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King Josiah

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Title: King Josiah  
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Subject: Book of Deuteronomy, Necho II, Jeremiah, Hilkiah, Judea (Roman province)
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King Josiah

For other people of the same name, see Josiah (given name).
King of Judah
Reign 641/640 to 610/609 BC
Born c. 648 BC
Birthplace probably Jerusalem
Died Tammuz (June/July) 609 BC
Place of death Jerusalem
Royal House House of David
Father Amon
Mother Jedidah

Josiah or Yoshiyahu (/ˈs.ə/ or /əˈz.ə/;[1][2] , literally meaning "healed by Yah" or "supported of Yah"; Greek: Ιωσιας; Latin: Josias; c. 649–609 BC) was a king of Judah (641–609 BC), according to the Hebrew Bible, who instituted major reforms. Josiah is credited by most historians with having established or compiled important Hebrew Scriptures during the Deuteronomic reform that occurred during his rule.

Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after the assassination of his father, King Amon, and reigned for thirty-one years,[3] from 641/640 to 610/609 BC.[4]

He is also one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.


Josiah is only known through biblical texts. No reference to him exists in surviving texts of the period from Egypt or Babylon, and no clear archaeological evidence, such as inscriptions bearing his name, has been found.[5]

According to the Bible, Josiah was the son of King Amon and Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. His grandfather Manasseh was one of the kings blamed for turning away from the worship of Yahweh. Manasseh adapted the Temple for idolatrous worship. Josiah's great-grandfather was King Hezekiah who was a noted reformer.

Josiah had four sons: Johanan, Eliakim (born c. 634 BC) by Zebudah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah, Mattanyahu (c. 618 BC) and Shallum (633/632 BC) both by Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.[6]

Shallum succeeded Josiah as king of Judah, under the name Jehoahaz.[7] Shallum was succeeded by Eliakim, under the name Jehoiakim,[8] who was succeeded by his own son Jeconiah;[9] then Jeconiah was succeeded to the throne by Mattanyahu, under the name Zedekiah.[10] Zedekiah was the last king of Judah before the kingdom was conquered by Babylon and the people exiled.

Religious reforms

In the eighteenth year of his rule, Josiah ordered the De Wette's suggestion in 1805.

Hilkiah brought this scroll to Josiah's attention, and the king ordered it read to a crowd in Jerusalem. He is praised for this piety by the prophetess Huldah, who made the prophecy that all involved would die without having to see God's judgment on Judah for the sins they had committed in prior generations.[13][14]

Josiah encouraged the exclusive worship of Yahweh and outlawed all other forms of worship. (2 Kings 23:21-23)

According to 1 Kings 13). Josiah ordered the double grave of the "man of God" and of the Bethel prophet to be let alone as these prophecies had come true.

According to the later account in List of Artifacts Significant to the Bible).

Foreign relations

When Josiah became king of Judah in about 641/640 BC, the international situation was in flux. To the east, the Assyrian Empire was beginning to disintegrate, the Babylonian Empire had not yet risen to replace it, and Egypt to the west was still recovering from Assyrian rule. In this power vacuum, Jerusalem was able to govern itself for the time being without foreign intervention.

In the spring of 609 BC, Pharaoh Syria.


There are two accounts of Josiah's death in the 2 Chronicles 35:20-27 gives a lengthier account and states that Josiah was fatally wounded by Egyptian archers and was brought back to Jerusalem to die. His death was a result of "not listen[ing] to what Necho had said at God's command..." when Necho stated:

"What quarrel is there between you and me, O king of Judah? It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you." (NIV)

Josiah did not heed this warning and by both accounts his death was caused by meeting Necho at Megiddo. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. According to Jeremiah wrote a lament for Josiah's passing (Not in The Book of Lamentations).

After the setback in Harran, Necho left a sizable force behind, and returned to Davidic line, since not only were Josiah's successors short-lived, but also Judah's relative independence had crumbled in the face of a resurgent Egypt bent on regaining its traditional control of the region, and the imminent rise of the Babylonian empire which also sought control.

Necho had left Egypt in 609 BC for two reasons: one was to relieve the Babylonian siege of Harran, and the other was to help the king of Assyria, who was defeated by the Babylonians at Carchemish. Josiah's actions suggest that he was aiding the Babylonians by engaging the Egyptian army.

Book of the Law

The biblical text states that the priest Hilkiah found a "Book of the Law" in the temple during the early stages of Josiah's temple renovation. For much of the 19th and 20th centuries it was agreed among scholars that this was an early version of the Book of Deuteronomy, but recent biblical scholarship sees it as largely legendary narrative about one of the earliest stages of creation of Deuteronomistic work.[17] According to the Bible Hilkiah gave the scroll to his secretary Shaphan who took it to king Josiah. Historical-critical biblical scholarship generally accepts that this scroll — an early predecessor of the Torah — was written by the priests driven by ideological interest to centralize power under Josiah in the Temple in Jerusalem, and that the core narrative from Joshua to 2 Kings up to Josiah's reign comprises a "Deuteronomistic History" (DtrH) written during Josiah's reign.[18] On the other hand, recent European theologians posit that most of the Torah and Deuteronomistic History was composed and its form finalized during the Persian period, several centuries later.[19]


The only textual sources of information for Josiah's reign are from the Bible,

The date of Josiah's death can fairly well be established. The Babylonian Chronicle dates the battle at Harran between the Assyrians and their Egyptian allies against the Babylonians from Tammuz (July–August) to Elul (August–September) 609 BC. On that basis, Josiah was killed in the month of Tammuz (July–August) 609 BC, when the Egyptians were on their way to Harran.[21]

Rabbinic Literature

According to Rabbinic interpretation, Second Temple (Mid. i. 3) has any connection with the prophetess Huldah; it may have meant "Cat's Gate"; some scholars, however, associate the gate with Huldah's schoolhouse (Rashi to Kings l.c.).E. C. L. G.

The prophetic activity of Jeremiah began in the reign of Josiah; he was a contemporary of his relative the prophetess Hulda and of his teacher Zephaniah (comp. Maimonides in the introduction to "Yad"; in Lam. R. i. 18 Isaiah is mentioned as Jeremiah's teacher). These three prophets divided their activity in such wise that Hulda spoke to the women and Jeremiah to the men in the street, while Zephaniah preached in the synagogue (Pesiḳ. R. l.c.). When Josiah restored the true worship, Jeremiah went to the exiled ten tribes, whom he brought to Palestine under the rule of the pious king ('Ar. 33a). Although Josiah went to war with Egypt against the prophet's advice, yet the latter knew that the pious king did so only in error (Lam. R. l.c.); and in his dirges he bitterly laments the king's death, the fourth chapter of the Lamentations beginning with a dirge on Josiah (Lam. R. iv. 1; Targ. II Chron. xxxv. 25).

See also


External links

  • Jewish Encyclopedia: Josiah
  • Catholic Encyclopedia: Josias
  • Jewish Virtual Library Josiah
Preceded by
King of Judah
641-610 BC
Died at Tammuz in July–August 609 BC
Succeeded by

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