2 Chronicles 35
Passover is Josiah’s first opportunity to demonstrate his renewed devotion to God. Therefore, each detail perfectly follows His mandates for the event, from the day the offerings are slaughtered to the Levites’ specific duties. Although there is devotion in the land, apostasy will return once Josiah dies. The punishment of Israel is not averted, just delayed.
35 On the 14th day of the first month after Josiah had rededicated the nation to God, the king instituted the Eternal’s Passover feast in Jerusalem by slaughtering the Passover animals. 2 Josiah appointed the priests and encouraged them in performing their duties for the Eternal’s temple. 3 Then he commissioned the Levites, Israel’s teachers and the Eternal’s most holy servants, in their various duties for the feast.
Josiah: You no longer need to carry the holy covenant chest on your shoulders. Bring it to the temple which Solomon, son of King David, built and leave it there. From now on, your primary responsibility is serving the Eternal God and His people, Israel. 4 Cleanse yourselves, as King David and his son Solomon described for you in writing, according to your lineage and duties. 5 Then stand with your kinsmen inside the temple, dividing yourselves by the tribes and your fathers’ households under whom you serve. 6 Once you are organized, slaughter the Passover animals, cleanse yourselves, and prepare your people to participate in the ceremonies as the Eternal’s law by Moses describes.
7 Josiah donated 30,000 lambs and young goats and 3,000 bulls from his own herds and flocks for the people to sacrifice as the Passover offerings. 8 Then his officers in the True God’s temple voluntarily gave offerings for the people, priests, and Levites: Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel donated 2,600 sheep and 300 bulls for the Passover; 9 Conaniah, Shemaiah, Nethanel and his brothers, Hashabiah, Jeiel, and Jozabad, all officers of the Levites, donated 5,000 sheep and 500 bulls to the Levites for the Passover.
10 Once the service was prepared, the priests were ready to perform their duties, and the Levites stood in their division as the king commanded. 11-13 They offered the Passover animals. The Levites skinned all the animals, the priests sprinkled the animals’ blood, and then they roasted the animals on the altar. Once the animals were roasted, they took down the carcasses and distributed them to each tribe for offerings to the Eternal, just as the book of Moses prescribed. The Levites then boiled the other holy offerings in containers and took them to the people. 14 Once the people of the nation were enjoying the feast, the Levites prepared meals for themselves and for the priests (the Aaronites, who were busy with the burnt and fat offerings until late in the evening), 15 the singers (the sons of Asaph), Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun (the king’s seer), and the gatekeepers so that none of them needed to leave their prescribed duties to enjoy the feast.
16 On that day, all the Eternal’s servants completed preparations for the Passover, giving burnt offerings on the Eternal’s altar as Josiah commanded, 17 and all the Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for a full week. 18 This was the first Passover feast since Samuel was judging Israel. No other king’s festival was ever as precise or as well-attended by the priests, Levites, and all the Israelites. 19 It took place during Josiah’s 18th year as king.
20 After the incredible success of the Passover and Josiah’s organization of the temple operations, the Egyptian king, Neco, passed through Israel on his way to attack Carchemish (a Babylonian possession on the Euphrates) because of his alliance with the Assyrians. When Josiah marched out to meet Neco, 21 the Egyptian king sent his messengers.
Neco’s Message: Why are you getting involved in this dispute, king of Judah? I am simply passing through your region on my way to attack another nation, as God has asked me to do. I am not attacking you. Stop your forces from interfering with my army, or God who is with me will destroy you.
Josiah may assume that Neco is referring to his pagan gods, but what he misunderstands is that Neco is being sent into battle by the same God whom Josiah served. There aren’t Egyptian gods behind this encounter. The Lord is about to use Neco to judge Josiah.
22 But Josiah ignored Neco’s message and his warning that were from the mouth of God. Josiah disguised himself and attacked Neco’s army on Megiddo Plain. 23 Neco’s archers quickly wounded King Josiah.
Josiah (to his servants): Get me off of this battlefield. I am badly injured.
24 His servants took him out of his battle chariot and carried him to another chariot that they could drive to Jerusalem. There Josiah died and was laid to rest with his fathers. All of Judah and Jerusalem mourned his death. 25 The prophet Jeremiah even composed a lament for Josiah, which all singers remember when they sing their lamentations today, during our exile from Israel. This lament became a state anthem and is recorded in the book of Laments.
26-27 The other actions of Josiah and his loyal deeds, from his birth to his death, are recorded in the Eternal’s law and the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.