Hezekiah's Passover

The festival served as a repudiation of idolatry.

Print this page Print this page

Many of the Levites and Temple priests did not hastily heed the king's call. Rather, they delayed their preparations for the Temple service. They did not take the new king seriously, nor did they trust his motives. They did not initially believe that the son of Ahaz could be so vastly different from his father, but when they investigated the matter and found Hezekiah to be righteous, they returned to Jerusalem (Rashi's commentary on Second Chronicles 30:15). When the holy work was completed, the Temple was consecrated and offerings were once again brought to the Temple.

Preparing for Passover

As Passover was approaching, Hezekiah called upon the nation to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the holiday. He dared to send letters to the tribes who were Judea's adversaries, in the Northern Kingdom, inviting them to Jerusalem. Although his attempts to have Judah's northern secessionists reunite with their brethren had not been a complete success, some from the north did journey to Jerusalem. When Passover came, the nation assembled in Jerusalem. "And the entire congregation of Judah and the priests and the Levites and the entire congregation that come from the Land of Israel, and those who dwelt in Judah rejoiced" (Second Chronicles 30:25).

Prior to the offering of the Passover sacrifice, all idols were removed from their midst. Jerusalem was once again free of idolatry. "And they arose and removed the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense they removed and cast them into the Kidron Valley" (Second Chronicles 30:14). The people arose, cleansed of their impurity, and offered sacrifices.

Following the Passover sacrifice, the nation, in a renewed spirit of dedication, destroyed the idols throughout the land. "All the Israelites who were present went out to the cities of Judah, and they smashed the monuments and cut down the asherim (trees that were used as part of idolatrous rites)and so they demolished the high places and the altars from all Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Menashe until they had completely destroyed them" (Second Chronicles 31:1).

Just as at the time of the Exodus from Egypt, preparations for the Passover sacrifice involved the collective elimination of all forms of idolatry that the Judeans had adopted from their neighbors. That Passover, the Jews experienced a spiritual renaissance, just as their ancestors had in Egypt before the Exodus took place. The Israelite Passover was followed by their redemption. In Hezekiah's time a few years later, the Assyrians--formerly the allies of Ahaz--were to advance towards Jerusalem and threaten the kingdom of Judah. On Passover night, as the Assyrians surrounded Jerusalem and prepared its capture, a plague broke out among the troops stationed around Jerusalem. The Assyrian army was decimated. However, the triumph of Hezekiah's Passover did not endure. His son Menashe was as evil as his grandfather Ahaz, and under his rule the Judeans once again immersed themselves in idolatry. However, history would repeat itself as Menashe's son Josiah would campaign against idolatry, and again the Passover sacrifice would be offered in the purified Temple.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Larry Domnitch

Larry Domnitch is a freelance writer and Jewish educator. He has a master's degree in Jewish history from Yeshiva University's Bernard Revel Graduate School.