2 Chronicles 30


‘Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel. The king and his officials and the whole assembly in Jerusalem decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month. They had not been able to celebrate it at the regular time because not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem. The plan seemed right both to the king and to the whole assembly. They decided to send a proclamation throughout Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, calling the people to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel. It had not been celebrated in large numbers according to what was written. At the king’s command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read: “People of Israel, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the LORD, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the LORD. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the LORD your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. If you return to the LORD, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” 2 Chronicles 30:1-9

Hezekiah Celebrates The Passover

Hezekiah sends out an invitation to all of Israel and Judah and even wrote a letter of invitation to Ephraim and Manasseh to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover.

Hezekiah’s invitation was to the faithful who remained in the northern territories. He believed that even those who were taken captive from the northern ten tribes would come again from their captivity.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This wonderful invitation from Hezekiah is a remarkable testimony. It came following the fall of 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.’

Some commentators suggest that Hezekiah appears to have been so eager about gathering the people together to celebrate the Passover, that he actually violated God’s law.

Notice he wants everyone to celebrate the Passover in the second month, whilst God said it should be celebrated in the first month, Exodus 12:1-3 / Deuteronomy 16:1.

We must note that Passover was to be celebrated in the first month, Numbers 9:1-5, but there were times when it could be celebrated in the second month, Numbers 9:5-14.

Notice also the priests of Judah and Jerusalem hadn’t bothered to sanctify themselves for the legal Passover a month earlier.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘It was, therefore, determined to defer it to the 14th of the second month, which allowed time for the priests generally to purify themselves, and for the proclamation of the festival to be made throughout all Israel.’

Because the Passover hadn’t been celebrated for such a long time, Exodus 23:14-17, Hezekiah wanted to put things right again.

‘The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but people scorned and ridiculed them. Nevertheless, some from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem. Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the LORD.’ 2 Chronicles 30:10-12

Notice that the couriers were scorned and ridiculed by some people when they were given the invitation to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. This tells just how far from God and His ways, some of those in the Northern Kingdom had gone. Their relationship with Him simply didn’t exist anymore.

However, some from the tribes of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun came to Jerusalem, believing that their brethren who had been taken captive would return from captivity if they repented, Exodus 34:6. Notice they humbled themselves, this tells us that at least some in the Northern Kingdom still wanted to serve God and live by His will.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Five of the ten tribes certainly sent representatives. Two, Reuben and Gad were in captivity. One, Dan was absorbed into Judah. Simeon and Naphtali, which alone remained, seem to have been more than ordinarily idolatrous, 2 Chronicles 34:6.’

‘A very large crowd of people assembled in Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread in the second month. They removed the altars in Jerusalem and cleared away the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley. They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the temple of the LORD. Then they took up their regular positions as prescribed in the Law of Moses the man of God. The priests splashed against the altar the blood handed to them by the Levites. Since many in the crowd had not consecrated themselves, the Levites had to kill the Passover lambs for all those who were not ceremonially clean and could not consecrate their lambs to the LORD. Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone who sets their heart on seeking God—the LORD, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people. The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests praised the LORD every day with resounding instruments dedicated to the LORD. Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites, who showed good understanding of the service of the LORD. For the seven days they ate their assigned portion and offered fellowship offerings and praised the LORD, the God of their ancestors. The whole assembly then agreed to celebrate the festival seven more days; so for another seven days they celebrated joyfully. Hezekiah king of Judah provided a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep and goats for the assembly, and the officials provided them with a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep and goats. A great number of priests consecrated themselves. The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, along with the priests and Levites and all who had assembled from Israel, including the foreigners who had come from Israel and also those who resided in Judah. There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.’ 2 Chronicles 30:13-27

A large crowd gathered to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, Exodus 12:18, this festival followed the eating of the Passover lamb. They removed the altars in Jerusalem, these altars would have been the altars which were used for Baal worship.

They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month, as God instructed Moses, Numbers 9:5-14.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The priests in their place, and the Levites in theirs, in which they were ordered to stand when they offered sacrifice, the priests sprinkled the blood, which they received of the hand of the Levites, the blood either of the burnt offerings before mentioned, or of the Passover lambs, which the Levites slew, and received the blood of them in basins and which the priests took of them, and sprinkled, not on the doorposts of houses, as in Egypt, but on the altar round about, and which none but priests might do, Leviticus 1:5.’

Notice that not only was the temple cleansed, but also the whole city of Jerusalem was cleansed, however, because this whole celebration was organised so quickly, a lot of people were still unclean and so because they were unclean, they couldn’t eat the Passover, John 18:28.

In Hezekiah’s prayer, we learn that this was one time when a greater law prevailed over that which was written. It was a greater law that they eat the Passover. This law was greater than the law of being clean in order to eat the Passover. When God heard Hezekiah’s prayer, we read that God ‘healed’ the people, for this very special occasion, Matthew 12:1-8.

They sacrificed their offering to God and made confessions, which could be either confessing their sins, Leviticus 5:5 / Leviticus 16:21, or confessing God’s greatness, 1 Chronicles 16:8 / 1 Chronicles 16:24.

The celebrations lasted a total of fourteen days, this was one of the few times when Israel was actually united as the twelve tribes again. There was great joy in Jerusalem and nothing like this had happened since the days Solomon finished the construction of the temple around 230 years ago.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This was a voluntary addition to the requirements of the Law, the fruit and sign of the abounding zeal which characterized the time. Hezekiah and the princes probably proposed it to the people, and presented them with sacrificial animals.’

After blessing the people, Numbers 6:22-27, and despite being the temple, the priests and the Levites knew that God didn’t dwell within it, they knew that God dwelt in heaven, hence why the text said, their prayer reached heaven.

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