As we read in 2 Kings 23 of more of Josiah’s reforms, we start to get a picture of how far the people had fallen. Josiah broke idols into pieces, destroyed “high places” of worship to false gods from the Hinnon Valley to the Kidron Valley. He broke down the houses of male cult prostitutes in the Temple, and used the Kidron Valley (a place of idol worship since the time of Solomon) as a place to remove and destroy the abominations, defiling their altars and the valley itself. In verse 10, he defiled Topheth, a place where children were burned in sacrifice to Molech. In verses 21-23, he commanded the people to keep the Passover, a practice that had been forgotten.
So with all this reform, why was God not appeased? Why, in verses 26-27, did His anger still burn hot against Judah and determine that they suffer the same fate as Israel? Notice that verse 21 says that Josiah commanded the people to keep the passover. The other account of the these events that are written in 2 Chronicles 34 (particularly verse 32-33) tells us that Josiah had made the people turn from their idolatry and serve the Lord. Their hearts had not changed.
In an attempt to prevent Egypt’s reinforcement of the Assyrians, Josiah was killed by Pharaoh Neco at Megiddo in 609 BC. It was a battle that would be the last conflict with the Babylonians in which the Egyptians and Assyrians would unite. The people of Judah made his son Jehoahaz king in his place, and verse 32 tells us that Jehoahaz turned back to the evil ways of his fathers. His reign was short, as Pharaoh Neco of Egypt put him in bondage and made Josiah’s other son, Eliakim, the vassal king – changing his name to Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim taxed the people in order to pay tribute to Egypt.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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