By a local political analyst.
The year is 640BC. Judah is a small nation surrounded by three greedy superpowers. Assyria to the north, Babylon to the northeast, and Egypt to the south are in an on-going competition to acquire land and to tax foreigners, and to just outright bully people around.
The 10 tribes of Israel to the north were forcibly dragged away to Assyria 80 years ago and remain there as slaves (2 Kings 17:20). This leaves Judah exposed and extremely vulnerable, caught in the middle of these superpowers. Just a few years earlier, Assyria captured King Manasseh (who had been king for decades) and dragged him away in hooks and chains, bringing shame to the whole nation (2 Chronicles 33:11). Sometime later, Manasseh was allowed to return and rule again. But he was a crippled leader ruling a desperate nation. He served for a total of 55 years and upon his death his son Amon was crowned king.
Amon lasted only two short years. He was so evil that his own officials assassinated him inside the palace walls. This desperate deed cost them their own lives. Yes. His own trusted officials put him to death and they in turn were killed for treason.
Amon had no brothers to take over the throne. They had been killed by their father as sacrifices to the “protecting father,” the god Molech. (2 Chron. 33:16).
Talk about political turmoil!
This tiny nation, surrounded by superpowers, is torn by intrigue and assassination and now the only heir to the throne is an 8 year old boy!
This is the superpower that defeated and destroyed the 10 tribes to the north some 82 years before. Josiah’s great-grandfather, Hezekiah, was king of Judah at that time. He paid a huge amount of money to the Assyrians to send them away happy. It was “more than eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold” (2 kings 18:14). But, this did not satisfy the hungry lion, Assyria wanted more and they turned to attack Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:17). But God caused 185,000 of their soldiers to die in their sleep (1 Kings 19:34-37) and the whole army ran back to Assyria to hide.
They did not stay away for long. They came back when Josiah’s grandfather, Manasseh, was king. They placed a hook through his nose and dragged him away in disgrace and placed him in prison. He cried to God and God was merciful to him. Somehow, Assyria allowed him to return to Jerusalem as king. But, the Assyrians were still around and creating fear and anxiety among the people of Judah.
During the time of Hezekiah’s reign, an envoy from the north arrived in Jerusalem. Hezekiah welcomed them and showed them all the nation’s treasures, the gold, the silver, the weapons and everything. However, God was not impressed with this attitude and sent his servant, the prophet Isaiah, with a message. In 2 Kings 20:16, Isaiah prophesied that one day all these treasures will be looted and carried away to Babylon.
This was to happen during the reigns of Josiah’s sons and grandson,2 Kings 24: 8ff. Babylon at the time of Amon, and then Josiah, was one of the three superpowers and gathering momentum.
In just 11 years these fears will prove to be real when Judah and Jerusalem are attacked by Babylon and then finally falls to their army commander. Another 11 years later King Nebuchadnezzar will bring this Jewish nation to an end, never to be the same again. 2 Kings 24:10; 25:1ff.
Egypt was the cunning fox from the south. They knew they could not defeat the other superpowers on their own, but, if Babylon and Assyria fought each other, and if smaller countries would join with Egypt, then Pharaoh could become the most powerful man in the world. This was his ambition.
Judah stood in-between Egypt and the two other superpowers, and they suffered at the cruel hands of all three. It was Egypt’s king, Pharaoh Neco, that fought against Josiah and Josiah was killed (2 Kings 23:29). Neco was simply passing through Judah in order to help Assyria fight against Babylon, but Josiah tried to stop him and lost his life in the process 2 Chron. 35:20-25.
Is there any hope for Judah’s future? The whole world is laughing and talking behind our backs.
Judah’s Location God gave the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham. This land is rich and fertile. It is also the place where the great continents meet. Africa, Asia, Europe meet at the land of Israel. It was God’s plan that they live at this centre-point so that all nations could learn about the true God and be blessed by Him (Gen. 12:1-3). However, because Israel constantly rejected their God, they have had enemies on all sides even up to today.
N.B. This book is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in world the through eBook sellers.