(Verses 1 through 7) Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah. He built Eloth, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers. Sixteen years old was Uzziah when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Jecoliah of Jerusalem And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah did. And he sought the LORD in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God, and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper. And he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath, and the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod, and built cities about Ashdod, and among the Philistines. And God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabians that dwelt in Gur-baal, and the Mehunims.
Uzziah the son of Amaziah was made king after the death of his father. He was only sixteen years old at the time, and he reigned for fifty-two years. He followed in the way Amaziah had done in the earlier part of his reign. His mother’s name was Jecoliah, a native of Jerusalem. He sought the LORD during the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God. And as long as he sought to follow the LORD, God blessed him to prosper. He was, by the help of the LORD, very successful against the Philistines, and the Arabians, and the Mehunims.
(Verses 8 through 12) And the Ammonites gave gifts to Uzziah: and his name spread abroad even to the entering in of Egypt; for he strengthened himself exceedingly. Moreover Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the corner gate, and at the valley gate, and at the turning of the wall, and fortified them.. Also he built towers in the desert, and digged many wells: for he had much cattle, both in the low country, and in the plains: husbandmen also, and vine dressers in the mountains, and in Carmel: for he loved husbandry. Moreover Uzziah had an host of fighting men, that went out to war by bands, according to number of their account by the hand of Jeiel the scribe and Maaseiah the ruler, under the hand of Hananiah, one of the king’s captains. The whole number of the chief of the fathers of the mighty men of valour were two thousand and six hundred.
Uzziah did much building up of the fortifications of Judah, and had a large standing army, as well as being very active in improving the agriculture of Judah, and raising much cattle. He greatly built up Judah in many ways.
(Verses 13 through 15) And under his hand was an army, three hundred thousand and seven thousand and five hundred, that made war with mighty power, to help the king against the enemy. And Uzziah prepared for them throughout all the host shields, and spears, and helmets, and habergeons, and bows, and slings to cast stones. And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal. And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong.
Not only did Uzziah have a large army, but he also had it well equipped. He had plenty of armor for defense and weapons for offense. He even had what was, for that day, some very heavy artillery at Jerusalem, machines for shooting arrows, and for throwing great stones. His army was equipped beyond its day. So he became very famous, and became very strong.
(Verses 16 through 21) But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: and they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar. And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.
This should be a lesson for us even today. Uzziah had been a careful follower of the LORD. But the success the LORD had given him lifted him up so much in his own mind that he thought he could do what he pleased, even to offering incense to the LORD. This had been restricted to the priests by the law of the Lord from the beginning. And he knew he was not a priest. So he should never have attempted to go into the house of the LORD to burn incense. But, not only did he do this, but he even became very angry when the priests of the LORD stopped him from so doing. Then the LORD struck him with leprosy so that he was a leper as long as he lived. He could no longer fulfill the office of king, but had to remain in a separate house, while his son Jotham fulfilled his office for him for the rest of his life. He could not even go into the house of the LORD.
(Verses 22 and 23) Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first and last, did Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, write. So Uzziah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the field of the burial which belonged to the kings; for they said, He is a leper: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.
Thus ended the reign of king Uzziah. He died, and was buried in the field of the burial place of the kings, but not in the sepulchres of the kings, because he was a leper.
(Verses 1 through 4) Jotham was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah did: howbeit he entered not into the temple of the LORD. And the people did yet corruptly. He built the high gate of the house of the LORD, and on the wall of Ophel he built much. Moreover he built cities in the mountains of Judah, and in the forests he built castles and towers.
Jotham was twenty-five years of age when he began to reign, and his reign was sixteen years. He was one of the kings who followed the Lord, and he did not attempt to encroach upon the duties of the priests. Nevertheless the people walked in corrupt ways. He did some building, on the house of the LORD, and on other projects, some of which was for strengthening the defenses of Judah.
(Verses 5 through 9) He fought also with the king of the Ammonites, and prevailed against them. And the children of Ammon gave him the same year an hundred talents of silver, and ten thousand measures of wheat, and ten thousand of barley. So much did the children of Ammon pay unto him, both the second year, and the third. So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD his God. Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all his wars, and his ways, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. He was five and twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And Jotham slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.
Jotham seems to have been one of the “good” kings of Judah. Nothing is mentioned of any departure from his following the LORD during his life. He only reigned sixteen years, but his reign seems to have been beneficial to Judah.
(Verses 1 through 5) Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: but he did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD, like David his father. For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim. Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire , after the abominations of the heathen whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree. Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter.
Thus we are introduced to Ahaz king of Judah. He began his reign when he was twenty years of age, and he reigned sixteen years. He was one of the evil kings of Judah. He not only offered sacrifices and burned incense to the idols of the heathen around him, but he even burned his own children as sacrifices to these heathen idols. So The LORD delivered him into the hand of his enemies, the Syrians, who carried away a great multitude of them as captives; and even the king of Israel slaughtered many of his people. In spite of all the punishment the LORD sent upon him, he seemed to get worse and worse.
