Kinah 11; Yoshiyahu
Josiah was a little kid when he became king. He decided to be a good guy. He undertook a complete remodeling of the Beit Hamikdash. He removed the idols that literally filled the walls. One day they were cleaning the tiles on the Temple floor, when one of them came loose. They lift it up and lo and behold, they find a sefer Torah. Not just any sefer Torah, but the one written by Moses. At that point, it is the only Torah to be found anywhere in Israel. It would seem to be a good sign. They are all excited. And you can trace this out today in the City of David. Archeologists found the seal of one of the scribes of the king. They ran to the room of that particular scribe. They open the Torah, but immediately they see that it opens to the section of the curses. Not a good sign. Talk about mixed messages!
They don’t know what to do. They go up to Hulda. She confirms that the Temple is going to be destroyed. There is nothing Josiah can do to stop it. However, because he is a tzaddik, it won’t happen while he is alive. King Josiah hears about this and hires policemen who go to every single house to search and destroy every idol they can find. He brings everybody to Jerusalem to do Teshuva, has them reaccept the Torah, and bring the korban Pesach. He founds the first Baal Teshuva movement in history, and a massive one at that. He threatens people with death if they don’t do teshuva. He digs up the graves of idol worshippers, burns the bones of their priests, and smashes the altar to Baal that was built. He was just told that there is nothing he could do, yet he refuses to go lying down. When he died (and he died because he didn’t listen to the navi)…On one hand, you have Josiah who decides he has to do what he has to do. On the other hand there were kings who didn’t do anything even when everything was falling apart around them.
The third chapter of Eichah is directed to those who just don’t want to change and are unwilling to hear that anything needs to change. You find this echoed in verse 8: Even when I cry out and plead, He has shut off my prayer. Or, in 44: You have covered Yourself with a cloud that no prayer can pass through.
That is what Jeremiah was trying to address. Stagnation means that all avenues for change have closed. And the Josiah approach is that the worst situation of all can be changed to its direct opposite.