JOSIAH AND HIS SONS
WHAT was said above about the influence of the harem upon a young prince would seem to apply with equal force to Josiah, for he was only eight years old when he came to the throne ( B.C. 637). Yet Josiah was wholly in the hands of the reforming party. We might account for this partly by recalling what was said about the crown prince being in the party of opposition. But we do not know that Josiah was the heir apparent. He seems to have been made king by a popular movement in opposition to a strong party at court. While Manasseh was violently reintroducing ancient abuses, it is reasonable to suppose that some even of his own family were unwilling to go his lengths. The reformers, making quiet propaganda among the people, had means of approaching the court. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church, and from those put to death for their fidelity to their convictions some voice might penetrate as far as the king's harem. The priest Hilkiah seems to have been one of the reformers, and we may suppose him one of the thoughtful men to whom the writings of Isaiah and the story of his life would make a strong appeal.
We are told nothing of the reign of Josiah till his eighteenth year, when there occurred an event of the first importance not only for his time but for all succeeding ages. This was the finding of the Book of Instruction.1 The Biblical account is to the effect that in Josiah's eighteenth year he sent his secretary, Shaphan, to take account of the money in the collection-box in the Temple-we have already learned of the arrangement made by Jehoash.2 Shaphan was to act as inspector, while Hilkiah made____________________