(Verses 6 through 11) For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew an hundred and twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men; because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers. And Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, slew Maaseiah the king’s son, and Azrikam, the governor of the house, and Elkanah, that was next to the king. And the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand, women, sons, and daughters, and took also away much spoil from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria. But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded: and he went out before the host that came to Samaria, and said unto them, Behold, because the LORD God of your fathers was wroth with Judah, He hath delivered them into your hand, and you have slain them in a rage that reacheth up unto heaven. And now ye purpose to keep under the children of Judah and Jerusalem for bondmen and bondwomen unto you: but are not there with you, even with you, sins against the LORD your God? Now hear me therefore, and deliver the captives again, which ye have taken captive of your brethren: for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you.
Because of the failure of Ahaz to follow the LORD, much trouble was sent upon him and Judah. Pekah the son of Remaliah, the king of Israel came with a host, and killed one hundred and twenty thousand of the valiant men of Judah in one day. Zichri, one of the great warriors of Ephraim, killed Maaseiah the king’s son, Azrikam the governor of the house, and Elkanah, who was next to the king. Also the children of Israel took captive two hundred thousand, including women and children, and carried them to Samaria, together with much spoil. But Oded the prophet was there, and he rebuked the men of Israel for even thinking that they would enslave their brethren the people of Judah. He declared that the great wrath of God was upon them for so doing.
(Verses 12 through15) Then certain of the heads of the children of Ephraim, Azariah, the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, and Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against them that came from the war, and said unto them, Ye shall not bring in the captives hither: for whereas we have offended against the LORD already, ye intend to add more to our sins and to our trespass: for our trespass is great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel. So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the congregation. And the men which were expressed by name rose up, and took the captives, and with the spoil clothed all that were naked among them, and arrayed them, and shod them, and gave them to eat and to drink, and anointed them, and carried all the feeble upon asses, and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm trees, to their brethren: then they returned to Samaria.
After Oded the prophet had spoken, the princes of Ephraim rose up, and told the armed men that they could not hold these prisoners, because they had already offended too much against the LORD, and they would not permit the soldiers to keep the captives and make slaves of them. So the army left all the captives and all the spoil there before the princes and all the congregation. Whereupon they took of the spoils and clothed and fed all the prisoners. Then they returned the prisoners to Jericho, and turned them over to the people of Judah. Then they returned home.
(Verses 16 through 21) At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him. For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives. The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the low country, and of the south of Judah, and had taken Beth-shemesh, and Ajalon, and Gederoth, and Shocho with the villages thereof, and Timnah with the villages thereof, Gimzo and the villages thereof: and they dwelt there. For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the LORD. And Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not. For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of the LORD, and out of the house of the king, and the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria: but he helped him not.
King Ahaz continued to be so assailed by disasters that he sent a request to the king of Assyria to come and help him. But the Philistines continued to harass him, and finally the king of Assyria did come, but gave him no help. Instead, he took a portion of the treasures of the house of God, and of the king’s house, and gave them to the king of Assyria, but still got no help from him. It is a little unclear why that, in verse 19, Ahaz is called , “Ahaz king of Israel.” (Also the same thing is said about Jehoshaphat in chapter 21, verse 2, and for no apparent reason.)
(Verses 22 through 27) And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the LORD: this is that king Ahaz. For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel. And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of god, and shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem. And in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the LORD God of his fathers. Now the rest of his acts and all his ways, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, even in Jerusalem: but they brought him not into the sepulchres of the kings of Israel: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.
The more distress he had come upon him, the more Ahaz turned against the LORD. Because the Syrians defeated him, he believed that it was their gods that helped them. So he sacrificed to them in an effort to get their help. But it never came. Instead it was the ruin of both him and Judah. He even took all the vessels out of the house of God, cut them into pieces, and shut the doors of the house of the LORD. Then he built altars to his idols throughout Jerusalem, and all the other cities of Judah, thus bringing more of the wrath of God upon him and his people. He died, and was buried in Jerusalem, but not in the sepulchres of the kings. And Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.
(Verses 1 and 2) Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done.
Here we began the reign of one of the good kings of Judah. He was only twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years. His reign was during some very trying times; but he followed the LORD very closely all the way.
(Verses 3 through 12) He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them. And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street, and said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place. For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD our God, and have forsaken Him, and have turned our faces away from the habitation of the LORD, and turned our backs. Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burnt incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel. Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and He hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes. For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters, and our wives are in captivity for this. Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that His fierce wrath may turn away from us. My sons, be not now negligent: for the LORD hath chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense.
Apparently the very first official act of Hezekiah was to repair, and open the house of the LORD. Then he called an assembly of the Levites, ordered them to sanctify themselves, and begin the cleaning up and sanctifying of the house of the LORD. He reminded them of the low estate into which Judah had sunken, and declared that it had been brought on by the sins of the people of Judah. He reminded them that they had been chosen of God to minister before Him, and burn incense before Him. And that was just what he told them to do, that the fierce wrath of the LORD might be turned away from them all.
(Verses 12 through 19) Then the Levites arose, Mahath the son of Amasai, and Joel the son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites: and of the sons of Merari, Kish the son of Abdi, and Azariah the son of Jehalelel: and of the Gershonites; Joah the son of Zimmah, and Eden the son of Joah: and of the sons of Elizaphan; Shimri, and Jeiel: and of the sons of Asaph; Zechariah, and Mattaniah: and of the sons of Heman; Jehiel, and Shimei: and of the sons of Jeduthun; Shemaiah, and Uzziel. And they gathered their brethren, and sanctified themselves, and came, according to the commandment of the king, by the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD. And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD, to cleanse it, and brought out all uncleanness that they found in the temple of the LORD into the court of the house of the LORD. And the Levites took it, to carry it out abroad into the brook Kidron. Now they began on the first day of the month to sanctify, and on the eighth day of the month came they to the porch of the LORD: so they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days; and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end. Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, We have cleansed all the house of the LORD, and the altar of burnt offering, with all the vessels thereof, and the shewbread table, with all the vessels thereof. Moreover all the vessels, which king Ahaz in his reign did cast away in his transgression, have we prepared and sanctified, and, behold, they are before the altar of the LORD.
The Levites assembled themselves, and with the priests, sanctified themselves, and set to work on the cleansing and sanctifying the house of the LORD. They began the work on the first day of the month; and finished it on the sixteenth day of the same month. Then they reported to king Hezekiah that the work, including the preparing of even the vessels king Ahaz had thrown away, was finished.
(Verses 20 through 24) Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD. And they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven goats, for a sin offering for the kingdom, and for the sanctuary, and for Judah. And he commanded the priests the sons of Aaron to offer them on the altar of the LORD. So they killed the bullocks, and the priests received the blood, and sprinkled it on the altar; likewise, when they had killed the rams, they sprinkled the blood upon the altar: they killed also the lambs, and they sprinkled the blood upon the altar. And they brought forth the goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them: and the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel: for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel.
Thus the first great sacrifice for all Israel, made in the beginning of the reign of king Hezekiah was accomplished. Although this was done by Judah only, Hezekiah ordered it to be done on behalf of all Israel. He must indeed have been a very sincere lover of the LORD. After all the hardships Israel had heaped upon Judah, He included all Israel in the sacrifices and offerings.
(Verses 25 through 29) And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet: for it was the commandment of the LORD by His prophets. And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. And Hezekiah commanded to burn the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began also with the trumpets and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel. And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished. And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped.
This was, no doubt, one of the most elaborate services in the temple since the days of Solomon. All the singers and all the musicians were set in their order just as had been ordered by David. The song of the LORD was begun when they began the burnt offering, and continued all the while it was being offered. And when the offering was finished, the king and all who were with him bowed themselves and worshipped.
(Verses 30 through 36) Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped. Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings. And the number of the burnt offerings, which the congregation brought, was threescore and ten bullocks, an hundred rams, and two hundred lambs: all these were for a burnt offering to the LORD. And the consecrated things were six hundred oxen and three thousand sheep. But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings: wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them, till the work was ended, and until the other priests had sanctified themselves: for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests. And also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings, and the drink offerings for every burnt offering. So the service of the house of the LORD was set in order. And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: the thing was done suddenly,
Since the priests were more sluggish about consecrating themselves for their work than were the Levites, some of the Levites had to do some of the work that was usually a part of the responsibility of the priests. The Service was brought to a close. And Hezekiah together with all the people rejoiced that the LORD had prepared the people for this. It was done suddenly: for until Hezekiah was made king, there had been no service of any sort in the temple, which, in fact, had been closed, and was also in bad repair. But by the sixteenth day of the first month of his reign, the temple was ready; and this great worship service was shortly thereafter.
(Verses 1 through 5) And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover unto the LORD God of Israel. For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the Passover in the second month. For they could not keep it at that time, because the priests had not sanctified themselves sufficiently, neither had the people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem. And the thing pleased the king and all the congregation. So they established a decree to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beer-sheba even to Dan, that they should come to keep the Passover unto the LORD God of Israel at Jerusalem: for they had not done it of a long time in such sort as it was written.
Since the time for observing the Passover at the official time of its appointment had already passed, and Hezekiah wanted to hold it as soon as possible, he and his advisors decided to hold it in the second month, instead of the first month, as had been appointed. So they sent out proclamations and invitations throughout Israel as well as Judah, calling upon all the children of Israel to come to Jerusalem to observe it.
(Verses 6 through 12) So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and He will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hands of the kings of Assyria. And be not like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, Who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see. Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the LORD, and enter into His sanctuary, which He hath sanctified for ever: and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you. For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away His face from you, if ye return unto him. So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem. Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart to do the commandment of the king and his princes, by the word of the LORD.
To better understand this situation, and the message Hezekiah was sending to all Israel, one should remember that although this was in the first year of Hezekiah’s reign, which was about six years before the Assyrians took Israel captive, and carried them away, the Assyrians had already ravaged the whole land of Israel, and had carried some of the people away. So the whole land of Israel was already desolate. And it could be seen that it was only a matter of a short time until the whole nation would be carried away. Hezekiah was exhorting them to return to the LORD, that He would return to them. After all that was the promise the LORD had made to Solomon at the dedication of the temple. So Hezekiah was reminding them of this. But many of them, especially of Ephraim wanted no part of such. However, some from Manasseh, Asher, and Zebulun did humble themselves, and accept Hezekiah’s invitation. The hand of the LORD was very active in Judah in giving the people a single heart to do those things that Hezekiah and the princes had asked
(Verses 13 through 19) And there assembled at Jerusalem much people to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great congregation. And they arose and took away the altars that were at Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense took they away, and cast them into the brook Kidron. And they killed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into the house of the LORD. And they stood in their place after their manner, according to the law of Moses the man of God: the priests sprinkled the blood, which they received of the hand of the Levites. For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing of the Passovers for every one that was not clean to sanctify them unto the LORD. For the multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the Passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.
There was a great multitude that came to Jerusalem for this Passover, and feast of unleavened bread, although it was in the second month instead of being in the first month. as written in the law. While there they destroyed the altars Ahaz had built in all Jerusalem, as well as all the incense altars he had erected. Then they killed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the second month instead of in the first month. There were so many who had come without ceremonially cleansing themselves, that king Hezekiah commanded the Levites to kill the animals of those who were “unclean,” and prayed that the LORD would pardon the uncleanness of every one who prepared his heart to seek after “the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.”
(Verses 20 through 26) And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people. And the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness: and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with loud instruments unto God. And Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the LORD: and they did eat throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings, and making confession to the LORD God of their fathers. And the whole assembly took counsel to keep other seven days: and they kept other seven days with gladness. For Hezekiah king of Judah did give to the congregation a thousand bullocks and seven thousand sheep: and the princes gave to the congregation a thousand bullocks and ten thousand sheep: and a great number of priests sanctified themselves. And all the congregation of Judah, with the priests and the Levites, and all the congregation that came out of Israel, and the strangers that came out of the land of Israel, and that dwelt in Judah, rejoiced. So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem.
When Hezekiah prayed the LORD to pardon every one who prepared his heart to seek the LORD God of his fathers, the LORD did bless them all. And when the seven days of the feast of unleavened bread were come to an end, all the congregation agreed to extend the feast another seven days. The king and the princes of Judah gave to the congregation two thousand bullocks, and seventeen thousand sheep for the extended days. So the entire congregation rejoiced another seven days of feasting and making offerings to the LORD. As we mentioned before, there had been no such celebration as this in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon the son of David.
(Verse 27) Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to His holy dwelling place, even unto heaven.
This verse is a very fitting close for this occasion, and needs no further commentary.
(Verses 1 through 4) Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his own possession, into their own cities. And Hezekiah appointed the courses of the priests and the Levites after their courses, every man according to his service, 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 tents of the LORD. He appointed also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the LORD. Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the LORD.
It seems that, just as keeping the passover, and the feast of unleavened bread was Hezekiah’s first priority in his kingdom, the organization of the continuing service of the LORD according to the proper order, was his second. All the people went out and destroyed the altars, images, groves, and high places that had been set up throughout Judah and Benjamin, and also in Ephraim and Manasseh. And having done this they all returned, every man to his own possession. Then Hezekiah appointed the priests, the Levites, and the offerings in their proper order, as written in the law of the LORD.
(Verses 5 through 10) And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance of the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all those things brought they in abundantly. And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the LORD their God, and laid them by heaps, In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month. And when Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD and His people Israel. Then Hezekiah questioned with the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps. And Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok answered him, and said, Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the LORD hath blessed His people; and that which is left is this great store.
So when the commandment went forth that the people should bring in their firstfruits and their tithes, they responded so well that by the seventh month they had a great surplus gathered at the house of the LORD, and the priests had made foundations upon which to put it, as they heaped it up. Then Hezekiah inquired why were these great heaps set up as they were, and Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok told him that the LORD had so greatly blessed the people that what they had brought was more than they had been able to use. So this was the surplus.
(Verses 11 through 19) Then Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD; and they prepared them, and brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated things faithfully: over the which Cononiah the Levite was ruler, and Shemei his brother was the next. And Jehiel, and Azaziah, and Nahath, and Asahel, and Jerimoth, and Jozabad, and Eliel, and Ismachiah, and Mahath, and Benaiah, were overseers under the hand of Cononiah and Shimei his brother, at the commandment of Hezekiah the king, and Azariah the ruler of the house of God. And Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, the porter toward the east, was over the freewill offerings of God, to distribute the oblations of the LORD, and the most holy things. And next him were Eden, and Miniamin, and Jeshua, and Shemaiah, Amariah and Shecaniah, in the cities of the priests, in their set office, to give to their brethren by courses, as well to the great as to the small: beside their genealogy of males, from three years old and upward, even unto every one that entereth into the house of the LORD, his daily portion for their service in their charges according to their courses; both to the genealogy of the priests by the house of their fathers; and the Levites from twenty years old and upward, in their charges by their courses; and the genealogy of all their little ones, their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, through all the congregation: for in their set office they sanctified themselves in holiness: also of the sons of Aaron the priests, which were in the fields of the suburbs of their cities, in every several city, the men that were expressed by name, to give portions to all the males among the priests, and to all that were reckoned by genealogies among the Levites.
