King Josiah obeys God
1 King Josiah told all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem to come and meet with him.
2 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 prophets, 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.
23:2‘He went up’ because the temple was on a hill.
3 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. All the people also promised to obey the covenant.
4 Then the king gave a command to Hilkiah, the leader of the priests, and to the other priests and the temple guards. He told them to bring out from the Lord's temple everything that people used there to worship false gods. People used those things to worship Baal, Asherah and all the stars in the sky. King Josiah burned those things outside Jerusalem, in the fields of the Kidron Valley. Then he took all the ashes to Bethel.
23:4He took the ashes to Bethel because of what he would do there. See verses 15-18.
5 He removed the priests who served false gods. The kings of Judah had chosen those priests to make offerings at the altars on the hills. They were on the hills in Judah's cities and all around Jerusalem. These priests offered sacrifices to Baal, to the sun, to the moon and to all the stars in the sky. 6 He also removed the Asherah pole from the Lord's temple. He took it outside Jerusalem, to the Kidron Valley. He burned it there. He made its ashes into dust. He threw the dust over the graves of ordinary people.
23:6They buried ordinary people at a place outside the city in the Kidron Valley. Rich or important people had their own special graves.
7 King Josiah also destroyed the rooms in the Lord's temple where the male prostitutes lived. Women also made clothes there for the idol of Asherah. 8 He brought from the towns of Judah all the priests who served false gods. He destroyed the altars on the hills where those priests offered sacrifices. He did that everywhere in Judah, from Geba to Beersheba. He destroyed the altar that was on the left side of one of Jerusalem city's gates. It was called the Gate of Joshua. Joshua was an officer who had authority over the city. 9 The priests who served at those altars did not have authority to serve at the altar in the Lord's temple in Jerusalem. But they could eat the same flat bread that the other priests ate.
10 King Josiah destroyed the place called Topheth, which was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. After that, nobody could burn his son or his daughter there in the fire as a sacrifice to Molech. 11 He removed the images of horses that the kings of Judah had put beside the entrance to the Lord's temple. He also burned the chariots that were there. The kings had put the horses and chariots there to give honour to the sun god. They were in the temple yard near the room of Nathan Melech, a palace officer.
23:10The Valley of Ben Hinnom was to the south and west of Jerusalem. Molech was a false god.
23:11They used the horses and chariots when they worshipped the sun.
12 King Josiah knocked down the altars that were on the roof of the palace. The kings of Judah had built the altars there, above the high room of King Ahaz. He also knocked down the altars that King Manasseh had built in the two yards of the Lord's temple. Josiah broke the altars into small pieces. He threw the bits into the Kidron Valley.
13 King Josiah also destroyed the altars that were on the hills east of Jerusalem. Those altars were on the south side of Mount Trouble. King Solomon had built them to worship these false gods:
23:13Mount Trouble may be a name for the Mount of Olives, on the east side of Jerusalem. The hill was called this because there were many altars for false gods there.Ashtoreth, a wicked female god that the people in Sidon worshipped.Chemosh, a wicked god that the people in Moab worshipped.Molech, the evil god that the people in Ammon worshipped.
14 Josiah broke the stone pillars that people worshipped into small pieces. He cut down the Asherah poles. He covered the ground where they had been with human bones.
23:14People would not go where there were dead bodies, or human bones. See Numbers 5:2.
15 Josiah also destroyed the altar at Bethel. It was an altar for false gods that Nebat's son, King Jeroboam had made. King Jeroboam had caused the people of Israel to do bad things. Josiah completely destroyed that altar. He broke its stones into small pieces so that only dust remained. He also burned the Asherah pole.
16 Then Josiah looked around and he saw graves on the hill. He sent someone to bring the bones from them. He burned them on the altar, so that people could not use it again. The Lord had said that this would happen when King Jeroboam was standing beside the altar. A man of God had spoken God's message to Jeroboam during a festival.
Josiah looked up and he saw the grave of the man of God who had spoken God's message. 17 He asked, ‘Whose grave stone is that?’ The men from Bethel city said to him, ‘It is the grave of the man of God who came from Judah. You have now done to this altar at Bethel the things that he said would happen.’ 18 King Josiah said, ‘Do not do anything to his grave. Do not remove his bones.’ So they did not do anything with the bones of the man of God. They also left the bones of the old prophet who had come from Samaria.
19 King Josiah removed the altars on the hills in all the towns of Samaria. The kings of Israel had built those altars and that had made the Lord angry. Josiah destroyed all of them, in the same way that he destroyed the altar at Bethel. 20 He punished with death all the priests who served false gods at those altars. He killed them on their own altars. He burned human bones on all the altars. After he had done that, he went back to Jerusalem.
21 Then the king commanded all the people, ‘The Book of God's Covenant teaches about the Passover festival. Now you must eat that Passover meal to give honour to the Lord your God.’ 22 Since the time when the judges ruled Israel, the Israelites had not had a Passover festival like that. They had never had it during the time when kings ruled Judah and Israel. 23 But in the 18th year that Josiah ruled Judah as king, the people once again had a Passover festival to give honour to the Lord.
24 Josiah did other things to obey the rules that were written in the Book of God's Law. That was the book that Hilkiah the priest had found in the Lord's temple. Josiah removed the people who spoke to the spirits of dead people and the other magicians. He destroyed the images that people worshipped in their homes. He destroyed all the other idols that people had started to worship in Jerusalem and in all Judah.
25 Josiah turned to the Lord and he served the Lord faithfully with all his strength. He obeyed all the Law of Moses. No other king was like Josiah, either before him or after him.
26 But the Lord continued to be angry with the people of Judah. The wicked things that King Manasseh did had made him very angry. 27 So the Lord said, ‘I will also send Judah away from me, as I sent Israel away. I will refuse to stay in Jerusalem and in my temple. I chose the city to be my home and the place where people would worship me. But now I will leave there. ’