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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
2 Chronicles 31

 

 

Introduction

XXXI.

PROGRESS OF THE RELIGIOUS REFORMATION.


Verse 1

(1) Destruction of the images and high places in both kingdoms. (Comp. 2 Kings 18:4.)

Now when all this was finished.—And when they had finished all this—that is, the business of the Passover.

All Israel that were present went out.—Their iconoclastic zeal had been thoroughly roused by the festival in which they had just taken part.

The images.—Maççebôth, “pillars.” (See Hosea 3:4, and 2 Chronicles 14:2.)

The groves.—The Ashçrîm. The sacred trunks, emblematic of physical fertility. (Comp. Hosea 4:13.)

In Ephraim also and Manasseh.—That is, in the territory of the northern kingdom, which was at this time in the last stage of political weakness, and rapidly drifting towards final ruin. The band of Jewish and Israelite zealots would not, therefore, be likely to encounter any serious opposition.

Until they had utterly destroyed.—‘Adlĕkallçh (2 Chronicles 24:10). Literally, so far as to finishing.


Verse 2

(2) The courses . . . their courses.—Hezekiah restored the system of service in rotation, ascribed to David. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 8:14, “according to the order of David.”)

Every man according to his service.—See the same phrase in Numbers 7:5; Numbers 7:7. Literally, after the mouth (i.e., rule, prescription) of his service.

The priests and Levites.—Literally, to the priests and Levites. The words depend upon those which immediately precede. LXX., καὶ τὰς ἐφημερίας ἑκάστου κατὰ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ λειτουργίαν τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν καὶ τοῖς λευίταις.

To minister . . . praise.—The chronicler’s usual definition of the Levitical functions.

In the gates . . . Lord.—Literally, in the gates of the camps of Jehovah. Comp. 1 Chronicles 9:18-19, where the phrase is explained.


Verse 3

(3) He appointed also . . . set feasts.—Rather, And the king’s portion (i.e., the part he contributed) from his property was for the burnt offerings—viz., for the burnt offerings of the morning and the evening, and the burnt offerings on the Sabbath, and the new moons, the set feasts. The king gave the victims for the sacrifices prescribed in Numbers 28, 29, out of his own revenues. See the account of his wealth (2 Chronicles 32:27-29). The “set feasts” were the three great festivals, &c, enumerated in Num. l.c.


Verse 4

(4) Moreover.—Literally, And he said to the people, to wit, to the dwellers in Jerusalem. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 24:8; 1 Chronicles 21:17.)

The portion of the priests and the Levites.—The firstfruits and tithes, ordained in Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:12; Numbers 18:20-24; Deufc. 26

That they might be encouraged in the law.—Rather, that they might stick fast unto the law. For this use of châdzaq, comp. 2 Samuel 18:9, “his head stuck fast in the terebinth.” The meaning is, that they might be enabled to devote themselves wholly and solely to their religious duties, without being distracted by any secular anxieties. (See Nehemiah 13:10, “And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given, for the Levites and the singers that did the work were fled every one to his field.”)


Verse 5

(5) And . . . came abroad.—Literally, And when the word broke forth—i.e., spread abroad.

The children of Israel.—Here the people of Jerusalem, who in the chronicler’s day had a preeminent right to the name. (See on next verse.) The firstfruits were for the priests (Numbers 18:12, seq., where the oil, wine, and wheat are specified).

And the tithe . . . abundantly.—For the Levites (Numbers 18:21-24).


Verse 6

(6) Concerning.—Omit.

The children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah.—Contrasted with “the children of Israel” who dwelt in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 31:5). “The children of Israel that dwelt in the cities of Judah” are evidently those who had left the northern kingdom to settle in the south. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 10:17; 2 Chronicles 11:16; 2 Chronicles 30:25.)

The tithe of holy things.—This expression is assumed to be equivalent to “the heave offerings of the holy things” (Numbers 18:19), which denotes such portions of the sacrificial gifts as were not consumed upon the altar. Taken literally, “tithe of things consecrated” would be a very surprising, as it is a wholly isolated, expression.

The present text of the LXX. appears to contain, not a trace of a different reading, but simply an old error of transcription, suggested probably by the words immediately preceding; for its rendering is, “and tithes of goats” ( αἰ γῶν for ἀγίων). The Syriac paraphrases freely, but the Vulgate follows the Hebrew (décimas sanctorum). (See also Note on 2 Chronicles 31:10; 2 Chronicles 31:12.) There is probably a lacuna in the text.

