JOSIAH (jō-zī'a, Heb. yō’shîyāhû, Jehovah supports him). Son of Amon and Jedidah and the grandson of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah (
When palace officials murdered King Amon in 642 b.c. (
Josiah’s religious leadership ranks him with Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah as an outstanding righteous ruler. Gross idolatry—Baal altars, Asherah poles, star and planetary worship, child sacrifice to Molech in the b.c.), whose personal penitence and reform (
In the course of renovating the temple (622 b.c.) the Book of the Law was recovered. The reformation movement was now stimulated anew by the reading of this “Book of the Law...given through Moses” (
With the king himself leading the reformation movement, changes in personnel occurred. Priests serving by royal appointment of former kings and dedicated to idol worship were removed from office. Josiah, however, made temple revenues available for their support (
In 609 b.c. Josiah’s leadership was abruptly ended. In an effort to interfere with Pharaoh Neco’s plans to aid the Assyrians, Josiah was fatally wounded at Megiddo (
Bibliography: D. W. B. Robinson, Josiah’s Reform and the Book of the Law, 1951; C. F. Pfeiffer,History, 1973, pp. 371-74; J. A. Thompson, The , 1980, pp. 59-67.——SJS
JOSIAH jō sī’ ə (יֹאשִׁיָּ֣הוּ; LXX ̓Ιωσίας, G2739, may the Lord support or heal). Name of a king of Judah, son of Amon and Jedidah (below), and the name of a contemporary of the prophet Zechariah (
After Manasseh’s reign of terror, Amon (at twenty-two) showed similar tendencies. His assassins may have wanted a dynastic change or rebellion against Assyria (so Malamat); but the country party rejected them (
Contemporary events and foreign policy.
Early in Josiah’s reign, the Assyrian grip on Pal. was already relaxing, and Psamtik I was gradually reestablishing Egyp. authority on the coast of Philistia. Nabopolassar’s enthronement in Babylon (Nov. 626 b.c.) heralded the extinction of the Assyrian empire; by 616, the situation was serious enough for Egypt to align herself with Assyria. Nineveh fell in 612; Assyrian forces kept the field in upper Mesopotamia, with Egyp. support, until their final defeat at Carchemish.
Josiah, starting as Assyria’s vassal at least in name, found increasing scope for acting independently. The covenant (622 b.c.), amounting to formal defiance of the Assyrian deity, brought no political repercussions; and it is possible, though perhaps irrelevant, that his assumption of authority in the provinces of Samaria (
Westward expansion may be attested by traces of settlement at Mesad Hassabyahu (Naveh et al., IEJ, pp. 10, 14; for the theory that the boundary lists in Joshua relate to Josiah’s kingdom, see Bibliography). Josiah married Hamutal of Libnah, perhaps for diplomatic reasons (
The Biblical account.
The Chronicler (
The Covenant and the Passover.
The Covenant was in the terms of the book, which Josiah read at the ceremony. Many scholars (esp. those who reject the Chronicler’s account) have concluded that the reforms followed more or less specifically the directions of the book. This may be debated (see next section); moreover, the book was found during the restoration of the Temple, which would hardly have been undertaken without religious reform. Recognizing this, some scholars see Josiah as following Hezekiah’s lead toward making the Temple the one and only sanctuary of the Lord, where the Passover would be kept. On this view, the book supported but did not inspire Josiah’s moves (see Keil on
It is not clear whether the Passover was unique, or a pattern for the rest of the reign. Widengren connects Passover and Covenant with the New Year (similarly Mowinckel, Psalmstudien II, pp. 204-206), as an annual ceremony. This means a fall Passover and a celebration at the beginning of Josiah’s eighteenth year, both very improbable; so much had already happened in that (regnal) year. The restoration of the Temple may well have started in October (
The reform and the book.
As with the Passover, the reformation does not seem to have originated with the book, though the covenant terms clearly denounced pagan worship to the point of allowing only one national place of sacrifice. It was the severity of the penalties in the covenant that alarmed Josiah. These penalties, the directions for the Passover, and the prohibition of idolatry, are all that we know directly of the book. On the reasonable assumption that it formed part of the Pentateuch, it was most prob. Deuteronomy; of the principal alternatives, the Exodus covenant does not specify penalties, whereas the “
The explicit command in
Death of Josiah.
In the summer of 609 b.c., Josiah opposed the Egyp. army as it approached the Megiddo pass en route to support the Assyrian attempt to recapture Haran. Despite assurance by Necho that he had no aggressive designs on Judah, Josiah persisted, and was defeated and mortally wounded. The account in
It is difficult to understand Josiah’s rash initiative. He may just have been opposing Egypt and Assyria on principle, or deliberately working with the Babylonians (Freedman, BA, XIX, 52 n. 10; but this is highly inferential). Nevertheless, these events fulfilled the promised of
Keil, Chronicles, n. d.; T. Alfrink, Biblica, XV (1934); E. Junge, Wiederaufbau des Heerwesens, BWANT, 4/23 (1937); W. F. Albright, JBL, LVII (1938); D. Diringer, BA, XII (1949), 74-86; H. Ginsberg, Alex. Marx Jub. Vol. (Eng. sec., 1950); A. Malamat, JNES, IX (1950), 218ff.; J. Montgomery, Kings (ICC) (1951); F. Cross and D. Freedman, JNES, XII (1953), 56-58; A. Alt, Kleine Schriften, II (1953), 250ff., 276-288; M. Noth, Joshua (Eng., 1953); G. von Rad, Deuteronomy (Eng., 1953), 60ff.; F. Cross and G. Wright, JBL, LXXV (1956), 203-219; D. Freedman, BA XIX (1956), 50-60; D. Wiseman, Chronology of the Chaldaean Kings (1956); E. Thiele, BASOR, XLIII (1956), 25ff.; W. F. Albright, ibid., 28-33; van Maag, Vet Test, VI (1956), 10-18; G. Widengren, JSS, II (1957), 1-19; J. B. Pritchard, Hebrew Inscriptions from Gibeon (1959), 18ff.; G. Fohrer, ZATW, LXXI (1959), 13f.; W. Hallo, BA, XXIII (1960), 60f.; J. Naveh, IEJ, X (1960), 129-139; XII (1962), 97-99; F. Coss, BASOR, CLXV (1962), 42; Y. Yadin, Art of Warfare (1963), 311f.; J. Segal, The Hebrew Passover (1963), 216ff.; H. H. Rowley, Men of God (1963), 159-167; J. Amusin, M. Heltzer, J. Naveh, IEJ, XIV (1964), 148-159; S. Talmon, BASOR, CLXXVI (1964), 36ff.; J. Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (1964), ss. 309-315; J. Myers, Chronicles, (1965); E. Thiele, Mysterious Numbers2 (1965), 161ff.; R. Frankena, OT Studien XIV (1965), 152; Y. Aharoni, Land of the Bible (1966), 349-351; H. Cazelles, RB, LXIV (1967), 24-44.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(yo’shiyahu, "Yahweh supports him"; Ioseias; theJosias (which see)):
I. SOURCES FOR HIS LIFE AND TIMES
II. TRAITS OF HIS REIGN
1. Situation at the Beginning
2. Finding of the Law
3. The Great Reform
4. Disaster at Megiddo
The name given 6 years before the death of his grandfather Manasseh resumes the Judaic custom, suspended in the case of that king and Amon, of compounding royal names with that of Yahweh; perhaps a hint of the time, when, according to the Chronicler, Manasseh realized Yahweh’s claim on his realm (
I. Sources for His Life and Times.
The earliest history is dispassionate in tone, betraying its prophetic feeling, however, in its acknowledgment of Yahweh’s wrath, still menacing in spite of Josiah’s unique piety (
For the spiritual atmosphere of his time and the prophetic consciousness of a day of wrath impending, the prophet Zephaniah is illuminating, especially for the first half of the reign. Jeremiah, born at about the same time as Josiah, began prophesying in the 13th year of the reign (
In Jesus Sirach’s Praise of Famous Men there is a passage (Sirach 49:1-4), wholly eulogistic of Josiah, on the score that "in the days of wicked men he made godliness to prevail"; and along with David and Hezekiah he is one of the three who alone did not "commit trespass." Jeremiah’s lamentation for. Josiah, mentioned in
