Hezekiah invites all Israel and Judah, and writes letters to Ephraim and Manasseh to come up to Jerusalem, and hold a passover to the Lord, 2 Chronicles 30:1-4. The posts go out with the king's proclamation from Dan to Beer-sheba, and pass from city to city through the coasts of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Zebulun, but are generally mocked in Israel, 2 Chronicles 30:5-10. Yet several of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun, humble themselves, and come to Jerusalem, 2 Chronicles 30:11. But in Judah they are all of one heart, 2 Chronicles 30:12, 2 Chronicles 30:13. They take away the idolatrous altars, kill the passover, sprinkle the blood, and, as circumstances will permit, sanctify the people, 2 Chronicles 30:14, 2 Chronicles 30:15. Many having eaten of the passover, who were not purified according to the law, Hezekiah prays for them; and the Lord accepts his prayer, and heals them, 2 Chronicles 30:16-20. Hezekiah exhorts them; and they hold the feast seven additional days, fourteen in all, and the people greatly rejoice, 2 Chronicles 30:21-26. The priests and the Levites bless the people, and God accepts their prayers and thanksgivings, 2 Chronicles 30:27.
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 Israel - It is not easy to find out how this was permitted by the king of Israel; but it is generally allowed that Hoshea, who then reigned over Israel, was one of their best kings. And as the Jews allow that at this time both the golden calves had been carried away by the Assyrians, - that at Dan by Tiglath-pileser, and that at Bethel by Shalmaneser, - the people who chose to worship Jehovah at Jerusalem were freely permitted to do it, and Hezekiah had encouragement to make the proclamation in question.
For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second month.In the second month - In Ijar, as they could not celebrate it in Nisan, the fourteenth of which month was the proper time. But as they could not complete the purgation of the temple, till the sixteenth of that month, therefore they were obliged to hold it now, or else adjourn it till the next year, which would have been fatal to that spirit of reformation which had now taken place. The law itself had given permission to those who were at a distance, and could not attend to the fourteenth of the first month, and to those who were accidentally defiled, and ought not to attend, to celebrate the passover on the fourteenth of the second month; see Numbers 9:10, Numbers 9:11. Hezekiah therefore, and his counsellors, thought that they might extend that to the people at large, because of the delay necessarily occasioned by the cleansing of the temple, which was granted to individuals in such cases as the above, and the result showed that they had not mistaken the mind of the Lord upon the subject.
For they could not keep it at that time, because the priests had not sanctified themselves sufficiently, neither had the people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem.
And the thing pleased the king and all the congregation.
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.
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.So the posts went - רצים ratsim, the runners or couriers; persons who were usually employed to carry messages; men who were light of foot, and confidential.
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.
Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the LORD, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.
For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.And will not turn away his face from you - Well expressed by the Targum: "For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not cause his majesty to ascend up from among you, if ye will return to his fear." The shechinah, of which the Targumist speaks, is the dwelling of the Divine Presence among men, and the visible symbol of that presence.
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 divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem.
Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart to do the commandment of the king and of the princes, by the word of the LORD.
And there assembled at Jerusalem much people to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great congregation.
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 in the burnt offerings into the house of the LORD.
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.
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.
For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every oneA multitude of the people - had not cleansed themselves - As there were men from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, they were excusable, because they came from countries that had been wholly devoted to idolatry.
The good Lord pardon every one - "The Lord, who is good, have mercy on this people who err." - T.
That prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.
And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.
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.
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.Spake comfortably unto all the Levites - On such occasions the priests and Levites had great fatigue, and suffered many privations; and therefore had need of that encouragement which this prudent and pious king gave. It is a fine and expressive character given of these men, "They taught the good knowledge of God to the people." This is the great work, or should be so, of every Christian minister. They should convey that knowledge of God to the people by which they may be saved; that is, the good knowledge of the Lord.
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 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.
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.The strangers that come out of the land of Israel - That is, the proselytes of the covenant who had embraced Judaism, and had submitted to the rite of circumcision, for none others could be permitted to eat of the passover.
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 - For from that time the ten tribes had been separated from the true worship of God, and now many of them for the first time, especially from Asher, Issachar, Ephraim, Manasseh, and Zebulun, joined to celebrate the passover.
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.And their voice was heard - God accepted the fruits of that pious disposition which himself had infused.
And their prayer came up - As the smoke of their sacrifices ascended to the clouds, so did their prayers, supplications, and thanksgivings, ascend to the heavens. The Targum says: "Their prayer came up to the dwelling-place of his holy shechinah, which is in heaven." Israel now appeared to be in a fair way of regaining what they had lost; but alas, how soon were all these bright prospects beclouded for ever!
It is not for the want of holy resolutions and heavenly influences that men are not saved but through their own unsteadiness; they do not persevere, they forget the necessity of continuing in prayer, and thus the Holy Spirit is grieved, departs from them, and leaves them to their own darkness and hardness of heart. When we consider the heavenly influences which many receive who draw back to perdition, and the good fruits which for a time they bore, it is blasphemy to say they had no genuine or saving grace; they had it, they showed it, they trifled with it, sinned against it, continued in their rebellions, and therefore are lost.