30 Hezekiah sent word to all Israelq and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh,r inviting them to come to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passovers to the Lord, the God of Israel. 2 The king and his officials and the whole assembly in Jerusalem decided to celebratet the Passover in the second month. 3 They had not been able to celebrate it at the regular time because not enough priests had consecratedu themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem. 4 The plan seemed right both to the king and to the whole assembly. 5 They decided to send a proclamation throughout Israel, from Beersheba to Dan,v calling the people to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel. It had not been celebrated in large numbers according to what was written.
“People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parentsw and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithfulx to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror,y as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked,z as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce angera will turn away from you. 9 If you returnb to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassionc by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate.d He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”
10 The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but people scorned and ridiculede them. 11 Nevertheless, some from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbledf themselves and went to Jerusalem.g 12 Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unityh of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the Lord.
13 A very large crowd of people assembled in Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Breadi in the second month. 14 They removed the altarsj in Jerusalem and cleared away the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley.k
15 They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed and consecratedl themselves and brought burnt offerings to the temple of the Lord. 16 Then they took up their regular positionsm as prescribed in the Law of Moses the man of God. The priests splashed against the altar the blood handed to them by the Levites. 17 Since many in the crowd had not consecrated themselves, the Levites had to killn the Passover lambs for all those who were not ceremonially clean and could not consecrate their lambsa to the Lord. 18 Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves,o yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone 19 who sets their heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” 20 And the Lord heardp Hezekiah and healedq the people.r
21 The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Breads for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests praised the Lord every day with resounding instruments dedicated to the Lord.b
22 Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites, who showed good understanding of the service of the Lord. For the seven days they ate their assigned portion and offered fellowship offerings and praisedc the Lord, the God of their ancestors.
23 The whole assembly then agreed to celebratet the festival seven more days; so for another seven days they celebrated joyfully. 24 Hezekiah king of Judah providedu a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep and goats for the assembly, and the officials provided them with a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep and goats. A great number of priests consecrated themselves. 25 The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, along with the priests and Levites and all who had assembled from Israelv, including the foreigners who had come from Israel and also those who resided in Judah. 26 There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomonw son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 27 The priests and the Levites stood to blessx the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.
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