II Chronicles 30
This chapter contains the account of Hezekiah’s arrangements after the
restoration for the observance of the Passover — arrangements more than
ordinarily interesting to notice in respect of, first, the unusual time
appointed for the celebration; and, second, the determined and brave
attempt of the good king to win again to the worship of
as was no doubt anticipated, it subjected his royal proffers to scorn, v. 10)
separated people of “all
celebration itself, the happy omen (v. 14) with which it opened, its
duration; and certain several other incidents attending it (vs. 13-27).
1 “And Hezekiah sent to all
Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the
Jerusalem, to keep the passover
unto the LORD God of
Hezekiah sent… wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh.
Some have sought to bring into the appearance of harmony the
two first clauses of this verse by supposing that the former clause purports
say that Hezekiah sent messengers to all
particular letters in addition to Ephraim and Manasseh, the chief tribes of
the northern kingdom and the Joseph tribes. Vs. 6 and 10, however,
seem to dispose effectually of this offer of explanation; while another
explanation, that the names of the two tribes are simply to be taken as
equivalent to “all
us no way at all. We should prefer in the difficulty, unimportant though it
is, yet one facing us, rather to assume that the verse wishes to say that
Hezekiah sent (i.e. sent messengers, which prove to be the runners,
rendered the “posts”) to all
the rest of their allied tribes by implication, but not to
letters also which were carried by the posts (or runners). It is true that v. 6
may negate even this conjecture for getting over the difficulty, but not
necessarily so, for it only says that the posts went throughout
some, not to all, and those some
brethren. There will have been to hand other, the usual methods of
king. The thing different from “letters” that was circulated may have been
just the “proclamation” of v. 5. It has been suggested that the now King
(II Kings 17:4).
2 “For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the
This and the following verse are well explained by Numbers 9:6-13,
where the particular instance of the “defilement by a dead body” simply
exemplified other legitimate instances of defilement or nonsanctification
(ch. 29:5, 15, 34), and where absence on a journey similarly exemplified
other unavoidable absence.
3 “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
reminiscence of the “at that day,” twice occurring in v. 6 of Numbers 9.
But anyway the meaning is plain “at the appointed season.”
4 “And the thing pleased the king and all the congregation.”
This verse betokens the careful consideration on the part of
“king, princes, and all the congregation,” that had been given to the distinct
question, whether the exact present circumstances legitimately fell under
the description of Numbers 9:6-13; and the issue was that they decided
that they did, they “ruled the thing right” (וַיִּישַׁר הַדָבָר)
5 “So they established a decree to make proclamation throughout all
the passover unto the LORD God of
had not done it of a long time in such sort as it was written.”
Of a long time. Though the idea expressed in this rendering
must, under any circumstances, attach to this passage, yet it can scarcely be
understood to be given in the one Hebrew word we have here (לָרֹב); out
of nearly a hundred and fifty occurrences of the word, and often with its
present preposition, this is the solitary occasion of its being turned into a
mark of time. The translation should read, for they had not kept it in
multitude, i.e. in proper multitudes, and in the multitude of an undivided
and holy kingdom. The force of the reference lies in the fact just stated,
that Hezekiah, ignoring all the worse precedents of now many generations,
and ignoring the iniquity of the duality of the kingdom, manfully caused his
writ to run from south to north unchecked! As it was written; i.e. in the
book of the Law of Moses. So runs the full and frequent and honored
phrase: כַּכָּתוּב בְסֵפֶר תּורַת־משֶׁה (ch. 35:26; II Kings 14:6; I Kings 2:3)
6 “So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes
the king, saying, Ye
of Abraham, Isaac,
you, that are
escaped out of the hand of the kings of
So the posts (see note on v. 1). The remnant of you…
with the fact that the injured and crushed state of the northern kingdom
might be of salutary omen for the attempt on his part to bring them to a
sense of their past sins, specially perhaps of omission. Of the calamities of
7 “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.” A strange and significant snatch
of corroborating history is to be found in I Chronicles 5:23-26.
8 “Now be ye not stiff-necked, 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. 9 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.” Be ye not stiff-necked
(see Deuteronomy 16, 17). Yield yourselves; literally, give the hand (see
I Chronicles 29:24; Ezra 10:19, etc.). Which He hath sanctified for ever
(see Psalm 132:13-14).
Four Reasons for Repentance (vs. 6-9)
The letters which Hezekiah sent throughout the cities and
contained an earnest exhortation to repentance; they urged upon the
inhabitants of that distressed land that, for the strongest reasons, they
should return from their idolatrous ways, and worship the true and living
God in His own temple. These considerations are fourfold:
EXHORTED TO RETURN. “Children of
Lord God… of
were now invited; it was to the
ancestors bowed the knee; it was to Him who ever called Himself by the
very name they bore, in whom their illustrious father put his trust and
found his heritage. Whom should they serve but that One whom
himself acknowledged as the Lord his God (Genesis 28:16-22)? To
those who have gone astray to vanities, to the pursuits of earth, to human
attachments, to perishable treasures, and who have forsaken the Divine
Source of all good and joy, we have to say, “Return unto the Lord God of
your fathers. He to whom and to whose service we invite your return is no
strange God in your house. It is He whom your father, whom your mother,
has loved and served these many years; whom (it may be) they are
worshipping and serving now in the upper sanctuary. It is their tones that
may be recognized in our voice, if you have an ear to hear, saying, ‘Return
unto our God, unto our Saviour, unto our heritage, unto our home.’”
against the Lord God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to
desolation” (v. 7). Assuming the (more probable) theory that the country
was now in the hands of the Assyrians, there was “desolation” indeed; to
most of their families (and to the best of them) captivity or bereavement; to
the nation, as such, utter subjection, humiliation, ruin. This was the penalty
of their rebellion against Jehovah, its natural and inevitable end
(Deuteronomy 29:22-28). To those who are estranged from God we
have to say, “Return unto God, for distance from Him is SPIRITUAL
Ø It is the forfeiture of the true heritage of the human soul, the heritage it
has in the favor and the friendship of God.
