Hezekiah's good reign, 2 Chronicles 29:1, 2 Chronicles 29:2. He opens and repairs the doors of the temple, 2 Chronicles 29:3. He assembles and exhorts the priests and Levites, and proposes to renew the covenant with the Lord, 2 Chronicles 29:4-11. They all sanctify themselves and cleanse the temple, 2 Chronicles 29:12-17. They inform the king of their progress, 2 Chronicles 29:18, 2 Chronicles 29:19. He collects the rulers of the people: and they offer abundance of sin-offerings, and burnt-offerings, and worship the Lord, 2 Chronicles 29:20-30. Every part of the Divine service is arranged, and Hezekiah and all the people rejoice, 2 Chronicles 29:31-36.
Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done.He did that which was right - See the note on 2 Kings 18:3.
He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them.
And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street,
And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.
For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the LORD, and turned their backs.
Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel.
Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes.He hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment - He probably refers here chiefly to that dreadful defeat by the Israelites in which a hundred and twenty thousand were slain, and two hundred thousand taken prisoners; see the preceding chapter, 2 Chronicles 28:6-8 (note).
For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this.
Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us.To make a covenant - To renew the covenant under which the whole people were constantly considered, and of which circumcision was the sign; and the spirit of which was, I will be your God: Ye shall be my people.
My sons, be not now negligent: for the LORD hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense.
Then the Levites arose, Mahath the son of Amasai, and Joel the son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites: and of the sons of Merari, Kish the son of Abdi, and Azariah the son of Jehalelel: and of the Gershonites; Joah the son of Zimmah, and Eden the son of Joah:
And of the sons of Elizaphan; Shimri, and Jeiel: and of the sons of Asaph; Zechariah, and Mattaniah:
And of the sons of Heman; Jehiel, and Shimei: and of the sons of Jeduthun; Shemaiah, and Uzziel.
And they gathered their brethren, and sanctified themselves, and came, according to the commandment of the king, by the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD.
And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the LORD into the court of the house of the LORD. And the Levites took it, to carry it out abroad into the brook Kidron.And the priests went - The priests and Levites cleansed first the courts both of the priests and of the people. On this labor they spent eight days. Then they cleansed the interior of the temple; but as the Levites had no right to enter the temple, the priests carried all the dirt and rubbish to the porch, whence they were collected by the Levites, carried away, and cast into the brook Kidron; in this work eight days more were occupied, and thus the temple was purified in sixteen days.
Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify, and on the eighth day of the month came they to the porch of the LORD: so they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days; and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end.On the first day - "They began on the first day of the first month Nisan." - Targum.
Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, We have cleansed all the house of the LORD, and the altar of burnt offering, with all the vessels thereof, and the shewbread table, with all the vessels thereof.
Moreover all the vessels, which king Ahaz in his reign did cast away in his transgression, have we prepared and sanctified, and, behold, they are before the altar of the LORD.All the vessels, which King Ahaz - The Targum says, "All the vessels which King Ahaz had polluted and rendered abominable by strange idols, when he reigned in his transgression against the Word of the Lord, we have collected and hidden; and others have we prepared to replace them; and they are now before the Lord."
Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD.
And they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven he goats, for a sin offering for the kingdom, and for the sanctuary, and for Judah. And he commanded the priests the sons of Aaron to offer them on the altar of the LORD.They brought seven bullocks, etc. - This was more than the law required; see Leviticus 4:13, etc. It ordered one calf or ox for the sins of the people, and one he-goat for the sins of the prince; but Hezekiah here offers many more. And the reason appears sufficiently evident: the law speaks only of sins of ignorance; but here were sins of every kind and every die - idolatry, apostasy from the Divine worship, profanation of the temple, etc., etc. The sin-offerings, we are informed, were offered, first for the Kingdom - for the transgressions of the king and his family; secondly, for the Sanctuary, which had been defiled and polluted, and for the priests who had been profane, negligent, and unholy; and, finally, for Judah - for the whole mass of the people, who had been led away into every kind of abomination by the above examples.
So they killed the bullocks, and the priests received the blood, and sprinkled it on the altar: likewise, when they had killed the rams, they sprinkled the blood upon the altar: they killed also the lambs, and they sprinkled the blood upon the altar.
And they brought forth the he goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them:They laid their hands upon them - That is, they confessed their sin; and as they had by their transgression forfeited their lives, they now offer these animals to die as vicarious offerings, their life being taken for the life of their owners.
And the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel: for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel.
And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets.With cymbals, with psalteries - Moses had not appointed any musical instruments to be used in the divine worship; there was nothing of the kind under the first tabernacle. The trumpets or horns then used were not for song nor for praise, but as we use bells, i.e., to give notice to the congregation of what they were called to perform, etc. But David did certainly introduce many instruments of music into God's worship, for which we have already seen he was solemnly reproved by the prophet Amos, Amos 6:1-6. Here, however, the author of this book states he had the commandment of the prophet Nathan, and Gad the king's seer; and this is stated to have been the commandment of the Lord by his prophets: but the Syriac and Arabic give this a different turn - "Hezekiah appointed the Levites in the house of the Lord, with instruments of music, and the sound of harps, and with the Hymns of David, and the Hymns of Gad, the king's prophet, and of Nathan, the king's prophet: for David sang the praises of the Lord his God, as from the mouth of the prophets." It was by the hand or commandment of the Lord and his prophets that the Levites should praise the Lord; for so the Hebrew text may be understood: and it was by the order of David that so many instruments of music should be introduced into the Divine service. But were it even evident, which it is not, either from this or any other place in the sacred writings, that instruments of music were prescribed by Divine authority under the law, could this be adduced with any semblance of reason, that they ought to be used in Christian worship? No: the whole spirit, soul, and genius of the Christian religion are against this: and those who know the Church of God best, and what constitutes its genuine spiritual state, know that these things have been introduced as a substitute for the life and power of religion; and that where they prevail most, there is least of the power of Christianity. Away with such portentous baubles from the worship of that infinite Spirit who requires his followers to worship him in spirit and in truth, for to no such worship are those instruments friendly. See the use of the trumpets in the sanctuary, Numbers 10:2 (note), etc., and the notes there.
And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.
And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel.
And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.
And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped.
Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.
Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings.
And the number of the burnt offerings, which the congregation brought, was threescore and ten bullocks, an hundred rams, and two hundred lambs: all these were for a burnt offering to the LORD.
And the consecrated things were six hundred oxen and three thousand sheep.
But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings: wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them, till the work was ended, and until the other priests had sanctified themselves: for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests.They could not flay all the burnt-offerings - Peace-offerings, and such like, the Levites might flay and dress; but the whole burnt-offerings, that is, those which were entirely consumed on the altar, could be touched only by the priests, unless in a case of necessity, such as is mentioned here.
The Levites were more upright in heart - The priests seem to have been very backward in this good work; the Levites were more ready to help forward this glorious reformation. Why the former should have been so backward is not easy to tell; but it appears to have been the fact. Indeed, it often happens that the higher orders of the priesthood are less concerned for the prosperity of true religion than the lower. Why is this? They are generally too busy about worldly things, or too much satisfied with secular emoluments. A rich priesthood is not favorable either to the spread or depth of religion. Earthly gratifications are often put in the place of Divine influences: it is almost a miracle to see a very rich man deeply interested in behalf either of his own soul, or the souls of others.
And also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings, and the drink offerings for every burnt offering. So the service of the house of the LORD was set in order.
And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly.And Hezekiah rejoiced - Both he and the people rejoiced that God had prepared their hearts to bring about so great a reformation in so short a time; for, it is added, the thing was done suddenly. The king's example and influence were here, under God, the grand spring of all those mighty and effectual movements. What amazing power and influence has God lodged with kings! They can sway a whole empire nearly as they please; and when they declare themselves in behalf of religion, they have the people uniformly on their side. Kings, on this very ground, are no indifferent beings; they must be either a great curse or a great blessing to the people whom they govern.