New European Commentary


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2Ch 29:1 Hezekiah began to reign 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-
Hezekiah reigned 29 years, and the sickness after which he was given 15 years therefore happened in the 14th year or his reign- the very same time that Assyria invaded (Is. 38:1). Trials so often come together, in such an intense and extreme way that the situation can only be of God rather than mere bad luck or coincidence.

2Ch 29:2 He did that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh, according to all that David his father had done-
Hezekiah fell away from Yahweh in the last 15 years of his life. This rubric about doing what was right as David had done is used in the records about men who were ultimately evil. For the righteous kings, there is usually a comment that he held to Yahweh in his heart. But there is no such comment at this point, when we would expect it. All we learn from this is that he did some things which were right, as David. But the emphasis is upon his doing deeds; there is no comment at this point upon his overall heart and faith, which is the critical issue as far as God's ultimate judgment is concerned. 

2Ch 29:3 In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of Yahweh, and repaired them-
"Repaired" is "strengthened". This continues a theme, of the kings of Judah strengthening or fortifying themselves, often when they first became king; but then having that human strength tested by God or removed. The same word is used repeatedly (1 Chron. 11:10; 2 Chron. 11:11,17; 12:13; 13:21; 17:1; 23:1; 25:3,11; 26:8,15; 29:3; 32:5). The lesson of course was that it is God's Angelic eyes who run to and fro in the land promised to Abraham, "to shew Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward him" (2 Chron. 16:9).

2Ch 29:4 He brought in the priests and the Levites and gathered them together into the broad place on the east-
The same large space near the entrance to the temple of 2 Chron. 32:6.

2Ch 29:5 and said to them, Listen to me, you Levites! Now sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the house of Yahweh, the God of your fathers, and carry all the abominations out of the holy place-
It seems that Ahaz had set up idols even within the holy place of the temple. Ahaz didn't totally reject Yahweh worship(see on 2 Chron. 28:24). He had mixed Yahweh worship with idolatry, which in essence is the temptation we all have. Scientific atheism, a total rejection of our God, is likely not our biggest temptation; rather is it to mix His ways with those of the flesh and the secular world. 

2Ch 29:6 For our fathers have trespassed and done that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh our God, and have forsaken Him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of Yahweh, and turned their backs-
"Our fathers..." suggests Hezekiah admits that what he is doing is in reaction to how deeply he detested his own father, who had burnt his own siblings to his idols. See on :17. Ezekiel was to soon see the men of Judah in the sanctuary likewise with their backs towards the sanctuary, worshipping the sun. All this zealous reformation was to be very short-lived, and that fact confirms the suggestion on :17 that an element of the motivation in it may have been a psychological reaction to the way their fathers had sacrificed their siblings to idols. Rather than a deep, core heart devotion to Yahweh. For that never comes overnight, or "suddenly" (:36).

2Ch 29:7 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 to the God of Israel-
I suggest that offerings were offered there, but to Yahweh through the pagan gods. But this was not therefore offering to the God of Israel, who demands totally devotion to Himself as the only true God. For the temple services continued on some level (2 Kings 16:14-16), although Ahaz had brought idols into the holy place of the temple (2 Chron. 29:5).  2 Kings 16:18 helps understand this shutting the porch doors as meaning that he shut up one door or gate of the temple and devoted it to the idols of Assyria; without meaning that all the doors or gates of the temple were closed.

2Ch 29:8 Therefore the wrath of Yahweh was on Judah and Jerusalem, and He has delivered them to be tossed back and forth, to be an astonishment and a hissing, as you see with your eyes-
I suggest that 2 Chron. 32:25 refers to the reason why wrath came upon Judah, Jerusalem and Hezekiah himself. That wrath wasn't just threatened, it actually "came"(AV), there "was wrath" (NEV). For wrath to 'come' means that it was experienced- not just threatened. And we are specifically told there, with the same Hebrew phrase used, that the Assyrians came up against Hezekiah, Judah and Jerusalem because "God's wrath" was upon them, and Hezekiah's generations were seeing that "with your eyes" (2 Chron. 29:8). And there in 2 Chron. 32:25 we are told that this happened because of Hezekiah's pride and not returning to God what had been given him. That pride, therefore, doesn't apply to the time of the Babylonian ambassadors.