We are here given the names of those who were appointed to certain offices to supervise the distribution of the things that were given, according to the law of the LORD, to the priests and Levites. There is little here of any great value unless one is making a study of the alignment of the various offices in this part of the work, and of the manner of the keeping record of the genealogy of the priests and Levites.
(Verses 20 and 21) And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God. And every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.
This is a testimonial that we have not found given concerning any other king of Judah, or of Israel. It seems clear enough to stand upon its own, with no further comment.
(Verses 1 through 8) After these things, and the establishment thereof, Senacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against fences cities, and thought to win them for himself. And when Hezekiah saw that Senacherib was come, and that he proposed to fight against Jerusalem, he took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him. So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran down through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water? Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance. And set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying, Be strong and courageous, be not dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: with him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the arm of the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
The Assyrians had already overrun Israel, and now Senacherib the king of Assyria brought his army against Jerusalem. Hezekiah did everything that he could to strengthen the defenses of Jerusalem, but he knew that so far as human ability was concerned, he could in no wise stand up against Senacherib’s army. But he was a man of great faith in the LORD God of Israel. So having made all possible human preparations for the battle, he made a short speech to his people. He called upon them to be strong and courageous, and reminded them that they were supported by the LORD God of their fathers, instead of by an arm of flesh. And the LORD blessed the people with sufficient courage and faith that they relied upon the promise Hezekiah had set before them.
(Verses 9 through 15) And after this did Senacherib king of Assyria send his servants to Jerusalem, (but he himself laid siege to Lachish, and all his power with him,) unto Hezekiah king of Judah, and unto all Judah that were at Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith Senacherib king of Assyria, Whereon do ye trust, that ye abide in the siege in Jerusalem? Doth not Hezekiah persuade you to give over yourselves to die by famine and by thirst, saying, The LORD our God shall deliver us out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Hath not the same Hezekiah taken away His high places and His altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall worship before one altar, and burn incense upon it? Know ye not what I and my fathers have done unto all the people of other lands? were the gods of the nations of those lands any ways able to deliver their lands out of mine hand? Who was there among all the gods of those nations that My father utterly destroyed, that could deliver his people out of mine hand? Now therefore let not Hezekiah deceive you, nor persuade you on this manner, neither yet believe him: for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people out of the hand of my fathers: how much less shall your God deliver you out of mine hand?
There is no need to comment upon each word or sentence of this message. The principal thing that should be considered is the ignorance of Senacherib. First and foremost is the fact that he did not know the difference between the LORD GOD, and the gods of the nations he had been able to overcome. That also seems to be the trouble with many today. They seem to think that one god is just as good as another. And that is certainly true. But such are only vanity, the imagination of men. But the LORD GOD is another Being altogether. He, alone, created the heaven and the earth, together with all the fullness of both. Therefore He can do whatsoever He will, with all things of His creation, including all men. The next thing that Senacherib did not know is that all the altars, and groves, and images, and high places, which Hezekiah destroyed were not dedicated to the LORD GOD, but to all the various idols of the nations round about, even the very gods that were not able to deliver their people from Senacherib. And a third thing he did not know is that, when he tried to equate the LORD GOD with these other gods, he was blaspheming the LORD GOD, for He has declared that He will not share His glory with any other; and that is exactly what Senacherib was trying to do, place Him on a level with them, which can never be.
(Verses 16 through 20) And his servants spake yet more against the LORD God, and against His servant Hezekiah. He wrote also letters to rail on the LORD God of Israel, and to speak against Him, saying, As the gods of the nations have not delivered their people out of mine hand, so shall not the God of Hezekiah deliver his people out of mine hand. Then they cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ speech unto the people of Jerusalem, that were on the wall, to affright them, and to trouble them; that they might take the city. And they spake against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth, which were the work of the hands of man. And for this cause Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven.
Assyria had, indeed, had great success against all the nations round about Judah. So they were feeling that they were great enough that no one and nothing could withstand them. So they continued saying insulting things about The LORD God, and declaring that there was nothing He could do more than what the gods of the nations had done. This they did in an effort to frighten the people and, perhaps, cause them to rebel against Hezekiah and his faith in the LORD. The prophet Isaiah was living in Jerusalem at that time. And both he and king Hezekiah prayed to the LORD God of Israel for His help. II Kings, chapters 18 and 19 should be read in connection with this account.
(Verses 21 through 26) And the LORD sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword. Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Senacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side. And many brought gifts unto the LORD to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah: so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth. In those days Hezekiah was sick unto death, and prayed unto the LORD: and He spake unto him, and He gave him a sign. But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.
According to the account in II Kings, Senacherib was holding the city of Lachish under siege when he sent his servants to carry this message to Jerusalem, and when they returned to him, he had moved his operations to Libnah. During the night after Senacherib’s servants returned to him, the LORD sent an angel into the camp of the Assyrians, and killed one hundred and eighty five thousand of the Assyrian soldiers, with no one knowing anything about it until the next morning. This caused Senacherib to immediately return with his army to Nineveh. And shortly thereafter two of his sons killed him in the house of his god, and fled the country, while another of his sons became king.. The news of such a great event as the death of all those soldiers in a single night was certainly soon spread around. And this made Hezekiah be considered an especially great man, and under the protection of One Whom none of the people around wanted to tangle with. No doubt, it may have caused Hezekiah to have an exalted view of himself also. But the LORD brought him down from that position.
