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(JOSIAH- Hebrew for "Yahweh supports"; Septuagint 'Iosías).
A pious King of Juda (639-608 B.C.), who ascended the throne when he was only eight years of age. He was the son of Amon and the grandson of Manasses. His mother's name is given as Idida, the daughter of Hadaia [IV (II) Kings, xxii, 1]. Of the actual influences under which he grew up nothing is known for certain. His reign of thirty-one years is recorded in the parallel and slightly divergent asccounts of IV (II) Kings, xxii-xxiii, 30, and II Paralipomenon (Chronicles), xxxiv-xxxv. The following is a summary of Josias's public acts as they are set forth in the former of these accounts. In the eighteenth year of his rule, the Jewish king undertook to repair the Temple with the help of the high-priest Helcias. During the course of this work, Helcias found "the Book of the Law", and handed it to the royal scribe, Saphan, who read it to Josias. The threats made therein against the transgression of its contents frightened the monarch, who well knew how often these had been disobeyed in the past, and who sent to consult the prophetess Holda then living in Jerusalem. Holda declared that the threatened punishments would indeed take place, but only after Josias's death. Whereupon the king assembled the people, published the Law in their hearing, and they all united with Josias in a solemn vow of obedience to its commands. This was followed by a drastic reformation of worship not only in Juda and in Jerusalem, but also in Northern Israel, which was not strictly a part of Josias's kingdom, but in which the Jewish prince could easily intervene, owing probably to the feeble hold of Assyria at the time upon this distant portion of its territory. The work of reform was concluded by a magnificent celebration of the Pasch.
Of the thirteen years of Josias's reign which followed this important reformation, nothing is said in the narrative of the Fourth Book of Kings. We are simply told of the monarch's exceeding piety towards Yahweh and of his death on the battle-field of Mageddo, where he perished fighting against the Egyptian Pharaoh, Nechao II, who was then on his way to the Euphrates against the Assyrians. Whoever compares carefully and impartially with this first account of Josias's reign the second one given in II Par., xxxiv-xxxv, cannot help being struck with their wonderful substantial agreement. Both Biblical records agree perfectly as to the age of the king at his accession and as to the length of his reign. Like the narrative of Kings, that of Paralipomenon refers to the eighteenth year of Josias's rule the discovery of the "Book of the Law", relates the same circumstances as attending that event, speaks of a work of religious reform as carried out throughout all Israel on account of the contents of that book, and praises the magnificence of the solemn Pasch celebrated in harmony with its prescriptions. Like the narrative of Kings, too, that of Paralipomenon appreciates in the most favourable manner the king's character and describes his death on the battle-field of Mageddo when fighting against Nechao. In view of this it is plain that the differences, noticeable in their respective accounts of the reign of Josias by the authors of IV Kings and II Paralip., are only slight variations naturally accounted for by the somewhat different purposes which the two inspired. With regard to the exact extent and the Mosaic origin of the "Book of the Law", discovered under Josias, see .
For works on Biblical history, see bibliography to ISAAC. Recent Commentaries on Paralipomenon by: CLAIR* (Paris, 1880); OETTLI (Munich, 1889); BENNET (New York, ;1894); BARNES (Cambridge, 1899); NETELER* (Münster, 1899); BENZINGER (Freiburg, 1901); KITTEL (Göttingen, 1902). Names of Catholic authors are marked with an asterisk.
FRANCIS E. GIGOT