Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities.2 Chronicles 31:1. In Ephraim and Manasseh also — Though these tribes were a part of Hoshea’s kingdom, yet Hezekiah might direct this abolition of idolatry in them, either in virtue of the law of God, to which both Israel and Judah owed subjection, and which commanded the extirpation of these things, out of the whole land of Canaan; or by the special impulse and direction of God’s Spirit, which puts men upon heroic and extraordinary actions, though not to be drawn into imitation; or out of a firm persuasion that his neighbour Hoshea, who had permitted his subjects to repair to the passover, would consent to, and approve of, what he did in this respect.
And Hezekiah appointed the courses of the priests and the Levites after their courses, every man according to his service, the priests and Levites for burnt offerings and for peace offerings, to minister, and to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the tents of the LORD.2 Chronicles 31:2. In the gates of the tents of the Lord — That is, within the gates of the house of the Lord: which is here called tents, either because all houses are often so called, (see Jdg 19:9; Jdg 20:8; Psalm 79:25,) or because the host of the Lord, the priests and Levites, encamped there, and kept their stations and orders there by course: and perhaps also to intimate that it was shortly to be removed.
He appointed also the king's portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the LORD.2 Chronicles 31:3. The king’s portion of his substance, &c. — Which had hitherto been taken out of the treasures of the temple; but that he might ease the people in their present poverty, which his predecessor had brought upon them, and engage them to a more cheerful attendance upon God’s service, he took the burden upon himself.
Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the LORD.2 Chronicles 31:4. That they might be encouraged in the law of the Lord — Freed from worldly cares and distractions, and enabled to give up themselves entirely to the serious study of God’s law, and to the instruction, and direction, and quickening of the people.
And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly.2 Chronicles 31:5. As soon as the commandment came abroad — Either, 1st, As soon as the report of this command of the king was known abroad in other parts; or, 2d, As soon as the king had enlarged and extended that command to all the parts of his kingdom, which (2 Chronicles 31:4) was confined to them that dwelt in Jerusalem. Honey — Or dates, as the Hebrew writers generally understand the word דבשׁ, debash, in this place, a name which was given to them because of the sweetness of their taste, in some sort resembling honey. For the law requires no tithes but those of the fruits of trees, or of the earth, or of beasts.
And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the LORD their God, and laid them by heaps.2 Chronicles 31:6-7. They brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep — They not only brought in the same tithe which the dwellers in Jerusalem did, namely, of corn, and wine, and oil, &c., which they had in their own storehouses in that city, but also oxen and sheep, which were more proper to the country; for under the term cities of Judah, are comprehended the suburbs and territories belonging to them. And the tithe of holy things — That is, of all holy things, which were consecrated to the Lord — Whether by vow, or voluntary promise, or otherwise; as the tithes of gain by merchandise, or spoils of war, Genesis 14:20; Genesis 28:22; Numbers 31:28-30. And laid them by heaps — What the priests and Levites had occasion for, they made use of, and the overplus was laid in heaps. In the third month they began — Of the sacred year, in which month their harvest began. And finished them in the seventh month — In which their harvest ended, and the feast of tabernacles was kept.
In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month.
And when Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD, and his people Israel.2 Chronicles 31:8. They blessed the Lord — Both for giving such plentiful provisions to his land, and for giving his people such liberal hearts. And they praised the people for their forwardness and faithfulness in it.
Then Hezekiah questioned with the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps.2 Chronicles 31:9-10. Hezekiah questioned with the priests, &c. — How it came to pass that no more of their provision was spent, and that there remained yet such great heaps of it? The chief priest answered, Since the people began to bring the offerings — Which they did from the beginning of the harvest, according to the custom; we have had enough to eat — We have made use of all we had occasion for, for the maintenance of ourselves and families. And we have not hoarded these heaps for covetousness, but to show what plentiful provision God has made for us. For the Lord hath blessed his people — In an extraordinary degree.
And Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok answered him, and said, Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the LORD hath blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store.
Then Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD; and they prepared them,
And brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated things faithfully: over which Cononiah the Levite was ruler, and Shimei his brother was the next.
And Jehiel, and Azaziah, and Nahath, and Asahel, and Jerimoth, and Jozabad, and Eliel, and Ismachiah, and Mahath, and Benaiah, were overseers under the hand of Cononiah and Shimei his brother, at the commandment of Hezekiah the king, and Azariah the ruler of the house of God.2 Chronicles 31:13. Were overseers under Cononiah and Shimei, &c. — To dispose of those provisions by their direction, and to be accountable to them therein. Azariah the ruler of the house of God — Either the supreme ruler, the high-priest, or the chief ruler under him, and in his stead, being appointed by him to inspect the work.
And Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, the porter toward the east, was over the freewill offerings of God, to distribute the oblations of the LORD, and the most holy things.2 Chronicles 31:14-15. The porter toward the east — At the east gate of the Lord’s house; of which see 2 Chronicles 23:5. To distribute the oblations —
To the priests and Levites, to whom they were appropriated by God; and the most holy things — The remainders of the free-will-offerings, the sin- offerings, and trespass-offerings, and the show-bread; to see that all had a competent maintenance for themselves and their families. And next him were Eden, &c. — These were intrusted with receiving and distributing the several portions belonging to the priests, who abode in their several cities, while their brethren came up to Jerusalem.
And next him were Eden, and Miniamin, and Jeshua, and Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah, in the cities of the priests, in their set office, to give to their brethren by courses, as well to the great as to the small:
Beside their genealogy of males, from three years old and upward, even unto every one that entereth into the house of the LORD, his daily portion for their service in their charges according to their courses;2 Chronicles 31:16. From three years old and upward — To whom a portion of these things was allotted, as is here implied. Unto every one that entereth into the house of the Lord — That were capable of entering thither and doing service there, which they were at twenty years old, as is expressed here, 2 Chronicles 31:17, and 1 Chronicles 23:24, through the whole company of the priests and Levites.
Both to the genealogy of the priests by the house of their fathers, and the Levites from twenty years old and upward, in their charges by their courses;
And to the genealogy of all their little ones, their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, through all the congregation: for in their set office they sanctified themselves in holiness:2 Chronicles 31:18. For in their set office they sanctified themselves unto holiness — This is alleged as a reason why their wives and children were provided for out of the holy things, because they sequestered themselves from worldly affairs, by which they might otherwise have provided for their families, and entirely devoted themselves to holy administrations.
Also of the sons of Aaron the priests, which were in the fields of the suburbs of their cities, in every several city, the men that were expressed by name, to give portions to all the males among the priests, and to all that were reckoned by genealogies among the Levites.2 Chronicles 31:19. Also of the priests that were in the fields — Care was taken of those that lived in the country, though at the greatest distance, as well as of those that lived in or near Jerusalem. And they that were not waiting in their courses, but at home with their families, had provision made for them, as if they had been at the house of God, by the care of the fore-named persons, who had the charge of the whole.
And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God.2 Chronicles 31:20-21. Thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah — His pious zeal was extended through his whole kingdom; and all parts of the country, as well as those that lay next him, shared in the good fruits of his government. And wrought that which was good, and right, and truth — Whatsoever he thought was pleasing to God, conformable to the law, and profitable for his people, he performed with integrity of heart. And in every work that he began he did it with all his heart, and prospered — He prosecuted it with vigour, and brought all his good intentions to a good issue. And in all that he did in the service of the house of God, and in the government of his kingdom, he prospered. What is undertaken with a sincere and disinterested regard to the glory of God, will succeed to our own honour and comfort at last.
And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.
Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
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