Ø It is the endurance of His most serious displeasure.
Ø It is a spiritual bondage, the bondage of sin.
Ø It is the beginning of death eternal.
gracious and merciful, and will not turn away His face from you, if ye
return unto Him” (v. 9). The people of this idolatrous realm might well
ask whether they had not hopelessly separated themselves from Jehovah,
whether their rebelliousness had not gone such lengths that mercy was not
to be looked for. But Hezekiah charged them to dismiss all such fears from
their minds; their repentance would meet with a gracious response from the
forgiving God of their fathers. It is one of the strongest inducements we
have to offer to those now spiritually estranged, that their genuine
repentance, the turning of their heart toward the God of their fathers, and
their seeking His mercy in Jesus Christ the Divine Saviour, is certain to be
attended with his abundant mercy, and to he followed by their restitution to
the favour they have lost, to the home they have left, to the blessedness
they have thrown away. There is absolutely no fear of a repulse — that is a
moral impossibility; the unchangeable Word of the faithful God is the
immovable pledge that return means reconciliation.
THEIR RELATIONS. “Your brethren and your children shall find
compassion,” etc. (v. 9). This was their one and only hope. If God had
brethren and children from the land of their captivity; otherwise these must
perish in “a strange land,” in the land of the enemy. Our message to men is
not unlike this; we have to say to them, “If you will consult the well-being
of those in whom you are most interested and for whom you are most
responsible; if you will care for the salvation of those nearest and dearest to
you, of your brethren and your children; then do you live the life of the
holy, do you give the best and strongest evidence that you believe in the
excellency of the service of Christ, do you turn from the transient and the
unsatisfying treasures of earth, and seek your heritage in the favor of the
heavenly Father, in the love and the friendship of the Saviour of mankind.
Therefore “yield yourselves unto God” (v. 8):
Ø enter His sanctuary;
Ø accept the overtures of His Son;
Ø sit down at His table;
Ø take on you His Name and His vows.”
10 “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.” Through… Ephraim and Manasseh.
(No doubt a part of the reason
5:23-26 – CY - 2016) The way in which the names of these two tribes are
here used may explain in part the use of them in brief for simple reasons of
the convenience of brevity in v. 1. They laughed them to scorn, and mocked
them. These two words speak significant description of the exact moral state
country lay north of Zebulun had been so wasted by
Zebulun is spoken of as what was most northerly.
11 “Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled
themselves, and came to
Issachar mentioned in v. 18, and bearing in mind the contents of our v. 7
(with note), we have really only to account for Dan, which was no longer
the passage is not to lay stress upon the tribes represented, but on the scattered,
though sparse, attendants at the Passover who came.
Letters to Ephraim: Generosity (vs. 1, 10-11)
Hezekiah now took a very bold and decided course. There had been no
direct dealings between the king or court of Judah and the people of
understand that this action was taken in the first year of his reign, while
Hoshea was on the throne of
audacity, and was calculated to rouse the resentment of that ruler. If,
however, we hold (with Keil and others) that it was not until the sixth year
of Hezekiah’s reign, when Shalmaneser had wrought his will with the sister
kingdom, that the great Passover was held, the measure taken by the pious
king is still one of considerable vigor and of no little generosity. We learn
ENLARGEMENT. Had not Hezekiah been a faithful servant of Jehovah,
he would not have concerned himself about the moral and spiritual
condition of Ephraim and Manasseh. He might have rejoiced in anything
that would degrade and therefore enfeeble them. But as the servant of
God, and therefore of the truth and of righteousness, he looked with
sorrow upon the separation of those tribes of
fathers, and it was “in his heart” (ch. 29:10) to take a step
that might restore them to the faith they had abandoned and to the favor
they had lost. His “heart was enlarged toward them” (II Corinthians 6:11).
There was nothing that was singular, but everything that was natural
and usual in this. Let a man determine to take the right course, to set his
whole life as well as rule his whole nature by principles which he believes
to be Divine, and for him there will be a very blessed spiritual enlargement.
He will come to see truths which had been quite out of sight, and to
cherish feelings to which he had been a stranger, and to proceed upon lines
high and far above the old levels. His life will be lifted up, himself will be
enlarged and enriched abundantly.
PECULIARLY HONOURABLE. It probably cost Hezekiah and his
counselors some considerable effort to make overtures to
tribes had revolted from the kingdom; they had lately inflicted a most
severe and humiliating defeat upon
taken that there existed a strong, if not an intense, animosity between those
so nearly related to and yet so distinctly divided from one another (see
John 4:9; Luke 9:52-53). Nevertheless, they were regarded and
treated as brethren. It is here where we so often fail in the illustration of
Christian principles. We can show magnanimity toward those who are afar
off, who belong to a different nation, or to another Church, or to a
separate family; but we find it hard, perhaps impossible, to make advances
toward those of our own people, of our own community, of our own
family, between whom and ourselves some estrangement has come. Truly
said the wise man, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong
city.” (Proverbs 18:19) And wisely says our English poet that:
“… to be wroth with one we love
Doth work like madness in the brain.
“They stood aloof, the scars remaining,
Like cliffs which had been rent asunder.
But there is one thing that can bring together the divided hearts and lives of
brethren — the generous heart which takes its rule of life and which gains
“the spirit of its mind” from Jesus Christ.
COURSE BY THE POSSIBILITY OR EVEN THE LIKELIHOOD OF
REPULSE. Hezekiah and his council faced this probability, and they
ventured, notwithstanding. Their messengers did meet with much scornful
rejection (v. 10); but on this they must have counted, and by it they were
not moved. In spite of all the mockery they encountered, they went
through the land as they proposed. If we are careful to count all the
possible consequences to ourselves, we shall never do noble deeds. The
soldier does not weigh the chances of his being wounded as he goes into
the battle; he does not mind if he goes home with some scars upon his
countenance. Nor will the good soldier of Jesus Christ.
