2 Chronicles 30:1
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 to the LORD God of Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXX.

HEZEKIAH’S PASSOVER—THE ROYAL SUMMONS TO ALL ISRAEL FROM DAN TO BEER-SHEBA (2Chronicles 30:1-12).

(1) Sent to.— ‘al, i.e., ’el. (Jeremiah 26:15; Nehemiah 6:3.)

Letters.—‘Iggĕrôth. Apparently a word of Persian origin. (Comp. ‘engâre, “something written;” ‘engârîden, “to paint” or “write;” from which comes the Greek ᾰγγαρος, a royal messenger; Esther 9:26; comp. Matthew 5:41.) Only used in late Hebrew.

To Ephraim and Manasseh.—That is, the northern kingdom. (Comp. 2Chronicles 30:10.)

To keep (make) the passover unto the Lord.Exodus 12:48 (same phrase); LXX., ποιῆσαι τὸ φασεκ (Pascha). The first year of Hezekiah was the third of Hoshea, the last king of Samaria, who is described as a better king than his predecessors. Doubtless, therefore, Hoshea did not actively oppose Hezekiah’s wish for a really national Passover. (See 2Kings 18:1; 2Kings 17:2.)

2 Chronicles

A LOVING CALL TO REUNION

2 Chronicles 30:1 - 2 Chronicles 30:13
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The date of Hezekiah’s passover is uncertain, for, while the immediate connection of this narrative with the preceding account of his cleansing the Temple and restoring the sacrificial worship suggests that the passover followed directly on those events, which took place at the beginning of the reign, the language employed in the message to the northern tribes {2 Chronicles 30:6 - 2 Chronicles 30:7, 2 Chronicles 30:9} seems to imply the previous fall of the kingdom of Israel, If so, this passover did not occur till after 721 B.C., the date of the capture of Samaria, six years after Hezekiah’s accession.

The sending of messengers from Jerusalem on such an errand would scarcely have been possible if the northern kingdom had still been independent. Perhaps its fall was thought by Hezekiah to open the door to drawing ‘the remnant that were escaped’ back to the ancient unity of worship, at all events, if not of polity. No doubt a large number had been left in the northern territory, and Hezekiah may have hoped that calamity had softened their enmity to his kingdom, and perhaps touched them with longings for the old worship. At all events, like a good man, he will stretch out a hand to the alienated brethren, now that evil days have fallen on them. The hour of an enemy’s calamity should be our opportunity for seeking to help and proffering reconciliation. We may find that trouble inclines wanderers to come back to God.

The alteration of the time of keeping the passover from the thirteenth day of the first month to the same day of the second was in accordance with the liberty granted in Numbers 9:10 - Numbers 9:11, to persons unclean by contact with a dead body or ‘in a journey afar off.’ The decision to have the passover was not taken in time to allow of the necessary removal of uncleanness from the priests nor of the assembling of the people, and therefore the permission to defer it for a month was taken advantage of, in order to allow full time for the despatch of the messengers and the journeys of the farthest northern tribes. It is to be observed that Hezekiah took his subjects into counsel, since the step intended was much too great for him to venture on of his own mere motion. So the overtures went out clothed with the authority of the whole kingdom of Judah. It was the voice of a nation that sought to woo back the secessionists.

The messengers were instructed to supplement the official letters of invitation with earnest entreaties as from the king, of which the gist is given in 2 Chronicles 30:6 - 2 Chronicles 30:9. With the skill born of intense desire to draw the long-parted kingdoms together, the message touches on ancestral memories, recent bitter experiences, yearnings for the captive kinsfolk, the instinct of self-preservation, and rises at last into the clear light of full faith in, and insight into, God’s infinite heart of pardoning pity.

Note the very first words, ‘Ye children of Israel,’ and consider the effect of this frank recognition of the northern kingdom as part of the undivided Israel. Such recognition might have been misunderstood or spurned when Samaria was gay and prosperous; but when its palaces were desolate, the effect of the old name, recalling happier days, must have been as if the elder brother had come out from the father’s house and entreated the prodigal to come back to his place at the fireside. The battle would be more than half won if the appeal that was couched in the very name of Israel was heeded.

