Josiah’s Prophets

The fruit of a righteous king was prophets and young people who stood for God at a time when not standing for Him would have been comfortable.  Female, male, young, old, with hateful country men, or with pagan kings these voices for God carried a common theme and spoke of things in the future.  They stayed true and spoke when it was not easy.

  • Huldah is the wife of the wardrobe keeper (Temple garments for the priest). That would make them both Levites.  She was sought out after Josiah was read the Law and he realized just how much his father and grandfather had sinned.  Her word in 2 Chronicles 34: 22 – 28 is good for Josiah, but God has no intention of letting up on Judah.  She tells of the destruction to come, the theme found in all of these prophets of God.
  • Jeremiah to me is special. He endured four evil kings, his own family doing him harm, the people rejecting his words from God, seeing the prophesies fulfilled, and finally to die in Egypt where he did not want to be.  As a young man God gave him a huge task, to test His people (6: 27 – 30).  Parts of Jeremiah are out of order, but I would think that his work during Josiah’s reign are from chapter 1 to 9/10.
  • Zephaniah – Chapter 1:1 clearly states the time of his ministry; 3:18 may indicate that he was serving before and during the eighteenth year of Josiah (it refers to “sorrows for the feast”). He may have influenced both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, but the Lord definitely spoke the same words through him that He spoke through Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
  • Ezekiel is best known for the visions he received about the new Temple and the new Jerusalem. Chapter 1:1 gives his age and verse two timestamps him starting his ministry in Jehoiachin’s fifth year of exile.  His location is north of the city of Babylon by the Kebar River/Canal.
  • Daniel started his role of prophet in Babylon during the reign of Jehoiakim, but he would have been influenced by Josiah and the feast during the thirteen years the Passover was observed. Being a royal he may have also known Jeremiah, and had that influence as well. It could be possible that he met Ezekiel, but it is doubtful. Daniel’s locations are south of the one for Ezekiel.  Babylon, Susa, Ulai Canal, and the Tigris River are some of the locations mentioned in the Book of Daniel; it is noteworthy that two of his visions came when he was beside a river.  This custom survived into Paul’s time as seen in Acts 16: 13 when he found Lydia in Philippi.
  • Uriah (Jeremiah 26: 20 – 23) Actually, he is mentioned with King Jehoiakim but let’s put the start of his ministry during the time of Josiah. (The reasoning here is time, Jehoiakim was king for eleven years, so he should have been older than that!) He prophesied against Jerusalem, and was hunted down and killed by Jehoiakim. This passage does give a look at Jehoiakim and some of his poor conduct.
  • There are several false prophets listed in Jeremiah, but like Uriah we don’t know when they started. They are mentioned in the time period of Zedekiah. Both Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zephaniah have sections about false prophets: Jeremiah 23: 33, Ezekiel 13, Zephaniah 3: 4.

The Chronological Bible puts Habakkuk during Josiah’s reign.  That is as good as any place but he could have been with Isaiah and Micah.

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Josiah By His Numbers

I like 2 Chronicles 34 + 35 for Josiah’s life story, 2 Kings 22 is the other reference about his life.  They are basically the same but they were written for different audiences.

I have done several posts about numbers, so I will refer to them.  The numbers do highlight the prophetic nature of Josiah’s life.

Josiah’s Children

Josiah’s sons and grandsons (the last kings of Israel before the Exile) are integral parts of the story that lead to the judgement of Jerusalem.  They are mentioned in several books including 2 Kings, 1 + 2 Chronicles, Jeremiah, and time stamps put them in Daniel, Esther, and Ezekiel. There is an interesting 3 months/11 year cycle that is mentioned (twice) with these men concerning their times as rulers! (another study) Actually, to fully understand these men, you should read Jeremiah along with Kings and Chronicles.

Johanan – 1 Chronicles 3: 15 states the he was Josiah’s firstborn.  He is not mentioned anywhere else and an active imagination could go a long way with thinking about him.  Did he die with his father in the battle with Neco?  Was he righteous and the people did not want him so they choose Jehoahaz?

Jehoahaz/Shallum – When Josiah died the people made Jehoahaz king; this makes me wonder why?  A guess would be that Josiah had not prepared for his death or a new king.  It never says that they sought God as who the next king should have been, so it makes you wonder how and why “the people” could do this.  At twenty-three he was not the oldest of the sons, in fact he may have been the fourth oldest son.  Josiah was sixteen when he fathered Jehoahaz.

Jehoahaz ignored the righteous work his father had done and went back to the practices of Amon and Manasseh.  This may have included sacrificing children and the return to other gods.  He lasted three months when Pharaoh Neco came in and took him to Egypt where he died.

Jehoiakim –  Pharaoh was in charge of Israel, again!  In reality Israel was once again “slaves” of Egypt.  Neco showed his power by removing the king of “the people” and putting in one of his choosing.  In another show of power Neco changes the king’s name; Eliakim (God establishes) was changed to Jehoiakim (Yahweh lifts up or establishes).  This is also the name that is in 1 Chronicles 3: 15 that identifies him as the second born son of Josiah (Jehoahaz is not even mentioned instead he is called Shallum). (Name changes are a big deal in the Bible.)

He ruled eleven years and then died; he was thirty-six when he died.  He had fathered Jehoiachin at eighteen.  In 2 Kings 24 it explains some of his deeds were still due to the acts of Manasseh, and the judgement that had been pronounced.

Jehoiachin – His name means “Yahweh supports” and it shows.  His rule started when he was eighteen and it lasted three months.  He was taken to Babylon and stayed in prison until he was fifty-five years old.  The reason he is so important, he is the grandfather of Zerubbabel. Kings and Chronicles don’t give much about him, so read Jeremiah 22:24 – 30.  Then temper this with Haggai 2: 23.

A signet ring lost and then restored.  Jeremiah 23 then talks about The Branch and this theme is repeated in Zechariah 3:8 (which is in the time frame of Haggai).  Jeremiah 24 completes the Lord’s thought about him and the other exiles.  If you only read Jeremiah 22 it is easy to get the impression that God “hates” Jehoiachin; actually, God did him a favor by bringing them out of Jerusalem.  (A side note here is that Zedekiah was also in prison with Jehoiachin but it never mentions Zedekiah receiving favor and being freed. Also, the names in 1 Chronicles are the “changed” names!  It seems everyone bought into the changes.)

Zedekiah – As Josiah’s youngest child (1 Chronicles 3: 15) he would have been born when Josiah was eighteen and was not much older than his nephew, Jehoiachin.  Jeremiah tells Zedekiah’s story, he is mention frequently starting in the 21st chapter until the end of the book.  (be careful there are other Zedekiah’s mentioned) He is the embodiment of the spiritual attitude of Judah at that time; at times he is seeking God, then he burns Jeremiah’s scrolls, sometimes protecting Jeremiah, and then ready to give him to up to be abused.

His reign as king mirrors his spiritual life.  He accepts Babylon, he rejects Babylon and tries to come under Egypt; he just makes bad decisions.  So, he lasted eleven years and came to a bad end.  He had to watch his family die, and then his eyes were blinded.

Josiah’s Generation

King Josiah was the last righteous king of Judah before the fall of Jerusalem.  He was an important historical figure because of his devotion to God, and I think he sets several examples for this generation that we better pay attention too.  A look at the kings (his father and grandfathers) that came before him will be a good introduction into him.  The second post will be his heirs and the major ministry he fostered as king.

HezekiahHezekiah was a great king who is associated with the prophet Isaiah.  He saw and did many great things: rid the country of idols, cleansed the Temple, celebrated Passover, was saved from a dangerous enemy, and was healed of a serious disease.  2 Chronicles 32: 31 records that these great things were used to test his heart; he did not do well!  At age forty-two he had a son, Manasseh, who became king at the age of twelve.

Manasseh – Manasseh was the worst!  After thinking about his “sins” they must have included the wholesale sacrificing of infants.  2 Kings 24 states that the “Lord was not willing to forgive” his transgressions.  (2 Kings and 2 Chronicles have slightly different stories; they were written by different people for different audiences, but probably from the same written records.).

2 Chronicles 33:12 has the story of extreme distress on the part of Manasseh and how he sought God for forgiveness and restoration.  God did restore him to Jerusalem and his kingship.  I see this as a testament of God’s faithfulness and mercy (to David).  It might be easy to blur lines and concepts here on how God deals with things, but I see a God who is treating a person with a level of kindness while still not accepting the evil done in his life.

Even with Manasseh forsaking God and leading the people into sin, he had learned and remembered the example of his father, Hezekiah.  It is a shame that it took a physical hook in the nose to get his attention.

Amon – This guy did not get the “memo” at all!  It is probable that Amon saw the events of his father’s captivity and restoration and just ignored the lesson.  Amon was twenty-two when he started ruling; he was born to Manasseh when he was forty-five years old so you would think he would have learned something.

There was a disturbing shift here that is seen with the rest of the kings before the fall of Jerusalem.  The kings started ruling early in life and had children very young.  Amon fathered Josiah at sixteen.  Yes, I know factors were different then but still these children were “growing up” very early.

It is possible that Josiah knew the “reformed Manasseh” and possible learned the lesson that Amon choose to ignore.

The Number Eighteen in The Bible

The study of the number eighteen has proven to be more than I expected!  There are many thoughts about this number, most are very surprising. I feel that eighteen compares with thirteen when it comes to alternate and veiled meanings. Some Jews view it as a very lucky number, while Nazis use it to commemorate Hitler; there are many other opinions held about this number.

When things are studied in the Bible the first use of the word is often important and lends a shadow to the use of the word from then on.  Many times, I feel that is very cut and dry when it comes to the meaning(s) of the word.  Eighteen is one of those words.  The first two times eighteen is used is in Judges and both of these verse deal with the length of time that a foreign king oppressed the Children of Israel.  Many sources will tell you that eighteen is the number of bondage in the Bible. That is a limited scope of the number; as I reflected on Judges 3:14, 10:8 and Luke 13:11 and 16, I could see this as the length of time that they were held in bondage, but it is also when they were set free from the bondage. So, to start this study I will start with an example of eighteen that shows another side of the word.

Solomon’s Pillars

When Solomon built the first Temple he commissioned two pillars to adorn the front entrance.  The first reference to these huge bronze structures is in 1 Chronicles 27:9; this does not talk about the pillars but the bronze that would have made its way into them, eighteen thousand talents given by the leaders of the people.  1 Kings 7:15 is the description of these two pillars when they were made.  The final reference to these pillars is found in Jeremiah 52:21 when they were taken apart and looted by the Babylonians.

Between these two references we get an impressive amount of information about these two eighteen cubit high guardians of the Temple.  Solomon even named them, the one to the south was Jakin (he establishes), the other one on the north side was Boaz (in him is strength).  Imagine the events and history that took place around them and the impression that they had on the worshippers that attended the Temple.

These “eighteen” references to the pillars do not deal with bondage but with the idea of the components of the words that make-up eighteen.  Eight is “more” than the perfect of seven and the “teen” part refers to ten which in part is related to “tithe.” (See Ten in the Bible.)  Strong’s/Vines paints the idea of “plumpness” or beyond enough that is God’s.

Meaning of Eighteen

Jews may hold eighteen as a lucky number; the reason is the numerical value of the two words that make up eighteen: chet and yod, these two together spell the word chai or life http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/judaism-numbers/

Josiah’s Eighteenth Year

2 Kings 22: 3 + 23: 23 and 2 Chronicles 34 + 35

Josiah was the last king to do right in the ways of God before Jerusalem was exiled.  His father and son did not follow God.  He came to the throne at eight years of age (children will rule over you), but set his heart on God.  Hilkiah, a forefather of Jeremiah, was the High Priest.  Josiah’s eighteenth year of reigning was busy because he had ordered the Temple cleaned and when it was purified he ordered Passover to be celebrated. This is another example of God’s fullness and the people being freed to worship and follow God. I don’t do this very often but “Josiah’s Generation” is the type and shadow for the last great revival before the end of this age comes.

Time Markers or God Sending a Message

Nebuchadnezzar’s Eighteenth Year

Jeremiah records two things that happened during Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year.  The first one is in Jeremiah 32:1 where God instructs Jeremiah to buy a field, as a sign that life would return to normal. Verse 26 starts the rest of the story; God tells Jeremiah that He has every intention to destroy Jerusalem and it will happen.  The second event is found in 52: 29, this is the number of people that were carried into exile that year; this follows the story of the destruction of the Temple and the pillars.  Nebuchadnezzar was God’s appointed instrument to free the land from the people so it could have its Sabbath rest.

The End of Bondage

Many study helps/websites declare that eighteen = bondage, I will say it again, it seems to me that it signals the end of bondage.  Judges 3:14 and 10: 8 both tell a story of the Israel messing up and being in bondage until eighteen years have passed when God appoints a Judge to free them.  Luke 13: 11 is the story of Jesus healing the woman on the Sabbath, to show the Pharisees that their thinking had the people bound.  Verse 4 also mentions eighteen people who died when a tower collapsed on them, just because they died that way did not make them sinners.  It seems by the text that people were passing judgement about these people because of the way that they died. (It is bad luck to be superstitious.)

David

2 Samuel 8.13 and 1 Chronicles 18.12 tell the story of David/his army defeating 18,000 Edomites.  A strange note in Samuel said he became famous after this victory even though the preceding twelve verses tell of much larger and very powerful enemies that fell to David. It would be a hard push to make a lot of this just because it has an eighteen in the verse.  But Edom was an enemy and it seems that there was some level of freedom associated with the victory. A more notable thing happened after this, David renewed his interest in Jonathan and found Mephibosheth at Lo Debar.

Benjamin and Israel

This story at the end of Judges (20: 25 and 44) is a tale that lets you know the Bible is real.  It does not show-off victories but shortcomings.  It’s eighteen “connection” is the 18,000 warriors that fell on both sides; the totals for the war were lopsided and more than just 18,000.  It would seem God had had enough, and the message to the nation was that neither side was right.  This “purging” seems to have brought about a revival and soul-searching in Israel.  This story is important in the life of King Saul and his acceptance in Israel.

Time Markers????

There are three “eighteens” that appear to be time markers for beginning of kings starting their reigns: Abijah in 1 Kings15.1 and 2 Chronicles 13:1; Jehoiachin in 2 Kings 24.8 and 2 Chronicles 36: 9; 3.1; Joram in 2 Kings 3: 1. Honestly, it took me several “does this have any meaning” sessions before I got this.  With Abijah and Joram it was not about them but the “other” king they interacted with.  Abijah defeated Jeroboam, the man who broke up the twelve tribes into two kingdoms and started serious sins in “his” ten tribes.  Joram got Jehoshaphat to go with him to fight Moab; it was a lesson for Jehoshaphat and Elisha.  Jehoiachin started ruling at eighteen and he was born when his father was eighteen years old.  The best I can give you in each of these stories is that a “fullness” in God’s timetable had occurred and a lesson was taught or something ended.

The other “eighteens” are just a number position of a person in a list and that King Rehoboam had that many wives, which may lend to a “plumpness or fullness” or that the man was a glutton.

God put and uses numbers to help teach truths!  Sorry, I just cannot associate them as “lucky, blessed, or cursed.”  Worship Jesus, not numbers!  Again, I will say the number eighteen is complex in its uses and associations; freedom from bondage, bondage, or a “fullness” occurring.  There many other “eighteens” that people have found in the Bible.  I think most of the will fit into one of these associations.