GENEROUS COURSE. “Nevertheless divers… humbled themselves, and
even judged by its visible and calculable results. Any serious and generous
attempt to heal old wounds and restore broken friendships, or to bring
back to God those estranged from Him, will not be unrewarded.
o If it does not succeed wholly, it will in part. If it does not win affection
and reopen fellowship, it may weaken resentment and make return easier
another time. It may avail with one or two, if not with all. It may succeed
in time, if not at once.
o It will certainly result in some spiritual advancement on our own part.
No true act of Christian love is ever lost to the agent himself.
o It will win the smile and benediction of the magnanimous Saviour.
12 “Also in
commandment of the king and of the princes, by the word of the LORD.”
this expression can perhaps scarcely cite as its parallel Ezra 7:9. “The hand of God”
here means rather his effectual working, which effectual working produced a hearty
unanimity, that contrasted well with the bearing of the northern tribes.
Preparations for a Grand National Passover (vs. 1-12)
Ø By whom! Hezekiah, his princes, and all the congregation in
with both of whom he had taken counsel. The important step, not adopted
without deliberation, was concurred in by the entire body of the people
(v. 4). If any in the nation held aloof, these were the priests and the
Levites (v. 15).
Ø For whom? All
sectional or provincial, but national. For “all
Dan” — for the inhabitants of the two kingdoms, which ought never to
have been divided, and in religion at least should ever have been one.
Ø On what ground?
o That it was their duty to keep such a Passover. It was written in the
Law of Moses
that all the congregation of
Passover (Exodus 12:47); that three times a year should all the
males of the nation keep a feast unto the Lord, one of these
feasts being that of Unleavened Bread, or the Passover (ibid.
ch. 23:14-15); and that the Passover should be “sacrificed in
the place which Jehovah should choose to set his Name there”
o That such a Passover had not been observed by them either in great
numbers (Revised Version), en masse, by the whole body of the
people (Bertheau, Keil), or for a long time (Authorized Version,
De Wette). Certainly since the division of the kingdom they had
not observed the Passover; and even prior to that it is doubtful if
the feast had been observed by such numbers as to amount to a
national celebration. The unsettled state of the country during the
period of the judges was not favorable to the carrying out of the
Deuteronomic programme; and the same might be said
(though perhaps in a less degree) of the early years of the monarchy;
so that probably for a Paschal celebration on a truly national scale
the historian must go back to the days of Joshua immediately after
commenced (Joshua 5:10-11).
Ø In the second month.
o This not the regular or legal month, which was the first, or Abib
(Exodus 12:18; Leviticus 23:5, 8), the month in which Jehovah
his people out of
o This, however, allowable in special circumstances, as e.g. when
through absence on a journey or ceremonial uncleanness it could
not be kept on the statutory day (Numbers 9:6-12). In the present
instance the special circumstances were that when the decision to
hold a Passover was arrived at, the 14th of Abib was too near to
admit of either the priests getting themselves sanctified in sufficient
numbers to do the necessary work, or the population of the country
a national celebration.
Ø In the first or sixth (perhaps seventh) year of Hezekiah’s reign.
o In favor of the former view (Bertheau, Jamieson), it may be urged that
it is the most natural; that Hezekiah would more likely take advantage
of the widespread religious enthusiasm evoked by the purification and
rededication of the temple to appoint a Passover than delay for five if
not six years; and that the difficulty of understanding how he got
permission to send heralds through the northern kingdom may be
overcome by remembering that Hoshea, the last King of Israel, was
not so bad as his predecessors on the throne had been (II Kings 17:2),
and that Hezekiah may have obtained his consent to the proposal of
Passover for all
objection to this is that Hezekiah’s letters represented the inhabitants
Assyria” (v. 6), and that the siege of
Hezekiah’s fourth year (II Kings 18:9), while the only deportation
of people from the northern kingdom before that was the removal
of the trans-Jordanic tribes and Naphtalites by Tiglath-Pileser II.
(II Kings 15:29) — which would hardly have justified
strong language of Hezekiah with reference to
condition. Another difficulty is that, as during the first years of
Hezekiah’s reign Hoshea was becoming restive under the heavy
tribute of ten talents of gold and a thousand of silver imposed on
him by Tiglath-Pileser II. (‘Records,’ etc., 5:52; Schrader,
‘Keiliuschriften,’ 256), and was even negotiating with So (Sabako),
King of Egypt, about throwing off the Assyrian yoke (II Kings 17:4),
it is hardly to be supposed he would readily consent to the absence
his male subjects at
it is doubtful if a month was not too short a space to admit of the
runners traveling from Dan to
assembling from all corners of the land at
o In favour of the second view (Keil, Caspari), that the Passover was held
inhabitants — according to an inscription of Sargon, 27,280 (Schrader,
‘Keilin-schriften,’ 272; ‘Records,’ etc., 7:28) — it may be pointed out that
that event the situation in
of Hezekiah (ver. 6), and that,
independent sovereign, Hezekiah may have deemed the moment opportune
for attempting a reunion of the nations.
Ø In whose name they were given. In that of Hezekiah and his princes. The
absence of any reference to Hoshea points to a time subsequent to the
Ø By whom they were carried. The pests, or runners, i.e. king’s
messengers (Esther 3:13, 15; 8:14), who may have been members of
the royal body-guard (ch. 12:10).
Ø To what purport they ran.
o A threefold exhortation.
§ To turn again to Jehovah, renouncing idolatry and embracing
the religion prescribed by Moses (v. 6).
§ Not to imitate the stubborn conduct of their fathers, who had
been carried away captive (vs. 7-8).
§ To resume attendance at the sanctuary, which Jehovah had
sanctified for ever as the central place of his worship (v. 8).
o A four-fold argument.
§ Duty. Jehovah was the Lord God of their fathers, even of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and, as the one living and true,
gracious, and covenant-keeping God, was entitled to their
allegiance (vs. 6-7).
§ Fear. If they continued rebellious, Jehovah’s anger would fall
on and consume them who were but a remnant, as already it
had fallen on and consumed their fathers.
§ Clemency. If they returned to Jehovah, Jehovah would turn
away the fierceness of His anger from them, and extend
mercy to those who had been carried away captive, causing
them to find favor in the eyes of their captors and even to
return to their own land (v. 9).
