Discovering the Story of Josiah and Necho: A Biblical Investigation

In the Old Testament, the tale of King Josiah and Pharaoh Necho II is a remarkable account of two powerful rulers clashing in a climactic military encounter. Josiah – an exemplary king who sought to return Judah to the observance of God’s commands – ultimately lost his life in the battle with Necho, a conflict that raises several questions about his motivations and decisions. What led to this clash between these two powerful rulers? This article examines the story of Josiah and Necho in an effort to grasp a better understanding of the events and lessons it holds for us today.

For those unfamiliar with this biblical tale, it is important to recognize the significance of the story in the overall arc of the Old Testament. Josiah’s actions as king were of paramount importance for not only the nation of Judah but also for believers worldwide. By exploring his decisions, we not only gain insight into understanding this sovereign king but also extract essential takeaways that guide our own lives.

Key Takeaways:

  • Josiah’s dedication to obeying God and reforming Judah
  • The mysterious oracle delivered by Necho
  • The tragic outcome of Josiah’s decision to engage in battle
  • Lessons modern believers can learn from Josiah’s life

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Discovering the Story of Josiah and Necho: A Biblical Investigation

Josiah’s Reformation and God Willing Obedience

King Josiah is heralded as one of the greatest rulers of ancient Judah. At the remarkably young age of eight, Josiah took the throne amidst a nation faced with rampant idolatry and disobedience to God (2 Kings 22:1). As he aged, Josiah began to display genuine devotion to the Lord and sought to reform Judah in accordance with God’s covenant (2 Kings 22:2).

In response to the discovery of the Book of the Law, Josiah spearheaded a comprehensive campaign to eradicate idolatry from his kingdom (2 Kings 23:4-25). God recognized this action, and Josiah was praised for his unwavering faithfulness (2 Kings 23:25). However, God still vowed to punish Judah for their previous disobedience (2 Kings 23:26-27).

The Arrival of Necho: A Fated Encounter

Amidst Josiah’s efforts to obey God and reform his kingdom, Egypt, under the rule of Pharaoh Necho II, emerged as a critical player in the geopolitical landscape of the ancient Near East. Around 609 B.C., Necho marched his army north, heading towards the Euphrates River to support his Assyrian allies (2 Kings 23:29).

Josiah, acknowledging the threat this posed to his kingdom, confronted Necho at Megiddo, an essential crossroad between Egypt and Assyria. This decision was driven more so out of a desire to protect Judah than a direct command from God.

The Oracle of Necho: A Warning from a Rival

Necho, in an interesting turn of events, sent messengers to Josiah, warning the king not to interfere with his plans. Surprisingly, Necho claimed to have a divine message from God, cautioning Josiah against engaging in battle with him (2 Chronicles 35:21). This revelation, coming from a rival political and religious figure, was all the more startling.

Josiah, however, was unable to discern the legitimacy of Necho’s claim. Consequently, he chose to disregard the message, believing it to be a deceptive ploy. Josephus, the Jewish historian, argued that Josiah’s dismissal of the warning was based on skepticism coupled with an innate desire to protect his land from foreign forces (Antiquities 10.5.1).

The Tragic Demise of a Faithful King

Despite all odds, Josiah pressed on and engaged Necho in battle at Megiddo. Tragically, the righteous king sustained grievous injuries and died as a direct result of his decision to confront the Egyptian forces (2 Kings 23:29-30).

Josiah’s untimely death resulted in Judah’s eventual decline and the eventual destruction of the nation by Babylon. His demise showcases the unfortunate consequences of disregarding the wisdom of God, regardless of the source.

Lessons from Josiah’s Life: A Cautionary Tale for Believers

Josiah’s life is one of great achievements and avoidable tragedy. His dedication to God’s commands and his efforts to rid his land of idolatry earned him praise and commendation from the Lord. Unfortunately, his disregard of Necho’s warning – potentially a genuine message from God – resulted in his death, revealing essential lessons for every believer.

First and foremost, it is crucial to heed the voice of God, regardless of how it is delivered to us. We may not always understand or trust the source of the message, but our faithfulness lies in recognizing the Lord’s wisdom when it is presented to us.

Secondly, it is essential to carefully discern and evaluate our actions to ensure they align with God’s will. By acknowledging the Lord’s guidance in every decision, we allow Him to lead us down the path of righteousness, even in the most challenging circumstances.


In closing, the story of Josiah and Necho offers a remarkable account of two ancient rulers whose fateful encounter changed history. Josiah’s dedication to God’s commands, as well as his flawed decision to ignore Necho’s warning, provide an essential warning to all believers about the dangers of disregarding divine wisdom. As we apply the lessons from this story to our own lives, we must strive to always walk in obedience to the Lord, trusting that His will is perfect and meant for our ultimate good.

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