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Josiah of Judah
King Josiah of Judah (reigned beginning about 639 BC) is first recorded in the Holy Scriptures, long before he was born, as a Prophecy given to corrupt King Jeroboam of Israel (reigned beginning about 933 BC). Jeroboam Of Israel was the first king of Israel after The Division Of Israel into two independent kingdoms, The Northern Kingdom of "Israel" and The Southern Kingdom of "Judah." Jeroboam's kingdom was corrupt almost from the beginning.
"13:1 And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. 13:2 And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee [see No Levites In The Lost Ten Tribes?], and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee. 13:3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.
In fulfillment of the prophecy that had been made about 3 centuries before, Josiah became king of Judah, after the assassination of his father Amon (see Amon Of Judah), a man who had become as corrupt as Jeroboam had been in the north (the entire rest of the prophecy was fulfilled by Josiah a little later, as we will read below).
"21:25 Now the rest of the acts of Amon which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
"He did that which was right in the sight of the LORD"
Josiah became king at a very young age, but also very early proved himself to be a righteous upholder of the Messianic line of Abraham, that was provided with political power at the time of David (see The Seed Of David).
"22:1 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath.
The Temple had been defiled with idols and left unmaintained for a long time (including a lack of spiritual maintenance, very similar to most of the man-made and man-worshipping "churches" of today - see Is Your Religion Your Religion? and What's Your Angle?). When Josiah ordered Hilkiah, the "high priest" (a man who, as we are about to read, was unfit and unworthy of that title - which was established as a living prophecy of the Christ Himself; see Christ The High Priest and the Fact Finder question below), to make preparations for work to be done, Hilkiah made an amazing (to him) discovery - the Book of the Law of the LORD, that the "high priest" should have been teaching and living by - not be ignorant of its very existence. The incompetent "high priest" sent the Book of The Law to Josiah.
"22:3 And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the LORD, saying, 22:4 Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the LORD, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people" (2 Kings 22:3-4 KJV)
Josiah then sent the "high priest" to a prophet, in this case a prophetess, who delivered the Word of God to Josiah that the corrupt kingdom of Judah would be left to the destruction that it was bringing upon itself, but that righteous Josiah would be spared His wrath.
"22:14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.
Josiah nevertheless began a restoration of the Kingdom of Judah to the Way of the LORD. Nothing like it was seen in Judah, before or since (2 Kings 23:1-25).
"23:1 And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. 23:2 And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD. 23:3 And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant." (2 Kings 23:1-3 KJV)
Josiah's efforts extended up into what had been the northern kingdom of Israel - where Josiah literally, word by word, fulfilled the 3-centuries-old prophecy given to Jeroboam ("Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee," see above) when "he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men's bones upon them."
"23:19 And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the LORD to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel. 23:20 And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men's bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem." (2 Kings 23:19-20 KJV)
Josiah was personally the most righteous king that Judah ever had, for "unto him was there no king before him."
"23:25 And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him." (2 Kings 23:25 KJV)
Josiah's efforts were nevertheless too late; the Judgment of the LORD had already been made on the kingdom as a whole, in fulfillment of the prophecy given by the LORD about Josiah's grandfather, Manasseh (see Manasseh Of Judah). The fall would not come in the time of righteous Josiah, but it would come in due time.
"23:26 Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. 23:27 And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there." (2 Kings 23:26-27 KJV)
Everyone has to physically die (see The Sleep Of Death). In the case of righteous Josiah, it came relatively quickly and easily, as prophesied, when he involved himself in a battle with an Egyptian king who merely wanted to pass through the territory of Judah on his way to battle with "Charchemish by Euphrates" (in what is today known as Iraq).
"35:20 After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Charchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him. 35:21 But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.
Jeremiah the prophet is not only recorded in the book that bears his name (see The Prophets: Jeremiah). Jeremiah is also recorded in the Chronicles, where he personally composed a grieving lament upon the death of righteous Josiah.
"35:25 And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations." (2 Chronicles 35:25 KJV)
Fact Finder: The incompetent "high priest" in the time of Josiah lost sight of "the book of the law in the house of the LORD." How do we know that Jesus Christ never lost sight of it?