2 Chronicles 30:10
So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even to Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) So the posts passed.And the couriers were passing.

Even unto Zebulun.—This tribe, which lay on the southern border of Naphtali, had suffered from Tiglath-pileser’s invasion (Isaiah 9:1). The messengers did not actually travel northward so far as Dan (2Chronicles 30:5). This mention of Zebulun as the limit of their journey lends an air of historical truth to the account.

Laughed them to scorn.—Literally, and they were laughing at them (hisḫîq: here only), and making mock of them (Psalm 22:7). The verbs imply what the Israelites did continually. Vulg., “cursores pergebant . . . illis irridentibus et subsannantibus eos.”

2 Chronicles 30:10. They laughed them to scorn, and mocked them — Having been long accustomed to serve other gods, the hearts of the generality of the ten tribes were so hardened, that they scoffed at this most gracious invitation to repentance. And what wonder that Hezekiah’s messengers were thus despitefully used by this apostate race, when even God’s messengers, his servants the prophets, who produced undeniable credentials from him, had been and still were worse treated. These Israelites, however, in a little time, paid dear for thus rejecting the counsel of God against themselves. In about two years and a half after their refusing this grace, Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria, invaded the country, and laid siege to Samaria, their capital city, and, at the end of three years more, took it, and carried the whole nation away captive into Assyria and Media, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded, and would not hear nor do it, 2 Kings 18:9-12.30:1-12 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!Ephraim and Manasseh are mentioned as the two tribes nearest to Judah, Zebulun as one of the furthest off. 10-12. the posts passed from city to city—It is not surprising that after so long a discontinuance of the sacred festival, this attempt to revive it should, in some quarters, have excited ridicule and opposition. Accordingly, among the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Zebulun, Hezekiah's messengers met with open insults and ill usage. Many, however, in these very districts, as well as throughout the kingdom of the ten tribes, generally complied with the invitation; while, in the kingdom of Judah, there was one unanimous feeling of high expectation and pious delight. The concourse that repaired to Jerusalem on the occasion was very great, and the occasion was ever after regarded as one of the greatest passovers that had ever been celebrated. They laughed, i.e. the generality of the ten tribes; who by long want of meat had now lost all their appetite to God’s ordinances, and from a neglect were now fallen into a contempt and derision of them; for which they paid dear. For about six years after their refusal of this offer of grace they were all carried captive, 2 Kings 18:1,10. So the posts passed from city to city, through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, even unto Zebulun,.... Through all the ten tribes, not being hindered or forbid by Hoshea king of Israel, who was one of the best of their kings, and was very willing his people should go and worship at Jerusalem if they thought fit; so that they had no excuse to make, as before, that they were forbid by their king going thither; and which it is very probable Hezekiah knew, and therefore took the freedom to send posts throughout his kingdom:

but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them; the messengers that brought the letters, the contents of which they despised, and paid no regard to; this was the behaviour of many, and probably of the greater part, but not of all, as follows.

So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they {h} laughed them to scorn, and mocked them.

(h) Though the wicked mock the servants of God, by whom he calls them to repentance, as in Ge 19:14, yet the word does not cease to ripen in the hearts of God's elect.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. passed] LXX. ἦσανδιαπορευόμενοι (more literal).Verse 10. - Through... Ephraim and Manasseh. 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 ver. 1. They laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. These two words speak significant description of the exact moral state in which Israel's tribes were now to be found. Even unto Zebulun. What of the country lay north of Zebulun had been so wasted by Assyria that practically Zebulnn is spoken of as what was most northerly. The king consulted with his princes and the whole assembly in Jerusalem, i.e., with the community of the capital assembled in their representatives for this purpose, as to keeping the passover in the second month. This was (Numbers 9:6-13) allowed to those who, by uncleanness or by absence on a distant journey, were prevented from holding the feast at the lawful time, the 14th of the first month. Both these reasons existed in this case (2 Chronicles 30:3): the priests had not sufficiently sanctified themselves, and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem, sc. at the legal time in the first month. למדּי, contracted from מה־דּי, that which is sufficient, is usually interpreted, "not in sufficient number" (Rashi, Vulg., Berth., etc.); but the reference of the word to the number cannot be defended. למדּי denotes only ad sufficientiam, and means not merely that the priests had not sanctified themselves in such numbers as were required for the slaughtering and offering of the paschal lambs, but that the priesthood in general was not yet sufficiently consecrated, many priests not having at that time wholly renounced idolatry and consecrated themselves anew. Nor does the passage signify, as Bertheau says it does, "that although the purification of the temple was completed only on the sixteenth day of the first month (2 Chronicles 29:17), the passover would yet have been celebrated in the first month, though perhaps not on the legal fourteenth day, had not a further postponement become necessary for the reasons here given;" for there is nothing said in the text of a "further postponement." That is just as arbitrarily dragged into the narrative as the idea that Hezekiah ever intended to hold the passover on another day than the legal fourteenth day of the month, which is destitute of all support, and even of probability. The postponement of the passover until the second month in special circumstances was provided for by the law, but the transfer of the celebration to another day of the month was not. Such a transfer would have been an illegal and arbitrary innovation, which we cannot suppose Hezekiah capable of. Rather it is clear from the consultation, that the king and his princes and the congregations were persuaded that the passover could be held only on the fourteenth day of the month; for they did not consult as to the day, but only as to the month, upon the basis of the law: if not in the first, then at any rate in the second month. The day was, for those consulting, so definitely fixed that it was never discussed, and is not mentioned at all in the record. If this were so, then the consultation must have taken place in the first month before the fourteenth day, at a time when the lawful day for the celebration was not yet past. This is implied in the words, "for they could not hold it at that time." ההיא בּעת is the first month, in contrast to "in the second month;" not this or that day of the month. Now, since the reason given for their not being able to hold it in the first month is that the priests had not sufficiently purified themselves, and the people had not assembled themselves in Jerusalem, we learn with certainty from these reasons that it is not a celebration of the passover in the first year of Hezekiah's reign which is here treated of, as almost all commentators think.

(Note: Cf. the elaborate discussion of this question in Caspari, Beitr. zur Einl. in das B. Jesaja, S. 109ff.)

In the whole narrative there is nothing to favour such a supposition, except (1) the circumstance that the account of this celebration is connected by ו consec. (in ויּשׁלח) with the preceding purification of the temple and restoration of the Jahve-worship which took place in the first year of Hezekiah's reign; and (2) the statement that the priests had not sufficiently sanctified themselves, 2 Chronicles 30:3, which, when compared with that in 2 Chronicles 29:34, that the number of priests who had sanctified themselves was not sufficient to flay the beasts for sacrifice, makes it appear as if the passover had been celebrated immediately after the consecration of the temple; and (3) the mention of the second month in 2 Chronicles 30:2, which, taken in connection with the mention of the first month in 2 Chronicles 29:3, 2 Chronicles 29:17, seems to imply that the second month of the first year of Hezekiah's reign is meant. But of these three apparent reasons none is convincing.

