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AND Ezechias sent to all Israel and Juda: and he wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasses, that they should come to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, and keep the phase to the Lord the God of Israel.

Ver. 1.  Manasses.  The pious king thought he might give a general invitation, without umbrage.  King Osee was not so impious as his predecessors.  4 K. xvii. 2.  Afflictions had made his people more docile.  The Jews say (C.) that the golden calves had been taken away by the Assyrians, and that the king removed the guards, which had been placed to hinder his subjects from repairing to Jerusalem.  M.  Salien, A. 3305.

 

--- Ezechias writes privately to the house of Joseph, as the people were prouder on account of the royal dignity.  S. Jer. Trad.




2 For the king, taking counsel, and the princes, and all the assembly of Jerusalem, decreed to keep the phase the second month.

Ver. 2.  Month.  The Rabbins pretend that the king intercalated the second Adar, contrary to the rule and advice of the wise, and the that he ought to have allowed those who were pure to celebrate the feast in due time.  Selden, Syn. ii. 1.

 

--- But the Caraite Jews deny this pretended leap-year; and we see that Ezechias acted according to  the advice of the princes, and that the Scripture praises his conduct.  C.

 

--- Those who had a lawful  impediment, were authorized to  put off the feast till the second month.  Num. ix. 10.  The nation was under this predicament, as they had not priests at hand, (T.) nor were they assembled.  D.




3 For they could not keep it in its time; because there were not priests enough sanctified, and the people was not as yet gathered together to Jerusalem.


4 And the thing pleased the king, and all the people. 5 And they decreed to send messengers to all Israel from Bersabee even to Dan, that they should come, and keep the phase to the Lord the God of Israel in Jerusalem: for many had not kept it as it is prescribed by the law.

Ver. 5.  Many.  None had kept the Phase this year.  H.

 

--- But those of Israel had not done it for a long time.  Grotius.

 

--- Heb. "for they had not long before done according to the Scripture."  Sept. "the multitude had not done," &c.  C.

 

--- Yet, even in the worst times, Tobias, (i. 6.) and other zealous souls, contrived to comply with their duty.  H.




6 And the posts went with letters by commandment of the king, and his princes, to all Israel and Juda, proclaiming according to the king's orders: Ye children of Israel, turn again to the Lord the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Israel: and he will return to the remnant of you that have escaped the hand of the king of the Assyrians.

Ver. 6.  Posts.  Lit. "runners or couriers."  H.

 

--- King.  Heb. "kings."  Phul and Thelgathphalnasar.  The latter had taken away some tribes.  4 K. xv. 20. 29.  C.




7 Be not like your fathers, and brethren, who departed from the Lord the God of their fathers, and he hath given them up to destruction, as you see.

Ver. 7.  Destruction.  Sept. "solitude."  Prot. "desolation."


8 Harden not your necks, as your fathers did: yield yourselves to the Lord, and come to his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: serve the Lord the God of your fathers, and the wrath of his indignation shall be turned away from you.

Ver. 8.  Yield.  Lit. "give your hands," (H.) in sign of submission (C.) and fidelity.  Sept. "give glory."




9 For if you turn again to the Lord: your brethren, and children shall find mercy before their masters, that have led them away captive, and they shall return into this land: for the Lord your God is merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.

Ver. 9.  Brethren.  God sometimes spares one for the sake of another.  H.


10 So the posts went speedily from city to city, through the land of Ephraim, and of Manasses, even to Zabulon, whilst they laughed at them and mocked them.

Ver. 10.  Zabulon.  Aser and Nephthali lay more to the north.  But they were also invited, as well as the few who might remain on the other side the Jordan.  1 Par. v. 26.  At least, we find that some of Aser came, v. 11.  Thus those, who had been invited last, came first, while Ephraim continued more stubborn; (v. 18) and the greatest part derided the messengers, as we still see too frequently verified in the days of the gospel.  H.




11 Nevertheless some men of Aser, and of Manasses, and of Zabulon, yielding to the counsel, came to Jerusalem.

Ver. 11.  Yielding.  Sept. "were converted."  Prot. "humbled themselves, and came."  H.




12 But the hand of God was in Juda, to give them one heart to do the word of the Lord, according to the commandment of the king, and of the princes.

Ver. 12.  Hand; grace (M.) and power, to endure such unanimity.




13 And much people were assembled to Jerusalem to celebrate the solemnity of the unleavened bread in the second month:


14 And they arose and destroyed the altars that were in Jerusalem, and took sway all things in which incense was burnt to idols, and cast them into the torrent Cedron.

Ver. 14.  Burnt, both vessels and altars.  C.

 

--- To idols, corresponding with the Sept. "the false ones," and is added by way of explanation, unless it be lost in Hebrew.  The illegal (H.) altars had been set up by Achaz.  C. xxviii. 24.  M.



Cedron

Cedron. Heb. nachal Kidron, may signify, "the shady torrent," or "vale," as it is styled by Josephus. It does not take its name from cedars. It is dry in summer, and when filled with water, in only three steps across. Doubdan xxvii. --- Cedron, to the east and south of Jerusalem, where Topheth and the sepulchres of the poor, and all unclean things, were placed. Here the pagans burnt their children in honour of Moloch. See 3 K. xv. 13. 2 Par. xxix. 16. and xxx. 14.

Brook of Cedron

[Hebrew Náhál Qidhrôn, "Wâdi Qidron"; only once "fields of Qidron"; John 18:1, ho cheimarros ho Kedron; in R.V., Kidron]. The name designates in Holy Writ the ravine on the east of Jerusalem, between the Holy City and the Mount of Olives. The word Cedron is usually connected with the root Qadár, "to be dark", and taken to refer to the colour of the stream or ravine; but its exact origin and precise meaning are really unknown. The Valley of Cedron begins with a slight depression near the Tombs of the Judges, a mile and a quarter north-west of Jerusalem. It runs first south towards the Holy city, and then turns nearly east, passing to the north of the tombs of the Kings. Next, it bends to the right towards the south, deepening as it follows this general direction between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. Opposite St. Stephen's gate, it is fully 100 feet deep and about 400 feet broad; its bed is shaded by venerable olive-trees and crossed by an old bridge. Below the bridge, the valley presents the first traces of a torrent bed. It narrows gradually and sinks more rapidly leaving to the east the church of the tomb of the Blessed Virgin, and next, Gethsemani. A thousand feet from the old bridge, the valley is merely a deep gulley across which another bridge is thrown, and on the banks of which are, to the right, Mohammedan tombs, and to the left, the sepulchres of Josaphat, Absalom, St. James, and the Jewish cemetery. About a thousand feet farther, there is in a cave, on the right bank, the Fountain of the Virgin, and higher up, on the left, the village of Siloe. Somewhat farther down, the Tyropoeon valley falls from the right into the Cedron, which now expands down to the Valley of Hinnom. Here, the Cedron is about 200 yards wide, and has on its left the Mount of Offence. Shortly after the junction of the Valley of Hinom with the Cedron, there is Job's well, to the south of which Sir C. Warren found, in 1868-69, the shaft of a great rock-cut aqueduct. On leaving the Holy City, the Valley of the Cedron runs its winding and gradually precipitous course through the Wilderness of Judea to the north-western shore of the Dead Sea. The Cedron is perfectly dry during the summer and most of the winter. North of Jerusalem, it bears the name of Wâdi al-Jos (Valley of Nuts); between the city and the Mount of Olives, it is known as Wâdi Sitti Mariam (Valley of St. Mary), or again as the Valley of Josaphat (cf. Joel, iii, 2, 12); after leaving Jerusalem, it is called Wâdi en-Nâr (Valley of Fire), and also Wâdi er-Rahib (Valley of the Monks). Its whole length is some 20 miles in a straight line, and its descent nearly 4000 feet. Its bed east of Jerusalem is now about 40 feet higher than in ancient times. The Cedron is first mentioned in Holy Scripture in connection with David's flight from Absalom, during which he crossed it [2 Samuel 15:23]; and next, in connection with the prohibition to Semei against his ever crossing it [1 Kings 2:37]. It was at the torrent Cedron that King Asa burnt the filthy idol of his mother [1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chronicles 15:16]. It was into it that Ezechias and Josias cast all the impurities which had polluted the House of the Lord (cf. 2 Chronicles 29:16; 30:14; 2 Kings 23:4, 6, 12). The torrent Cedron is last mentioned in the O.T. in Jeremiah 31:40, apparently as part of the common cemetery of Jerusalem. In the New Testament it is spoken of only once, in connection with Christ's going forth over it to Gethsemani (John 18:1). In the present day it is the desired resting-place of both Jews and Mussulmans, and the supposed scene of Last Judgment.

15 And they immolated the phase on the fourteenth day of the second month. And the priests and the Levites being at length sanctified offered holocausts in the house of the Lord.

Ver. 15.  At length.  Sept. "were converted."  Heb. "ashamed, and sanctified themselves."  H.

 

--- The ceremonies of purification for priests were longer, (C. xxix. 34.) and the sacred ministers were ashamed to be outdone by the people.  M.


16 And they stood in their order according to the disposition, and law of Moses the man of God: but the priests received the blood which was to be poured out, from the hands of the Levites,

Ver. 16.  Levites, who received the paschal lambs from the unsanctified.  M.

 

--- The law does not require the ministry of the tribe of Levi for this purpose, as each one might kill the paschal victim at home.  But the people were not sufficiently purified on this occasion.  Lyran.