§ Hope. The certainty that they would thus be treated was
guaranteed by the fact that Jehovah, whom they had forsaken,
and to whom they were now invited to return, was a gracious
and merciful God (v. 9). Or otherwise, Hezekiah pleaded with
them to return on the grounds of national unity — Jehovah
Jehovah had been the Lord God of their fathers; of
self-interest — it was the only way to avert their total
extinction; of brotherly compassion — it was the most
effectual means of helping their exiled brethren.
o From the main body of the population, laughter and scorn. Seemingly
they ridiculed the idea of having to protect themselves from
extermination by finding a sovereign in Hezekiah and a God in
Jehovah. Tiglath-Pileser II., if the earlier date be adopted, had only
overrun and laid waste a portion of their country, the trans-Jordanic
not all the population, but only the principal inhabitants; while,
if the latter date be accepted as the more probable, Sargon in addition
had removed only 27,280 persons (‘Records,’ 7:28). Hence as yet they
perceived not the necessity of either abandoning hope for the kingdom
ambassadors of a greater King than Hezekiah, wandering from city to
city throughout the world and carrying to their fellows a better
than Hezekiah’s runners did to
with derision for themselves and their glad tidings; as e.g. Paul at
Plenipotentiary in the city of
o From individuals, especially in Asher, Manasseh, Zabulon (v. 11),
and Issachar (v. 8), the northern tribes contiguous to Naphtali,
cordial acceptance. These, being country-people, were meek ones,
not ashamed to humble themselves on account of their own and
their nation’s wickedness, and to embrace the opportunity of
becoming reconciled to Jehovah and their brethren in
Accordingly they spurned not the invitation addressed to them,
letter in the gospel oftener welcomed and accepted by unlearned
rustics than by sophisticated and wise residents in cities; and
always by the poor in spirit, who, conscious of their sin and
misery, long to be reconciled to God (Matthew 5:3-6).
o With unanimity. They were of one mind to do the commandment
of the king and the princes. A united heart is an invaluable
preparation for obedience, whether for individual or for state
(Jeremiah 32:39; Ezekiel 11:19-20).
o In a spirit of obedience. They recognized the king’s and princes’
commandment to be in accordance with the word of Jehovah
(compare ch. 29:15). The Word of God, in the Old and New
Testaments, is the supreme directory for faith and practice.
“To the Law and to the testimony” (Isaiah 8:20). The Bereans
searched the Scriptures (Acts 17:11).
o In compliance with a heavenly impulse. That they were thus
enlightened and unanimous was owing to Divine grace;
“The hand of God was upon them” for good, as it always
is upon them that seek Him (Ezra 8:22).
Ø The unspeakable blessing to a land of a pious king and court.
Ø The certainty that God will aid all who seek to extend His cause and
Ø The necessity of diligence, fidelity, sympathy, and courage on the part of
all “runners” to the King of heaven.
Ø The hopefulness with which divinely commissioned preachers may enter
on their mission — there will always be found a remnant to hear and obey.
Ø The excellence of a humble spirit in disposing one to listen to the gospel.
13 “And there assembled at
unleavened bread in the second month, a very great congregation.”
This verse purports to say that the total, at any rate, of the attendance on
the Passover was very large.
14 “And they arose and took away the altars that were in
all the altars for incense took they away, and cast them into the brook
Kidron.” Took away the altars… the brook Kidron (see ch. 28:24; 29:16).
15 “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.”
Were ashamed; Hebrew, גִכְלְמוּ. This word, occurring in one
conjugation or another thirty-eight times, expresses in every instance a
genuine shame. It now was the forerunner of a practical repenting. And
brought in… into; better rendered, and carried up to the house of the Lord.
16 “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.” They stood in their place after their
manner (see Leviticus 1:11-13, and many other references in Leviticus).
17 “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.”
Therefore the Levites had the charge (see Leviticus 1., etc., which
repeatedly affirms that the original directions of Moses were that the person
who brought the victim to offer it was to slay it, and to bring the blood).
18 “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
one 19 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.” So also the original Law of Moses prescribed that the
uncleansed must not eat the Passover (Numbers 9:6).
20 “And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.”
Healed the people. The Hebrew word here is the strict word
for physical healing, and is a slight but significant indication of the reality of
the spiritual view contemplated in Moses’ Law in this matter.
The One Essential Thing (vs. 17-20)
A very interesting and instructive incident occurred in the celebration of
this great Passover. Many who presented themselves and brought their
lamb had not gone through the prescribed purifications before engaging in
an act of sacrifice, and they were disqualified to slay the lamb. So the
Levites, under the peculiar circumstances, took this part for them. It was a
formal irregularity; it was not according to the letter of the Law; there had
been a breach of the enactment. But Hezekiah prayed God on behalf of
those who had transgressed, and his prayer was heard, and the Lord
“healed the people” who had so done. There is one lesson which stands out
from the others; but before we learn that, we may gather on our way the
PLACE IN THE
take the parents’ place on this occasion, and Hezekiah’s prayer for the
pardon of the irregularity was granted. We may do some things for our
fellow-men, and we do well to pray God for their enlightenment and
restoration. But it is not far that either of these two principles can be
permitted. “Every man must:
Ø bear his own burden” (Galatians 6:5) of responsibility before God;
Ø repent of his own sin;
Ø approach his Maker in the spirit of self-surrender; and
enter by himself the
The work we can do for others, though not without its value, is narrow in
its range. To every human soul it belongs to realize his position, to hearken
when Heaven is speaking, to make his final and decisive choice, to take his
place among the friends or among the foes of Jesus Christ. We may not
build on a brother’s help, nor presume even on a mother’s prayers.
