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2 Kings 23

King Josiah and the covenant

1 So the king Josiah asked all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem to come together.

2 He went up to the house of the LORD. All the people, from the least to the greatest, went with him. These people went:

the men from Judah

the people in Jerusalem

the priests and the prophets.

He read to them, while they listened, all the words in the Book of the Covenant. They had found this book in the house of the LORD.

3 The king stood in his place in the house of the LORD. He promised, in front of the LORD, that he would obey the covenant. He promised these things:

He would work for the LORD and he would obey him.

He would try as much as he could to obey the LORD's words, his rules and his laws.

So Josiah agreed with all the words that were in the Book of the Covenant. Then all the people also promised to obey the covenant.

4 Then the king spoke to Hilkiah and to the other priests. And he spoke to the men who watched at the door of God's house. He told them what they must do. Hilkiah was the leader of the priests. They must take out from the house of the LORD everything that people had made for Baal. And they must take out everything that people had made for Asherah and for all the stars in the sky. He burned them outside Jerusalem, in a field in the Kidron Valley. Then he took the ashes to Bethel. 5 He sent away the priests of the false gods. The kings of Judah had them to burn incense on the high places. These were in the towns of Judah and the hills round Jerusalem. These priests burned incense to Baal, to the sun and to the moon. They also burned incense to all the stars and to the groups of stars. 6 He took the Asherah pole away from the house of the LORD to the Kidron Valley. This valley was outside Jerusalem. He burned the Asherah pole there. He made it into a powder and he threw the dirt from it over the graves of the people. 7 He also destroyed the houses where the male prostitutes from the house of the LORD lived. They were in the house of the LORD. Also, the women made cloth there for Asherah. 8 Josiah brought out all the priests of false gods from the towns in Judah. He destroyed the high places, where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba. He destroyed the high places at one of the gates of the city Jerusalem. It was called the Gate of Joshua, who was the ruler of the city. It is on the left side of the most important gate of the city. 9 The priests from the high places did not work at the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem. But they did eat the unleavened bread with the other priests. 10 Josiah destroyed Topheth, which was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. After this, nobody could use it to burn his son or his daughter in the fire to the false god Molech. 11 The kings of Judah had made copies of horses for the sun god. Josiah removed them from near the door of the house of the LORD. The horses were in a court outside the house of the LORD. It was near the room of an officer called Nathan Melech. Josiah then burned the chariots that they had made for the sun god. 12 The kings of Judah had built altars on the roof of the house of the LORD. They were near the high room of Ahaz. Josiah knocked them down. Manasseh had built altars in the two courts of the house of the LORD. Josiah took them away from there and he broke them into pieces. He threw the bits into the Kidron Valley.

13 King Josiah also destroyed the high places that were on the east side of Jerusalem. They were on the south side of the hill called the Hill of Bad Things. King Solomon had built some of these high places for these false gods:

Ashtoreth. She was a very bad female god. The people in Sidon worshipped her.

Chemosh. He was a very bad god. The people in Moab worshipped him.

Molech. He was the very, very bad god of the people in Ammon.

14 Josiah broke the special stones into small pieces. He cut down the Asherah poles. He covered the places where they had been with human bones.

15 Josiah even destroyed the altar at Bethel. It was a high place that Jeroboam had made. He was the son of Nebat, who had caused the people of Israel to sin. He even destroyed that altar and high place! He burned the high place and he broke the ash into powder. He also burned the Asherah pole. 16 Then Josiah looked at everything that was round him. When he saw graves in the sides of hills, he sent someone to take the bones from them. They burned them on the altar, so that people would not use it again. He had made it dirty. The LORD had said that this would happen. He had said it by a man of God. 17 Then the king asked, ‘I can see a large stone. What is it?’ The men from the city said to him, ‘It is the grave of the man of God. He came from Judah. He said things against the altar in Bethel. He said what you would do to it.’ 18 ‘Do not move his stone’, he said. ‘Do not let anyone move his bones.’ So they did not move his bones, or the bones of the prophet who had come from Samaria. 19 And Josiah did to all the towns in Samaria what he had done in Bethel. The kings of Israel had built altars in the high places, which had made the LORD angry. Josiah took away all these things. He made them dirty so that people would not use them again. 20 And he killed all the priests of the false gods at the high places. He killed them on their own altars. He burned human bones on the altars. Then he went back to Jerusalem.

21 Then the king said what all the people must do. ‘Have a special meal called the Passover. Have it for the LORD your God. Obey the rules that are in Book of the Covenant.’ 22 There was never a Passover like it, since the time when the judges led Israel. There was nothing like it, all the times when there were kings in Judah and Israel. 23 Josiah had been king for nearly 18 years when they had this Passover for the LORD.

24 Josiah did all these things to obey the rules in the Law Book. This was the book that Hilkiah the priest had found in the house of the LORD.

Josiah sent away the people that tried to speak to dead people.

He sent away the men that did magic.

He destroyed the false gods that were in people's houses.

He destroyed all the other really bad things that were in Judah and in Jerusalem.

25 There was never a king like Josiah. He turned to the LORD like no other king, either before him or after him. He obeyed the LORD with all his mind and with all his soul and with all his strength. He obeyed all the Law of Moses.

26 But the LORD was still very angry with Judah. He was angry because of everything that Manasseh had done to make him angry. He was so angry that it was like a hot fire. 27 So the LORD said, ‘I will also send Judah away from where I am. I will send them as I sent Israel away. And I will go away from Jerusalem, the city which I chose for my house. I said about my house, “My Name will always be there.” ’

28 Other things happened while Josiah ruled Judah. Everything that he did is in a book. It is called ‘the reports about the kings of Judah’.

King Josiah dies

29 While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Neco was the king of Egypt. Pharaoh Neco went up to the River Euphrates, to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah marched out to meet Pharaoh Neco. There was a war between them, and Neco killed Josiah at Megiddo. 30 Josiah's servants brought his dead body from Megiddo to Jerusalem in a chariot. People buried him in his own grave. And the people in the country poured oil on Jehoahaz. They made him king after his father. Jehoahaz was the son of Josiah.

Jehoahaz becomes the king of Judah

31 Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for three months. His mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah. She came from Libnah. 32 The LORD saw that Jehoahaz did very bad things, as his ancestors had done. 33 Pharaoh Neco tied him in a prison at Riblah, so Jehoahaz could not rule in Jerusalem. Riblah is in the country called Hamath. Neco caused Judah to pay him 100 talents of silver and one talent of gold.

Jehoiakim becomes the king of Judah

34 And then Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim, Josiah's son, king of Judah. He became king after his father Josiah. Neco changed Eliakim's name to Jehoiakim. Then he took Jehoahaz away with him to Egypt. Jehoahaz died in Egypt. 35 Jehoiakim paid Pharaoh Neco all the silver and gold that he asked for. The people in Judah had to pay money to the government so that he could do this. They gave the silver and gold that he asked for.

36 Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he became king. He ruled for 11 years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Zebidah. She was the daughter of Pedaiah. Pedaiah came from Rumah. 37 And the LORD saw that Jehoiakim did bad things, as his ancestors had done.

Notes about chapter 23

23:37Verse 2 ‘He went up’ because the house of the LORD was on a hill. The hill was called Zion.
23:37Verse 4 He took the ashes to Bethel because of what he would do there in verses 15-18.
23:37Verse 6 They buried people outside the city in the Kidron Valley. It was the place where the people in Jerusalem buried dead bodies.
23:37Verse 7 ‘In the house’ means that they were by the walls of the house of the LORD. ‘They’ maybe means both the houses and the prostitutes.
23:37Verse 10 Topheth may mean ‘a place where there is a fire’. The Valley of Ben Hinnom was to the south and west of Jerusalem.
23:37Verse 11 They used the horses and chariots when they worshipped the sun. Bible students do not know how. Verse 13 The hill called the Hill of Bad Things was maybe on the Hill of Olives, to the east of Jerusalem. The hill was called this because there were many altars for false gods there.
23:37Verse 14 The special stones helped people to worship their false gods. People would not go where there were dead bodies (see Numbers 5:2).
23:37Verse 15 Bible students do not know how you can burn a hill! Maybe it means everything that was with the false god and the Asherah pole.
23:37Verse 16 The story of the man of God is in 1 Kings 13:1-3, 29-32.
23:37Verse 30 The Jews always poured oil on to people when they made them into kings. The Hebrew words for ‘poured oil on’ mean ‘they messiahed him’. ‘Messiah’ is a Hebrew word for ‘leader’.