The Reign of Hezekiah - 2 Chronicles 29-32
Hezekiah, the pious son of the godless Ahaz, recognised that it was to be the business of his reign to bring the kingdom out of the utterly ruinous condition into which Ahaz had brought it by his idolatry and his heathen policy, and to elevate the state again, both in respect to religion and morals, and also in political affairs. He consequently endeavoured, in the first place, to do away with the idolatry, and to restore the Jahve-worship according to the law, and then to throw off the yoke of subjection to the Assyrian. These two undertakings, on the success of which God bestowed His blessing, form the contents of the history of his reign both in the books of Kings and in the Chronicle; but they are differently treated by the authors of these books. In the book of Kings, the extirpation of idolatry, and Hezekiah's faithfulness in cleaving to the Lord his God, are very briefly recorded (2 Kings 17:3-7); while the throwing off of the Assyrian yoke, which brought on Sennacherib's invasion, and ended with the destruction of the Assyrian army before Jerusalem, and the further results of that memorable event (the sickness and recovery of Hezekiah, the arrival of a Babylonian embassy in Jerusalem, and Hezekiah's reception of them), are very fully narrated in 2 Kings 18:8-20:19. The author of the Chronicle, on the contrary, enlarges upon Hezekiah's reform of the cultus, the purification of the temple from all idolatrous abominations, the restoration of the Jahve-worship, and a solemn celebration of the passover, to which the king invited not only his own subjects, but also the remainder of the ten tribes (2 Chron 29-31); and gives merely a brief summary of the chief points in Sennacherib's invasion, and the events connected with it (2 Chron 32).
The beginning of his reign (2 Chronicles 29:1, 2 Chronicles 29:2). Purification and consecration of the temple (vv. 3-36). - 2 Chronicles 29:1 and 2 Chronicles 29:2. Age of Hezekiah, duration and spirit of his reign, as in 2 Kings 18:1-3. With 2 Chronicles 29:3 the account of the restoration of the Jahve-worship begins. In the first year of his reign, in the first month, Hezekiah caused the temple doors to be opened, and the priests and Levites to assemble, in order that he might rouse them by an energetic address to purify the house of God from all the uncleannesses of idolatry (2 Chronicles 29:3-11). They, vigorously commencing the work, completed the purification of the temple with its courts and vessels in sixteen days, and reported to the king what had been done (2 Chronicles 29:12-19); and then the king and the chiefs of the city offered a great sacrifice to consecrate the purified sanctuary, upon which followed burnt-offerings, and sacrifices, and thankofferings of the whole assembly (vv. 20-36).
The purification of the temple by the priests and Levites . - 2 Chronicles 29:3. In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he caused the doors of the house of Jahve to be opened and repaired ( הזּק as in 2 Chronicles 24:12, where it alternates with הדּשׁ ). Cf. herewith the remark in 2 Kings 18:16, that Hezekiah caused the doors of the היכל to be covered with leaf-gold. The date, in the first month, in the first year of his reign, is variously interpreted. As the Levites, according to 2 Chronicles 29:17, began the purification on the first day of the first month, in eight days had reached the porch, and on the sixteenth day of the first month had completed the work, while the king had, according to 2 Chronicles 29:4, before called upon the priests and Levites to sanctify themselves for the work, and those summoned then assembled their brethren for this purpose, and after they had consecrated themselves, began the cleansing (2 Chronicles 29:15), it would seem as if the summons of the king and the calling together of the remaining Levites had occurred before the first day of the first month, when they began the purification of the house of God. On that account Caspari ( Beiträge z. Einleit. in d. B. Jesaiah, S. 111) thinks that the first month (2 Chronicles 29:3) is not the first month of the year (Nisan), but the first month of the reign of Hezekiah, who probably became king shortly before Nisan, towards the end of the year. But it is not at all likely that הראשׁון החדר is used in a different sense in 2 Chronicles 29:3 from that in which it is used in 2 Chronicles 29:17. We therefore hold, with Berth. and others, the first month, both in 2 Chronicles 29:3 and in 2 Chronicles 29:17, to be the first month of the ecclesiastical year Nisan, without, however, accepting the supposition of Gumpach and Bertheau that the years of Hezekiah's reign began with the first of Tishri, for for that way of reckoning there are no certain data in the historical books of the Old Testament. The statement, “in the first year of his reign, in the first month” (not in the first year, in the first month of his reign), is sufficiently explained if Hezekiah ascended the throne in one of the last months of the calendar year, which began with Nisan. In that case, on the first of Nisan of the new year, so few months, or perhaps only weeks, would have elapsed since his accession, that what he did in Nisan could not rightly have been dated otherwise than “in the first year of his reign.” The other difficulty, that the purification of the temple began on the first day of the first month (2 Chronicles 29:7), while the preparations for it which preceded were yet, according to 2 Chronicles 29:3, made also in the first month, is removed if we take 2 Chronicles 29:3 to be a comprehensive summary of what is described in the following verses, and regard the connection between 2 Chronicles 29:3 and 2 Chronicles 29:4. as only logical, not chronological, the ו consec. ( ויּבא ) expressing, not succession in time, but connection in thought. The opening of the doors of the house of God, and the repairing of them (2 Chronicles 29:3), did not precede in time the summons to the priests (2 Chronicles 29:4), but is placed at the commencement of the account of the reopening and restoration of the temple as a contrast to the closing and devastation of the sanctuary by Ahaz. Hezekiah commenced this work in the first year of his reign, in the first month of the calendar year, and accomplished it as is described in 2 Chronicles 29:4-17. If we take 2 Chronicles 29:3 as a statement of the contents of the succeeding section, - as are e.g., (1 Kings 6:14; 1 Kings 7:1) the statements, “he built the house, and completed it,” where in both passages the completion of the building is described only in the succeeding verses, - we need not confine the preparations spoken of in 2 Chronicles 29:4-15 to the first day of the first month, but may quite well suppose that these preparations preceded the first day of the month, and that only the accomplishment of that which had been resolved upon and commanded by the king fell in the first month, as is more accurately stated in 2 Chronicles 29:17.
2 Chronicles 29:4-6
Hezekiah gathered the priests and Levites together “into the open space of the east,” i.e., in the eastern open space before the temple, not “in the inner court” (Berth.), - see on Ezra 10:9 -and called upon them (2 Chronicles 29:5) to sanctify themselves, and then to sanctify the house of the Lord. To purify the temple they must first sanctify themselves (cf. 2 Chronicles 29:15), in order to proceed to the work of sanctifying the house of God in a state of Levitical purity. The work was to remove all that was unclean from the sanctuary. הנּדּה is Levitical uncleanness, for which in 2 Chronicles 29:16 we have הטּמאה ; here the abominations of idolatry. The king gave the reason of his summons in a reference to the devastation which Ahaz and his contemporaries had wrought in the house of God (2 Chronicles 29:6, 2 Chronicles 29:7), and to the wrath of God which had on that account come upon them (2 Chronicles 29:8, 2 Chronicles 29:9). “Our fathers” (2 Chronicles 29:6), that is, Ahaz and his contemporaries, for only these had been guilty of displeasing God in the ways mentioned in 2 Chronicles 29:6 and 2 Chronicles 29:7, “have turned away their face from the dwelling of Jahve, and turned their back (upon it).” These words are a symbolical expression for: they have ceased to worship Jahve in His temple, and exchanged it for idolatry.
2 Chronicles 29:7
Even ( גּם ) the doors of the porch have they shut, and caused the service in the sanctuary, the lighting of the lamps, and the sacrifices of incense, to cease; see on 2 Chronicles 28:24. The words, “and they brought not burnt-offerings in the sanctuary to the God of Israel,” do not imply the complete cessation of the legal sacrificial worship, but only that no burnt-offerings were brought to the God of Israel. Sacrifices offered upon the altar of burnt-offering built after a heathen pattern by Ahaz were not, in the eyes of the author of the Chronicle, sacrifices which were offered to the God of Israel; and it is also possible that even this sacrificial worship may have more and more decayed. קדשׁ, 2 Chronicles 29:7, is the whole sanctuary, with the court of the priests.
2 Chronicles 29:8-9
Wherefore the wrath of the Lord came upon Judah and Jerusalem. Cf. for the expression, 2 Chronicles 24:18; 2 Chronicles 32:25; on 2 Chronicles 29:8, cf. Deuteronomy 28:25, Deuteronomy 28:37; Jeremiah 24:9; Jeremiah 25:9, etc. “As ye see with your eyes.” The shameful defeats which Judah had sustained under Ahaz from the Syrians, Ephraimites, Philistines, and Edomites, and the oppression by the Syrian king (2 Chronicles 28:5., 2 Chronicles 28:17-21), are here referred to, as we learn from 2 Chronicles 29:9.
2 Chronicles 29:10-11
To turn away this anger of God, Hezekiah wishes to make a covenant with the Lord, i.e., to renew the covenant with Jahve by restoring His worship ( לבבי עם as in 2 Chronicles 6:7; 2 Chronicles 9:1; 1 Chronicles 28:2, etc.), and therefore calls upon the Levites not to neglect the performance of their duty. בּני he calls the Levites, addressing them in kindly language; cf. Proverbs 1:8, etc. תּשּׁלוּ in Niph. occurs only here, and denotes to avoid a thing from carelessness or laziness, - from שׁלה, to draw forth; Job 27:8. On 2 Chronicles 29:11, cf. Deuteronomy 10:8; 1 Chronicles 23:13.
2 Chronicles 29:12-14
This address was heard with gladness. The Levites present assembled their brethren, and set to work, after they had all sanctified themselves, to purify the temple. In 2 Chronicles 29:12-14 fourteen names are mentioned as those of the audience, viz.: two Levites of each of the great families of Kohath, Merari, and Gershon; two of the family of Elizaphan, i.e., Elzaphan the son of Uzziel, the son of Kohath, Exodus 6:18, who in the time of Moses was prince of the family of Kohath, Numbers 3:30; and then two Levites of the descendants of Asaph (of the family of Gershon); two of Heman's descendants (of the family of Kohath); and two of Jeduthun's (of the family of Merari): see on 1 Chronicles 6:18-32. Of these names, Mahath, Eden, and Jehiel occur again in 2 Chronicles 31:13-15; several others, Joah ben Zimmah and Kish ben Abdi, have occurred already in the genealogy, 1 Chronicles 6:5. and 2 Chronicles 29:29, for in the various families the same name often repeats itself.
2 Chronicles 29:15
These fourteen heads of the various families and branches of Levi assembled their brethren (the other Levites who dwelt in Jerusalem); then they all sanctified themselves, and went forward, according to the command of the king, with the work of cleansing the temple. יהוה בּדברי belongs to הם כּמצות, according to the command of the king, which was founded upon the words of Jahve, i.e., upon the commands of Moses' law; cf. 2 Chronicles 30:12.
2 Chronicles 29:16
The priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord (into the holy place, probably also into the most holy place) to cleanse it, and removed all the uncleanness which was there into the court, whence the Levites carried it out into the valley of the brook Kidron ( חוּצה, out of the precincts of the temple). The Levites were forbidden by the law to enter the holy place, and this command was strictly observed. Of what nature the uncleannesses were which the priests found in the holy place ( היכל ) cannot be accurately ascertained. Owing to the prevalence of idolatry under Ahaz, vessels, e.g., sacrificial bowls, which were used in the worship, may have come into the holy place; and besides, all vessels of the holy place would require to be cleaned, and their filth removed. The closing of the temple doors (2 Chronicles 28:24) occurred only in the last year of Ahaz, while idolatry had been practised from the beginning of his reign. On the Kidron, see on 2 Kings 23:4.
2 Chronicles 29:17
The duration of the purification. On the first day of the first month they commenced with the purification of the courts; on the eighth day of the same month they came to the porch of Jahve, and with it began the purification of the temple building. This lasted eight days more, so that the work was finished on the sixteenth day of the first month.
2 Chronicles 29:18-19
At the end of this business they made their report to the king. “All the vessels which King Ahaz had thrown away, i.e., made worthy of rejection,” are the copper altar of burnt-offering, the brazen sea, and the lavers upon the bases (2 Kings 16:14, 2 Kings 16:17). הכנּוּ, we have prepared, is a shorter form of הכיונוּ ; cf. Gesen. Gramm . §72. 5, and J. Olshausen, hebr. Grammat . S. 565. The altar of Jahve is the altar of burnt-offering; cf. 2 Chronicles 29:21.
The re-dedication of the temple by offering sacrifices . - 2 Chronicles 29:20. Probably on the very next morning Hezekiah went with the princes (heads) of the city into the house of the Lord, and brought seven bullocks, seven rams, and seven lambs for a burnt-offering, and seven he-goats for a sin-offering, “for the kingdom, for the sanctuary, and for Judah,” i.e., as expiation for and consecration of the kingdom, sanctuary, and people. These sacrifices were offered by the priests according to the prescription of the law of Moses, 2 Chronicles 29:22-24. The burnt-offerings are first named, as in the sacrificial Torah in Lev 1-6, although the offering of the sin-offering preceded that of the burnt-offering. The laying on of hands, too, is mentioned only with the sin-offering, 2 Chronicles 29:23, although according to Leviticus 1:4 the same ceremony was gone through with the burnt-offerings; but that is not because a confession of sin was probably made during the laying on of hands, as Bertheau conjectures, adducing Leviticus 16:21, for from that passage no such conclusion can be drawn. The ceremony is mentioned only in the one case to emphasize the fact that the king and the assembly (the latter, of course, by their representatives) laid their hands upon the sacrificial beasts, because the atonement was, according to the king's words, to be for all Israel. “All Israel” are probably not only all the inhabitants of the kingdom of Judah, but Israelites in general (the twelve tribes), for whom the temple in Jerusalem was the only lawful sanctuary. דּם את חטּא signifies to bring the blood to the altar for an atonement, in the manner prescribed in Leviticus 4:30, Leviticus 4:34.
Hezekiah, moreover, restored again the music with which the Levites were wont to accompany the sacrificial act, and which David, with the prophets Gad and Nathan, had arranged. The ו consec . with ויּעמד expresses the secution of thought, and 2 Chronicles 29:25 corresponds to the 2 Chronicles 29:21. First, the beasts to be sacrificed were prepared for the sacrifice, and then to the Levites was committed the performance of instrumental and vocal music during the sacrificial act. In reference to the musical instruments, see on 1 Chronicles 15:16. The Levites were appointed to sing, “according to the command of David;” but this command was בּיד, by interposition of Jahve, viz., given by His prophets. David had consequently made this arrangement at the divine suggestion, coming to him through the prophets. With המּלך הזה cf. 1 Chronicles 21:9. נביאיו בּיד is in explanatory apposition to יהוה בּיד, and נביאיו is not to be referred to David, although David is called in 2 Chronicles 8:14 “man of God.”
דויד כּלי are the musical instruments the use of which David introduced into the public worship; see 1 Chronicles 23:5. - The first clause, 2 Chronicles 29:27, “And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt-offering upon the altar,” is repeated from 2 Chronicles 29:21 to form a connection for what follows: “At the time when the sacrificial act began, the song of Jahve commenced,” i.e., the praising of Jahve by song and instrumental music ( יהוה שׁיר = ליהוה שׁיר, 1 Chronicles 25:7), and (the blowing) of trumpets, “and that under the leading ( ידי על ) of the instruments of David.” This is to be understood as denoting that the blowing of the trumpets regulated itself by the playing of the stringed instruments-suited itself to the song and the music of the stringed instruments.
During the offering of the burnt-offering, until it was ended, the whole congregation stood worshipping; and the song of the Levites, accompanied by the music of the stringed instruments and the trumpet-blowing of the priests, continued. משׁורר השּׁיר, “the song was singing,” stands for “the body of singers sang;” and the trumpets also stand for the trumpeters.
At the conclusion of the sacrificial act ( להעלות is a contraction for העולה להעלות, 2 Chronicles 29:27) the king and all who were present knelt and worshipped.
The king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the Lord with the words (psalms) of David and of Asaph; and they sang praise with joy, and bowed themselves and worshipped. This verse does not mean that the Levites began to sing psalms at the king's command only after the sacrificial act and the instrumental music (2 Chronicles 29:27.) had been finished, but it forms a comprehensive conclusion of the description of the sacrificial solemnities. The author of the Chronicle considered it necessary to make express mention of the praising of God in psalms, already implicite involved in the משׁורר השּׁיר, 2 Chronicles 29:28, and to remark that the Levites also, at the conclusion of the song of praise, knelt and worshipped. Asaph is here called חזה, as Jeduthun (Ethan) is in 2 Chronicles 35:15, and Heman, 1 Chronicles 25:5.
