Friday, August 5, 2022

Josiah's Example of Public Repentance

Like Hezekiah, Josiah (r. 641-610) wholly commits himself as king of Judah to Yahweh. He becomes king when he is only 8 years old. When he is 18, he commands that money stored in the Temple of Yahweh be used to repair it. In the process of gathering the stored money to count it, the priest Hilkiah discovers the “Book of the Law” (2 Kings 22:8)—likely the Book of Deuteronomy.

After Deuteronomy is read to Josiah, he humbles himself, repents of the disloyalty of Judah toward Yahweh, and seeks to know Yahweh’s present will. A woman named Huldah, a prophetess, declares to him the word of Yahweh: all of the disasters following chronic disloyalty will fall upon the people of Judah and Jerusalem. Because Josiah humbled himself and repented, however, Yahweh will not bring these disasters upon Jerusalem during his lifetime. (ch. 22).

Josiah goes to the Temple of Yahweh and all the priests, prophets, inhabitants of Jerusalem, and people of Judah join him. They all listen to a public reading of the Book of Deuteronomy. In response they renew their loyalty to Yahweh. 

Josiah initiates major reforms. First he eliminates all practices expressing loyalty to Olympian gods. Josiah orders the removal of all things belonging to other gods from the House of Yahweh, deposes priests at the House of Yahweh serving other gods, destroys the houses of the male prostitutes, brings down everywhere pillars and poles representing other gods, defiles the altar at Bethel (according to the word of Yahweh spoken long before through a man of God [1 Kings 13:1-10]), and sacrifices priests in Samaria serving other gods on the altars of those gods at all the high places (2 Kings 23:4-20). 

Josiah then continues his reform by renewing practices expressing loyalty to Yahweh. He already assembled all the people of Judah at the Temple of Yahweh, had the Book of Deuteronomy read to them, and led them in a recommitment of loyalty to Yahweh. Now, for the first time since the era of the Judges, the people of Yahweh celebrate Passover (vs. 21-23).

Before him [Josiah] there was no king like him, who turned to [Yahweh] with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses… (v. 25). 

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
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