The idea of deferral of fulfilment is common enough in Scripture once you look for it. “The wrath of the Lord was upon Judah” in Hezekiah’s time; but he made a covenant with God and cleansed the temple “that his fierce wrath may turn away from us” (2 Chron. 29:8,10). But this day of the Lord’s wrath was in fact not removed entirely, as Hezekiah fell away; but it was deferred until 90 years later (Zeph. 1:18; 2:2).

2Ch 29:9 For, behold, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this-
We have read in 2 Chron. 28 of a series of captivities, by Israel, Edom, the Philistines and Assyria. Clearly this verse would have rung a bell with the exiles, who were likewise in captivity for these same reasons.

2Ch 29:10 Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with Yahweh, the God of Israel, that His fierce anger may turn away from us-
Ps. 78:38; 85:3 seem to suggest God Himself controlled His anger, Himself turning that anger away, rather than being like a pagan deity whose anger was appeased by blood sacrifice. God turned from His anger due to Moses' intercession (Ex. 32:12 s.w.), but this is not to say that He cannot in any case turn away His anger, simply by His grace. Just as we may control our anger from within ourselves, or at other times we may do this because of the appeal of another to us, or because there is repentance from the one who provoked us. And there were times when this was the case with God (s.w. Num. 25:4; Josh. 7:26; 2 Chron. 12:12; 29:10; 30:8). For we are made in His image.

2Ch 29:11 My sons, don’t be negligent now; for Yahweh has chosen you to stand before Him to minister to Him, and that you should be His ministers, and burn incense-
Although only 25 (:1), Hezekiah addresses the Levites and priests as if he is their elder. They had been lacking in fatherly spiritual guidance and so he attempts to fill that role, as many young people have been forced to. For the need is the call. The emphasis may be upon "His" ministers; for the priests of Yahweh had been used to burn incense to false gods, under the program of mixing Yahweh worship with paganism practiced by Ahaz.

2Ch 29:12 Then the Levites arose, Mahath son of Amasai, and Joel son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites; and of the sons of Merari, Kish son of Abdi and Azariah son of Jehallelel; and of the Gershonites, Joah son of Zimmah and Eden son of Joah-
The 14 Levites now to be mentioned represent the complete family of Levites; two from each of the three sons of Levi; two from the Kohathite family of Elizaphan; and two from each of the three divisions of the singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun (1 Chron. 25:1).

2Ch 29:13 and of the sons of Elizaphan, Shimri and Jeuel; and of the sons of Asaph, Zechariah and Mattaniah-
This may be the Elizaphan of Ex. 6:22. As with "Asaph", we are reading of their descendants, rather than any statement that men called Asaph and Elizaphan existed at Hezekiah's time.

2Ch 29:14 and of the sons of Heman, Jehuel and Shimei; and of the sons of Jeduthun, Shemaiah and Uzziel-
These were the chiefs of the singers and musicians. They were not so taken up with the eclectic wonder of music that they were not also practical.

2Ch 29:15 They gathered their brothers and sanctified themselves, and went in, according to the commandment of the king by the words of Yahweh, to cleanse the house of Yahweh-
"By the words of Yahweh" could mean the implications of His previously recorded words, or some special revelation from a prophet. Hezekiah’s zealous cleansing of the temple (2 Chron. 29:12-16) would have been a conscious attempt Ps. 69:9 “The zeal of Your house has eaten me up”- and yet these words are applied to the Lord’s cleansing of the temple and His death in the first century. Hezekiah failed to be the Messianic figure he potentially could have been, and so they became true of the Lord Jesus. Could it not be that He cleansed the temple fully understanding these things, and seeking like Hezekiah to defer God’s wrath upon Judah, to give them a chance to repent? And it was delayed- in that there was no immediate wrath from Heaven against the Jews for murdering the Son of God. And yet the days were shortened as well as deferred for the elect’s sake. An amazing Father somehow builds all these various factors into His time periods. Truly everything happens in our lives at the ‘right’ time!

2Ch 29:16 The priests went in to the inner part of the house of Yahweh to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in Yahweh’s temple into the court of the house of Yahweh. The Levites took it, to carry it out abroad to the brook Kidron-
"The inner part" could refer to the most holy place where Ahaz had placed idols. Perhaps the extent of the blasphemy was so great the record prefers not to state it was the most holy place, but rather refers to the "inner part of the house". The Levites weren't allowed in to the most holy place, but were allowed into the court. Hence the priests carried these idols from the most holy place to the court, and their servants the Levites carried them from there to the Kidron. This shows that despite the desecration of the most holy place by Ahaz, they still considered that spot to be holy, and the laws of sanctity concerning it were still to be obeyed by them so far as they could.