And laid them by heaps.—Literally, and made heaps heaps—i.e., many heaps. (Comp.Vulg., “fecerunt acervos plurimos.”)


Verse 7

(7) In the third month.—And so at the end of wheat-harvest, the third month (Sivan) answering to our May—June. Pentecost, the Feast of Harvest, or Firstfruits, fell in this month.

To lay the foundation.—To found, or lay. Heb., lîsôd, a curious form only met with here. (Comp. lîsôd, Isaiah 51:16.)

In the seventh month.—Tisri (September to October), in which was held the great Feast of Tabernacles, after all the fruits had been gathered in, and the vintage was over.


Verse 9

(9) Then Hezekiah questioned with the priests and the Levites.—And Hezekiah asked the priests, &c. The construction is dârash ‘al. (Comp. 2 Samuel 11:3; 1 Samuel 28:7.) The king wished to know how it was the heaps of offerings were so large.


Verse 10

(10) Azariah.—Possibly the Azariah of 2 Chronicles 26:17. If not, he is otherwise unknown.

Since the people began to bring the offerings.—Since they began to bring the Tĕrûmâh: a word which the Authorised Version usually renders “heave offering.” (See Note on 2 Chronicles 31:6.)

To bring.—In the Hebrew a contracted form, recurring in Jeremiah 39:7.

We have had enough to eat, and have left plenty.—Literally, Eating and being satisfied, and leaving over, even unto abundance (exclamatory infinitives). (Comp. Hosea 4:2 for this construction.)

The Lord hath blessed his people.—So that they were able to give liberally.

That which is left.—After the maintenance o£ the priests has been subtracted.

This great store.—In the Hebrew these words are in the accusative case. Probably, therefore, the right reading is, “and there is left this great store” (omitting the article, and reading wĕ-nôthâr, with Kamp-hausen).

Chambers.—Cells; lĕshâkôth. (See Notes on 1 Chronicles 9:26; 1 Chronicles 23:28.) The preparation intended is probably nothing but the clearance and cleansing of some of these cells for the reception of the stores.


Verse 12

(12) The offerings.—The Terûmah (heave offering; see Note on 2 Chronicles 31:6) and the tithe, and the holy things (2 Chronicles 31:6). Terûmah seems to mean the firstfruits hero (2 Chronicles 31:5).

Faithfully.—With faithfulness, or honesty (2 Chronicles 19:9).

Over which.—And over them—i.e., the stores.

Shimei.—2 Chronicles 29:14.

The next.—Second in charge (mishnèh). The name Cononiah is, in the Hebrew text, Kânanyâhû; in the margin, Kûnanyâhû. The former is correct (Iahu hath established).


Verse 13

(13) And Jehiel . . . were overseers.—Nothing is known of these ten Levitical officers; though some of the names occur elsewhere—e.g., Jehiel and Mahath in 2 Chronicles 29:12; 2 Chronicles 29:14.

Under the hand of Cononiah.—Or, at the side of . . . (miyyad . . .) The phrase means “under Cononiah’s orders.”

At the commandment of Hezekiah.—An unusual meaning of miphqäd, which in 1 Chronicles 21:5 denotes census. LXX., καθὼς προσέταξεν εζεκιας.

Ruler (nagîd) of the house of God.—Comp. 1 Chronicles 9:11. Azariah was named in 2 Chronicles 31:10, supra.


Verse 14

(14) The porter toward the east.—Compare 1 Chronicles 9:18. Korê had charge of “the freewill offerings of God,” or voluntary gifts (Deuteronomy 12:17); and it was his duty “to distribute the oblations of the Lord and the most holy things" to the priests.

To distribute the oblations.—To give the Terûmah of Jehovah—i.e., the portion of the offerings which, though consecrated to Jehovah, was transferred by Him to the priests (Leviticus 7:14; Leviticus 7:32; Leviticus 10:14-15).

And the most holy things—i.e., that part of the sin and trespass offerings (Leviticus 6:10; Leviticus 6:22; Leviticus 7:6) and of the meat offerings (Leviticus 2:3; Leviticus 2:10) which were to be eaten by the priests in the sanctuary.


Verse 15

(15) Next him.—By his hand (‘al yâdô). (Comp. 1 Chronicles 25:2-3.) The meaning is, “subordinate to him.”

The six Levites here named as under the direction of Korê had the duty of distributing a proper share of the firstfruits, tithes, and dedicated things to their brethren residing in the sacerdotal cities, where they themselves were stationed.

In their set office.—It seems better to connect the phrase so rendered with the following verb: “honestly to give” (comp. 2 Chronicles 31:12). So Vulg.: “ut fideliter distribuèrent fratribus suis partes,” &c. Others render be’emûnah, “in trust.”

Their brethren by courses.—Rather, their brethren in the courses—i.e., those members of the Levitical classes who, not being on duty at the Temple, were dwelling in their towns; and those who were past service, and young children.

Great . . . small.—Older . . . younger.


Verse 16

(16) Beside their genealogy.—The verse is a parenthesis stating an exception, and should rather be rendered, “apart from their register of males from three years old and upward (to wit, the register) of all that came into the house of Jehovah for the daily portion (literally, for a day’s matter in its day; 2 Chronicles 8:13; Nehemiah 11:23) for their service in their offices according to their divisions.” The meaning is that the Levites who were on duty in the Temple, and whose names were registered as such, along with their male children of three years old and upwards, were not provided for by Cononiah and his associates, as they received their daily portion in the sanctuary itself. Children, it appears, were allowed to accompany their fathers to the Temple, and to eat with them of the sacrifices.


Verse 17

(17) Both to the genealogy.—The verse is a parenthesis relating to the registration of the priests and Levites, suggested by the occurrence of the word “register” in 2 Chronicles 31:16. Translate, “And as to the register of the priests, it was according to their clans (Heb., father-houses); and the Levites from twenty years old and upwards were in their offices in their divisions.” For the latter statement, see 1 Chronicles 23:24.


Verse 18

(18) And to the genealogy.—After the parenthetic statements of 2 Chronicles 31:16-17 the thread of the narrative, broken off at 2 Chronicles 31:15, is taken up again at that point. The six Levites there named were in the priests’ cities “to give (their portions) to their brethren,” and further (2 Chronicles 31:18) “for the registering in the case of all their little ones, their wives and their sons and their daughters, of the whole corporation” (of priests). The board of Levites had to keep a register of all who had claims on the provisions which they had to distribute. The general sense is the same if, as seems better, we trace the connection thus: “to give to their brethren, and to those who were registered among all their little ones” &c., explaining lĕhithyahçsh bĕkol-tappâm as a relative sentence with the relative suppressed. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 30:18-19, and 2 Chronicles 31:19, ad fin.)

Through all the congregation.—Or, to a whole assembly—scil., of wives and children of the priests and Levites.

In their set office.—Or trust, or faithfulness (emûnah). (See Note on 1 Chronicles 9:22.)

They sanctified themselves.—They used to show themselves holy (i.e., behave conscientiously) in regard to the holy (i.e., the hallowed gifts, which they had to distribute). Perhaps, however, the Authorised Version is here substantially correct, the sense being that the Levites fulfilled their trust with perfect good faith.


Verse 19

(19) Also of the sons of Aaron the priests.—Officers were likewise appointed to distribute portions. to the priests and Levites who dwelt on their farms. outside of the sacerdotal cities. Render, “and for the sons of Aaron the priests, in the farms of the pasturage of their cities, in each several city, there were men who were specified by names, to give portions to every male among the priests, and to every one that was registered among the Levites.”

Fields of the suburbs.—See Leviticus 25:34; Numbers 35:5.

Expressed by name.—See 1 Chronicles 12:31; 2 Chronicles 28:15.

To all that were reckoned by genealogies.—Registered. The relative is omitted before the verb hiththyahçsh, which is here the perfect as in 2 Chronicles 31:18, not the infinitive as in 2 Chronicles 31:16.


Verse 20

(20) Truth (ha’ĕmeth).—Faithfulness, or sincerity.


Verse 20-21

(20, 21) Conclusion of the account of Hezekiah’s reformation.


Verse 21

(21) Commandments.—Heb., commandment.

To seek his God.—In order to seek, or by way of seeking.

He did it with all his heart.—Comp. the frequent phrase, “with a perfect heart” (1 Chronicles 28:9, and elsewhere); also “and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart,” &c. (Deuteronomy 6:5).

 


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 31:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-chronicles-31.html. 1905.

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Sunday, January 19th, 2020
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