen were energetic under the leadership of Jahath and Obadiah, Levites of the subclan of Merari. Zechariah and Meshullam, of the subclan of Kohath, were the building superintendents. The Levites who were skilled musicians played background music while the work progressed. 13 Other Levites superintended the unskilled laborers who carried in the materials to the workmen. Still others assisted as accountants, supervisors, and carriers.

14 One day when Hilkiah the High Priest was at the Temple recording the money collected at the gates, he found an old scroll that turned out to be the laws of God as given to Moses!

15-16 “Look!” Hilkiah exclaimed to Shaphan, the king’s secretary. “See what I have found in the Temple! These are the laws of God!” Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan, and Shaphan took it to the king, along with his report that there was good progress being made in the reconstruction of the Temple.

17 “The money chests have been opened and counted, and the money has been put into the hand of the overseers and workmen,” he said to the king.

18 Then he mentioned the scroll and how Hilkiah had discovered it. So he read it to the king. 19 When the king heard what these laws required of God’s people, he ripped his clothing in despair 20 and summoned Hilkiah, Ahikam (son of Shaphan), Abdon (son of Micah), Shaphan the treasurer, and Asaiah, the king’s personal aide.

21 “Go to the Temple and plead with the Lord for me!” the king told them. “Pray for all the remnant of Israel and Judah! For this scroll says that the reason the Lord’s great anger has been poured out upon us is that our ancestors have not obeyed these laws that are written here.”

22 So the men went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum (son of Tokhath, son of Hasrah). (Shallum was the king’s tailor, living in the second ward.) When they told her of the king’s trouble, 23 she replied, “The Lord God of Israel says, Tell the man who sent you,

24 “‘Yes, the Lord will destroy this city and its people. All the curses written in the scroll will come true. 25 For my people have forsaken me and have worshiped heathen gods, and I am very angry with them for their deeds. Therefore, my unquenchable wrath is poured out upon this place.’

26 “But the Lord also says this to the king of Judah who sent you to ask me about this: Tell him, the Lord God of Israel says, 27 ‘Because you are sorry and have humbled yourself before God when you heard my words against this city and its people, and have ripped your clothing in despair and wept before me—I have heard you, says the Lord, 28 and I will not send the promised evil upon this city and its people until after your death.’” So they brought back to the king this word from the Lord. 29 Then the king summoned all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem, 30 and the priests and Levites and all the people great and small, to accompany him to the Temple. There the king read the scroll to them—the covenant of God that was found in the Temple. 31 As the king stood before them, he made a pledge to the Lord to follow his commandments with all his heart and soul and to do what was written in the scroll. 32 And he required everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin to subscribe to this pact with God, and all of them did.

33 So Josiah removed all idols from the areas occupied by the Jews and required all of them to worship Jehovah their God. And throughout the remainder of his lifetime they continued serving Jehovah, the God of their ancestors.

Living Bible (TLB)

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Josiah’s Reforms(A)(B)(C)

34 Josiah(D) was eight years old when he became king,(E) 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,(F) 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(G) 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(H) and the idols. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them.(I) He burned(J) 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(K) 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(L) 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. 10 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. 11 They also gave money(M) 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.(N)

12 The workers labored faithfully.(O) 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—(P) 13 had charge of the laborers(Q) and supervised all the workers from job to job. Some of the Levites were secretaries, scribes and gatekeepers.

The Book of the Law Found(R)(S)

14 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. 15 Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law(T) in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan.

16 Then Shaphan took the book to the king and reported to him: “Your officials are doing everything that has been committed to them. 17 They have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the supervisors and workers.” 18 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.

19 When the king heard the words of the Law,(U) he tore(V) his robes. 20 He gave these orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan(W), Abdon son of Micah,[a] Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 21 “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(X) 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.”

22 Hilkiah and those the king had sent with him[b] went to speak to the prophet(Y) Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath,[c] the son of Hasrah,[d] keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter.

23 She said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, 24 ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster(Z) on this place and its people(AA)—all the curses(AB) written in the book that has been read in the presence of the king of Judah. 25 Because they have forsaken me(AC) and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all that their hands have made,[e] my anger will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched.’ 26 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: 27 Because your heart was responsive(AD) and you humbled(AE) 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. 28 Now I will gather you to your ancestors,(AF) 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.’”(AG)

So they took her answer back to the king.

29 Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 He went up to the temple of the Lord(AH) 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. 31 The king stood by his pillar(AI) and renewed the covenant(AJ) in the presence of the Lord—to follow(AK) 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.

32 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.

33 Josiah removed all the detestable(AL) 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.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Chronicles 34:20 Also called Akbor son of Micaiah
  2. 2 Chronicles 34:22 One Hebrew manuscript, Vulgate and Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts do not have had sent with him.
  3. 2 Chronicles 34:22 Also called Tikvah
  4. 2 Chronicles 34:22 Also called Harhas
  5. 2 Chronicles 34:25 Or by everything they have done
New International Version (NIV)

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