2 Chronicles 35 Bible Commentary

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

(Read all of 2 Chronicles 35)
In this chapter we have an account of the keeping of the passover and its preparation, for which the priests and Levites were ordered to prepare, and to which Josiah, and his princes, gave liberally, and such an one was kept as had not been for ages past, 2 Chronicles 35:1, and of Josiah's rash engagement in battle with the king of Egypt, in which he was slain, 2 Chronicles 35:20 and of the great lamentations that were made for him, 2 Chronicles 35:24.

Verse 1. Moreover, Josiah kept a passover unto the Lord in Jerusalem,.... Where only it was to be kept:

and they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month; the month Nisan, as the Targum, which was the exact time of killing the passover lamb, according to the law of Moses, Exodus 12:6, in the Vulgate Latin version of the Apocrypha in: "And Josias held the feast of the passover in Jerusalem unto his Lord, and offered the passover the fourteenth day of the first month;" (1 Esdras 1:1) it is called the fourteenth moon of the first month; a phrase often used in ecclesiastical writers, when speaking of the time of the passover; and so we now call one of the days of the week "dies lunae," Monday.

Verse 2. And he set the priests in their charges,.... In their offices, and in their proper places, to execute them:

and encouraged them to the service of the house of the Lord; to attend it with cheerfulness and constancy, and do it according to the will of God, promising his favour and protection.

Verse 3. And said unto the Levites that taught all Israel,.... Whose business it was to go through the several tribes, and instruct them in the knowledge of God, his word and worship, statutes and ordinances. In an ancient MS. mentioned by Junius, it is read, "who prepared for all Israel the holy things," &c.

which were holy unto the Lord; who were consecrated to the name of the Lord, as the Targum, dedicated to his worship and service; or it may signify the holy things they taught or prepared:

these put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel did build; which some think was removed from thence by Amon, and an idol put in its room, which is the greater trespass he is said to be guilty of, 2 Chronicles 33:23 others, that it was privately removed by the high priest in idolatrous times, and laid up in some secret place for the preservation of it; but rather the truth is, that it had been removed by the order of Josiah, for the sake of the repairs of the most holy place; and this being done, he orders it to be replaced; and though the Levites might not go into the holy of holies, yet they could carry it to the entrance of the holy place, and the priests from thence to the door of the most holy place, where the high priest could receive it, and fix it in its proper place:

it shall not be a burden upon your shoulders; it was not now to be carried from place to place, having a fixed abode in the most holy place, and therefore they were at leisure to attend other service:

serve now the Lord your God, and his people Israel; by singing the praises of God, and slaying the passover lambs for the people.

Verse 4. And prepare yourselves,.... To do their work in this service of the sanctuary, the passover; that they be ready to do it, and diligent in it, and perform it according to the law of God:

by the houses of your fathers, after your courses; such of them whose turn in course it was to officiate:

according to the writing of David king of Israel, and according to the writing of Solomon his son; who had given in writing directions in what manner their courses should be observed, see 1 Chronicles 23:1.

Verse 5. And stand in the holy place,.... The court of the priests, where their ministrations were:

according to the divisions of the families of your brethren the people; of the other tribes, who were according to their families to provide a lamb for the passover:

and after the division of the families of the Levites; who were obliged to observe the same ordinance in their respective families, and for whom, as well as for the other families of Israel, they were to slay the lamb.

Verse 6. So kill the passover,.... In the manner, time, and place, and for the persons it should be killed:

and sanctify yourselves: by washing themselves and garments, that they might be fit for this service:

and prepare your brethren; prepare a lamb for your brethren, or instruct them how to perform their office that needed instruction:

that they may do according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses; celebrate the ordinance of the passover in all its rites, according to the law of Moses, at least in every rite in which they were more peculiarly concerned.

Verse 7. And Josiah gave to the people, of the flock, lambs and kids, all for the passover offerings,.... Which be either lambs or kids of the goats, Exodus 12:5, for all that were present, to the number of 30,000; that is, 30,000 lambs or kids, which would serve 30,000 families:

and three thousand bullocks; these were for the "chagigah" or feast, kept on the day following the passover:

these were of the king's substance; taken out of his flocks and herds, or bought with his money, and liberally given to the people, to such poor families as could not afford well to be at the expense of such a festival.

