Story Five

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 7
MĀ̇-NĂŚ SEH, the fourteenth king of Jū́ dah, followed the sins of his grandfather Ā́ hăz, and not the good deeds of his father Hĕz-e-kī́ ah. He was only twelve years old when he began to reign, too young for so great a care as the kingdom; and in his youth he turned away from the teachings of the prophet Ī-s̝ā́ iah and from the service of the Lord. He built again the altars to Bā́ al and the Ăsh-ḗ rah, which his father Hĕz-e-kī́ ah had thrown down; he worshipped the sun, and moon, and stars; he set up images even in the Temple, the house of the Lord. When Mā̇-năś seh grew older, and had children of his own, he made them go through the fire, seeking to please the false gods. He would not listen to the prophets whom the Lord sent to warn him; and there is reason to believe,—though the Bible does not say it,—that he put to death the good prophet Ī-s̝ā́ iah. And -Mā̇-năś seh in his wickedness reigned a long time, longer than any of the wicked kings who had gone before him; so that he led his people further away from God than even Ā́ hăz, who had been as wicked as Mā̇́ năs-seh. Because of Mā̇-năś seh's sins, and the sins of his people, the Lord brought upon the land the generals of the Ăs-sy̆ŕ ĭ-an army with their host. They took Mā̇-năś seh a prisoner and bound him with chains and carried him to the city of Băb́ y̆-lon, where the king of Ăs-sy̆ŕ ĭ-ȧ was then living. There Mā̇-năś seh was kept a prisoner for a time.
While he was in prison Mā̇́ năs-seh saw how wicked he had been, and he sought the Lord. He prayed to be forgiven for his sins, and the Lord heard him. Afterward, the king of Ăs-sy̆ŕ ĭ-ȧ allowed Mā̇-năś seh to rule over his land again. Then Mā̇-năś seh knew that the Lord was the only true God; and from that time he worshipped the Lord only. He took the altars and the images of the false gods out of the Temple, and built again the altar of the Lord, and caused the offerings to be laid upon it. He commanded his people to worship the Lord, and to leave the idols; but they had gone too far to come back, and only a few of them followed their king's example in seeking the Lord. He could easily lead his people into sin, but he could not bring them back to God.
After a long reign of fifty-five years Mā̇-năś seh died, and his son Ā́ mon became king. He reigned only two years, but they were years of wickedness and of worshipping idols. Then his servants in his own house killed Ā́ mon; but the people killed them in turn, and made his son Jō̇-sī́ ah king.
Jō̇-sī́ ah, the sixteenth king, was only eight years old when his father Ā́ mon was slain. At first he was too young to rule over the land, and the princes of his court governed in his name.
But when Jō̇-sī́ ah was sixteen years old he chose the Lord God of his father Dā́ vid, the God whom Hĕz-e-kī́ ah had worshipped; and he served the Lord more fully than any of the kings who had gone before him. When he was twenty years old, he began to clear away the idols and the idol-temples from the land of Jū́ dah. He did his work more thoroughly than it had ever been done before, by Jē̇-hŏsh́ a-phat or by Hĕz-e-kī́ ah; for he left in all the land not a single place where idols were worshipped. He went even beyond his own borders, into the land that had been the land of Ĭś̝ ra-el, from which most of the people had been carried away captive long before; and in every place he broke down the altars, and burned the images, and even dug up the bones of the idol-priests, and burned them with their images.
He came to Bĕth́ =el, twelve miles north of Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, where Jĕr-o-bṓ am of Ĭś̝ ra-el had built the temple for the worship of the golden calves, two hundred years before. There, as he was burning the bones of the idol-priests upon the ruins of their own altars, he found a tomb, and asked who was buried there. They said, "This is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah, and warned King Jĕr-o-bṓ am of one that you are doing.”
"Let his bones rest," said King Jō̇-sī́ ah. "Let no man touch the bones of the prophet.”
While the men of King Jō̇-sī́ ah were at work in the Temple on Mount Mō̇-rī́ ah, taking away the idols, and making the house pure once more, they found an old book, written upon rolls of leather. It was the book of the law of the Lord, given by Mṓ s̝es̝, but it had been hidden so long that men had forgotten it. They brought the book, and read from it aloud to the king.
And when King Jō̇-sī́ ah heard the words of the law, and the warning of the woes that were to come upon the people for disobeying them, the king was filled with alarm. He said to the rulers: "Go and ask of the Lord for me and for all the people. Great is the anger of the Lord against us, because our fathers have disobeyed the words of the Lord written in this book." They sought for a prophet to give them the word of the Lord, and they found a woman named Hŭĺ dah, living in Jē̇-rṳ́-sā̇-lĕm, to whom the word of the Lord came. She was called "a prophetess," and they brought to her the message of King Jō̇-sī́ ah. And the prophetess Hŭĺ dah said to them, "Thus saith the Lord, the God of Ĭś̝ ra-el, ‘Go and tell the man who has sent you, Behold, I will bring evil on this place and on the people living in it, because they have forsaken the Lord and have worshipped other gods. My anger will fall upon this city and upon this land. But because' King Jō̇-sī́ ah has sought the Lord, and has done God's will, and has called upon the Lord, therefore the Lord says that he will hold back his anger against this city and this land as long as Jō̇-sī́ ah lives, and he shall go down to his grave before all these evils come upon Jū́ dah and Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm.' "
When Jō̇-sī́ ah heard this he called all the princes and the priests and the people to meet in the Temple of the Lord. There the king stood by a pillar and read to all the people the words of the book that had been found. Then the king and all his people made a promise to serve the Lord and to do his will, and to keep his law with all their hearts. And this promise they kept while Jō̇-sī́ ah lived; but that was only a few years.
All this time the kingdom of Jū́ dah, like all the kingdoms around, was a part of the greater kingdom or empire of Ăs-sy̆ŕ ĭ-ȧ. But the great kings of Ăs-sy̆ŕ ĭ-ȧ, had passed away, and now the kingdom or empire of Ăs-sy̆ŕ ĭ-ȧ was becoming weak and falling apart. Phā́ raōh=nḗ choh, the king of Ḗ ġy̆pt, went to war with the Ăs-sy̆ŕ ĭ-ans̝, and on his way passed through the land of Jū́ dah and what had once been Ĭś̝ ra-el before its people were carried away captive. Jō̇-sī́ ah thought that as the king of Ăs-sy̆ŕ ĭ-ȧ was his over-lord, he must fight against the king of Ḗ ġy̆pt, who was coming against him.
Phā́ raōh=nḗ choh, the king of É̄ ġy̆pt, sent a message to King Jō̇-sī́ ah, saying, "I have nothing against you, O, king of Jū́ dah, and I am not coming to make war on you, but on the king of Ăs-sy̆ŕ ĭ-ȧ. God has sent me, and commanded me to make haste. Do not stand in my way, or you may be destroyed.”
But Jō̇-sī́ ah would not heed the message of the king of Ḗ ġy̆pt. He went out against him with his army, and met him in battle on the great plain of Ĕs-dra-ḗ lon, where so many battles had been fought before and have been fought since. There the Ê-ġy̆ṕ tians̝ won a victory, and in the fight the archers shot King Jō̇-sī́ ah. He died in his chariot, and they brought his dead body to Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm. And all the land mourned and wept for the king whom they loved because he had ruled wisely and well. And with the good King Jō̇-sī́ ah died the last hope of the kingdom of Jū́ dah.