Josiah1 was eight years old when he became king,2 and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years.
He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in the ways of his father David,3 not turning aside to the right or to the left.
In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God4 of his father David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles, carved idols and cast images.
Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles,5 the idols and the images. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them.65
He burned7 the bones of the priests on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem.
In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them,
he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles and crushed the idols to powder8 and cut to pieces all the incense altars throughout Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem.
In the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign, to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the temple of the LORD his God.
They went to Hilkiah9 the high priest and gave him the money that had been brought into the temple of God, which the Levites who were the doorkeepers had collected from the people of Manasseh, Ephraim and the entire remnant of Israel and from all the people of Judah and Benjamin and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Then they entrusted it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the LORD's temple. These men paid the workers who repaired and restored the temple.
They also gave money10 to the carpenters and builders to purchase dressed stone, and timber for joists and beams for the buildings that the kings of Judah had allowed to fall into ruin.1112
The men did the work faithfully.12 Over them to direct them were Jahath and Obadiah, Levites descended from Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam, descended from Kohath. The Levites--all who were skilled in playing musical instruments--1313
had charge of the laborers14 and supervised all the workers from job to job. Some of the Levites were secretaries, scribes and doorkeepers.
While they were bringing out the money that had been taken into the temple of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the LORD that had been given through Moses.
Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, "I have found the Book of the Law15 in the temple of the LORD." He gave it to Shaphan.
Then Shaphan took the book to the king and reported to him: "Your officials are doing everything that has been committed to them.
They have paid out the money that was in the temple of the LORD and have entrusted it to the supervisors and workers."
Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.
When the king heard the words of the Law,16 he tore17 his robes.
He gave these orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan18, Abdon son of Micah,a Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king's attendant:
"Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD's anger that is poured out19 on us because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book."
Hilkiah and those the king had sent with himb went to speak to the prophetess20 Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath,c the son of Hasrah,d keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the Second District.
She said to them, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me,
'This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster21 on this place and its people22--all the curses23 written in the book that has been read in the presence of the king of Judah.
Because they have forsaken me24 and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all that their hands have made,e my anger will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched.'
Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, 'This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard:
Because your heart was responsive25 and you humbled26 yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD.
Now I will gather you to your fathers,27 and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here.' "28 So they took her answer back to the king.
Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem.
He went up to the temple of the LORD29 with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the Levites--all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD.
The king stood by his pillar30 and renewed the covenant31 in the presence of the LORD--to follow32 the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, and to obey the words of the covenant written in this book.
Then he had everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin pledge themselves to it; the people of Jerusalem did this in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their fathers.
Josiah removed all the detestable33 idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the LORD their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the LORD, the God of their fathers.