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HEZEKIAH’S PASSOVER—THE ROYAL SUMMONS TO ALL ISRAEL FROM DAN TO BEER-SHEBA (2 Chronicles 30:1-12).
(1) Sent to.— ‘al, i.e., ’el. (Jeremiah 26:15; Nehemiah 6:3.)
Letters.—‘Iggĕrôth. Apparently a word of Persian origin. (Comp. ‘engâre, “something written;” ‘engârîden, “to paint” or “write;” from which comes the Greek ᾰγγαρος, a royal messenger; Esther 9:26; comp. Matthew 5:41.) Only used in late Hebrew.
To Ephraim and Manasseh.—That is, the northern kingdom. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 30:10.)
To keep (make) the passover unto the Lord.—Exodus 12:48 (same phrase); LXX., ποιῆσαι τὸ φασεκ (Pascha). The first year of Hezekiah was the third of Hoshea, the last king of Samaria, who is described as a better king than his predecessors. Doubtless, therefore, Hoshea did not actively oppose Hezekiah’s wish for a really national Passover. (See 2 Kings 18:1; 2 Kings 17:2.)
(2) For the king had taken counsel.—And the king determined (2 Chronicles 25:17). The resolution was taken by the king in council with his grandees and the popular representatives; apparently before the 14th of Nisan, which was the proper time for keeping the feast.
In the second month.—And not in the first month of the sacred year, as the law prescribes (Numbers 9:1-5). The grounds of the postponement are assigned in the next verse, viz., the legal impurity of many of the priests, and the non-arrival of the people at the proper time. The law permits postponement to the second month in such cases (Numbers 9:6-11). The first month was Nisan; Assyr., Nisdnu; the second, Iyyar; Assyr., Âru.
(3) At that time.—The time when the Temple had just been reopened (2 Chronicles 29:8), in the first month of Hezekiah’s first year. The Purification of the Temple was not completed until the 16th of Nisan (2 Chronicles 29:17); but perhaps the Passover would have been held, had not the hindrances here mentioned prevented it. (See 2 Chronicles 29:34).
Sufficiently.—Lĕmaddày. Literally, unto what was enough (lĕ-mah-dày), an expression only met with here. (Comp. a similar formation, 1 Chronicles 15:13.) The meaning is that a sufficient number of priests had not observed the legal ceremonies of self-purification in time to hold Passover in Nisan.
(4) The thing pleased.—The matter (or proposal) was right in the eyes of the king—i.e., the proposal to keep the Passover in the second month, and to invite the northern tribes.
(5) So they established a decree.—And they decreed a proposal (he‘ĕmîd dâbâr). (Comp. 2 Chronicles 30:8; Psalms 105:10, “and hath decreed it unto Jacob for a law.”)
To make proclamation.—Literally, to make a voice pass. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 24:9; 2 Chronicles 36:22.)
From Beer-sheba even to Dan.—Reversing the ancient form of the phrase, to suit the present case. (Comp. Judges 20:1; 2 Chronicles 19:4.)
For they had not . . . written.—Rather, For not in multitude (larôb) had they kept it, according to the Scripture. The people had not been in the habit of “coming in their numbers” to the feast. (Comp. the like use of larôb in 2 Chronicles 30:13; 2 Chronicles 30:24.) See the Law respecting the Passover, Exodus 12:1-20; Deuteronomy 16:1-8; from which it appears that the obligation to observe it was universal, and according to the latter passage, which is probably referred to in the phrase “according to what is written.” Jerusalem was the only legitimate place for the festival. It is implied that ever since the division of the kingdom, and perhaps earlier, the Passover had been inadequately celebrated. (Comp. 2 Kings 23:22.) LXX. well, ὅτι πλῆθος οὐκ ἐποίησεν κατὰ τὴν γραφήν; Vulg., “multi enim non fecerant, sicut lege praescriptum est; Syriac and Arabic, “because their wealth had grown greatly”(!)
(6) The posts.—The runners— i.e., couriers (ᾰγγαροι). The Syriac uses the Latin word Tabellarii, “letter- carriers,” which the Arabic mistakes for “folk of Tiberias”! The soldiers of the body-guard seem to have acted as royal messengers.
From the king.—From the hand of the king.
And according to the commandment.—The construction appears to be: they went with the letters . . . and according to the king’s order. The LXX. and Vulg. omit and, but the Syriac has it.
And he will return.—That he may return unto the survivors that are left unto you from the hand of the hings of Assyria.
