2 Kings 18:1-8 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
King Hezekiah of Judah
18 Hezekiah son of Ahaz became king of Judah in the third year of Hoshea’s rule in Israel. 2 Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he ruled twenty-nine years from Jerusalem. His mother Abi was the daughter of Zechariah.
3 Hezekiah obeyed the Lord, just as his ancestor David had done. 4 He destroyed the local shrines, then tore down the images of foreign gods and cut down the sacred pole for worshiping the goddess Asherah. He also smashed the bronze snake Moses had made. The people had named it Nehushtan[a] and had been offering sacrifices to it.
5 Hezekiah trusted the Lord God of Israel. No other king of Judah was like Hezekiah, either before or after him. 6 He was completely faithful to the Lord and obeyed the laws the Lord had given to Moses for the people. 7 The Lord helped Hezekiah, so he was successful in everything he did. He even rebelled against the king of Assyria, refusing to be his servant. 8 Hezekiah defeated the Philistine towns as far away as Gaza—from the smallest towns to the large, walled cities.
2 Chronicles 29-31 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
King Hezekiah of Judah
29 Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled twenty-nine years from Jerusalem. His mother was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 2 Hezekiah obeyed the Lord by doing right, just as his ancestor David had done.
The Temple Is Purified
3 In the first month[a] of the first year of Hezekiah’s rule, he unlocked the doors to the Lord’s temple and had them repaired.[b] 4 Then he called the priests and Levites to the east courtyard of the temple 5 and said:
It’s time to purify the temple of the Lord God of our ancestors. You Levites must first go through the ceremony to make yourselves clean, then go into the temple and bring out everything that is unclean and unacceptable to the Lord. 6 Some of our ancestors were unfaithful and disobeyed the Lord our God. Not only did they turn their backs on the Lord, but they also completely ignored his temple. 7 They locked the doors, then let the lamps go out and stopped burning incense and offering sacrifices to him. 8 The Lord became terribly angry at the people of Judah and Jerusalem, and everyone was shocked and horrified at what he did to punish them. Not only were 9 our ancestors killed in battle, but our own children and wives were taken captive.
10 So I have decided to renew our agreement with the Lord God of Israel. Maybe then he will stop being so angry at us. 11 Let’s not waste any time, my friends. You are the ones who were chosen to be the Lord’s priests and to offer him sacrifices.
12-14 When Hezekiah finished talking, the following Levite leaders went to work:
Mahath son of Amasai and Joel son of Azariah from the Kohath clan; Kish son of Abdi and Azariah son of Jehallelel from the Merari clan; Joah son of Zimmah and Eden son of Joah from the Gershon clan; Shimri and Jeuel from the Elizaphan clan; Zechariah and Mattaniah from the Asaph clan; Jehuel and Shimei from the Heman clan; Shemaiah and Uzziel from the Jeduthun clan.
15 These leaders gathered together the rest of the Levites, and they all went through the ceremony to make themselves clean. Then they began to purify the temple according to the Law of the Lord, just as Hezekiah had commanded.
16 The priests went into the temple and carried out everything that was unclean. They put these things in the courtyard, and from there, the Levites carried them outside the city to Kidron Valley.
17 The priests and Levites began their work on the first day of the first month.[c] It took them one week to purify the courtyards of the temple and another week to purify the temple. So on the sixteenth day of that same month 18 they went back to Hezekiah and said:
Your Majesty, we have finished our work. The entire temple is now pure again, and so is the altar and its utensils, as well as the table for the sacred loaves of bread and its utensils. 19 And we have brought back all the things that King Ahaz took from the temple during the time he was unfaithful to God. We purified them and put them back in front of the altar.
Worship in the Temple
20 Right away, Hezekiah called together the officials of Jerusalem, and they went to the temple. 21 They brought with them seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven goats[d] as sacrifices to take away the sins of Hezekiah’s family and of the people of Judah, as well as to purify the temple. Hezekiah told the priests, who were descendants of Aaron, to sacrifice these animals on the altar.
22 The priests killed the bulls, the rams, and the lambs, then splattered the blood on the altar. 23 They took the goats to Hezekiah and the worshipers, and they laid their hands on the animals. 24 The priests then killed the goats and splattered the blood on the altar as a sacrifice to take away the sins of everyone in Israel, because Hezekiah had commanded that these sacrifices be made for all the people of Israel.
25 Next, Hezekiah assigned the Levites to their places in the temple. He gave them cymbals, harps, and other stringed instruments, according to the instructions that the Lord had given King David and the two prophets, Gad and Nathan. 26 The Levites were ready to play the instruments that had belonged to David; the priests were ready to blow the trumpets.
27 As soon as Hezekiah gave the signal for the sacrifices to be burned on the altar, the musicians began singing praises to the Lord and playing their instruments, 28 and everyone worshiped the Lord. This continued until the last animal was sacrificed.
29 After that, Hezekiah and the crowd of worshipers knelt down and worshiped the Lord. 30 Then Hezekiah and his officials ordered the Levites to sing the songs of praise that David and Asaph the prophet had written. And so they bowed down and joyfully sang praises to the Lord.
31 Hezekiah said to the crowd, “Now that you are once again acceptable to the Lord, bring sacrifices and offerings to give him thanks.”
The people did this, and some of them voluntarily brought animals to be offered as sacrifices. 32 Seventy bulls, one hundred rams, and two hundred lambs were brought as sacrifices to please the Lord;[e] 33 six hundred bulls and three thousand sheep were brought as sacrifices to ask the Lord’s blessing.[f] 34 There were not enough priests to skin all these animals, because many of the priests had not taken the time to go through the ceremony to make themselves clean. However, since all the Levites had made themselves clean, they helped the priests until the last animal was skinned. 35 Besides all the sacrifices that were burned on the altar, the fat from the other animal sacrifices was burned, and the offerings of wine were poured over the altar.
So the temple was once again used for worshiping the Lord. 36 Hezekiah and the people of Judah celebrated, because God had helped them make this happen so quickly.
Hezekiah Prepares To Celebrate Passover
30 1-4 Passover wasn’t celebrated in the first month,[g] which was the usual time, because many of the priests were still unclean and unacceptable to serve, and because not everyone in Judah had come to Jerusalem for the festival. So Hezekiah, his officials, and the people agreed to celebrate Passover in the second month.[h]
Hezekiah sent a message to everyone in Israel and Judah, including those in the territories of Ephraim and West Manasseh, inviting them to the temple in Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover in honor of the Lord God of Israel. 5 Everyone from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north was invited. This was the largest crowd of people that had ever celebrated Passover, according to the official records.
6 Hezekiah’s messengers went everywhere in Israel and Judah with the following letter:
People of Israel, now that you have survived the invasion of the Assyrian kings,[i] it’s time for you to turn back to the Lord God our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob worshiped. If you do this, he will stop being angry. 7 Don’t follow the example of your ancestors and your Israelite relatives in the north. They were unfaithful to the Lord, and he punished them horribly. 8 Don’t be stubborn like your ancestors. Decide now to obey the Lord our God! Come to Jerusalem and worship him in the temple that will belong to him forever. Then he will stop being angry, 9 and the enemies that have captured your families will show pity and send them back home. The Lord God is kind and merciful, and if you turn back to him, he will no longer turn his back on you.
10 The messengers went to every town in Ephraim and West Manasseh as far north as the territory of Zebulun, but everyone laughed and insulted them. 11 Only a few people from the tribes of Asher, West Manasseh, and Zebulun were humble and went to Jerusalem. 12 God also made everyone in Judah eager to do what Hezekiah and his officials had commanded.
Passover Is Celebrated
13 In the second month,[j] a large crowd of people gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Thin Bread.[k] 14 They took all the foreign altars and incense altars in Jerusalem and threw them into Kidron Valley.
15-17 Then, on the fourteenth day of that same month, the Levites began killing the lambs for Passover, because many of the worshipers were unclean and were not allowed to kill their own lambs. Meanwhile, some of the priests and Levites felt ashamed because they had not gone through the ceremony to make themselves clean. They immediately went through that ceremony and went to the temple, where they offered sacrifices to please the Lord.[l] Then the priests and Levites took their positions, according to the Law of Moses, the servant of God.
As the Levites killed the lambs, they handed some of the blood to the priests, who splattered it on the altar.
