King Josiah ushers in religious reforms

2 Kings 21:19-26   In 644BC, Manasseh is succeeded by his son Amon, who follows in his father’s evil ways. After two years, his officials assassinate him and make his young son Josiah king in his place. King Josiah reigns for thirty one years (642-610BC), during which Judah enjoys a religious renaissance.

2 Kings 22:1-20   In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign (in 624BC), the high priest, Hilkiah, re-discovers the Book of the Law in the Temple in Jerusalem. Josiah is greatly moved when the Law of Moses is read to him.

2 Kings 23:1-28   King Josiah calls the elders of Judah together and renews the covenant with the LORD.

 

Sefer Torah at Glockengasse Synagogue, Cologne (Willy Horst)

Torah scroll containing the Law of Moses   (Willy Horst)

 

Josiah’s reforms

After the high priest, Hilkiah, re-discovered the Book of the Law in the Temple in Jerusalem in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign (in 624BC), King Josiah called the elders of Judah together to renew their covenant with the LORD. All the articles associated with Baal and Asherah worship were removed from the Temple and burned in the Kidron Valley outside the city.

Josiah tore down the quarters of the male shrine-prostitutes and destroyed Topheth (‘the fireplace’) - the pagan worship site in the Valley of Hinnom (the ‘Valley of wickedness’) - where children were sacrificed to the god Molech. He removed the statues of the horses and chariots dedicated to the Egyptian Sun god Re at the entrance to the Temple in Jerusalem, and destroyed the altars to the pagan gods Ashtoreth, Chemosh and Molech on the Hill of Corruption (the Mount of Olives).

The people of Jerusalem then celebrated the Passover festival for the first time in many generations and renewed their commitment to the LORD.

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