Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Moreover Josiah kept a passover unto the LORD in Jerusalem: and they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.Ch. 2 Chronicles 35:1-19 (= 1Es 1:1-22; cp. 2 Kings 23:21-23). Josiah’s Passover
1. Moreover Josiah] R.V. And Josiah.
the first month] The legal month; cp. 2 Chronicles 30:2 (with note).
And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of the LORD,2. in their charges] i.e. at their duties.
encouraged them] As Hezekiah had done; cp. 2 Chronicles 29:5-11; 2 Chronicles 30:22.
And said unto the Levites that taught all Israel, which were holy unto the LORD, Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel did build; it shall not be a burden upon your shoulders: serve now the LORD your God, and his people Israel,3. that taught all Israel] Cp. Nehemiah 8:7; Nehemiah 8:9; also (perhaps) 2 Chronicles 30:22, A.V.
And prepare yourselves by the houses of your fathers, after your courses, according to the writing of David king of Israel, and according to the writing of Solomon his son.4. by the houses of your fathers, after your courses] R.V. after your fathers’ houses by your courses.
the writing of David] Cp. 1 Chronicles 23:27; 1 Chronicles 28:19-21.
And stand in the holy place according to the divisions of the families of the fathers of your brethren the people, and after the division of the families of the Levites.5. of the families of the fathers] R.V. of the fathers’ houses.
the people] R.V. the children of the people, i.e. the laity. The same phrase is translated in 2 Kings 23:6 “the common people” (without any invidious meaning).
and after the division of the families of the Levites] R.V. and let there be for each a portion of a fathers’ house of the Levites. Each great division of the laity is to be served by a small division of the Levites.
So kill the passover, and sanctify yourselves, and prepare your brethren, that they may do according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.6. prepare your brethren that they may do] R.V. prepare for your brethren, to do. Cp. 2 Chronicles 35:12-13.
And Josiah gave to the people, of the flock, lambs and kids, all for the passover offerings, for all that were present, to the number of thirty thousand, and three thousand bullocks: these were of the king's substance.7. gave] R.V. mg., gave for offerings; cp. 2 Chronicles 30:24, (R.V.) where it is said that Hezekiah did the same at his great Passover.
to the people] R.V. to the children of the people (as in 2 Chronicles 35:5, see note).
for all] R.V. unto all.
And his princes gave willingly unto the people, to the priests, and to the Levites: Hilkiah and Zechariah and Jehiel, rulers of the house of God, gave unto the priests for the passover offerings two thousand and six hundred small cattle, and three hundred oxen.8. willingly] The A.V. is better here than the R.V. (“for a free will offering”).
rulers of the house of God] Cp. 1 Chronicles 9:11, note.
Conaniah also, and Shemaiah and Nethaneel, his brethren, and Hashabiah and Jeiel and Jozabad, chief of the Levites, gave unto the Levites for passover offerings five thousand small cattle, and five hundred oxen.9. Conaniah … and Shemaiah] Perhaps the “Conaniah and Shimei his brother” of 2 Chronicles 31:12, and so Jozabad may be the “Jozabad” of 2 Chronicles 31:13. If this be so, the names represent families rather than individuals, for nearly sixty years separate the reigns of Hezekiah and Josiah.
chief] R.V. the chiefs.
So the service was prepared, and the priests stood in their place, and the Levites in their courses, according to the king's commandment.10. in their courses] R.V. by their courses.
And they killed the passover, and the priests sprinkled the blood from their hands, and the Levites flayed them.11. sprinkled] Cp. 2 Chronicles 29:22, note.
from their hands] R.V. which they received of their hand; cp. 2 Chronicles 30:16.
the Levites flayed] Cp. 2 Chronicles 29:34.
And they removed the burnt offerings, that they might give according to the divisions of the families of the people, to offer unto the LORD, as it is written in the book of Moses. And so did they with the oxen.12. that they might give according to the divisions of the families of the people] R.V. that they might give them according to the divisions of the fathers’ houses of the children of the people.
And they roasted the passover with fire according to the ordinance: but the other holy offerings sod they in pots, and in caldrons, and in pans, and divided them speedily among all the people.13. the ordinance] Exodus 12:9.
but the other holy offerings] R.V. and the holy offerings. The bullocks mentioned in 2 Chronicles 35:7-9. They would not be slain on the Passover day itself, but on the days which immediately followed.
divided them speedily among all the people] R.V. carried them quickly to all the children of the people.
And afterward they made ready for themselves, and for the priests: because the priests the sons of Aaron were busied in offering of burnt offerings and the fat until night; therefore the Levites prepared for themselves, and for the priests the sons of Aaron.14. of burnt offerings] R.V. the burnt offerings.
the fat] Cp. 2 Chronicles 7:7, note; 2 Chronicles 29:35.
And the singers the sons of Asaph were in their place, according to the commandment of David, and Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun the king's seer; and the porters waited at every gate; they might not depart from their service; for their brethren the Levites prepared for them.15. the singers] Cp. 1 Chronicles 25:1 ff.
waited at every gate; they might not depart] R.V. were at every gate: they needed not to depart.
So all the service of the LORD was prepared the same day, to keep the passover, and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar of the LORD, according to the commandment of king Josiah.16. the same day] Lit. “on that day,” i.e. the fourteenth of Nisan.
And the children of Israel that were present kept the passover at that time, and the feast of unleavened bread seven days.
