2 Chronicles 35
We are here to attend Josiah,
I. To the temple, where we see his religious care for the due
observance of the ordinance of the passover, according to the law,
2 Chronicles 35:1-19.
II. To the field of battle, where we see his rashness in engaging with
the king of Egypt, and how dearly it cost him,
2 Chronicles 35:20-23.
III. To the grave, where we see him bitterly lamented,
2 Chronicles 35:24-27.
And so we must take our leave of Josiah.
|The Reign of Josiah.
||B. C. 623.|
1 Moreover Josiah kept a passover unto the LORD in Jerusalem:
and they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the first
2 And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them
to the service of the house of the LORD,
3 And said unto the Levites that taught all Israel, which were
holy unto the LORD, Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon
the son of David king of Israel did build; it shall not be a
burden upon your shoulders: serve now the LORD your God, and
his people Israel,
4 And prepare yourselves by the houses of your fathers, after
your courses, according to the writing of David king of Israel,
and according to the writing of Solomon his son.
5 And stand in the holy place according to the divisions of
the families of the fathers of your brethren the people, and
after the division of the families of the Levites.
6 So kill the passover, and sanctify yourselves, and prepare
your brethren, that they may do according to the word of the
LORD by the hand of Moses.
7 And Josiah gave to the people, of the flock, lambs and kids,
all for the passover offerings, for all that were present, to the
number of thirty thousand, and three thousand bullocks: these
were of the king's substance.
8 And his princes gave willingly unto the people, to the
priests, and to the Levites: Hilkiah and Zechariah and Jehiel,
rulers of the house of God, gave unto the priests for the
passover offerings two thousand and six hundred small cattle,
and three hundred oxen.
9 Conaniah also, and Shemaiah and Nethaneel, his brethren, and
Hashabiah and Jeiel and Jozabad, chief of the Levites, gave unto
the Levites for passover offerings five thousand small cattle,
and five hundred oxen.
10 So the service was prepared, and the priests stood in their
place, and the Levites in their courses, according to the king's
11 And they killed the passover, and the priests sprinkled the
blood from their hands, and the Levites flayed them.
12 And they removed the burnt offerings, that they might give
according to the divisions of the families of the people, to
offer unto the LORD, as it is written in the book of Moses. And
so did they with the oxen.
13 And they roasted the passover with fire according to the
ordinance: but the other holy offerings sod they in pots, and
in caldrons, and in pans, and divided them speedily among all
14 And afterward they made ready for themselves, and for the
priests: because the priests the sons of Aaron were busied in
offering of burnt offerings and the fat until night; therefore
the Levites prepared for themselves, and for the priests the sons
15 And the singers the sons of Asaph were in their place,
according to the commandment of David, and Asaph, and Heman, and
Jeduthun the king's seer; and the porters waited at every gate;
they might not depart from their service; for their brethren the
Levites prepared for them.
16 So all the service of the LORD was prepared the same day, to
keep the passover, and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar of
the LORD, according to the commandment of king Josiah.
17 And the children of Israel that were present kept the
passover at that time, and the feast of unleavened bread seven
18 And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from
the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of
Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and
the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the
inhabitants of Jerusalem.
19 In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah was this
The destruction which Josiah made of idols and idolatry was more
largely related in the Kings, but just mentioned here in the
(2 Chronicles 35:33);
but his solemnizing the passover, which was touched upon there
(2 Kings 23:21),
is very particularly related here. Many were the feasts of the Lord,
appointed by the ceremonial law, but the passover was the chief. It
began them all in the night wherein Israel came out of Egypt; it
concluded them all in the night wherein Christ was betrayed; and
in the celebration of it Hezekiah and Josiah, those two great
reformers, revived religion in their day. The ordinance of the Lord's
supper resembles the passover more than it does any of the Jewish
festivals; and the due observance of that ordinance, according to the
rule, is an instance and means both of the growing purity and beauty of
churches and of the growing piety and devotion of particular
Christians. Religion cannot flourish where that passover is either
wholly neglected or not duly observed; return to that, revive that,
make a solemn business of that affecting binding ordinance, and then,
it is to be hoped, there will be a reformation in other instances
In the account we had of Hezekiah's passover the great zeal of the
people was observable, and the transport of devout affection that they
were in; but little of the same spirit appears here. It was more in
compliance with the king that they all kept the passover
(2 Chronicles 35:17,18)
than from any great inclination they had to it themselves. Some pride
they took in this form of godliness, but little pleasure in the power
of it. But, whatever defect there was among the people in the spirit of
the duty, both the magistrates and the ministers did their part and
took care that the external part of the service should be performed
with due solemnity.
