34:1 Josiah: Sixteenth king of Judah; son of Amon; became king as a boy; carried out a thorough reform. Josiah came to the throne when he was only eight years old, but even at an early age he showed better judgment than many older kings.
34:2 Josiah received a good evaluation from the Chronicler. Like all the other good kings before him, he is compared to David.
34:3-5 Josiah did not come to faith in God immediately. In contrast to Joash, he did not have an older person to guide him in this direction. When he was sixteen years old (in the eighth year of his reign), he decided to become a worshiper of God. Four years later he began to assert his will by removing the various idols from the land and abolishing all pagan places of worship. He desecrated the graves of past idolaters and defiled the pagan shrines.
34:6-7 Josiah not only abolished the sites for idolatry in Judah, but he tore down those in the area of the northern tribes as well.
34:8 The Levites and priests had maintained their identity and had returned to work toward the end of Manasseh’s reign. When Josiah issued orders for the repair of the temple, they were available and ready to make their contributions to Josiah’s reform movement.
34:9-11 Josiah had sent emissaries to collect silver for the repair of God’s house. This money was allocated to the high priest Hilkiah. He distributed it among the contractors, who gave it to the workmen, who passed it on to those who were providing the raw materials. The Chronicler reminds the readers that the destruction of the temple, while often carried out by invaders, was ultimately the fault of Judah’s kings.
34:12-13 Some Levites were placed in supervisory positions as overseers while others carried out clerical tasks for the construction project. The Chronicler also pointed out that some Levites apparently contributed to the effort by playing their musical instruments.
34:14-15 The book of the law that Hilkiah found may have been one or more scrolls containing the entire Pentateuch—the books of Moses from Genesis through Deuteronomy. The book is more commonly thought to be the book of Deuteronomy.
34:16-17 Shaphan apparently did not realize the importance of the discovered book, since he left the report of it until after he covered the general progress of the work.
34:18-21 When Shaphan, the king’s secretary, started to read what was in the book, the king was overcome with dread because he knew that Judah had not kept the word of the Lord for a long time and severe punishment was likely imminent. Josiah wanted specific guidance from the Lord about what he should do.
34:22 Hilkiah and other royal officials consulted a prophetess named Huldah to determine God’s perspective on the situation. As is normal in Chronicles, Huldah’s genealogy is given. Other female prophets in the OT include Miriam (Ex 15:20) and Deborah (Jdg 4:4).
34:23-25 Huldah told them that God’s punishment was inevitable, just as the book of the law predicted. There had been too many generations of wickedness in Judah.
34:26-28 Because of Josiah’s attitude of repentance and his willingness to obey God, the calamity would not happen until after his death. The prophetess inserted this is the Lord’s declaration into her prophecy to assure her hearers she was not speaking her own thoughts, but the very words of God.
34:29-32 King Josiah called a major convocation. Leaders and Levites as well as all the common people of Jerusalem came and heard the public reading of Scripture. The king publicly made a personal covenant with God that he would follow the Lord, and he compelled the crowd to follow him in this commitment.
34:33 Josiah continued to purge the land of idols. He also fulfilled his royal responsibility to present a model for the people to follow in their service to God.