Then Josiah celebrated the LORD's Passover in Jerusalem. They slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the first month.a2
He assigned the priests to their posts, encouraging them to fulfill their responsibilities in the LORD's temple.
Next Josiah ordered the Levites, who were holy to the LORD and who instructed all Israel: "Put the holy chest in the temple built by Israel's King Solomon, David's son. You don't need to carry it around on your shoulders anymore. Now serve the LORD your God and his people Israel.
Organize yourselves by families according to your divisions, as directed by Israel's King David and his son Solomon.
Stand in the sanctuary, according to the family divisions of your relatives the laypeople, so that there can be Levites for each family division.b6
Slaughter the Passover lambs and prepare the holy sacrificesc for your relatives in order to celebrate according to the LORD's word through Moses."
On behalf of the laypeople, Josiah donated from his personal holdings thirty thousand lambs and young goats, and three thousand bulls, all for the Passover offerings.
His officials also provided spontaneous gift offerings for the people, the priests, and the Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, the ones in charge of God's temple, gave two thousand six hundred Passover lambs and three hundred bulls for the priests.
Conaniah and his brothers Shemaiah and Nethanel, along with Hashabiah, Jeiel, and Jozabad, the leaders of the Levites, provided the Levites with five thousand lambs and five hundred bulls as Passover sacrifices.
When everything was ready, the priests and the Levites took their places as the king had ordered.
Then they slaughtered the Passover lambs, and the priests splashed the bloodd while the Levites skinned the animals.
Next they divided the entirely burned offerings among the laypeople by their families to sacrifice to the LORD as written in the scroll from Moses, and they did the same with the bulls.
They roasted the Passover lambs in the fire as instructed, cooked the holy offerings in pots, kettles, and pans, and brought them quickly to all the laypeople.
Next they prepared food for themselves and for the priests. Since the priests, Aaron's descendants, were busy offering up the entirely burned offerings and fat pieces until nighttime, the Levites prepared food for themselves and for the priests, Aaron's descendants.
The Asaphite singers also remained at their stations as ordered by David, Asaph, Heman, and the king's seer Jeduthun, as did the guards at the various gates. They didn't need to leave their tasks because their fellow Levites prepared food for them.
So on that day all of the LORD's service was prepared for celebrating Passover and offering up entirely burned offerings on the LORD's altar, just as King Josiah had ordered.
The Israelites who were present celebrated the Passover at that time, and observed the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days.
Not since the days of the prophet Samuel had such a Passover been celebrated in Israel. And no other king of Israel had celebrated a Passover like the one Josiah celebrated with the priests, the Levites, all the people of Judah and Israel who were present, and the residents of Jerusalem.
This Passover was celebrated in the eighteenth year of Josiah's rule.
After all of these things, when Josiah had finished restoring the temple, Egypt's King Neco marched against Carchemish by the Euphrates, and Josiah marched out against him.
But Neco sent messengers to Josiah. "What do you want with me, king of Judah?" he asked. "I haven't come to attack you today. I'm after the dynasty that wars with me. God told me to hurry, and he is on my side. Get out of God's way, or he will destroy you."
But Josiah wouldn't turn back. Instead, he camouflaged himself in preparation for battle, refusing to listen to Neco's words from God's own mouth, and went to fight Neco on the plain of Megiddo.
When archers shot King Josiah, he said to his servants, "Take me away; I'm badly wounded!"
So his servants took him out of his chariot, placed him in another one, and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died and was buried in the tombs of his ancestors. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.
Jeremiah composed a funeral songe for Josiah, and to this day every singer, man or woman, continues to remember Josiah in their funeral songs. They are now traditional in Israel and are written down among the funeral songs.
The rest of Josiah's deeds, including his faithfulness in acting according to what is written in the LORD's Instruction,
and everything else he did, from beginning to end, are written in the official records of Israel's and Judah's kings.