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HEZEKIAH LEADS ISRAEL IN OBSERVANCE OF PASSOVER;
AN INVITATION SENT TO ALL ISRAEL TO COME TO JERUSALEM FOR THE PASSOVER
"And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of Jehovah at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto Jehovah, the God of Israel. For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the assembly in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second month. For they could not keep it at that time, because the priests had not sanctified themselves in sufficient number, neither had the people gathered themselves together at Jerusalem. And the thing was right in the eyes of the king and of all the assembly. So they established a decree to make proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to keep the passover unto Jehovah, the God of Israel, at Jerusalem: for they had not kept it in great numbers in such sort as it is written. So the posts went out with letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may return to the remnant that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria. And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, who trespassed against Jehovah, the God of their fathers, so that he gave them up to desolation, as ye see. Now be ye not stiff-necked as your fathers were; but yield yourselves unto Jehovah, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever, and serve Jehovah your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. For if ye turn again unto Jehovah, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that led them captive, and shall come again unto this land: for Jehovah your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him."
This wonderful invitation from Hezekiah is a remarkable testimony. It came following the fall of the Northern Israel to Assyria in 722 B.C., a disaster that Hezekiah attributed to their forsaking the true worship of God in Jerusalem. This is proof that long before the times of Josiah God had commanded the centralization of his worship in Jerusalem. Note also the significant words as it is written (2 Chronicles 30:5). The Book of the Law (the Pentateuch) was appealed to by Hezekiah in these words. It is also significant that Hezekiah admits here that the passover had indeed been kept previously but by small numbers of people (2 Chronicles 30:5).
"The king had taken counsel ... to keep the passover in the second month" (2 Chronicles 30:2). The divine instructions for the passover required its observance in the first month (Exodus 12:1-3); but the urgency of Hezekiah in his efforts to rally all Israel to a rebirth of their loyalty to God prompted this technical violation. Note also that not even the priests of Judah and Jerusalem had bothered to sanctify themselves for the legal passover a month earlier.
SOME SPURN THE KING'S INVITATION; BUT MANY ACCEPTED
"So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. Nevertheless certain men of Ashur and Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem. Also upon Judah came the hand of God to give them one heart, to do the commandment of the king and of the princes by the word of Jehovah."
The remnant of the northern tribes that had been left in the land by the kings of Assyria had, in the principal part, degenerated into paganism and were naturally resentful that Judah had been spared, because they were fully aware that Judah's sins against God were just as extensive as their own. They did not realize that God had humbled and destroyed their kingdom as an example of what would also eventually happen to Judah. It was not merely northern Israel that needed to return to God, but all Israel. Hezekiah did his best to bring the people back to God; and, for awhile, he succeeded; but as soon as his son Manasseh came to the throne, his reformation was quickly repudiated.
ISRAEL AGAIN KEPT THE PASSOVER
"And there assembled at Jerusalem much people to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great assembly. And they arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense took they away, and cast them into the brook Kidron. Then they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought burnt-offerings into the house of Jehovah. And they stood in their place after their order, according to the Law of Moses the man of God: the priests sprinkled the blood which they received of the Levites. For there were many in the assembly that had not sanctified themselves: therefore the Levites had the charge of killing the passovers for every one that was not clean, to sanctify them unto Jehovah. For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim and Manasseh, Isaachar and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it is written. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, The good Jehovah pardon every one that setteth his heart to seek God, Jehovah, the God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. And Jehovah hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people. And the children of Israel that were at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and the priests praised Jehovah day by day, singing with loud instruments unto Jehovah. And Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all the Levites that had good understanding in the service of Jehovah. So they did eat throughout the feast for the seven days, offering sacrifices of peace-offerings, and making confession to Jehovah, the God of their fathers."
"They killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the second month" (2 Chronicles 30:15). Even in this Hezekiah followed closely the instructions of Moses in the Pentateuch (Numbers 9:11).
"The good Jehovah pardon" (2 Chronicles 30:19). The RSV very properly has the good Lord here which is a far better translation. "This expression is found only here in the O.T., but it has now become proverbial."
This celebration of the passover two long generations prior to Josiah is an acute embarrassment to the radical critics and their fairy tale regarding that P Document discovered in the temple during Joisah's reign; and their knee-jerk response to everything in God's Word that contradicts their false allegations was clearly stated by Jacob M. Meyers who wrote that, "They hold that the Chronicler transferred to Hezekiah ... the religious celebrations of Josiah, notably this one." Such a false allegation as that one, however, is only a rather timid and somewhat clever way of calling the Chronicler's report here a lie. We believe the lie is that of the radical critics, not that of the Chronicler.
We are very thankful that present-day scholars are turning away from the gross errors advocated by the International Critical Commentary. Jacob M. Meyers in The Anchor Bible makes the truthful observation that:
"THERE IS NO REASON TO BELIEVE THAT THE CHRONICLER INVENTED THE STORY."
It is distressing to this writer that commentators who claim to be Christians will pose a snide question regarding this passover, asking, "Is this alleged event fact or fiction"? and leave the question unanswered. More and more great scholars of the present day are beginning to see the truth regarding the accuracy of what we find in the Bible (all of it).
THEY DECIDE TO CELEBRATE ANOTHER SEVEN DAYS
"And the whole assembly took counsel to keep other seven days; and they kept other seven days with gladness. For Hezekiah king of Judah did give to the assembly for offerings a thousand bullocks and seven thousand sheep; and the princes gave to the assembly a thousand bullocks and ten thousand sheep; and a great number of priests sanctified themselves. And all the assembly of Judah, with the priests and the Levites, and all the assembly that came out of Israel, and the sojourners that came out of the land of Israel, and that dwelt in Judah, rejoiced. So there was great joy in Jerusalem; for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem. Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy habitation, even unto heaven."
This additional week of feasting and celebration was made possible by the generous contributions of the king and the princes.
"Their voice was heard ... even unto heaven" (2 Chronicles 30:27). Hezekiah's respect for the temple had not blinded him to the sublime fact that "God dwelleth not in temples made with hands," and that his throne is in the heaven of heavens.
One may wonder why this observance of the passover was not reported in Kings, but the reason is not far to seek. Kings carries an abbreviated report of both the Northern and Southern Israels, whereas the Chronicles focuses attention upon the Southern Kingdom only; and this passover celebration pertained particularly to Judah and Jerusalem. Furthermore, all of the information that has come down to us from that remote period is fragmentary. No important arguments can be logically founded upon what this or that source does not contain.
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 30". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany