Moreover Josiah kept a passover unto the LORD in Jerusalem: and they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.
Verse 1. - They killed the Passover on the fourteenth... of the first month; i.e. on the day appointed originally (Exodus 12:6). It will be remembered that, under special circumstances, the same day of the second month was authorized by "Hezekiah and his princes" (2 Chronicles 30:2).
And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of the LORD,
Verse 2. - Comp. 2 Chronicles 7:6; 2 Chronicles 31:2; 1 Chronicles 23:32; and our notes in those places.
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,
Verse 3. - That taught (see 2 Chronicles 17:7, 9: Deuteronomy 33:8-10). Which were holy (so 2 Chronicles 23:6). Put the holy ark... net to you a burden on the shoulder. There is a double difficulty, though not of a very formidable character, in this portion of the verse. We can only conjecture why the ark was not in its proper place, probably having been temporarily removed during Josiah's own restorations, or possibly having never been yet replaced from the date of some earlier removal of an iniquitous character and on the part of an iniquitous king. Secondly, as to the burden, some would explain the language as a reminiscence of the general and ever-applicable principle found in 1 Chronicles 23:26. This, at any rate, would seem rather more satisfactory than the suggestion conveyed by the italic type of our Authorized Version. Perhaps the explanation may rather be that the ark had latterly again and again been shifted, and Josiah wishes to protest that neither for one reason nor another shall it be again moved.
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.
Verse 4. - According to the writing of David... and... of Solomon (comp. our 2 Chronicles 8:14 and 1 Chronicles 9:10-34, and the other marginal references, 1 Chronicles 23. - 26.). It is more than possible that the fullest tabulation of arrangements of this kind has not come down to us.
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.
Verse 5. - In brief, this verse purports to say that, for this special occasion of the Passover, the Levites shall take special care that, as stationed in the holy precincts, there shall be a family of themselves ready to minister to a family... of the people, each to each.
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.
Verse 6. - Prepare your brethren; i.e. as betokened by the wording of the foregoing verse, their brethren, the people. The Levites were to purify themselves, perform their other duties of killing the victims, and withal to use their opportunities of instructing the people to the better order and performance of the whole solemn service.
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.
Verse 7. - Lambs... kids... bullocks. The variety of sacrificial offerings is specifically noticed in our ver. 13. While kids ("Ye shall take it out from the sheep or from the goats," Exodus 12:5) as well as lambs answered for the Paschal feast, the bullocks served for "burnt" and "peace offerings" (Numbers 28:16-25).
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.
Verse 8. - The princes; i.e. the three immediately mentioned by name. Jehiel (see Ezra 8:2).
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.
Verse 9. - Conaninh ... Shemaiah... Jozabad (see 2 Chronicles 31:12, 15).
So the service was prepared, and the priests stood in their place, and the Levites in their courses, according to the king's commandment.
Verse 10. - According to the king's commandment (see 2 Chronicles 30:16, where the sanction is referred further back, "according to the Law of Moses, the man of God").
And they killed the passover, and the priests sprinkled the blood from their hands, and the Levites flayed them.
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.
Verse 12. - Removed; i.e. cut off; the verso purporting that those who officiated cut off those portions of the animals slain which were of the nature of burnt offering, that they might be taken by the offering worshippers to the priests at the altars, there to be entirely consumed. Of the people; probably better, literally, to the children of the people, i.e. "to the people" (Leviticus 3:3-16).
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.
Verse 13. - Roasted. (For the emphatic and repeated command to roast, see Exodus 12:8, 9; Deuteronomy 16:7.) Sod. The sodden or boiled offerings, peace offerings, were ordinarily eaten on the days of unleavened bread, and then particularly on the first and seventh (Leviticus 23:4-8, etc.). Divided them speedily among all the people. The marginal rendering of the original, and the Revised Version rendering, carried them quickly, may be noted; nevertheless attention is invited, probably not so much to the speed or quickness in question, but to the fact that "all the people" were carefully attended to.
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.
Verse 15. - To the marginal references of 1 Chronicles 25; 1 Chronicles 9; 1 Chronicles 26; add 2 Chronicles 6:33-47
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.
Verse 16. - The same day; literally, that day, as next verse, "at that time." No stress belongs to the day as the same day evidently.