Note further how firmly and yet lovingly the sin of the northern kingdom is touched on. The name of Jehovah as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, recalls the ancient days when the undivided people worshipped Him, and the still more ancient, and, to hearers and speakers alike, more sacred, days when the patriarchs received wondrous tokens that He was their God, and they were His people; while the recurrence of ‘Israel’ as the name of Jacob adds force to its previous use as the name of all His descendants. The possible rejection of the invitation, on the ground which the men of the north, like the Samaritan woman, might have taken, that they were true to their fathers’ worship, is cut away by the reminder that that worship was an innovation, since the fathers of the present generation had been apostate from the God of their fathers. The appeal to antiquity often lands men in a bog because it is not carried far enough back. ‘The fathers’ may lead astray, but if the antiquity to which we appeal is that of which the New Testament is the record, the more conservative we are, the nearer the truth shall we be.

Again, the message touched on a chord that might easily have given a jarring note; namely, the misfortunes of the kingdom. But it was done with so delicate a hand, and so entirely without a trace of rejoicing in a neighbour’s calamities, that no susceptibilities could be ruffled, while yet the solemn lesson is unfalteringly pointed. ‘He gave them up to desolation, as ye see.’ Behind Assyria was Jehovah, and Israel’s fall was not wholly explained by the disparity between its strength and the conquerors’. Under and through the play of criminal ambition, cruelty, and earthly politics, the unseen Hand wrought; and the teaching of all the Old Testament history is condensed into that one sad sentence, which points to facts as plain as tragical. In deepest truth it applies to each of us; for, if we trespass against God, we draw down evil on our heads with both hands, and shall find that sin brings the worst desolation-that which sheds gloom over a godless soul.

We note further the deep true insight into God’s character and ways expressed in this message. There is a very striking variation in the three designations of Jehovah as ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel’ {2 Chronicles 30:6}, ‘the god of their [that is, the preceding generation] fathers’ {ver. 7}, and ‘your God’ {2 Chronicles 30:8}. The relation which had subsisted from of old had not been broken by man’s apostasy, Jehovah still was, in a true sense, their God, even if His relation to them only bound Him not to leave them unpunished. So their very sufferings proved them His, for ‘What son is he whom the father chasteneth not?’ But strong, sunny confidence in God shines from the whole message, and reaches its climax in the closing assurance that He is merciful and gracious. The evil results of rebellion are not omitted, but they are not dwelt on. The true magnet to draw wanderers back to God is the loving proclamation of His love. Unless we are sure that He has a heart tender with all pity, and ‘open as day to melting charity,’ we shall not turn to Him with our hearts.

The message puts the response which it sought in a variety of ways; namely, turning to Jehovah, not being stiff-necked, yielding selves to Jehovah, entering into His sanctuary. More than outward participation in the passover ceremonial is involved. Submission of will, abandonment of former courses of action, docility of spirit ready to be directed anywhere, the habit of abiding with God by communion-all these, the standing characteristics of the religious life, are at least suggested by the invitations here. We are all summoned thus to yield ourselves to God, and especially to do so by surrendering our wills to Him, and to ‘enter into His sanctuary,’ by keeping up such communion with Him as that, however and wherever occupied, we shall still ‘dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives.’

And the summons to return unto God is addressed to us all even more urgently than to Israel. God Himself invites us by the voice of His providences, by His voice within, and by the voice of Jesus Himself, who is ever saying to each of us, by His death and passion, by His resurrection and ascension, ‘Turn ye! turn ye! why will ye die?’ and who has more than endorsed Hezekiah’s messengers’ assurance that ‘Jehovah will not turn away His face from’ us by His own gracious promise, ‘Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.’

The king’s message met a mingled reception. Some mocked, some were moved and accepted. So, alas! is it with the better message, which is either ‘a savour of life unto life or of death unto death.’ The same fire melts wax and hardens clay. May it be with all of us as it was in Judah-that we ‘have one heart, to do the commandment’ and to accept the merciful summons to the great passover!2 Chronicles 30:1. Hezekiah sent to all Israel — To all the persons of the ten tribes who were settled in his kingdom, as well as to those of the tribe of Judah. And wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh — To all the remainder of the ten tribes, (2 Chronicles 30:5,) here expressed by the names of Ephraim and Manasseh, as elsewhere by the name of Ephraim only. But he names these two tribes, because they were nearest to his kingdom, and a great number of them had long since, and from time to time, joined themselves to the kingdom of Judah, 2 Chronicles 15:8-9. That they should come to the house of the Lord — Admonishing them of their duty to God, and persuading them to comply with it.30:1-12 Hezekiah made Israel as welcome to the passover, as any of his own subjects. Let us yield ourselves unto the Lord. Say not, you will do what you please, but resolve to do what he pleases. We perceive in the carnal mind a stiffness, an obstinacy, an unaptness to compel with God; we have it from our fathers: this must be overcome. Those who, through grace, have turned to God themselves, should do all they can to bring others to him. Numbers will be scorners, but some will be humbled and benefited; perhaps where least expected. The rich mercy of God is the great argument by which to enforce repentance; the vilest who submit and yield themselves to the Lord, seek his grace, and give themselves to his service, shall certainly be saved. Oh that messengers were sent forth to carry these glad tidings to every city and every village, through every land!Compare 2 Chronicles 29:24 note. CHAPTER 30

2Ch 30:1-12. Hezekiah Proclaims a Passover.

1-5. Hezekiah sent to all … Judah … to come to … Jerusalem, to keep the passover—This great religious festival had not been regularly observed by the Hebrews in their national capacity for a long time because of the division of the kingdom and the many disorders that had followed that unhappy event. Hezekiah longed extremely to see its observance revived; and the expression of his wishes having received a hearty response from the princes and chief men of his own kingdom, the preparatory steps were taken for a renewed celebration of the national solemnity.

letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh—The names of these leading tribes are used for the whole kingdom of Israel. It was judged impossible, however, that the temple, the priests, and people could be all duly sanctified at the usual time appointed for the anniversary, namely, the fourteenth day of the first month (Nisan). Therefore it was resolved, instead of postponing the feast till another year, to observe it on the fourteenth day of the second month; a liberty which, being in certain circumstances (Nu 9:6-13) granted to individuals, might, it was believed, be allowed to all the people. Hezekiah's proclamation was, of course, authoritative in his own kingdom, but it could not have been made and circulated in all the towns and villages of the neighboring kingdom without the concurrence, or at least the permission, of the Israelitish sovereign. Hoshea, the reigning king, is described as, though evil in some respects, yet more favorably disposed to religious liberty than any of his predecessors since the separation of the kingdom. This is thought to be the meaning of the mitigating clause in his character (2Ki 17:2).Hezekiah proclaimeth a solemn passover for Judah and Israel, 2 Chronicles 30:1-12. They, having destroyed the altars of idolatry, keep the feast fourteen days, 2 Chronicles 30:13-26. The priests and Levites bless the people, 2 Chronicles 30:27.

To all Israel; whereby he understands all the persons of the ten tribes, who were now settled in his kingdom; as appears by their contradistinction to Ephraim and Manasseh here following. To Ephraim and Manasseh, i.e. to all the remainders of the ten tribes, 2 Chronicles 30:5, who ave here synecdochically expressed by the names of Ephraim and Manasseh, as elsewhere by the name of Ephraim only. But he names these two tribes, because they were nearest to his kingdom, and a great number of them had long since, and from time to time, joined themselves to the kingdom of Judah, 2 Chronicles 15:8,9, and therefore he had most hopes of success amongst them. That they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem; admonishing them of their duty to God, and persuading them to comply with it.

And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah,.... Sent messengers to them, not only to the subjects of his own kingdom, Judah, but to all the Israelites that dwelt in it, who were come thither for the sake of religion, and the worship of God:

and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh; which are put for all the ten tribes, as appears from 2 Chronicles 30:10 and are distinguished from Israel in the preceding clause:

that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem; not that he laid his commands upon them to come, they not being his subjects, namely, those of the ten tribes; but he hereby admonished them of their duty, and gave them a kind invitation, signifying the doors of the temple were open for them, and they were welcome to come thither:

to keep the passover unto the Lord God of Israel; to the glory of his name, who was the common Lord of them all, and whose command it was to keep the passover, and that at Jerusalem, and nowhere else, see Deuteronomy 16:1.