The sacrifice of thank-offerings and praise-offerings and voluntary burnt-offering . - Hezekiah introduces this, the concluding act of this religious festival, with the words, “Now have ye filled your hand to the Lord,” i.e., you have again consecrated yourselves to the service of the Lord (cf. Exodus 32:29 and the commentary on Leviticus 7:37.); “come near, and bring sacrifices and thank-offerings into the house of the Lord.” The words “Now have ye filled” are regarded by the commentators (Clericus, Ramb., Bertheau, etc.) as addressed to the priests; while the following וגו גּשׁוּ are supposed to be directed to the congregation, and Clericus and Ramb. consequently supply before גּשׁוּ, vos vero , Israelitae . The summons והביאוּ גּשׁוּ can certainly only be addressed to the congregation, as is shown by the words הקּהל ויּביאוּ, and the congregation brought, which correspond to the summons. But the supplying of vos vero before גּשׁוּ is quite arbitrary. If in גּשׁוּ other persons are addressed than those to whom the king formerly said, “Now have ye filled your hands,” the change in the persons addressed would have been intimated by mention of the person, or at least by ואתּם, “but ye.” As the two clauses at present stand, they must be spoken to the same persons, viz., the whole assembled congregation, including the priests and Levites. We must therefore suppose that the phrase לי יד מלּא, which in its narrower sense denotes only the consecration of the priests for service at the altar (see on Leviticus 7:37), is here used in a wider sense, and transferred to the whole congregation. They, by their participation in the consecratory offerings, by laying on of hands and worship during the sacrificial act, had consecrated themselves anew to the service of the Lord as their God, and had anew made a covenant with the Lord (2 Chronicles 29:10); so that only the sacrificial meal was wanting to the completion of this celebration of the covenant, and for this the offering of sacrifices was requisite. The collocation ותודות זבהים is strange. זבהים are שׁלמים זבהים, sacrifices of peace-offering, also called briefly שׁלמים . Of these, in the law, three species - praise-offerings ( תּודות ), vowed offerings, and voluntary offerings - are distinguished (Leviticus 7:11, Leviticus 7:16). תּודות therefore denotes a species of the sacrifices or peace-offerings, the praise or thank-offerings in the stricter sense; and ותודות must be taken as explicative: sacrifices, and that (or namely) praise-offerings. לב וכל־נדיב, and every one who was heartily willing, (brought) burnt-offerings; i.e., all who felt inwardly impelled to do so, brought of their own accord burnt-offerings.
2 Chronicles 29:32
The number of the burnt-offerings brought spontaneously by the congregation was very large: 70 bullocks, 100 rams, and 200 lambs.
2 Chronicles 29:33-34
והקּדשׁים, and the consecrated, i.e., the beasts brought as thank-offering (cf. 2 Chronicles 35:13; Nehemiah 10:34), were 600 bullocks and 3000 small cattle (sheep and goats). - In 2 Chronicles 29:34-36 the account closes with some remarks upon these sacrifices and the festal solemnity. 2 Chronicles 29:34. But there were too few priests, and they were not able (so that they were not able) to flay all the burnt-offerings; and their brethren the Levites helped them till the work was ended (i.e., the flaying), and until the priests had sanctified themselves. In the case of private burnt-offerings the flaying of the beast was the business of the sacrificer (Leviticus 1:6); while in the case of those offered on solemn occasions in the name of the congregation it was the priest's duty, and in it, as the work was not of a specifically priestly character, the Levites might assist. The burnt-offerings which are spoken of in 2 Chronicles 29:34 are not merely those voluntarily offered (2 Chronicles 29:34), but also the consecratory burnt-offerings (2 Chronicles 29:22, 2 Chronicles 29:27). Only 2 Chronicles 29:35 refers to the voluntary offerings alone. “For the Levites had been more upright to sanctify themselves than the priests.” לב ישׁרי, rectiores animo , had endeavoured more honestly. Perhaps the priests had taken more part in the idolatrous worship of Ahaz than the Levites, which would be quite accounted for, as Kueper, das Priesterth. des A. Bundes (1870), S. 216, remarks, by their relation to the court of the king, and their dependence upon it. They consequently showed themselves more slack even in the purification than the Levites, who forte etiam idololatricis sacris minus contaminati et impediti erant (Ramb.).
2 Chronicles 29:35
2 Chronicles 29:35 gives yet another reason why the Levites had to help the priests: “And also the burnt-offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace-offerings, and the drink-offerings for every burnt-offering.” The priests could not accomplish the flaying for this reason also, that they had, besides, to see to the proper altar service (sprinkling of the blood, and burning of the sacrifices upon the altar), which taxed their strength, since, besides the consecratory burnt-offerings, there were the voluntary burnt-offerings (2 Chronicles 29:31), which were offered along with the thank-offerings and the drink-offerings, which belonged to the burnt-offerings of Numbers 15:1-15. Thus the service of the house of Jahve was arranged. עבודה is not the purification and dedication of the temple (Berth.), but only the sacrificial service, or rather all that concerned the regular temple worship, which had decayed under Ahaz, and had at length wholly ceased.
2 Chronicles 29:36
Hezekiah and the whole people rejoiced because of it. ההכין על, over that which God had prepared for the people (by the purification of the temple and the restoration of the Jahve worship), not “because God had made the people ready” (Ramb., Berth.). The article with הכין represents the relative pronoun אשׁר ; see on 1 Chronicles 26:28. The joy was heightened by the fact that the thing was done suddenly.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 29". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany