Definitions

Josiah

Josiah

[joh-sahy-uh]
Winslow, Josiah, c.1629-1680, American governor of Plymouth Colony, b. Plymouth, Mass.; son of Edward Winslow. Educated at Harvard, he was an assistant of the Plymouth Colony (1657-73) and then governor (1673-80), the first native-born governor of any American colony. Winslow also served (1658-72) as the Plymouth commissioner to the New England Confederation and as commander in chief of the colonial forces in King Philip's War in 1675.
Quincy, Josiah, 1744-75, political leader in the American Revolution, b. Boston. An outstanding lawyer, he wrote a series of anonymous articles for the Boston Gazette in which he opposed the Stamp Act and other British colonial policies. Nevertheless, Quincy, along with John Adams, defended the British soldiers in the trial after the Boston Massacre. In 1773 he went to South Carolina for his health and on his journey established connections with other colonial leaders. His Observations on the Act of Parliament Commonly Called the Boston Port Bill (1774) was an important political tract. He was sent (1774) as an agent to argue the colonial cause in England and died on the way home. His son, also named Josiah Quincy, wrote a memoir of him (1825, 2d ed. 1874).

See study by R. A. McCaughey (1974).

Quincy, Josiah, 1772-1864, American political leader and college president, b. Braintree, Mass.; son of Josiah Quincy (1744-75). After studying law, Quincy became interested in politics and entered (1804) the state senate as a Federalist. He subsequently proceeded (1805-13) to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he became minority leader. Speaking against admission of Louisiana as a state, he declared, in an extreme states' rights view, that passage of the bill without the specific consent of the original 13 states would be cause for dissolution of the Union. An opponent of the Embargo and Nonintercourse Acts prior to the War of 1812, he nevertheless advocated preparedness for political reasons, although he later violently opposed the war. On leaving Congress he returned to Boston, where he reentered (1813) the state senate and continued to oppose the war. The Federalists dropped him for insurgency in 1820 but Quincy was elected (1821) to the Massachusetts house of representatives, where he became speaker; he resigned to become a municipal court judge. In 1823 he was elected mayor of Boston and energetically labored for reforms. In 1829 he became president of Harvard, serving until 1845. While there he gave impetus to the law school, and wrote The History of Harvard University (1840) to silence traditionalist critics. His son, Edmund Quincy, edited his Speeches Delivered in the Congress of the United States (1874) and also wrote a biography (1867; 6th ed. 1874).

See his memoirs (1825, repr. 1971).

Warren, Josiah, 1798-1874, American reformer and anarchist, b. Boston. An early follower of Robert Owen, he soon rejected Owen's political socialism, advocating instead anarchy based on "the sovereignty of the individual." He founded several "equity" stores, based on the idea of exchanging goods for an equivalent amount of labor and on the principle that cost should be the limit of price. He also established three utopian colonies; the most successful (1851-c.1860) was Modern Times (now Brentwood), Long Island, N.Y. The most important of his publications was True Civilization (1863, 5th ed. 1875).

See study by W. Bailie (1906, repr. 1971).

Gregg, Josiah, 1806-50, American trader and historian of the Santa Fe Trail, b. Overton co., Tenn. He moved with his family to Illinois (1809) and then to Missouri (1812). He gained wide knowledge from his diverse readings. He journeyed to Santa Fe for the first time in 1831 and later, having become a trader, made many expeditions, sometimes going as far as Chihuahua, Mexico. He recorded his observations, which were published as Commerce of the Prairies (1844, new ed. 1954), later regarded as a classic of American frontier history and literature. He served under Gen. John W. Wool in the Mexican War and 1849 joined the California gold rush. He died when leading a prospecting party across the Coast Range in the winter.

See his diary and letters, ed. by M. G. Fulton (1941-44).

Holbrook, Josiah, 1788-1854, American educator, founder of the lyceum movement, b. Derby, Conn., grad. Yale (1810). He experimented with various schools where manual training, farming, and formal instruction were combined. After the failure (1825) of his Agricultural Seminary, he began lecturing on popular scientific subjects. In 1826, at Millbury, Mass., he organized the first lyceum that became a part of a national system. He manufactured scientific apparatus for schools and lyceums and edited Scientific Tracts (1830-32) and The Family Lyceum (1832-33). In 1837, at Berea, Ohio, he established the Lyceum Village, which failed after a few years. He continued to promote the lyceum movement until his death.
Bartlett, Josiah, 1729-95, political leader in the American Revolution, signer of the Declaration of Independence, b. Amesbury, Mass. He practiced medicine in Kingston, N.H., and was a delegate to the provincial assembly (1765-75) and the provincial congress (1775) before serving in the Continental Congress (1775-76; 1778). He returned to New Hampshire, held judicial posts, including the chief justiceship of New Hampshire (1788-90), advocated (1788) the adoption of the federal Constitution, and was chief executive of the state (1790-94). Bartlett, N.H., is named for him.
Josiah or Josias, in the Bible. 1 King of Judah, son and successor of Amon. The great event of his reign came in its 18th year, when the book of the law, apparently Deuteronomy, was found in the Temple. Josiah had it read publicly, and a reform movement began, led by the young king. The basis of the reforms, which extended to the northern kingdom of Israel, was the removal of all outlying religious centers so as to concentrate everything in worship at Jerusalem. When the pharaoh Necho set out to help the Assyrians in Haran, Josiah opposed him and fell, at Megiddo. He was succeeded by his son Jehoahaz. 2 Man at whose house the prophet Zechariah was to crown the high priest.
Royce, Josiah, 1855-1916, American philosopher, b. California, grad. Univ. of California, 1873. After studying in Germany and at Johns Hopkins, he returned to California to teach (1878-82). From 1882 until his death he was at Harvard, becoming a professor in 1892. Among his works are The Spirit of Modern Philosophy (1892), The World and the Individual (1900-1901), The Philosophy of Loyalty (1908), and Lectures on Modern Idealism (1919). Royce, thoroughly grounded in history and cognizant of scientific thought, was the foremost American idealist. He held that reality is the life of an absolute mind. We know truth beyond ourselves because we are a part of the logos, or world-mind. Science successfully depends on description, but appreciation must precede description and consequently ideals must be deeper than the mechanism of science. The natural order of the world must be also a moral order. Our ethical obligation is to the moral order and takes the form of loyalty to the great community of all individuals.

See biography by B. Kuklick (1972, repr. 1985); studies by G. Marcel (tr. 1965), P. L. Fuss (1965), T. F. Powell (1967), B. B. Singh (1973), F. M. Oppenheim (1980), and J. Clendenning (1985).

Spode, Josiah, I, 1733-97, English potter. He founded a pottery firm in 1770 at Stoke-on-Trent in the Staffordshire pottery district. Creating many of his patterns after Japanese designs, he developed a highly effective method of transfer printing with blue underglazes. He also experimented with a transparent but durable bone china, arriving at a formula that is still used. His son Josiah Spode II, 1754-1827, took over the pottery factory in 1797. He is credited with having introduced feldspar into Spode ware and for producing pottery of a high technical excellence. Under his direction the blue and white ware was noted for the novelty of its designs; these included genre scenes of an exotic character, such as tiger hunting in India. The firm is still in existence.

See J. Bedford, Old Spode China (1969); L. R. Whiter, Spode: A History of the Family, Factory and Wares from 1733 to 1833 (1970).

Gorgas, Josiah, 1818-83, chief of ordnance in the Confederate army during the American Civil War, b. Dauphin co., Pa.; father of William Crawford Gorgas. He was commissioned in the ordnance corps and served in the Mexican War. In Apr., 1861, he resigned his Union commission and was appointed major and chief of ordnance in the Confederate army, rising to the rank of brigadier general in 1864. The Confederacy's supply of arms was dangerously low and manufacturing facilities almost nonexistent. Although Gorgas sent purchasing agents to Europe, no shipments were received before 1862. Despite the enormous difficulties, however, Gorgas built up the South's war machine and supplied munitions to the Confederate armies until the war's end. In 1869 he joined the faculty of the Univ. of the South, becoming vice chancellor in 1872. He was named president of the Univ. of Alabama in 1878.

See biography by F. E. Vandiver (1952).

Henson, Josiah, 1789-1883, black slave, reputedly the basis of the character of Uncle Tom in Uncle Tom's Cabin, b. Charles co., Md. In 1825 he faithfully led a party of his master's slaves from Maryland, across free territory in Ohio, to Kentucky. Tricked out of the freedom he had purchased and threatened with being sold in the South, he escaped with his wife and children in 1830. He became a leader of the community of escaped slaves at Dresden, Upper Canada (now Ontario). Henson, who had become a Methodist Episcopal preacher while in Kentucky, traveled widely, visiting England three times. His autobiography, The Life of Josiah Henson (1849), was enlarged in 1858 as Truth Stranger than Fiction and in 1879 as "Truth is Stranger than Fiction"; the later editions contained introductions by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

See B. Gysin, To Master—a Long Goodnight (1946); H. Blesby, Josiah, the Maimed Fugitive (1873, repr. 1969).

Martin, Josiah, 1737-86, British colonial governor, b. West Indies. An army officer, he had attained the rank of lieutenant colonel when he was appointed governor of North Carolina in 1771. He established cordial relations with the leaders of the Regulator movement on the frontier but clashed with the assembly over the collection of taxes and court regulations. He unsuccessfully attempted to organize the Loyalists of the colony to resist the American Revolution. When his Loyalist Highlanders were defeated (1776) and the Revolution became general, he left the colony. Later he took part in the attack on Charleston and was an adviser to generals Clinton and Cornwallis. He returned to England in 1781.
Wedgwood, Josiah, 1730-95, English potter, descendant of a family of Staffordshire potters and perhaps the greatest of all potters. At the age of nine he went to work at the plant owned by his brother Thomas in Burslem, and in 1751, with a partner, he started in business. In 1753 he joined Thomas Whieldon of Fenton, then one of the foremost potters of Staffordshire, and in 1759 Wedgwood started his own business at the Ivy House Works, Burslem. He obtained a site near Stoke-on-Trent, where he built a village called Etruria for his workers and opened a new works in 1769. In that year he took into partnership Thomas Bentley, who remained a valuable ally until his death in 1780. At Etruria, Wedgwood specialized in ornamental products to supplement the utilitarian wares of Burslem. Wedgwood entered the field of pottery at a time when it was still a backward and minor industry and by his skill, taste, and organizing abilities transformed it into one of great importance and enormous aesthetic appeal. He combined experiments in his art and in the technique of mass production with an interest in improved roads, canals, schools, and living conditions for workers.

Wedgwood soon acquired a reputation for his cream-colored earthenware, known as queen's ware, and at the same time produced decorative objects, candlesticks, and vases of a black composition known as basalt or Egyptian stoneware. He also produced a mottled and veined ware in imitation of granite and a translucent, smooth, unglazed semiporcelain. This gave way to his best-known product, jasper ware, best known in a delicate blue with white, cameolike Greek figures embossed upon it (see Portland vase), which has been in continuous production since 1774. He invented and perfected this ware and in it gave expression to the interest of his day in the revival of classical art. He employed the best talent available for his finer pieces, many of which were designed by John Flaxman. Wedgwood's terra-cottas of various hues were made with one color in relief upon another. He produced exquisite wares for many royal and noble patrons, including a dinner service for Catherine the Great. His work is found in many museums and private collections; the Fogg Museum of Art, Cambridge, Mass., has an outstanding collection. He also published several pamphlets, and his Address to the Young Inhabitants of the Pottery appeared in 1783. For his invention of a pyrometer for measuring temperatures, Wedgwood was made a fellow of the Royal Society (1783). The extensive potteries he established, which he built into a large, worldwide commercial empire, were perpetuated by his descendants.

See W. Mankowitz, Wedgwood (1953); A. Kelly, The Story of Wedgwood (1962); E. Meteyard, The Life of Josiah Wedgwood (1865, repr. 1970); B. Dolan, Wedgwood: The First Tycoon (2004).

(born circa 1629, Plymouth colony—died Dec. 18, 1680, Marshfield, Plymouth colony) American colonist. The son of Edward Winslow, he succeeded Myles Standish as commander of Plymouth colony's military forces in 1656. He was appointed assistant governor of the colony (1657–73) and served as a member of the directorate of the New England Confederation. He was the first native-born colonial governor of Plymouth colony (1673–80) and established its first public school. In King Philip's War he was commander in chief of the confederation's military forces (1675–76).

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(baptized July 12, 1730, Burslem, Staffordshire, Eng.—died Jan. 3, 1795, Etruria, Staffordshire) British pottery designer and manufacturer. His family had been potters since the 17th century. After an apprenticeship with his elder brother, he formed a partnership with another potter and finally went into business for himself. He took a scientific approach to pottery-making and was so successful that the makers of even Meissen and Sèvres porcelain found their trade affected. His many innovations include development of a green glaze still popular today, the perfection of creamware, and the invention of the pyrometer. His daughter Susannah was the mother of Charles Darwin. Seealso Wedgwood ware; Wood family.

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(born Nov. 20, 1855, Grass Valley, Calif., U.S.—died Sept. 14, 1916, Cambridge, Mass.) U.S. philosopher. He studied under William James and Charles Sanders Peirce at Johns Hopkins University. After teaching English at the University of California for four years, he accepted a position at Harvard University (1882), where he remained until his death. An absolute idealist in the Hegelian tradition, he stressed the unity of human thought with the external world. His idealism also extended to religion, the basis of which he conceived to be human loyalty. In his words, the highest good would be achieved by “the willing and practical and thoroughgoing devotion of a person to a cause.” A diverse thinker, he also made contributions to psychology, social ethics, literary criticism, history, and metaphysics. His many books include The Religious Aspect of Philosophy (1885), The Spirit of Modern Philosophy (1892), Studies of Good and Evil (1898), The World and the Individual (1900–01), and The Philosophy of Loyalty (1908). His emphasis on individuality and will over intellect strongly influenced 20th-century American philosophy.

Learn more about Royce, Josiah with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born circa 1629, Plymouth colony—died Dec. 18, 1680, Marshfield, Plymouth colony) American colonist. The son of Edward Winslow, he succeeded Myles Standish as commander of Plymouth colony's military forces in 1656. He was appointed assistant governor of the colony (1657–73) and served as a member of the directorate of the New England Confederation. He was the first native-born colonial governor of Plymouth colony (1673–80) and established its first public school. In King Philip's War he was commander in chief of the confederation's military forces (1675–76).

Learn more about Winslow, Josiah with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born , Feb. 11, 1839, New Haven, Conn., U.S.—died April 28, 1903, New Haven) U.S. theoretical physicist and chemist. He became the first person to earn an engineering doctorate from Yale University, where he taught from 1871 until his death. He began his career in engineering but turned to theory, analyzing the equilibrium of James Watt's steam-engine governor. His major works were on fluid thermodynamics and the equilibrium of heterogeneous substances, and he developed statistical mechanics. Gibbs was the first to expound with mathematical rigour the “relation between chemical, electrical, and thermal energy and capacity for work.” Though little of his work was appreciated during his lifetime, his application of thermodynamic theory to chemical reactions converted much of physical chemistry from an empirical to a deductive science, and he is regarded as one of the greatest U.S. scientists of the 19th century.

Learn more about Gibbs, J(osiah) Willard with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(baptized July 12, 1730, Burslem, Staffordshire, Eng.—died Jan. 3, 1795, Etruria, Staffordshire) British pottery designer and manufacturer. His family had been potters since the 17th century. After an apprenticeship with his elder brother, he formed a partnership with another potter and finally went into business for himself. He took a scientific approach to pottery-making and was so successful that the makers of even Meissen and Sèvres porcelain found their trade affected. His many innovations include development of a green glaze still popular today, the perfection of creamware, and the invention of the pyrometer. His daughter Susannah was the mother of Charles Darwin. Seealso Wedgwood ware; Wood family.

Learn more about Wedgwood, Josiah with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Nov. 20, 1855, Grass Valley, Calif., U.S.—died Sept. 14, 1916, Cambridge, Mass.) U.S. philosopher. He studied under William James and Charles Sanders Peirce at Johns Hopkins University. After teaching English at the University of California for four years, he accepted a position at Harvard University (1882), where he remained until his death. An absolute idealist in the Hegelian tradition, he stressed the unity of human thought with the external world. His idealism also extended to religion, the basis of which he conceived to be human loyalty. In his words, the highest good would be achieved by “the willing and practical and thoroughgoing devotion of a person to a cause.” A diverse thinker, he also made contributions to psychology, social ethics, literary criticism, history, and metaphysics. His many books include The Religious Aspect of Philosophy (1885), The Spirit of Modern Philosophy (1892), Studies of Good and Evil (1898), The World and the Individual (1900–01), and The Philosophy of Loyalty (1908). His emphasis on individuality and will over intellect strongly influenced 20th-century American philosophy.

Learn more about Royce, Josiah with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born July 1, 1818, Dauphin county, Pa., U.S.—died May 15, 1883, Tuscaloosa, Ala.) U.S. army officer. A graduate of West Point, he entered the U.S. Army in 1841. In keeping with the sympathies of his Alabama-born wife, he resigned his commission when the South seceded from the Union in 1860–61. As chief of ordnance for the Confederate army during the American Civil War, he sought arms from abroad while establishing factories in the South to produce rifles, small arms, bullets, powder, and cannons. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1864.

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(born circa 640 BC—died 609 BC) King of Judah and religious reformer. He became king at age 8 after the assassination of his father, Amon. As the Assyrian empire crumbled, Judah gained a measure of independence, and in 621 BC Josiah began a program of national renewal. He drove out foreign cults, abolished local sanctuaries, and centred the worship of Yahweh in the Temple of Jerusalem. As his reforms were under way, parts of the book of Deuteronomy were discovered in the Temple, giving added impetus to his efforts to revive observance of Mosaic law. Josiah hoped to reunify Judah and Israel, but he was killed in a battle against the Egyptians.

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(born July 1, 1818, Dauphin county, Pa., U.S.—died May 15, 1883, Tuscaloosa, Ala.) U.S. army officer. A graduate of West Point, he entered the U.S. Army in 1841. In keeping with the sympathies of his Alabama-born wife, he resigned his commission when the South seceded from the Union in 1860–61. As chief of ordnance for the Confederate army during the American Civil War, he sought arms from abroad while establishing factories in the South to produce rifles, small arms, bullets, powder, and cannons. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1864.

Learn more about Gorgas, Josiah with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born , Feb. 11, 1839, New Haven, Conn., U.S.—died April 28, 1903, New Haven) U.S. theoretical physicist and chemist. He became the first person to earn an engineering doctorate from Yale University, where he taught from 1871 until his death. He began his career in engineering but turned to theory, analyzing the equilibrium of James Watt's steam-engine governor. His major works were on fluid thermodynamics and the equilibrium of heterogeneous substances, and he developed statistical mechanics. Gibbs was the first to expound with mathematical rigour the “relation between chemical, electrical, and thermal energy and capacity for work.” Though little of his work was appreciated during his lifetime, his application of thermodynamic theory to chemical reactions converted much of physical chemistry from an empirical to a deductive science, and he is regarded as one of the greatest U.S. scientists of the 19th century.

Learn more about Gibbs, J(osiah) Willard with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Josiah or Yoshiyahu was king of Judah, and son of Amon and Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. His grandfather was King Manasseh, whom Josianic sources blame for turning away from the Israelite religion, even adapting the Temple for idolatrous worship. Josiah is credited by some historians with having established Jewish scripture in written form as a part of the Deuteronomic reform that occurred during his rule.

William F. Albright has dated his reign to 640 BC-609 BC, while E. R. Thiele offers the dates 641 BC-609 BC. The chief sources of his reign are and , and considerable archaeological evidence documents conditions in Judah during his reign. (1 Esdras 1 also discusses Josiah, but is clearly based entirely on the relevant portion of 2 Chronicles.) Archaeologists have recovered a number of "scroll-style" stamps dating to his reign.

Josiah had four sons: Johanan, Eliakim by Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah, Mattanyahu and Shallum both by Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. Shallum succeeded Josiah as king of Judah, under the name Jehoahaz, to be followed by Eliakim, as Jehoiakim, and then, after Jehoiakim's son Jeconiah succeeded to the throne, by Mattanyahu, as Zedekiah and who was the last king of Judah before being taken into Babylonian captivity.

Judah's condition at his accession

Josiah was placed on the throne of Judah by the "People of the Land". The international situation was in flux: to the east, the Assyrian Empire was in the beginning stages of its eventual disintegration, the Babylonian Empire had not yet risen to replace it, and Egypt to the west was still recovering from Assyrian rule. In this power vacuum, Jerusalem was able to govern itself without foreign intervention. In the 18th year of Josiah's rule he began to encourage the exclusive worship of Yahweh, and he outlawed all other forms of worship. Josiah repressed sodomitic activity (2 Kings 23:7) and had the foreign cultic objects of Baal, Ashterah (or Asherah), "and all the hosts of the heavens" in Solomon's Temple destroyed. The living pagan priests were killed and the bones of priests exhumed from their graves and burned on their altars -- which was viewed as an extreme act of desecration against these pagan deities by their adherents. (2 Kings 23:4, et seq.) The authors of Kings and Chronicles add to these acts in Jerusalem Josiah's similar destruction of altars and images belonging to pagan deities in the cities of the tribes of Manasseh, Ephraim, "and Simeon, as far as Naphtali" (2 Kings 23:8f); (2 Chr. 34:6f). He also had the High Priest Hilkiah take the tax monies that had been collected over the years and use them to repair the neglect and damage the Temple had suffered during the reigns of Amon and Manasseh.

Deuteronomic reform

While Hilkiah was clearing the treasure room of the Temple (2 Chr. 34:14), he reportedly found a scroll described as "a book of the Torah"/"ספר התורה" (Second Kings 22:8) or as "the book of the Torah of YHVH by the hand of Moses" (2 Chr. 34:14). Following De Wette's suggestion in 1805, many scholars believe this was either a copy of the Book of Deuteronomy, or a text that became a part of Deuteronomy as we have it. Hilkiah brought this scroll to Josiah's attention, and the king had it read to a crowd in Jerusalem. He was praised for this piety by the prophetess Huldah, who made the prophecy that all involved would die without having to see God's judgement on Judah for the sins they had committed in prior generations(2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Chr. 34:22-28).

Assertion of control over Israel

At some point between this year and his death, Josiah reasserted Judean control in the former territories of the kingdom of Israel, which is recorded in 2 Kings as systematically destroying the cultic objects in various cities, as well as executing the priests of the pagan gods. The only exception he made (2 Kings 23:15-19) was for the grave of an unnamed prophet he found in Bethel, who had foretold that these religious sites Jeroboam erected would one day be destroyed (see 1 Kings 13).

War against Egypt

In the spring of 609 BC, Pharaoh Necho II personally led a sizable force to help the Assyrians. At the head of a large army, consisting mainly of his mercenaries, Necho took the coast route Via Maris into Syria, supported by his Mediterranean fleet along the shore, and proceeding through the low tracts of Philistia and Sharon. He prepared to cross the ridge of hills which shuts in on the south the great Jezreel Valley, but here he found his passage blocked by the Judean army led by Josiah. Josiah sided with the Babylonians and attempted to block the advance at Megiddo, where a fierce battle was fought and Josiah was killed (2 Kings 23:29, 2 Chronicles 35:20-24).

Necho then joined forces with Ashur-uballit and together they crossed the Euphrates and laid siege to Harran, which he failed to capture, and retreated back to northern Syria, and the Assyrian Empire collapsed.

Leaving a sizable force behind, Necho returned to Egypt. On his return march, he found that the Judeans had selected Jehoahaz to succeed his father Josiah, whom Necho deposed and replaced with Jehoiakim. He brought Jehoahaz back to Egypt as his prisoner, where Jehoahaz ended his days (2 Kings 23:31; 2 Chronicles 36:1-4).

Josiah's death

There are two versions of Josiah's death. The Book of Kings tersely remarks that Necho II met Josiah at Megiddo, and killed him the moment the Egyptian king laid eyes on him (2 Kings 23:29)- see Battle of Megiddo (609 BC). In 2 Chronicles 35:20-27 King Josiah is killed after he attacks King Necho which is in opposition to the will of God. His death is in this way validated. Proponents of DtrH ("Deuteronomistic History") ascribe this portion of the book to a post-Josiahwic redaction. The author of Chronicles describes Josiah meeting Necho in battle at Megiddo, where Josiah was fatally wounded by Egyptian archers, and was brought back to Jerusalem to die. Some scholars favor the account in Chronicles, because it better fits with what is known of international events. Necho had left Egypt around 609 BC for two reasons: one was to relieve the Babylonian siege of Harran, and the other was to help the king of Assyria, who was defeated by the Babylonians at the Battle of Carchemish. Josiah's actions suggest that he was aiding the Babylonians by engaging the Egyptian army.

In either case, the death of this king was a serious blow to core Judaic beliefs that include the God of Israel as being the only true God. Subsequent kings undid Josiah's reforms and reinstituted polytheistic religion. 2 Chronicles 35:25 implies that Jeremiah wrote a lament for Josiah's passing. A Jewish tradition claims that this lament is preserved in Lamentations chapter 4.

Critical Scholarship on the Reform of King Josiah

While the Biblical text relates that the scroll was "found", this has been met with skepticism among some modern critics: the view of the English deists of the 16th century (Hertz 1936), that the book was a forgery created to help centralize power under Josiah, is held today among some Biblical scholars. (However, scholars such as W.R. Smith, Rudolf Kittel, Dillman and Driver disagree, pointing out that priestly forgery of the Deuteronomic text was unlikely, as the text placed restrictions on the privileges of the priestly class, who were a thorn in the side of King Josiah.)

In the ancient Near East it was commonplace for religious scrolls to be deposited in temple walls when they were constructed (Hertz 1936), and according to the Swiss Egyptologist Édouard Naville, this was the custom amongst the Jews at the time of Solomon. It would have been more unusual if such scrolls were not found during the renovation of a temple building, and Naville recounts a similar find recounted in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. It is interesting to note in this respect that the specific text cited by Naville is one of many which are attributed to famous figures of the past, typically sons of a Pharaoh, and which are all known to have been written at a much later date.

On the assumption that Deuteronomy was forged by Josiah's priests, these scholars go on to propose that the core narrative from Genesis to 2 Kings up to Josiah's reign comprise a "Deuteronomistic History" (DtrH) written during that reign. This history compiled the hypothesised "J", "E", and "D" narratives, all already textual at this point, of which the J narrative at this time would have extended into the history of David's court; the DtrH further attempted to historicise narratives of the times of Joshua and the Judges. The hypothetical DtrH is distinguished from the surviving Biblical books in that it omits the priestly "P" narrative. The DtrH portrayed King Josiah as the ideal ruler as Deuteronomy had defined it, and thus as the rightful ruler of Judah. (This interpretation is often confused with the position of "Biblical Minimalism", which denies that David and Solomon ruled a united kingdom; but Baruch Halpern has noted that however tendentious, DtrH must still be treated as a history, and as largely accurate at least for the reign of Josiah.) See Dating the Bible and The Bible and history. Such claims are detailed in Who Were the Early Israelites? by William G. Dever (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 2003). Another such book is The Bible Unearthed by Neil A. Silberman and Israel Finkelstein (Simon and Schuster, New York, 2001).

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