DIVINE CONSIDERATION. The principal if not the only defaulters here
were the men of “Ephraim and Manasseh,” etc. (ver. 18); i.e. those who
had been living in the idolatrous
the Divine Law. Much leniency might justly be accorded to these; and
much allowance was made for them. God requireth of us “not according to
that we have not, but according to that we have.” From those to whom but
little privilege and opportunity are given, the slighter service will be
demanded. Our God is just, considerate, gracious.
people.” By their offence against the Law they had lost their wholeness,
their health, and needed to “be healed.” Sin is a moral sickness; it is the
disorder of the spirit; it is that which weakens, which disables, which
makes the sinner unable to be and to do what he was created to be and to
do. But the main lesson is this:
These transgressors were forgiven partly in virtue of Hezekiah’s prayer.
But may we not say principally because the righteous Lord discerned in
them the spirit of obedience? They had come up to
might return unto Jehovah their God. It was in their heart to cast off their
old and evil practices, and to begin a new life of uprightness before God:
was their ceremonial irregularity to outweigh, in the estimate of the Just
One, the integrity of their heart before Him? The purpose of their soul was
toward God and toward His service: was not that to be accepted, in spite of
a legal impropriety or negligence? Certainly it was; and these men went
down to their homes in
obedience which our God demands of us, for which he looks in us. If that
be absent, nothing else of any kind or magnitude will suffice. If that be
present, we may be defaulters in many small particulars, but neither we nor
our offering will be refused. To have a pure, deep, fixed desire to seek and
to serve the Lord Christ — that is the one essential thing.
21 “And the children of
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.” See Exodus 12:18, and many repetitions
of the same matter, respecting the duration of the Passover and eating of
unleavened bread. With loud instruments. Some render this, “instruments
ascribing might to Jehovah.” There seems no necessity for this; and the plain
Hebrew text is “instruments of might,” i.e. strong or loud instruments.
22 “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; literally, to
the heart of, etc. That taught the good knowledge. This rendering is in some
error, and is awkward in not indicating the direction of the knowledge. A better
rendering (see Revised Version) will be, who were well skilled in rendering
such service to Jehovah. And perhaps the simplest rendering, “who served
with good service to Jehovah,” will be the most correct to the real meaning of the
Hebrew text (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 13:15). Making confession; i.e. the
confession or uttering forth of praise (so Psalm 75:2; 92:1; I Chronicles 16:4,
7, 35, 41; 23:30; 25:3; here ch. 5:13; 7:3, 6; 31:2).
23 “And the whole assembly took counsel to keep other seven days:
and they kept other seven days with gladness.” This and the following verse
should read as one. Hezekiah no doubt wished, by prolonging the feast and
the joy, to make the more lasting impression on the people and the more
hopeful conversion of them.
24 “For Hezekiah king of
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.”
Did give. This is an inadequate rendering. Revised Version
reads, did give for offerings; others read, “gave as an heave offering.” In
the light of ch. 35:7-9, the Revised Version rendering seems sufficient.
25 “And all the congregation of
and all the
congregation that came out of
that came out of the
The strangers. Some consider this describes “proselytes from
supposition. The Hebrew גֵרִים does, in fact, purport only “sojourners,”
and is frequently so translated, and our next clause corroborates this view.
The interesting aspect of it is, that probably the persons described had
emigrated from their own tribes, as they
26 “So there was great joy in
of David king of
Solomon. The reference is to Solomon’s“Feast of Tabernacles” (ch. 7:9).
Ø Propitious towards their persons. He had given them one heart (v. 12).
Ø Propitious towards their sacrifices. He accepted them, although offered
not in perfect accordance with the Law of Moses (v. 16).
Ø Propitious towards their prayers. He heard:
o the king’s intercession (v. 20),
o the priests’ prayers (v. 27), and
o the people’s confessions (v. 22).
· ITS KING WAS RELIGIOUS, (ch. 29:2.) This was manifested by:
Ø His care for the institutions of religion. Exemplified in his
purification and dedication of the temple, including his
rearrangement of the Levitical orders of musicians.
Ø His zeal in the observances of religion. Shown by his revival
of the Passover ordinance, and the efforts made by him to
secure a national observance of the same (v. 1).
Ø His possession of the spirit of religion. Besides being a man of
prayer (v. 18), he delighted to encourage others in good works
(v. 22), and evinced his own sincerity by the abundance of his
liberality (v. 24).
Ø In attending to their own personal sanctification. (V. 15.) This no
ministers of religion under the New Testament dispensation can afford to
neglect. He who cares nothing for the cultivation of piety in himself is not
likely to be zealous in aiming at the good of others. (Philippians 2:3)
Ø In discharging the public services of the sanctuary. Under the Hebrew
economy these services were the offering of sacrifice and the blessing of
the people (v. 27) by the priests, with the making of music by the
Levites; under the Christian economy they are chiefly the preaching of the
gospel, the conducting of worship, and the superintendence of the Church.
Where the ordinances of religion fall into abeyance and neglect, and the
ministers of religion are as heedless of the souls of others as of their own, it
is idle to expect prosperity, in either Church or state, in city or in country.
Ø Exulting in JEHOVAH’S FAVOR. Without a conviction that they
possessed this, the mere external celebration would not have filled them
with such long-continued, deep, and exuberant emotion (Psalm 33:21;
Isaiah 12:2; Romans 5:11).
Ø Observing the rites of religion. In turning from the worship of idols to
serve the living God, they experienced an inward satisfaction which made
them “sing in the ways of the Lord” (Psalm 138:5).
Ø Enjoying the affection of their brethren. Of one heart and mind, there
was not a jarring note in their melody. They dwelt together in peace, and
loved as brethren, each esteeming the other as better than himself, and all
preferring one another and honoring one another.
27 “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 the Levites; i.e. the priest-Levites, and not other
Levites (Deuteronomy 17:18; Joshua 3:3). The Septuagint, therefore, is wrong
in inserting “and.” A parallel expression in the New Testament is “Men brethren”
(Acts 1:16; 2:29, etc.). The priests were those authorized to bless (Numbers 6:23-26;
I Chronicles 23:13).
The Celebration of the Passover, with its Sacred Suggestions (vs. 1-27)
The whole of this chapter is concerned with Hezekiah’s call of priests,
Levites, princes, and congregation of the people to observe and celebrate
with himself the grand solemnity of the Passover. From the analogy of the
precedent provided for individual cases of certain kinds of necessity
(Numbers 9:10), this celebration for the whole nation is fixed for the
fourteenth day of the second month instead of the first. This was the fourth
of the seven special occasions, of which description with detail is given us
Scripture — the first of all in
(Numbers 9.), and that of Joshua at Gilgal, after the circumcision of the
people and when the manna ceased (Joshua 5.), being the three which
preceded; and those that came after being the Passover celebrated by
Josiah (ch. 35.), by Ezra on the
return from the captivity at
6.), and that ever-memorable one, the last of our blessed Lord’s life on
earth. The Passover was the first in time of the three great annual feasts
which called together to
Dan even to
Tabernacles. It was also the first in the lifetime of the nation, and always
the first in solemn significance. Not only the energy and earnestness,
therefore, of Hezekiah in carrying through this celebration from first to
last, but his Diviner wisdom and piety in determining and appointing it,
may be noted, and dwelt upon in useful and suggestive detail as adapted to
modern days. That great revival, for instance — one of the greatest the
world and Church have ever seen — of modern Church-life, familiarly
known to ourselves, was rooted in, and has grown up proportioned to,
zealous attention to the sacraments, faith in them, and faithful observance
of them. This goes to the root of all a nation’s evil and malady! “If once”
thought Hezekiah — “if but once a healthy breeze could pass over this
erring and idolatrous, fevered and long-forlorn people, all might yet be
well!” At his prayer, and as the reward of his effort, the breeze came, and
swept over the land. It refreshed weary and parched wastes; and some
signs of healthiness, mingled with some signs of suspiciousness, appeared.
Perhaps all was too late; the disease too deep, and gone too far, too long!
Nevertheless, it was none the less right on the part of Hezekiah to have
tried the religious means, and used the highest of them. We may notice in
them — not as matter of historic interest in the life of another nation
merely — how, in virtue mainly of the presence of the Passover, they were
fitted to touch all that was deepest, all that haply might “remain”
(Revelation 3:2) deepest and best in the hearts of the people. For
instance, the Passover was undoubtedly:
NATION. Nor can it be said that this was an instance of a “nation born in a
day.” It gives more point, and it is just and true, to remember, that now it
may be said of it that it was a nation born in a night! One supreme,
extraordinary effort of faith and obedience ushered that nation out of
darkness into light. It might, indeed, have been hoped that this would
stamp it for ever with the corresponding native and hereditary grand
qualities. There are senses in which it may be said that the nation had
received in yet earlier ages its existence. Certainly the promise and the
earnest of this had been fact. The germ of its existence had been in
Abraham, and God’s covenant with him. It showed to view in distinctness
and separateness at the time and in the fact of its compact corporate
there would have been real truth in it, if a family could be called a nation.
separate nation, a peculiar people. Hezekiah’s celebration of the Passover,
therefore, at this time suggested to every feeling and instinct of honest
national love and pride that king, priests, and people should live worthily of
their origin, raise the fortunes and restore the glory of the nation that had
so greatly declined (v. 6).
WHICH GOD WROUGHT FOR HIS PEOPLE, FROM SORE
BONDAGE, UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES OF AN EXTRAORDINARY
NATURE. The power and the pity of God were alike demonstrated by the
rescue of the hosts of
groanings, His power subdued their oppressors. Of such things as these the
people needed at this time the teaching and the inspiriting influences. Every
observance of the Passover was a commemoration and rehearsal of this
great deliverance, and suggested the long and thick succession of Divine
interpositions during a period of now nearly eight centuries.
COVENANT. The Passover marked a foregoing faith and obedience on
the part of Moses, Aaron, and all the houses of the rescued, and it inferred
an unending continuance of the same, so often as they should be called for
on special occasions, as well as for the rule of every day’s life. Upon these
conditions being met on the one side, God’s great deliverance and His
continued protection took effect on the other side. Upon this practical
aspect it is evident that Hezekiah laid great stress (vs. 7-9). The
remembrance of the saving of all the firstborn of the Hebrews, by the side
of the slaying of all the firstborn of the Egyptians, both man and beast, was
fitted to be a most powerful incentive of loyalty to Him who had thus
bought a people to Himself most significantly. This was an inevitable
memory of the sprinkled blood of the Paschal lamb in every celebration.
For the devout Hebrew, the Israelite who was “an Israelite indeed,” even in
these most degenerate days of the nation, the Passover must have taken a
leading share among all other sacrifices, in teaching and shadowing forth
“the good things to come;” the “better hope;” the “better covenant;” the
“better sacrifices” (Hebrews 7:19, 22; 8:6; 9:23). The “foreshadowing”
itself was indeed plain and powerful, which used such a designation for the
central fact of all the observances of the Passover, as “my sacrifice”
(Exodus 23:18; 34:25); and nothing can be deducted from our estimate
of the meaning of such passages, and generally of the typical virtue of the
whole celebration, when we remember the language of
“Christ our Passover” (I Corinthians 5:7). The faith of the people of
faith and our sacrament look back to it, and of a truth ever upward! The
suggestions that Paul awakes within us by the fullness of the last-quoted
verse, as well as the time and all the circumstance of the death of Christ,
compel us indeed to see in the entire features and services of the completed
Passover the type of our One sacrifice and our second sacrament! The
peace offering, the thank offering, the solemn dedication of ourselves, as “a
kingdom of priests and a holy nation,” the unbroken “unity of the body”
(Exodus 12:46; John 19:36), the “keeping of the feast with the
unleavened bread of sincerity and truth,” and all the sacred, unbounded
eucharistic enjoyments of that feast, — in a word, the need of deliverance,
the Deliverer, and our joyful acknowledgment of the same, are all outlined
for us in the Hebrew’s Passover, and according to the measure of his faith
and illumination were once all outlined for him, even in Hezekiah’s time
A National Passover at
Ø Large. “Much people; … a very great congregation” (v. 13). Though
this was usual at the chief religious festivals of the nation, probably so vast
concourse of people as assembled at
invitation, in the second month of the first or seventh year of his reign (see
preceding homily), had not been witnessed since the days of Jehoiada
(ch. 23:2) or of Asa (ch. 15:9-10). Something stimulating and impressive in
the sight of a crowded city, even when its seething population drifts aimlessly
about, much more when all are swayed by a common feeling and moved by
a common impulse.
