2 Chronicles 34

Josiah rules Judah as king

1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king. He ruled as king in Jerusalem for 31 years. 2 Josiah did things that the Lord said were right. He lived in the good ways of his ancestor, King David. He did not turn away from the Lord's teaching in any way.

34:1Josiah began to rule in about 640 BC. He died in about 609 BC.

3 When Josiah had been king for eight years, he was still a young man. At that time he began to worship God, as his ancestor David had done. When he had been king for 12 years, he started to remove the places in Jerusalem and in all Judah where people worshipped false gods. He removed the altars on the hills, the Asherah poles, the idols and the images of false gods. 4 He told his men to knock down the altars where people worshipped the idols of Baal. He broke into pieces the altars for incense that were near the other altars. He destroyed the Asherah poles, the idols and the images. He broke them all into very small pieces. He threw the bits over the graves of the people who had offered sacrifices to those false gods.

5 Josiah took the bones of the priests who had made sacrifices to the false gods. He burned the priests' bones on their own altars. That is how Josiah made Judah and Jerusalem clean again. 6 He went to the towns that belonged to the tribes of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon. He even went as far as Naphtali. He did the same thing in all those towns, as well as in the villages around them where nobody lived. 7 He knocked down the altars and the Asherah poles. He completely destroyed the idols and the altars for incense everywhere in the kingdom of Israel. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

34:6These tribes belonged to Israel, the kingdom in the north.

Josiah repairs the temple

8 When Josiah had been king for 18 years, he continued to make Judah and the temple clean places again. He sent three men to repair the temple of the Lord his God. They were Azaliah's son Shaphan, the city's officer Maaseiah, and Joah, son of Joahaz, the city's secretary.

9 They went to meet Hilkiah, the leader of the priests. They gave him the money that people had brought as gifts to God's temple. The people had given their money to the Levites who stood as guards at the doors of the temple. The people who brought these gifts had come from the tribes of Manasseh, Ephraim and the other people who still lived in Israel. All the people from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and those who lived in Jerusalem had also brought their gifts. 10 Then they gave this money to the men who had authority over the work on the Lord's temple. Those leaders then paid the workers who did the repairs to make the temple strong again. 11 They gave money to the carpenters and the builders to buy stones that were ready to use and wood. The kings of Judah had not taken care of the buildings. So the workers now needed stones and wood to repair the walls and the roofs.

12 The workers were honest men who worked well. Four Levites had authority over the workers. They were Jahath and Obadiah from Merari's clan, and Zechariah and Meshullam from Kohath's clan. Other Levites who were musicians 13 had authority over the men who carried the wood and the stones. They told the workers what to do as they did their different jobs. Some Levites worked as secretaries, officers or guards.

Hilkiah finds the book of God's laws

14 The Levites were bringing the money out of the Lord's temple that people had brought there. While they were doing that, Hilkiah the priest found the book of God's laws. Those were the laws that the Lord had given to Moses for his people. 15 Hilkiah told Shaphan, the king's secretary, ‘I have found the book of the Law in the Lord's temple.’ He gave the book to Shaphan.

34:14They were using the money to pay the workers who were repairing the temple.

16 Then Shaphan took the book to the king and he said, ‘Your servants are doing everything that you told them to do. 17 They have paid out the money that was in the Lord's temple. They have given it to the leaders who have authority over the men who are doing the work.’

18 Then Shaphan, the king's secretary, told the king, ‘Hilkiah the priest has given a book to me.’ Then Shaphan read it aloud to the king. 19 When the king heard the words in the book of God's laws, he was so upset that he tore his clothes.

20 King Josiah gave a command to Hilkiah, Shaphan's son Ahikam, Micah's son Abdon, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king's servant. 21 He told them, ‘Go to the temple. Ask the Lord about the message in this book that Hilkiah has found. I need to know what I should do, as well as the people who still live in Judah and in Israel. The Lord has become very angry with us because our ancestors have not obeyed his message. They have not done the things that this book tells us that we should do.’

22 So Hilkiah and the other men that the king had sent went to speak to Huldah. Huldah was a prophetess who lived in the north part of Jerusalem. She was the wife of Shallum, the son of Tokhath. Tokhath was the son of Hasrah, who took care of the king's clothes. The king's men told Huldah why they had come to meet her.

23 She said to them, ‘The Lord, Israel's God, says, “Tell this to the man who sent you here to me: 24 This is what the Lord says: I will bring great trouble to this place and the people who live here. The message of the book that they read to the king of Judah tells about what will happen. 25 I will send this trouble because they have turned away from me. They have offered sacrifices to other gods. I am very angry with them because of all the idols that they have made for themselves. My anger is like a fire that is burning and nobody can stop it!” 26 The king of Judah sent you here to ask for the Lord's answer. Say to the king, “The Lord, Israel's God, says this about the message that you have heard: 27 When you heard the message that I had spoken, you were very upset. You made yourself humble to respect me. You tore your clothes and you wept. You did that when you heard how I would punish this place and the people who live here. Because you became so upset, I have heard your prayer. 28 So I will let you die in peace and people will bury you beside your ancestors. You yourself will never see the great trouble that I will bring to this place and the people who live here.” That is what the Lord says.’

The men took Huldah's answer back to the king.

Josiah and the people promise to obey God's laws

29 Then King Josiah told all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem to come and meet with him. 30 He went up to the Lord's temple. All the people who lived in Jerusalem and in the rest of Judah went with him. They included the priests, the Levites, young people and old people. Everyone went to the temple. They all listened while the king read to them all the words in the book of God's covenant. That was the book that Hilkiah had found in the Lord's temple. 31 Then the king stood in his place beside the pillar in the temple. He promised the Lord that he would obey the covenant. He agreed to serve the Lord faithfully and to obey his commands, laws and rules. Josiah agreed to obey what was written in the book of God's covenant.

34:30He ‘went up’ because the temple was on a hill.

32 The king told all the people who were in Jerusalem and the people of Benjamin's tribe to stand. He told them to promise to obey God's laws. So the people who lived in Jerusalem agreed to obey the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors.

33 Josiah removed all the disgusting idols from all the land of the Israelites. He told all the people of Israel to worship the Lord their God. All the time that Josiah ruled as king, the people continued to worship the Lord, the God of their ancestors.