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2 Chronicles 29-32 Common English Bible (CEB)

Hezekiah rules

29 Hezekiah became king when he was 25 years old, and he ruled for twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah; she was Zechariah’s daughter. He did what was right in the Lord’s eyes, just as his ancestor David had done. In the very first year of his rule, during the first month, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Lord’s temple, having repaired them. Then he brought in the priests and Levites and assembled them in the eastern square.

“Listen to me, you Levites!” he said. “Make yourselves holy so you can make holy the temple of the Lord God of your ancestors by removing from the sanctuary any impure thing. Our ancestors were unfaithful and did what was evil in the Lord our God’s eyes. They abandoned him, they ignored the Lord’s dwelling, and they defied him. They even closed the doors of the entrance hall, snuffed out the lamps, and stopped burning incense and offering entirely burned offerings in the sanctuary of the God of Israel. This angered the Lord so much that he made Judah and Jerusalem an object of terror and horror, something people hiss at, as you can see with your own eyes. That’s why our ancestors died violent deaths, while our sons, daughters, and wives were taken captive. 10 But now I intend to make a covenant with the Lord, Israel’s God, so God will no longer be angry with us. 11 Don’t be careless, my sons! The Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence to serve him, so that you can be his servants and burn incense to him.”

12 Then the following Levites got up:

from the descendants of the Kohathites: Mahath, Amasai’s son, and Joel, Azariah’s son;

from the descendants of Merari: Kish, Abdi’s son, and Azariah, Jehallelel’s son;

from the Gershonites: Joah, Zimmah’s son, and Eden, Joah’s son;

13 from the descendants of Elizaphan: Shimri and Jeuel;

from the descendants of Asaph: Zechariah and Mattaniah;

14 from the descendants of Heman: Jehuel and Shimei;

and from the descendants of Jeduthun: Shemaiah and Uzziel.

15 These men gathered their relatives, made themselves holy, and went in to purify the Lord’s temple by obeying the king’s command as the Lord had told him. 16 The priests went in to purify the inner portion of the Lord’s temple. They brought out to the courtyard of the Lord’s temple all the impurities they discovered inside. Then the Levites took them out to the Kidron Valley. 17 They began to make things holy on the first day of the first month.[a] On the eighth day of the month they reached the Lord’s entrance hall. They made holy the Lord’s temple for eight days, finishing on the sixteenth day of the first month.

18 Then they went before King Hezekiah. “We have purified the Lord’s entire temple,” they said, “and the altar for the entirely burned offering together with all its equipment, and the table for the stacks of bread together with all its equipment. 19 We have also restored and made holy all the items King Ahaz threw out during his rule in his unfaithfulness. They are now before the Lord’s altar.”

Hezekiah rededicates the temple

20 Early the next morning Hezekiah gathered the city leaders and went to the Lord’s temple. 21 They brought seven bulls, seven rams, and seven lambs, along with seven male goats, for a purification offering on behalf of the kingdom, the sanctuary, and Judah. Hezekiah ordered the priests, Aaron’s sons, to offer them up on the Lord’s altar. 22 When they slaughtered the bulls, the priests took the blood and splashed it against the altar. Next they slaughtered the rams and splashed their blood against the altar, and also slaughtered the lambs, splashing their blood against the altar as well. 23 Finally, they brought the goats for the purification offering before the king and the assembly. After laying their hands on them, 24 the priests slaughtered them and smeared the blood on the altar as a purification offering to take away the sin of all Israel, because the king had specifically ordered that the entirely burned sacrifice and the purification offering should be on behalf of all Israel. 25 Hezekiah had the Levites stand in the Lord’s temple with cymbals, harps, and zithers, just as the Lord had ordered through David, the king’s seer Gad, and the prophet Nathan. 26 While the Levites took their places holding David’s instruments, and the priests their trumpets, 27 Hezekiah ordered the entirely burned offering to be offered up on the altar. As they began to offer the entirely burned offering, the Lord’s song also began, accompanied by the trumpets and the other instruments of Israel’s King David. 28 The whole congregation worshipped with singing choirs and blaring trumpets until the end of the entirely burned offering. 29 After the entirely burned offering was complete, the king and all who were with him bowed down in worship. 30 Then King Hezekiah and the leaders ordered the Levites to praise the Lord by using the words of David and the seer Asaph. They did so joyously; then they bowed down in worship too.

