1Then Hezekiah sent an announcement to everyone in Israel and Judah, and also sent letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the Lord's Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the Lord, the God of Israel.
2The king and his officials and the whole assembly in Jerusalem had decided to observe the Passover in the second month,
3because they hadn't been able to observe it at the usual time since not enough priests had purified themselves and the people hadn't had time to get to Jerusalem.
4The plan seemed right to both the king and the whole assembly.
5So they decided to send an announcement to everyone in Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, inviting people to come and keep the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel, in Jerusalem, for many had not done as the Law required.
6So messengers went to all of Israel and Judah carrying letters from the king and his officials and with the king's authorization. They said, “Children of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped the oppression of the kings of Assyria.
7Don't be like your fathers and those of you who sinned against the Lord, the God of your forefathers He made them into something horrifying, as you can see.
8So don't be proud and obstinate like your fathers, but give yourselves to the Lord and come to his sanctuary, which he has made holy forever, and serve the Lord your God, that his fierce anger may no longer fall on you.
9If you come back to the Lord, your relatives and children will receive mercy from their captors and will return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful. He will not reject you if you come back to him.”
10The messengers went from town to town all over the land of Ephraim and Manasseh as far as Zebulun; but the people laughed at them and mocked them.
11Only some men from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun weren't too proud to go to Jerusalem.
12At this time the power of God was helping the people in Judah to all have the same desire to follow the orders of the king and his officials, as indicated by the word of the Lord.
13Many people gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month—a really large crowd.
14They went and removed the pagan altars in Jerusalem as well as the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley.
15On the fourteenth day of the second month they killed the Passover lamb. The priests and Levites were ashamed, and they purified themselves and brought burnt offerings to the Lord's Temple.
16They stood at their assigned positions, according to the law of Moses, the man of God. The priests sprinkled the blood of the sacrifices, which the Levites gave to them.
17Since many people in the assembly had not purified themselves, the Levites had to kill the Passover lambs on behalf of every unclean person to dedicate the lambs to the Lord.
18Most of the people, many of those from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not purified themselves. Yet they ate the Passover meal even though this was not what the Law required, for Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, “May the good Lord forgive everyone
19who sincerely wants to follow the Lord God, the God of their forefathers, even though they're not clean according to the sanctuary requirements.”
20The Lord accepted Hezekiah's prayer and permitted them this violation.
21The people of Israel who were there in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great enthusiasm, and every day the Levites and priests praised the Lord, accompanied by loud instruments.
22Hezekiah spoke positively to all the Levites who showed a good understanding of the Lord. For seven days they ate the food that was assigned to them, presented friendship offerings, and gave thanks to the Lord, the God of their forefathers.
23Everyone then agreed to continue to celebrate the festival for seven more days. So for another seven days they celebrated, full of joy.
24Hezekiah, king of Judah, gave a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep as offerings on behalf of the assembly. The officials in turn gave a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep on as offerings on behalf of the assembly. A large number of priests purified themselves.
25The whole assembly of Judah celebrated, together with the priests and Levites, and also with the whole assembly that had come from Israel, including the foreigners from Israel and those living in Judah.
26There was such tremendous happiness in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel, nothing like this had happened in the city.
27The priests and the Levites stood up to bless the people, and God heard them—their prayer ascended to where he lived in heaven.