The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Fourth Book of Kings
When they brought the king his answer, he summoned all the elders of Juda and of Jerusalem;
then he went up into the Lord’s temple, and all the warriors of Juda bore him company, and all the citizens of Jerusalem, priest and prophet, high and low. There, in their hearing, he read out the terms of the law from the book they had found in the Lord’s house.
And the king, standing on the dais, made a promise, there in the Lord’s presence. They would make the Lord their leader, holding fast by command and decree and observance of his, heart and soul, with fresh loyalty to all the terms of the covenant which this book set on record. To that promise, the whole people gave its assent.
Then the king bade the high priest Helcias, and the priests of lesser rank, and the door-keepers, cast out from the Lord’s temple all the appurtenances of worship that belonged to Baal and to the sacred tree and to all the host of heaven; these he burned in the valley of Cedron, and carried the ashes of them away to Bethel.
All round Jerusalem, and all over Juda, he disbanded the priests whom the kings of Juda had appointed for the hill-shrines; priests, too, that burned incense to Baal, and sun, and moon, and the twelve stars, and all the host of heaven.
The sacred tree must be carried away from the temple, away from Jerusalem, to Cedron valley, where they burned it to ashes, that were scattered over the common burying-ground.
He destroyed the rooms in the Lord’s house which had belonged to the prostitutes, and were now used by the women that wove curtains for the sacred tree.
He brought the priests together from all the cities of Juda, and defiled the hill-shrines where they used to sacrifice, all the way from Gabaa to Bersabee; pulled down, too, the wayside altars at the approach to the gate of Josue, the city governor, to the left of the main gate.
As for these priests of the hill-shrines, they were not allowed to minister at the Lord’s altar at Jerusalem, but they shared the eating of the unleavened bread with their brother-priests.
Tophet, in the valley of Ben-Ennom, he desecrated utterly, so that there might be no more devoting sons and daughters by fire to Moloch;
and he rid the temple of those horses, sacred to the sun, which earlier kings had stabled at the entrance, by the hall of the chamberlain Nathan-Melech; the chariots of the sun he burned to ashes.
There were altars, too, that had been set up by royal command on the roof of Achaz’s dining-parlour; altars Manasses had built in the two outer courts of the temple; these Josias beat into dust, and made short work of it in the valley of Cedron.✻
He also desecrated the hill-shrines Solomon had made at Jerusalem itself, on the right hand side of the Hill of Shame, for Astaroth, the foul divinity of Sidon, and Chamos, that was Moab’s, and Melchom, that was Ammon’s;
he broke their images, and cut down the sacred trees, and filled up the ruins with the bones of dead men.
In Bethel, too, there was an altar and a hill-shrine, the work of Jeroboam, son of Nabat, that taught Israel to sin; altar and shrine both Josias overthrew and burned and pounded to dust, setting fire at the same time to the sacred trees.
And when he looked about him; and saw the hill-side covered with graves, he had bones fetched from these and burned them on the altar, just as the prophet had threatened in the Lord’s name when he foretold all this.
And now, seeing an inscription, he asked what this was; Why, the men of Bethel answered, it is the tomb of the prophet who came from Juda, and foretold how thou wouldst profane the altar here.
Let him alone, then, said Josias; no one must touch these bones; so they rested on undisturbed, and with them the bones of that other prophet, that was Israelite born.✻
All the hill-shrines in the cities that once belonged to Samaria, raised by kings of Israel in the Lord’s despite, Josias abolished, treating them as he had treated the shrine at Bethel;
and the priests that served these altars he put to death, one and all. Then, having profaned the altars by burning men’s bones on them, he returned to Jerusalem.
And now he bade all his subjects keep paschal holiday in honour of the Lord their God, with all the rites prescribed by the covenant which the book recorded.
Many a judge had ruled, many a king had reigned in Israel and Juda, but never was pasch kept
like that pasch Jerusalem kept in the Lord’s honour, in the eighteenth year of Josias.
Gone were the familiar spirits, the diviners, the images, gone were all the foul abominations of Juda and Jerusalem; Josias swept them all away; since Helcias had found the book in the Lord’s temple he had no thought but to carry out the law’s prescriptions in full.
Never was there such a king as this; none before or after him came back to the Lord’s allegiance, heart and soul and strength, as he did, with the law of Moses to guide him.
Yet the Lord would not relent, so deep his indignation, so pitiless his anger against the men of Juda, after all Manasses’ defiance of him;
he was determined to banish Juda, no less than Israel, from his presence; to forsake his chosen city, Jerusalem, and the house in which he had promised to make a shrine for his name.
What else Josias did, all his history, is to be found in the Annals of the kings of Juda.
It was in his time that Pharao-Nechao, king of Egypt, marched against the king of Assyria, all the way to the river Euphrates; and Josias, going out to offer resistance, encountered him at Mageddo and met his death there.
From Mageddo, his servants carried his body back to Jerusalem, and buried it in the tomb he had made for himself; and now the people’s choice fell on his son Joachaz, who was anointed to succeed his father as king.
Joachaz was twenty-three years old when he came to the throne, and his reign at Jerusalem lasted but three months; his mother’s name was Amital, daughter of Jeremias of Lobna.
This Joachaz disobeyed the Lord’s will, after the fashion of his ancestors;
but he did not reign at Jerusalem long. Pharao-Nechao kept him imprisoned at Rebla, in the Emath country; meanwhile he levied a fine from Juda, a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold,
and put Josias’ son Eliacim on his father’s throne, changing his name to Joakim. Joachaz was carried off to Egypt, where he died.
The fine Pharao-Nechao had imposed was paid by Joakim, who levied a tax on the whole country; thus it was the citizens, each according to his means, that must satisfy Pharao-Nechao with gold and silver alike.
Joakim was twenty-five years old when he came to the throne, and his reign at Jerusalem lasted eleven years; his mother’s name was Zebida, daughter of Phadaia of Ruma.
He, too, disobeyed the Lord’s will, after the fashion of his ancestors.
The Holy Bible