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.
Verse 18. - Upon this verse Professor Murphy says, "The Passover in Hezekiah's time was great (2 Chronicles 30:26), but this was greater. For it was kept on the proper day in the first month, and was not a mere supplementary Passover; it was observed with due regularity, and not by worshippers some of whom were unclean; and if we allow thirteen persons for each lamb or kid, there were upwards of half a million communicants; while, so far as we know, there were only seventeen thousand sheep presented by Hezekiah and his princes (2 Chronicles 30:24), which would not supply more than half the number of partakers.
In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah was this passover kept.
Verse 19. - The date is stamped as ever-memorable, ever-honorable landmark in Josiah's reign.
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.
Verse 20. - After all this. A period of about thirteen years of happy retrospect is now the portion of the good king. This period brings itself to an unhappy and even fatal termination in the year B.C. 608; when, as it would appear by the result, King Josiah did wrong, and went out of his way, in opposing the march of Pharaoh-Necho (who reigned B.C. 611-595), successor of Psammetichus King of Egypt, against Cyaxares (the monarch who, with Nabo-polassar, had taken Nineveh, B.C. 625) King of Assyria (2 Kings 23:29), or King of Babylon at Circesium on the River Phrat, the head-quarters now of the united Assyrian and Babylonian power. Where the fault or sin of Josiah lay - whether he ran before he was sent, or whether, according to our following two verses, he set out against the Divine word by Necho - is certainly a question left in obscurity. Nothing is said in our history or its parallel to accredit the tale of Necho, or to discredit the heart and motive of Josiah - nothing except what silence and the result seem to say. One other clement of interest and of difficulty may be added to the question; for of the thirteen years' interval, which we have described above as one presumably of happy retrospect in certain aspects for Josiah, we know nothing from Scripture, but have every reason to suppose that during it Josiah and his kingdom had become subject, if only nominally, to Nabopolassar; so that, in offering to resist Necho of Egypt, he was offering to strengthen so far forth the royal line which did dishonour to his own country and his country's God. Upon this supposition, however, we can lay no stress.
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.
Verse 21. - Not against thee this day. Possibly the suggestion couched in these last two words may have been the opposite of agreeable to King Josiah. For God commanded me to make haste. The margin reading of the Revised Version seems preferable, both for the Hebrew text and the connection, hath given command to speed me.
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.
Verse 22. - Would not turn his face (so 2 Chronicles 25:17 and its parallel, 2 Kings 14:8). Disguised himself. This is, possibly enough, the intention of the word, but it is more probable that the simple meaning is fully armed himself. The Septuagint has strengthened himself. Hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God. Unless these words are intended to convey really their patent and most natural import, it is tenfold strange that they should find a place in the compilation of the Chronicles. It is indeed possible that they might purport, from the pen of the writer of Chronicles, that in point of fact the words of Necho had been the permitted warning, though not the actually dictated language of God. The genius of the whole passage strongly reminds us of 2 Chronicles 25:17, 19-21; and its parallel in 2 Kings 14. In the valley of Megiddo; i.e. among those hills which separate the country of the coast from Esdraelon - a valley as that "of Kishon" (see Stanley's 'Sinai and Palestine,' pp. 356, 339, 347; but see also Conder's 'Handbook,' p. 287, where a different view is taken).
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.
Verse 24. - And he died. If the form of words used in the parallel, 2 Kings 23:30, be followed, Josiah was dead before they reached Jerusalem. And all... mourned for Josiah. We still find no note whatever of blame attributed to Josiah, and the general mourning (Zechariah 12:11) appears to have been most genuine.
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.
Verse 25. - If Jeremiah's lamenting on this occasion was one committed to writing, it has not survived. To this day; i.e. probably anniversary after anniversary to the time of the writer to whom this statement belongs, the authority from which our compiler draws his materials. Written in the lamentations. We have here another glimpse of a work which has not been handed down to us.
Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his goodness, according to that which was written in the law of the LORD,
Verse 26. - Goodness; Hebrew text, kindnesses. According to that... written in the Law. This sentence pictures Josiah a careful, loving student of the Word, to the end that he might become a "doer" of it.
And his deeds, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.