II. Traits of His Reign.
1. Situation at the Beginning:
Until his 18th year 2 Kings gives no events of Josiah’s reign; 2 Chronicles, however, relates that in his 8th year (at 16 years of age) he "began to seek after the God of David his father," and that in the 12th year he began the purgation of Judah and Jerusalem. The Chronicler may be mistaken in putting the completion of this work before the finding of the law (
2. Finding of the Law:
The providential moment arrived when in the 18th year of his reign Josiah sent Shaphan the scribe to the temple to arrange with Hilkiah the high priest for the prescribed temple repairs. On giving his account of the funds for that purpose, Hilkiah also delivered to Shaphan a book which he had found in the "house of Yahweh," that is, in the temple proper; which book, when Shaphan read therefrom to the king, caused the latter to rend his robe in dismay and consternation. It was a book in which were commands of Yahweh that had long been unknown or disregarded, and along with these, fearful curses to follow the infraction of them. Such a discovery could not be treated lightly, as one might spurn a prophet or priest; nay, it immediately called the authority of the prophet into requisition. The king sent a deputation to Huldah the prophetess for her verdict on the book; and she, whether aware of its contents or not, assured him that the curses were valid, and that for impieties against which the prophets continually warned, all the woes written in the book were impending. One of the most voluminous discussions of Biblical scholarship has centered round the question what this book was, what its origin, and how it came there in the temple. The Chronicler says roundly it was "the book of the law of Yahweh by the hand of Moses." That it was from the nation’s great first prophet and lawgiver was the implicit belief of the king and all his contemporaries. There can be little doubt, judging from the nature of the reforms it elicited and the fact that the curses it contained are still extant, that this "book of the law" was virtually identical with our Book of Deuteronomy. But is this the work of Moses, or the product of a later literary activity? In answer, it is fair to say that it is so true to the soundest interpretation of the spirit and power of Moses that there need be no hesitation in calling it genuinely Mosaic, whatever adaptations and supplementations its laws received after his time. Its highly developed style, however, and its imperfect conformity to the nomadic conditions of Moses’ time, make so remote an origin of its present form very doubtful. It comes to us written with the matured skill of Israel’s literary prime, in a time too when, as we know (see under HEZEKIAH), men of letters were keenly interested in rescuing and putting to present use the literary treasures of their past. As to how it came to be left in the temple at a time so much before its discovery that none questioned its being what it purported to be, each scholar must answer for himself. Some have conjectured that it may have been a product of Solomon’s time, and deposited, according to immemorial custom in temple-building, in the foundation of Solomon’s temple, where it was found when certain ruins made repairs necessary. To the present writer it seems likelier that it was one of the literary products of Hezekiah’s time, compiled from scattered statutes, precedents, and customs long in the keeping--or neglect--of priests and judges, put into the attractive form of oratory, and left for its providential moment.
See further, DEUTERONOMY; WRITING.
3. The Great Reform:
4. Disaster at Megiddo:
Ardent and pious as he was, there seems to have been a lack of balance in Josiah’s character. His extreme dismay and dread of the curse pronounced on the realm’s neglect of the law seems to have been followed, after his great reform had seemed to set things right, by an excess of confidence in Yahweh’s restored favor which went beyond sound wisdom, and amounted to presumption. The power of Assyria was weakening, and Pharaoh-necoh of Egypt, ambitious to secure control of Mesopotamia, started on the campaign in which he was eventually to suffer defeat at Carchemish. Josiah, whose reforming zeal had already achieved success in Northern Israel, apparently cherished inordinate dreams of invincibility in Yahweh’s name, and went forth with a little army to withstand the Egyptian monarch on his march through the northern provinces. At the first onset he was killed, and his expedition came to nothing. In his untimely death the fervid hopes of the pious received a set-back which was long lamented as one of the cardinal disasters of Israel. It was a sore calamity, but also a stern education. Israel must learn not only the enthusiasm but also the prudence and wisdom of its new-found faith.
(2) A contemporary of Zechariah (