Moreover Josiah kept a passover unto the LORD in Jerusalem: and they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.
And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of the LORD,
And said unto the Levites that taught all Israel, which were holy unto the LORD, Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel did build; it shall not be a burden upon your shoulders: serve now the LORD your God, and his people Israel,2 Chronicles 35:3. That taught all Israel which were holy — That is, the Levites were holy unto the Lord. And therefore it may be rendered, and were holy, &c., that is, peculiarly dedicated to this service, of ministering to the priests, and instructing the people. Put the holy ark in the house, &c. — It appears from this that the ark had been removed from its place; but by whom or when cannot now be said. It shall not be a burden upon your shoulders — That is, hereafter. For they were to carry it to a settled place, there to remain: and then they would be obliged to bear it no further on their shoulders, as they had done before it was fixed in the temple. Serve now the Lord, &c. — Ministers must look upon themselves as servants both to Christ, and to the people for his sake. They must take care and take pains, and lay themselves out to the utmost, both for the honour and glory of God, and for the benefit of his people, not as having dominion over their faith, but as helpers of their holiness and joy.
And prepare yourselves by the houses of your fathers, after your courses, according to the writing of David king of Israel, and according to the writing of Solomon his son.
And stand in the holy place according to the divisions of the families of the fathers of your brethren the people, and after the division of the families of the Levites.2 Chronicles 35:5. And stand in the holy place — Or minister (as that word is frequently used) in the court of the priests. According to the division of the families — According to the several families, both of the people, whom he calls their brethren, lest they should despise them, or grudge to serve them, and of the Levites. For the passover was to be eaten by the several families according to their numbers, and therefore he commands these persons, that when the paschal lambs were brought to them to be killed, they should so order the matter, that they might be distributed to the several families, whether of the Levites or other tribes.
So kill the passover, and sanctify yourselves, and prepare your brethren, that they may do according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.2 Chronicles 35:6-7. Prepare your brethren — By purifying them, and exciting them to fit themselves for so great and solemn a work. Josiah gave to the people lambs and kids — For either of these might be used for the paschal- offering. And three thousand bullocks — Which were to be offered after the lambs upon the several days of the feast of unleavened bread.
And Josiah gave to the people, of the flock, lambs and kids, all for the passover offerings, for all that were present, to the number of thirty thousand, and three thousand bullocks: these were of the king's substance.
And his princes gave willingly unto the people, to the priests, and to the Levites: Hilkiah and Zechariah and Jehiel, rulers of the house of God, gave unto the priests for the passover offerings two thousand and six hundred small cattle, and three hundred oxen.2 Chronicles 35:8. And his princes gave willingly — Not the political, but ecclesiastical princes, or the chief of the priests and Levites, whose names here follow. Unto the people, priests, and Levites — For the use of any of the families of them, as need should be. For they supposed the thirty- thousand, which the king had given, were not sufficient for all the families.
Conaniah also, and Shemaiah and Nethaneel, his brethren, and Hashabiah and Jeiel and Jozabad, chief of the Levites, gave unto the Levites for passover offerings five thousand small cattle, and five hundred oxen.
So the service was prepared, and the priests stood in their place, and the Levites in their courses, according to the king's commandment.
And they killed the passover, and the priests sprinkled the blood from their hands, and the Levites flayed them.2 Chronicles 35:11. And the Levites flayed them — Which they did, (though properly that work belonged to the priests,) because the priests, who were sanctified, were not sufficient for it, there being so many thousands of the cattle; and they were fully employed in the killing of the sacrifices, and the sprinkling of the blood, which was more properly the priests’ work than the other.
And they removed the burnt offerings, that they might give according to the divisions of the families of the people, to offer unto the LORD, as it is written in the book of Moses. And so did they with the oxen.2 Chronicles 35:12. And they removed the burnt-offerings — That part of the paschal lambs which was to be burned, which they despatched as soon as possible, that they might give that part which was to be eaten to each family. And so they did with the oxen — All of which were not given for peace-offerings, but some for burnt-offerings: which they also offered as fast as they could, that they might give to each family a portion sufficient for them to feast on.
And they roasted the passover with fire according to the ordinance: but the other holy offerings sod they in pots, and in caldrons, and in pans, and divided them speedily among all the people.2 Chronicles 35:13-14. But the other holy offerings sod they in pots — Those from which the burnt-offerings were removed, (2 Chronicles 35:12,) namely, the peace- offerings, part of which fell to the share of the offerer, who was Josiah, and, by his gift, to the people. Afterward they made ready — To wit, the paschal lambs, and their part of the peace-offerings.
And afterward they made ready for themselves, and for the priests: because the priests the sons of Aaron were busied in offering of burnt offerings and the fat until night; therefore the Levites prepared for themselves, and for the priests the sons of Aaron.
And the singers the sons of Asaph were in their place, according to the commandment of David, and Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun the king's seer; and the porters waited at every gate; they might not depart from their service; for their brethren the Levites prepared for them.
So all the service of the LORD was prepared the same day, to keep the passover, and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar of the LORD, according to the commandment of king Josiah.
And the children of Israel that were present kept the passover at that time, and the feast of unleavened bread seven days.
And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.2 Chronicles 35:18. There was no passover like to that — The whole solemnity was performed exactly according to the law, whereas in Hezekiah’s passover there were several irregularities: likewise Josiah furnished the whole congregation with beasts for sacrifice at his own charge, which no king ever did before him.
In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah was this passover kept.
After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him.2 Chronicles 35:20. After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple — When he and his people hoped that God was reconciled, and the foundation of a lasting happiness laid, their hopes were quickly blasted. So much are men often mistaken in their judgments about the designs of God’s providence. To fight against Charchemish — Which the Assyrian had lately taken from the king of Egypt, of which he boasts, Isaiah 10:9.
But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.2 Chronicles 35:21. I come not against thee, but against the house wherewith I have war — Against the house of the king of Assyria, between whom and me there is war. For God commanded me to make haste — Therefore, give me no hinderance. Some think he only pretended this, because he knew Josiah had a great reverence for God, and in obedience to him might desist from his purpose. And the Targum, with some of the Jews, thinks he called his own idol by the name of God; though Kimchi thinks, and the event makes it most probable, that he spoke of the true God, who perhaps admonished him in a dream, as he did Abimelech, or sent him a message to go against the Assyrians by the Prophet Jeremiah, many of whose prophecies are directed to foreign nations. Forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, &c. — It is at thy peril if thou engage against one who has both a better army, and a better cause, and God on his side.
Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo.2 Chronicles 35:22. Josiah would not turn his face from him — Being, peradventure, encouraged to go out against him by a misinterpretation of that promise made to him, chap. 2 Chronicles 34:28, Thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace. Thus God overrules the errors and miscarriages of men to the accomplishment of his own counsels. But disguised himself — Changed his habit, that he might not give his enemies the advantage of aiming at his person, which he wisely thought they would do, that being a likely course to end their trouble, as indeed it proved. And hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God — Either, 1st, which Pharaoh sent to him in the name of God; or rather, 2d, which Pharaoh received from the mouth of God; who was pleased, some way or other, to impart his mind to him, and which Pharaoh acquainted him with by the command of God. And therefore Josiah is here blamed for not hearkening to this message: although, if he sinned herein, it was only a sin of ignorance, for he did not know that God had spoken this to Pharaoh, and was not bound to believe his testimony, which he had good reason to suspect in this matter. Yet, it seems, he ought so far to have regarded it, as to have inquired into the mind of God about it, which he neglected to do, and therefore cannot be wholly excused. How can we think to prosper in our ways, if we do not acknowledge God in them?
And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded.
His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.2 Chronicles 35:24. And put him in the second chariot — It was the custom of war, in former times, for great officers to have led horses with them in battle, that if one failed they might mount another. And, in like manner, we may presume, that when it became a fashion to fight in chariots, all great commanders had an empty one following them, to which they might betake themselves, if any mischief befell the other. They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died — Bishop Sherlock observes, that Josiah had so good a character in Scripture, that both Jews and Christians have been at a loss to account for his unfortunate end. The learned Dr. Prideaux endeavours to justify his conduct in opposing the passage of the king of Egypt, because it was a service due to the king of Assyria, to whom Josiah was a vassal. “Be it so,” says Dr. Dodd, “yet his duty to the king of Assyria could not dissolve his dependance on a higher Master. He went to war as vassal of the king of Assyria, but did he ask counsel of God as king of Judah? Or was he attended to the war with such forces only as the kings of Judah might lawfully use? That he had chariots and horsemen, appears plainly from this account of his death. That this was the true or only cause of his misfortune, I dare not affirm; for I have no express authority to support me in affirming it: but this I see, that he was found in the day of battle, not with the equipage of a king of Judah, but surrounded with forces which the law of his God had forbidden him to trust to, and which had often proved a strength fatal to his ancestors.” See Bishop Sherlock’s Dissertation on the Use and Intent of Prophecy, at the end.
And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations.2 Chronicles 35:25. Jeremiah lamented for Josiah — Sorrowed much on account of the immature death of this good king, foreseeing that the utter ruin of his country would follow upon it. And as it was usual with the Jews to make lamentations, elegies, or mournful pieces upon the death of great men, princes, and others that had distinguished themselves among them, and deserved well of their country, it is probable Jeremiah wrote such a piece on the occasion of Josiah’s death. If he did so, the loss of it is very much to be deplored, because, as Dr. Dodd observes, it was, no doubt, “a masterpiece of its kind as there never was an author more deeply affected with his subject, or more capable of carrying it through all the tender sentiments of sorrow and compassion, than Jeremiah.” All the singing-men and singing-women spake of Josiah in their lamentations — Among the Jews men and women were usually employed to mourn at funerals, and to sing the praises of the dead. And so real and great was the mourning for Josiah, that for ages afterward they always remembered it in their lamentations for the dead, saying of the person deceased, Then art worthy to be lamented for, as good Josiah was, or words to the same purpose. Or, as Poole thinks, the meaning may be, that in all their succeeding lamentations for their public calamities, they remembered Josiah’s death as their first and fatal blow, which opened the flood-gates to all their following miseries. And made them an ordinance in Israel — Ordained that the mournful pieces, penned on this sad occasion, should be learned and sung by all sorts of people. And, behold, they are written in the Lamentations — Not in the book termed The Lamentations of Jeremiah, which was written on another occasion; but in some collection of mournful poems, now lost.
Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his goodness, according to that which was written in the law of the LORD,2 Chronicles 35:26. The rest of the acts of Josiah, and his goodness — His piety toward God, and his benignity, clemency, and kindness toward all his subjects, being of a most tender and mild disposition, both toward God and toward men, 2 Chronicles 34:27. According to that which was written in the law — Which he made his rule in all his actions. The revelation which God has given us of his mind and will is the only true standard by which we can safely walk. All other rules may deceive us, and will often either leave us in doubt or uncertainty how to act, or will lead us wrong. But the word of God is a sure and unerring guide, a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our paths. Let us walk by this, and we shall please God in time and enjoy him in eternity.
And his deeds, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.