The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Second Book of Paralipomena
Then Ezechias sent out a summons to Juda and all Israel (for his word went out by letter even to Ephraim and Manasses), bidding them come up to the Lord’s house at Jerusalem, and keep his paschal feast there.
The king and his nobles and all Jerusalem were of this advice, that the pasch should be kept in the second month;
keep it at the appointed time they might not, but must wait till priests had cleansed themselves in sufficient number, and the people could assemble at Jerusalem.
Such was the resolve taken by the king and his subjects;
and because so many had long neglected the law’s injunction, the summons should go out to all Israel, from Bersabee to Dan, bidding them keep the pasch there at Jerusalem, in the Lord’s honour, that was all Israel’s God.
So couriers went out in the king’s service, bearing letters in his name and in the name of his nobles to Israel and Juda alike, and this was their purport; Come back, Israelites, to the Lord, all that remnant of you the Assyrian king has spared; and he, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, will come back to your side.
See how your fathers and brethren have deserted the Lord, the God of their race, and been left to their doom; be wiser than they.
Do not rebel, as your fathers did, against his yoke; surrender to the Lord, and come up to this sanctuary, which he has hallowed for all time; obey him, the Lord, the God of your fathers, and his fierce anger will be appeased.
When you have come back to the Lord, the victors will relent, and allow your banished sons and brethren to return home; so gracious the Lord is, so merciful; turn back to him, and his face shall be hidden from you no more.
Swiftly the couriers went from city to city of Ephraim and Manasses, right up to Zabulon, meeting everywhere with scorn and derision;
but there were some tribesmen of Aser, Manasses and Zabulon that fell in with the proposal, and came.
In Juda, such was the Lord’s enabling power, they had but one thought, to obey the Lord’s will, obey the command of the king and of his nobles.
So it was a great throng that came to Jerusalem to keep this feast of unleavened bread in the second month.
First they set about destroying the altars up and down Jerusalem, overthrowing all the shrines at which incense had been burned to false gods; and these they threw down into Cedron valley.
Then, on the fourteenth day of the second month, they slew the paschal victim. Priest and Levite, cleansed of their defilement at last, offered burnt-sacrifice in the Lord’s house,
keeping their due order, according to the terms of that law which God’s servant Moses gave. Only it was the Levites that must hand over to the priests the blood which was to be poured out,
so many of the worshippers were still uncleansed; for all those who had not come in time to rid themselves of their defilement, the Levites must slay the victim.
There were many from Ephraim, Manasses, Issachar and Zabulon that must overstep the bounds of the law by eating their paschal meal while they were yet defiled; but Ezechias made intercession for these; surely the Lord, in his goodness, would pardon
such as made the Lord God of their fathers their whole heart’s quest; cleansed or no, he would not find fault with them.
In answer to this prayer, the Lord gave his people quittance.
So, amid great rejoicing, for seven days together, all the Israelites assembled at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread. Day by day priest and Levite stood there praising the Lord as best their music might;
Ezechias himself spoke to hearten them, sons of Levi that had such skill in the Lord’s service. All the seven days of the feast they ate the victims of their own welcome-offerings, giving thanks to the Lord, their fathers’ God.
And now the whole multitude resolved to keep festival seven days more, and right gladly they did it.
A thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep were given to them by king Ezechias, a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep by the nobles; task enough for the many priests that had cleansed themselves by now.
Glad was Juda that day, glad were priest and Levite, and new-comers from Israel, and men of alien birth from Israel’s domain and Juda’s alike;
such high festival was kept in Jerusalem as the city had never seen since the days of David’s son Solomon, that was king of all Israel.
Then priests and Levites stood up to bless the people, nor did their voices go unheard; heaven’s holy dwelling-place echoed to their prayer.
The Holy Bible