(Verses 27 through 31) And Hezekiah had exceeding much riches and honour; and he made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for precious stones, and for spices, and for shields, and for all manner of pleasant jewels; storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks. Moreover he provided him cities, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance: for God had given him substance very much. This same Hezekiah also stopped the watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works. Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who were sent unto him to inquire of the wonder that was done in his land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.
II Kings, chapter 20, contains a much more detailed account of what is so lightly mentioned in this text, so far as Hezekiah’s sickness, and his encounter with the ambassadors of the king of Babylon. Nevertheless, the LORD promised that Hezekiah would be permitted to come to his death in peace, and the trouble that was to come upon Judah would be in the generation following him. As we see here, he was also active in carrying on construction projects.
(Verses 32 and 33) Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and his goodness, behold, they are written in the vision of Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, and in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death. And Manasseh his son reigned in his stead
Hezekiah was, beyond question, one of the best kings, if not the best king of Judah, after Solomon, or, perhaps, even after David. And the people of Jerusalem honored him by placing him in the “chiefest” of the sepulchres of the sons of David.
(Verses 1 through 10) Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: but he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. for he built the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the hosts of heaven, and served them. Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had said, In Jerusalem shall My name be for ever. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger. And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put My name for ever: Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses. So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel. And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.
There seems to be little needed to be said about this text; and certainly nothing good to be said about Manasseh. It seems that he went completely out of his way to break the laws of God. The fact that he was permitted to reign for fifty two years, shows the extreme patience and longsuffering of God, even toward the wicked. It seems that Manasseh tried to do everything he could even imagine that he knew was against the laws of the LORD. Yet, for purposes of His own the LORD spared him for a long time. The LORD warned both Manasseh and the people of Judah, but they would not listen to the warning.
(Verses 11 through 20) Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto Him: and He was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD He was God. Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah. And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel. Nevertheless the people did yet sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the LORD their God only. Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel. His prayer also, and how God was entreated of him, and all his sins, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers. So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.
According to this account, the LORD wrought a great miracle in the life of Manasseh. To bring this about, He sent the Assyrians upon him to take him captive, and carry him away, even to Babylon, where he was held captive for a while, and, no doubt, treated with the cruelty for which they were noted. While Manasseh was in this terrible captivity, the LORD changed his heart, and gave to him the knowledge that the LORD is God. And as it does to everyone to whom it is given, this knowledge humbled him, and caused him to pray to the LORD. After God had wrought this great change in Manasseh, He had the Assyrians bring him back to his kingdom. From that time forward he worked at trying to eradicate all the altars, groves, and idols, he had formerly set up in Judah and Jerusalem; and he commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel, instead of the idols he had formerly established. Apparently the only things he left of those vanities he had set up, were the high places; and these the people still used, but only to sacrifice unto the LORD, and not to the idols. We are told where all his acts and his prayer were recorded. He died, and was buried in his own house, and His son Amon succeeded him as king
(Verses 21 through 25) Amon was two and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned two years in Jerusalem. But he did that which was evil in the sight of the LURD, as did Manasseh his father: for Amon sacrificed unto all the carved images which Manasseh his father had made, and served them; and humbled not himself before the LORD, as Manasseh his father humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more. And his servants conspired against him, and slew him in his own house. But the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead.
After the death of Manasseh, his son Amon was made king, And he was so evil that he lasted only two years, and was killed by his own servants, whereupon there was a great reaction from the people. They killed all those who had conspired against Amon, and made his son Josiah king in his place.
(Verses 1 through 7) Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved, and the molten images. And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them. And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. And so did he in the cities of Manasseh. and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks round about. And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols in the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.
Josiah was only eight years old when he was made king, and he reigned for thirty-one years. His first eight years may have been spent in being trained for his duties as king, for nothing is said about them. But in his eighth year, he became very much interested in learning how he could best serve the LORD God of David his father. And in his twelfth year he began in earnest to rid Judah of all idolatry. He was not content to send someone to destroy the groves, the altars, and the images, but actively took part in these things. Not only did he destroy these, but he also destroyed the High places, which even Manasseh had left when he was purging Judah of Idolatry. Josiah even carried his program so far as to purge the cities of Judah, Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon, and Naphtali. So far as the other tribes of Israel are concerned, they may have, at this time, been so devastated by Assyria that there was nothing left there for Josiah to destroy. For the Assyrians had already removed many of the inhabitants of Israel, and replaced them with strangers. After finishing his work of purging the land, Josiah returned to Jerusalem.