Remnant.—Pĕlêtâh.—That the word really means survivors appears from comparison of the Assyrian balâtu, “to be alive;” bullŭtu, “life.”
The kings of Assyria.—See 2 Chronicles 28:16; 2 Chronicles 28:20. The words are a rhetorical reference to Tiglath-pileser’s invasion of the northern kingdom, and the depopulation of Galilee and Gilead. The chronicler’s language may have been influenced also by recollection of the last fatal inroad of Shalmaneser II., in the fourth year of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:9). (See 2 Kings 15:29.)
(7) And be not ye like your fathers.—From the days of Jeroboam downwards.
And like your brethren.—Of Naphtali and the Trans-Jordan, whom Tiglath-pileser carried captive.
Trespassed.—Were unfaithful to Jehovah.
Who therefore gave them up to desolation.—And He made them an astonishment (2 Chronicles 29:8).
(8) Be ye not stiffnecked.—Harden ye not your neck like your fathers. 2 Kings 17:14, “and they hardened their neck like their fathers’ neck.” (Jeremiah 7:26; Psalms 95:8-9.)
But yield yourselves.—Omit but, and place a stop after fathers. “Yield ye a hand to Jehovah,” i.e., submit to Him. So 1 Chronicles 29:24. The phrase also means “to make an agreement with” (Ezra 10:19; 2 Kings 10:15). (Comp. Isaiah 2:6.)
Enter into his sanctuary . . . serve the Lord.—Comp. Psalms 100:1; Psalms 100:4.
Which he hath sanctified for over.—2 Chronicles 7:16; 2 Chronicles 7:20.
That the fierceness (heat) . . . from you.—2 Chronicles 29:10. Such resemblances prove the ideal character of these addresses.
(9) If ye turn again.—When ye return unto Jehovah, your brethren and your sons (shall become) objects of pity (rahamim, “compassion;” here that which inspires it) before their captors. (Comp. Psalms 106:46, “And he made them objects of pity before all their captors;” Nehemiah 1:11.)
Gracious and merciful.—Psalms 86:15; Exodus 34:6; in both places “merciful and gracious.” Nehemiah 9:17; Nehemiah 9:31, “gracious and merciful,” as here. (Comp. the formula of the Koran: “In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate.”)
Turn away his face.—Literally, turn aside face (a different word from “turn away” in 2 Chronicles 30:8).
(10) So the posts passed.—And the couriers were passing.
Even unto Zebulun.—This tribe, which lay on the southern border of Naphtali, had suffered from Tiglath-pileser’s invasion (Isaiah 9:1). The messengers did not actually travel northward so far as Dan (2 Chronicles 30:5). This mention of Zebulun as the limit of their journey lends an air of historical truth to the account.
Laughed them to scorn.—Literally, and they were laughing at them (hisḫîq: here only), and making mock of them (Psalms 22:7). The verbs imply what the Israelites did continually. Vulg., “cursores pergebant . . . illis irridentibus et subsannantibus eos.”
(11) Nevertheless divers of Asher.—But some men of Asher.—Besides these from Asher, Manasseh, Zebulun, 2 Chronicles 30:18 mentions others from Ephraim and Issachar. The two and a half tribes of the Trans-Jordan, as well as Naphtali and probably the neighbouring tribe of Dan, had been devastated by Tiglath-pileser; and the couriers went no farther than Zebulun. Part of Asher was contiguous to Zebulun; and the other three tribes mentioned by the chronicler lay south of it, so that the account is self-consistent.
Humbled themselves—i.e., repented. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 12:6-7.)
(12) Also in Judah . . . was.—Rather, Moreover upon Judah was the hand of God: a phrase here used of a Divine influence for good. (Comp. Ezra 8:22.) Elsewhere the phrase has the sense of judicial visitation; e.g., Exodus 9:3.
The commandment . . . by the word of the Lord.—Comp. the like phrase, 2 Chronicles 29:15. The royal command was inspired by the word of the Lord through a prophet.
THE PASSOVER AT JERUSALEM (2 Chronicles 30:13-22).
(13) Much people.—A very great congregation—a congregation in great multitude (lârôb mĕ’ôd). (See on 2 Chronicles 30:5.)
(14) Took away the altars.—The altars of burnt offering erected by Ahaz “in every corner” of the city (2 Chronicles 28:24).