I. The king exhorted and directed, quickened and encouraged, the
priests and Levites to do their office in this solemnity. Perhaps he
saw them remiss and indifferent, unwilling to go out of their road or
mend their pace. If ministers are so, it is not amiss for any, but most
proper for magistrates, to stir them up to their business. Say to
Archippus, Take heed to thy ministry,
Let us see how this good king managed his clergy upon this occasion.
1. He reduced them to the office they were appointed to by the law of
(2 Chronicles 35:6)
and the order they were put into by David and Solomon,
2 Chronicles 35:4.
He set them in their charge,
2 Chronicles 35:2.
He did not cut them out new work, nor put them into any new method, but
called them back to their institution. Their courses were settled in
writing; let them have recourse to that writing, and marshal themselves
according to the divisions of their families,
2 Chronicles 35:5.
Our rule is settled in the written word; let magistrates take care that
ministers walk according to that rule and they do their duty.
2. He ordered the ark to be put in its place. It should seem, it had of
late been displaced, either by the wicked kings, to make room for their
idols in the most holy place, or by Hezekiah, to make room for the
workmen that repaired the temple. However it was, Josiah bids the
Levites put the ark in the house
(2 Chronicles 35:3),
and not carry it about from place to place, as perhaps of late they had
done, justifying themselves therein by the practice before the temple
was built. Now that the priests were discharged from this burden of the
ark they must be careful in other services about it.
3. He charged them to serve God and his people Israel,
2 Chronicles 35:3.
Ministers must look upon themselves as servants both to Christ and to
his church for his sake,
2 Corinthians 4:5.
They must take care, and take pains, and lay out themselves to the
(1.) For the glory and honour of God, and to advance the interests of
his kingdom among men. Paul, a servant of God,
(2.) For the welfare and benefit of his people, not as having dominion
over their faith, but as helpers of their holiness and joy; and there
will be no difficulty, in the strength of God, in honestly serving
these two masters.
4. He charged them to sanctify themselves, and prepare their
2 Chronicles 35:6.
Ministers' work must begin at home, and they must sanctify themselves
in the first place, purify themselves from sin, sequester themselves
from the world, and devote themselves to God. But it must not end
there; they must do what they can to prepare their brethren by
admonishing, instructing, exhorting, quickening, and comforting, them.
The preparation of the heart is indeed from the Lord; but
ministers must be instruments in his hand.
5. He encouraged them to the service,
2 Chronicles 35:2.
He spoke comfortably to them, as Hezekiah did,
2 Chronicles 30:22.
He promised them his countenance. Note, Those whom we charge we should
encourage. Most people love to be commended, and will be wrought upon
by encouragements more than by threats.
II. 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, and therefore,
1. Josiah, at his own proper cost, furnished the congregation with
paschal lambs, and other sacrifices, to be offered during the seven
days of the feast. He allowed out of his own estate 30,000 lambs
for passover offerings, which the offerers were to feast upon,
and 3000 bullocks
(2 Chronicles 35:7)
to be offered during the following seven days. Note, Those who are
serious in religion should, when they persuade others to do that which
is good, make it as cheap and easy to them as may be. And where God
sows plentifully he expects to reap accordingly. It is to be feared
that the congregation generally had not come provided; so that, if
Josiah had not furnished them, the work of God must have stood still.
