King Josiah's Rampage
Communism, like any other revealed
religion, is largely made up of prophecies.
- H. L. Mencken
The Bible is full of threats against infidels. But since there is not such thing as a God to inflict those punishments, the job naturally goes to the political leaders. As anyone who understands politicians, lying to further their ends is part of the game. Josiah was one such politician. This story gives a lie to claims that the Bible was revealed by God in the divine sense. The Bible was inspired for political reasons.
According to the bible's chronology, King Josiah ruled Judah for 31 years 639-608 BCE. In his eighteenth year, a Torah scroll was discovered while renovating the Jerusalem temple that Solomon had built. After he had its authenticity "corroborated" by a prophetess, he went on a rampage to destroy all traces of pagan worship to the point of killing the pagan priests. The events are told in 2 Kings 22:1-23:30 and 2 Chronicles 34:1-35:27.
Richard Elliot Friedman in Who Wrote the Bible, makes a strong case that the scrolls were actually written beforehand by one of Josiah's Jewish priests. They include Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings. According to Friedman, the writer selected stories and other texts available to him, then edited them into order and added some comments and introductions.
Friedman goes on to explain that another editor updated the history from Josiah to the fall of Judah in 587 BCE. He kept 95 percent of the first edition and added the last two chapters to the book of 2 Kings.
Scholars call this unknown writer "D" for the way he uses the Deuteronomy law code as a standard for judging fidelity to God. The discovery episode was a ruse to legitimize Josiah's religious reforms under one god. These are some of the clues Friedman mentions that point to Josiah.
1. The D writer has Moses put the law code by the side of the Ark of the Covenant. It was not an issue for 600 years until Josiah's priest finds it. This tactic, in my view, makes for a convenient excuse to explain the lost scrolls and how they could have been updated since the time of Moses.
2425 26 (Deut. 31:24-26)
2. To justify Josiah's outlawing of pagan worship, one of the first commandments in the Deuteronomy law code is to sacrifice to God in one place. This was unprecedented in the earlier history. I.e., the earlier kings and prophets demonstrated no knowledge of it.
56 (Deut. 12:5-6)
3. He went as far as writing in a prophecy aimed at justifying Josiah's so-called reforms. In the passage below a man of God predicts the birth of Josiah who will kill the priests of the high places. The prophecy supposedly took place three hundred years before Josiah.
12 3 (1 Kings 13:1-3)
4. A give away to when the earlier text was written appears in the verse below which describes the poles used to carry the ark with the phrase "to this day." Friedman counts nine such phrases. Certainly it had to be written before the temple was destroyed.
8(1 Kings 8:8)
5. The "D" writer wrote the laws of Deuteronomy and used them as a standard for rating the kings of Israel and Judah as bad or good. Josiah got a top rating.
2(2 Kings 22:2)
6. He went as far as saying there was no king like him, which would even rate him above David.
25(2 Kings 23:25)
Besides the similarity of the language, it is the sum of prophecy and praises that point to Josiah.
The Ark of the Covenant complete with the two tables of stone found their final resting place in the inner sanctuary of Solomon's temple. This was about 350 years before Josiah was born.
56 7 8 9 (1 Kings 8:5-9)
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign. In the eighth year of his reign he began to seek the God of David. By the twelfth year of his reign he began purging Judah and Jerusalem of foreign god worship. He destroyed the high places, the Asherim, the graven and molten images, the incense altars and the altars of the Baals. Especially, he burned the bones of the priests on their altars.
12 3 4 5 6 7 (2 Chron. 34:1-7)
In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent Shaphan, his temple secretary, to Hilkiah the high priest to make sure that the temple workers are properly paid from collections. At that meeting, Hilkiah told Shaphan about his discovery. He had found the law in the temple. Shaphan brought the law to Josiah and read it to him.
810 (2 Kings 22: 8, 10)
When the king heard the words, he tore his clothes and commanded Shaphan and others to enquire about the words of this book. He was greatly concerned that his people have kindled the wrath of the Lord for not obeying it.
1112 13 (2 Kings 22:11-13)
So Josiah's officers went to Huldah the prophetess. She told them to tell Josiah that the Lord will bring evil upon this place and its inhabitants, because they have forsaken him by worshipping other gods.
1516 17 (2 Kings 22:15-17)
Tell Josiah that because he was penitent and humbled himself before the Lord, he shall go to his grave in peace and will not see the evil the Lord will bring upon this place. -According to 2 Kings 23:29-30 and 2 Chron. 35:23-24, he died a violent death.
1819 20 (2 Kings 22:18-20)
Josiah gathered the people of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the temple and read the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the temple. He vowed to keep Yahweh's commandments, testimonies and statues with all his heart and soul.
12 3 (2 Kings 23:1-3)
Josiah's rampage to centralize worship
He commanded his priests to clean the temple of vessels made for Baal, Asherah and the Host of Heaven, and burn them outside Jerusalem.
4(2 Kings 23:4)
He disposed of idolatrous priests. -A euphemism for killed.
5(2 Kings 23:5)
He brought the Asherah out of the temple and burned it to ashes. Then he cast the ashes upon the graves of the common people.
6(2 Kings 23:6)
He broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes.
7(2 Kings 23:7)
He evacuated the priests out of the cities of Judah and defiled the high places where they burned incense.
8(2 Kings 23:8)
The priests of the high places stayed away from the altar of Yahweh in Jerusalem.
9(2 Kings 23:9)
He defiled Topheth so no one might burn his son or daughter to Molech.
10(2 Kings 23:10)
He removed the horses that previous kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, and he burned the chariots of the sun.
11(2 Kings 23:11)
He destroyed the altars that King Ahaz and King Manasseh had made.
12(2 Kings 23:12)
He defiled the high places that King Solomon had made.
13(2 Kings 23:13)
He broke the pillars in pieces and cut down the Asherim, and filled their places with the bones of men. -From graves?
14(2 Kings 23:14)
He destroyed the altar at Bethel that Jeroboam had built. -Jeroboam was the first king of the divided Israel.
15(2 Kings 23:15)
He took the bones from the tombs on the mount and burned them upon altar, and defiled it.
16(2 Kings 23:16)
There was a monument by the grave of a prophet from Samaria who predicted what he would do at the altar of Bethel. He ordered that his bones not be moved.
1718 (2 Kings 23:17-18)
He removed the shrines and high places in the cities of Samaria which the kings of Israel had made.
19(2 Kings 23:19)
And he killed the priests of the high places who where there, upon their altars, and burned the bones of men upon them.
20(2 Kings 23:20)
He ordered that the Passover be instituted for the first time since it was abandoned in the days of the Judges.
2122 (2 Kings 23:21-22)
He put away the mediums and the wizards and the teraphim and the idols. -Meaning he killed them.
24(2 Kings 23:24)
Despite Josiah's reforms, God's anger did not turn from the fierceness of his wrath because of the provocations by his grandfather Manasseh.
26(2 Kings 23:26)
God promised to remove Judah as he had Israel.
27(2 Kings 23:27)
As a result, Josiah was slain 13 years after his reforms by Pharaoh Neco at Megiddo.
2930 (2 Kings 23:29-30)
Or did he die in Jerusalem?
23Chron. 35:23-24)24 (2
Huldah the prophetess falsely predicted he would die in peace.
20(2 Kings 22:20)
The irony is that after Josiah died, the Hebrews went back to pagan worship.
32(2 Kings 23:32)