Ø Mixed. Composed of:
the congregation of
the country districts of
the congregation that came out of
from Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zabulon (v. 18); and
strangers, or proselytes who dwelt within the borders of
Ø United. All actuated by one purpose — that of keeping the Feast of
Unleavened Bread (v. 13), which probably none of them in their lifetime
had ever done. It was such a festival as could be rightly celebrated only by
a united people, and such as was fitted to draw closer the bonds of union
between the celebrants.
Ø Resolute. Prepared to undergo any sacrifices and attempt any labors
necessary to carry the feast through with success, determined to be
hindered by nothing and no one from their great act of religious homage to
the Lord God of their fathers (vs. 19, 22).
Ø Joyous. Inspired with feelings of gladness (v. 23), even “great
gladness” (v. 21), and “great joy” (v. 26), which found expression in
peace offerings and penitential confessions (v. 22), accompanied by vocal
and instrumental strains, and abated not during the seven days of the feast
proper (v. 21), but sustained the people throughout seven superadded
days (v. 23). Indeed, so high ran the enthusiasm, and so overflowing
became the joy, that nothing like it had been witnessed since the days of
Solomon, when the dedication of the temple had been celebrated by a
double period of rejoicing (ch. 7:1-10). The occasion
certainly was fitted to excite gladness — the return of the nation to its
allegiance to Jehovah. So is the soul’s return to God in penitence, faith,
and holy obedience a cause of jubilation not only in heaven (Luke 15:7,10),
but also on earth (Acts 8:8); and not among spectators merely, but also in the
souls of them who return (Luke 24:52; Acts 8:39; Romans 5:11). Moreover,
the service of God and Christ should always be accompanied with gladness
(Psalm 100:2; 149:2, 5; Isaiah 12:3), as in gladness it will invariably result
(Psalm 64:10; Isaiah 48:18; 51:11; Romans 14:17; I Thessalonians 5:16).
Ø The zeal of the people.
o Necessary preparation. This consisted of two things:
§ the purgation of the city from idolatry, and
§ the cleansing of themselves from defilement.
The first they carried out with promptitude and decision — “they
arose and took away the altars” (v. 14); and with thoroughgoing
energy and efficiency which allowed of no escape — “they took
them all away,” the altars for offering to heathen divinities, and
the altars or “vessels” for incense, which Ahaz had erected in
every corner of the city (ch. Chronicles 28:24), and cast them into
the Kidron, where already the filth of the temple had been thrown
(ch. 29:16). Never in any previous reign had there been such a
clearance of the instruments of idolatry as now occurred under
Hezekiah. The second, though not mentioned, is implied, at least,
who belonged to
These, having had the means of self-sanctification at hand, most likely
them; those who came from
their want of sanctification was prayed for and overlooked (vs. 17-20).
o Statutory adoration. They killed the Passover on the fourteenth day of
second month (see on v. 2). The heads of families in
were sanctified killed their own Jambs and placed the blood in the
priests’ hands; for such as had not been cleansed according to the
purification of the sanctuary, the Levites killed the Passovers, and
delivered the blood into the hands of the priests (v. 17). These
sprinkled the blood upon the altars.
Ø The behaviour of the priests and Levites.
o Their sanctification of themselves. The priests and Levites were not
temple, and of whom it is said (ch. 29:34) that the Levites had
been more forward to sanctify themselves than the priests, but the
body of the priests and Levites who had come from
themselves from defilement as they ought to have done on convening
afterwards through beholding the zeal of the people they were shamed
into repairing their neglect.
o Their discharge of official duties. Having sanctified themselves, they
performed the statutory functions required of them in connection with
their consecration: “They brought burnt offerings into the house of
the Lord” (compare Leviticus 8:18; Numbers 8:12); or with the
Passover: “They brought the [Authorized Version] burnt offerings”
presented by the people “into the house of the Lord,” and “they
stood in their places after their order according to the Law of Moses,”
the priests sprinkling the blood upon the altar (Leviticus 16:14-19), and
the Levites, for the reason above explained, handing the blood to them.
Ø The piety of the king.
o The king’s prayer (vs. 18-20).
§ To whom addressed. “The good Lord.” Goodness an attribute
of the Divine nature (Psalm 25:8; 34:8; Nahum 1:7), in its ideal
character belonging only to Him (Matthew 19:17), infinite in
its measure (Exodus 34:6) and excellence (Psalm 36:7),
unwearied in its operation (Psalm 33:5; James 1:5), ever-
enduring in its continuance (Psalm 52:1).
§ For whom presented? “Every one that prepareth [Authorized
Version, or ‘setteth’ Revised Version] his heart to seek the
Lord God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according
to the purification of the sanctuary;” i.e. for every one who
approached God with earnestness and resolution, “preparing
and setting his heart” — in the margin, “his whole heart”
(ch. 15:12; Psalm 119:2); with humility and faith, seeking
“the Lord God of his fathers” thereby acknowledging he
believed in Jehovah as his rightful Lord, and had sinned in
turning aside to idolatry (Judges 10:10; I Samuel 12:10;
here, ch. 6:37; Psalm 106:6; Jeremiah 14:7); with obedience
and submission, embracing the right way of seeking God,
through the sacrificial worship by Him appointed (Hebrews
9:13) — as under the New Testament dispensation no one
can approach God acceptably except THROUGH CHRIST
(John 14:6), though with imperfection and defect in external
ceremonial — which showed that the best spirits in the
true worship of God, of the value of real heart adoration
even when accompanied by errors in form, and of the
worthlessness of the most externally correct, complete,
aesthetically beautiful, and perfect performance when
divorced from the inner homage of the heart.