Altars for incense.—Ha-mĕqattĕrôth—literally, the incense-burners. The term occurs here only.
Cast them into the brook Kidron.—See on 2 Chronicles 29:16. Thus the city was purified as well as the Temple.
(15) And the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves.—Ashamed of their former reluctance to purify themselves from the defilement contracted by their connection with illegal cults and sanctuaries during the late reign (2 Chronicles 29:34; and 2 Chronicles 30:3, supra). In the former passage the Levites are favourably contrasted with the priests; here they are spoken of in the same terms, a verbal inaccuracy apparently due to the writer’s desire to be brief.
(16) In their place.—‘Omdâm. This word is used in this sense only in Daniel, Chronicles, Nehemiah. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 34:31; 2 Chronicles 35:10.)
After their manner—i.e., “according to their order” (1 Chronicles 6:31).
According to the law . . . of God.—Another reference to the Pentateuchal legislation. (See 2 Chronicles 23:18; 2 Chronicles 24:6; 2 Chronicles 14:4; 2 Chronicles 17:9.)
Sprinkled . . . Levites.—Rather, sprinkling the blood from the hand of the Levites. On this occasion the Levites, and not the laymen who presented the victims, slew the lambs and handed the blood to the priests to be dashed against the altar. The reason of this breach of the ordinary rule is given in next verse.
(17) There were many in the congregation that were not sanctified.—Comp. 2 Chronicles 35:6; 2 Chronicles 35:10-11, where the Levites are again represented as doing the same work, but not as an exception. The precedent of Hezekiah’s Passover would seem to have become the rule. (Comp. also Ezra 6:20.)
To sanctify them—i.e., the lambs, which would have been ceremonially unclean if slain by unclean hands. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 2:4, “to dedicate it unto Him;” the same verb.)
(18) A multitude.—Marbîth (2chron 96; 1 Chronicles 12:29). Only in the Chronicles in this sense. Else where the term means “increase” of children (1 Samuel 2:33), or of money, i.e., interest (τόκον, Leviticus 25:37).
Ephraim . . . Zebulun.—The names indicate a documental source.
Had not cleansed themselves.—As was natural in the case of persons who had long been estranged from the legal religion of Jehovah (hittèhârû, pausal form of hittâha˘rû, Ezra 6:20, occurs here only).
Yet did they eat . . . written.—But ate the Passover in non-accordance with the Scripture—i.e., in illegal fashion, being themselves unclean. (Comp. Numbers 9:6, seq., according to which unclean persons ‘were bound to abstain from eating the Passover until the fourteenth of the second month.)
But Hezekiah prayed.—For Hezekiah had prayed for them, and therefore their irregularity was condoned,
The good Lord.—Jehovah the good; so only here. (Comp. Psalms 25:8.)
Good—i.e., kind, generous; benignus, benevolus.
Pardon every one.—Properly, make atonement on behalf of every one (kipper bĕ ‘ad): Leviticus 16:6; Leviticus 16:11. In the sense of forgive the construction is different: Psalms 65:4; Ezekiel 16:63.
(19) That prepareth.—Hath directed. The division of verses here is obviously incorrect. (The mistake was doubtless caused by the omission of the relative in the Hebrew between kol, “every one,” and lĕbâbô hçkîn, “his heart he hath directed.” The construction is parallel to that in 1 Chronicles 15:12, “unto the place that I have prepared for it;” so LXX.) The prayer is, “Jehovah the Good atone for every one who hath directed his heart to seek the true God, even Jehovah, the God of his fathers, albeit not (literally, and not) according to the holy purifying”—i.e., although he hath not rigorously observed the law of purification.
Purification of the sanctuary.—Or, holy purification: a phrase only found here (comp. 1 Chronicles 23:28).
The prayer evinces a preference of spiritual sincerity to mere literal observance of legal prescriptions, which is all the more remarkable as occurring in a writer whose principal aim is to foster a due reverence for the external ordinances and traditional customs of religion.
(20) And the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah.-Comp. Genesis 20:17, “And Abraham prayed unto God; and God healed Abimelech and his wife,” &c. In the present instance the prayer of Hezekiah is thought of as averting a visitation of Divine wrath in the shape of disease and death. (Comp. Leviticus 15:31, “Thus shall ye separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness; that they die not in their uncleanness, when they defile my dwelling-place, that is among them.”)
For the word heal in connection with uncleanness comp. Isaiah 6:5; Isaiah 6:10. See also 2 Chronicles 7:14, supra; Hosea 5:13; Hosea 14:4.