Verse 8. And his princes gave willingly to the people, to the priests and the Levites,.... Besides, to some other families, they gave also to poor priests and Levites, which the king's bounty did not extend to; and these princes were not secular, but ecclesiastical princes, as follows:

Hilkiah, and Zechariah, and Jehiel, rulers of the house; of the temple; Hilkiah was high priest, and the other two were chief priests, the one of the line of Eleazar, and the other of the line of Ithamar:

these gave unto the priests for the passover lambs; 2600 small cattle; which were lambs, or kids, or both:

and three hundred oxen; for peace offerings on the seven days of unleavened bread, to feast upon.

Verse 9. Cononiah also, and Shemaiah and Nathaneel his brethren,.... See 2 Chronicles 31:12

and Hashabiah, and Jehiel, and Jozabad, chief of the Levites; men of considerable substance, and in good posts and offices:

gave unto the Levites; their poor brethren of that order:

for passover offerings five thousand small cattle; lambs, or kids, or both:

and five hundred oxen; for the feast that followed the passover.

Verse 10. So the service was prepared,.... Every thing was got ready both for the passover and the feast of unleavened bread, for all sorts of people, rich and poor:

and the priests stood in their place; in their court near the altar, to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifices about it, as in the following verse:

and the Levites in their courses; whose turn it was to officiate:

according to the king's commandment, 2 Chronicles 35:4.

Verse 11. And they killed the passover,.... The lambs for the passover, which was done by the Levites:

and the priests sprinkled [the blood] from their hands; which they received from the Levites, see 2 Chronicles 30:16.

and the Levites flayed them; the passover lambs, took off their skins.

Verse 12. And they removed the burnt offerings,.... Either such of the lambs and kids as were designed for burnt offerings for the people; these they separated from those that were for the passover; or they removed from them what was to be burnt, the fat of the inwards, of the kidneys, and the caul on the liver:

that they might give; the rest for the passover:

according to the divisions of the families of the people, to offer unto the Lord; according to the number of them:

as it is written in the book of Moses; see Leviticus 3:3,

and so did they with the oxen; such of them as were appointed for burnt offerings were set apart by themselves, and such as were for peace offerings; what of them were to be burnt, as those before mentioned, were taken from them.

Verse 13. And they roasted the passover with fire, according to the ordinance,.... Of the Lord by Moses, Exodus 12:8

but the other holy offerings; which were the peace offerings:

sod they in pots, and in cauldrons, and pans; which was forbid to be done with the passover lamb, but might with the other sacrifices, which were to be eaten, Exodus 12:9

and divided them speedily among all the people; the parts which belonged to the offerer, who was the king; but he gave his part to the people, and therefore the Levites delivered them to them as soon as they could.

Verse 14. And afterwards they made ready for themselves, and for the priests,.... The passover lambs, and such parts of the peace offerings that belonged to them:

because the priests the sons of Aaron were busied in offering burnt offerings; such as are before said to be removed or separated for that purpose:

and the fat; of the peace offerings that was to be burnt: and this employed them

until night; so that they could not prepare the passover for themselves:

and therefore the Levites prepared, not only for themselves, [but] and [also] for the priests the sons of Aaron; who were otherwise engaged in the service of the day.

Verse 15. And the singers the sons of Asaph were in their place,.... In the court of the priests, singing and playing on their instruments while the sacrifices were offering:

according to the commandment of David, and Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun the king's seer; the same with Ethan; and everyone were seers, as Jarchi interprets it, that is, the three last:

and the porters waited at every gate; such of the Levites as were in, that post and office:

they might not depart from their service; to let people in and out, that came for their passover lamb, and share in their other offerings:

for their brethren the Levites prepared for them; because they were not at leisure to prepare for themselves.

Verse 16. So all the service of the Lord was prepared the same day,.... With every sacrifice, and for all sorts of persons:

to keep the passover, and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar of the Lord; which were required to be done on that day:

according to the commandment of King Josiah; which was, that every thing be provided, prepared, and done, as the law required.