The use of ו consec. to connect the account of the celebration of the passover with the preceding, without the slightest hint that the celebration took place in another (later) year, is fully accounted for by the fact that in no case is the year in which any event of Hezekiah's twenty-nine years' reign occurred stated in the Chronicle. In 2 Chronicles 32:1, Sennacherib's invasion of Judah is introduced only by the indefinite formula, "and after these events," though it happened in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah; while the arrangements as to the public worship made by this king, and recorded in 2 Chronicles 31, belong to the first years of his reign. Only in the case of the restoration of the Jahve-worship is it remarked, 2 Chronicles 29:3, that Hezekiah commenced it in the very first year of his reign, because that was important in forming an estimate of the spirit of his reign; but the statement of the year in which his other acts were done had not much bearing upon the practical aim of the chronicler. Nor does the reason given for the transfer of the celebration of the passover to the second month, viz., that the priests had not sufficiently sanctified themselves, prove that the celebration took place in the first year of Hezekiah. During the sixteen years' reign of the idolater Ahaz, the priesthood had beyond doubt fallen very low, - become morally sunk, so that the majority of them would not immediately make haste to sanctify themselves for the Jahve-worship. Finally, the retrospective reference to 2 Chronicles 29:3, 2 Chronicles 29:17, would certainly incline us to take השּׁני בּחרשׁ to mean the second month of the first year; but yet it cannot be at once taken in that sense, unless the reasons given for the transfer of the celebration of the passover to the second month point to the first year. But these reasons, so far from doing so, are rather irreconcilable with that view. The whole narrative, 2 Chronicles 29 and 30, gives us the impression that Hezekiah had not formed the resolution to hold a passover to which the whole of Israel and Judah, all the Israelites of the ten tribes as well as the citizens of his kingdom, should be invited before or during the purification of the temple; at least he did not consult with his princes and the heads of Jerusalem at that time. According to 2 Chronicles 29:20, the king assembled the princes of the city only after the report had been made to him, on the completion of the purification of the temple on the sixteenth day of the first month, when he summoned them to the dedication of the purified temple by solemn sacrifice. But this consecratory solemnity occupied several days. The great number of burnt-offerings, - first seven bullocks, seven rams, and seven lambs, besides the sin-offering for the consecration of the temple (2 Chronicles 29:21); then, after the completion of these, the voluntary burnt-offering of the congregation, consisting of 70 bullocks, 100 rams, and 200 lambs, together with and exclusive of the thank-offerings (2 Chronicles 29:32), - could not possibly be burnt on one day on one altar of burnt-offering, and consequently the sacrificial meal could not well be held on the same day. If, then, the king consulted with the princes and the assembly about the passover after the conclusion of or during celebration, - say in the time between the seventeenth and the twentieth day, - it could not be said that the reason of the postponement of the passover was that the priests had not yet sufficiently sanctified themselves, and the people were not assembled in Jerusalem: it would only have been said that the fourteenth day of the first month was already past. Caspari has therefore rightly regarded this as decisive. But besides that, the invitation to all Israel (of the ten tribes) to this passover is more easily explained, if the celebration of it took place after the breaking up of the kingdom of the ten tribes by the Assyrians, than if it was before that catastrophe, in the time of Hosea, the last king of that kingdom. Though King Hosea may not have been so evil as some of his predecessors, yet it is said of him also, "he did that which was evil in the sight of Jahve" (2 Kings 17:2). Would Hezekiah have ventured, so long as Hosea reigned, to invite his subjects to a passover at Jerusalem? and would Hosea have permitted the invitation, and not rather have repelled it as an interference with his kingdom? Further, in the invitation, the captivity of the greater part of the ten tribes is far too strongly presupposed to allow us to imagine that the captivity there referred to is the carrying away of several tribes by Tiglath-pileser. The words, "the escaped who are left to you from the hand of the king of Assyria" (2 Chronicles 30:6), presuppose more than the captivity of the two and a half trans-Jordanic tribes and the Naphtalites; not merely because of the plural, the "kings of Assur," but also because the remaining five and a half tribes were not at all affected by Tiglath-pileser's deportation, while there is no mention made of any being carried away by King Pul, nor is it a probable thing in itself; see on 1 Chronicles 5:26. Finally, according to 2 Chronicles 31:1, the Israelites who had been assembled in Jerusalem for the passover immediately afterwards destroyed the pillars, Astartes, high places, and altars, not merely in all Judah and Benjamin, but also in Ephraim and Manasseh (consequently even in the capital of the kingdom of the ten tribes), "unto completion," i.e., completely, leaving nothing of them remaining. Is it likely that King Hosea, and the other inhabitants of the kingdom of the ten tribes who had not gone to the passover, but had laughed at and mocked the messengers of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30:10), would have quietly looked on and permitted this? All these things are incomprehensible if the passover was held in the first year of Hezekiah, and make it impossible to accept that view.

