Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
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 unto the LORD God of Israel.The celebration of the passover. - 2 Chronicles 30:1-12. The preparations for this celebration. - 2 Chronicles 30:1. Hezekiah invited all Israel and Judah to it; "and he also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh," the two chief tribes of the northern kingdom, which here, as is manifest from 2 Chronicles 30:5, 2 Chronicles 30:10, are named instar omnium. But the whole sentence serves only to elucidate כּל־שׂראל על ישׁלה. To all Israel (of the ten tribes) he sent the invitation, and this he did by letters. The verse contains a general statement as to the matter, which is further described in what follows.
For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second month.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.
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 Jerusalem.
And the thing pleased the king and all the congregation.
So they established a decree to make proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel at Jerusalem: for they had not done it of a long time in such sort as it was written.They established the matter (דּבר יעמידוּ, Vulg. rightly, according to the sense, decreverunt), to make proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan (cf. Judges 20:1), that they should come to keep the passover. לרב לא כּי, for not in multitude had they celebrated it, as it is written. These words were interpreted as early as by Rashi thus: they had not celebrated it for a long time according to the precepts of the law, and were referred to the time of the division of the kingdom. But to this Berth. has rightly objected that the use of לרב of time is unusual, and has correctly referred the words to the Israelites: they had not celebrated it in multitude, i.e., in the assembly of the whole people, as the law required. The words consequently tell us nothing as to the length of time during which it had not been celebrated in multitude: as to that, see 2 Chronicles 30:26. Still less does it follow from the words that under Hezekiah, after the restoration of the temple worship, the passover had not been yearly held.
So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria."The runners (whether soldiers of the royal body-guard, cf. 2 Chronicles 12:10, or other royal couriers, as Esther 3:13, Esther 3:15, cannot be determined) went with letters from the hand of the king, ... and according to the commandment of the king to say." Tot he written invitation of the king and his princes they were to add words of exhortation: "Turn again to Jahve, ... that He may return (turn Himself) to the remnant which remains to you from the hand of the kings of Assyria," i.e., of Tiglath-pileser and Shalmaneser.
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.Be not like your fathers, your brethren, i.e., those carried away by Tiglath and Shalmaneser. On לשׁמּה יתּגם cf. 2 Chronicles 29:8.
Now be ye not stiffnecked, 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.Be not stiff-necked; cf. 2 Kings 17:14. "Give the hand to the Lord," i.e., here, not submit yourselves, as 1 Chronicles 29:24, construed with תּחת; it denotes the giving of the hand as a pledge of fidelity, as in 2 Kings 10:15; Ezra 10:19; Ezekiel 17:18.
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.If ye return to the Lord, your brethren and your sons (who are in exile) shall be for mercy, i.e., shall find mercy of them who carried them away, and for returning, i.e., and they shall return into this land. וגו חנּוּן כּי, cf. Exodus 34:6.
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.The couriers went about from city to city in the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, even unto Zebulun; but the people laughed to scorn and mocked at the summons to return, and the invitation to the passover festival. The words "from city to city" are not inconsistent with the view that the kingdom of Israel had already been ruined. The Assyrians had not blotted out all the cities from the face of the land, nor carried away every one of the inhabitants to the last man, but had been satisfied with the capture of the fortresses and their partial or complete demolition, and carried only the flower of the inhabitants away. No doubt also many had saved themselves from deportation by flight to inaccessible places, who then settled again and built in the cities and villages which had not been completely destroyed, or perhaps had been completely spared, after the enemy had withdrawn. From the statement, moreover, that the couriers passed through the land of Ephraim and Manasseh unto Zebulun, no proof can be derived that the messengers did not touch upon the domain of the tribes led away captive by Tiglath-pileser (Naphtali and the trans-Jordanic land), but only visited those districts of the country which formed the kingdom of Israel as it continued to exist after Tiglath-pileser. If that were so, it would follow that the kingdom had not then been destroyed. But the enumeration is not complete, as is manifest from the fact that, according to 2 Chronicles 30:11 and 2 Chronicles 30:18, men of the tribes of Asher and Issachar came to Jerusalem in compliance with the invitation; and the domain of Asher extended to the northern frontier of Canaan. If we further take it into consideration, that, according to the resolution of the king and his princes, all Israel, from Beersheba on the southern frontier to Dan on the northern, were to be invited, it is not to be doubted that the couriers went through the whole land.
Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem.
Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart to do the commandment of the king and of the princes, by the word of the LORD.Also upon Judah came the hand of God, to give them one heart, to do... The phrase בּ היתה יהוה יד has usually a punitive signification (cf. Exodus 9:3; Deuteronomy 2:15, etc.), but here it is the helping hand of God. God wrought powerfully upon Judah to make them of one mind. יהוה בּדבר as in 2 Chronicles 29:15.
