Son of Amon and great-grandson of Hezekiah, a pious king of Judah, who introduced great reforms in the temple worship, and in the religious character of the nation in general. No king set himself more earnestly to destroy every vestige of idolatry out of the land. Among other things, he defiled the altars of the idols at Bethel by burning upon them the bones from the tombs of their deceased priests; as had been foretold more than three centuries before, 1Ki 13:2. While cleaning and repairing the temple at his command, the priests found the temple copy of the five books of the law, perhaps the original copy from Moses' own hand. The sacred book was too much neglected in those days of declension; and even the pious Josiah seems to have been impressed by the closing chapters of Deuteronomy as though he had never read them before. To avert the judgments there threatened, he humbled himself before God, and sought to bring the people to repentance. He caused them to renew their covenant with Jehovah, and celebrated the Passover with a solemnity like that of its first institution. The repentance of the people was heartless, and did not avert the divine judgments. Josiah, however, was taken away from the evil to come. He met death in battle with Pharaoh-necho, whose passage across his territory to attack the king of Assyria, Josiah felt obliged to resist. The death of this wise and pious king was deeply lamented, by the prophet Jeremiah and all the people, Zec 12:11. He began to reign B. C. 641, at the age of eight years, and reigned thirty-one years, 2Ki 22-23; 2Ch 34-35.
healed by Jehovah, or Jehovah will support. The son of Amon, and his successor on the throne of Judah (2Ki 22:1; 2Ch 34:1). His history is contained in 2Ki 22; 22:20. He stands foremost among all the kings of the line of David for unswerving loyalty to Jehovah (2Ki 23:25). He "did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father." He ascended the throne at the early age of eight years, and it appears that not till eight years afterwards did he begin "to seek after the God of David his father." At that age he devoted himself to God. He distinguished himself by beginning a war of extermination against the prevailing idolatry, which had practically been the state religion for some seventy years (2Ch 34:3; comp. Jer 25:3,11,29).
In the eighteenth year of his reign he proceeded to repair and beautify the temple, which by time and violence had become sorely dilapidated (2Ki 22:3,5-6; 23:23; 2Ch 34:11). While this work was being carried on, Hilkiah, the high priest, discovered a roll, which was probably the original copy of the law, the entire Pentateuch, written by Moses.
When this book was read to him, the king was alarmed by the things it contained, and sent for Huldah, the "prophetess," for her counsel. She spoke to him words of encouragement, telling him that he would be gathered to his fathers in peace before the threatened days of judgment came. Josiah immediately gathered the people together, and engaged them in a renewal of their ancient national covenant with God. The Passover was then celebrated, as in the days of his great predecessor, Hezekiah, with unusual magnificence. Nevertheless, "the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah" (2Ki 22:3-20; 23:21-27; 2Ch 35:1-19). During the progress of this great religious revolution Jeremiah helped it on by his earnest exhortations.
Soon after this, Pharaoh-Necho II. (q.v.), king of Egypt, in an expedition against the king of Assyria, with the view of gaining possession of Carchemish, sought a passage through the territory of Judah for his army. This Josiah refused to permit. He had probably entered into some new alliance with the king of Assyria, and faithful to his word he sought to oppose the progress of Necho.
The army of Judah went out and encountered that of Egypt at Megiddo, on the verge of the plain of Esdraelon. Josiah went into the field in disguise, and was fatally wounded by a random arrow. His attendants conveyed him toward Jerusalem, but had only reached Hadadrimmon, a few miles south of Megiddo, when he died (2Ki 23:28,30; comp. 2Ch 35:20-27), after a reign of thirty-one years. He was buried with the greatest honours in fulfilment of Huldah's prophecy (2Ki 22:20; comp. Jer 34:5). Jeremiah composed a funeral elegy on this the best of the kings of Israel (La 4:20; 2Ch 35:25). The outburst of national grief on account of his death became proverbial (Zec 12:11; comp. Re 16:16).
("supported or healed by Jehovah".)
1. Son of Amon and Jedidab; began to reign at eight years old (641 B.C.) and reigned 31 years, to 610 B.C. (2 Kings 22 to 24; 2 Chronicles 34-35). The first 12 chapters of Jeremiah may refer to this period. At the age of 16, "while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father." Since Amon was wicked it is likely that Jedidah ("beloved"), like Lois and Eunice (2Ti 1:5), had early instilled into her child pious principles which bore fruit betimes, for in spite of the closing error which cost him his life the Holy Spirit, who remembers the graces and ignores the exceptional fails of believers, testifies "he declined neither to the right hand nor to the left." At the age of 20, in the 12th year of his reign, he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places or Asherah, and images of the sun and Baal, and strewed their dust on the graves of their former worshippers. (See GROVES.)