18-19 Most of the people that came from Ephraim, West Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not made themselves clean, but they ignored God’s Law and ate the Passover lambs anyway. Hezekiah found out what they had done and prayed, “Lord God, these people are unclean according to the laws of holiness. But they are worshiping you, just as their ancestors did. So, please be kind and forgive them.” 20 The Lord answered Hezekiah’s prayer and did not punish them.
21 The worshipers in Jerusalem were very happy and celebrated the Festival for seven days. The Levites and priests sang praises to the Lord every day and played their instruments. 22 Hezekiah thanked the Levites for doing such a good job, leading the celebration.
The worshipers celebrated for seven days by offering sacrifices, by eating the sacred meals, and by praising the Lord God of their ancestors. 23 Everyone was so excited that they agreed to celebrate seven more days.
24 So Hezekiah gave the people one thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep to be offered as sacrifices and to be used as food for the sacred meals. His officials gave one thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep, and many more priests agreed to go through the ceremony to make themselves clean. 25 Everyone was very happy, including those from Judah and Israel, the priests and Levites, and the foreigners living in Judah and Israel. 26 It was the biggest celebration in Jerusalem since the days of King Solomon, the son of David. 27 The priests and Levites asked God to bless the people, and from his home in heaven, he did.
The People Destroy the Local Shrines
31 After the Festival, the people went to every town in Judah and smashed the stone images of foreign gods and cut down the sacred poles[m] for worshiping the goddess Asherah. They destroyed all the local shrines[n] and foreign altars in Judah, as well as those in the territories of Benjamin, Ephraim, and West Manasseh. Then everyone went home.
Offerings for the Priests and Levites
2 Hezekiah divided the priests and Levites into groups, according to their duties. Then he assigned them the responsibilities of offering sacrifices to please the Lord[o] and sacrifices to ask his blessing.[p] He also appointed people to serve at the temple and to sing praises at the temple gates. 3 Hezekiah provided animals from his own herds and flocks to use for the morning and evening sacrifices, as well as for the sacrifices during the Sabbath celebrations, the New Moon Festivals, and the other religious feasts required by the Law of the Lord.
4 He told the people of Jerusalem to bring the offerings that were to be given to the priests and Levites, so that they would have time to serve the Lord with their work. 5 As soon as the people heard what the king wanted, they brought a tenth of everything they owned, including their best grain, wine, olive oil, honey, and other crops. 6 The people from the other towns of Judah brought a tenth of their herds and flocks, as well as a tenth of anything they had dedicated to the Lord. 7 The people started bringing their offerings to Jerusalem in the third month,[q] and the last ones arrived four months later. 8 When Hezekiah and his officials saw these offerings, they thanked the Lord and the people.
9 Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites about the large amount of offerings. 10 The high priest at the time was Azariah, a descendant of Zadok, and he replied, “Ever since the people have been bringing us their offerings, we have had more than enough food and supplies. The Lord has certainly blessed his people. Look at how much is left over!”
11 So the king gave orders for storerooms to be built in the temple, and when they were completed, 12-13 all the extra offerings were taken there. Hezekiah and Azariah then appointed Conaniah the Levite to be in charge of these storerooms. His brother Shimei was his assistant, and the following Levites worked with them: Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath, and Benaiah. 14 Kore son of Imnah was assigned to guard the East Gate, and he was put in charge of receiving the offerings voluntarily given to God and of dividing them among the priests and Levites. 15-16 He had six assistants who were responsible for seeing that all the priests in the other towns of Judah also got their share of these offerings. They were Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah.
Every priest and every Levite over thirty[r] years old who worked daily in the temple received part of these offerings, according to their duties. 17 The priests were listed in the official records by clans, and the Levites twenty years old and older were listed by their duties. 18 The official records also included their wives and children, because they had also been faithful in keeping themselves clean and acceptable to serve the Lord.
19 Hezekiah also appointed other men to take food and supplies to the priests and Levites whose homes were in the pastureland around the towns of Judah. But the priests had to be descendants of Aaron, and the Levites had to be listed in the official records.
20-21 Everything Hezekiah did while he was king of Judah, including what he did for the temple in Jerusalem, was right and good. He was a successful king, because he obeyed the Lord God with all his heart.
Psalm 48 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
(A song and a psalm for the people of Korah.)
The City of God
48 The Lord God is wonderful!
4 Kings joined forces
9 Our God, here in your temple
12 Let’s walk around Zion
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