The Purpose of this article is to probe the significance of Josiah for the exilic Deuteronomist. In 2 Kings 23:25 Josiah is incomparably praised. But in 2 Kings 18:5 Hezekiah is also incomparably praised. Accordingly, this article first investigates on which grounds Hezekiah and Josiah are each evaluated as exemplary kings. Next, this study analyzes the texts that are evaluations of Hezekiah(2 Kings 18:3-8) and Josiah(2 Kings 22:2; 23:4-25), as to whether they can be ascribed to the Deuteronomist. Finally, it reassesses the significance of Josiah in the Deuteronomistic History.
Hezekiah in the deuteronomistic evaluation-text(2 Kings 18:3-8) is not only positively evaluated(vv. 3-4), but also incomparably praised among the Judean kings on account of his steadfast reliance upon YHWH(vv. 5-8). Likewise, Josiah is not only positively evaluated by the Deuteronomist based on the cult reform, which comprises of the removal of idolatry and high places(2 Kings 22:2; 23:4-12*, 13-15*, 21-24*), but also incomparably praised among all the kings of Israel(2 Kings 23:25).
The Deuteronomistic History, in depicting the history of sin in order to explain historical catastrophe, reaches a climax at the text of evaluation on Josiah. From the perspective of the Deuteronomist, Israel had to worship only YHWH in the Land. And they had to worship YHWH in accordance with the Torah of Moses only in the temple of Jerusalem, after it was built by Solomon. Josiah is the only who thoroughly practiced both of these demands(cult purification and cult unification) in Israel after the building of the first temple in Jerusalem. So Josiah is praised as the best king among all the kings after David and is evaluated equal to David. For the Deuteronomist, therefore, Josiah’s cult reform functions as the measurement of his history.