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HEZEKIAH (chaps, 29-32.; 2 Kings 18-20); Chap. 29.
LENGTH AND SPIRIT OF THE REIGN. THE SOLEMN PURGATION AND HALLOWING OF THE TEMPLE.
(1) Hezekiah.—Heb., Yĕhizqîyâhu, as if “Strong is Iahu.” 2 Kings writes Hizkîyâh, “My strength is Iah;” Isaiah 27:0, sqq., Hizkîyâhu. The annals of Sennacherib present the form Hazakiyahu.
Abijan.—2 Kings has the shortened form Abi. (This verse closely corresponds with 2 Kings 18:2.)
(2) And he did.—The verse is identical with 2 Kings 18:3.
THE KING CHARGES THE LÉVITES, AND THEY CLEANSE THE HOUSE OF GOD
(2 Chronicles 29:3-19).
(3) In the first month—i.e., in the month Nisan, the first month of the sacred year; not in the first month of his reign. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 29:17 and 2 Chronicles 30:23.)
Opened the doors.—Which his father had closed (chap. 28:24).
And repaired them.—By overlaying them with metal—bronze or gold-leaf (2 Kings 18:16).
(4) Brought in.—Caused to come.
The east Street.—The eastern square or open space of the East. (Comp. Ezra 10:9; Nehemiah 8:1; Nehemiah 8:3; Nehemiah 8:16.) The place of meeting was probably an open area in front of the eastern gate of the sacred enclosure.
(5) Hear me.—2 Chronicles 15:2; 2 Chronicles 20:15.
Sanctify now yourselves.—See Note on 1 Chronicles 15:12; 1 Chronicles 15:14.
Sanctify the house.—By removing all symbols of idolatry.
Carry forth the filthiness.—Niddah denotes personal impurity (Leviticus 12:2; Ezekiel 18:6); and so anything loathsome (Ezekiel 7:19); here probably idols, and things connected with their worship.
(6) Trespassed.—Dealt unfaithfully.
Turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord.—Comp. Jeremiah 2:27 : “They have turned their backs unto me, and not their faces.” (Comp. also Ezekiel 8:16.)
Turned their backs.—Literally, gave neck (nathan ‘ôreph); a phrase here used as equivalent to turned neck (pânâh ‘ôreph), Jeremiah 2:27, et al. The ordinary meaning is “to put to flight,” as in Psalms 18:41. It is clear from the next verse that the description is meant to apply to Ahaz and his generation.
(7) The porch.—Of the holy place, or nave of the Temple; the only entrance to the two holy chambers.
Put out the lamps.—Of the great golden stand, in the holy place.
Have not burned incense.—On the golden altar. Literally, And incense they have not burned, and burnt offering they have not offered in the sanctuary. The sanctuary is not the holy place, or larger chamber of the Temple, but it includes the whole sacred precincts, courts as well as buildings. The burnt offerings presented on the new Syrian altar of Ahaz (2 Kings 16:15) are here counted as nought, because they were irregular. (Comp. also 2 Kings 16:14.)
(8) The wrath . . . was (i.e., fell) upon Judah.—The phrase of 2 Chronicles 24:18. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 19:2; 2 Chronicles 19:10.)
Delivered them to trouble . . .—Rather, made them a horror, an astonishment, and a hissing. The language is Deuteronomic. (Comp. Deuteronomy 28:25; Deuteronomy 28:37 : “Thou shalt become a horror . . . an astonishment.” Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 25:18 : “I will make them an astonishment and a hissing,” et al.)
As ye see with your (own) eyes.—For ye behold the disastrous results of the invasions of Aram and Israel, of Edom and the Philistines, and of the appeal to Assyria (2 Chronicles 28:0).
(9) For.—And. (See 2 Chronicles 28:5-6; 2 Chronicles 28:8; 2 Chronicles 28:17 for what is here stated.)
(10) Now it is in mine heart.—See for this phrase and construction 1 Chronicles 22:7; 1 Chronicles 28:2; 2 Chronicles 6:7.
To make a covenant with.—The preposition is for. (See Note on 2 Chronicles 21:7.)
Turn away.—Literally, return (Isaiah 5:25). “That his fierce wrath may turn away from Israel” (Numbers 25:4).
(11) My sons.—A condescending term from the king; just as my father was a term of respect (2 Kings 2:12; 2 Kings 5:13; 2 Kings 13:14).
Be not now negligent.—The Niphal form of the verb shalah (“to be at ease”) occurs nowhere else. The margin is incorrect.
The Lord hath chosen you.—You hath the Lord chosen. The pronoun is emphatic. (Comp. the similar words: 1 Chronicles 23:13; Deuteronomy 10:8.)
To stand before him, (in order) to serve him, is the construction.
And that ye should minister.—Literally, And to become to him ministers and thurifers.
The thoughts and the style of the royal address make it evident enough that it is a free composition, in the well-known manner of ancient historians.
(12) Mahath the son of Amasai.—The verse enumerates two members of each of the three great Levitical subtribes—Kohath, Merari, and Gershon. Mahath and Eden recur (2 Chronicles 31:13; 2 Chronicles 31:15). Kish ben Abdi and Joah ben Zimmah occurred (1 Chronicles 6:21; 1 Chronicles 6:44). They appear to be family rather than personal names.
(12-14) The names of the Levites who received the royal charge.
(13) The sons of Elizaphan.—Or, Elzaphan, ben Uzziel ben Kohath (Exodus 6:18), who was prince of the bnê Kohath in the time of Moses (Numbers 3:30). Two of this leading house and two of the Gershonite Asaphites were also present.
(14) And of the sons of Heman.—Two Levites of each of the remaining musical guilds—the Kohathite Hemanites and the Merarite bnê Jeduthun (Ethan)—are finally named, making up, with the preceding pairs, a total of seven pairs, or fourteen principal men of the Levitical order. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 6:18-32.)
Jehiel.—Repeated (2 Chronicles 31:13).
(15) They gathered their brethren.—As chiefs, or heads of houses, they had the requisite authority. The families mostly concerned would naturally be those residing in Jerusalem.
According to the commandment of the king, by the words of the Lord—i.e., through the words of Jehovah; a mandate based on the words of Jehovah, as recorded in the written Law. Comp. 1 Chronicles 25:5, and 2 Chronicles 30:12. Also 2 Chronicles 29:25, below: “For by the hand of Jehovah was the commandment” (Note).
(16) The priests went into the inner part.—Ezekiel 41:3. The interior of the Temple proper is meant, which the Levites might not enter, but only the priests, according to the legal rule.
Brought out all the uncleanness.—Tum’ah (Leviticus 5:3; Judges 13:7). See the Note on the synonymous expression niddah (2 Chronicles 29:5).
Took.—Received it; from the hands of the priests (qibb ̓çl a late word).
Abroad.—Outside (of the Temple precincts).
Into the brook Kidron.—Rather, the Wady of Kidron (2 Kings 23:12; 2 Chronicles 15:16; 2 Chronicles 30:14).
(17) The time the work took. Beginning on the 1st of Nisan with the purification of the courts, they had cleansed them by the 8th of the month, and “came to the porch of the Lord,” i.e., to the entry of the holy place. The following eight days were spent in cleansing the two holy chambers, and by the 16th of Nisan the work of purification was done.
(18) They went in.—Heb., into the interior (pĕnîmah, “inner part” 2 Chronicles 29:16) of the palace.
Hezekiah.—Hizkiyahu. So also in 2 Chronicles 29:27; but in 2 Chronicles 29:30, Yehizkiyahu. (See Note on 2 Chronicles 29:1.)
The altar of burnt offering.—Which Ahaz appears to have superseded (2 Kings 16:14-15), besides removing it from its legal position.
And the shewbread table.—Literally, the table of the pile (of sacred cakes). Only one table is here mentioned. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 28:16; 2 Chronicles 4:8; 2 Chronicles 4:19.) The metal work of all the sacred apparatus would be greatly tarnished, if only from neglect, apart from wanton ill usage.
(19) Cast away.—The same word as “cast off” in 2 Chronicles 11:14. The vessels so treated were the brazer altar, the brazen sea, and the lavers on the stands (2 Kings 16:14; 2 Kings 16:17).
In his transgression.—Unfaithfulness, or apostasy.
Have we prepared.—Ordered aright, put to rights. (H ̓̓çkannû, i.e., hăkînônû, 1 Chronicles 29:16 here only.)
The altar of the Lord.—The brazen altar in the; court.
THE CONSECRATION SACRIFICES (2 Chronicles 29:20-30).
(20) Rose early.—Comp. Psalms 5:3 : “Early in the j morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee.”
Gathered the rulers of the city.—Hezekiah assembled the chief men of Jerusalem, because there was no time to send out a general summons to the country, as he wished to proceed at once with the sacrifices of expiation.
Went up to the house.—So 2 Kings 19:14; 2 Chronicles 9:4, and often.
(21) Seven bullocks . . . rams . . . lambs.—For a burnt offering (‘ôlah). See the legal prescriptions respecting the sin offering (Leviticus 4:0). On the present extraordinary occasion, an extraordinary sacrifice was offered. Balak and Balaam offered seven bullocks and seven rams as a burnt offering (Numbers 23:1-2, seq.).
And seven he goats, for a sin offering.—Comp. Ezra 6:17; Ezra 8:35; and Leviticus 4:23; Leviticus 4:28; also 2 Chronicles 29:23. The reigning house and the sanctuary and the people had all contracted defilement during the late period of idolatry.
