International Standard Version
1Hezekiah also sent word to all of Israel and Judah, and wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh that they should come to the LORD's Temple in Jerusalem to observe the Passover to the LORD God of Israel. 2The king, his princes, and the entire assembly in Jerusalem had mutually decided to observe the Passover in the second month, 3but they had been unable to celebrate it then because not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not yet been gathered together in Jerusalem. 4This decision seemed to be a good one in the opinion of the king and of the entire assembly, 5so they published a decree that was circulated throughout Israel from Beer-sheba to Dan that they are to come celebrate the Passover to the LORD God of Israel in Jerusalem. The Passover had not been celebrated in great numbers as was being prescribed by the decree. 6Couriers were sent throughout all of Israel and Judah with letters written by the king and his princes, just as the king had commanded: "Listen, you descendants of Israel! Come back to the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so he may come back to those of you who have escaped and survived from domination by the kings of Assyria. 7Don't be like your ancestors and your relatives, who weren't faithful to the LORD God of their ancestors, who, as a result, made them a desolate horror, as you well know. 8So don't be stiff-necked like your ancestors were. Instead, submit to the LORD, enter his sanctuary that he has sanctified forever, and serve the LORD your God so that he'll stop being angry with you. 9If you return to the LORD, your relatives and children will receive compassion from those who took them away captive, and they'll return to this land, because the LORD is both gracious and compassionate—he will not turn away from you if you return to him."
10Couriers crossed from city to city throughout the territories of Ephraim and Manasseh as far as Zebulun, but those people just mocked them and laughed at them. 11Nevertheless, a few men from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and traveled to Jerusalem. 12God also poured out his grace throughout Judah, giving them a dedicated heart to do what the king and princes had decreed according to the message from the LORD.
13Many of the people gathered together in Jerusalem to observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread during the second month. It was a very large assembly. 14They all got to work and removed the idolatrous altars that were throughout Jerusalem. They also removed all the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Brook. 15Then they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and descendants of Levi felt ashamed of themselves, so they consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the LORD's Temple. 16Then they took their customary places, as the Law of Moses the man of God prescribes, and the priests sprinkled the blood that they were given by the descendants of Levi. 17Because there were so many in the assembly that had not consecrated themselves, therefore the descendants of Levi supervised the slaughter of the Passover sacrifices on behalf of everyone who remained unclean, so they could be consecrated to the LORD. 18Even though a large crowd of people from as far away as Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not completed consecrating themselves, they still ate the Passover in a manner not proscribed by the Law, because Hezekiah had prayed like this for them: "May the good LORD extend a pardon on behalf of 19everyone who prepares his own heart to seek God, the LORD God of his ancestors, even though he does so inconsistent with the laws of consecration." 20The LORD listened to Hezekiah and healed the people. 21The Israelis who were present in Jerusalem observed the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days with immense gladness, and the descendants of Levi and priests praised the LORD throughout each day, singing mightily to the LORD. 22Hezekiah encouraged all the descendants of Levi who demonstrated significant insight in their service to the LORD, so they all participated in the festival meals for seven days, all the while sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to the LORD God of their ancestors.
23After this, the whole assembly agreed to celebrate for another seven days, and so they did—and they were very happy to do so! 24King Hezekiah of Judah gave the assembly 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep for offerings, and the princes contributed 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep, and a large number of priests consecrated themselves. 25Everyone in the assembly of Judah rejoiced, as did the priests, the descendants of Levi, and the people who gathered together from throughout Israel, including those who came from the land of Israel and those who lived in Judah. 26There was great joy throughout Jerusalem, because nothing had happened like this in Jerusalem since the days of David's son Solomon, king of Israel. 27After this, the priests arose, blessed the people, and their voices were heard in prayer all the way to heaven, where God resides in holiness.