2 Kings 18:1-8
Hezekiah Reigns over Judah
18 Now it came about in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah became king. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. 3 Hezekiah did right in the sight of the Lord, in accordance with everything that David his father (ancestor) had done. 4 He removed the high places [of pagan worship], broke down the images (memorial stones) and cut down the Asherim. He also crushed to pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the Israelites had burned incense to it; and it was called [a]Nehushtan [a bronze sculpture].(A) 5 Hezekiah trusted in and relied confidently on the Lord, the God of Israel; so that after him there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him. 6 For he clung to the Lord; he did not turn away from [faithfully] following Him, but he kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses.
7 And the Lord was with Hezekiah; he was successful wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and refused to serve him. 8 He defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza [the most distant city] and its borders, from the [isolated] lookout tower to the [populous] fortified city.Read full chapter
- 2 Kings 18:4 The bronze serpent had served God’s purpose for it, and Hezekiah observed correctly that it was nothing more than a piece of art. Unfortunately, the Israelites had forgotten that the serpent had been nothing more than a tool of God, and they had been worshiping the sculpture itself as if it were a god.
2 Chronicles 29-31
Hezekiah Succeeds Ahaz in Judah
29 Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah the daughter of Zechariah. 2 He did right in the sight of the Lord, in accordance with everything that David his father (forefather) had done.
3 In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord [which his father had closed] and repaired them [and replaced the gold overlay].(A) 4 He brought in the priests and Levites and gathered them into the square on the east.
5 Then he said to them, “Levites, listen to me! Now consecrate (dedicate) yourselves and consecrate the house of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and get the filth [of idol worship] out of the Holy Place. 6 For our fathers have been unfaithful and have done evil in the sight of the Lord our God, and they have abandoned Him and have turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the Lord, and have turned their backs [toward Him]. 7 They have also closed the doors of the [temple] porch and put out the lamps, and they have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the Holy Place to the God of Israel.(B) 8 Therefore the wrath of the Lord has been against Judah and Jerusalem, and He has made them an object of terror, of horror, and of hissing, just as you see with your own eyes. 9 For behold, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity because of this. 10 Now it is in my heart to make a covenant (solemn agreement) with the Lord God of Israel, so that His burning anger will turn away from us. 11 My sons, do not be negligent and careless now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand in His presence, to attend to His service, and to be His ministers and burn incense.”
12 Then the Levites arose: Mahath the son of Amasai and Joel the son of Azariah, from the sons of the Kohathites; from the sons of Merari: Kish the son of Abdi, Azariah the son of Jehallelel; from the Gershonites: Joah the son of Zimmah and Eden the son of Joah; 13 from the sons of Elizaphan: Shimri and Jeiel; from the sons of Asaph: Zechariah, and Mattaniah; 14 from the sons of Heman: Jehiel and Shimei; and from the sons of Jeduthun: Shemaiah and Uzziel. 15 They gathered their brothers (fellow Levites) together, consecrated themselves, and went in to cleanse the house of the Lord, as the king had commanded by the words of the Lord. 16 The priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and every unclean thing they found in the temple of the Lord they brought out to the courtyard of the Lord’s house. Then the Levites received it to take out to the Kidron Valley [for disposal]. 17 Now they began the consecration on the first [day] of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the porch of the Lord. Then for eight days they [a]consecrated the house of the Lord, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished. 18 Then they went inside to King Hezekiah and said, “We have cleansed the entire house (temple) of the Lord, the altar of burnt offering with all of its utensils, and the table of showbread with all its utensils. 19 Moreover, we have prepared and consecrated all the utensils which King Ahaz had discarded during his reign in his unfaithfulness; and behold, they are in front of the altar of the Lord.”
Hezekiah Restores Temple Worship
20 Then King Hezekiah arose early and assembled the officials of the city, and went up to the house of the Lord. 21 They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats for a sin offering for the kingdom, the sanctuary, and Judah. He commanded the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer them on the altar of the Lord. 22 So they slaughtered the bulls, and the priests took the blood and sprinkled it on the altar. They also slaughtered the rams and sprinkled the blood on the altar; then they slaughtered the lambs and sprinkled the blood on the altar. 23 Then they brought the male goats for the sin offering before the king and the assembly, and they laid their hands on them [to symbolize the transference of their sin]. 24 The priests slaughtered them and cleansed the altar from sin with their blood to atone for all Israel, because the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering be made for all Israel.
