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And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel.
Hezekiah sent to all ... Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh. The names of these leading tribes are used for the whole kingdom of Israel. It being judged impossible, however, that the temple, the priests, and people could be all duly sanctified at the usual time appointed for the anniversary-namely, the 14th day of the first month (Nisan) - it was resolved, instead of postponing the feast until another year, to observe it on the 14th day of the second month: a liberty which, being in certain circumstances (Numbers 9:6-13) granted to individuals, might, it was believed, be allowed to the whole people. This postponement, however, is no proof that inward holiness was an indispensable qualification to that solemnity. For "sanctified," in this historical connection, means nothing more than being free from ceremonial uncleanness, which many had men might, and many good men might not, be.
Come to ... Jerusalem, to keep the Passover. This great religious festival had not been regularly observed by the Hebrews in their national capacity for a long time, in consequence both of the division of the kingdom and the many disorders that had followed that unhappy event. Hezekiah longed extremely to see its observance revived; and the expression of his wishes having received a hearty response from the princes and chief men of his own kingdom, the preparatory steps were taken for a renewed celebration of the national solemnity.
For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second month.
No JFB commentary on these verses.
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 the LORD God of Israel at Jerusalem: for they had not done it of a long time in such sort as it was written.
They established a decree to make proclamation throughout all Israel ... Hezekiah's proclamation was, of course, authoritative in his own kingdom, but it could not have been made and circulated in all the towns and villages of the neighbouring kingdom without the concurrence, or at least the permission, of the Israelite sovereign. Hoshea, the reigning king, is described as, though evil in some respects, yet more favourably disposed to religious liberty than any of his predecessors since the separation of the kingdom. This is thought to be the meaning of the mitigating clause in his character (2 Kings 17:2). It may be added that the great cause of religious schism between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah had been removed by the transportation of the golden calves-first, that of Dan by Tiglath-pileser, and, secondly, that of Beth-el by Shalmanezer; and that in consequence, multitudes of the Israelites had resumed their annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem a considerable time before the issue of Hezekiah's proclamation.
So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria.
The posts, [ haaraatsiym (H7323)] - runners, or royal messengers, who were taken from the king's bodyguard (2 Chronicles 23:1-2). Each, well mounted, had a certain number of miles to traverse, and, having performed his course, was relieved by another, who had to scour an equal extent of ground; so that, as the government messengers were despatched in all directions, public edicts were speedily diffused throughout the country. The proclamation of Hezekiah was followed by a verbal address from himself, piously urging the duty, and setting forth the advantages, of a return in a spirit of true penitence to the pure faith and institutions which God had delivered to their ancestors through Moses.
The remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria. This implies that several expeditions against Israel had already been made by Assyrian invaders: by Pul (2 Kings 15:19), but none of the people were then removed; at a later period by Tiglath-pileser, when it appears that numbers among the tribes east of Jordan (1 Chronicles 5:26), and afterward in the northern parts of Israel (2 Kings 15:20), were carried into foreign exile. The invasion of Salmaneser cannot be alluded to, as it did not take place until the sixth year of Hezekiah's reign (2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:9-12).
And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see.
No JFB commentary on these verses.
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.
The posts passed from city to city. It is not surprising that after so long a discontinuance of the sacred festival, this attempt to revive it should, in some quarters, have excited ridicule and opposition; and, accordingly, among the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Zebulun, Hezekiah's messengers met with open insults and ill-usage (cf. Matthew 22:1-14). Numbers, however, in these very districts, as well as throughout the kingdom of the ten tribes generally, complied with the invitation; while in the kingdom of Judah there was one unanimous feeling of high expectation and pious delight. The concourse that repaired to Jerusalem on the occasion was very great, and the occasion was over after regarded as one of the greatest Passovers that had ever been celebrated.
Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem.
No JFB commentary on these verses.
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. They arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem. As a necessary preparation for the right observance of the approaching solemnity, the removal of the altars was resolved upon, which Ahaz had erected in the city (2 Chronicles 28:24); for, as being the people of God, the Hebrews were bound to extirpate all traces of idolatry; and it was a happy sign and pledge of the influence of the Spirit pervading the minds of the people when they voluntarily undertook this important preliminary work.
