Scripture reading – 2 Kings 22; 2 Kings 23

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Continuing our chronological reading of the Scriptures, we return to the Book of the Kings, with Josiah reigning as king of Judah. 2 Kings 22-23 is a contemporary account of Josiah’s reign, and a parallel account was recorded in 2 Chronicles 34-35 sometime after the Babylonian captivity.

2 Kings 22 – The Glorious Reign of Josiah

Josiah, the grandson of King Manasseh (who reigned in Judah for 55 years), was the son of Amon, a wicked king who reigned two years before his servants assassinated him (2 Kings 21:23). Though only eight years old when he became king, Josiah did “that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the ways of David his father [being of David’s lineage], and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2).

Repairing the Temple (2 Kings 22:3-7)


In the 18th year of his reign, when he was 26 years old, Josiah set his heart to begin a renovation of the Temple (2 Kings 22:3). The king sent a scribe from his court and commanded that a portion of the silver brought by the people to the Temple, was to be used to pay wages to those who labored in the Temple (2 Kings 22:4-6). Those who handled the money were so above reproach that they were not pressed to give an account “because they dealt faithfully” (2 Kings 22:7).

Discovery of the Book of the Law

Discovery of the Book of the Law (2 Kings 22:8-20; 2 Chronicles 34:8-18)

In the course of repairing the Temple, the high priest Hilkiah found “the book of the law in the house of the LORD” (2 Kings 22:8), who then “gave the book to Shapan (the king’s scribe), and he read it” (2 Kings 22:8). Shapan, then brought the “book of the law” to Josiah, and “when the king had heard the words of the book of the law…he rent his clothes,” in a public act of repentance and humility (2 Kings 22:11).

Josiah was so overwhelmed by the words of the law and its promises of blessings and cursings (2 Kings 22:12) that he commanded: “Go ye, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us” (2 Kings 22:13; Deuteronomy 28; Leviticus 26).

Five men of Josiah’s court, including Hilkiah, the priest, went to a prophetess named Huldah (2 Kings 22:14) and consulted with her concerning all that was written in the law (2 Kings 22:14). Speaking the word of the LORD, the prophetess confirmed that the sins of Judah had sealed the nation’s fate and judgment was imminent (2 Kings 22:15-20). Josiah, however, because his “heart was tender” before the LORD (2 Kings 22:18-19), was assured he would be spared the sorrow of witnessing the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem (22:20).

What was Josiah’s response to the shadow of judgment hanging over his beloved nation and people?

2 Kings 23


A National Revival and Reformation of Judah (2 Kings 23:1-3)

Josiah set his heart on beginning a spiritual reformation in Judah (2 Kings 23). Gathering the leaders and people of Judah and Jerusalem, the king “went up into the house of the Lord…and he [the king] read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord” (2 Kings 23:2).

Standing amid the people, the king renewed Israel’s covenant with the LORD, “to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood [and affirmed] to the covenant” (2 Kings 23:3).

Cleaning the Temple and Purging Wickedness

Cleaning the Temple and Purging Wickedness (2 Kings 23:4-19)

The king commanded a cleansing of the Temple and a purging of every hint of idolatry (2 Kings 23:4-6). Indicating the depth of depravity to which Judah and Jerusalem had descended, we read, Josiah “brake down the houses of the sodomites” [homosexuals; male prostitutes] located on the Temple mount “by the house of the LORD” (2 Kings 23:7).

Josiah continued his spiritual crusade and commanded priests to only offer sacrifices to the LORD in Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:8-9). He destroyed Tophet and purged the “valley of the children of Hinnom,” where the people had offered their sons and daughters as sacrifices to Molech (2 Kings 23:10). Because horses were considered sacred by the heathen, “he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given [dedicated] to the sun…and burned the chariots of the sun with fire” (2 Kings 23:11).

The spiritual reform then moved to Bethel in Israel, where Jeroboam had established idolatry among the northern ten tribes (2 Kings 23:15). Except for two faithful prophets who were buried near Bethel, Josiah’s cleansing of wickedness in that land was so thorough he commanded the bones of the wicked be removed from their tombs and burned (2 Kings 23:16-19).

A Spiritual Renewal (2 Kings 23:20-25)

Josiah then observed the Passover on a scale that had not been seen since the days of the Judges (2 Kings 23:21-23; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19). His reign was celebrated in Judah, and in the annals of that nation’s history, there was “no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (2 Kings 23:25).

When King Josiah was killed in battle with the king of Egypt, his body was returned to Jerusalem, where he was buried in his sepulcher (2 Kings 23:29-30). Two sons reigned after him in quick succession (Jehoahaz, who was bound and taken prisoner to Egypt, 2 Kings 23:30b-33; and Eliakim, his brother, whose name was changed to Jehoiakim, 2 Kings 23:34-37).

Closing thoughts

Despite the great revival under Josiah, it was too late for Judah. The wickedness of Manasseh, Josiah’s grandfather, and Judah’s willingness to follow that king’s sins had sealed the nation’s fate. So, we read, “The LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there” (2 Kings 23:27).

For Judah, the hour to repent was past. While the LORD is patient and longsuffering, we remember He is also just and holy. As it was in the days of Noah before the flood, so it is through the ages, for the LORD has forewarned:

“My spirit shall not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3).

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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