ON THE COVER: King Josiah, remembered for his sweeping religious reforms, came to the throne of Judah in 639 B.C.E. at the age of eight. He eventually set about purging the nation of its pagan idols and eliminating all cultic shrines outside Jerusalem. In this 1941 painting, published here in color for the first time, artist Jack Levine offers his interpretation of Josiah. The king earned the approval of the Chronicler, who asserts that Josiah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, following in the footsteps of his forefather David, and deviating neither to the right nor to the left” (2 Chronicles 34:2)
Yet, despite his virtue, Josiah met an untimely and violent end on the plains of Megiddo in 609 B.C. His death at the hands of Pharaoh Necho II of Egypt threw Judah into a state of confusion that left the nation vulnerable to the expansionist aims of Egypt and its rival, Babylon. As Eric Cline discusses in his article “Why Megiddo?” the lingering memory of Josiah’s bitter death probably led the author of the Book of Revelation to make Megiddo the stage for the penultimate battle between good and evil.