Josiah Promises to Follow the Covenant 23 1Then the king called together all of the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2He went up to the Lord’s temple. The people of Judah and Jerusalem went with him. So did the priests and prophets. All of them went, from the least important of them to the most important. The king had all of the words of the Scroll of the Covenant read to them. The scroll had been found in the Lord’s temple. 3The king stood next to his pillar. He agreed to the terms of the covenant in front of the Lord. He promised to follow him and obey his commands, directions and rules. He promised to obey them with all his heart and with all his soul. So he agreed to the terms of the covenant that were written down in that scroll. Then all of the people committed themselves to the covenant. 4Certain articles that were in the Lord’s temple had been made to honor the god Baal and the goddess Asherah and all of the stars in the sky. The king ordered the high priest Hilkiah to remove those articles. He ordered the priests who were under him and the men who guarded the doors to help Hilkiah. Josiah burned the articles outside Jerusalem. He burned them in the fields in the Kidron Valley. And he took the ashes to Bethel. 5He got rid of the priests who served other gods. The kings of Judah had appointed them to burn incense. They burned the incense on the high places of the towns of Judah. And they burned it on the high places around Jerusalem. They burned incense to honor Baal and the sun and moon. They burned it to honor all of the stars. 6Josiah removed the Asherah pole from the Lord’s temple. It had been used to worship Asherah. He took it to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem. There he burned it. He ground it into powder. And he scattered it over the graves of the ordinary people. 7He also tore down the rooms where the male temple prostitutes stayed. Those rooms were in the Lord’s temple. The women had made cloth for Asherah in them. 8Josiah brought all of the priests from the towns of Judah and destroyed the high places. He destroyed them from Geba all the way to Beersheba. The priests had burned incense on them. Josiah broke down the high places at the gates. That included the high place at the entrance of the Gate of Joshua. It was on the left side of one of Jerusalem’s gates. Joshua was the city governor. 9The priests of the high places didn’t serve at the Lord’s altar in Jerusalem. In spite of that, they ate with the other priests. All of them ate bread that was made without yeast. 10Josiah destroyed the high places at Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. He didn’t want anyone to use them to sacrifice his son or daughter in the fire to the god Molech. 11He removed the statues of horses from the entrance to the Lord’s temple. The kings of Judah had set them apart to honor the sun. The statues were in the courtyard. They were near the room of an official named Nathan-Melech. Josiah burned the chariots that had been set apart to honor the sun. 12He pulled down the altars the kings of Judah had set up. They had put them on the palace roof near the upstairs room of Ahaz. Josiah also pulled down the altars Manasseh had built. They were in the two courtyards of the Lord’s temple. Josiah removed the altars from there. He smashed them to pieces. Then he threw the broken pieces into the Kidron Valley. 13The king also destroyed the high places that were east of Jerusalem. They were at the southern end of the Mount of Olives. They were the ones Solomon, the king of Israel, had built. He had built a high place for worshiping Ashtoreth. She was the evil goddess of the people of Sidon. Solomon had also built one for worshiping Chemosh. He was the evil god of Moab. And Solomon had built one for worshiping Molech. He was the god of the people of Ammon. The Lord hated that god. 14Josiah smashed the sacred stones. He cut down the poles that were used to worship the goddess Asherah. Then he covered all of those places with human bones. 15There was an altar at Bethel. It was at the high place that had been made by Jeroboam, the son of Nebat. Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit sin. Even that altar and high place were destroyed by Josiah. He burned the high place. He ground it into powder. He also burned the Asherah pole. 16Then Josiah looked around. He saw the tombs that were on the side of the hill. He had the bones removed from them. And he burned them on the altar to make it “unclean.” That’s what the Lord had said would happen. He had spoken that message through a man of God. The man had announced those things long before they took place. 17The king asked, “What’s that stone on the grave over there?” The men of the city said, “It marks the tomb where the body of a man of God is buried. He came from Judah. He spoke against the altar at Bethel. He announced the very things you have done to it.” 18“Leave it alone,” Josiah said. “Don’t let anyone touch his bones.” So they spared his bones. They also spared the bones of the prophet who had come from the northern kingdom of Israel. 19Josiah did in the rest of the northern kingdom the same things he had done at Bethel. He removed all of the small temples at the high places. He made them “unclean.” The kings of Israel had built them in the towns of the northern kingdom. The people in those towns had made the Lord very angry. 20Josiah killed all of the priests of those high places on the altars. He burned human bones on the altars. Then he went back to Jerusalem. 21The king gave an order to all of the people. He said, “Celebrate the Passover Feast to honor the Lord your God. Do what is written in this Scroll of the Covenant.” 22A Passover Feast like that one had not been held for a long time. There hadn’t been any like it since the days of the judges who led Israel. And there hadn’t been any like it during the whole time the kings of Israel and Judah were ruling. 23King Josiah celebrated the Passover in Jerusalem to honor the Lord. It was in the 18th year of his rule. 24And that’s not all. Josiah got rid of those who got messages from people who had died. He got rid of those who talked to the spirits of the dead. He got rid of the statues of family gods and the statues of other gods. He got rid of everything else the Lord hates that was in Judah and Jerusalem. He did it to carry out what the law required. That law was written in the scroll the priest Hilkiah had found in the Lord’s temple. 25There was no king like Josiah either before him or after him. None of them turned to the Lord as he did. He followed the Lord with all his heart and all his soul. He followed him with all his strength. He did everything the Law of Moses required. 26In spite of that, the Lord didn’t turn away from his burning anger. It blazed out against Judah. That’s because of everything Manasseh had done to make him very angry. 27So the Lord said, “I will remove Judah from my land. I will do to them what I did to Israel. I will turn my back on Jerusalem. It is the city I chose. I will also turn my back on this temple. I spoke about it. I said, ‘I will put my Name here.’ ” (1 Kings 8:29) 28The other events of the rule of Josiah are written down. Everything he did is written down. All of those things are written in the official records of the kings of Judah. 29Pharaoh Neco was king of Egypt. He marched up to the Euphrates River. He went there to help the king of Assyria. It happened while Josiah was king. Josiah marched out to meet Neco in battle. When Neco saw him at Megiddo, he killed him. 30Josiah’s servants brought his body in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem. They buried his body in his own tomb. Then the people of the land went and got Jehoahaz. They anointed him as king in place of his father Josiah. Jehoahaz Becomes King of Judah 31Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for three months. His mother’s name was Hamutal. She was the daughter of Jeremiah. She was from Libnah. 32Jehoahaz did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did just as the kings who had ruled before him had done. 33Pharaoh Neco put him in chains at Riblah in the land of Hamath. That kept him from ruling in Jerusalem. Neco made the people of Judah pay him a tax of almost four tons of silver and 75 pounds of gold. 34Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim king in place of his father Josiah. He changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz with him to Egypt. And that’s where Jehoahaz died. 35Jehoiakim paid Pharaoh Neco the silver and gold he required. To get the money, Jehoiakim taxed the land. He forced the people to give him the silver and gold. He made each one pay him what he required. Jehoiakim Becomes King of Judah 36Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 11 years. His mother’s name was Zebidah. She was the daughter of Pedaiah. She was from Rumah. 37Jehoiakim did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did just as the kings who had ruled before him had done.
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