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22 Josiah was 8 years old when he inherited the throne. His reign in Jerusalem lasted 31 years. His mother was Jedidah (daughter of Adaiah from Bozkath). Josiah was righteous in the Eternal’s eyes. He continually did what was right, just as his ancestor David had. He did not ever step away from the righteous path.

During Josiah’s 18th year as king, he dispatched his minister of state,[a] Shaphan (son of Azaliah and grandson of Meshullam), to the Eternal’s house with instructions.

Josiah: Visit the priest, Hilkiah, and ask him to give us an account of the finances that have been collected by the doorkeepers from those who enter the Eternal’s temple. Tell them to give it to the workers who watch over the Eternal’s temple, to the repairmen who keep the place in good condition, to the carpenters and builders and masons for purchasing the wood and cut stones to keep the temple in working order. There is no need to document the financial exchange with these workers because they are honest in their dealings.

Hilkiah (to Shaphan): I have discovered the book of the law in the Eternal’s house.

Hilkiah then handed the book of the law to Shaphan, and Shaphan read through it. Shaphan the secretary returned to the king with a report.

The discovery of the book of the law which has been forgotten for a long time serves two purposes: it rewards Josiah for the work he’s already done, and it pushes him toward more reforms. Besides its positive effect on Judah, not much is known about the book of the law, except that it isn’t a book at all. It is probably a scroll with two columns of writing, much like the Dead Sea Scrolls. The exact content is unknown, but it is probable that the book of the law was the foundational text for the compiler of Deuteronomy. Assuming this, the laws from Deuteronomy explain why Josiah destroys any object that could be used in pagan worship.

Shaphan: Those who serve you in the Eternal’s house have given every last cent of the money to the workers who keep the Eternal’s house in good condition.

10 (continuing) While I was delivering your instructions, Hilkiah the priest handed me an old book.

Shaphan then read the old book aloud to the king. 11 While the king listened to the words of the book of law, he was filled with sorrow, and he tore his garments. 12 Then the king gave a command to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam (Shaphan’s son), Achbor (Micaiah’s son), Shaphan the minister of state, and Asaiah (one of the king’s advisors).

Josiah: 13 Go and speak to the Eternal One on my behalf, and also on behalf of the people and all of Judah. Speak to Him about this book and all that it commands. There is a wrathful fire on its way to us from Him, all because our ancestors before us did not obey the instructions of this book or do all that is written concerning us.

14 Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to visit the prophetess Huldah (Shallum’s wife). Shallum was Tikvah’s son, and Tikvah was the son of Harhas, who was in charge of the clothing and garments. Huldah lived in the second quarter of Jerusalem. Hilkiah, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah spoke to her.

Huldah: 15 This is the message of the Eternal God of Israel: “Go back and speak to the one who told you to speak to Me that 16 the Eternal says, ‘I will bring a wicked cloud of disaster over this land and those who live within it. It will be just as it is written in all the words of the book read by the king of Judah. 17 Because they have turned their backs on Me and have been promiscuous with other gods, burning incense for them and causing My anger to boil with all their wicked deeds, the fire of My wrath will consume them and be inextinguishable.’”

18 But tell Judah’s king, the one who told you to visit me and speak to the Eternal One on his behalf, “This is the message of the Eternal God of Israel: ‘Concerning what you have heard, 19 your heart was gentle and concerned about My commands. You were humble before the Eternal because of the warnings of desolation I gave to this place and to those who dwell within it. You even tore your garments and cried before Me. Because you have done all this, I have certainly heard your sincerity,’ proclaims the Eternal One.

20 “‘Observe! I am going to bring you to be with your ancestors, and you will meet the grave peacefully, so that you will not have to witness the wicked cloud of disaster I will bring to shadow this land and all those who dwell within it.’”

Then Hilkiah, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah returned to the king and gave him the Lord’s message, as sent through Huldah the prophetess.


  1. 22:3 Literally, secretary

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