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23 1-2 Then the king sent for the elders and other leaders of Judah and Jerusalem to go to the Temple with him. So all the priests and prophets and the people, small and great, of Jerusalem and Judah gathered there at the Temple so that the king could read to them the entire book of God’s laws which had been discovered in the Temple. He stood beside the pillar in front of the people, and he and they made a solemn promise to the Lord to obey him at all times and to do everything the book commanded.

Then the king instructed Hilkiah the High Priest and the rest of the priests and the guards of the Temple to destroy all the equipment used in the worship of Baal, Asherah, and the sun, moon, and stars. The king had it all burned in the fields of the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem, and he carried the ashes to Bethel. He killed the heathen priests who had been appointed by the previous kings of Judah, for they had burned incense in the shrines on the hills throughout Judah and even in Jerusalem. They had also offered incense to Baal and to the sun, moon, stars, and planets. He removed the shameful idol of Asherah from the Temple and took it outside Jerusalem to Kidron Brook; there he burned it and beat it to dust and threw the dust on the graves of the common people. He also tore down the houses of male prostitution around the Temple, where the women wove robes for the Asherah idol.

He brought back to Jerusalem the priests of the Lord, who were living in other cities of Judah, and tore down all the shrines on the hills where they had burned incense, even those as far away as Geba and Beersheba. He also destroyed the shrines at the entrance of the palace of Joshua, the former mayor of Jerusalem, located on the left side as one enters the city gate. However, these priests[a] did not serve at the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, even though they ate with the other priests.

10 Then the king destroyed the altar of Topheth in the valley of the sons of Hinnom, so that no one could ever again use it to burn his son or daughter to death as a sacrifice to Molech. 11 He tore down the statues of horses and chariots located near the entrance of the Temple, next to the quarters of Nathan-melech the eunuch. These had been dedicated by former kings of Judah to the sun god. 12 Then he tore down the altars that the kings of Judah had built on the palace roof above the Ahaz Room. He also destroyed the altars that Manasseh had built in the two courts of the Temple; he smashed them to bits and scattered the pieces in Kidron Valley.

13 Next he removed the shrines on the hills east of Jerusalem and south of Destruction Mountain. (Solomon had built these shrines for Ashtoreth, the evil goddess of the Sidonians; and for Chemosh, the evil god of Moab; and for Milcom, the evil god of the Ammonites.) 14 He smashed the obelisks and cut down the shameful idols of Asherah; then he defiled these places by scattering human bones over them. 15 He also tore down the altar and shrine at Bethel that Jeroboam I had made when he led Israel into sin. He crushed the stones to dust and burned the shameful idol of Asherah.

16 As Josiah was looking around, he noticed several graves in the side of the mountain. He ordered his men to bring out the bones in them and to burn them there upon the altar at Bethel to defile it, just as the Lord’s prophet had declared would happen to Jeroboam’s altar.[b]

17 “What is that monument over there?” he asked.

And the men of the city told him, “It is the grave of the prophet who came from Judah and proclaimed that what you have just done would happen here at the altar at Bethel!”

18 So King Josiah replied, “Leave it alone. Don’t disturb his bones.”

So they didn’t burn his bones or those of the prophet from Samaria.[c]

19 Josiah demolished the shrines on the hills in all of Samaria. They had been built by the various kings of Israel and had made the Lord very angry. But now he crushed them into dust, just as he had done at Bethel. 20 He executed the priests of the heathen shrines upon their own altars, and he burned human bones upon the altars to defile them. Finally he returned to Jerusalem.

21 The king then issued orders for his people to observe the Passover ceremonies as recorded by the Lord their God in The Book of the Covenant. 22 There had not been a Passover celebration like that since the days of the judges of Israel, and there was never another like it in all the years of the kings of Israel and Judah. 23 This Passover was in the eighteenth year of the reign of King Josiah, and it was celebrated in Jerusalem.

24 Josiah also exterminated the mediums and wizards, and every kind of idol worship, both in Jerusalem and throughout the land. For Josiah wanted to follow all the laws that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had found in the Temple. 25 There was no other king who so completely turned to the Lord and followed all the laws of Moses; and no king since the time of Josiah has approached his record of obedience.

26 But the Lord still did not hold back his great anger against Judah, caused by the evils of King Manasseh. 27 For the Lord had said, “I will destroy Judah just as I have destroyed Israel; and I will discard my chosen city of Jerusalem and the Temple that I said was mine.”

28 The rest of the biography of Josiah is written in The Annals of the Kings of Judah. 29 In those days King Neco of Egypt went out to help the king of Assyria at the Euphrates River. Then King Josiah went out with his troops to fight King Neco; but King Neco withstood him at Megiddo and killed him. 30 His officers took his body back in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in the grave he had selected. And his son Jehoahaz was chosen by the nation as its new king.

31-32 New king of Judah: Jehoahaz

His age at the beginning of his reign: 23 years old

Length of reign: 3 months, in Jerusalem

Mother’s name: Hamutal (the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah)

Character of his reign: evil, like the other kings who had preceded him

33 Pharaoh Neco jailed him at Riblah in Hamath to prevent his reigning in Jerusalem, and he levied a tax against Judah totaling $230,000. 34 The Egyptian king then chose Eliakim, another of Josiah’s sons, to reign in Jerusalem; and he changed his name to Jehoiakim. Then he took King Jehoahaz to Egypt, where he died. 35 Jehoiakim taxed the people to get the money that the Pharaoh had demanded.

36-37 New king of Judah: Jehoiakim

His age at the beginning of his reign: 25 years old

Length of reign: 11 years, in Jerusalem

Mother’s name: Zebidah (daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah)

Character of his reign: evil, like the other kings who had preceded him


  1. 2 Kings 23:9 these priests, literally, “the priests of the high places.”
  2. 2 Kings 23:16 Jeroboam’s altar, see 1 Kings 13:2.
  3. 2 Kings 23:18 See 1 Kings 13:31-32.

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