King Hezekiah now sent word to all Israel and Judah, and he wrote letters of invitation to the people of Ephraim and Manasseh. He asked everyone to come to the Temple of the LORD at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the LORD, the God of Israel.
The king, his officials, and all the community of Jerusalem decided to celebrate Passover a month later than usual.
They were unable to celebrate it at the prescribed time because not enough priests could be purified by then, and the people had not yet assembled at Jerusalem.
This plan for keeping the Passover seemed right to the king and all the people.
So they sent a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north, inviting everyone to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the LORD, the God of Israel. The people had not been celebrating it in great numbers as required in the Law.
At the king’s command, runners were sent throughout Israel and Judah. They carried letters that said: “O people of Israel, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that he will return to the few of us who have survived the conquest of the Assyrian kings.
Do not be like your ancestors and relatives who abandoned the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and became an object of derision, as you yourselves can see.
Do not be stubborn, as they were, but submit yourselves to the LORD . Come to his Temple, which he has set apart as holy forever. Worship the LORD your God so that his fierce anger will turn away from you.
“For if you return to the LORD, your relatives and your children will be treated mercifully by their captors, and they will be able to return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful. If you return to him, he will not continue to turn his face from you.”
The runners went from town to town throughout Ephraim and Manasseh and as far as the territory of Zebulun. But most of the people just laughed at the runners and made fun of them.
However, some people from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem.
At the same time, God’s hand was on the people in the land of Judah, giving them all one heart to obey the orders of the king and his officials, who were following the word of the LORD .
So a huge crowd assembled at Jerusalem in midspring to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread.