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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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king of Judah, deserves particular mention on account of his wisdom and piety, and some memorable events that occurred in the course of his reign. He succeeded to the throne, upon the assassination of his father Amon, at the age of eight years, B.C. 640; and at a period when idolatry and wickedness, encouraged by his father's profligate example, very generally prevailed. Josiah, who manifested the influence of pious and virtuous principles at a very early age, began, in his sixteenth year, to project the reformation of the kingdom, and to adopt means for restoring the worship of the true God. At the age of twenty years he vigorously pursued the execution of the plans which he had meditated. He began with abolishing idolatry, first at Jerusalem, and then through different parts of the kingdom; destroying the altars which had been erected, and the idols which had been the objects of veneration and worship. He then proceeded, in his twenty-sixth year, to a complete restoration of the worship of God, and the regular service of the temple. While he was prosecuting this pious work, and repairing the temple, which had been long neglected, and which had sunk into a state of dilapidation, the book of the law, which had been concealed in the temple, was happily discovered. This was, probably, a copy of the Pentateuch, which had been lodged there for security by some pious priest in the reign of Ahaz or Manasseh. Josiah, desirous of averting from himself and the kingdom threatened judgments, determined to adhere to the directions of the law, in the business of reformation which he had undertaken; and to observe the festivals enjoined by Moses, which had been shamefully neglected. With this view he assembled all the elders of the people in the temple at Jerusalem; and, having ascended the throne, read the book of the Mosaic law, and then entered into a solemn covenant to observe the statutes and ordinances which it enjoined. To this covenant the whole assembly testified their consent. The ark was restored to its proper place; the temple was purified; idolatrous utensils were removed, and those appropriate to the worship of God substituted in their room. After these preparations, the passover was observed with singular zeal and magnificence. This took place in the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign: but, in pursuing his laudable plans of reformation, he was resisted by the inveterate habits of the Israelites; so that his zealous and persevering efforts were ineffectual. Their degeneracy was so invincible, that the almighty Sovereign was provoked to inflict upon them those calamities which were denounced by the Prophet Zephaniah. In the thirty-second year of Josiah's reign, Pharaoh-Necho, king of Egypt, advanced with his army against Carchemish, a city situated on the river Euphrates. He was opposed by the king of Judah; so that a bloody battle ensued at Megiddo, in which Josiah received a mortal wound, which terminated in his death, after he had been conveyed to Jerusalem, in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, B.C. 609. His death was greatly lamented by all his subjects; and an elegy was written on the occasion by the Prophet Jeremiah, which is not now extant, 2 Kings 22, 23; 2 Chronicles 34, 35.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Josiah'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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