Manasseh the tween king takes command of Judah and “screw you, dad, you’re not the boss of me!!!!” (Slams door.)
Yes, Manasseh rebels like every tween, but there’s no one around to slap down the little jackass and tell him to grow up, and so Manasseh rebuilds the high places and brings in Ba’al worship, and Asherah orgies (because horny teen despot), and has a pantheon of gods, and builds altars to them in the Temple, sacrificed his son to Moloch, and got into Harry Potter and emo stuff and shopped at Hot Topic and pretended he was a wizard.
And everyone went along with it because he was a stupid teenage despot who could have them all killed, and you know, everyone agreed that the black trenchcoat and sunglasses look was pretty sweet.
And God said, “Oh, man… I am so going to smite you all… but not right now, I’m going to put it off for another seventy years or so… I’ve got league bowling tonight. If we beat Lucifer’s team, he has to buy the pizza. And I’m totally going to make him order all of them with pineapple. He hates pineapple on pizza.”
Manasseh dies and Amon takes his place.
Amon was a dick and gets assassinated two years into his reign, because Judah apparently saw how great the “Let’s assassinate the monarch every couple of years” system of government worked out for Israel.
And Josiah takes his place as king.
Josiah was eight when he took the throne and ten years later, he tells some of his officials to go to the Temple and see how much money was available for renovations on the old building.
Lo and behold, the high priest just happens to have a book of the Law. Many scholars think that this was the time when Deuteronomy was written and that this was the book that the high priest ‘found’ and gave to the king.
So they bring the book of the law to the king and he reads it and realizes that they are sooooooooo screwed. So he tears his clothes and goes into mourning and he orders his officials to go and find a prophet of Yahweh and inquire just how screwed they are.
So they go find Huldah, a prophetess, and ask her how screwed they are.
Huldah: Very. But Josiah is such a nice boy, so God will put it off until after he’s dead.
Josiah reads the law to the people and dedicates himself to keeping the law.
So Josiah goes through a lengthy house cleaning: throwing out and burning all the idols he can find, getting rid of the male prostitutes in the Temple, breaking down and defiling the high places, getting rid of anything that was dedicated or offered to idols, stopping the Asherah orgies, scattering human bones around the pagan worship sites.
He destroys the altar of Jeroboam and defiles it with the bones of the false prophets, but he leaves the grave of the prophet who predicted his reforms alone.
He holds the Passover festival again and gets rid of anyone who was a part of the religion of the pagan gods.
But God was still angry and was going to smite them.
And then Josiah dies in battle with the king of Egypt, and they make Jehoahaz king in his place, but the king of Egypt takes him hostage, imposes tribute on Judah and installs Jehoiakim.
It’s the beginning of the end for Judah.