OBEDIENCE TO THE WORD OF GOD ELEVATES WORSHIP CELEBRATION WHILE DISOBEDIENCE EXPOSES ONE TO HARM
Andrew Hill: The Passover is the preeminent religious festival for postexilic Judah and the apex of temple worship for the Chronicler. The reason for the prominence of this feast in the Jewish restoration community stems from the Passover observed after the completion of the second temple in 516 B.C. and the understanding that the return from Babylonian captivity is a “second exodus” for God’s people (cf. Ezra 6:19-22). The Passover, more than any other Hebrew religious festival, drew the nation of Israel back to her roots since it was at Mount Sinai that the former Hebrew slaves were constituted as the people of God.
Iain Duguid: In Chronicles the climax of reforms initiated by both Hezekiah and Josiah is national celebration of Passover (cf. ch. 30). The account of Hezekiah’s Passover focused on the people, recounting the invitation to participate sent throughout Judah and Israel and thus the welcoming of those from the newly terminated northern kingdom. The celebration prompted questions and ad hoc decisions regarding date and purification, and wide joyous participation ensued. In contrast, the focus in the account of Josiah’s Passover is on the organization and performance of the celebration itself (the “people of Israel” are the active subject of a verb only in 35:17).
Attention in Chronicles centers on two areas:
(1) the celebration was solidly grounded in the Lord’s past instructions, through Moses (vv. 6b, 12–13) and David and Solomon (vv. 3, 4, 15), and
(2) further innovation was formalized by Josiah, as the Levites were prominent, with increased duties (vv. 3–5, 10–15) “according to the king’s command” (vv. 10, 16; cf. imperatives in vv. 3–6). The changes brought by David and Solomon flowed from the building of a temple and related to temple ministry as a whole, while Josiah’s instructions flowed from centralization “in Jerusalem” (v. 1).
Adam Clarke: Josiah celebrates a Passover, regulates the courses of the priests; assigns them, the Levites, and the people, their portions; and completes the greatest Passover ever celebrated since the days of Solomon, 2-19.
McGee: We have seen in this book that although there was a general decline of the nation, there were five periods of revival, renewal, and reformation [under kings Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah] … In each instance, return to the Word of God led to the repentance of the people and the temporary reformation of the nation.
I. (:1-19) OBEDIENCE TO THE WORD OF GOD ELEVATES WORSHIP CELEBRATION –
THE PASSOVER AND FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
Geoffrey Kirkland: Looking Back – Prioritize the Lamb – [following his outline]
1. Preparation (1-6)
2. Provision (7-9)
3. Procedure (10-15)
4. Praise & Preeminence of the Passover (16-19)
Peter Wallace: The book of Kings spent only three verses on Josiah’s Passover – the Chronicler devotes 19 verses to it.
Martin Selman: Since this account follows immediately on the renewing of the covenant, it appears to be part of Josiah’s movement of covenant renewal (34:29-32). The Passover in fact gives the reform a much more positive image than in Kings, which concentrates on a crusade against idolatry (2 Kgs 23:4-27). The Chronicler’s concern is rather to encourage the right use of the temple (vv. 2, 3, 8, 20), its service (vv. 2, 10, 15, 16), and its offerings (vv. 7, 8, 9, 12-14, 16).
The Passover represents the zenith of temple worship in Chronicles (cf. 2 Chr. 30). This prominence is due partly to historical associations with the exodus (Exod. 12:1-13) and Israel’s entry into the Promised Land (Josh. 5:10-11), and partly to its place in the worship of the second temple (Ezra 6:19-22; cf. also Ezek. 45:21). The Passover in post-exilic times particularly expressed many of the Chronicler’s own emphases, such as the priority of temple worship, the reunification of the exiles, Israel’s separation form the impurities of their neighbours, and a desire to seek the Lord (cf. Ezra 6:19-22).
Japhet: Hezekiah’s Passover is portrayed as a spontaneous initiative, the main purpose of which was to provide a cultic-religious framework for the integration of the people of the North into the Jerusalem cult; the approach to these Israelites, and the effort to bring them to Jerusalem, consume the major part of ch. 30. … Josiah’s Passover is a different matter altogether. Josiah works to establish a permanent institution, built on solid administrational and organizational foundations, with a clear division of roles and an undisputed legal basis.
A. (:1-6) Preparation for Worship Celebration
1. (:1) Passover Summary
“Then Josiah celebrated the Passover to the LORD in Jerusalem, and they slaughtered the Passover animals on the fourteenth day of the first month.”
Raymond Dillard: Josiah’s Passover was a pilgrimage feast: just as Israel had received its identity as a nation in the great assembly before Yahweh at Sinai, the law provided that during the pilgrimage feasts the nation would assemble before his sanctuary at least in part as a visible reminder of a corporate national existence. In this way the individual Israelite learned afresh what it meant to be Israel: that Yahweh had chosen them as his own and that he dwelled in their midst. Centuries later Jesus’ parents annually made this same pilgrimage; they discovered that though he was still a child, Jesus knew more about the meaning of Passover than they (Luke 2:41–51; G. McConville, 260–61).
David Guzik: The previous Passover of note was in the days of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30:1-3). That Passover had to be celebrated in the second month, but Josiah was able to keep this great Passover at the appointed time in the first month (Numbers 9:1-5).
2. (:2-6) Preparation Instructions</ p>
a. (:2) Organization and Encouragement
“And he set the priests in their offices
and encouraged them in the service of the house of the LORD.”
C. H. Spurgeon: Cheer up, my comrades
The first thing is to get every man into his proper place; the next thing is for every man to have a good spirit in his present place so as to occupy it worthily. At this time it shall not be my business to arrange you, but assuming that it is well for you to keep where you are, my object shall be to encourage you to do your work for the Lord without being cast down. I will speak–
I. To those who think they can do nothing.
II. To workers who are laid aside.
III. To those who are much discouraged because they have but small talent.
IV. To workers who are under great difficulties.
V. To those who are not appreciated.
VI. To those who are discouraged because they have had so little success.
b. (:3) Roles and Responsibilities
“He also said to the Levites who taught all Israel and who were holy to the LORD, ‘Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel built; it will be a burden on your shoulders no longer. Now serve the LORD your God and His people Israel.’”
c. (:4-5) Appropriate Family Divisions
“And prepare yourselves by your fathers’ households in your divisions, according to the writing of David king of Israel and according to the writing of his son Solomon. 5 Moreover, stand in the holy place according to the sections of the fathers’ households of your brethren the lay people, and according to the Levites, by division of a father’s household.”
d. (:6) Commitment to Obeying the Word of God
“Now slaughter the Passover animals,
and prepare for your brethren to do according to the word of the LORD by Moses.”
Raymond Dillard: Though the Passover animal was ordinarily slaughtered by the lay offerer (Deut 16:5–6; Exod 12:3–6, 21), the Chronicler understands that Josiah continued the practice of slaughter by the Levites as begun under Hezekiah (see Comment at 30:13–20). Under Hezekiah this practice was explained as exigency due to the ritual impurity of some participants; the practice has either become normalized by the time of Josiah (Rudolph, 325; C-M, 513; Myers, 212), or we are invited to infer a further exigency, perhaps the sheer number of participants (35:14, 18).
B. (:7-9) Provision of Offerings for Worship Celebration
Frederick Mabie: The “voluntary’ contributions of Passover offerings and more made by the king, royal officials, the high priest, temple administrators, and Levitical leaders reflect both the imagery of generosity as well as that of unity and fellowship enjoyed through the sharing of sacrificial meals and communion offerings. The massive amount of offerings and the efforts to account for a large number of those in Judah as well as Israel no doubt play into the summary remark that the Passover had not been celebrated like this before (v. 18). These numbers are about double the offerings noted in conjunction with Hezekiah’s Passover celebration (cf. 30:24), but they pale in comparison to Solomon’s temple-dedication offerings (cf. 7:5).
1. (:7) Generous Example of King Josiah
“And Josiah contributed to the lay people, to all who were present, flocks of lambs and kids, all for the Passover offerings, numbering 30,000 plus 3,000 bulls; these were from the king’s possessions.”
Matthew Henry: The king and the princes, influenced by his example, gave liberally for the bearing of the charges of this Passover. The ceremonial services were expensive, which perhaps was one reason why they had been neglected. People had not zeal enough to be at the charge of them; nor were they now very fond of them, for that reason.
2. (:8-9) Generous Voluntary Contributions from Leading Officials
“His officers also contributed a freewill offering to the people, the priests, and the Levites. Hilkiah and Zechariah and Jehiel, the officials of the house of God, gave to the priests for the Passover offerings 2,600 from the flocks and 300 bulls. 9 Conaniah also, and Shemaiah and Nethanel, his brothers, and Hashabiah and Jeiel and Jozabad, the officers of the Levites, contributed to the Levites for the Passover offerings 5,000 from the flocks and 500 bulls.”
Raymond Dillard: The same names occur in 31:12–13 for Levites who were active during Hezekiah’s reign; these individuals having those names during Josiah’s reign (35:9) were probably the grandsons of those mentioned earlier, a fact providing evidence for the practice of papponymy in monarchic Israel.
Andrew Hill: The royal “officials” are probably members of Josiah’s “cabinet,” including princes and appointees to posts such as the recorder, secretary, chief of staff over the army, and advisers (cf. the list of David’s officials, 2 Sam. 8:15-18). The temple administrators are senior priests in charge of the Levitical divisions and the musical and service guilds.
Peter Wallace: In the Law, it appears that each family was supposed to bring its own lamb, but by Josiah’s day, it is clear that the king and his officials are providing the sacrifices. The bulls would be for burnt offerings and peace offerings The lambs, of course, would be for the Passover itself – one lamb per household (although small households could share). If Josiah contributed 30,000 lambs and young goats, and the officers and chiefs contributed 7,600, that would suggest that around 37,600 households were present for the Passover. Since “best guess” estimates for the whole population of Judah at this time would be around 300,000 – these numbers may well be exactly on target, since not everyone from the whole country would be there – and they would have some extras from around Israel.
C. (:10-15) Procedure for the Passover
Raymond Dillard: For a time the temple would have become a slaughterhouse, a stream of celebrants coming to receive animals for use in their observances. After the animals were slain and skinned, the Levites re
moved those portions used as burnt offerings and gave them to the family representatives who would present them to the priests for the burning. Details of this ritual are not prescribed in legislation pertaining to Passover; rather, the appeal to what was “written in the book of Moses” (35:12) probably pertains to provisions for fellowship offerings, the fat portions of which were burned on the altar (Lev 3:6–16); the burnt offerings and fat offerings (35:14) may refer to the same thing (Keil, 502; Williamson, 407).
1. (:10) Staging the Passover Service
“So the service was prepared, and the priests stood at their stations
and the Levites by their divisions according to the king’s command.”
2. (:11a) Slaughtering the Sacrificial Animals
“And they slaughtered the Passover animals,”
3. (:11b) Sprinkling the Blood
“and while the priests sprinkled the blood received from their hand,”
4. (:11c) Skinning the Animals
“the Levites skinned them.”
5. (:12) Separating the Burnt Offerings to Be Presented to the Lord
“Then they removed the burnt offerings that they might give them to the sections of the fathers’ households of the lay people to present to the LORD, as it is written in the book of Moses. They did this also with the bulls.”
6. (:13-15) Serving Up the Passover Feast to All Participants
“So they roasted the Passover animals on the fire according to the ordinance, and they boiled the holy things in pots, in kettles, in pans, and carried them speedily to all the lay people. 14 And afterwards they prepared for themselves and for the priests, because the priests, the sons of Aaron, were offering the burnt offerings and the fat until night; therefore the Levites prepared for themselves and for the priests, the sons of Aaron. The singers, the sons of Asaph, were also at their stations according to the command of David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun the king’s seer; and the gatekeepers at each gate did not have to depart from their service, because the Levites their brethren prepared for them.”
Iain Duguid: most detail relates to the Levites, who acted on behalf of the people in the flaying, cooking, and distributing (vv. 11c, 12–14a, 14c–15). The two aspects of the ceremony can be seen in the sacrificing on the altar (vv. 11–12, 16) and the meal (vv. 13–15).
Andrew Hill: The term “roasted” (bsl, 35:13a) is a general word for cooking food either by boiling or by roasting. The original Passover meal was cooked by roasting (Ex. 12:8; Deut. 16:7). Certain other types of offerings included in fellowship meals were boiled in clay pots (e.g., Ex. 29:31; Lev. 6:28). It seems the Passover celebration combined both types of cooked food offerings.
J.A. Thompson: There is a note of selflessness here. After all the people had been attended to, the Levites could provide for themselves and for the priests. The enormity of the task for the priests is demonstrated by the fact that they were sacrificing the burnt offerings and the fat portions till nightfall.
D. (:16-19) Perfection of Worship Celebration
1. (:16) Carrying Out the Commands of King Josiah
“So all the service of the LORD was prepared on that day to celebrate the Passover, and to offer burnt offerings on the altar of the LORD according to the command of King Josiah.”
2. (:17) Collective Community Participation
“Thus the sons of Israel who were present celebrated the Passover at that time, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days.”
3. (:18) Characterization of This Passover as Remarkable
“And there had not been celebrated a Passover like it in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet; nor had any of the kings of Israel celebrated such a Passover as Josiah did with the priests, the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
David Guzik: This Passover was remarkable for several reasons.
• It was remarkable in the magnitude of its celebration, including even the remnant of the north who came to celebrate it in Jerusalem. “‘All Judah and Israel’ includes people from north and south, implying a larger attendance than at Hezekiah’s Passover (cf. 2 Chronicles 30:25).” (Selman)
• It was remarkable in its strict obedience to the Law of Moses
• It was remarkable in the way it shined amidst these dark years in Judah’s history.
4. (:19) Culmination of Reign of King Josiah
“In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign this Passover was celebrated.”
II. (:20-25) DISOBEDIENCE TO THE WORD OF GOD EXPOSES ONE TO HARM —
DEATH OF KING JOSIAH
A. (:20-22) Foolish Decision by King Josiah to Fight Neco King of Egypt
1. (:20) Foolish Support of the Assyrian Empire
“After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order,
Neco king of Egypt came up to make war at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to engage him.”
G. Campbell Morgan: Josiah was in sin because his attack against Egypt was in support of the Assyrian Empire, and he had no business supporting the Assyrian Empire. The only reason for doing so must have been some supposed political advantage. Against that kind of action the prophets were constantly warning the kings. A word claiming to be from God, forbidding what was already forbidden, had a weight of moral appeal almost amounting to certainty.
2. (:21) Foolish Rejection of Neco’s Warning
“But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, ‘What have we to do with each other, O King of Judah? I am not coming against you today but against the house with which I am at war, and God has ordered me to hurry. Stop for your own sake from interfering with God who is with me, that He may not destroy yo
Andrew Hill: Pharaoh Neco indicates he has no quarrel with Josiah or Judah; he simply wants a right of way through Judah so he can show loyalty to his Assyrian ally (35:21). The Megiddo pass lies on the international coastal highway, an ancient trade route connecting Egypt with Syria, northern Mesopotamia, and Anatolia. The site of Megiddo guards this bottleneck on the route through the Mount Carmel foothills. To meet up with the Assyrians at Carchemish, Neco must move his army through the Megiddo pass. It is at this strategic location that Josiah (foolishly) chooses to intercept Pharaoh Neco and the Egyptian army.
Mark Boda: Neco’s speech signals a key shift in the Chronicler’s account. After this point, foreign emperors would control the political agenda of Judah, and various foreign emperors (the Egyptian Neco, the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar, and the Persian Cyrus) will be identified as agents of Yahweh, either performing actions for Yahweh or speaking in his name. Josiah’s death signals the death of the independent kingdom and the beginning of exile among the nations (Johnstone 1997:2.260).
3. (:22) Foolish Engagement with Neco
“However, Josiah would not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to make war with him; nor did he listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to make war on the plain of Megiddo.”
Iain Duguid: Neco claimed that his advance was because “God has commanded me,” and so Josiah’s action would be “opposing God.” We are not told how, but we must assume that in some way through God’s Spirit Josiah recognized that these words were “from the mouth of God”—but “he did not listen” (2 Chron. 35:22b). Ironically, his attempt to foil Neco (and God’s word) by “disguise” and the manner of his resulting death match those of syncretistic Ahab of Israel (18:29–34). Nevertheless, he was buried with “his fathers” in Jerusalem, which was still at peace (cf. Huldah’s word; 34:28).
