idol Baal right in
the courts of the Lord's house. Josiah decreed that the temple be
repaired so all the people could worship God there.
workmen were hired to make the temple beautiful again. The heathen
altars were torn away, carried outside the city, and burned. Men
worked in wood and stone to get the temple in readiness.
While the repair
work was going on, the high priest cleaned the rooms of the
temple. There, hidden away beneath some rubbish, he found a
strange scroll. He looked at it carefully, then unrolled it and
began to read.
It did not take
Hilkiah long to recognize this scroll as the book of the Law. Long
before, God had given Moses the words, and Moses had written them
in a book. Moses had commanded that the book of the Law be read to
all the people once each seven years, but the people had not kept
his command. Then the book was forgotten.
high priest removed the dust from this precious book. Finding this
book was like finding a treasure. He called to Shaphan, the
scribe, "I have found the book of the Law in the house of the
The high priest
placed the precious book in Shaphan's hands and sent him to King
Josiah. Josiah too became excited. He had never heard the words of
God's law. "Read to me from the book," he told Shaphan.
Shaphan read the
strange words. He read about God's promise to bless thepeople if
they served him faithfully. Then he read God's promise to punish
the people if they forsook him and worshiped idols.
alarmed. His people had disobeyed God's law. Surely God would
punish them as he had said. The king tore his clothes and wept
bitterly. What would happen to his people?
Josiah told the
priest, "Go, ask of the Lord about the words in the book.
Great is the punishment in store for us because our fathers have
not kept the word of the Lord."
Hilkiah went to
Huldah the prophetess to ask her about God's plan to punish the
people for their sins.
said, "God will send great punishment to those who forsake
his law and worship idols. But because Josiah has humbled his
heart and wept tears of sorrow for the sins of his people, God
will not let the people be punished while Josiah lives."
years, Josiah ruled the people. At the end of his reign, the king
of Egypt marched through the land of Judah to fight against the
Assyrians. Josiah did not want this army going through his
country, so he got ready to attack them.
The king of Egypt
did not want to fight with Josiah. He sent word for Josiah to go
back home, but Josiah would not go. Instead, he dressed like an
ordinary soldier and went out to battle. During the fight he was
wounded by an arrow. His servants brought him back to Jerusalem in
a chariot. Josiah died, and the people buried him among the
honorable kings of Judah.