And there assembled at Jerusalem much people to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great congregation.The celebration of the passover. - 2 Chronicles 30:13. The assembly of the people at Jerusalem to celebrate the feast became a great congregation.
And they arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense took they away, and cast them into the brook Kidron.Before the slaying of the passover, in order to purify and sanctify the city for the feast, they removed the (illegal) altars and places for offering incense which had been erected under Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:24), and threw them into the Kidron (2 Chronicles 29:16). מקטּרות is here a substantive: places for incense-offerings (cf. Ew. 160, e), and denotes altars intended for the offering of the קטרת.
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.When they slaughtered the passover on the 14th, the Levites and priests also were ashamed, i.e., had sanctified themselves under the influence of a feeling of shame, and offered the sacrifice in the house of the Lord; i.e., they performed the sacrificial functions incumbent upon them at the passover in the temple, as is stated more in detail in 2 Chronicles 30:16. The clause וגו והכּהנים is a circumstantial clause, and the statement points back to 2 Chronicles 30:3. The mention of Levites along with the priests here is worthy of remark, since in 2 Chronicles 29:34 it is said that at the celebration of the dedication of the temple the Levites had sanctified themselves more zealously than the priests. But these two statements do not contradict each other. In 2 Chronicles 29:34 it is the Levites and priests then present in or dwelling in Jerusalem who are spoken of; here, on the contrary, it is the priests and the Levites of the whole kingdom of Judah. Even though, at the former period, the Levites were more zealous in sanctifying themselves for the dedication of the temple, yet there must certainly have been many Levites in Judah, who, like many of the priests, did not immediately purify themselves from their defilement by the worship in the high places, and were only impelled and driven to sanctify themselves for the service of the Lord by the Zeal of the people who had come to Jerusalem to hold the passover.
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.Standing in their place, according to their right, i.e., according to the prescribed arrangement (see on 1 Chronicles 6:17), the priests sprinkled the blood (of the paschal lambs) from the hand of the Levites, they handing it to them. This was not the rule: in the case of the paschal lamb, the father of the family who slew the lamb had to hand the blood to the priest, that it might be sprinkled upon the altar; here the Levites did it for the reasons given in 2 Chronicles 30:17. Because many in the assembly had not sanctified themselves, the Levites presided over the slaying of the paschal lambs for every one who was unclean, to sanctify (the lambs) to the Lord (see also on 2 Chronicles 35:6, 2 Chronicles 35:11). רבּת, stat. constr. before the noun with a preposition, stands as neuter substantively: there was a multitude in the assembly who...רבּת, in 2 Chronicles 30:18 is to be taken in a similar manner, not as an adverb (Berth.). וגו מאפרים רבּת is in apposition to העם מרבּית, a multitude of people, viz.: Many of Ephraim ... had not purified themselves, but ate the passover in an illegal fashion, not according to the precept (cf. Numbers 9:6). This clause explains how it happened that the Levites presided at the slaying of the passover for those who had not sanctified themselves, i.e., they caught the blood and gave it to the priests. Had this been done by persons levitically unclean, the expiatory sacrificial blood would have been defiled. The eating of the paschal lamb or the participation in the passover meal was indeed allowed only to the clean; but yet it was not so holy an act, i.e., did not bring the people into such immediate contact with God, who was present at His altar, that those who were not clean might not, under some circumstances, be admitted to it. Here it was allowed, for Hezekiah had prayed for them that God might forgive the transgression of the law.
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.
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 one2 Chronicles 30:18 ends, according to the Masoretic verse-division, with the preposition בּעד; but that division seems merely to have arisen from ignorance of the construction heekiyn כּל-lbaabow, of the fact that בּעד stands before a relative sentence without אשׁר, like אל in 1 Chronicles 15:12, and is certainly wrong. If we separate בּעד from what follows, we must, with Aben Ezra, supply אלּה, and make הכין (2 Chronicles 30:19) refer to Hezekiah, both being equally inadmissible. Rightly, therefore, the lxx, Vulg., and also Kimchi, with the majority of commentators, have given up this division of the verses as incorrect, and connected the words in this way: May the good Jahve atone, i.e., forgive every one who has fixed his heart (cf. 2 Chronicles 12:14) to seek God, Jahve, the God of his fathers, but not in accordance with the purity of the sanctuary. This intercession of Hezekiah's is worthy of remark, not only because it expresses the conviction that upright seeking of the Lord, which proceeds from the heart, is to be more highly estimated than strict observance of the letter of the law, but also because Hezekiah presumes that those who had come out of Ephraim, etc., to the passover had fixed their heart to seek Jahve, the God of their fathers, but had not been in a position to comply with the precept of the law, i.e., to purify themselves up to the day appointed for the passover.
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.
And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.God heard this intercession, and healed the people. רפא, sanare, is not to be explained by supposing, with Bertheau, that first sickness, and then even death, were to be expected as the results of transgression of the law, according to Leviticus 15:31, and that the people might be already regarded as sick, as being on the point of becoming so. The use of the word is explained by the fact that sin was regarded as a spiritual disease, so that רפא is to be understood of healing the soul (as Psalm 41:5), or the transgression (Hosea 14:5; Jeremiah 3:22).
And the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem kept the 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.And the Israelites that were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and priests praised the Lord day by day, singing to the Lord ליהוה עז בּכלי, "with instruments of power to the Lord," i.e., with which they ascribed power to the Lord; or, to express it more clearly, which they played to the praise of the power of the Lord. The stringed instruments played by the Levites, and the trumpets blown by the priests, to accompany the psalm-singing, are meant. The singing of praise in connection with the sacrificial service took place on the seventh day of the feast.
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.Hezekiah spoke to the heart of all the Levites, i.e., spoke encouraging words of acknowledgment to all the Levites, "who showed good understanding in regard to Jahve," i.e., not qui erant rerum divinarum peritiores aliosque instruere poterant, but, as Clericus has already said, those who had distinguished themselves by intelligent playing to the honour of the Lord. "And they ate" - not merely the Levites and priests, but all who took part in the festival - the festal sacrifices, seven days. The expression את־המּועד אכל, to hold the festal sacrificial meal, is formed after את־הפּסח אכל, to eat the passover equals the passover meal. This we gather from the following participial clause, "offering peace-offerings," of which the sacrificial meals were prepared. וּמתודּים, and acknowledged the Lord, the God of their fathers. הדותה denotes here neither "to make confession of sin," nor "to approach with thank-offerings" (Berth.), but simply to acknowledge the Lord with heart and mouth, word and deed, or by prayer, praise, thanks, and offering of sacrifice.
And the whole assembly took counsel to keep other seven days: and they kept other seven days with gladness.Prolongation of the festival for seven days more, and the conclusion of it. - 2 Chronicles 30:23. Since the king and the princes had given a very large number of beasts for sacrifice as thank-offerings, it was resolved to keep joy for other seven days, i.e., to keep them festally, with sacrificial meals. The expression ימים עשׂה, to hold or celebrate days, is similar to פסח עשׂה, to hold the passover. שׂמהה is an adverbial accusative: in joy. For this resolution two reasons are given in 2 Chronicles 30:24 : 1. Hezekiah had given to the assembly 1000 bullocks and 7000 head of small cattle, and the princes had given 1000 bullocks and 10,000 head of small cattle besides; so that there was more than they could use during the seven days of the Mazzoth feast. Bertheau incorrectly supposes that these were "rich gifts for further sacrificial feasts." The gifts were bestowed for the Mazzoth festival, but were so plentiful that they sufficed for another festival of seven days. הרים, like תּרוּמה, denotes to bestow, i.e., to present beasts, etc., with the design that they should be used as sacrifices; cf. 2 Chronicles 35:7. 2. The second reason: "priests also had sanctified themselves in multitude," so as to be able to carry on the service at the altar, even with such numerous sacrifices, refers back to 2 Chronicles 30:15 and 2 Chronicles 30:3.
For Hezekiah king of Judah did give to the congregation a 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.
And all the congregation of Judah, with the priests and the Levites, and all the congregation that came out of Israel, and the strangers that came out of the land of Israel, and that dwelt in Judah, rejoiced.Concluding remarks on this festival. There took part in it (1) the whole congregation of Judah, and the priests and Levites; (2) the whole congregation of those who had come out of Israel (the ten tribes); (3) the strangers, both those who came out of the land of Israel and those dwelling in Judah.
So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem.The joy was great, for there had not been the like in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon. The meaning is, that this feast could be compared only with the feast at the dedication of the temple in the time of Solomon, 2 Chronicles 7:1-10, in respect to its length, the richness of the sacrificial gifts, the multitude of those who participated, and the joyous feeling it caused" (Berth.). The feast at the dedication of the temple had been a festival of fourteen days; for the feast of tabernacles, which lasted seven days, came immediately after the proper dedicatory feast, and since the time of Solomon all the tribes had never been united at a feast in Jerusalem.
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.At the end of the Levitic priests dismissed the people with the blessing (the ו before הלויּם in some MSS, and which the lxx, Vulg., and Syr. also have, is a copyist's gloss brought from 2 Chronicles 30:25; cf. against it, 2 Chronicles 23:18), and the historian adds, "Their voice was heard, and their prayer came to His holy dwelling-place, to heaven." This conclusion he draws from the divine blessing having been upon the festival; traceable partly in the zeal which the people afterwards showed for the public worship in the temple (2 Chronicles 31), partly in the deliverance of Judah and Jerusalem from the attack of the Assyrian Sennacherib (2 Chronicles 32).