Verse 17. And the children of Israel that were present kept the passover at that time,.... In its proper time, on the fourteenth day of Nisan:

and the feast of unleavened bread seven days; the seven days following the passover, as the Lord by Moses appointed.

Verses 18-19. And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel,.... So exactly according to the law, so universally by Israel and Judah, and with such liberality shown by the king, and the chief of the priests and Levites; of this, and the following verse, See Gill on "2Ki 23:22", See Gill on "2Ki 23:23"

Verse 20. After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple,.... Purified it, and cleansed it from the filth in it, and from all idolatry, and had repaired it, and put the service of it in good order, and on a good footing, after which great prosperity in church and state might have been expected:

Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates; now called Querquisia, supposed by some to be the same with the Cadytis of Herodotus, which that historian calls a great city of Syria, whither he says Necho went after the battle with the Syrians {x}; of which See Gill on "Isa 10:9" and of this king of Egypt, See Gill on "2Ki 23:29" See Gill on "Jer 46:2"

and Josiah went out against him; or to meet him, and stop him from going through his land, which lay between Egypt and Syria; Egypt being on the south of Israel, and Euphrates on the north of it, as Jarchi observes.

{x} Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 159. & Galei not. in ib.

Verse 21. But he sent ambassadors to him,.... That is, Necho sent to Josiah:

saying, what have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? signifying he had no quarrel with him, he did not come to fight with him, and he had no business to intermeddle between him and another prince:

I come not against thee this day; in an hostile manner:

but against the house wherewith I have war; the king of Assyria:

for God commanded me to make haste; and oppose his enemy: according to the Targum, it was his idol; and which is the sense of other Jewish writers {y}; but the true God might have appeared to him in a dream, or sent a prophet to him; or at least he might pretend this, that it might have the greater effect on Josiah; and indeed it seems to be real from the following verse:

forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not; he concluded God was with him, and would succeed him, because he had put him upon this enterprise, and hastened him to it; therefore Josiah, in opposing him, might expect to be resisted by him, and fall.

{y} T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 22. 2.

Verse 22. Nevertheless, Josiah would not turn his face from him,.... Or withdraw his forces, and go back:

but disguised himself that he might fight with him; without being personally known, and aimed at, see 1 Kings 22:30

and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God: not believing that what he said came from the Lord, though it might; and his infirmity was, that he did not inquire of the Lord about it:

and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo; which was in the tribe of Manasseh, thought to be the Magdolum of Herodotus, where he says Necho fought the battle {z}; See Gill on "2Ki 23:29."

{z} Gale in Herodot. ut supra. (Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 159. & Galei not. in ib.)

Verse 23. And the archers shot at King Josiah,.... For, though disguised, he appeared to be a general officer, and indeed chief commander, and therefore aimed at him, and pressed him hard:

and the king said to his servants, have me away, for I am wounded; as Ahab said, when in the like case, 1 Kings 22:34.

Verse 24. And his servants therefore took him out of that chariot,.... Dead, and had him to Jerusalem, and buried him;
See Gill on "2Ki 23:30,"

and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah; he having been so good a king, so tender of them, and such an happy instrument in restoring the true religion, and the service of God; this was the sense of the generality of them, who were sincere in their mourning; but it is not improbable that those who were inclined to idolatry were secretly glad, though they dissembled mourning with the rest.

Verse 25. And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah,.... Composed a lamentation for him, which is now lost; for what is said in Lamentations 4:20 respects Zedekiah, and not Josiah:

and all the singing men, and all the singing women, spake of Josiah in their lamentations unto this day; who were made use of on mournful occasions, as the "preficae" among the Romans, see Jeremiah 9:17 these in their mournful ditties used to make mention of his name, and the disaster that befell him:

and made them an ordinance in Israel; an annual constitution, as the Targum calls it, appointing a solemn mourning for him once a year, which Jarchi says was on the ninth of Ab or July:

and, behold, they are written in the lamentations; not of Jeremiah; though the Targum is, "lo, they are written in the book which Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah, concerning the lamentations," but respect a collection of lamentations on various subjects then in being, but since lost.

Verses 26-27. Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his goodness,.... His piety towards God, and liberality to the people; of these two verses, See Gill on "2Ki 23:28".