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 in the burnt offerings into the house of the LORD.
The priests and the Levites were ashamed. Though the Levites are associated in this statement, the priests were principally referred to: those of them who had been dilatory or negligent in sanctifying themselves (2 Chronicles 29:34) were put to the blush and stimulated to their duty by the greater alacrity and zeal of the people.
And they stood in their place after their manner, according to the law of Moses the man of God: the priests sprinkled the blood, which they received of the hand of the Levites.
The priests sprinkled the blood, which they received of the hand of the Levites. This was a deviation from the established rules and practices in presenting the offerings of the temple; and the reason was, that numbers present on the occasion having not sanctified themselves, the Levites slaughtered the paschal victims (see the note at 2 Chronicles 35:5) for everyone that was unclean; while at other times the heads of families killed the lambs themselves, the priests receiving the blood from their hands and presenting it on the altar.
The practice seems to have been introduced after the erection of the temple-when the people had to kill the Passover "in the court of the temple" - of taking some of the blood and sprinkling it upon the altar; but it was not observed at the first celebration of the Passover in Egypt, nor the second in the Sinaitic wilderness; and it nowhere appears that there was any command laid upon the priests to that effect (see the note at 2 Chronicles 35:11). Multitudes of the Israelites, especially from certain tribes (2 Chronicles 30:18), were in this unsanctified state, and yet they ate the Passover-an exceptional feature, and one opposed to the law (Numbers 9:6: cf. Josephus, 'Jewish Wars,' b. 6:, ch. 9:, sec. 3); but this exception was allowed in answer to Hezekiah's prayer (2 Chronicles 30:18-20).
For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing of the passovers for every one that was not clean, to sanctify them unto the LORD.
No JFB commentary on these verses.
And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.
The Lord ... healed the people. We imagine the whole affair to have been the following: in consequence of their transgressions they had cause to fear disease and even death (Leviticus 15:31). Hezekiah prayed for the nation, which was on the point of being diseased, and might therefore be regarded as sick already (Bertheau). But the statement may be considered as expressed in metaphorical language, and meaning that the people were restored from their miserable state of guilt and apostasy to repentance and reformation of life.
And the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness: and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with loud instruments unto the LORD.
The children of Israel ... kept the feast The time appointed by the law for the continuance of the feast was seven days; but in consequence of its having been allowed to fall so long into desuetude, they doubled the period of celebration, and kept it 14 days with unabated satisfaction and joy, materials for the additional sacrificial meals, amounting to 2,000 bullocks and 17,000 sheep, being supplied by the munificence of the king and the princes. There would be more even than those mentioned; because the general law at all the great festivals was, none should appear before the Lord empty (Exodus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:16). [These private and voluntary offerings were called chªgiynaah, a festival.]
And Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the LORD: and they did eat throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings, and making confession to the LORD God of their fathers.
Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the Lord. It was quite in accordance with the character of this good king to encourage the Levites in the work of religious instruction.
And they did eat throughout the feast seven days, [ wayo'kªluw (H398) 'et (H853) hamow`eed (H4150)] - and they did eat the festival seven days. [In like manner the Septuagint has: kai sunetelesan teen heorteen toon axumoon hepta heemeras, and they fulfilled (observed) the festival of unleavened bread seven days.]
And the whole assembly took counsel to keep other seven days: and they kept other seven days with gladness.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
For Hezekiah king of Judah did give to the congregation a thousand bullocks and seven thousand sheep; and the princes gave to the congregation a thousand bullocks and ten thousand sheep: and a great number of priests sanctified themselves.
A great number of priests sanctified themselves - so that there would be a sufficient number of hands for the additional services.
And all the congregation of Judah, with the priests and the Levites, and all the congregation that came out of Israel, and the strangers that came out of the land of Israel, and that dwelt in Judah, rejoiced. No JFB commentary on this verse.
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.
Since the time of Solomon ... there was not the like in Jerusalem. The annual festivals, after the schism in the kingdom, seem to have decayed in regularity as well as magnificence of observance.
Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven.
The priests ... arose and blessed the people - (see the notes at Numbers 6:23-27.)
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 30". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany