TEACHING THE TEACHER
erib's records we can read confirmation of the Bible's report of some great catastrophe to Assyrian arms. Jehovah rewarded the faith of his people in him.
The seventh century before Christ, which began just after this event, witnessed both the rise of Assyria to its greatest height, and its sudden fall before the Chaldeans, a people from the Persian Gulf, who succeeded in mastering ancient Babylon and in winning for it a greater glory than it had ever known in former times. Even in Hezekiah's reign these Chaldeans, under their leader Merodach-baladan, were already challenging the supremacy of Nineveh, and in doing so were seeking allies in the west. When the king of Judah yielded to the dictates of pride and showed to these Chaldean ambassadors his treasures, Isaiah announced to him that the final ruin of Judah was to come in future days from this source, and not from Nineveh as might then have been anticipated.
Manasseh, Hezekiah's successor, was indeed taken as a captive to Babylon for a time, but the captor was a king of Assyria. II Chron. 33:11. Manasseh was thus punished for his great personal wickedness, for he is pictured as the worst of all the descendants of David, an idolator and a cruel persecutor. Yet his reign was long, and at its close he is said to have repented and turned to Jehovah. But this did not prevent his son Amon from following in his evil ways. A revolt of the people within two years removed Amon, however, and set his young son, Josiah, upon the throne. Josiah's reign is important for the history of Judah.
By putting together all that can be gleaned from Kings, Chronicles, and the prophets, it can be seen that Josiah gradually came more and more under the influence of the party in Judah that sought to purge the nation of its idolatry and bring it back, not merely to the comparatively pure worship and life of Hezekiah's and David's days, but to an ideal observance of the ancient Law of Moses. The climax in the progressive reformation in Judah was reached in Josiah's eighteenth year, 622 b.c., when the king and all the people entered into a "solemn league and covenant" to obey the Law of Moses both as a religious obligation and as a social program.
The Law book which was found while workmen were restoring the Temple passed through the hands of Hilkiah, the high priest, who therefore committed himself, together with the priests, to this reform. And what the true prophets of Jehovah thought of it may be seen, for