Hezekiah Celebrates the Passover
Hezekiah sent word to all Israel land 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 in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover t
to the LORD the God of Israel.
The king and his officials and the whole assembly in Jerusalemdecided
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 Judh 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 fathers and brothers, who were unfaithful to the LORD,
the God of their fathers, so that he nade them an objext of horror, as you see.
Do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were; submit to the LORD.
Come to the 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 brothers and your children will be shown
compassion by their captors and will come back to this land,
for the LORD your God is gracious and compassionte.
He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.
The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh,
as far as Zebulun, but the people scorned and ridiculed them.
Nevertheless, some men of 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.
A very large crowd of people assembled in Jerusalem to celebrate
the Feast 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
Then they took up their regular positions as prescribed in the Law of Moses
the man of God. THe priests sprinkled the blood handed to them by the Levites.
Since many in the crowd had not consecrated themselves,
the Levites had to kill the Passover lamb 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 Passoer,
contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying,
"May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone
who sets his heart on seeking God - the LORD, the God of his fathers -
even if he is 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 Feast of Unleavened
Bread for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests sang
to the LORD every day, accompanied by the LORD's instruments of praise.
Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites, who showed good undersatnding
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 fathers.
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 thouisand
bulls and ten thousand sheep and goats.
A great number of priest consecrated themselves.
The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, along with the priests and Levites and
all who had assembled from Israel, including the alienees who had come from
Israel and those who lived 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.