The events of the purging out idolatry, the temple repair, and the finding of the law, in Kings are arranged according to subject matter; but in Chronicles chronologically. The repairing of the temple recorded 2Ki 22:3-7, in a period by itself, subordinate to the discovery of the law, in the 18th year of Josiah's reign, must have been chronologically before that date, since in that year the builders were already repairing and the money for the work had been collected by the Levites who kept the door. The abolishing of the idols must have begun before the people made the covenant (2Ki 23:3). The discovery of the law Hilkiah quickened his zeal in abolishing them throughout the whole kingdom.(See HILKIAH.) In 2 Kings their suppression is narrated more minutely, the Passover celebration is summarized; in Second Chronicles their suppression is summarized (2Ch 34:3-7,33), but the Passover fully described (2Ch 35:1-19).
Josiah spared not even the high places which pious Hezekiah had left, nor those of Solomon in his apostasy, nor their priests (Chemarim), as Zep 1:4 foretold; also Manasseh his grandfather's grove (Asherah) in the Lord's house (2Ki 21:7; 23:6). He defiled Tophot in the valley of the children of Hinnom, where the people used to make their children pass through the fire to Moloch; and burned the chariots of the sun, and took away the stored horses, and destroyed Ahaz' altars on the housetop. (See HINNOM.) He fulfilled on the Bethel calf altar the prophecy of the man of God to Jeroboam, given three centuries before, and declaring his very name (as Isaiah did that of Cyrus ages before), but respected the prophet's sepulchre (1 Kings 13). His purgation thus extended to northern Israel as far as Naphtali, as well as to Judah. It was in repairing the temple that Moses' copy of the law, in his own handwriting, or at, least the original temple copy from his, was found. That the law was not previously unknown appears from the king's conduct on its discovery.
He at once accepted its authority without mistrust as genuine and authentic; and read or caused it to be read in the ears of all the men of Judah, the priests and the prophets ("Levites" in 2Ch 34:30). These too all accepted it, evidently because they and he had always recognized its truths generally (as his extirpation of idolatry already implied), but now he and they are brought into immediate contact, as it were, with Moses himself, through the original temple copy. His tenderness of heart (conscience) and his humbling himself before God with tears and rent garments brought God's promise through Huldah that he should be "gathered to his grave in peace," and "should not see the evil God was about to bring on" Jerusalem. It is true he fell in battle; but his remains were (and were the last) buried in his fathers' sepulchres "in peace," before seeing the enemy overthrow his capital (compare Jer 34:5; Isa 57:1-2). "Because thou humblest thyself when thou heardest what I spake ... I also have heard thee." God is toward men what they are toward Him (Ps 18:25-26).
In this same year, the 26th of his age, the 18th of his reign, Josiah and his people entered into a covenant to keep the law of Jehovah with all their heart and all their soul (2Ki 23:3; 2Ch 34:31-33). His only fault was his supposition that by frustrating Necho's expedition to the Euphrates against Assyria he might avert God's predicted judgment on Judah. He scarcely realized the depth of Israel's apostasy, and hoped his reformation would enlist God's cooperation against the Egyptians. Nineveh was falling, if not already fallen. The Syrian princes, those independent as Josiah as well as Assyria's vassals, hoped now to be free from every foreign yoke; it was therefore necessary now to check the Egyptian, for though Necho was not marching against Judah but against Carchemish by Euphrates, Josiah knew that if once the Egyptians gained Coelosyria his independence would be gone.
Necho appealed in vain to Josiah to leave him alone, as it was "against the house of his war" (his hereditary enemy) that he was marching, and that God commanded him, so that if Josiah interfered he would be "meddling with God." He thought the reference to God would have weight with Josiah. Of course Pharaoh's view of the Godhead was distinct from Josiah's. Josiah forgot his ancestor Solomon's inspired counsel (Pr 17:14; 26:17). Josiah's reformation had not removed the deep seated evil (as Jeremiah and Zephaniah testify), so that the deceased Manasseh's sin, acting still far and wide though hiddenly now, awaited God's fierce anger on Jerusalem, as he was warned by God through Huldah (2Ki 22:16-20). Hence Josiah was permitted, not without culpability on his part, to meddle in the ungodly world's wars, and so to fall, and with himself to withdraw the last godly ruler from the people henceforth given over to punishment (2Ki 23:25-30).
Necho came by sea to Palestine, landing at Accho. If he had come by Philistia Josiah would have met him there, and not allowed him to advance to Megiddo. There, in the great battle field of Palestine, Esdraelon plain, Necho, when they met face to face, slew him. Josiah was carried wounded from Hadadrimmon to die before be reached Jerusalem. He was buried with every honour, and Jeremiah composed a dirge, annually chanted at Hadadrimmon (not the "Lamentations" over Jerusalem after its fall). Compare Jer 22:10 "weep not for the dead, neither bemoan him" (namely, Josiah slain at Megiddo or Magdolum in Herodotus); he is at peace. The church, while potent in the world for God, must not descend to the world's level and use the world's weapons for even a good end. Her controversy must first be with herself so long as corruption is in her, and then she must yield herself to God to be wielded by Him in the world for His glory.
Antichrist superseding spiritual Babylon appropriately falls at Armageddon, i.e. the hill of Megiddo, the scene of godly Josiah's fall through descending to the world's carnal strifes as Babylon's ally (Re 16:14-18); the Jews' future mourning for Him whom they pierced, before God's interposition against all nations confederate against Jerusalem, answers to their mourning for Josiah at Megiddo (Zec 12:10-11). Josiah's greatness harmonizes with the parallel decline and fall of Assyria. Josiah exercised a sovereignty over Samaria and Galilee (2Ch 34:6), besides Judah. In 633 B.C. the Medes attacked Nineveh. Then the Scythians (from whom Bethshan got its Greek name Scythopolis) desolated western Asia. Then Egypt cast off the Assyrian yoke, and Psammetik I attacked southern Syria. Finally, in 626 or 624 B.C., the Medes, Babylonians, and Susianians destroyed Nineveh and divided the empire.This gave Josiah the opportunity to free Judah from the Assyrian yoke which his grandfather had borne, and to enlarge his kingdom. (See for further illustrations of the Scripture harmony with secular history, NECHO.)
2. Josiah, son of Zephaniah cheen ("grace") (Zec 6:9,15). At his house in Jerusalem the three from Babylon were guests, from whom Zechariah by God's command took silver and gold to make crowns for the high priest Joshua's head.
1. King of Judah, who succeeded his father Amon when only eight years old (2Ki 22:1). The religious condition of the people, which was bad under Amon, continued without essential improvement, so far as we know, until the eighteenth year of Josiah. The sudden change then made resulted from the finding of the Book of Instruction in the Temple (2Ki 22:8 ff.); but it is possible that the minds of king and people were prepared for it by the Scythian invasion. The demand of the book for a thorough reformation powerfully affected the king and his officers. The book was read publicly, and king and people entered into a solemn covenant to act according to its injunctions. Its central demand was the removal of all altars in the country except the one at Jerusalem. This was henceforth to be the only sanctuary in Judah. The carrying out of this programme is related in detail, and we learn that the conclusion of the work was marked by the celebration of the Passover in a new manner and with unusual solemnity (2Ki 23:21 ff.).
Josiah's reign was characterized by justice, as we learn from Jeremiah, but we know no more of it until the end of the king's life. The Assyrian empire was tottering to its fall, and Pharaoh-necho thought to seize the provinces nearest him and attach them to Egypt. He therefore invaded Palestine with an army. Josiah was ill-advised enough to attempt resistance. In the battle which ensued he was slain (2Ki 23:29). His motive in undertaking this expedition has been much discussed. Probably he hoped to restore the real independence of Judah. That he was beloved by his people is indicated by their deep and long-continued mourning.
2. Son of Zephaniah (Zec 6:10).
H. P. Smith.
1. Son and successor of Amon king of Judah: he reigned thirty-one years, B.C. 641-610. He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. He began to reign when eight years old, and at the age of sixteen he sought after God. When he was about twenty years old he began to destroy all the high places, and groves, and images, and altars. He burnt the bones of the priests of Baalim upon their altars, as foretold in 1Ki 13:2. These things he did not only in Judah but also in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali. 2Ki 22:1-2; 2Ch 34:1-7.
Having purged the land of idolatry he set his hand to repair the house of the Lord. While this was in progress Hilkiah the priest found a copy of the law, which had evidently been lost sight of. It was read to the king, who was so moved on hearing its precepts, and knowing how they had been violated, that he rent his clothes, and sent to inquire of the Lord. The answer was that the evil and the curses found in the book should fall upon the people; but, because Josiah's heart was tender, and he had humbled himself, the judgement should not be executed in his days. He then assembled all the people at the temple; made them hear the law, and renew the covenant of obedience to Jehovah their God. And it is added that "all his days they departed not from following the Lord, the God of their fathers." 2Ki 22:3-20; 23:1-20; 2Ch 34:8-33.
In the eighteenth year of Josiah, the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were kept. The ark was restored to its place in the temple, from which apparently it had been removed for some purpose. The testimony is that "there was no Passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet." Thus was Josiah enabled to recall the people to a sense of their responsibility, and to the means of their communion with God in the ordinance of the Passover. 2Ki 23:21-28; 2Ch 35:1-19.