John MacArthur: The details of Josiah’s tragic death are given. When compared with the account in 2Ki 23:28-30, the events become clearer. Toward the end of Josiah’s reign, the Egyptian Pharaoh Neco (ca. 609-594 B.C.) set out on a military expedition to aid the king of Assyria in a war at Carchemish, Assyria’s latest capital, 250 mi. NE of Damascus on the bank of the Euphrates River. Fearing such an alliance would present future danger to Israel, Josiah decided to intercept Pharaoh Neco’s army and fight to protect his nation. Coming from Egypt, likely by ship to Acco, a northern seaport in Israel, and by land up the coastal plain of Israel, the Egyptian army had landed and proceeded E to the plain of Megiddo (v. 22) i.e., Jezreel on the plain of Esdraelon. This was the most direct way to Carchemish. There Josiah met him for battle and was wounded by an arrow. He made it back to Jerusalem (60 mi. S), where he died.
B. (:23-24b) Tragic End of King Josiah
1. (:23) Fatal Wounding of King Josiah
“And the archers shot King Josiah, and the king said to his servants, ‘Take me away, for I am badly wounded.’”
2. (:24a) Return to Jerusalem
“So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in the second chariot which he had, and brought him to Jerusalem”
Adam Clarke: Perhaps this means no more than that they took Josiah out of his own chariot and put him into another, either for secrecy, or because his own had been disabled. The chariot into which he was put might have been that of the officer or aid-de-camp who attended his master to the war. 2 Kings 22:20.
3. (:24b) Death and Burial
“where he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers.”
Raymond Dillard: For the Chronicler the death of Josiah presented a challenge to his theology of retribution; defeat in battle for him represented divine disfavor, whereas victory was a token of blessing. If Josiah was such a pious king, how is it that he suffered defeat and died in battle? The Chronicler demonstrates the validity of his retribution theology by modifying the Kings account to show that Josiah’s death resulted from his disobedience to a divine oracle.
Mark Boda: The Chronicler is careful to protect the veracity of Huldah’s prophetic word in 34:28, where she promised that Josiah would be “buried in peace,” by clarifying that Josiah remained alive until he was safe in Jerusalem (the city of peace) where he died (cf. 2 Kgs 23:29-30).
J.S. Wilkins: [Sermon points on the death of Josiah]
1. That the best of men may err in judgment and in act.
2. The danger of undertaking any work without asking counsel of the Lord.
3. How universal is the reign of death.
4. That we should be cautious how we attribute sudden and violent death to the vengeance of the Most High.
5. That it is not wrong to mourn for the dead.
C. (:24c-25) Mourning for Beloved Josiah
1. (:24c) By All Judah and Jerusalem
“And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.”
2. (:25a) By Jeremiah
“Then Jeremiah chanted a lament for Josiah.”
3. (:25b) By All the Male and Female Singers
“And all the male and female singers speak about Josiah in their lamentations to this day. And they made them an ordinance in Israel; behold, they are also written in the Lamentations.”
J.A. Thompson: “The Laments” is another lost collection. These are not to be confused with the Book of Lamentations, although in purpose they may have been similar. It must be remembered however that not only did Jeremiah lament over Josiah’s death, but so did “all the men and women singers,” signifying that this was a dark day in Israel’s history.
(35:26 – 36:1) EPILOGUE – CLOSING SUMMARY OF REIGN OF JOSIAH
A. (:26-27) Recorded Deeds of Josiah
“Now the rest of the acts of Josiah and his deeds of devotion as writ
ten in the law of the LORD, 27 and his acts, first to last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.”
Iain Duguid: Despite Josiah’s fatal disobedience, the conclusion to his reign focuses on “his good deeds,” which are defined as being “according to what is written in the Law of the Lord” (2 Chron. 35:26). Sadly, such would be said of no further king of Israel and Judah until there came the Son of David who was “obedient to the point of death” (Phil. 2:8).
Frederick Mabie: The most praiseworthy summary given of Josiah’s reign over Judah is the mention of his “acts of devotion, according to what is written in the Law of the Lord.” This statement captures what was directly and indirection seen during the different phases of Josiah’s reign – namely, a reverence for God’s revealed will and a commitment to do what is pleasing in God’s sight.
B. (36:1) Succession
“Then the people of the land took Joahaz the son of Josiah,
and made him king in place of his father in Jerusalem.”