And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.18. there was no passover] Cp. what is said of Hezekiah’s Passover, 2 Chronicles 30:26.
from the days of Samuel] Perhaps in allusion to 1 Samuel 9:12-13, though there is no word there to identify the feast mentioned with the Passover. In 2 Kings 23:22 “from the days of the judges.”
In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah was this passover kept.19. in the eighteenth year] Cp. 2 Chronicles 34:8; 2 Kings 23:23.
After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him.20. Necho] R.V. Neco. This was Neco II. (reigned 611–595 b.c., Maspero, Histoire Ancienne, p. 545, note), who according to Herodotus (II. 159) conquered the “Syrians” (Jews or Assyrians?) at “Magdol” (Megiddo or Magdol near the Pelusiac mouth of the Nile?) and then captured Cadytis (Kadesh on the Orontes or Gaza?), an important city of Syria. The account of Herodotus is obscure, ambiguous and defective, but a comparison of 2 Kings with an inscription of Nabu-na’id king of Babylon (555–538 b.c.) sets Neco’s action in a clearer light. The campaign (which took place about 608 b.c.) was directed “against the king of Assyria” (2 Kings 23:29), i.e. against the last king Sin-šar-iškun (Saracos) who was at war with Nabopolassar (father of Nebuchadnezzar), king of Babylon. Nabopolassar, hard pressed, called in to his help the Umman-manda (Scythians), who destroyed Nineveh circ. 608 b.c.; cp. Messerschmidt, die Inschrift der Stele Nabu-na’id’s (pp. 5–13). Neco advanced to the Euphrates to secure some of the spoils of the Assyrian overthrow, but the victory of Nebuchadnezzar over Neco at Carchemish (circ. 605 b.c.) finally excluded Egypt from any share.
against Carchemish] Cp. Jeremiah 46:2. It was a city situated near the junction of the Habor and Euphrates. In 2 Kin., “against the king of Assyria.”
20–24 (= 1Es 1:25-31; cp. 2 Kings 23:29-30). The Death of Josiah
The account of Josiah’s death is very much fuller in Chron. than in Kings. The features which are peculiar to the Chronicler are, (1) Neco’s message to dissuade Josiah from war, (2) Josiah’s disguising himself and coming to fight in the valley of Megiddo, (3) the wounding of Josiah by archers, (4) the transfer of the wounded king from a war chariot to another chariot. In other words all the details which represent the meeting at Megiddo as a battle are peculiar to Chron.
The account given in Kings is simply:—“King Josiah went to meet him (Necho), and he put him to death at Megiddo when he saw him. And his servants carried him in a chariot dead from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem.” The Hebrew expression for “went to meet” in this passage is the same as in 1 Kings 18:16; 2 Kings 16:10; it does not suggest a hostile meeting, though it can be used in a suitable context to describe one. The phrase “when he saw him” suggests an interview rather than a battle. Thus we have two traditions of Josiah’s death: according to Chron. he was mortally wounded in battle, according to Kings he sought an interview with Neco and was assassinated by him at the town of Megiddo.
But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.21. against the house wherewith I have war] In 1Es 1:27 there is a different reading “My war is upon Euphrates.”
commanded] R.V. hath commanded.
Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo.22. disguised himself] Josiah, like Ahab (2 Chronicles 18:29), took the warning so far seriously as to think that his life was in danger and that he would be safer fighting in disguise. The ἐκραταιώθη (“was strengthened”) of the LXX. represents an inferior reading.
the valley of Megiddo] Cp. Jdg 5:19; Zechariah 12:11. In 1Es 1:29, “the plain of Megiddo.” The whole (or perhaps only the western part) of the plain of Esdrelon is meant; cp. 1 Chronicles 10:7, note.
And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded.23. the archers shot] Cp. the death of Ahab, 2 Chronicles 18:33. 1Es 1:29 has an inferior reading, viz. “the princes came down against king Josias.”
His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.24. His servants therefore took him out of that chariot] R.V. So his servants took him out of the chariot.
the second chariot] War chariots were small, with (apparently) only standing room for their occupants; see the illustrations of Egyptian and Assyrian chariots given in Smith’s Bib. Dict. s.v. This “second chariot” was probably of a larger kind, suitable for travelling.
in one of the sepulchres] R.V. in the sepulchres.
And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations.25 (= 1Es 1:32; not in 2 Kin.). The Lamentations for Josiah
25. lamented] i.e. “composed (or uttered) an elegy.” The Heb. word (ḳônçn) suggests formal composition, and the actual words of lamentation are often given; 2 Samuel 1:17 ff; 2 Samuel 3:33-34; Ezekiel 27:32; Ezekiel 32:2; Ezekiel 32:16.
and they made them an ordinance] Cp. 2 Samuel 1:18, R.V.
in the lamentations] In some lost work, not in our canonical book of the Lamentations, for there we “look in vain for a single word distinctive of a funeral dirge over a devout and zealous reformer like Josiah” (E. H. Plumptre in Smith’s Bib. Dict. s.v.).
Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his goodness, according to that which was written in the law of the LORD,26, 27 (= 1Es 1:33; 2 Kings 23:25; 2 Kings 23:28). The Epilogue of Josiah’s Reign
26. his goodness] R.V. his good deeds; cp. 2 Chronicles 32:32.
according to that which was (is) written] Cp. the strong terms used in 2 Kings 23:25, “like unto him was no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart … according to all the law of Moses … neither after him arose there any like him.”
And his deeds, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.