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Josiah begin his reign while a boy at age eight (2K. 22:1) and reigned for 31 years. His reign was patterned after the godly King Hezekiah. He initiated repairs to the temple, whereupon the high priest Hilkiah rediscovered the book of the Law which had been neglected for many years (2K. 22:8). Upon reading the Law, it became apparent how far Israel had neglected her duties leading Josiah to repent of the ungodliness of the nation. But it was “too little too late”—God confirmed through the prophetess Huldah that judgment would not be averted (2K. 22:16-17). This was also evident from the prophecy previously given to Hezekiah that Babylon would eventually seize Israel’s treasures and some of her people: 2K. 20:12-18. Nevertheless, Josiah continued following closely in the footsteps of his great-grandfather Hezekiah by instituting religious reforms.1

Josiah oversaw the public reading of the Law and the renewing of a covenant by the people to follow the Law (2K. 23:3). Like Hezekiah before him, he cleansed the temple and destroyed the high places with their idolatrous priests (2K. 23:4-20). He also reinstituted passover, which had not been kept since the days of Hezekiah (2K. 23:23), even providing from his own personal herds.

In our study of Daniel, we should take note that both Ezekiel and Daniel were born during the reign of this last godly king. It was also during Josiah’s reign that Jeremiah began his ministry (c. 625 B.C.).2 The religious reformation during Josiah’s reign, although it may have had some superficial aspects, evidently had great influence over Daniel’s formative years. Thus, Daniel’s amazing testimony throughout the book bearing his name underscores the importance and effectiveness of raising up young men and women to know God.

In Matthew’s genealogy of Christ, Josiah is the last king of the second group of 14 between David and the time of the Babylonian Captivity (Mat. 1:11-12, 17). His was the last reign from the throne of David which enjoyed sovereign reign. Thereafter, the kings of Judah were continually subject to foreign powers as vassal kings.3

In 609 B.C., in conjunction with the shift in powers in the region, Pharaoh Necho of Egypt marched northward toward Haran to engage in a conflict between Assyria and Babylon. Without seeking God first, Josiah went up to intercept Necho. Unfortunately for both Josiah and the southern kingdom, he was killed (2K. 23:29 cf. Jer. 2:16). “Josiah’s reign was the final ray of light before the darkness of idolatry and foreign intrigue settled over the Davidic Throne.”4


1 The line from Hezekiah to Josiah is: Hezekiah - Manasseh - Amon - Josiah (Mat. 1:10).

2 Charles H. Dyer, “Jeremiah,” in John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Wheaton, IL: SP Publications, 1983), 1:1126.

3 “Josiah is the last of the sovereign Kings of David’s lineage that sat upon his throne. The point that is being made is that God promised David that his throne and kingdom were to have an enduring and everlasting fulfillment and that the throne of David was a sovereign dominion, not a puppet or vassal of any foreign kingdom (2S. 7; Ps. 89). Whereas it is true that some on the list such as Ahaz, Hezekiah and Manasseh did have periods during their reigns in which they endured subjugation and the paying of tribute to various monarchs of the Assyrian Empire, all enjoyed intervals of sovereign autonomous rule. All of Josiah’s sons and his grandson, Jeconiah (Mat. 1:11, ‘Jeconiah and his brethren’) were vassals to either Egypt or Babylon and not sovereign rulers; thus they do not belong in Matthew’s second set.”—Floyd Nolen Jones, Chronology of the Old Testament: A Return to Basics, 4th ed. (The Woodlands, TX: KingsWord Press, 1993, 1999), 41.

4 Dyer, Jeremiah, 1:1125.

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