What is King Josiah credited with in Israelite history?

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A: According to 2 Kings, King Hezekia, great grandfather of Josiah attempted to introduce monotheism and centralised worship in the Temple of Jerusalem, possibly as a means of achieving national unity after the fall of Israel and the influx of large numbers of refugees. That attempt failed, and Hezekia's successor, Manasseh, allowed polytheism to return.

King Josiah again instituted monotheistic Judaism, based on the worship of the national God, Yahweh. According to 2 Kings, Judah was from that point forward an exclusively monotheistic state, although some scholars say that polytheistic worship continued right up until the time of the Babylonian Exile. A minority of scholars say that the introduction of monotheism did not take place during the reign of Josiah, but that it really happened during the Babylonian Exile and the story of Josiah's achievemnt was written back into 2 Kings. Certalinly there is documentary evidence in the prophetic books of polytheism surviving until at least the Exile.

The Bible describes how a 'book of law', now believed to be the Book of Deuteronomy was found in the Temple during renovations. Scholars believe that Deuteronomy was actually written during Josiah's reign and placed in the Temple to be found and given the appearance of great antiquity. It was this book, given to Josiah by the priests, that led him to introducing wide ranging religious reforms in Judah. The author is anonymous, but is now known as the Deuteronomist. From this, the religious reforms of Josiah are now known as the 'Deuteronomistic reforms'.
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