Study Guide

2 Kings Chapter 23

Chapter 23

Appetite for (Divine) Destruction

  • Josiah gathers together the elders of Judah and leads them, along with all the inhabitants of Judah and all the priests and prophets to the Temple.
  • Josiah promises God, in front of everyone, to fully follow the commandments God has provided for them, and he makes a covenant. All the people join in with the covenant.
  • Josiah quickly sets about destroying the polytheistic order of things. He takes all the vessels made for Baal, Asherah, and other deities out of the Temple. Then he burns them.
  • He deposes idolatrous priests who sacrificed to foreign gods at the high places. He burns the image of the Asherah, scattering its dust on the graves of the common people.
  • Josiah destroys the houses of male temple prostitutes, where women weaved for Asherah.
  • He destroys and defiles the high places, removing the priests from all Judah's towns.
  • However, the priests of the high places protest by eating unleavened bread instead of coming to Jerusalem and the Temple.
  • He defiles Topheth—which is where people used to sacrifice children to Moloch—and removes horses that were dedicated to the sun god. He burns the chariots dedicated to the sun, as well.
  • Josiah destroys more high places and altars that Ahaz and Manasseh had built. He destroys high places dedicated to the gods Astarte, Chemosh, and Milcom and cuts down sacred pillars and poles, defiling those sites with human bones.

Breaking Down and Building Up

  • Josiah continues destroying stuff, like the altar and high place Jeroboam made at Bethel which caused Israel to sin. He cuts down a sacred pole there and defiles the altar by burning human bones from local tombs on it.
  • But Josiah makes sure that no one moves the bones of the man of God who predicted these things would happen, along with those of another prophet.
  • He destroys the high places in Samaria too and kills the priests of the high places on their altars, before polluting them by burning bones.
  • Still in the eighteenth year of his reign, Josiah orders—in accordance with the recently discovered law book—the celebration of Passover. It's the first time the holiday has been observed since the days of Moses. The judges and the kings (including David) apparently didn't know about it.
  • Josiah also gets rid of all the wizards and mediums. The narrator says that there were no kings before or after him who were like him.
  • Nonetheless, God is still going to destroy Judah and Jerusalem and send the people into exile.

Neco—But Not the Wafers 

  • Pharaoh Neco of Egypt goes up to the King of Assyria. But when Josiah goes out to meet Pharaoh Neco at Megiddo, the Pharaoh kills him (or, has him killed).
  • Josiah's body is brought back by chariot and laid to rest in Jerusalem.
  • His son, Jehoahaz, becomes the new king at age twenty-three. He only reigns for three months, though it's enough time to return to the evil ways of his ancestors.
  • The Pharaoh keeps him confined in the city of Rimlah, apart from Jerusalem.
  • The Pharaoh makes another of Josiah's sons Eliakim the new king, then sends Jehoahaz to exile in Egypt, where he dies. Eliakim's name is changed to Jehoiakim.
  • Jehoiakim taxes the people in order to pay the Pharaoh tribute in silver and gold.
  • Jehoiakim starts reigning at age twenty-five and continues for eleven years.
  • Like his brother, he is also devoted to the wicked ways of his ancestors.