Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he ruled thirty-one years in Jerusalem.
He did what the Lord said was right. He lived as his ancestor David had lived, and he did not stop doing what was right.
In his eighth year as king while he was still young, Josiah began to obey the God of his ancestor David. In his twelfth year as king, Josiah began to remove from Judah and Jerusalem the gods, the places for worshiping gods, the Asherah idols, and the wooden and metal idols.
The people tore down the altars for the Baal gods as Josiah directed. Then Josiah cut down the incense altars that were above them. He broke up the Asherah idols and the wooden and metal idols and beat them into powder. Then he sprinkled the powder on the graves of the people who had offered sacrifices to these gods.
He burned the bones of their priests on their own altars. So Josiah removed idol worship from Judah and Jerusalem,
and from the towns in the areas of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon all the way to Naphtali, and in the ruins near these towns.
Josiah broke down the altars and Asherah idols and beat the idols into powder. He cut down all the incense altars in all of Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem.
In Josiah's eighteenth year as king, he made Judah and the Temple pure again. He sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the city leader, and Joah son of Joahaz the recorder to repair the Temple of the Lord, the God of Josiah.
These men went to Hilkiah the high priest and gave him the money the Levite gatekeepers had gathered from the people of Manasseh, Ephraim, and all the Israelites who were left alive, and also from all the people of Judah, Benjamin, and Jerusalem. This is the money they had brought into the Temple of God.
Then the Levites gave it to the supervisors of the work on the Temple of the Lord, and they paid the workers who rebuilt and repaired the Temple.
They gave money to carpenters and builders to buy cut stone and wood. The wood was used to rebuild the buildings and to make beams for them, because the kings of Judah had let the buildings fall into ruin.
The men did their work well. Their supervisors were Jahath and Obadiah, who were Levites from the family of Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam, who were from the family of Kohath. These Levites were all skilled musicians.
They were also in charge of the workers who carried loads and all the other workers. Some Levites worked as secretaries, officers, and gatekeepers.
The Levites brought out the money that was in the Temple of the Lord. As they were doing this, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Lord's Teachings that had been given through Moses.
Hilkiah said to Shaphan the royal secretary, "I've found the Book of the Teachings in the Temple of the Lord!" Then he gave it to Shaphan.
Shaphan took the book to the king and reported to Josiah, "Your officers are doing everything you told them to do.
They have paid out the money that was in the Temple of the Lord and have given it to the supervisors and the workers."
Then Shaphan the royal secretary told the king, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read from the book to the king.
When the king heard the words of the Teachings, he tore his clothes to show how upset he was.
He gave orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the royal secretary, and Asaiah, the king's servant. These were the orders:
"Go and ask the Lord about the words in the book that was found. Ask for me and for the people who are left alive in Israel and Judah. The Lord is very angry with us, because our ancestors did not obey the Lord's word; they did not do everything this book says to do."
So Hilkiah and those the king sent with him went to talk to Huldah the prophetess. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, who took care of the king's clothes. Huldah lived in Jerusalem, in the new area of the city.
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 will bring trouble to this place and to the people living here. I will bring all the curses that are written in the book that was read to the king of Judah.
The people of Judah have left me and have burned incense to other gods. They have made me angry by all the evil things they have made. So I will punish them in my anger, which will not be put out.'
Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to ask the Lord, 'This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says about the words you heard:
When you heard my words against this place and its people, you became sorry for what you had done and you humbled yourself before me. You tore your clothes to show how upset you were, and you cried in my presence. This is why I have heard you, says the Lord.
So I will let you die and be buried in peace. You won't see all the trouble I will bring to this place and the people living here.'" So they took her message back to the king.
Then the king gathered all the older leaders of Judah and Jerusalem together.
He went up to the Temple of the Lord, and all the people from Judah and from Jerusalem went with him. The priests, the Levites, and all the people -- from the most important to the least important -- went with him. He read to them all the words in the Book of the Agreement that was found in the Temple of the Lord.
The king stood by his pillar and made an agreement in the presence of the Lord to follow the Lord and obey his commands, rules, and laws with his whole being and to obey the words of the agreement written in this book.
Then Josiah made all the people in Jerusalem and Benjamin promise to accept the agreement. So the people of Jerusalem obeyed the agreement of God, the God of their ancestors.
And Josiah threw out the hateful idols from all the land that belonged to the Israelites. He led everyone in Israel to serve the Lord their God. While Josiah lived, the people obeyed the Lord, the God of their ancestors.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.