Fausset's Bible Dictionary


("supported or healed by Jehovah".)

1. Son of Amon and Jedidab; began to reign at eight years old (641 B.C.) and reigned 31 years, to 610 B.C. (2 Kings 22 to 24; 2 Chronicles 34-35). The first 12 chapters of Jeremiah may refer to this period. At the age of 16, "while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father." Since Amon was wicked it is likely that Jedidah ("beloved"), like Lois and Eunice (2Ti_1:5), had early instilled into her child pious principles which bore fruit betimes, for in spite of the closing error which cost him his life the Holy Spirit, who remembers the graces and ignores the exceptional fails of believers, testifies "he declined neither to the right hand nor to the left." At the age of 20, in the 12th year of his reign, he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places or Asherah, and images of the sun and Baal, and strewed their dust on the graves of their former worshippers. (See GROVES.)

The events of the purging out idolatry, the temple repair, and the finding of the law, in Kings are arranged according to subject matter; but in Chronicles chronologically. The repairing of the temple recorded 2Ki_22:3-7, in a period by itself, subordinate to the discovery of the law, in the 18th year of Josiah's reign, must have been chronologically before that date, since in that year the builders were already repairing and the money for the work had been collected by the Levites who kept the door. The abolishing of the idols must have begun before the people made the covenant (2Ki_23:3). The discovery of the law Hilkiah quickened his zeal in abolishing them throughout the whole kingdom.(See HILKIAH.) In 2 Kings their suppression is narrated more minutely, the Passover celebration is summarized; in Second Chronicles their suppression is summarized (2Ch_34:3-7; 2Ch_34:33), but the Passover fully described (2Ch_35:1-19).

Josiah spared not even the high places which pious Hezekiah had left, nor those of Solomon in his apostasy, nor their priests (Chemarim), as Zep_1:4 foretold; also Manasseh his grandfather's grove (Asherah) in the Lord's house (2Ki_21:7; 2Ki_23:6). He defiled Tophot in the valley of the children of Hinnom, where the people used to make their children pass through the fire to Moloch; and burned the chariots of the sun, and took away the stored horses, and destroyed Ahaz' altars on the housetop. (See HINNOM.) He fulfilled on the Bethel calf altar the prophecy of the man of God to Jeroboam, given three centuries before, and declaring his very name (as Isaiah did that of Cyrus ages before), but respected the prophet's sepulchre (1 Kings 13). His purgation thus extended to northern Israel as far as Naphtali, as well as to Judah. It was in repairing the temple that Moses' copy of the law, in his own handwriting, or at, least the original temple copy from his, was found. That the law was not previously unknown appears from the king's conduct on its discovery.

He at once accepted its authority without mistrust as genuine and authentic; and read or caused it to be read in the ears of all the men of Judah, the priests and the prophets ("Levites" in 2Ch_34:30). These too all accepted it, evidently because they and he had always recognized its truths generally (as his extirpation of idolatry already implied), but now he and they are brought into immediate contact, as it were, with Moses himself, through the original temple copy. His tenderness of heart (conscience) and his humbling himself before God with tears and rent garments brought God's promise through Huldah that he should be "gathered to his grave in peace," and "should not see the evil God was about to bring on" Jerusalem. It is true he fell in battle; but his remains were (and were the last) buried in his fathers' sepulchres "in peace," before seeing the enemy overthrow his capital (compare Jer_34:5; Isa_57:1-2). "Because thou humblest thyself when thou heardest what I spake ... I also have heard thee." God is toward men what they are toward Him (Psa_18:25-26).

In this same year, the 26th of his age, the 18th of his reign, Josiah and his people entered into a covenant to keep the law of Jehovah with all their heart and all their soul (2Ki_23:3; 2Ch_34:31-33). His only fault was his supposition that by frustrating Necho's expedition to the Euphrates against Assyria he might avert God's predicted judgment on Judah. He scarcely realized the depth of Israel's apostasy, and hoped his reformation would enlist God's cooperation against the Egyptians. Nineveh was falling, if not already fallen. The Syrian princes, those independent as Josiah as well as Assyria's vassals, hoped now to be free from every foreign yoke; it was therefore necessary now to check the Egyptian, for though Necho was not marching against Judah but against Carchemish by Euphrates, Josiah knew that if once the Egyptians gained Coelosyria his independence would be gone.

Necho appealed in vain to Josiah to leave him alone, as it was "against the house of his war" (his hereditary enemy) that he was marching, and that God commanded him, so that if Josiah interfered he would be "meddling with God." He thought the reference to God would have weight with Josiah. Of course Pharaoh's view of the Godhead was distinct from Josiah's. Josiah forgot his ancestor Solomon's inspired counsel (Pro_17:14; Pro_26:17). Josiah's reformation had not removed the deep seated evil (as Jeremiah and Zephaniah testify), so that the deceased Manasseh's sin, acting still far and wide though hiddenly now, awaited God's fierce anger on Jerusalem, as he was warned by God through Huldah (2Ki_22:16-20). Hence Josiah was permitted, not without culpability on his part, to meddle in the ungodly world's wars, and so to fall, and with himself to withdraw the last godly ruler from the people henceforth given over to punishment (2Ki_23:25-30).

Necho came by sea to Palestine, landing at Accho. If he had come by Philistia Josiah would have met him there, and not allowed him to advance to Megiddo. There, in the great battle field of Palestine, Esdraelon plain, Necho, when they met face to face, slew him. Josiah was carried wounded from Hadadrimmon to die before be reached Jerusalem. He was buried with every honour, and Jeremiah composed a dirge, annually chanted at Hadadrimmon (not the "Lamentations" over Jerusalem after its fall). Compare Jer_22:10 "weep not for the dead, neither bemoan him" (namely, Josiah slain at Megiddo or Magdolum in Herodotus); he is at peace. The church, while potent in the world for God, must not descend to the world's level and use the world's weapons for even a good end. Her controversy must first be with herself so long as corruption is in her, and then she must yield herself to God to be wielded by Him in the world for His glory.

Antichrist superseding spiritual Babylon appropriately falls at Armageddon, i.e. the hill of Megiddo, the scene of godly Josiah's fall through descending to the world's carnal strifes as Babylon's ally (Rev_16:14-18); the Jews' future mourning for Him whom they pierced, before God's interposition against all nations confederate against Jerusalem, answers to their mourning for Josiah at Megiddo (Zec_12:10-11). Josiah's greatness harmonizes with the parallel decline and fall of Assyria. Josiah exercised a sovereignty over Samaria and Galilee (2Ch_34:6), besides Judah. In 633 B.C. the Medes attacked Nineveh. Then the Scythians (from whom Bethshan got its Greek name Scythopolis) desolated western Asia. Then Egypt cast off the Assyrian yoke, and Psammetik I attacked southern Syria. Finally, in 626 or 624 B.C., the Medes, Babylonians, and Susianians destroyed Nineveh and divided the empire.This gave Josiah the opportunity to free Judah from the Assyrian yoke which his grandfather had borne, and to enlarge his kingdom. (See for further illustrations of the Scripture harmony with secular history, NECHO.)

2. Josiah, son of Zephaniah cheen ("grace") (Zec_6:9; Zec_6:15). At his house in Jerusalem the three from Babylon were guests, from whom Zechariah by God's command took silver and gold to make crowns for the high priest Joshua's head.


Taken from: Fausset's Bible Dictionary by Andrew Robert Fausset (1821-1910)