And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to {a} 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.

(a) Meaning, all Israel, whom Tiglath Pilesar had not taken away into captivity, 2Ki 15:29.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. 2 Chronicles 30:1-12 (not in 2 Kin.). Hezekiah Invites all Israel to keep the Passover

This Passover took place in the first year of Hezekiah while the Northern Kingdom was still standing. The Chronicler, however, takes no note of merely political conditions, and it is not improbable that Hezekiah ventured to do in the fallen state of Israel that which earlier kings would not have dared to do.Verse 1. - 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 to say that Hezekiah sent messengers to all Israel and Judah, and in particular letters in addition to Ephraim and Manasseh, the chief tribes of the northern kingdom and the Joseph tribes. Vers. 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 Israel," seems true, though, in fact, it may be to advance 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 Israel and Judah, and to Ephraim, Manasseh, and the rest of their allied tribes by implication, but not to Judah wrote letters also which were carried by the posts (.or runners). It is true that ver. 6 may negative even this conjecture for getting over the difficulty, but not necessarily no, for it only says that the posts went throughout Israel and Judah with the letters, which they may be supposed to have dropped only to some, not to all, and those some Israel, or Ephraim, Manasseh, and brethren. There will have been to hand other, the usual methods of communication with Judah, from Jerusalem its metropolis, and from its king. The thing different from "letters" that was circulated may have been just the "proclamation" of ver. 5. It has been suggested that the now King of Israel, Hoshea, was very probably a captive of Assyria at this exact time (2 Kings 17:4). The sacrifice of thank-offerings and praise-offerings and voluntary burnt-offering. - Hezekiah introduces this, the concluding act of this religious festival, with the words, "Now have ye filled your hand to the Lord," i.e., you have again consecrated yourselves to the service of the Lord (cf. Exodus 32:29 and the commentary on Leviticus 7:37.); "come near, and bring sacrifices and thank-offerings into the house of the Lord." The words "Now have ye filled" are regarded by the commentators (Clericus, Ramb., Bertheau, etc.) as addressed to the priests; while the following וגו גּשׁוּ are supposed to be directed to the congregation, and Clericus and Ramb. consequently supply before גּשׁוּ, vos vero, Israelitae. The summons והביאוּ גּשׁוּ can certainly only be addressed to the congregation, as is shown by the words הקּהל ויּביאוּ, and the congregation brought, which correspond to the summons. But the supplying of vos vero before גּשׁוּ is quite arbitrary. If in גּשׁוּ other persons are addressed than those to whom the king formerly said, "Now have ye filled your hands," the change in the persons addressed would have been intimated by mention of the person, or at least by ואתּם, "but ye." As the two clauses at present stand, they must be spoken to the same persons, viz., the whole assembled congregation, including the priests and Levites. We must therefore suppose that the phrase לי יד מלּא, which in its narrower sense denotes only the consecration of the priests for service at the altar (see on Leviticus 7:37), is here used in a wider sense, and transferred to the whole congregation. They, by their participation in the consecratory offerings, by laying on of hands and worship during the sacrificial act, had consecrated themselves anew to the service of the Lord as their God, and had anew made a covenant with the Lord (2 Chronicles 29:10); so that only the sacrificial meal was wanting to the completion of this celebration of the covenant, and for this the offering of sacrifices was requisite. The collocation ותודות זבהים is strange. זבהים are שׁלמים זבהים, sacrifices of peace-offering, also called briefly שׁלמים. Of these, in the law, three species - praise-offerings (תּודות), vowed offerings, and voluntary offerings - are distinguished (Leviticus 7:11, Leviticus 7:16). תּודות therefore denotes a species of the sacrifices or peace-offerings, the praise or thank-offerings in the stricter sense; and ותודות must be taken as explicative: sacrifices, and that (or namely) praise-offerings. לב וכל־נדיב, and every one who was heartily willing, (brought) burnt-offerings; i.e., all who felt inwardly impelled to do so, brought of their own accord burnt-offerings.
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