Moreover, even the preparation for this passover demanded more time than from the seventeenth day of the first month to the fourteenth day of the second. The calling of the whole people together, "from Dan to Beersheba" (2 Chronicles 30:5), could not be accomplished in three weeks. Even if Hezekiah's messengers may have gone throughout the land and returned home again in that time, we yet cannot suppose that those invited, especially those of the ten tribes, could at once commence their journey, so as to appear in Jerusalem at the time of the feast. In consequence of all these things, we must still remain stedfastly of the opinion already expressed in this volume in the Commentary on the Books of Kings (p. 306ff.), that this passover was not held in the first year of Hezekiah, only a week or two after the restoration of the Jahve-worship according to the law had been celebrated. But if it was not held in the first year, then it cannot have been held before the ruin of the kingdom of the ten tribes, in the sixth year of Hezekiah. In the third year of Hezekiah, Shalmaneser marched upon Samaria, and besieged the capital of the kingdom of the ten tribes. But during the occupation of that kingdom by the Assyrians, Hezekiah could not think of inviting its inhabitants to a passover in Jerusalem. He can have resolved upon that only after the Assyrians had again left the country, Samaria having been conquered, and the Israelites carried away. "But after an end had been thoroughly made of the kingdom of the house of Israel, Hezekiah might regard himself as the king of all Israel, and in this character might invite the remnant of the ten tribes, as his subjects, to the passover (cf. Jeremiah 40:1); and he might cherish the hope, as the Israelitish people had been just smitten down by this last frightful catastrophe, that its remaining members would humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, which had been laid on them solemnly, and turning to Him, would comply with the invitation; while before the ruin of the Israelitish kingdom, in inviting the Israelites of the ten tribes, he would have been addressing the subjects of a foreign king" (Caspari, S. 125). And with this view, the statement, 2 Chronicles 30:10, that the messengers of Hezekiah were laughed at by the majority of the Israelites, in the land of Ephraim and Manasseh unto Zebulun, may be easily reconciled. "If we only look," as Caspari pertinently says in answer to this objection, "at the conduct of those who remained in Judea after the destruction of Jerusalem, and who soon afterwards fled to Egypt to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 42:4), we will understand how the majority of the people of the kingdom of the ten tribes, who remained behind after the deportation by Shalmaneser, could be hardened and blinded enough to laugh at and mock the messengers of Hezekiah."

But if Hezekiah formed the resolution of holding such a passover festival only after the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, it may perhaps be asked why he did not take the matter into consideration early enough to allow of the festival being held at the legal time, i.e., in the first month? To this we certainly cannot give an assured answer, because, from the reasons given for the delay of the passover to the second month (2 Chronicles 30:3), we can only gather that, when the king consulted with the princes in the matter, there was no longer sufficient time to carry out the celebration in the manner proposed at the legal time. But it is quite possible that Hezekiah resolved to invite the remnant of the ten tribes to the next passover, only in the beginning of the year, when the Assyrians had withdrawn from the land, and that in the consultation about the matter the two circumstances mentioned in 2 Chronicles 30:3 were decisive for the postponement of the feast to the second month. It became clear, on the one hand, that the whole priesthood was not yet sufficiently prepared for it; and on the other, that the summoning of the people could not be accomplished before the 14th Nisan, so as to allow of the feast being held in the way proposed at the legal time; and accordingly it was decided, in order to avoid the postponement of the matter for a whole year, to take advantage of the expedient suggested by the law, and to hold the feast in the second month. From 2 Chronicles 30:14 and 2 Chronicles 31:1 we gather that at that time there were still standing in Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah and Benjamin, Mazzeboth, Asherim, Bamoth, and altars; consequently, that the Baal-worship had not yet been extirpated. The continuance of the Baal-worship, and that on the high places in Jerusalem and Judah, until the sixth or seventh year of Hezekiah's reign, will not much astonish us, if we consider that even before Ahaz the most pious kings had not succeeded in quite suppressing worship on the high places on the part of the people. The reopening of the temple, and of the Jahve-worship in it, Hezekiah might undertake and carry out in the beginning of his reign, because he had all those of the people who were well inclined upon his side. But it was otherwise with the altars on the high places, to which the people from ancient times had been firmly attached. These could not be immediately destroyed, and may have been again restored here and there after they had been destroyed, even in the corners of the capital. Many Levitic priests had, to a certainty, taken part in this worship on high places, since, as a rule, it was not heathen idols, but Jahve, to whom sacrifice was offered upon the high places, though it was done in an illegal way. Such Levitic priests of the high places could not, even if they had not practised idolatry, straightway take part in a passover to be celebrated to Jahve according to the precepts of the law. They must first sanctify themselves by abandoning the worship on the high places, and earnestly turning to the Lord and to His law. Now, if the passover was to be a general one, the time necessary for this sanctification of themselves must be granted to these priests. For the sanctification of these priests, and for the invitation of all Israel to the festival, the time up to the fourteenth of the second month was sufficient, and the king's proposal was consequently approved of by the whole assembly.

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