Hezekiah and all Israel Celebrate Pesach
1Hezekiah then sent word to all Israel and Judah, and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh to come to the House of Adonai at Jerusalem to keep the Passover for Adonai, the God of Israel.
2The king and his officials and the entire congregation in Jerusalem had decided to celebrate Passover in the second month.
3For they were not able to celebrate it at the regular time, since not enough kohanim had consecrated themselves, nor had the people assembled in Jerusalem.
4The matter seemed right in the eyes of the king and of the entire community.
5So they decided to issue a decree and to proclaim it throughout all Israel from Beer-sheba to Dan, calling the people to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover for Adonai, the God of Israel. For it had not been celebrated as prescribed for a long time.
6At the king’s command, the couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with letters from the king and his officials saying: “You men of Israel, turn back to Adonai, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, and He will return to the remnant of you who escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria.
7Do not be like your fathers and brothers who acted unfaithfully against Adonai, the God of their fathers, so that He made them a horror as you see.
8Do not stiffen your neck as your fathers did, but reconcile to Adonai, and come to His Temple, which He has consecrated forever, and worship Adonai your God that His burning anger may turn away from you.
9For if you return to Adonai, your brothers and children will receive compassion before their captors, and will return to this land. For Adonai your God is compassionate and merciful; He will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him.”
10As the couriers traveled from town to town through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh and as far as Zebulun, they were scorned and mocked.
11Nevertheless some men from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.
12The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the officials commanded by the word of Adonai.
13Now a very large assembly gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Matzot in the second month.
14They arose and removed the altars and all the incense altars that were in Jerusalem, and threw them into the Kidron Valley.
15Then they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The kohanim and the Levites were ashamed and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings into the House of Adonai.
16They stood at their post as prescribed in the Torah of Moses, the man of God. The kohanim sprinkled the blood that they received from the hand of the Levites.
17For there were many in the congregation that had not concecrated themselves, therefore the Levites were in charge of slaughtering the Passover lambs for everyone that was not ceremonially clean in order to concecrate them to Adonai.
18Although a great multitude of the people—many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun—had not purified themselves, they still ate the Passover lamb contrary to what is written. But Hezekiah prayed for them saying: “May Adonai who is good, atone for
19every one who prepares his heart to seek Adonai, the God of his fathers, even though he is not pure according to rules of the sanctuary.”
20Adonai heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
21So the children of Israel who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Matzot for seven days with great gladness. The Levites and the kohanim were praising Adonai every day with loud instruments for Adonai.
22Then Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who demonstrated good understanding of the service of Adonai. For seven days they ate their assigned portions while sacrificing peace offerings and praising Adonai, the God of their fathers.
23Then the whole congregation decided to celebrate seven more days—so for another seven days they celebrated with gladness.
24Hezekiah king of Judah contributed 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep to the congregation, and the officials contributed 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep to the congregation, and great numbers of kohanim consecrated themselves.
25The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced with the kohanim and the Levites, and all who had assembled from Israel, both the strangers coming from the land of Israel and the residents of Judah.
26There was great joy in Jerusalem, for nothing like this had happened in Jerusalem since the time of Solomon son of David king of Israel.
27Then the Levitical kohanim arose and blessed the people, and Adonai heard their voice, for their prayer reached heaven, His holy dwelling place.