The priests the sons of Aaron to offer.—In careful accordance with the rule of the Torah.
(22) Received the blood.—Caught it in bowls of sprinkling (Numbers 8:14).
And sprinkled it on the altar.—Threw it against (literally, towards) the altar (Leviticus 8:19; Leviticus 8:24).
Likewise, when.—And they slaughtered the rams . . . and they slaughtered the lambs. The three clauses of the verse are symmetrical. The repetition is a mark of the writer’s anxiety to show how carefully the legitimate ritual was observed in each instance.
Killed.—Slaughtered (shahat; σφάζω, Genesis 37:31). Specially used of slaying sacrificial victims (Leviticus 1:5).
(23) Brought forth.—Rather, brought near—viz., to the altar.
He goats.—Se ‘îrîm (“hairy ones”). A different term—çëphîrê ‘izzîm, “spring-bucks of goats”—was used in 2 Chronicles 29:21. This latter is properly an Aramean word, and only found in late Heb., se ’îrîm being the classical term.
Laid their hands upon them.—Comp. Leviticus 1:4; Leviticus 3:2; Leviticus 4:4, from which it appears that the person offering laid his hand upon the head of the victim, whether he were making a burnt offering or a thank-offering or a sin-offering.
The natural fitness of the ceremony in the case of expiatory sacrifices is obvious. “The king and the congregation” performed it, in the present instance, on behalf of the entire nation.
(24) Made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar.—Literally, made sin offering of their blood. (Comp. Leviticus 9:15.) The meaning may be seen by reference to Leviticus 4:30, seq. The priest dipped his finger in the blood of the victim and touched the horns of the altar with it, and then poured the blood at the base of the altar.
For the king commanded . . . Israel.—For for all Israel the king had commanded the burnt offering and the sin offering; or, for “For all Israel,” said the king, “is the burnt offering and the sin offering.” The expression all Israel includes the northern kingdom. (Comp. Hezekiah’s invitation to its people to attend the Passover, 2 Chronicles 30:1.)
(25) He set.—Stationed, appointed. Hezekiah restored the ancient choral worship as established by David (1 Chronicles 23:5; 1 Chronicles 23:25).
Psalteries.—Nĕbâlîm, a kind of harp; Greek, νάβλα. νάβλίον.
Harps.—Kinnôrôth. Greek, κινύρα, a sort of lyre, or cittern, or guitar.
Gad . . . Nathan.—1 Chronicles 29:29. This is the only place where the institution of the Levitical minstrelsy is ascribed to the injunctions of prophets; but the thing is probable in itself, considering that no important step, whether in civil or ecclesiastical matters, would be likely to be taken by an Israelite king without consulting the Divine will by means of the royal prophets, as we know, from the cuneiform documents, was the uniform practice with the Assyrian and Babylonian sovereigns. Moreover, prophecy was intimately connected with music. (See on 1 Chronicles 25:1.)
For so was . . .—For by the hand of Jehovah was the commandment; to wit, by the hand of his prophets. David’s command was obeyed because it was Divine, having emanated from the prophets who represented Jehovah. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 29:15, supra.)
(26) The instruments of David.—See on 1 Chronicles 23:5. The writer’s interest in the musical portion of the Temple ritual receives one more illustration in these verses.
(27) Commanded to offer the burnt offering . . . altar.—These words are repeated from 2 Chronicles 29:21, because all that comes between is descriptive of the preparations made for the due performance of the sacrifice. When the victims had been slain, flayed, and cut up, and the altar had been sprinkled with their blood, and when the Levitical musicians had taken their places, instruments in hand, everything was ready, and the sacrifice was ordered to begin. “And at the time when the burnt offering began, the song of Jehovah” (i.e., the chant of the Levites with its musical accompaniment) “began, and the clarions; and that under the lead of the instruments of David king of Israel,” i.e., the harps and lyres were dominant throughout, and the clarions subordinate to their music. Or we may render: “And that at the side of (i.e., along with) the instruments of David king of Israel.” The phrase is ‘al-yĕdê, “upon the hands.” (Comp. 1 Chronicles 25:2-3; 1 Chronicles 25:6.) The LXX. omits the needless “and that” (wĕ); the Syriac renders: “And when the burnt offerings began to be offered, Hezekiah began to chant the praises of the Lord, as from the mouth of David king of Israel.” The Vulgate also is very free.
(28) Worshipped.—Were worshipping. LXX. προσεκύνει.
The singers.—Heb., the song. So we might say “the music was playing;” or even “the song was singing,” i.e., being sung.
The trumpeters sounded.—And the clarions were blowing (literally, clarioning). The participle is masculine, although the noun is properly feminine, because here the word “clarions” really stands for the clarion-players. So in modern orchestras they speak of “the violins,” or “the ‘cellos,” meaning the players on those instruments.
