- Age of Accountability
- Josiah's Reign
- Reading the Law
- Battles & Death
- References and Footnotes
- Other Pages to View
After Amon is killed, Josiah takes the throne at the tender age of 8 (only one year older than Joash when he took the throne). Josiah is another important king in terms of restoring Judah's relationship with God.
Age of Accountability
Can you imagine taking over an entire kingdom at the age of 8? When I was 8 I was barely aware that there were countries other than the US; I would have been a horrible leader. Most likely there were people to advise the young king, and of course, he would have been raised in preparation of taking on such a role. Still, I think its important to take note of the pattern when the young kings took the throne. It seems that child-kings were much more common in Judah, and that God protected the kingdom during their vulnerable years. Joash was raised in the Temple, so he set out following God from the beginning of his reign, but Josiah didn't begin his relationship with God until he had been king for 8 years. Yet, we don't see God become angry or punish the people for Josiah's negligence. We also don't read any negative commentary from the chronicler.
Clearly God did not expect Josiah to know any better at such a young age, which brings us to the topic of "the age of accountability." Most Christians believe that before a certain age, we are not accountable for our sins because we are too young to understand. Since this concept isn't explicitly stated in the Bible, there isn't a consensus of what this age is. Some believe the age is 20, since that's the age at which men began to be included into the number for the army. Others think it is around 12 or 13. Jesus was 12 when Joseph and Mary found Him studying at the Temple (Luke 2:39-52). Also, the Jewish bar and bat mitzvahs, which represent the age at which Jewish children are considered a part of the community and obligated to keep the law, take place at the ages of 13 and 12 respectively.
Personally, I do not believe there is a set age and I think Josiah lends to this idea. Josiah was still finding his footing, and God allowed this, despite Josiah being years over 13 when he began to lead the kingdom toward God. People develop at different rates, are introduced to God at different times, and may even have disabilities that affect their maturity level. Surely God takes all of this into consideration when determining whether a person is responsible for a sin or not.
Once Josiah begins to worship God, eight years into his reign, he brings the people of Judah back to God. At that time, Josiah purged Judah of false altars and idols his grandfather (Manasseh) had built. He even takes this campaign into the northern kingdom in attempt to remove idolatry from all of God's people. Josiah also has the priest make repairs to the Temple, at which point they find the Book of Law.
This is interesting because it leads to the questions of where the Ark of the Covenant was and how long the book had been missing. The law was supposed to be read each year for the people, but if it was lost, this was not occurring. Even the Israelite kingdom that was being led (on average) by God-fearing kings was failing to uphold the law. It's important to remember this when trying to understand why Jesus was needed.
Reading the Law
Many people would be afraid to read such a document; once he read it, he would be accountable and required to uphold that law. Nonetheless, Josiah is quick to have the law read to the people. After realizing how far the kingdom has strayed from God, he seeks counsel from a prophet.
We don't generally think of people as prophets today, but there are definitely people who are better at hearing God's voice than others. When we are having difficulty hearing God, we should seek out such people just as Josiah did. The prophet warns that there will definitely be consequences for Judah's sin, but also promises that due to Josiah's actions, that wrath would not come yet. God was pleased that Josiah had humbled himself before God and put Israel back on the right track, thus he would spare him from judgment. God is merciful; He doesn't punish those who don't deserve it. At the time God was informing the prophet that Judah's punishment would not fall on Josiah, He knew Israel would return to idolatry, thus He knew there would be a group of more sinful Israelites at a later time and they would be more deserving of the punishment.
As part of Josiah's push to turn the Israelites back to God, he hosts the most festive and remarkable Passover in the history of the kings of Israel. He follows the commandments to the letter and provides sacrificial animals for the those too poor to provide their own. Josiah reestablishes the roles of the Levites for the Temple, which had been instituted by David, including the music for worship service. When addressing the crowd, Josiah mentions the ark, which implies that the ark was still present, though some believe that last time the ark was actually seen was during Solomon's reign.
Whether the last sighting of the Ark was during Josiah or Solomon's reign hangs on the literalness of 2 Chronicles 35:2. Josiah may have been referencing the Levite's responsibility to carry the ark during the exodus, or he could have been speaking of them moving the ark right then. In the former case, the Ark could have already been missing, but in the latter it is probably being witnessed in 2 Chronicles. To me, the latter seems more likely. Either way, this is the last time the ark is mentioned at all in the Old Testament.
Battles & Death
After the Passover, Josiah goes to battle with Egypt. This is quite bold because Egypt wasn't trying to battle Judah, and Josiah had no business in the fight. The pharaoh even claims he is battling with God on his side. The word God is capitalized in the KJV version hinting that the Egyptian may have been referencing the God of Israel, not a pagan god. This could be confirmed or disproven by finding the original Hebrew word and compare it to other references to God versus pagan gods. No reference is given as to why Josiah felt the need to participate in this battle and we are not told what God thought of the issue. Neither are we shown any evidence that Josiah sought out God's guidance before going to battle. Josiah disguises himself because he doesn't want the pharaoh to recognize him and become angry with Judah. Possibly, Josiah didn't want Egypt to become more powerful under the suspicion that eventually they would attack. Regardless, he is injured in battle and dies.
References and Footnotes
- What does the bible say about age accountability. Bible.org. January 2001
- Tracey R Rich. "Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation". Jewfaq.org. 2011
Other Pages to View