 

--- At other times, laics killed the victims, if they were clean.  Ex. xii. 6.  After the tabernacle was set up, the priests poured out the blood on the altar; and, in latter ages, they slew the victim according to Grotius.  But the texts of Josephus (x. 5. and Bel. vi. 45. Lat. vii. 17.  H.) are inconclusive; and Philo repeatedly assert that, on one day, the law authorizes all the people to sacrifice: and, though he lived at Alexandria, his testimony respecting a fact of public notoriety, is not to be rejected.  Only the unclean applied to the Levites on this occasion, and the latter had no more right to sacrifice than the rest.  C.


17 Because a great number was not sanctified: and therefore the Levites immolated the phase for them that came not in time to be sanctified to the Lord.

Ver. 17.  For.  Prot. "for every one that was not clean, to sanctify them unto the Lord."  Sept. "not able to be purified to the Lord."  H.

 

--- The priests alone continued to pour the blood on the altar, till the destruction of the temple.  C.


18 For a great part of the people from Ephraim, and Manasses, and Issachar, and Zabulon, that had not been sanctified, ate the phase otherwise than it is written: and Ezechias prayed for them, saying: The Lord who is good will shew mercy,

Ver. 18.  Ephraim and....Issachar had not been mentioned before, v. 18.  H.

 

--- Some indulgence was shewn to the tribes of Israel, which had been so long rebellious, for fear lest they should return no more; and because they had shewn a good will in procuring the Levites to slay the victims for them, as that was rightly judged a more sacred action than to partake of the feast.  The law forbade, nevertheless, the unclean to approach to any thing sacred.  Lev. xv. 31. and xxii. 4.  Num. ix. 6.  C.

 

--- But a dispensation was granted, (M.) as the Passover could not be celebrated in any but the first or the second month.  The people had come with such eagerness, that they had not time to acquire the purity required.  C.

 

--- They were however truly penitent, and God dispensed with them.  W.




19 To all them, who with their whole heart, seek the Lord the God of their fathers: and will not impute it to them that they are not sanctified. 20 And the Lord heard him, and was merciful to the people.

Ver. 20.  Merciful; lit. "appeased."  Heb. and Sept. "healed."  S. Jerom (Trad.) says, "It was asserted that no unclean person could taste the Phase, but death presently ensued; and they understood that the Lord was appeased, because those who eat did not die."  H.

 

--- Heb. girpa may, however, denote that God "pardoned," or did not impute the uncleanness to the people.  Schindler, and C. xxxvi. 16. and Isai. vi. 10.


21 And the children of Israel, that were found at Jerusalem, kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great joy, praising the Lord every day: the Levites also, and the priests, with instruments that agreed to their office.

Ver. 21.  Days.  It seems all the observances had been omitted in the first month.  The Jews teach, that those who have complied with those prescriptions, which require no particular purity, are not bound to keep the festival for seven days, nor to abstain from leavened bread the second month.

 

--- That agreed.  Heb. and Sept. "of strength," sonorous, (M.) which they played on with all their force, or which sounded for the divine power.  C.




22 And Ezechias spoke to the heart of all the Levites, that had good understanding concerning the Lord: and they ate during the seven days of the solemnity, immolating victims of peace offerings, and praising the Lord the God of their fathers.

Ver. 22.  Heart; encouraged them to bear the fatigue for other seven days.

 

--- Lord; being of good dispositions, (C.) and able musicians.  Sa.  M.

 

--- Praising.  Prot. "making confession to."  But the sense is the same.  H.

 

--- During the seven days, unleavened bread and peace-offerings were used, v. 24.  C.


23 And it pleased the whole multitude to keep other seven days: which they did with great joy.

Ver. 23.  Joy, though not prescribed by the law.  M.

 

--- This we should call a work of supererogation, (W.) which gives Prot. so much offence.  H.


24 For Ezechias the king of Juda had given to the multitude a thousand bullocks, and seven thousand sheep: and the princes had given the people a thousand bullocks, and ten thousand sheep: and a great number of priests was sanctified.


25 And all the multitude of Juda with the priests and Levites, and all the assembly, that came out of Israel; and the proselytes of the land of Israel, and that dwelt in Juda were full of joy.

Ver. 25.  Proselytes, who had embraced the Jewish law: the rest were not allowed to partake of the paschal victims.  Ex. xii. 48.




26 And there was a great solemnity in Jerusalem, such as had not been in that city since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel.

Ver. 26.  Israel: as many of the tribes came to join with their brethren of Juda.




27 And the priests and the Levites rose up and blessed the people: and their voice was heard: and their prayer came to the holy dwelling place of heaven.

Ver. 27.  Levites.  These only applauded the solemn blessings, which were given by the priests.  Num. vi. 24.  C.

 

--- God is said to reside in heaven, because he there displays his glory to the blessed.  D.


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