Josiah, Zechariah and Neco II (2 Chronicles 35)

Bilderesultat for josiah king of judah

Illustration: The Scroll of the Torah being read to the young King Josiah

When Josiah, king of Judah (ca. 640-609 B.C.), made arrangements for celebrating the Passover, he and his administrators donated vast numbers of animals to be sacrificed (2 Chronicles 35:7-9). One of the administrators was Zechariah, a temple official (35:8). An ostracon (broken piece of pottery with writing on ot), purchased on the antiquities market and now in a private collection, includes the names of both Josiah and Zechariah. Apparently an order for a royal temple offering, it reads, “As Ashyahu the king has commanded you to give in the hand of Zakaryahu silver of Tarhish for the House of Yahweh: three shekels”. The name Josiah in the English is equivalent to Shyahu in the inscription, and Zechariah is the equivalent of Zakaryahu.

In 609 B.C., when Josiah was in his thirty-first year of rule and still a young man of thirty-nine (2 Kings 22:1), the Egyptian army under Pharaoh Neco II (ruled 610-595 B.C.) marched north to aid the Assyrians in their attempt to stave off the Babylonians. Neco II, known from both Egyptian and Babylonian records, was among the stronger of ancient Egypt’s later rulers. The Assyrians were holding out at Carchemish, a prominent city on the Euphrates River (2 Chronicles 35:20). Josiah, in an effort to undermine this force, who were dominant in the region, tried to head off Neco at Megiddo. Tragically, the Judahite army was defeated and Josiah lost his life (35:21-24).

Judah then became subject to Neco until 605 B.C., when the Babylonians defeated  the Egyptians at Carchemish (Jeremiah 46:2). Following Josiah’s demise, his son Jehoahaz was made king. After three months Neco removed Jehoahaz and imposed a hefty tribute on Judah (2 Chronicles 36:1-3). The Egyptian king placed Josiah’s eldest son, Jehoiakim, on the throne and banished Jehoahaz to Egypt, where he lived out the rest of his days (36:4).


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