(Verses 8 through 13) Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land, and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz the recorder, to repair the house of the LORD his God. And when they came to Hilkiah the high priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites that kept the doors had gathered of the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, and of all the remnant of Israel, and of all Judah and Benjamin; and they returned to Jerusalem. And they put it in the hand of the workmen that had the oversight of the house of the LORD, to repair and amend the house: even to the artificers and builders gave they it, to buy hewn stones, and timber for couplings, and to floor the houses which the kings of Judah had destroyed. And the men did the work faithfully: and the overseers of them were Jahath and Obadiah, the Levites, of the sons of Merari; and Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to set it forward; and other of the Levites, all that could skill of instruments of music. Also they were over the bearers of burdens, and were overseers of all that wrought the work in any manner of service: and of the Levites there were scribes, and officers, and porters.
After Josiah had finished his purge of the land, he turned his attention to repairing the house of the LORD, which through neglect and actual damage done by some of the kings of Judah, had become badly in need of attention. This text lists various ones who were appointed to the office of overseeing this work. Such a project as this needed quite a bit of organization before the actual work could be started.
(Verses 14 through 22) And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the LORD given by Moses. And Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan. And Shaphan carried the book to the king, and brought the king back word again, saying, All that was committed to thy servants, they do it. And they have gathered together the money that was found in the house of the LORD, and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers, and to the hand of the workmen. Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath given me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Abdon the son of Micah. And Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king’s, saying, Go, Inquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, for our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in the book. And Hilkiah, and they that the king had appointed, went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college:) and they spake to her to that effect.
One might wonder just how this book had been so long neglected in the house of the LORD. But we must remember that during the reigns of some of the kings of Judah, the house of the LORD had been sadly neglected, and had even at one time been closed up so that none could enter therein. So, apparently, this book had been pushed aside in some corner, and forgotten. But when it was found, and brought to the attention of Josiah, he was very much disturbed about it, So he sent a delegation to the prophetess Huldah to inquire of the LORD what he might expect, and what he might do about the situation. Two names in verse 22 are spelled differently from that given in II Kings 22:14. Here they are given as Tikvath and Hasrah, while in the reference in II Kings they are, Tikvah, and Harhas, respectively. They have no bearing on the subject matter of this text, but might be a little confusing to someone.
(Verses 23 through 28) And she answered them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah: because they have forsaken Me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore My wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched. As for the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the LORD, so shall ye say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel concerning the words which thou hast heard; because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest His words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before Me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before Me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD. Behold I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shalt thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same. So they brought the king word again.
The answer the LORD gave by the prophetess was what we so often refer to as “good news, bad news.” So far as the curses written in the book are concerned, the LORD declared that they were surely coming upon that place and its inhabitants. However they would not come until Josiah had been permitted to die in peace, and be buried. Nothing is said about how long he would be permitted to live; but he would not have to see the destruction that was coming upon Jerusalem.
(Verses 29 through 33) Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests, and the Levites, and all the people, great and small: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of the LORD. And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep His commandments, and His testimonies, and His statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book. And he caused all that were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand by it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the LORD their God. And all his days they departed not from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.
Josiah was certainly a man of action, and quick action at that. He immediately called an assembly of all Judah, and all the remnant of Israel that were still left in the land. He then read to them, all at one time, all the words of the book which had caused him so much concern. Then he made a covenant with the LORD, and had all the people to join into that covenant, that they would keep all the words of that book, all its commandments, statutes, and laws. This covenant he faithfully tried to keep, and to the best of his ability, he saw to it that they also kept this covenant, all the remainder of his days.
(Verses 1 through 6) Moreover Josiah kept a passover unto the LORD in Jerusalem: and they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of the LORD, and said unto the Levites that taught all Israel, which were holy unto the LORD, Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David did build; it shall not be a burden upon your shoulders: serve now the LORD your God, and His people Israel, and prepare yourselves by the house of your fathers, after your courses, according to the writing of David king of Israel, and according to the writing of Solomon his son. And stand in the holy place according to the divisions of the families of the fathers of your brethren the people, and after the division of the families of the Levites. So kill the passover, and sanctify yourselves, and prepare your brethren, that they may do according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.
The children of Israel may have been negligent about trying to observe the passover for some time, because of the orders of various of their kings. While one reigned, they may have tried to carry on the service of the LORD, and when another took over, he ordered that to cease, etc. But Josiah, after establishing the covenant he had made with the LORD and with the people, determined to keep the passover at its appointed time. The passover was killed on the fourteenth day of the first month, just as had been commanded by Moses. So to that end he gave commandment to the priests, the Levites, and to all the people.
(Verses 7 through 12) And Josiah gave to the people of the flock, lambs and kids, all for the passover offerings, for all that were present, to the number of thirty thousand, and three thousand bullocks: these were of the king’s substance. And his princes gave willingly unto the people, to the priests, and to the Levites: Hilkiah and Zechariah and Jehiel, rulers of the house of God, gave unto the priests for the passover offerings two thousand and six hundred small cattle, and three hundred oxen. Conaniah also, and Shemaiah and Nethaneel, his brethren, and Hashabiah and Jeiel and Jozabad, chief of the Levites, gave unto the Levites for passover offerings five thousand small cattle, and five hundred oxen. So the service was prepared and the priests stood in their place, and the Levites in their courses, according to the king’s commandment. And they killed the passover, and the priests sprinkled the blood from their hands, and the Levites flayed them. And they removed the burnt offerings, that they might give according to the divisions of the families of the people, to offer unto the LORD, as it is written in the book of Moses. And so did they with the oxen.