2. The chief of the priests, who were men of great estates, contributed
towards the priests' charges, as Josiah did towards the people's.
(2 Chronicles 35:8),
that is, the chief of the priests, the princes of the holy tribe,
rulers of the house of God, bore the priests' charges. And some
of the rich and great men of the Levites furnished them also with
cattle, both great and small, for offerings,
2 Chronicles 35:9.
For, as to those that sincerely desire to be found in the way of their
duty, Providence sometimes raises up friends to bear them out in it,
beyond what they could have expected.
III. The priests and Levites performed their office very readily,
2 Chronicles 35:10.
They killed the paschal lambs in the court of the temple, the priests
sprinkled the blood upon the altar, the Levites flayed them, and then
gave the flesh to the people according to their families
(2 Chronicles 35:11,12),
not fewer than ten, nor more than twenty, to a lamb. They took it to
their several apartments, roasted it, and ate it according to the
2 Chronicles 35:13.
As for the other sacrifices that were eucharistical, the flesh of them
was boiled according to the law of the peace-offerings and was
divided speedily among the people, that they might feast upon it
as a token of their joy in the atonement made and their reconciliation
to God thereby. And, lastly, The priests and Levites took care
to honour God by eating of the passover themselves,
2 Chronicles 35:14.
Let not ministers think that the care they take for the souls of others
will excuse their neglect of their own, or that being employed so much
in public worship will supersede the religious exercises of their
closets and families. The Levites here mace ready for themselves and
for the priests, because the priests were wholly taken up all day in
the service of the altar; therefore, that they might not have their
lamb to dress when they should eat it, the Levites got it ready for
them against supper time. Let ministers learn hence to help one
another, and to forward one another's work, as brethren, and
fellow-servants of the same Master.
IV. The singers and porters attended in their places, and did their
2 Chronicles 35:15.
The singers with their sacred songs and music expressed and excited the
joy of the congregation, and made the service very pleasant to them;
and the porters at the gates took care that there should be no breaking
in of any thing to defile or disquiet the assembly, nor going out of
any from it, that none should steal away till the service was done.
While they were thus employed their brethren the Levites prepared
paschal lambs for them.
V. The whole solemnity was performed with great exactness, according to
(2 Chronicles 35:16,17),
and, upon that account, there was none like it since Samuel's time
(2 Chronicles 35:18),
for in Hezekiah's passover there were several irregularities. And
bishop Patrick observes that in this also it exceeded the other
passovers which the preceding kings had kept, that though Josiah was by
no means so rich as David, and Solomon, and Jehoshaphat, yet he
furnished the whole congregation with beasts for sacrifice, both
paschal and eucharistical, at his own proper cost and charge, which was
more than any king ever did before him.
|The Death of Josiah.
||B. C. 610.|
20 After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho
king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates:
and Josiah went out against him.
21 But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do
with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this
day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God
commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with
God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.
22 Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but
disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened
not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to
fight in the valley of Megiddo.
23 And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to
his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded.
24 His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put
him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to
Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres
of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.
25 And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men
and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to
this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they
are written in the lamentations.
26 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his goodness,
according to that which was written in the law of the LORD,
27 And his deeds, first and last, behold, they are written in
the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.
It was thirteen years from Josiah's famous passover to his death.
During this time, we may hope, thing went well in his kingdom, that he
prospered, and religion flourished; yet we are not entertained with the
pleasing account of those years, but they are passed over in silence,
because the people, for all this, were not turned from the love of
their sins nor God from the fierceness of his anger. The next news
therefore we hear of Josiah is that he is cut off in the midst of his
days and usefulness, before he is full forty years old. We had this sad
2 Kings 23:29,30.
Here it is somewhat more largely related. That appears here, more than
did there, which reflects such blame on Josiah and such praise on the
people as one would not have expected.
I. Josiah was a very good prince, yet he was much to be blamed for his
rashness and presumption in going out to war against the king of Egypt
without cause or call. It was bad enough, as it appeared in the
Kings, that he meddled with strife which belonged not to him.
But here it looks worse; for, it seems, the king of Egypt sent
ambassadors to him, to warn him against this enterprise,
2 Chronicles 35:21.
1. The king of Egypt argued with Josiah,
(1.) From principles of justice. He professed that he had no desire to
do him any hurt, and therefore it was unfair, against common equity and
the law of nations, for Josiah to take up arms against him. If even a
righteous man engage in an unrighteous cause, let him not
expect to prosper. God is no respecter of persons. See
(2.) From principles of religion: "God is with me; nay, He
commanded me to make haste, and therefore, if thou retard my
motions, thou meddlest with God." It cannot be that the king of Egypt
only pretended this (as Sennacherib did in a like case,
2 Kings 18:25),
hoping thereby to make Josiah desist, because he knew he had a
veneration for the word of God; for it is said here
(2 Chronicles 35:22)
that the words of Necho were from the mouth of God. We must therefore
suppose that either by a dream, or by a strong impulse upon his spirit
which he had reason to think was from God, or by Jeremiah or some other
prophet, he had ordered him to make war upon the king of Assyria.
(3.) From principles of policy: "That he destroy thee not; it is
at thy peril if thou engage against one that has not only a better army
and a better cause, but God on his side."
2. It was not in wrath to Josiah, whose heart was upright with the Lord
his God, but in wrath to a hypocritical nation, who were unworthy of so
good a king, that he was so far infatuated as not to hearken to these
fair reasonings and desist from his enterprise. He would not turn
his face from him, but went in person and fought the Egyptian army
in the valley of Megiddo,
2 Chronicles 35:22.
If perhaps he could not believe that the king of Egypt had a command
from God to do what he did, yet, upon his pleading such a command, he
ought to have consulted the oracles of God before he went out against
him. His not doing that was his great fault, and of fatal consequence.
In this matter he walked not in the ways of David his father; for, had
it been his case, he would have enquired of the Lord, Shall I go up?
Wilt thou deliver them into my hands? How can we think to prosper
in our ways if we do not acknowledge God in them?
II. The people were a very wicked people, yet they were much to be
commended for lamenting the death of Josiah as they did. That Jeremiah
lamented him I do not wonder; he was the weeping prophet, and plainly
foresaw the utter ruin of his country following upon the death of this
good king. But it is strange to find that all Judah and Jerusalem, that
stupid senseless people, mourned for him
(2 Chronicles 35:24),
contrived how to have their mourning excited by singing men and singing
women, how to have it spread through the kingdom (they made an
ordinance in Israel that the mournful ditties penned on this sad
occasion should be learned and sung by all sorts of people), and also
how to have the remembrance of it perpetuated: these elegies were
inserted in the collections of state poems; they are written in the
Lamentations. Hereby it appeared,
1. That they had some respect to their good prince, and that, though
they did not cordially comply with him in all his good designs, they
could not but greatly honour him. Pious useful men will be manifested
in the consciences even of those that will not be influenced by their
example; and many that will not submit to the rules of serious
godliness themselves yet cannot but give it their good word and esteem
it in others. Perhaps those lamented Josiah when he was dead that were
not thankful to God for him while he lived. The Israelites murmured at
Moses and Aaron while they were with them and spoke sometimes of
stoning them, and yet, when they died, they mourned for them many days.
We are often taught to value mercies by the loss of them which, when we
enjoyed them, we did not prize as we ought.
2. That they had some sense of their own danger now that he was gone.
Jeremiah told them, it is likely, of the evil they might now expect to
come upon them, from which he was taken away; and so far they credited
what he said that they lamented the death of him that was their
defence. Note, Many will more easily be persuaded to lament the
miseries that are coming upon them than to take the proper way by
universal reformation to prevent them, will shed tears for their
troubles, but will not be prevailed upon to part with their sins. But
godly sorrow worketh repentance and that repentance will be to