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CHAPTER 23 Sep. 16 
Josiah’s Reforms
The king sent, and they gathered to him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. 2The king went up to the house of Yahweh, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great. He read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of Yahweh. 3The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before Yahweh, to walk after Yahweh and to keep His commandments, His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to confirm the words of this covenant that were written in this book; and all the people stood to the covenant. 4The king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the threshold, to bring forth out of Yahweh’s temple all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the Asherah, and for all the host of the sky; and he burned them outside of Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. 5He put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah and in the places around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, the moon, to the planets and to all the host of the sky. 6He brought out the Asherah from the house of Yahweh, outside of Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and beat it to dust, and cast its dust on the graves of the common people. 7He broke down the houses of the sodomites that were in the house of Yahweh, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah. 8He brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba; and he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city. 9Nevertheless the priests of the high places didn’t come up to the altar of Yahweh in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brothers. 10He defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech. 11He took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entrance of the house of Yahweh, by the room of Nathan Melech the officer, who was in the court; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. 12The king broke down the altars that were on the roof of the upper room of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of Yahweh, and beat them down from there, and cast their dust into the brook Kidron. 13The king defiled the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mountain of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon. 14He broke in pieces the pillars, and cut down the Asherim, and filled their places with the bones of men. 15Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he broke down; and he burned the high place and beat it to dust, and burned the Asherah. 16As Josiah turned himself, he spied the tombs that were there in the mountain; and he sent, and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, according to the word of Yahweh which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these things. 17Then he said, What monument is that which I see? The men of the city told him, It is the tomb of the man of God, who came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that you have done against the altar of Bethel. 18He said, Let him be! Let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria. 19All the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke Yahweh to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel. 20He killed all the priests of the high places that were there, upon the altars, and burned men’s bones on them; and he returned to Jerusalem. 
Josiah’s Passover
21The king commanded all the people saying, Keep the Passover to Yahweh your God, as it is written in this book of the covenant. 22Surely there was not kept such a Passover from the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah; 23but in the eighteenth year of king Josiah was this Passover kept to Yahweh in Jerusalem. 24Moreover Josiah removed those who had familiar spirits, and the wizards, the teraphim, the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might confirm the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of Yahweh. 25Like him was there no king before him, who turned to Yahweh 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. 26Notwithstanding, Yahweh didn’t turn from the fierceness of His great wrath with which His anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocation with which Manasseh had provoked Him. 27Yahweh said, I will remove Judah also out of My sight as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city which I have chosen, even Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, ‘My name shall be there’. 28Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, aren’t they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 29In his days Pharaoh Necoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates. King Josiah went against him; and Pharaoh Necoh killed him at Megiddo when he had seen him. 30His servants carried him in a chariot dead from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own tomb. The people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father’s place. 
The Reigns of Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim
31Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 32He did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, according to all that his fathers had done. 33Pharaoh Necoh put him in bonds at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and put the land to a tribute of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. 34Pharaoh Necoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim; but he took Jehoahaz away; and he came to Egypt, and died there. 35Jehoiakim gave silver and the gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, of each one according to his taxation, to give it to Pharaoh Necoh. 36Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. 37He did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, according to all that his fathers had done.


23:3 God had promised Josiah that all would be well in his lifetime, but He would judge the next generation for their sins. Josiah learnt the lesson of Hezekiah, who appeared to be satisfied with that (see on 20:19); for Josiah launches a major campaign to return Judah to Yahweh and to re-enter covenant with Him. It seems that Josiah believed that Judah’s repentance could really change the intention of God to destroy Israel in the next generation. We too should have this kind of concern for the body of believers in the next generation, rather than being merely content that we ourselves remain in fellowship with God.
23:4 When last did you read / understand something from Scripture, and then get up anddo something real, concrete and actual about it? Josiah discovered the book of the Law- and he then went on to do something about it in practice. Reflect through what he did: Passover kept in Jerusalem (23:21-23) = Dt. 16:1-8; removed Asherahs (23:4,6,14) = Dt. 12:3; 16:21; star worship (23:4,11) = Dt. 17:3; the ‘high places’ and cults (23:8-20) = Dt. 12; child sacrifice (23:10) =  Dt. 12:31; 18:10; the cultic stones (23:14) = Dt. 12:3; 16:22; conjuring up the dead (23:24) = Dt. 18:11. It would seem that Josiah was motivated by Deuteronomy 12-18, perhaps this was part of the book of the covenant which was discovered. Here we have a man who allowed Scripture to live in his life, and who was immediately motivated by it to tangible action. His was not a religion of fine Sunday morning words, intellectually admired and aesthetically pleasing. The word should likewise be made flesh in us as it was in Christ. What is required is passionate, real, actual, tangible, concrete action and re-action to what we read and understand.  
23:7 The fact these sexual abominations were committed within the temple of God suggests that they had become part of the ritual of Yahweh worship, in the same way as the letters of Paul and Christ to the churches suggest that sexual immorality became part of apostate Christian worship in the first century. The tendency to mix spirituality with illicit sexuality has always been a temptation for the people of God and one of their most persistent weaknesses; we must beware of it.
23:21 The Law of Moses stated that Israel must keep the Passover, and if they didn’t, or kept it incorrectly, then their covenant relationship with God would be fractured (Num. 9:13). But it seems that whilst the legislation about the Passover had been lost, they hadn’t kept the Passover properly, if at all. And yet there were many faithful individuals who lived during that time when the book was lost who still retained relationship with God. This is no reason to conclude that obedience to God’s covenant is irrelevant, or that it’s all simply a matter of the heart and conscience; but it does show the extent of God’s eager acceptance of people despite their ignorance of His word.