And all this.—Literally, the whole, until the burnt offering was finished.
This passage is highly interesting for the light it throws upon the mode in which the worship of the second Temple was conducted in the fourth century B.C., the probable age of the chronicler; and no doubt also in the times here treated of, for the Temple ritual would naturally be a matter of immemorial tradition. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 7:5-6.)
(29) Of offering.—Scil., the burnt offering, as the verb implies.
Bowed themselves.—Rather, bowed the knee (kara’). (Isaiah 45:23; 1 Kings 19:18.)
(30) With the words of David, and of Asaph.—Heb., in the words. This appears to mean that the singing (2 Chronicles 29:28) consisted in chanting Davidic and Asaphite psalms, and it is usually so explained. But the expression “in the words of David and of Asaph” may be compared with “in the words of Jehovah,” 2 Chronicles 29:15, and “in the command of David and Gad the king’s seer,” 2 Chronicles 29:25; and so may be understood to assert merely that the singing was in accordance with the arrangements of David and Asaph. (1 Chronicles 25:1-2; 1 Chronicles 25:9.)
Asaph the seer.—So Heman is called (1 Chronicles 25:5); and Jeduthun (2 Chronicles 25:15).
With gladness.—Literally, unto exultation—i.e., rapturously.
And they bowed their heads.—When the song was ended (2 Chronicles 29:29).
THE CONSECRATION COMPLETED BY ADDITIONAL SACRIFICES
(2 Chronicles 29:31-36).
(31) Answered and said.—See 1 Chronicles 12:17. The phrase is used as we should use it in Exodus 4:1; 2 Kings 7:13.
Ye have consecrated . . .—Literally, ye have filled your hand for Jehovah, a phrase used of the consecration of priests (Leviticus 7:37). Here it is addressed to the whole assembly, as the following words prove (unless the text be unsound). The congregation, as well as the sacerdotal order, had consecrated themselves anew to Jehovah, by their presence and participation in the previous solemnities. Others suppose that these words are spoken to the priests only, and that then the king turns to the congregation with the words “Come near,” &c. (There should be a semicolon after “the Lord.”)
Sacrifices and thank offerings (zebahîn we thôdôth).—The first word means “thank-offerings” ( = zébahîm shelamîm); the second, a peculiar species of thank-offering, apparently accompanied by a special kind of psalms called tôdôth (“thanksgivings”). “Sacrifices and thank-offerings” therefore means “sacrifices, that is, thank-offerings.” (See Leviticus 7:12; Leviticus 7:16, for the three kinds of thank-offerings.)
As many as were of a free heart.—Literally, Every free-hearted one (1 Chronicles 29:6; 1 Chronicles 29:9).
Burnt offerings were a token of greater self-denial and disinterestedness than thank-offerings, because they were wholly consumed on the altar, whereas the worshippers feasted upon the latter.
(33) The consecrated things.—That is, the victims for the thank-offerings. (2 Chronicles 35:13.)
(34) Flay all the burnt offerings.—In private offerings this was done by the worshipper himself (Leviticus 1:6). In national sacrifices it appears to have been the duty of the priests.
Did help them.—See margin; and Ezra 6:22.
Until the other priests had sanctified.—Began to sanctify themselves, as a body.
For the Levites . . . in heart.—The priests, as a class, were probably more deeply involved in the corruption of the last reign.
(35) And also the burnt offerings were in abundance.—Another reason why the Levites helped the priests: the latter were so much occupied with the actual service of the altar.
The fat of the peace (thank) offerings—which had to be burned upon the burnt offerings (Leviticus 3:5; Leviticus 6:5).
And the drink offerings.—Numbers 15:1-16.
(36) And Hezekiah rejoiced.—So of David and his people (1 Chronicles 29:9; 1 Chronicles 29:22). (Comp. also 2 Chronicles 7:10.)
That God had prepared.—In the Hebrew the article is used instead of the relative: a construction characteristic of the chronicler (1 Chronicles 26:28). Render: “And Hezekiah rejoiced . . . over that which God had set in order for the people,” viz., the long-suspended ordinances of the Temple worship (1 Chronicles 12:39; 1 Chronicles 15:1). Perhaps, however, lâ‘âm, “for the people,” is the mere accusative after the verb, and the sense is “rejoiced because God had prepared the people” (2 Samuel 3:30).
For the thing . . . suddenly.—Literally, for on a sudden happened the matter. “On a sudden,” be-pith’om, here only; elsewhere simply pith’om. Comp. the synonymous règa’ and be-règa’ (Psalms 6:10; Job 21:13). The hand of God was seen in the speed with which the revolution was effected, and the sudden turn of the princes and people from indifference to glad alacrity. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 30:12.)
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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 29". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany