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The son of Amon, King of Judah during the seventh century B.C. Amon was killed, while still a young man, by disloyal henchmen. Because he was respected by his people, the assassins were killed and Josiah was made king, even though he was only eight years old (II Kings 22:1). His reign lasted thirty-one years, until he died at Megiddo in battle against the Egyptians (II Kings 23:30). One of his sons succeeded him, but he was soon ousted by strong Egyptian influence and a second son became king. This was Jehoiakim (II Kings 23:31-35). During Josiah's reign, while the Temple was being repaired, workmen found a long-lost book that was destined to be profoundly important both for Josiah and his people. It is called the Book of the Law and provided the basis for many religious reforms (II Kings 22:8). Apostasies that had developed during the years were corrected. Josiah used its teachings to clarify Jewish ideals and root out idolatrous beliefs and practices. The reformed body of work became the constitution of the state and raised the spiritual and ethical level of Judah to a height unequaled in generations (II Kings 23). "No king before him had turned to Yahweh as he did, with all his heart, all his soul, all his strength, in perfect loyalty to the Law of Moses; nor was any king like him ever seen again" (II Kings 23:25).
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.