2 Kings chapter 23

King Josiah eradicates idolatry. Josiah restores the Passover. Jehoahaz becomes king of Judah. Jehoiakim becomes king of Judah.





VERSE 1. The king sent, and they gathered to him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.


VERSE 2. The king went up to the LORD’s house, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him—with the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the LORD’s house.

he read in their hearing. King Josiah gathers the nation’s leaders in the temple. He reads to them the Pentateuch.

It’s great to read the Scriptures. And it is very powerful to hear the Scriptures read to you.


VERSE 3. The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments, his testimonies, and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to confirm the words of this covenant that were written in this book; and all the people agreed to the covenant.

all the people agreed to the covenant. Josiah does not ask them for a commitment right away.

Instead, he first lays the groundwork. Josiah read the entire Scriptures to them. This fans the fire of faith within them.

Then Josiah asks them for a commitment to the LORD God.


VERSE 4. The king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the threshold, to bring out of the LORD’s temple all the vessels that were made for Baal, for the Asherah, and for all the army of the sky; and he burned them outside of Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel.

bring out of the LORD’s temple. Josiah has the temple exorcised.

he burned them. If they removed the artifacts from the temple and stored them somewhere, there was a risk. It was that somebody would steal them and use them.

Burning them was the only way to be sure.


VERSE 5. He got rid of the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah and in the places around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the planets, and to all the army of the sky.

He got rid of the idolatrous priests. What does this mean?

  • He fired them?
  • He deported them?
  • He killed them?


VERSE 6. He brought out the Asherah from the LORD’s house, outside of Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and beat it to dust, and cast its dust on the graves of the common people.

beat it to dust. Burning it wasn’t enough. It also had to be pounded into oblivion.

cast its dust on the graves. Even the ashes had to be obfuscated. Josiah scattered them in such a way that they could not be recovered.


VERSE 7. He broke down the houses of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the LORD’s house, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah.

the male shrine prostitutes. These were sacred prostitutes in the Canaanite religion. Their sexual activity was performed in the context of religious worship as a fertility rite.


VERSE 8. He brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba; and he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city.

defiled the high places. Finally! A king actually does away with the high places.


VERSE 9. Nevertheless the priests of the high places didn’t come up to the LORD’s altar in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brothers.

the priests of the high places. These priests had done forbidden rites in the high places. Josiah offers them amnesty. But they refuse.

Later, in verse 20, Josiah kills them.


VERSE 10. He defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.

He defiled Topheth. Josiah does away with human sacrifice.

Now nobody can offer their child to be murdered as a human sacrifice to Molech.


VERSE 11. He took away the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance of the LORD’s house, by the room of Nathan Melech the officer who was in the court; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire.


VERSE 12. The king broke down the altars that were on the roof of the upper room of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the LORD’s house, and beat them down from there, and cast their dust into the brook Kidron.

beat them down. Presumably he burned them. If so, burning wasn’t enough. They also had to be pounded into oblivion.


VERSE 13. The king defiled the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mountain of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon.

Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth. These centers of idolatry are ancient. This one was established by king Solomon.

Many people naively assume Solomon was a great king. That is because the Bible says he was the wisest person alive.

However, Solomon did evil things. He owned many slaves. And he instituted the worship of Ashtoreth, which led the nation astray. He didn’t even keep Passover.

It was idolatry and child sacrifice which caused the destruction of the nation.


VERSE 14. He broke in pieces the pillars, cut down the Asherah poles, and filled their places with men’s bones.


VERSE 15. Moreover the altar that was at Bethel and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he broke down; and he burned the high place and beat it to dust, and burned the Asherah.


VERSE 16. As Josiah turned himself, he spied the tombs that were there in the mountain; and he sent, and took the bones out of the tombs, and burned them on the altar, and defiled it, according to the LORD’s word which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these things.

This exact act had been prophesied 290 years earlier:

1 Kings 13:2. He cried against the altar by the LORD’s word, and said, “Altar! Altar! the LORD says: ‘Behold, a son will be born to David’s house, Josiah by name. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and they will burn men’s bones on you.’ ”


VERSE 17. Then he said, “What monument is that which I see?” The men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things that you have done against the altar of Bethel.”

the tomb of the man of God. This is the tomb of the prophet who, 290 years earlier, had prophesied Josiah’s exact name and action (see verse 16 above).


VERSE 18. He said, “Let him be! Let no one move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria.


VERSE 19. All the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the LORD to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel.


VERSE 20. He killed all the priests of the high places that were there, on the altars, and burned men’s bones on them; and he returned to Jerusalem.

he returned to Jerusalem. The nation’s idolatry is ancient. It traces all the way back to Solomon.

And now, Josiah has eradicated idolatry from the nation.

This is a monumental achievement. No other king ever did such a thing.

For this reason, Josiah might be the greatest of all the kings.




VERSE 21. The king commanded all the people, saying, “Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this book of the covenant.”

Keep the Passover. This command comes from king Josiah.


VERSE 22. Surely there was not kept such a Passover from the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah;

Surely there was not kept such a Passover. None of the kings kept Passover. Even David didn’t keep Passover. Nor did Solomon.


VERSE 23. but in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, this Passover was kept to the LORD in Jerusalem.

This is an amazing accomplishment!


VERSE 24. Moreover, Josiah removed those who had familiar spirits, the wizards, and the teraphim, and the idols, and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might confirm the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the LORD’s house.

the teraphim. These were household idols.


VERSE 25. There was no king like him before him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Torah of Moses; and there was none like him who arose after him.

There was no king like him before him. Among the kings of Judah, Josiah is truly unique.

according to all the Torah. The spiritual conversion of king Josiah was triggered by the Bible.

Hilkiah the priest read the Bible to Josiah. And Josiah was led to a profound conversion of heart.

The Scriptures are key. As we Christians reach out to other people, we need to use the Scriptures.


VERSE 26. Notwithstanding, the LORD didn’t turn from the fierceness of his great wrath, with which his anger burned against Judah, because of all the provocation with which Manasseh had provoked him.


VERSE 27. The LORD said, “I will also remove Judah out of my sight, as I have removed Israel; and I will cast off this city which I have chosen, even Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, ‘My name shall be there.’ ”


VERSE 28. Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, aren’t they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?


VERSE 29. In his days Pharaoh Necoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates; and king Josiah went against him, but Pharaoh Necoh killed him at Megiddo when he saw him.

Pharaoh Necoh king of Egypt. Pharaoh Neco II reigned from 610 to 595 BC.

Pharaoh Necoh killed him. Josiah died in battle.


VERSE 30. His servants carried him dead in a chariot from Megiddo, brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own tomb. The people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father’s place.




VERSE 31. Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.

Jehoahaz. Josiah had four sons. Jehoahaz was the middle son, age-wise. The people chose him to succeed Josiah.


VERSE 32. He did that which was evil in the LORD’s sight, according to all that his fathers had done.

He did that which was evil. Jehoahaz is yet another evil king in a very long line of evil kings.

Jehoahaz was raised by the magnificent Josiah. And he witnessed his father’s righteous reign all his life. But as soon as he becomes king, Jehoahaz does evil.


VERSE 33. Pharaoh Necoh put him in bonds at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and put the land to a tribute of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.

a tribute. That is, a tax. It is a payment so you will not be attacked.

talents. A talent is about 30 kilograms or 66 pounds.

The nation has to pay a tax of 66 pounds of gold per year. That is a very heavy tax.




VERSE 34. Pharaoh Necoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim; but he took Jehoahaz away, and he came to Egypt and died there.

Eliakim the son of Josiah. He is the elder brother of Jehoahaz.


VERSE 35. Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, from everyone according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Necoh.


VERSE 36. Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.


VERSE 37. He did that which was evil in the LORD’s sight, according to all that his fathers had done.

He did that which was evil. He is yet another evil king in a very long line of evil kings.


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.