‘Josiah celebrated the Passover to the LORD in Jerusalem, and the Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the first month. He appointed the priests to their duties and encouraged them in the service of the LORD’s temple. He said to the Levites, who instructed all Israel and who had been consecrated to the LORD: “Put the sacred ark in the temple that Solomon son of David king of Israel built. It is not to be carried about on your shoulders. Now serve the LORD your God and his people Israel. Prepare yourselves by families in your divisions, according to the instructions written by David king of Israel and by his son Solomon. “Stand in the holy place with a group of Levites for each subdivision of the families of your fellow Israelites, the lay people. Slaughter the Passover lambs, consecrate yourselves and prepare the lambs for your fellow Israelites, doing what the LORD commanded through Moses.” Josiah provided for all the lay people who were there a total of thirty thousand lambs and goats for the Passover offerings, and also three thousand cattle—all from the king’s own possessions. His officials also contributed voluntarily to the people and the priests and Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah and Jehiel, the officials in charge of God’s temple, gave the priests twenty-six hundred Passover offerings and three hundred cattle. Also Konaniah along with Shemaiah and Nethanel, his brothers, and Hashabiah, Jeiel and Jozabad, the leaders of the Levites, provided five thousand Passover offerings and five hundred head of cattle for the Levites. The service was arranged and the priests stood in their places with the Levites in their divisions as the king had ordered. The Passover lambs were slaughtered, and the priests splashed against the altar the blood handed to them, while the Levites skinned the animals. They set aside the burnt offerings to give them to the subdivisions of the families of the people to offer to the LORD, as it is written in the Book of Moses. They did the same with the cattle. They roasted the Passover animals over the fire as prescribed, and boiled the holy offerings in pots, caldrons and pans and served them quickly to all the people. After this, they made preparations for themselves and for the priests, because the priests, the descendants of Aaron, were sacrificing the burnt offerings and the fat portions until nightfall. So the Levites made preparations for themselves and for the Aaronic priests. The musicians, the descendants of Asaph, were in the places prescribed by David, Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun the king’s seer. The gatekeepers at each gate did not need to leave their posts, because their fellow Levites made the preparations for them. So at that time the entire service of the LORD was carried out for the celebration of the Passover and the offering of burnt offerings on the altar of the LORD, as King Josiah had ordered. The Israelites who were present celebrated the Passover at that time and observed the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. The Passover had not been observed like this in Israel since the days of the prophet Samuel; and none of the kings of Israel had ever celebrated such a Passover as did Josiah, with the priests, the Levites and all Judah and Israel who were there with the people of Jerusalem. This Passover was celebrated in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign.’ 2 Chronicles 35:1-19
Josiah Celebrates The Passover
Josiah now tells the people it’s time to celebrate the Passover according to how it was written in the Book of the Covenant, which implies they hadn’t celebrated the Passover correctly up until this point, Deuteronomy 16:1-8 / 2 Kings 23:21-23.
Josiah tells the Levites that the ark, ‘is not to be carried about on your shoulders’. The KJV, says ‘it shall not be a burden upon your shoulders.’
Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.
‘Josiah means shall not henceforth be your duty. The ark shall remain undisturbed in the holy of holies. You shall return to your old employments, to the service of God and the instruction of the people.’
Notice Josiah himself provided thirty thousand lambs and goats for the Passover sacrifice, as well as three thousand cattle. This was more than double than the previous Passover celebrations during the reign of Hezekiah, 2 Chronicles 30:24.
They separated from the Paschal lambs, those parts which were to be burned on the altar. These parts they gave to the offerors, who took them up to the altar and handed them to the officiating priests.
In other words, the people were served first and then the priests and finally the Levite leaders. He also put singers in their places, however, God didn’t command any kind of singing during the Passover celebrations.
Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.
‘This Passover was utterly unlike the one kept in the reign of Hezekiah, in several important particulars.
1. It was kept at the prescribed time, Numbers 9:1-5 / 2 Chronicles 30:1-3.
2. The ceremonial cleanness of participants was observed.
3. And all the particulars of the Mosaic instructions were strictly observed.
4. Although the singers were mentioned, the instruments of music were not mentioned, and apparently not used. These important distinctions fully justify the statement in 2 Chronicles 35:18, that, ‘from the days of Samuel the prophet, none of the kings of Israel keeps such a Passover as Josiah kept’.’
Sadly, the sins of the fathers were deep in the culture of the apostate Judah, and so, in the few years after the death of Josiah, the people would find themselves in the bondage of the Babylonians.
The Death Of Josiah
‘After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Necho king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah marched out to meet him in battle. But Necho sent messengers to him, saying, “What quarrel is there, king of Judah, between you and me? It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you.” Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle. He would not listen to what Necho had said at God’s command but went to fight him on the plain of Megiddo. Archers shot King Josiah, and he told his officers, “Take me away; I am badly wounded.” So they took him out of his chariot, put him in his other chariot and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his ancestors, and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him. Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments. The other events of Josiah’s reign and his acts of devotion in accordance with what is written in the Law of the LORD—all the events, from beginning to end, are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.’ 2 Chronicles 35:20-27
Here we read of a conflict which took place near the end of Josiah’s reign, which involved him being killed, 2 Kings 23:28-30. Pharaoh Necho of Egypt wanted to come to the rescue of the Assyrians at Carchemish, but while he was on his way, Josiah engaged him in battle at Megiddo.
For some reason, possibly pride, he went into battle with Necho when he didn’t need to. Sadly, Josiah totally ignored the advice from Necho when he said, ‘What quarrel is there, king of Judah, between you and me?’ Josiah stubbornly refused to hear this warning, which was actually from God.
Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.
‘The fate of Josiah was unprecedented. No king of Judah had, up to this time, fallen in battle. None had left his land at the mercy of a foreign conqueror. Hence, the extraordinary character of the mourning, Zechariah 12:11-14.’
It was during this period we find a world power struggle taking place between the Assyrians and the Babylonians. That king of Assyria was Nabopolassar the father of Nebuchadnezzar and this pharaoh was Pharaoh-Necho II.
The history of this event is very complex but Coffman in his commentary gives us useful insight into it.
‘The Assyrian empire was in a state of collapse. Nineveh had fallen in 612 B.C., and Pharaoh-Necho was ambitious to succeed Assyria as the world ruler. It is not exactly clear why Josiah felt it necessary to challenge the king of Egypt, but he did, losing his life as a result. Yes, God had promised through Huldah that Josiah would die in peace, but it is sinful to allege the fact of his being killed in battle as ‘a contradiction’.
1. The ‘in peace’ of God’s promise may have referred to the fact that Jerusalem would not be under attack at the time of his death.
2. All of God’s promises are conditional, Jeremiah 18:7-10, and it is simply astounding how many learned men apparently remain ignorant of this simple truth. In the light of it, Josiah’s engagement of the king of Egypt in battle might have been contrary to God’s will, nullifying the promise altogether.
Notice that Jeremiah lamented for Josiah, he probably was wondering why the righteous died in the way Josiah did. He was so popular that even the entire nation lamented over his death.
Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.
‘The exact place of the battle seems to have been Hadad-Rimmon, in the valley of Megiddo, for there Zechariah tells us, Zechariah 12:11, was the great mourning for Josiah.’
Go To 2 Chronicles 36