Josiah [Jōsīah]—the fire of the lord or jehovah supports. The king of Judah who succeeded his father Amon, when only eight years old, and one of Judah’s good kings (1 Kings 13:2; 2 Chron. 34:3).
The history of Israel’s later kings makes dreary reading. Says J. G. Greenhough,
Four-fifths of them were equally deficient in brains and morals, a combination of wickedness and folly, with nothing of the king about them but the name. But here and there you come upon a man amidst all these royal puppets. It is like finding a garden in a Sahara, or a jewel in a heap of sham trinkets and dirty stage finery. Josiah breaks a long, monotonous series of absolutely worthless monarchs. Before and behind him are moral waste and darkness. He stands out as a figure worth looking at and loving ... Josiah’s good reign was like a burst of brilliant sunset, before the final darkness comes on.
In a life worth studying, let us list a few incidents illustrating the noble character of Josiah.
He was left parentless at eight years of age. Josiah had a sorrowful childhood, and as a king at eight years of age, he was introduced to scenes of violence, outrage and civil war. But God was more than a Father to this fatherless boy.
He had a good and darling mother. We know nothing about the mother who undertook Josiah’s training apart from her name, Jedidah, meaning, “God’s darling,” which she was not called for nought. She sought to make her son what she was called, “God’s darling,” and her labor had its sweet reward.
He sought after God at the age of sixteen. After sixteen years in the nursing hands of his good mother, Josiah turned from the ways of his father Amon and his grandfather Manasseh, and took his nobler and remoter ancestor, David, as his model. In life’s fair morning, Josiah set his heart to seek the Lord.
He purged Judah and Jerusalem when he was twenty. Youth did not deter Josiah from necessary reformation. Out went all forms of idolatry. Borne along by a noble rage, he swept away the groves full of abominations. Would that the fervent zeal and righteous enthusiasm of this earnest, passionate young man might characterize more young men today!
He rebuilt the Temple when he was twenty-six. This consecrated young man saw that it was of no use destroying idols unless he had something better to replace them. Thus when his destroying fever had spent its force, Josiah began to rebuild and repair the house of God. In turning over the rubbish of the Temple, the king made a strange discovery. He came across a buried and forgotten copy of the Law, the reading of which strangely affected him. Profoundly humbled, he laid the axe to his own corruptions, and went forward to grow in wisdom and godliness.
He reigned for thirty-one years and was only thirty-nine when he died. That Josiah was beloved by his people is indicated by their deep and long-continued mourning after his death.
2. A son of Zephaniah who dwelt in Jerusalem in Zechariah’s time (Zech. 6:10). Perhaps the Hen of verse fourteen.