Hezekiah invites all Israel and Judah, and writes letters to Ephraim and Manasseh to come up to Jerusalem, and hold a passover to the Lord, 1-4. The posts go out with the king's proclamation from Dan to Beer-sheba, and pass from city to city through the coasts of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Zebulun, but are generally mocked in Israel, 5-10. Yet several of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun, humble themselves, and come to Jerusalem, 11. But in Judah they are all of one heart, 12,13. They take away the idolatrous altars, kill the passover, sprinkle the blood, and, as circumstances will permit, sanctify the people, 14,15. Many having eaten of the passover, who were not purified according to the law, Hezekiah prays for them; and the Lord accepts his prayer, and heals them, 16-20. Hezekiah exhorts them; and they hold the feast seven additional days, fourteen in all, and the people greatly rejoice, 21-26. The priests and the Levites bless the people, and God accepts their prayers and thanksgivings, 27.
Notes on Chapter 30
Hezekiah sent to all Israel
It is not easy to find out how this was permitted by the king of Israel; but it is generally allowed that Hoshea, who then reigned over Israel, was one of their best kings. And as the Jews allow that at this time both the golden calves had been carried away by the Assyrians,-that at Dan by Tiglath-pileser, and that at Bethel by Shalmaneser,-the people who chose to worship Jehovah at Jerusalem were freely permitted to do it, and Hezekiah had encouragement to make the proclamation in question.
In the second month.
In Ijar, as they could not celebrate it in Nisan, the fourteenth of which month was the proper time. But as they could not complete the purgation of the temple, till the sixteenth of that month, therefore they were obliged to hold it now, or else adjourn it till the next year, which would have been fatal to that spirit of reformation which had now taken place. The law itself had given permission to those who were at a distance, and could not attend to the fourteenth of the first month, and to those who were accidentally defiled, and ought not to attend, to celebrate the passover on the fourteenth of the second month; see Numbers 9:10,11. Hezekiah therefore, and his counsellors, thought that they might extend that to the people at large, because of the delay necessarily occasioned by the cleansing of the temple, which was granted to individuals in such cases as the above, and the result showed that they had not mistaken the mind of the Lord upon the subject.
So the posts went
ratsim, the runners or couriers; persons who were usually employed to carry messages; men who were light of foot, and confidential.
And will not turn away his face from you
Well expressed by the Targum: "For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not cause his majesty to ascend up from among you, if ye will return to his fear." The shechinah, of which the Targumist speaks, is the dwelling of the Divine Presence among men, and the visible symbol of that presence.
A multitude of the people-had not cleansed themselves
As there were men from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, they were excusable, because they came from countries that had been wholly devoted to idolatry.
The good Lord pardon every one
"The Lord, who is good, have mercy on this people who err."-T.
Spake comfortably unto all the Levites
On such occasions the priests and Levites had great fatigue, and suffered many privations; and therefore had need of that encouragement which this prudent and pious king gave. It is a fine and expressive character given of these men, "They taught the good knowledge of God to the people." This is the great work, or should be so, of every Christian minister. They should convey that knowledge of God to the people by which they may be saved; that is, the good knowledge of the Lord.
The strangers that come out of the land of Israel
That is, the proselytes of the covenant who had embraced Judaism, and had submitted to the rite of circumcision, for none others could be permitted to eat of the passover.
Since the time of Solomon-there was not the like in Jerusalem.
For from that time the ten tribes had been separated from the true worship of God, and now many of them for the first time, especially from Asher, Issachar, Ephraim, Manasseh, and Zebulun, joined to celebrate the passover.
And their voice was heard
God accepted the fruits of that pious disposition which himself had infused.
And their prayer came up
As the smoke of their sacrifices ascended to the clouds, so did their prayers, supplications, and thanksgivings, ascend to the heavens. The Targum says: "Their prayer came up to the dwelling-place of his holy shechinah, which is in heaven." Israel now appeared to be in a fair way of regaining what they had lost; but alas, how soon were all these bright prospects beclouded for ever!
It is not for the want of holy resolutions and heavenly influences that men are not saved but through their own unsteadiness; they do not persevere, they forget the necessity of continuing in prayer, and thus the Holy Spirit is grieved, departs from them, and leaves them to their own darkness and hardness of heart. When we consider the heavenly influences which many receive who draw back to perdition, and the good fruits which for a time they bore, it is blasphemy to say they had no genuine or saving grace; they had it, they showed it, they trifled with it, sinned against it, continued in their rebellions, and therefore are lost.