2Ch 29:17 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 Yahweh. They sanctified the house of Yahweh in eight days, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end-
Eight days were spent sanctifying the court, and eight days the temple itself. LXX has "on the thirteenth day of the first month". If that is correct, then this was done in time for Passover, and the cleansing was done in the spirit of searching the home for leaven before keeping the Passover. See on :20.

We may well enquire as to Hezekiah's motives in this outburst of sudden zeal the moment his father died. Bearing in mind that he was to turn away from Yahweh in the end. Hezekiah  had somehow survived Ahaz burning his children to idols (2 Chron. 28:3). So he may have reacted to his father's murder of his brothers by turning right against such idolatry. This means that his apparent zeal for Yahweh [remembering that he turned away from Him in the end and raised Manasseh] was partly due to a psychological reaction against his father and traumatic childhood experiences. For he would have lived in constant fear that he would also be offered, at the whim of the gods of his father. 

2Ch 29:18 Then they went in to Hezekiah the king within the palace and said, We have cleansed all the house of Yahweh, and the altar of burnt offering, with all its vessels, and the table of showbread, with all its vessels-
The destruction of the vessels by Ahaz (2 Chron. 28:24) was not complete as some were retained, perhaps for worshipping Yahweh in the name of the idols. For this mixture of true and false worship was his characteristic failure, as it has always been for God's people. The cleansing may have been through sprinkling of water (from the reestablished laver, see on :19), and a prayer rededicating them to Yahweh's service. For they had apparently been used in worshipping idols through adapting Yahweh's rituals to those of idolatry. We must learn the lesson; that we cannot serve God through doing our own sinful thing, which is essentially idolatry.  

2Ch 29:19 Moreover all the vessels which king Ahaz in his reign threw away when he trespassed, have we prepared and sanctified; and behold, they are before the altar of Yahweh-
"Prepared" is literally 'set up', perhaps referring to how Ahaz had cut off the bases of the laver (2 Kings 16:17). Some of the vessels were thrown away, others cut up or melted down (2 Chron. 28:24), and others, it seems, were used for the worship of idols and needed to therefore be cleansed. The specific desecration of the laver by Ahaz shows how he despised the whole idea of having to be cleansed in order to come before Yahweh; and perhaps that is why now there was so much emphasis upon cleansing. Perhaps the reestablished laver was used to cleanse the items desecrated by Ahaz.

2Ch 29:20 Then Hezekiah the king arose early, and gathered the princes of the city, and went up to the house of Yahweh-
This particular day when he rose early may have been the 14th day of the first month, Passover. See on :17.

There is a much repeated characteristic of God's servants: that they 'rose up early in the morning' and did God's work. In each of the following passages, this phrase is clearly not an idiom; rather does it have an evidently literal meaning: Abraham (Gen. 19:27; 21:14; 22:3); Jacob (Gen. 28:18); Job (1:5); Moses (Ex. 8:20; 9:13; 24:4; 34:4); Joshua (Josh. 3:1; 6:12; 7:16; 8:10); Gideon (Jud. 6:38; 7:1); Samuel (1 Sam. 15:12); David (1 Sam. 17:20; 29:11); Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chron. 29:20). This is quite an impressive list, numerically. This can be a figure for being zealous (Ps. 127:2; Pr. 27:14; Song 7:12; Is. 5:11; Zeph. 3:7). God Himself rises up early in His zeal to save and bring back His wayward people (2 Chron. 36:15; Jer. 7:13,25; 11:7; 25:3,4; 26:5; 29:19; 32:33; 35:14,15; 44:4). Yet the above examples all show that men literally rose up early in their service to God; this was an expression of their zeal for God, in response to His zeal for us. I'm not suggesting that zeal for God is reflected by rising early rather than staying up late; but it wouldn't be too much to suggest that if we are men of mission, we won't waste our hours in bed. Get up when you wake up.