25 Hezekiah stationed the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with harps, and with lyres, in accordance with the command of David [his ancestor] and of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for the command was from the Lord through His prophets. 26 The Levites stood with the musical instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. 27 Then Hezekiah gave the order to offer the burnt offering on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song to the Lord also began with the trumpets accompanied by the instruments of David, king of Israel. 28 The entire congregation worshiped, the singers also sang, and the trumpets sounded; all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.
29 When the burnt offerings were completed, the king and all who were present with him bowed down and worshiped [God]. 30 Also King Hezekiah and the officials ordered the Levites to exclaim praises to the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. And they exclaimed praises with joy, and bowed down and worshiped.
31 Then Hezekiah said, “Now you have consecrated yourselves to the Lord; approach and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord.” And the assembly brought in sacrifices and thank offerings, and all those who were willing brought burnt offerings.(C) 32 The number of the burnt offerings which the assembly brought was 70 bulls, 100 rams, and 200 lambs. All these were for a burnt offering to the Lord. 33 The consecrated things were 600 bulls and 3,000 sheep. 34 But there were too few priests and they were unable to skin all the burnt offerings; so until the other priests had consecrated themselves, their brothers, the Levites, helped them until the work was done. For the Levites were more upright in heart and more conscientious than the priests in consecrating themselves. 35 There were also many burnt offerings with the fat of the peace offerings and with the drink offerings for the burnt offerings. So the service of the house of the Lord was established again. 36 Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because of what God had prepared for the people, for the thing came about suddenly.
All Israel Invited to the Passover
30 Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and to Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh to come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast to the Lord God of Israel. 2 For the king and his officials and all the assembly in Jerusalem had decided to celebrate the Passover in the [b]second month,(D) 3 since they could not celebrate it at that time because a sufficient number of priests had not consecrated themselves, nor had the people assembled at Jerusalem. 4 Thus the [decision to set a] new time pleased the king and the entire assembly. 5 So they decided to circulate a proclamation throughout Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that the people were to come to celebrate the Passover to the Lord God of Israel, at Jerusalem. For they had not celebrated it in great numbers as it was prescribed [for a long time]. 6 So the runners went throughout Israel and Judah with the letters from the hand of the king and his officials, in accordance with the command of the king, saying, “O sons (descendants) of Israel, return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (Jacob), so that He will return to those of you who escaped and are left from the hand (power) of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were unfaithful to the Lord God of their fathers, so that He made them a horror (lifeless, desolate), just as you see. 8 Now do not stiffen your neck [becoming obstinate] like your fathers, but yield to the Lord and come to His sanctuary which He has sanctified and set apart forever, and serve the Lord your God, so that His burning anger will turn away from you. 9 For if you return to the Lord, your brothers (relatives) and your children will find compassion in the presence of those who led them away captive and will return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and He will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him.”
10 So the runners (couriers) passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun; but the people laughed at them with scorn and mocked them. 11 Yet some of the men of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. 12 Also the hand of God was on Judah to give them one heart to do that which the king and the officials had commanded by the word of the Lord.
13 Now many people were gathered at Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month; it was a very large assembly. 14 They took action and removed the [pagan] altars which were in Jerusalem; they also removed all the incense altars and threw them into the Brook Kidron [the dumping place for the ashes of such repulsive things]. 15 Then they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the second month. And the priests and the Levites were ashamed of themselves, and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the house of the Lord. 16 They stood at their accustomed stations, in accordance with the Law of Moses, the man of God. The priests sprinkled the blood [which they received] from the hand of the Levites [on the altar]. 17 For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves [that is, become ceremonially clean and free from all sin]; so the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lambs for everyone who was not clean, in order to make them holy for the Lord. 18 For the majority of the people, many from Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not purified themselves, and yet they ate the Passover contrary to what had been prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, “May the good Lord pardon 19 everyone who sets his heart to seek God—the Lord God of his fathers—even though it is not in accordance with the [ceremonial] purification [rules] of the sanctuary.” 20 So the Lord listened to Hezekiah and healed the people [of their uncleanness]. 21 The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great joy. The Levites and priests praised the Lord day after day, singing to the Lord with loud instruments. 22 Hezekiah spoke [c]encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good understanding in the things of the Lord. So the people ate for the appointed seven days, sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to the Lord God of their fathers.
23 Then the whole assembly decided to celebrate [the feast] for another seven days; and they celebrated it another seven days with joy. 24 For Hezekiah king of Judah gave to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep, and the officials gave the assembly 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep. And a large number of priests consecrated themselves [for service]. 25 All the assembly of Judah rejoiced, with the priests and the Levites and all the assembly that came from Israel, both the sojourners (resident aliens, foreigners) who came from the land of Israel and those living in Judah. 26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem, because there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem since the time of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel. 27 Then the priests and Levites stood and blessed the people; and their voice was heard and their prayer came up to His holy dwelling place, to heaven.
Idols Are Destroyed
31 Now when all of this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah, and smashed the [pagan] pillars (obelisks, memorial stones) in pieces, cut down the Asherim (wooden symbols of a female deity), and tore down the high places and the altars [of idolatry] throughout all Judah and Benjamin, as well as in Ephraim and Manasseh, until they had destroyed them all. Then all the sons (descendants) of Israel returned to their own cities, each to his own property.
2 And Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests, and the Levites by their divisions, each in accordance with his service, both 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 camp of the Lord.
3 Hezekiah also appointed the king’s [personal] portion of his goods: for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths and for the New Moons and for the appointed feasts, as it is written in the Law of the Lord. 4 He also told (ordered) the people living in Jerusalem to give the portion that was due to the priests and Levites, so that they might [be free to] devote themselves to the Law of the Lord. 5 As soon as the king’s order spread, the Israelites gave in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, [olive] oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in the tithe of everything abundantly. 6 The sons of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of sacred gifts which were consecrated to the Lord their God, and placed them in heaps. 7 In the third month [at the end of wheat harvest] they began to make the heaps, and they finished them in the seventh month. 8 When Hezekiah and the rulers came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord and His people Israel. 9 Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and Levites about the heaps. 10 Azariah the high priest of the house of Zadok answered him, “Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat with plenty left over, for the Lord has blessed His people, and this great quantity is left over.”
11 Then Hezekiah told them to prepare rooms [for storage] in the house of the Lord, and they prepared them. 12 They faithfully brought in the contributions, the tithes, and the sacred (dedicated) things. Conaniah the Levite was in charge of them, and Shimei his brother was second [in authority]. 13 Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath, and Benaiah were overseers directed by Conaniah and Shimei his brother by the appointment of King Hezekiah, and Azariah was the chief officer of the house of God. 14 Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, keeper of the East Gate, was in charge of the voluntary offerings to God, to apportion the contributions for the Lord and the most holy things. 15 Under his authority were Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah in the cities of the priests, to distribute faithfully their portions to their brothers (relatives) by divisions, whether great or small, 16 without regard to their genealogical registration, to the males from thirty years old and upward—everyone who entered the house of the Lord for his daily obligations—for their service in accordance with their duties by their divisions; 17 as well as the priests who were registered genealogically according to their fathers’ households, and the Levites from twenty years old and upward, by their duties and by their divisions. 18 The genealogical registration included all their little children, their wives, and their sons and daughters, for the whole assembly, because they consecrated themselves faithfully in holiness. 19 Also for the sons of Aaron, the priests, who were in the pasture lands of their cities or in each and every city, there were men who were designated by name to give portions to every male among the priests and to everyone genealogically registered among the Levites.
20 This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah; and he did what was good, right, and true before the Lord his God. 21 Every work which he began in the service of the house of God in keeping with the law and the commandment, seeking and inquiring of his God [and longing for Him], he did with all his heart and prospered.
- 2 Chronicles 29:17 I.e. dedicated it as sacred, declared it separated from secular use.
- 2 Chronicles 30:2 Passover was usually celebrated in the first month; however, there was an exception to the rule that allowed certain individuals to celebrate it in the second month. In this case the exception was extended to the entire population.
- 2 Chronicles 30:22 Lit to the heart of.
The Beauty and Glory of Zion.
A Song; a Psalm of the sons of Korah.
48 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
In the city of our God, His holy mountain.
Fair and beautiful in elevation, the joy of all the earth,
Is Mount Zion [the City of David] in the far north,
The city of the great King.(A)
God, in her palaces,
Has made Himself known as a stronghold.
For, lo, the kings assembled themselves,
They [came and] passed by together.
They saw it, then they were amazed;
They were stricken with terror, they fled in alarm.
Panic seized them there,
And pain, as that of a woman in childbirth.
With the east wind
You shattered the ships of Tarshish.
As we have heard, so have we seen
In the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God:
God will establish her forever. Selah.
We have thought of Your lovingkindness, O God,
In the midst of Your temple.
As is Your name, O God,
So is Your praise to the ends of the earth;
Your right hand is full of righteousness (rightness, justice).
Let Mount Zion be glad,
Let the daughters of Judah rejoice
Because of Your [righteous] judgments.
Walk about Zion, go all around her;
Count her towers,
Consider her ramparts,
Go through her palaces,
That you may tell the next generation [about her glory].
For this is God,
Our God forever and ever;
He will be our guide even until death.