Hezekiah tells the people that they must come to the Passover
1 Hezekiah sent servants with letters to all the people in Israel and in Judah. He also wrote letters to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. He was asking them to come to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. He was asking them to worship the Lord, Israel's God with the Passover. 2 The king, his officers and all the people in Jerusalem decided to have the Passover feast in the second month. 3 The proper time was the first month, but not enough priests had made themselves holy. And all the people had not come to Jerusalem. 4 This idea seemed right to the king and to all the people. 5 So they sent men to read a letter to all the people. They sent them through all Israel from Beersheba to Dan. The letter asked them to come to Jerusalem for the Passover festival of the Lord, Israel's God. God's Law said that the people should come to Jerusalem for this feast. But not many people had done what God's Law said.
30:3The Passover feast was on the 14th day of Nisan (March or April).
6 So the king and his officers sent men with letters to every place in Israel and Judah. The letters said, ‘Israelites, start to obey the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel again. Then he will return to you. He has saved a few people from the king of Assyria's army. 7 Do not be like your ancestors and their children who stopped obeying the Lord, the God of their ancestors. He punished them for that in a very bad way, as you can see. 8 Do not refuse to obey him as your ancestors did. Do the things that he wants you to do. Come to the holy place that he has made holy for all time. Become the servants of the Lord your God so that he will stop being very angry with you. 9 If you start to obey the Lord again, your enemies will be kind to your relatives and to your children. They will let them return to this country because the Lord your God is kind. And he wants to be good to you. He will not turn away from you if you start to obey him again.’
10 The men took this letter to every town among the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh and even to Zebulun. But everywhere the people thought that they were fools. And so they laughed. And they said that the men with the letters were silly. 11 But some people from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun became humble and they did come to Jerusalem. 12 God was also working in the people in Judah. And so all those people agreed to obey the king and his officers. The Lord had told them in his Book what they should do. And they did it.
13 A very large crowd of people came together in Jerusalem in the second month. They came to eat the Feast of Flat Bread. 14 They started to work. And they took away the altars for false gods that were in Jerusalem. And they took away all the altars to burn oils with sweet smells. And they threw them into the Kidron Valley.
15 They killed the young sheep for the Passover on the 14th day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed. So they made themselves holy to work for the Lord. Then they could bring sacrifices by fire into the Lord's house. 16 They stood in their proper places. God's servant Moses had described these in the Law. The priests threw on the altar the blood that the Levites gave to them. 17 Many people in the crowd had not made themselves holy. So they could not kill the Passover sheep. So the Levites had to kill the young sheep for the Passover for them. Then the sheep were holy for the Lord. 18 Many people from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not made themselves holy. So they were not right to eat the Passover. But Hezekiah prayed for them. He said, ‘Good Lord, please forgive everyone 19 who really wants to worship God, the Lord, the God of his ancestors. They may not be holy as the rules of the holy place say. Please forgive those people.’ 20 And the Lord listened to Hezekiah and so he made the people well.
21 The Israelites who were in Jerusalem ate the Feast of Flat Bread for seven days. They were very happy to do it. The Levites and the priests sang praises to the Lord every day. And they praised the Lord with things that make music.
22 All the Levites really understood how they should work for the Lord. And Hezekiah told them that they were doing well. They praised the Lord, the God of their ancestors. For seven days they ate the proper food for the feast and they gave friendship offerings to God. And they gave thanks to the Lord, the God of their ancestors.
23 Then all the people there agreed to eat the feast for another seven days. And so they did that happily for 7 more days. 24 Hezekiah, the king of Judah gave to the people 1,000 young bulls and 7,000 sheep and goats. And the leaders gave to them 1,000 young bulls and 10,000 sheep and goats. And many priests had made themselves holy. 25 All Judah's people were happy. And the priests and the Levites and people from everywhere in Israel were happy too. They included the foreign people who had come from Israel. And they included people who lived in Judah. 26 Everyone in Jerusalem was very happy. There had not been anything like this in Jerusalem since the time when David's son Solomon was king of Israel. 27 The priests and the Levites stood up and they asked God to be good to the people. And God heard them. Their prayer had reached heaven, the place where he lives.