2Ch 29:21 They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats for a sin offering for the kingdom and for the sanctuary and for Judah. He commanded the priests the sons of Aaron to offer them-
I suggested on :17 that this may have been the time of Passover. But Hezekiah alters the rituals, although retaining the offering of lambs, because of the deep sense of sin which was felt. The offering "for the kingdom" refers to the royal family.  

On the altar of Yahweh-
Rather than on the new idol altar of Ahaz (2 Kings 16:11).

2Ch 29:22 So they killed the bulls, and the priests received the blood, and sprinkled it on the altar. They killed the rams, and sprinkled the blood on the altar: they killed also the lambs, and sprinkled the blood on the altar-
I suggested on :17 that this may have been the time of Passover. And this would explain why the Hebrew word translated "sprinkled" doesn't mean that; it is the word for "dashed", as the blood of the Passover lamb was to be dashed upon the door posts on Passover night. Clearly Hezekiah was adapting the Passover rituals to the situation before him at the time. There is indeed a spirit of the law which is far more important than the letter.

2Ch 29:23 They brought near the male goats for the sin offering before the king and the assembly; and they laid their hands on them-
The "they" who laid hands on the animals were the representatives of the people, the princes of :20. They were identifying the people with the sin offerings, placing the sins of the people upon them. This was all a modification of Mosaic ritual, and a big modification of the Passover rituals. But the spirit of it was absolutely correct. For the Passover could hardly be kept, celebrating deliverance from pagan Egypt, with such a weight of sin hanging over the people.

2Ch 29:24 and the priests killed them, and they made a sin offering with their blood on the altar, to make atonement for all Israel; for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel-
Literally, "they made a reconciliation". This collective forgiveness of a whole people, some of whom may not have been at all repentant, raises questions as to what degree we can attain forgiveness for others. Within invisible limits, there is a sense in which this is possible even today (Mk. 2:5; James 5:15). But there is to be individual response to this experience of group forgiveness; see on :31. 

2Ch 29:25 He set the Levites in the house of Yahweh with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king’s seer and Nathan the prophet; for the commandment was of Yahweh by His prophets-
I discussed on 1 Chron. 28:19 the possibility that not all that David claimed to have received by Divine commandment in relation to the temple ordinances was in fact from God. Some of it was of his own device and design. This is the first we hear of Gad and Nathan giving prophecies about these things. But there is the possibility that the commandments of David, and apparently Gad and Nathan, were just that- their commandments. Not inspired by God. But now the commandment to "set the Levites in the house of Yahweh" was given by Yahweh through His prophets at the time of Hezekiah. We noted on :15 the possibility that there were such prophets in operation at this time, guiding Hezekiah in the cleansing process. 

2Ch 29:26 The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets-
This could refer to the instruments David had ordered to be used, or to actual musical instruments made by him (1 Chron. 23:5; Am. 6:5).

2Ch 29:27 Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering on the altar. When the burnt offering began, the song of Yahweh began also, and the trumpets, together with the instruments of David king of Israel-
Praise and sacrifice are often connected. The noise of the songs would have risen up as the smoke of the offerings did. They began at the same time. True praise is not merely musical performance enjoyed and indulged in for its own eclectic sake, but a form of "the sacrifice of praise" (Ps. 54;6; Jer. 33:11; Heb. 13:15). And we are asked to offer this sacrifice (Heb. 13:15). The allusion must surely be to this dramatic time when sacrifice and praise were so visibly connected together.

2Ch 29:28 All the assembly worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished-
The praise was exactly timed to start and finish with the burning of the animals. It started when the animals first began to burn, and ended precisely when the carcass was pronounced consumed. See on :27.

2Ch 29:29 When they had made an end of offering, the king and all who were present with him bowed themselves and worshipped-
The musical accompaniment ended as soon as the offering was consumed (:28). And now came the real worship. People with bowed heads, suggesting confession of sin, worshipping God through that contrite repentance. For that is the essence of worship.

2Ch 29:30 Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praises to Yahweh with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. They sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped-
After the musical presentation which coincided with the offering (see on :27,28), there was the time of bowed heads in personal confession of sin which was also the true worship (:29). And now the singers sing joyful praise in the words of David and Asaph. And with the gladness which can only come from true contrition and confession of sin. Joy in worship cannot just be switched on and off at will. It must have a basis, and ultimately that basis is in the experience of repentance and forgiveness.