Thus we are given an account of all the animals that were given for the sacrifices and offerings of the passover. The total seems to be thirty-seven thousand, six hundred small cattle, and twenty-five hundred oxen.. When all things were prepared, and the priests and Levites were in their proper places the service began. And all was done according to that which is written in the book of Moses.
(Verses 13 through 19) And they roasted the passover with fire according to the ordinance: but the other holy offerings sod they in pots, and in caldrons, and in pans, and divided them speedily among all the people. And afterward they made ready for themselves, and for the priests: because the priests the sons of Aaron were busied in offering burnt offerings and the fat until night; therefore the Levites prepared for themselves, and for the priests the sons of Aaron. And the singers the sons of Asaph were in their place, according to the commandment of David, and Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun the king’s seer; and the porters waited at every gate; they might not depart from their service; for their brethren the Levites prepared for them. So all the service of the LORD was prepared the same day, to keep the passover, and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar of the LORD, according to the commandment of king Josiah. And the children of Israel that were present kept the passover at that time, and the feast of unleavened bread seven days. And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah was this passover kept.
There really is no call for commentary on this text. It is simply a continued description of the great passover kept by Josiah. It even surpassed that held by Hezekiah; and is here said to be the greatest ever held in the history of Israel.
(Verses 20 through 24) After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him. But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God who is with me, that He destroy thee not. Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot at Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded. His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.
Thus Josiah came to his death by a very foolish move on his part. The king pf Egypt had no quarrel against him; but he just could not let the opportunity for a fight pass by. However this may be only another instance of the hand of the LORD moving a situation to its purposed end. He had declared that He was going to bring destruction upon Jerusalem and her people. But He also said that Josiah would be taken away before that came to pass. He had also said that Josiah would be gathered to his grave in peace, and that also came to pass. Someone will surely say that Josiah was in battle when he was wounded so that he died; but that is hardly the case. The king of Egypt had told him that he did not intend to fight him; but Josiah even disguised himself that he might get into the battle. So, although he may have been in a battle when he received his death wound, he was not in war, but was meddling in something that did not concern him.
(Verses 25 through 27) And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations. Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his goodness, according to that which is written in the law of the LORD, and his deeds, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.
Josiah was sorely missed when he died. Even the prophet Jeremiah made a lamentation for him; and the singers who were often employed in making laments for others spoke often of Josiah in their lamentations. And we are referred to the book of the kings of Israel and Judah for the rest of his acts.
(Verses 1 through 4) Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father’s stead in Jerusalem. Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem And the king of Egypt put him down at Jerusalem, and condemned the land in an hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. And the king of Egypt made Eliakim his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem, and turned his name to Jehoiakim. And Necho took Jehoahaz his brother, and carried him to Egypt.
After Josiah’s death, his son Jehoahaz was made king over Judah. When he had reigned about three months, Necho the king of Egypt came and overcame Judah, placed it under tribute, took Jehoahaz hostage, and carried him to Egypt. He also made Eliakim the brother of Jehoahaz king over Judah, and changed his name to Jehoiakim.
(Verses 5 through 8) Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God. Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of the LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and his abominations which he did, and that which was found in him, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead.
Although Jehoiakim reigned eleven years, there is little said about any of his acts, which, indeed, were practically all bad, and are given in more detail in the book of Jeremiah. His reign was all hampered by the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.
(Verses 9 and 10) Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. And when the year was expired, king Nebuchadnezzar sent, and brought him to Babylon, with the goodly vessels of the house of the LORD, and made Zedekiah his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem.
Jehoiachin was only a puppet king, but even as such, his deeds were all evil in the sight of the LORD, and apparently also in the sight of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. So Nebuchadnezzar removed him and carried him to Babylon, leaving his brother Zedekiah as his king in Jerusalem.
(Verses 11 through 13) Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD. And he also rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel.
Zedekiah was, as had been the two before him, only a king by the permission of Nebuchadnezzar, but he thought himself great enough to rebel against him who had made him king. In the Book of Jeremiah we find all necessary details of the situation in Jerusalem under his reign. He would never give heed to the word of God, as given him by Jeremiah, and neither would he even use what we often refer to as common sense; but he by his actions brought on the complete destruction of both the temple of the LORD and the city of Jerusalem.
(Verses 14 through 21) Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which He had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, and the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought upon them the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: He gave them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great or small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon. And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. And them that had escaped the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept the sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years.
This is quite a long text; but it is only a description of the terrible judgment the LORD sent upon Jerusalem for her sins. Her kings and her inhabitants were all equally guilty of bringing it on, although, certainly the king was the leader in the evil. For more details concerning this period one should read the book of Jeremiah.
(Verses 22 and 23) Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and He hath charged me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.
This brings us to the point seventy years after the fall of Jerusalem and the captivity of the Jews, when, even as the prophet Isaiah had prophesied, Cyrus the king of Persia made His proclamation that the Jews who would might go back to Jerusalem and re-build the house of the LORD.