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2 Kings - Chapter 23

1 The king then had all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem summoned to him,

2 and the king went up to the Temple of Yahweh with all the people of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, priests, prophets and the whole populace, high and low. In their hearing he read out the entire contents of the Book of the Covenant discovered in the Temple of Yahweh.

3 The king then, standing on the dais, bound himself by the covenant before Yahweh, to follow Yahweh, to keep his commandments, decrees and laws with all his heart and soul, and to carry out the terms of the covenant as written in this book. All the people pledged their allegiance to the covenant.

4 The king ordered Hilkiah with the priest next in rank and the guardians of the threshold to remove all the cult objects which had been made for Baal, Asherah and the whole array of heaven; he burnt them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and had the ashes taken to Bethel.

5 He exterminated the spurious priests whom the kings of Judah had appointed and who offered sacrifice on the high places, in the towns of Judah and the neighbourhood of Jerusalem; also those who offered sacrifice to Baal, to the sun, the moon, the constellations and the whole array of heaven.

6 And from the Temple of Yahweh he took the sacred pole outside Jerusalem to the Kidron valley and in the Kidron valley he burnt it, reducing it to ashes and throwing its ashes on the common burial-ground.

7 He pulled down the house of the sacred male prostitutes which was in the Temple of Yahweh and where the women wove veils for Asherah.

8 He brought all the priests in from the towns of Judah, and from Geba to Beersheba he rendered unsanctified the high places where these priests had offered sacrifice. He pulled down the High Place of the Gates, which stood at the gate of Joshua, the governor of the city, to the left of the entry to the city.

9 The priests of the high places, however, did not officiate at the altar of Yahweh in Jerusalem, although they did share the unleavened bread of their brother-priests.

10 He rendered unsanctified Tophet in the Valley of Ben-Hinnom, so that no one could pass his son or daughter through the fire of sacrifice to Molech.

11 He destroyed the horses which the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun at the entrance to the Temple of Yahweh, near the apartment of Nathan-Melech the official, in the precincts, and he burned the solar chariot.

12 The king pulled down altars which the kings of Judah had built on the roof and those which Manasseh had built in the two courts of the Temple of Yahweh, and broke them to pieces on the spot, throwing their rubble into the Kidron valley.

13 The king rendered unsanctified the high places facing Jerusalem, to the south of the Mount of Olives, which Solomon king of Israel had built for Astarte the Sidonian abomination, for Chemosh the Moabite abomination, and for Milcom the Ammonite abomination.

14 He also smashed the sacred pillars, cut down the sacred poles, and covered with human bones the places where they had stood.

15 As for the altar which was at Bethel, the high place built by Jeroboam son of Nebat who had led Israel into sin, he demolished this altar and this high place as well, in the same way, breaking up its stones and reducing them to powder. The sacred pole he burned.

16 On looking round, Josiah saw the tombs there on the hillside; he had the bones fetched from the tombs and burned them on the altar. This he rendered unsanctified, in accordance with the word of Yahweh which the man of God had proclaimed when Jeroboam was standing by the altar at the time of the feast. On looking round, Josiah caught sight of the tomb of the man of God who had foretold these things.

17 'What is that monument I see?' he asked. The townspeople replied, 'It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and foretold what you have done to the altar.'

18 'Let him rest,' the king said, 'and let no one disturb his bones.' So they left his bones untouched, with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria.

19 Josiah also destroyed all the shrines on the high places which were in the towns of Samaria and which the kings of Israel had built to provoke Yahweh's anger; he treated these places exactly as he had treated the one at Bethel.

20 All the priests of the high places who were there he slaughtered on the altars, and on those altars burned human bones. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

21 The king gave this order to the whole people: 'Celebrate a Passover to Yahweh your God, as prescribed in this Book of the Covenant.'

22 No Passover like this had ever been celebrated since the days when the judges ruled Israel, nor throughout the entire period of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah.

23 The eighteenth year of King Josiah was the only time when such a Passover was celebrated in Yahweh's honour in Jerusalem.

24 What is more, the spirit-guides and mediums, the household gods and idols, and all the abominations to be seen in the country of Judah and in Jerusalem, were swept away by Josiah to give effect to the words of the Law written in the book found by the priest Hilkiah in the Temple of Yahweh.

25 No king before him turned to Yahweh as he did, with all his heart, all his soul, all his strength, in perfect loyalty to the Law of Moses; nor did any king like him arise again.

26 Yet Yahweh did not renounce the heat of his great anger which had been aroused against Judah by all the provocations which Manasseh had caused him.

27 Yahweh said, 'I shall thrust Judah away from me too, as I have already thrust Israel; I shall cast off Jerusalem, this city which I have chosen, and the Temple of which I have said: My Name shall be there.'

28 The rest of the history of Josiah, his entire career, is this not recorded in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah?

29 In his times, Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt was advancing to meet the king of Assyria at the River Euphrates, and King Josiah went to intercept him; but Necho killed him at Megiddo in the first encounter.

30 His retainers carried his body from Megiddo by chariot; they brought him to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. The people of the country then took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and anointed him, proclaiming him king in succession to his father.

31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he came to the throne, and he reigned for three months in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah, of Libnah.

32 He did what is displeasing to Yahweh, just as his ancestors had done.

33 Pharaoh Necho put him in chains at Riblah in Hamath, to prevent his reigning any longer in Jerusalem, and imposed a levy of a hundred talents of silver and ten talents of gold on the country.

34 Pharaoh Necho then made Eliakim son of Josiah king in succession to Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. Carrying off Jehoahaz, he took him to Egypt, where he died.

35 Jehoiakim paid over the silver and gold to Pharaoh, but first had to tax the people of the country before he could raise the sum which Pharaoh demanded: he levied the silver and gold to be paid over to Pharaoh Necho from each according to his means.

36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he came to the throne, and he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Zebidah daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.

37 He did what is displeasing to Yahweh, just as his ancestors had done.

Book of 2 Kings Chapters

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