2Ch 29:31 Then Hezekiah answered, Now you have consecrated yourselves to Yahweh; come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of Yahweh. The assembly brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings-
Although forgiveness and reconciliation were achieved on a group basis (see on :24), there was to be individual response. 

Ps. 51:11,12 speaks of God's "free spirit" [or 'willing spirit' ASV], paralleling it with God's Spirit, His "presence", the "joy of thy salvation". All those terms are parallel. The spirit of God is His presence, His salvation, joy, freedom. The Hebrew translated "free" really means 'generous'- the generosity of God's Spirit / mind / ways is shown in His forgiveness and saving of us. If God's spirit is His character, then, it is free, joyous, generous etc. Human beings can also have a "free heart" - the same Hebrew word appears translated like this in 2 Chron. 29:31 etc.- i.e. a spirit of generosity. When we have this, we are reflecting the "free spirit" / attitude of God. Whenever we are generous, His Spirit, with all its generosity, dwells in us and becomes our spirit. It is in this sense that I see a window into understanding the gift of God's spirit into the heart / mind / attitude of the believer. If God's spirit is free / generous, then so is ours to be; if His Spirit is joyous, just, true etc., then so is ours to be. In this sense we receive of His Spirit by reflecting His free and generous mind to others.

Realizing that what we appear to own in life is not actually ours but God’s brings with it a great sense of freedom. No longer is there the endless anxiety about what is ‘ours’, and the need to keep it for ourselves. As noted above, the Hebrew word translated “free” is also that translated “liberal” or “generous”. Hence in 2 Chron. 29:31 we find that “as many as were of a free heart [offered] burnt offerings”. Actually that Hebrew word is usually translated “prince”, the idea being that princes were wealthy enough to be ‘free’ and therefore generous if they wished. But any of us can have this noble / free heart, we can act like wealthy people whatever our poverty, in that we are free from the ties of materialism which bind so tightly.

2Ch 29:32 The number of the burnt offerings which the assembly brought was seventy bulls, one hundred rams, and two hundred lambs. All these were for a burnt offering to Yahweh-
I will suggest on :32 that in addition to these, there were then afterwards a larger number of animals offered as peace offerings. For the usual order is sin offering, burnt offering [a promise of dedication] and then the peace offerings which celebrated the peace with God achieved through following the path of forgiveness and dedication leading to peace and fellowship with God. It could be argued that this was not a large number, although if :33 is the tithe of the peace offerings, then the total number of sacrifices was significant.

2Ch 29:33 The consecrated things were six hundred head of cattle and three thousand sheep-
This could refer to the sacrifices which were to be given to the priests to eat (Lev. 21:22; 22:2,3,15); but their number is far greater than the number of cattle offered in :32. Perhaps there were additional offerings in addition to those of :32, and this was the tithe of them. It could be that these were the tithe of the thank offerings / peace offerings which were offered separately to the burnt offerings of :32. In which case there was far more celebration of peace with God than there was attention to dedication to Him. In this case, we have a warning against celebrating peace with God in worship without due attention to the dedication required to get to that point. Much modern worship is severely lacking in this.  

2Ch 29:34 But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings. Therefore their brothers the Levites helped them, until the work was ended, and until the priests had sanctified themselves; for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests-
As noted several times already in this chapter, the letter of the law had to be broken by the spirit of the whole situation. The implication is that "the priests were too few" in that too few of them had sanctified themselves, whereas the servant Levites had more amongst them who had sanctified themselves. 

2Ch 29:35 Also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings, and with the drink offerings for every burnt offering. So the service of the house of Yahweh was set in order-
This would have required a large amount of wine (Num. 15:5-10). There is no mention of this being offered when Solomon offered his huge numbers of burnt offerings. "So the service... was set in order" is a phrase used only of the time of Hezekiah's reformation (2 Chron. 29:35) and of that of Josiah (2 Chron. 35:10,15,16). It seems Josiah was inspired by the record of Hezekiah's reformation, and sought to follow it. Just as we too in our own contexts are to be inspired by the spirit of these reformers.

2Ch 29:36 Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, because of that which God had prepared for the people; for this was done suddenly
I suggested on :17 that this very sudden outburst of devotion to Yahweh was partly a psychological reaction of Hezekiah to the death of his father. And it was not necessarily a sign of a heart devoted to Yahweh. We need to consider to what extent our apparent devotion to the Lord is the outworking of psychological factors in our earlier lives or childhood.