HEZEKIAH (chaps, 29-32.; 2 Kings 18-20); Chap. 29.
LENGTH AND SPIRIT OF THE REIGN. THE SOLEMN PURGATION AND HALLOWING OF THE TEMPLE.
(1) Hezekiah.—Heb., Yĕhizqîyāhu, as if “Strong is Iahu.” 2 Kings writes Hizkîyāh, “My strength is Iah;” Isaiah 27, sqq., Hizkîyāhu. The annals of Sennacherib present the form Hazakiyahu.
Abijan.—2 Kings has the shortened form Abi. (This verse closely corresponds with 2 Kings 18:2.)
(2 Chronicles 29:3-19).
(3) In the first month—i.e., in the month Nisan, the first month of the sacred year; not in the first month of his reign. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 29:17 and 2 Chronicles 30:23.)
Opened the doors.—Which his father had closed (chap. 28:24).
And repaired them.—By overlaying them with metal—bronze or gold-leaf (2 Kings 18:16).
The east Street.—The eastern square or open space of the East. (Comp. Ezra 10:9; Nehemiah 8:1; Nehemiah 8:3; Nehemiah 8:16.) The place of meeting was probably an open area in front of the eastern gate of the sacred enclosure.
Sanctify now yourselves.—See Note on 1 Chronicles 15:12; 1 Chronicles 15:14.
Sanctify the house.—By removing all symbols of idolatry.
Carry forth the filthiness.—Niddah denotes personal impurity (Leviticus 12:2; Ezekiel 18:6); and so anything loathsome (Ezekiel 7:19); here probably idols, and things connected with their worship.
Turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord.—Comp. Jeremiah 2:27 : “They have turned their backs unto me, and not their faces.” (Comp. also Ezekiel 8:16.)
Turned their backs.—Literally, gave neck (nathan ‘ōreph); a phrase here used as equivalent to turned neck (pānāh ‘ōreph), Jeremiah 2:27, et al. The ordinary meaning is “to put to flight,” as in Psalm 18:41. It is clear from the next verse that the description is meant to apply to Ahaz and his generation.
Put out the lamps.—Of the great golden stand, in the holy place.
Have not burned incense.—On the golden altar. Literally, And incense they have not burned, and burnt offering they have not offered in the sanctuary. The sanctuary is not the holy place, or larger chamber of the Temple, but it includes the whole sacred precincts, courts as well as buildings. The burnt offerings presented on the new Syrian altar of Ahaz (2 Kings 16:15) are here counted as nought, because they were irregular. (Comp. also 2 Kings 16:14.)
Delivered them to trouble . . .—Rather, made them a horror, an astonishment, and a hissing. The language is Deuteronomic. (Comp. Deuteronomy 28:25; Deuteronomy 28:37 : “Thou shalt become a horror . . . an astonishment.” Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 25:18 : “I will make them an astonishment and a hissing,” et al.)
As ye see with your (own) eyes.—For ye behold the disastrous results of the invasions of Aram and Israel, of Edom and the Philistines, and of the appeal to Assyria (2 Chronicles 28).
To make a covenant with.—The preposition is for. (See Note on 2 Chronicles 21:7.)
Turn away.—Literally, return (Isaiah 5:25). “That his fierce wrath may turn away from Israel” (Numbers 25:4).
Be not now negligent.—The Niphal form of the verb shalah (“to be at ease”) occurs nowhere else. The margin is incorrect.
The Lord hath chosen you.—You hath the Lord chosen. The pronoun is emphatic. (Comp. the similar words: 1 Chronicles 23:13; Deuteronomy 10:8.)
To stand before him, (in order) to serve him, is the construction.
And that ye should minister.—Literally, And to become to him ministers and thurifers.
The thoughts and the style of the royal address make it evident enough that it is a free composition, in the well-known manner of ancient historians.
(12) Mahath the son of Amasai.—The verse enumerates two members of each of the three great Levitical subtribes—Kohath, Merari, and Gershon. Mahath and Eden recur (2 Chronicles 31:13; 2 Chronicles 31:15). Kish ben Abdi and Joah ben Zimmah occurred (1 Chronicles 6:21; 1 Chronicles 6:44). They appear to be family rather than personal names.
Jehiel.—Repeated (2 Chronicles 31:13).
According to the commandment of the king, by the words of the Lord—i.e., through the words of Jehovah; a mandate based on the words of Jehovah, as recorded in the written Law. Comp. 1 Chronicles 25:5, and 2 Chronicles 30:12. Also 2 Chronicles 29:25, below: “For by the hand of Jehovah was the commandment” (Note).
Brought out all the uncleanness.—Tum’ah (Leviticus 5:3; Judges 13:7). See the Note on the synonymous expression niddah (2 Chronicles 29:5).
Took.—Received it; from the hands of the priests (qibb ̓ēl a late word).
Abroad.—Outside (of the Temple precincts).
Into the brook Kidron.—Rather, the Wady of Kidron (2 Kings 23:12; 2 Chronicles 15:16; 2 Chronicles 30:14).
Hezekiah.—Hizkiyahu. So also in 2 Chronicles 29:27; but in 2 Chronicles 29:30, Yehizkiyahu. (See Note on 2 Chronicles 29:1.)
The altar of burnt offering.—Which Ahaz appears to have superseded (2 Kings 16:14-15), besides removing it from its legal position.
And the shewbread table.—Literally, the table of the pile (of sacred cakes). Only one table is here mentioned. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 28:16; 2 Chronicles 4:8; 2 Chronicles 4:19.) The metal work of all the sacred apparatus would be greatly tarnished, if only from neglect, apart from wanton ill usage.
In his transgression.—Unfaithfulness, or apostasy.
Have we prepared.—Ordered aright, put to rights. (H ̓̓ēkannû, i.e., hăkînônû, 1 Chronicles 29:16 here only.)
The altar of the Lord.—The brazen altar in the; court.
(20) Rose early.—Comp. Psalm 5:3 : “Early in the j morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee.”
Gathered the rulers of the city.—Hezekiah assembled the chief men of Jerusalem, because there was no time to send out a general summons to the country, as he wished to proceed at once with the sacrifices of expiation.
Went up to the house.—So 2 Kings 19:14; 2 Chronicles 9:4, and often.
And seven he goats, for a sin offering.—Comp. Ezra 6:17; Ezra 8:35; and Leviticus 4:23; Leviticus 4:28; also 2 Chronicles 29:23. The reigning house and the sanctuary and the people had all contracted defilement during the late period of idolatry.
The priests the sons of Aaron to offer.—In careful accordance with the rule of the Torah.
And sprinkled it on the altar.—Threw it against (literally, towards) the altar (Leviticus 8:19; Leviticus 8:24).
Likewise, when.—And they slaughtered the rams . . . and they slaughtered the lambs. The three clauses of the verse are symmetrical. The repetition is a mark of the writer’s anxiety to show how carefully the legitimate ritual was observed in each instance.
Killed.—Slaughtered (shahat; σφάζω, Genesis 37:31). Specially used of slaying sacrificial victims (Leviticus 1:5).
He goats.—Se ‘îrîm (“hairy ones”). A different term—çëphîrê ‘izzîm, “spring-bucks of goats”—was used in 2 Chronicles 29:21. This latter is properly an Aramean word, and only found in late Heb., se ’îrîm being the classical term.
Laid their hands upon them.—Comp. Leviticus 1:4; Leviticus 3:2; Leviticus 4:4, from which it appears that the person offering laid his hand upon the head of the victim, whether he were making a burnt offering or a thank-offering or a sin-offering.
The natural fitness of the ceremony in the case of expiatory sacrifices is obvious. “The king and the congregation” performed it, in the present instance, on behalf of the entire nation.
For the king commanded . . . Israel.—For for all Israel the king had commanded the burnt offering and the sin offering; or, for “For all Israel,” said the king, “is the burnt offering and the sin offering.” The expression all Israel includes the northern kingdom. (Comp. Hezekiah’s invitation to its people to attend the Passover, 2 Chronicles 30:1.)
Psalteries.—Nĕbālîm, a kind of harp; Greek, νάβλα. νάβλίον.
Harps.—Kinnôrôth. Greek, κινύρα, a sort of lyre, or cittern, or guitar.
Gad . . . Nathan.—1 Chronicles 29:29. This is the only place where the institution of the Levitical minstrelsy is ascribed to the injunctions of prophets; but the thing is probable in itself, considering that no important step, whether in civil or ecclesiastical matters, would be likely to be taken by an Israelite king without consulting the Divine will by means of the royal prophets, as we know, from the cuneiform documents, was the uniform practice with the Assyrian and Babylonian sovereigns. Moreover, prophecy was intimately connected with music. (See on 1 Chronicles 25:1.)
For so was . . .—For by the hand of Jehovah was the commandment; to wit, by the hand of his prophets. David’s command was obeyed because it was Divine, having emanated from the prophets who represented Jehovah. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 29:15, supra.)
The singers.—Heb., the song. So we might say “the music was playing;” or even “the song was singing,” i.e., being sung.
The trumpeters sounded.—And the clarions were blowing (literally, clarioning). The participle is masculine, although the noun is properly feminine, because here the word “clarions” really stands for the clarion-players. So in modern orchestras they speak of “the violins,” or “the ‘cellos,” meaning the players on those instruments.
And all this.—Literally, the whole, until the burnt offering was finished.
This passage is highly interesting for the light it throws upon the mode in which the worship of the second Temple was conducted in the fourth century B.C., the probable age of the chronicler; and no doubt also in the times here treated of, for the Temple ritual would naturally be a matter of immemorial tradition. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 7:5-6.)
Bowed themselves.—Rather, bowed the knee (kara’). (Isaiah 45:23; 1 Kings 19:18.)
Asaph the seer.—So Heman is called (1 Chronicles 25:5); and Jeduthun (2 Chronicles 25:15).
With gladness.—Literally, unto exultation—i.e., rapturously.
And they bowed their heads.—When the song was ended (2 Chronicles 29:29).
(2 Chronicles 29:31-36).
(31) Answered and said.—See 1 Chronicles 12:17. The phrase is used as we should use it in Exodus 4:1; 2 Kings 7:13.
Ye have consecrated . . .—Literally, ye have filled your hand for Jehovah, a phrase used of the consecration of priests (Leviticus 7:37). Here it is addressed to the whole assembly, as the following words prove (unless the text be unsound). The congregation, as well as the sacerdotal order, had consecrated themselves anew to Jehovah, by their presence and participation in the previous solemnities. Others suppose that these words are spoken to the priests only, and that then the king turns to the congregation with the words “Come near,” &c. (There should be a semicolon after “the Lord.”)
Sacrifices and thank offerings (zebahîn we thôdôth).—The first word means “thank-offerings” ( = zébahîm shelamîm); the second, a peculiar species of thank-offering, apparently accompanied by a special kind of psalms called tôdôth (“thanksgivings”). “Sacrifices and thank-offerings” therefore means “sacrifices, that is, thank-offerings.” (See Leviticus 7:12; Leviticus 7:16, for the three kinds of thank-offerings.)
As many as were of a free heart.—Literally, Every free-hearted one (1 Chronicles 29:6; 1 Chronicles 29:9).
Burnt offerings were a token of greater self-denial and disinterestedness than thank-offerings, because they were wholly consumed on the altar, whereas the worshippers feasted upon the latter.
Did help them.—See margin; and Ezra 6:22.
Until the other priests had sanctified.—Began to sanctify themselves, as a body.
For the Levites . . . in heart.—The priests, as a class, were probably more deeply involved in the corruption of the last reign.
The fat of the peace (thank) offerings—which had to be burned upon the burnt offerings (Leviticus 3:5; Leviticus 6:5).
And the drink offerings.—Numbers 15:1-16.
That God had prepared.—In the Hebrew the article is used instead of the relative: a construction characteristic of the chronicler (1 Chronicles 26:28). Render: “And Hezekiah rejoiced . . . over that which God had set in order for the people,” viz., the long-suspended ordinances of the Temple worship (1 Chronicles 12:39; 1 Chronicles 15:1). Perhaps, however, lā‘ām, “for the people,” is the mere accusative after the verb, and the sense is “rejoiced because God had prepared the people” (2 Samuel 3:30).
For the thing . . . suddenly.—Literally, for on a sudden happened the matter. “On a sudden,” be-pith’om, here only; elsewhere simply pith’om. Comp. the synonymous règa’ and be-règa’ (Psalm 6:10; Job 21:13). The hand of God was seen in the speed with which the revolution was effected, and the sudden turn of the princes and people from indifference to glad alacrity. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 30:12.)