King of Judah (640–609 BCE). His reign is described in 2 Kings 22.1–23.30 (=2 Chron. 34–35; see also Jer. 3.6; 22.11–16). He became king at the age of eight after the assassination of his father, Amon (2 Kings 21.24), and is hailed as the most faithful of Judah's kings (2 Kings 22.2; 23.25).

Because of the decline of the Assyrian empire, Josiah was able to promote the interests of Judah during his reign. He is praised by the biblical writers primarily for his religious reform, in which he sought to eliminate all non‐Yahwistic practices and sanctuaries in Judah. Although the reform may have begun several years earlier (see 2 Chron. 34.3–7), its major impetus was the discovery of “the book of the law” (thought to be the law code of Deuteronomy) in 621 (2 Kings 22.8–10). Some scholars also believe that an early edition of the books of Joshua–Kings (the Deuteronomic history) was compiled in conjunction with this reform to reinforce Josiah's measures (see 1 Kings 13.2).

In 609, Pharaoh Neco of Egypt marched through Judah on his way to Carchemish to fight alongside the Assyrians against Babylon. Josiah intercepted the Egyptians at Megiddo, where he was killed. His religious reform was abandoned after his death.

See also Kings, The Books of; Kingship and Monarchy

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Timothy M. Willis