A-Z: Famous stories from the Bible: Rediscovering the book of the law - young King Josiah


Josiah was the king of Judah from the age of eight and reigned for thirty-one years. He cared about following God so ordered that the Temple in Jerusalem (which the Israelites believed was the earthly dwelling place of God) was carefully repaired and beautified.

Moses with the ten commandments by RembrandtDuring the restoration work, Hilkiah, the high priest, discovered some manuscripts which turned out to be the Book of the Law, the Israelites’ most holy book of instructions from God. This was reported back to Josiah and Shaphan, the king’s secretary, began to read the book to the king. When Josiah heard what the documents said he became very distressed and tore his clothes, the traditional sign of great grief and agitation. He realised that the Israelites had not been obeying God’s law for many years and concluded that God must be very angry.

Josiah instructed Hilkiah and his courtiers to investigate further and find out what they should do next. A prophetess named Huldah gave them this message for Josiah: God was indeed angry that his people had turned away from him and worshipped false gods. As a consequence they would face disaster. However, God made an exception of Josiah because he was sorry and determined to repent of the way he and his subjects had ignored and neglected God’s word. Because of this, God would defer his punishment of Israel until Josiah died, allowing him to reign in peace.

The story illustrates: 

  • Josiah was an example of someone who was sincere about following God, and God honoured him
  • Following God’s law is of the utmost importance.

Related topics

Big ideas from the Bible: Word of God

Bible References

2 Kings 22:1-20
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