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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1Moreover Josiah kept a passover unto the LORD in Jerusalem: and they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.
2And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of the LORD,
3And said unto the Levites that taught all Israel, which were holy unto the LORD, Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel did build; it shall not be a burden upon your shoulders: serve now the LORD your God, and his people Israel,
Put the holy ark etc - The ark of the covenant may have been temporarily removed from the holy of holies while Josiah effected necessary repairs.
It shall not be a burden upon your shoulders - The removing and replacing the ark Josiah means "shall not henceforth be your duty. The ark shall remain undisturbed in the holy of holies. You shall return to your old employments, to the service of God and the instruction of the people."
4And prepare yourselves by the houses of your fathers, after your courses, according to the writing of David king of Israel, and according to the writing of Solomon his son.
5And stand in the holy place according to the divisions of the families of the fathers of your brethren the people, and after the division of the families of the Levites.
The sense of this verse probably is: "So divide yourselves that, for every distinct family among the people who come to the Passover, there shall be a portion of a Levitical family to minister."
6So kill the passover, and sanctify yourselves, and prepare your brethren, that they may do according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.
Prepare your brethren ... - i. e. "as you minister to your brethren the people, by killing and flaying their offerings and handing the blood to the priests, instruct them how they are to eat the Passover acceptably." It is implied that many would be ignorant of the requirements of the Law.
7And Josiah gave to the people, of the flock, lambs and kids, all for the passover offerings, for all that were present, to the number of thirty thousand, and three thousand bullocks: these were of the king's substance.
See the marginal references and note.
8And his princes gave willingly unto the people, to the priests, and to the Levites: Hilkiah and Zechariah and Jehiel, rulers of the house of God, gave unto the priests for the passover offerings two thousand and six hundred small cattle, and three hundred oxen.
His princes - i. e. his ecclesiastical princes, the chief men of the priests and Levites. For the poor families of their own order the leading priests furnished both Passover-cattle and cattle for thank-offerings. The chief Levites acted similarly toward the poor Levitical families.
9Conaniah also, and Shemaiah and Nethaneel, his brethren, and Hashabiah and Jeiel and Jozabad, chief of the Levites, gave unto the Levites for passover offerings five thousand small cattle, and five hundred oxen.
10So the service was prepared, and the priests stood in their place, and the Levites in their courses, according to the king's commandment.
11And they killed the passover, and the priests sprinkled the blood from their hands, and the Levites flayed them.
12And they removed the burnt offerings, that they might give according to the divisions of the families of the people, to offer unto the LORD, as it is written in the book of Moses. And so did they with the oxen.
They removed the burnt offerings - They separated from the Paschal lambs those parts which were to be burned on the altar. These parts they gave to the offerers, who took them up to the altar and handed them to the officiating priests.
13And they roasted the passover with fire according to the ordinance: but the other holy offerings sod they in pots, and in caldrons, and in pans, and divided them speedily among all the people.
14And afterward they made ready for themselves, and for the priests: because the priests the sons of Aaron were busied in offering of burnt offerings and the fat until night; therefore the Levites prepared for themselves, and for the priests the sons of Aaron.
15And the singers the sons of Asaph were in their place, according to the commandment of David, and Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun the king's seer; and the porters waited at every gate; they might not depart from their service; for their brethren the Levites prepared for them.
They might not depart - The singers and porters remained at their posts, while other Levites sacrificed for them and brought them their share of the lambs.
16So all the service of the LORD was prepared the same day, to keep the passover, and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar of the LORD, according to the commandment of king Josiah.
17And the children of Israel that were present kept the passover at that time, and the feast of unleavened bread seven days.
18And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
19In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah was this passover kept.
20After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him.
After all this - i. e. 13 years after, 608 B.C. See the 2 Kings 23:28-29 notes.
21But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.
The house wherewith I have war - Necho viewed Babylon as the successor and representative of Assyria - the hereditary enemy of Egypt - and he means that he is merely continuing an old hostility with which Josiah has nothing to do. No doubt the Assyrian and Egyptian armies had often passed up and down Syria by the coast route, without approaching Jerusalem, or even touching the soil of Judaea.
God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God - These are remarkable words in the mouth of a pagan; but ancient inscriptions show that the Egyptian kings, in a certain sense, acknowledged a single supreme god, and considered their actions to be inspired by him. (e. g. The god Tum (compare) the name of his city, Pithom, Exodus 1:11 note) was worshipped as ankh, "the living One" (compare "Yahweh")). Hence, Necho merely expressed himself as Egyptian kings were in the habit of doing.
22Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo.
Disguised himself - Compare the marginal reference. But most modern critics are dissatisfied with this sense in this place, and prefer to render "equipped himself;" or - with the Septuagint - adopt another reading, and render "took courage."
The words of Necho from the mouth of God - The author apparently regarded Necho's words as actually prophetic - a warning to which Josiah ought to have listened - sent him by God to make him pause - though not spoken by divine inspiration, or in consequence of any supernatural revelation of the divine will to the Egyptian king. Compare the "prophecy" of Caiaphas, John 11:51.
23And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded.
24His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.
The fate of Josiah was unprecedented. No king of Judah had, up to this time, fallen in battle. None had left his land at the mercy of a foreign conqueror. Hence, the extraordinary character of the mourning (compare Zechariah 12:11-14).
25And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations.
Some find Jeremiah's lament in the entire Book of Lamentations; others in a part of it Lamentations 4. But most critics are of opinion that the lament is lost. Days of calamity were commemorated by lamentations on their anniversaries, and this among the number. The "Book of Dirges" was a collection of such poems which once existed but is now lost.
And made them an ordinance - Rather, "and they made them an ordinance," they i. e. who had authority to do so, not the minstrels.
26Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his goodness, according to that which was written in the law of the LORD,
27And his deeds, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.