(21) Kept the feast. . . . with great gladness.—See 1 Chronicles 13:8; 1 Chronicles 15:16, seq., 1 Chronicles 15:28, and similar passages.
And the Levites.—With stringed instruments.
And the priests.—With clarions.
Praised.—Were praising; throughout the seven days’ festival.
With loud instruments unto the Lord.—With instruments of strength to Jehovah. This curious phrase apparently means instruments with which they ascribed strength to Jehovah; that is to say, with which they accompanied their psalms of praise. (Comp. the many psalms which glorify the strength of the God of Israel—e.g., Psalms 29:1, “Ascribe unto Jehovah, ye sons of God, ascribe unto Jehovah glory and strength.”)
There is, however, something to be said for the Authorised Version. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 5:12-13; 1 Chronicles 15:28; 1 Chronicles 16:42, from which it appears that the chronicler preferred music that was loud and strong.)
(22) Spake comfortably.—See margin, and comp. Isaiah 40:2.
That taught the good knowledge of the Lord.—Rather, were showing good skill for (in honour of) Jehovah, in their chanting and playing. The king encouraged the musicians with kindly words of praise.
They did eat throughout the feast.—Literally, they ate the feast, like “they ate the passover.” The meaning is that the assembly ate the sacrificial meals, which were supplied from the flesh of the “peace offerings.” The phrase is peculiar to this passage. The LXX. has καὶ συνετέλεσαν, “and they finished:” a difference which implies no great change in the Hebrew writing, but is against the context.
Making confession.—LXX. rightly, ἐξομολογούμενοι. The meaning is “yielding hearty thanks,” “acknowledging “the Divine goodness. Everywhere else the Hebrew word means “to confess guilt” (Nehemiah 9:3; Leviticus 5:5; Numbers 5:7).
(23) Took counsel.—Determined, the result of taking counsel (2 Chronicles 30:2).
To keep.—Literally, to do or make.
Other seven days.—As a prolongation of the festivities. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 7:9.)
With gladness.—Simhâh, an adverbial accusative. But some Hebrew MSS. express the with, as in 2 Chronicles 7:10. The chronicler is fond of dwelling upon the joy of the ancient festivals, as though he would suggest greater whole-heartedness and magnificence to the people and princes of his own day.
(24) Did give . . . gave.—Had presented (Exodus 35:24)—scil., for sacrifice as a tĕrûmâh, or “heave offering.” The gifts of king and princes for the Mazzôth festival were so abundant that they sufficed not only for the feast itself, but also for an additional week of rejoicing.
And a great number of priests.—Literally, and priests had sanctified themselves in multitude, or to abundance. The priests no longer hung back as they had done previously (2 Chronicles 30:3; 2 Chronicles 30:15; 2 Chronicles 29:34). There was now no lack of persons duly purified for the sacrifice of so many victims.
(25) And all the congregation.—Three classes of persons took part in the festival—(1) the Judseans, including the priests and Levites; (2) their Israelite guests; (3) the “strangers”—gêrîm—i.e., the proselytes, both those who came from the northern kingdom arid those who dwelt in Judah. The word gêrîm is not the same as gârîm (2 Chronicles 15:9), with which Lange’s comment confuses it. (Comp. Leviticus 17:12.)
(26) For since the time of Solomon . . . there was not the like.—The chronicler himself thus compares this great festival with the twofold Feast of the Dedication of the Temple (2 Chronicles 7:1-10). That festival, like this one, had been prolonged seven days, because the Feast of Tabernacles immediately followed upon it; and “there had been no other since the time of Solomon that could compare with this in respect of duration, or abundance of sacrifices, or number of participants, or the joy that distinguished it” (Bertheau).
(27) Then the priests the Levites.—And the Levitical priests; not any irregular ministrants. Some Hebrew MSS., the LXX., Syriac, and the Vulg. read, “And the priests and the Levites”: but comp. 2 Chronicles 23:18.
And their voice was heard.—The priestly blessing was a prayer that Jehovah would bless. (See Numbers 6:22-27.) That the prayer was heard on the present occasion, the writer infers from the progress of reform among the people, and the wonderful deliverance from Assyria, as related in the ensuing chapters.
Their prayer came up.—Entered into His holy dwelling (comp. Isaiah 18:6) into the heavens. Notice the characteristic omission of the sacred Name.
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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 30". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany