Revival and Reform
Josiah's reign is most noted for the religious reform which he instituted. According to the account in Kings, the reform was sparked off by the discovery of a book of the law in the Temple in Jerusalem in his eighteenth year (2 Kgs. 22: 3–23: 23 ). A somewhat different impression is given in Chronicles; there it is suggested that the reform had begun earlier, and that the law book was discovered whilst repairs were being carried out in the Temple (2 Chr. 34: 1–18 ). The reform involved cleansing the Temple of all pagan accoutrements, the closure of other sites of pagan worship in Jerusalem, and the removal of priests from the towns of Judah and the defilement of their high places ‘from Geba to Beer‐sheba’ (2 Kgs. 23: 8 ). It is also claimed that his reforms extended to territories which had formerly belonged to the northern kingdom of Israel and which were perhaps in his control as a nominal vassal of Assyria. He destroyed the altar at Bethel (2 Kgs. 23: 15 ) and removed shrines from the towns of Samaria (2 Kgs. 23: 19–20; see also 2 Chr. 34: 6–7 ). But Josiah was killed in battle at Megiddo in 609, in an ill‐fated attempt to stop the advance northward of pharaoh Neco, who was apparently seeking to join forces with the retreating Assyrians at the Euphrates (2 Kgs. 23: 29 ). The pass at Megiddo would have been a natural place to attempt to intercept an army travelling north through the flat coastal plains along the ‘Way of the Sea’ but needing to follow the narrow valley through the hills.