In the thirty-first year of his reign, Josiah, perhaps from fidelity to former treaties with Assyria, went out to oppose the king of Egypt when he himself was in no way attacked; and, though warned 'from the mouth of God,' he persisted in his purpose. He disguised himself, yet he was wounded and died. Jeremiah lamented for him and the singers also in their songs. 2Ch 35:20-26. His reign was like the last shining of God's lamp in Judah: though he had zealously followed the Lord, the heart of the people was not changed. Jer 3:6-10: cf. Zephaniah. In Mt 1:10-11 the name is JOSIAS.
2. Son of Zephaniah, at whose house Zechariah assembled the chief men of the captivity when Joshua the son of Josedech was crowned. Zec 6:10.
(whom Jehovah heals).
1. The son of Amon and Jedidah, succeeded his father B.C. 641, in the eighty years of his age, and reigned 31 years. His history is contained in
... and the first twelve chapters of Jeremiah throw much light upon the general character of the Jews in his day. He began in the eighth year of his reign to seek the Lord; and in his twelfth year, and for six years afterward, in a personal progress throughout all the land of Judah and Israel, he destroyed everywhere high places, groves, images and all outward signs and relics of idolatry. The temple was restored under a special commission; and in the course of the repairs Hilkiah the priest found that book of the law of the Lord which quickened so remarkably the ardent zeal of the king. He was aided by Jeremiah the prophet in spreading through his kingdom the knowledge and worship of Jehovah. The great day of Josiah's life was the day of the passover in the eighteenth year of his reign. After this his endeavors to abolish every trace of idolatry and superstition were still carried on; but the time drew near which had been indicated by Huldah.
When Pharaoh-necho went from Egypt to Carchemish to carry on his war along the seacoast. Necho reluctantly paused and gave him battle in the valley of Esdraelon. Josiah was mortally wounded, and died before he could reach Jerusalem. He was buried with extraordinary honors.
2. The son of Zephaniah, at whose house took place the solemn and symbolical crowning of Joshua the high priest.
(B.C. about 1520.)
JOSIAH, king of Judah, deserves particular mention on account of his wisdom and piety, and some memorable events that occurred in the course of his reign. He succeeded to the throne, upon the assassination of his father Amon, at the age of eight years, B.C. 640; and at a period when idolatry and wickedness, encouraged by his father's profligate example, very generally prevailed. Josiah, who manifested the influence of pious and virtuous principles at a very early age, began, in his sixteenth year, to project the reformation of the kingdom, and to adopt means for restoring the worship of the true God. At the age of twenty years he vigorously pursued the execution of the plans which he had meditated. He began with abolishing idolatry, first at Jerusalem, and then through different parts of the kingdom; destroying the altars which had been erected, and the idols which had been the objects of veneration and worship. He then proceeded, in his twenty-sixth year, to a complete restoration of the worship of God, and the regular service of the temple. While he was prosecuting this pious work, and repairing the temple, which had been long neglected, and which had sunk into a state of dilapidation, the book of the law, which had been concealed in the temple, was happily discovered. This was, probably, a copy of the Pentateuch, which had been lodged there for security by some pious priest in the reign of Ahaz or Manasseh. Josiah, desirous of averting from himself and the kingdom threatened judgments, determined to adhere to the directions of the law, in the business of reformation which he had undertaken; and to observe the festivals enjoined by Moses, which had been shamefully neglected. With this view he assembled all the elders of the people in the temple at Jerusalem; and, having ascended the throne, read the book of the Mosaic law, and then entered into a solemn covenant to observe the statutes and ordinances which it enjoined. To this covenant the whole assembly testified their consent. The ark was restored to its proper place; the temple was purified; idolatrous utensils were removed, and those appropriate to the worship of God substituted in their room. After these preparations, the passover was observed with singular zeal and magnificence. This took place in the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign: but, in pursuing his laudable plans of reformation, he was resisted by the inveterate habits of the Israelites; so that his zealous and persevering efforts were ineffectual. Their degeneracy was so invincible, that the almighty Sovereign was provoked to inflict upon them those calamities which were denounced by the Prophet Zephaniah. In the thirty-second year of Josiah's reign, Pharaoh-Necho, king of Egypt, advanced with his army against Carchemish, a city situated on the river Euphrates. He was opposed by the king of Judah; so that a bloody battle ensued at Megiddo, in which Josiah received a mortal wound, which terminated in his death, after he had been conveyed to Jerusalem, in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, B.C. 609. His death was greatly lamented by all his subjects; and an elegy was written on the occasion by the Prophet Jeremiah, which is not now extant, 2Ki 22; 23; 2Ch 34; 35.