31 “Now that you have dedicated yourselves to the Lord,” King Hezekiah told them, “bring sacrificial thank offerings to the Lord’s temple.” So the assembly brought sacrificial thank offerings, with some people volunteering to provide entirely burned offerings. 32 All in all, the congregation brought seventy bulls, a hundred rams, and two hundred lambs as entirely burned offerings for the Lord, 33 as well as six hundred bulls and three thousand sheep as holy offerings. 34 Unfortunately, there weren’t enough priests to skin all these entirely burned offerings. So their relatives the Levites (who had been more conscientious about preparing themselves than the priests) stepped in and helped them until the work was done or additional priests had made themselves holy. 35 In addition to the wealth of entirely burned offerings, there was the fat of the well-being sacrifices and drink offerings accompanying the entirely burned offerings. In this way, the service of the Lord’s temple was restored, 36 and Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had done for them, since it had happened so quickly.

Hezekiah’s Passover

30 Then Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh as well, inviting them to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the Lord God of Israel. The king, his officials, and the entire Jerusalem congregation had decided to celebrate Passover in the second month.[b] They had been unable to celebrate it at the usual time because the priests had failed to make themselves holy in sufficient numbers, and the people hadn’t gathered at Jerusalem. Since the plan seemed good to the king and the entire congregation, they made arrangements to circulate an announcement throughout all Israel, from Beer-sheba to Dan, to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the Lord God of Israel, because they hadn’t often kept it as written. Under the authority of the king, runners took letters from the king and his officials throughout all Israel and Judah, which read:

People of Israel! Return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that he may return to those of you who remain, who have escaped capture by the Assyrian kings. Don’t be like your ancestors and relatives, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror as you can see for yourselves. So don’t be stubborn like your ancestors. Surrender to the Lord! Come to God’s sanctuary, which he has made holy forever, and serve the Lord your God so that he won’t be angry with you any longer. When you return to the Lord, your relatives and your children will receive mercy from their captors and be allowed to return to this land. The Lord your God is merciful and compassionate. He won’t withdraw his presence from you if you return to him.

10 So the runners went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, all the way to Zebulun. But they were laughed at and made fun of. 11 Even so, some people from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun were submissive and came to Jerusalem. 12 Moreover, God’s power was at work in Judah, unifying them to do what the king and his officials had ordered by the Lord’s command.

13 A huge crowd gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread in the second month. A very large congregation gathered. 14 First, they removed the altars in Jerusalem, and hauled off the incense altars and dumped them in the Kidron Valley. 15 They slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the second month. Ashamed of themselves, the priests and the Levites made themselves holy and brought entirely burned offerings to the Lord’s temple. 16 They now took their places as laid out in the Instruction from Moses the man of God, and the priests splashed the blood they received from the Levites against the altar. 17 Since many in the congregation hadn’t made themselves holy, the Levites slaughtered the Passover lambs, making them holy to the Lord for all who weren’t ceremonially clean. 18 This included most of those who had come from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun—people who hadn’t purified themselves and so hadn’t eaten the Passover meal in the prescribed way. But Hezekiah prayed for them: “May the good Lord forgive 19 everyone who has decided to seek the true God, the Lord, the God of their ancestors, even though they aren’t ceremonially clean by sanctuary standards.” 20 The Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people. 21 So the Israelites in Jerusalem joyfully celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days, with the Levites and the priests praising the Lord every day, accompanied by the Lord’s mighty instruments. 22 Hezekiah congratulated all the Levites who had performed so skillfully for the Lord. They feasted throughout the seven days of the festival, sacrificing well-being offerings and praising the Lord, the God of their ancestors.

23 Then the whole congregation agreed to celebrate another seven days, which they joyfully did. 24 Judah’s King Hezekiah contributed one thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep for the congregation, while the officials provided another thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep, and great numbers of priests made themselves holy. 25 Then the whole congregation of Judah rejoiced, as did the priests and the Levites, the whole congregation from Israel, the immigrants who had come from the land of Israel, and those who lived in Judah. 26 There was great joy in Jerusalem. Nothing like this had taken place in Jerusalem since the days of Israel’s King Solomon, David’s son. 27 Then the levitical priests blessed the people, and their voice was heard when their prayer reached God’s holy dwelling in heaven.

31 When all of these things were finished, all of the Israelites who were present went out to the cities of Judah, smashed the sacred pillars, cut down the sacred poles,[c] and completely destroyed the shrines and altars throughout Judah as well as Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh. Then all the Israelites returned to their individual homes in their own cities.

Hezekiah’s reform

Hezekiah reappointed the priests and the Levites, each to their divisions and their tasks, to make entirely burned offerings and well-being sacrifices, to serve, to give thanks, and to offer praise in the gates of the Lord’s camp. As his portion, the king personally contributed the entirely burned offerings for the morning and evening sacrifices, as well as the entirely burned offerings for the Sabbaths, new moons, and festivals, as written in the Lord’s Instruction. He ordered the people living in Jerusalem to provide the required portion for the priests and the Levites so they could devote themselves to the Lord’s Instruction. As soon as the order was issued, the Israelites generously gave the best of their grain, new wine, oil, honey, and all their crops—a tenth of everything, a huge amount. The people of Israel and Judah, living in the cities of Judah, also brought in a tenth of their herds and flocks and a tenth of the items that had been dedicated to the Lord their God, stacking it up in piles. They began stacking up the piles in the third month[d] and finished them in the seventh.[e] When Hezekiah and the officials saw the piles, they blessed the Lord and his people Israel.

When Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites about the piles, 10 the chief priest Azariah, who was from Zadok’s family, answered, “Ever since the people started bringing contributions to the Lord’s temple we’ve had enough to eat with plenty to spare. The Lord has definitely blessed his people! There’s a lot left over.”

11 So Hezekiah ordered them to prepare storerooms in the Lord’s temple. When they finished preparing them, 12 the priests conscientiously brought in the contributions, the tenth-part gifts, and the dedicated things. Conaniah, a Levite, was put in charge, assisted by his brother Shimei, 13 while Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath, and Benaiah served as supervisors under them, as appointed by King Hezekiah and Azariah the official in charge of God’s temple. 14 The Levite Kore, Imnah’s son, who was keeper of the east gate, was in charge of the spontaneous gifts to God. He was responsible for distributing the contribution reserved for the Lord and the dedicated gifts. 15 Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah faithfully assisted him regarding[f] the priests by distributing the portions to their relatives, old and young alike, by divisions. 16 Additionally, they also distributed daily rations to those males, registered by genealogy, three years old and older, all who entered the Lord’s temple to carry out their daily duties as their divisions required. 17 They also distributed to those priests registered by their families, and to Levites 20 years of age and older according to their divisional responsibilities. 18 The official genealogy included all their small children, their wives, their sons, and their daughters—the entire congregation—for they had faithfully made themselves holy. 19 As for Aaron’s descendants, the priests who lived in the outskirts of the cities, men were assigned to distribute portions to every male among the priests and to every Levite listed in the genealogical records. 20 This is what Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, doing what the Lord his God considered good, right, and true. 21 Everything that Hezekiah began to do for the service of God’s temple, whether by the Instruction or the commands, in order to seek his God, he did successfully and with all his heart.

Sennacherib’s invasion

32 After these things and these faithful acts, Assyria’s King Sennacherib invaded Judah and attacked its fortified cities, intending to capture them. When Hezekiah realized that Sennacherib also planned on fighting Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and soldiers about stopping up the springs outside the city, and they supported him. A large force gathered to stop up all the springs and the streams that flowed through the land. “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find plenty of water?” they asked. Hezekiah vigorously rebuilt all the broken sections of the wall, erected towers, constructed another wall outside the first, reinforced the terrace of David’s City, and made a large supply of weapons and shields. He appointed military officers over the troops, assembled them in the square of the city gate, and spoke these words of encouragement: “Be brave and be strong! Don’t let the king of Assyria and all those warriors he brings with him scare you or cause you dismay, because our forces are greater than his.[g] All he has is human strength, but we have the Lord our God, who will help us fight our battles!”

The troops trusted Judah’s King Hezekiah.

After this Assyria’s King Sennacherib, who was attacking Lachish with all his forces, sent his servants to Jerusalem with the following message for Judah’s King Hezekiah and all the people of Judah who were in Jerusalem:

10 This is what Assyria’s King Sennacherib says: What makes you so confident that you stay put in Jerusalem while it is being attacked? 11 Obviously, Hezekiah has fooled you into surrendering yourselves to death by hunger and thirst when he says, “The Lord our God will rescue us from Assyria’s king.” 12 Isn’t this the same Hezekiah who got rid of his shrines and altars, and then demanded of Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship and burn incense before only one altar”? 13 Don’t you know what I and my predecessors have done to the people of other nations? Were any of the gods of these other nations able to rescue their lands from my power? 14 Which one of any of the gods of these nations that my predecessors destroyed was able to rescue them from my power? So why should your god be able to rescue you from my power? 15 Don’t let Hezekiah seduce you like fools. Don’t believe him! No god of any other nation or kingdom has been able to rescue their people from me or from my predecessors. No, your gods won’t rescue you from my power.

16 The Assyrian king’s servants continued to make fun of the Lord God and his servant Hezekiah. 17 He wrote other letters insulting the Lord God of Israel, defying him by saying, “Just as the gods of the nations in other countries couldn’t rescue their people from my power, Hezekiah’s god won’t be able to rescue his people from my power.” 18 Then they shouted loudly in Hebrew[h] at the people of Jerusalem gathered on the wall, in an attempt to frighten and demoralize them, in order to capture the city. 19 They spoke about the God of Jerusalem as though he were the work of human hands, like the gods of the other peoples of the earth. 20 King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, Amoz’s son, prayed about this, crying out to heaven. 21 Then the Lord sent a messenger who destroyed every warrior, leader, and officer in the camp of the Assyrian king. When Sennacherib went home in disgrace, he entered the temple of his god, and his own sons killed him with a sword. 22 This is how the Lord rescued Hezekiah and the citizens of Jerusalem from the power of Assyria’s King Sennacherib, and all others, giving them rest[i] on all sides. 23 Many people brought offerings to the Lord in Jerusalem and costly gifts to Judah’s King Hezekiah, who was highly regarded by all the nations from then on.

Hezekiah’s illness

24 Around that same time, Hezekiah became deathly ill and prayed to the Lord, who answered him with a miraculous sign. 25 But Hezekiah was too proud to respond appropriately to the kindness he had received, and he, along with Judah and Jerusalem, experienced anger. 26 However, Hezekiah and the citizens of Jerusalem humbled themselves in their pride, and so they didn’t experience the Lord’s anger for the rest of Hezekiah’s reign.

27 Hezekiah became very wealthy and greatly respected. He made storehouses for his silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields, and other valuables. 28 He made barns to store the harvest of grain, wine, and olive oil; stalls for all kinds of cattle; and pens for flocks. 29 He acquired towns for himself and many flocks and herds because God had given him great wealth. 30 Hezekiah was the one who blocked the upper outlet of the waters of the Gihon Spring, channeling them down to the west side of David’s City. Hezekiah succeeded in all that he did, 31 even in the matter of the ambassadors sent from Babylonian officials to find out about the miraculous sign that occurred in the land, when God had abandoned him in order to test him and to discover what was in his heart.

32 The rest of Hezekiah’s deeds, including his faithfulness, are written in the vision of the prophet Isaiah, Amoz’s son, in the records of Israel’s and Judah’s kings. 33 Hezekiah lay down with his ancestors and was buried in the upper area of the tombs of David’s sons. All Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem honored him at his death. His son Manasseh succeeded him as king.

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Chronicles 29:17 March–April, Nisan
  2. 2 Chronicles 30:2 April–May, Iyar
  3. 2 Chronicles 31:1 Heb asherim, perhaps objects devoted to the goddess Asherah
  4. 2 Chronicles 31:7 May–June, Sivan
  5. 2 Chronicles 31:7 September–October, Tishrei
  6. 2 Chronicles 31:15 Or with the assistance of cf LXX; MT in the cities of
  7. 2 Chronicles 32:7 Or there is greater power with us than with him
  8. 2 Chronicles 32:18 Or the language of Judah
  9. 2 Chronicles 32:22 LXX; MT he led them
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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