2 Chronicles 35 (NLT)
Josiah Celebrates Passover
1 Then Josiah announced that the Passover of the Lord would be celebrated in Jerusalem, and so the Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the first month. 2 Josiah also assigned the priests to their duties and encouraged them in their work at the Temple of the Lord. 3 He issued this order to the Levites, who were to teach all Israel and who had been set apart to serve the Lord: “Put the holy Ark in the Temple that was built by Solomon son of David, the king of Israel. You no longer need to carry it back and forth on your shoulders. Now spend your time serving the Lord your God and his people Israel. 4Report for duty according to the family divisions of your ancestors, following the directions of King David of Israel and the directions of his son Solomon.
Some scholars believe that Josiah was re-enacting the bringing of the ark to the Temple as part of Israel’s covenant renewal with the Lord; it was a symbolic gesture of re-dedication.
5 “Then stand in the sanctuary at the place appointed for your family division and help the families assigned to you as they bring their offerings to the Temple. 6 Slaughter the Passover lambs, purify yourselves, and prepare to help those who come. Follow all the directions that the Lord gave through Moses.”
One of the main features of the Passover was the sacrifice of a lamb for each household (Exodus 13:43-49). This meant a significant amount of work for the priests.
7 Then Josiah provided 30,000 lambs and young goats for the people’s Passover offerings, along with 3,000 cattle, all from the king’s own flocks and herds. 8 The king’s officials also made willing contributions to the people, priests, and Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, the administrators of God’s Temple, gave the priests 2,600 lambs and young goats and 300 cattle as Passover offerings. 9 The Levite leaders—Conaniah and his brothers Shemaiah and Nethanel, as well as Hashabiah, Jeiel, and Jozabad—gave 5,000 lambs and young goats and 500 cattle to the Levites for their Passover offerings.
10 When everything was ready for the Passover celebration, the priests and the Levites took their places, organized by their divisions, as the king had commanded. 11 The Levites then slaughtered the Passover lambs and presented the blood to the priests, who sprinkled the blood on the altar while the Levites prepared the animals. 12 They divided the burnt offerings among the people by their family groups, so they could offer them to the Lord as prescribed in the Book of Moses. They did the same with the cattle. 13 Then they roasted the Passover lambs as prescribed; and they boiled the holy offerings in pots, kettles, and pans, and brought them out quickly so the people could eat them.
14 Afterward the Levites prepared Passover offerings for themselves and for the priests—the descendants of Aaron—because the priests had been busy from morning till night offering the burnt offerings and the fat portions. The Levites took responsibility for all these preparations.
The clergy have worked hard all day, serving others. At last it is their turn to eat. As my mother would often pray, “We thank you for work to do, and strength with which to do it.”
Which reminds me of another feast — God prepares food and drink for us who have been out trying to do the “good works which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
HERE Matt Redman sings “Remembrance (Communion Song).”
15 The musicians, descendants of Asaph, were in their assigned places, following the commands that had been given by David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, the king’s seer. The gatekeepers guarded the gates and did not need to leave their posts of duty, for their Passover offerings were prepared for them by their fellow Levites.
16 The entire ceremony for the Lord’s Passover was completed that day. All the burnt offerings were sacrificed on the altar of the Lord, as King Josiah had commanded. 17 All the Israelites present in Jerusalem celebrated Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. 18 Never since the time of the prophet Samuel had there been such a Passover. None of the kings of Israel had ever kept a Passover as Josiah did, involving all the priests and Levites, all the people of Jerusalem, and people from all over Judah and Israel. 19 This Passover celebration took place in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign.
Here is a huge gathering of the population in Jerusalem. It requires an effort of the imagination for us in the modern western world to picture such a scene, through if we have seen, even on film or television, an Islamic haj, we shall be on the right lines. Jerusalem in Josiah’s day was not a large city. The convergence upon it for the entire population of Judah, for the purposes of worship centred on the Temple, must have taken possession of it. Local people braced themselves for the influx, and perhaps prepared to cater for it. Then they began to arrive, family after extended family, tired from journeys of which some at least had been long especially in view of the conditions under which people travelled, though it is clear that food was going to be no problem in view of the rich provision by king, princes, and priests for the feast itself. People no doubt provided for themselves, picnic fashion, until the main event got under way.
The problems posed in such a situation, however, paled into insignificance beside the grandeur and evocative power of it all. Here the Israelite began to see, or saw again, what it was to be Israel. The peasant who worked his own piece of land for most of the year to keep his little family alive knew that he was of the greater family of God, a son of Abraham, belonging to the chosen people that now pressed upon the House that marked the presence among them of the One who had given them their land and who underwrote their whole existence. The thought and conversation of each were dominated by Passover.
That which characterizes the people of God essentially is their knowledge of his past faithfulness to them, and their hope that that knowledge is a guarantee of future security, understood by the Christian in terms of eternity. The worship and open acknowledgment of him as a people together functions today as it did in ancient Israel—though the outer form of both people and worship is necessarily different—to create and sustain that self-understanding.
–J. G. McConville
Josiah Dies in Battle
20 After Josiah had finished restoring the Temple, King Neco of Egypt led his army up from Egypt to do battle at Carchemish on the Euphrates River, and Josiah and his army marched out to fight him.
This was part of the geopolitical struggle between the declining Assyrian Empire and the emerging Babylonian Empire. The Assyrians made an alliance with the Egyptians to protect against the growing power of the Babylonians.
21But King Neco sent messengers to Josiah with this message:
“What do you want with me, king of Judah? I have no quarrel with you today! I am on my way to fight another nation, and God has told me to hurry! Do not interfere with God, who is with me, or he will destroy you.”
22 But Josiah refused to listen to Neco, to whom God had indeed spoken, and he would not turn back.
Instead, he disguised himself and led his army into battle on the plain of Megiddo. 23 But the enemy archers hit King Josiah with their arrows and wounded him. He cried out to his men, “Take me from the battle, for I am badly wounded!”
24 So they lifted Josiah out of his chariot and placed him in another chariot. Then they brought him back to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried there in the royal cemetery. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him. 25 The prophet Jeremiah composed funeral songs for Josiah, and to this day choirs still sing these sad songs about his death. These songs of sorrow have become a tradition and are recorded in The Book of Laments.
On account of this verse, the book of Lamentations in the Bible has traditionally been ascribed to the prophet Jeremiah.
26 The rest of the events of Josiah’s reign and his acts of devotion (carried out according to what was written in the Law of the Lord), 27 from beginning to end—all are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.
Now the last “good king” is dead. Nothing will stop the coming catastrophe.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.