The Religious Reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah

By P. Kyle McCarter Jr.

The religious reforms of Kings Hezekiah (727–698 B.C.E.) and Josiah (639–608 B.C.E.) of Judah occurred at a time when other Near Eastern civilizations were also carrying out reforms aimed at reviving classical beliefs and traditions.1

In Egypt, one manifestation of this neoclassical spirit is the so-called Shabaka Stone. Pharaoh Shabaka (716–695 B.C.E.) ruled during the XXVth Dynasty, while Egypt was under the domination of Nubia (southern Egypt and the Sudan today). Nubia had long been heavily Egyptianized, and the Nubians promoted traditional Egyptian values derived from the cult of Amun, established by Pharaoh Thutmose III (1479–1425 B.C.E.) in the upper Nile. Shabaka is said to have discovered a stone with text copied from an ancient papyrus manuscript—“a work of the ancestors which was worm-eaten, so that it could not be understood from beginning to end.”2 The original text purportedly contained ancient Memphite theological and cosmological ideas to be revived and promulgated in eighth- and seventh-century B.C.E. Egypt.

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