§ What it sought. The pardon of every one who had approached
the Divine altar without complying with the Divine prescription
as to self-purification. A sin of ignorance in case of some, in
that of others a sin of involuntary disability, it was nevertheless
a violation of the divinely appointed order, as real though not
as heinous as that of Uzziah (ch. 26:18), and as such fitted to
evoke a display of Divine anger similar to that which fell on
§ How it fared. “The Lord hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed
the people” (v. 20); which may signify either that symptoms
of bodily malady had begun to appear among the people, or
that Hezekiah feared they would. In either case Hezekiah’s
prayer was successful for his people, as afterwards was his
supplication for himself (ch. 32:24). Compare the intercession
ü Abraham for the cities of the plain (Genesis 18:23-32),
ü Moses for
ü David for his people (II Samuel 24:17),
ü Daniel for
ü Paul for his converts (Ephesians 3:14-19;
o The king’s exhortation (v. 22).
§ The recipients of it. “All the Levites that taught the good
knowledge of the Lord” (Authorized Version), i.e. “who
were more skilled and able to instruct” others in the proper
method of worshipping Jehovah (Piscator); or, more
accurately, “all the Levites that were well skilled in the
service of Jehovah” (Revised Version), or as regards
Jehovah; i.e. “who had distinguished themselves by
intelligent playing to the honor of the Lord” (Keil).
§ The spirit of it. He spake comfortably, or to the heart, of all.
No doubt there were degrees of excellence amongst the
players and their music, but the king made no distinction
in his treatment of them; he spake to the hearts of all His
words of encouragement and good cheer were needed by
all, perhaps most by those least skilled who yet were doing
their best. Leaders of men, pastors of Churches, and
such-like, sometimes forget this, and, by making
distinctions between the more gifted and the less, do injury
to both — inflate the former with pride, and cast down the
latter with discouragement.
o The king’s liberality (v. 24). This was:
§ Munificent. Hezekiah presented to the congregation a thousand
bullocks and seven thousand sheep.
§ Catching. “The princes gave to the congregation a thousand
bullocks and ten thousand sheep.”
§ Timely. It enabled the people to carry out their good resolution to
prolong the feast for seven more days.
§ Appreciated. It filled the people’s hearts with gladness, and
doubtless contributed largely to entwine their affections
round the person and the throne of the king.
Ø The duty of not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together for
Divine worship (Hebrews 10:25).
Ø The excellence of unity among the people of God (Psalm 133:1;
Acts 4:32; I Corinthians 1:10).
Ø The joyous character of all true worship (I Chronicles 16:27;
Psalm 32:11; 100:1-2; Luke 24:52; Ephesians 5:18-19).
Ø The acceptableness of sincere worship even when mingled with
imperfection (Acts 10:35).
Ø The beauty as well as propriety of Christian liberality (Exodus 23:15,
II Corinthians 8:9).
Religious Enthusiasm (vs. 21-27)
This chapter reads as if written by an eyewitness of the scenes described,
so vivid is the account, so much color is in the picture. It was evidently a
time of very great enthusiasm, of spiritual exuberance. These are very
pleasant, and they may be very profitable occasions; but they need to be
rightly directed and well controlled. Of religious enthusiasm, we may
favor. Unless God be with us, granting us His own approval, intending to
further us with His blessing, all our congratulations are ill-timed and all our
action will be fruitless. And it is needful that we know that we have His
approval. It is too often assumed in its absence. Hezekiah and his people,
with Isaiah among them, were resting in a well-grounded confidence.
Without such prophetic guidance, we must inquire of ourselves whether
our repentance and our faith are deep and real; whether we have in truth
“yielded ourselves unto the Lord” (v. 8), whether we are “Christ’s
disciples indeed” (John 8:31).
with great gladness”
(v. 21); “There was great joy in
There are many sources of happiness, reaching upwards from the most
gross to the most spiritual and refined. There is none deeper or purer, none
more elevated or enlarging, than the joy of the human spirit in the worship
and service of the Supreme. To be holding hallowed fellowship with our
Divine Father and Saviour, and to be so doing in unison with a multitude of
our Christian brethren and sisters, or to be engaged with them in doing
some earnest and faithful work, — this is a source of truest and worthiest
Ø In sacred song. The Levites “praised the Lord day by day” (v. 21). A
large measure of spiritual fervor finds utterance in song, happily to
ourselves and acceptably to God. There is no phase of sacred feeling
which may not find fitting expression thus.
Ø In wise and kind encouragement. Hezekiah “spake comfortably unto
all the Levites” (v. 22). He no doubt congratulated them on their good
spiritual estate and on their opportunity of service, and invited and
urged them to exercise their sacred functions in all fidelity. A few
words of timely encouragement from one that is in a higher position
go a long way; such words constitute a stronger inducement to duty
and devotion than many words of criticism or censure.
Ø In religious instruction. “That taught the good knowledge of the
Lord” (v. 22).
Ø In rededication. “A great number of priests sanctified themselves.”
Some of the priests, probably many, if not most of them, had shown
slackness and had held back (ch. 29:34); they had some
reason for being ashamed (see v. 15). But in this hour of widespread
enthusiasm they came forward and made themselves ready for their
sacred functions. At such a time, much is gained if those who have
become cool in the service of their Lord, whose faith is failing and
whose zeal is dying down, re-consecrate themselves to Him, take
afresh upon them His vows, and solemnly and formally undertake
to live and labor in His cause.
Ø In expansiveness. Room was found for “the strangers that came out of
the land of
Nothing can be better than that our own great gladness of heart in God
should overflow to those beyond our own pale. By all means let there
be a generous expansiveness at such a time; let the stranger, let the
“outsider,” let the outcast, let the “abandoned,” let those who have
come to despair of themselves, be remembered, be sought out, be
encouraged, be enlightened, be admitted and welcomed. We tread
closely in the steps of our Leader when we act thus.
Ø In liberality. In the generous use of our substance (see v. 24). When
we are receiving freely of God’s good gift of sacred joy, we should
give freely of the good He has entrusted to our care. (Matthew 10:8)
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