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And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.
For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth ° year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.
And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them.
And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem.
And so did he in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks round about.
And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.
Now in the eighteenth ° year of his reign, when he had purged the land, and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, and Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz the recorder, to repair the house of the LORD his God.
And when they came to Hilkiah the high priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites that kept the doors had gathered of the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, and of all the remnant of Israel, and of all Judah and Benjamin; and they returned to Jerusalem.
And they put it in the hand of the workmen ° that had the oversight of the house of the LORD, and they gave it to the workmen ° that wrought in the house of the LORD, to repair and amend the house:
Even to the artificers and builders gave they it, to buy hewn stone, and timber for couplings, and to floor the houses which the kings of Judah had destroyed.
And the men did the work faithfully: and the overseers of them were Jahath and Obadiah, the Levites, of the sons of Merari; and Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to set it forward; and other of the Levites, all that could skill of instruments of music.
Also they were over the bearers of burdens, and were overseers of all that wrought the work in any manner of service: and of the Levites there were scribes, and officers, and porters.
And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the LORD given by Moses.
And Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan.
And Shaphan carried the book to the king, and brought the king word back again, saying, All that was committed to thy servants, they do it.
And they have gathered together the money that was found in the house of the LORD, and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers, and to the hand of the workmen.
And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes.
And the king commanded Hilkiah, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Abdon the son of Micah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king's, saying,
Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book.
And Hilkiah, and they that the king had appointed, went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college:) and they spake to her to that effect.
And she answered them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell ye the man that sent you to me,
Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah:
Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched.
And as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, so shall ye say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel concerning the words which thou hast heard;
Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD.
Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same. So they brought the king word again.
Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem.
And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests, and the Levites, and all the people, great and small: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of the LORD.
And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book.
And he caused all that were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand to it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers.
And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the LORD their God. And all his days they departed not from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

34:2 did that which was right. The parallel account of Josiah’s career (II Kings 22:1–23:30) mentions Josiah’s mother Jedidah (II Kings 22:1). It seems possible that she had been influenced toward God by the belated reforms of Manasseh and, even though these had little influence on his father, young Amon, they had encouraged her in teaching little Josiah about the Lord.

34:3 he was yet young. Josiah was only eight years old when his wicked father Amon was slain. Amon had spent very little time with Josiah; in fact Amon himself was only sixteen years old when Josiah was born. After ruling only two years, Amon was slain at the age of twenty-four years. Fortunately, Josiah had evidently been more influenced by the later reforms of his grandfather Manasseh than by his own immature and rebellious father. Josiah’s training had perhaps been delegated to some faithful priest, but not even the latter would have had access to the Scriptures, which were accidentally recovered in the temple when Josiah was twenty-six years old, in the eighteenth year of his reign (II Chronicles 34:8,15). Nevertheless, he began his great reforms when he was only sixteen years old, illustrating God’s faithful ability to raise up His servants and to keep His Word even under the most unlikely of human circumstances.

34:6 even unto Naphtali. Josiah’s revivals extended far beyond his own nation (Judah, Benjamin, Levi) deep into the territories of the other tribes. See notes on II Chronicles 15:9; 30:11-12. In fact only the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Dan are not specifically mentioned in II Chronicles as having come in some degree under the influence of Judah and Jerusalem and the true worship of God during the period of the divided kingdom.

34:9 delivered the money. As in the days of Hezekiah (II Chronicles 30:10-12), Josiah sent messengers to all the tribes raising money to repair the temple. Whether the people gave willingly or not is a question, but they had certainly been impressed by Josiah’s zeal in purging the land of its practitioners of paganism and its altars and images.

34:14 book of the law. Some critics have popularized the fanciful and entirely unwarranted notion that this was the time that the book of the law (especially the “Deuteronomic” document in the JEDP documentary hypothesis) was first written, and then made to look old. The “discovery” of the law was alleged to be feigned by the priests, supposedly to gain influence over the king. This theory is best refuted merely by an open-minded reading of the Pentateuch, with its innumerable marks of authenticity, internal consistency, and archaeological confirmation.

34:18 read it before the king. See notes on II Kings 22:8 and 22:11.

34:22 Huldah the prophetess. See note on II Kings 22:14. Most of the prophets called and used by God were men, but there were important exceptions (Exodus 15:20; Judges 5; Nehemiah 6:14; Isaiah 8:3; Luke 2:36; Acts 21:9). Huldah was the wife of Shallum and thus the aunt of the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 32:7), whose prophetic ministry had begun in Josiah’s thirteenth year as king (Jeremiah 1:2), just five years previous to these events (II Chronicles 34:8).

34:24 Thus saith the LORD. This assertion indicates that Huldah was transmitting a directly inspired message from God, not just quoting from the newly rediscovered Scriptures. However, the Lord, through Huldah, then immediately reminded them of the authority of “the things written in the book” which they were reading.

34:33 all his days. As He had done for Hezekiah (II Chronicles 32:26), so God deferred the impending judgment upon Judah for Josiah’s sake (II Chronicles 34:26-28). Nevertheless the revivals under both Hezekiah and Josiah were somewhat superficial, with even their sons reverting back to idolatry after their deaths. The apostasy of Judah had gone so far and so deep that judgment, though deferred for a while, eventually had to fall.

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