Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
2Ch 29:1, 2.
1. Hezekiah began to
reign, &c.--(see on
His mother's name, which, in
appears in an abridged form, is here given in full.
3. in the first year of his reign, in the first month--not the first
month after his accession to the throne, but in Nisan, the first month
of the sacred year, the season appointed for the celebration of the
he opened the doors of the house of the Lord--which had been closed
up by his father
and repaired them--or embellished them (compare
4, 5. the east street--the court of the priests, which fronted the
eastern gate of the temple. Assembling the priests and Levites there,
he enjoined them to set about the immediate purification of the temple.
It does not appear that the order referred to the removal of idols, for
objects of idolatrous homage could scarcely have been put there, seeing
the doors had been shut up
but in its forsaken and desolate state the temple and its courts had
been polluted by every kind of impurity.
6, 7. our fathers have trespassed--Ahaz and the generation contemporary
with him were specially meant, for they "turned away their faces from
the habitation of the Lord," and whether or not they turned east to the
rising sun, they abandoned the worship of God. They "shut up the doors
of the porch," so that the sacred ritual was entirely discontinued.
8, 9. Wherefore the wrath of the Lord was upon Judah and
Jerusalem--This pious king had the discernment to ascribe all the
national calamities that had befallen the kingdom to the true cause,
namely, apostasy from God. The country had been laid waste by
successive wars of invasion, and its resources drained. Many families
mourned members of their household still suffering the miseries of
foreign captivity; all their former prosperity and glory had fled; and
to what was this painful and humiliating state of affairs to be traced,
but to the manifest judgment of God upon the kingdom for its sins?
10, 11. Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the Lord
God--Convinced of the sin and bitter fruits of idolatry, Hezekiah
intended to reverse the policy of his father, and to restore, in all
its ancient purity and glory, the worship of the true God. His
commencement of this resolution at the beginning of his reign attests
his sincere piety. It also proves the strength of his conviction that
righteousness exalteth a nation; for, instead of waiting till his
throne was consolidated, he devised measures of national reformation at
the beginning of his reign and vigorously faced all the difficulties
which, in such a course, he had to encounter, after the people's habits
had so long been moulded to idolatry. His intentions were first
disclosed to this meeting of the priests and Levites--for the agency of
these officials was to be employed in carrying them into effect.
12-19. Then the Levites arose--Fourteen chiefs undertook the duty
of collecting and preparing their brethren for the important work of
cleansing the Lord's house. Beginning with the outer courts--that of
the priests and that of the people--the cleansing of these occupied
eight days, after which they set themselves to purify the interior; but
as the Levites were not allowed to enter within the walls of the
temple, the priest brought all the sweepings out to the porch, where
they were received by the Levites and thrown into the brook Kedron.
This took eight days more. At the end of this period they repaired to
the palace and announced that not only had the whole of the sacred
edifice, within and without, undergone a thorough purification, but all
the vessels which the late king had taken away and applied to a common
use in his palace, had been restored, "and sanctified."
20-30. Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of
the city--His anxiety to enter upon the expiatory service with all
possible despatch, now that the temple had been properly prepared for
it, prevented his summoning all the representatives of Israel. The
requisite number of victims having been provided, and the officers of
the temple having sanctified themselves according to the directions of
the law, the priests were appointed to offer sacrifices of atonement
successively, for "the kingdom," that is, for the sins of the king and
his predecessors; for "the sanctuary," that is, for the sins of the
priests themselves and for the desecration of the temple; "and for
Judah," that is, for the people who, by their voluntary consent, were
involved in the guilt of the national apostasy. Animals of the kinds
used in sacrifice were offered by sevens, that number indicating
completeness. The Levites were ordered to praise God with musical
instruments, which, although not originally used in the tabernacle, had
been enlisted in the service of divine worship by David on the advice
of the prophets Gad and Nathan, as well calculated to animate the
devotions of the people. At the close of the special services of the
occasion, namely, the offering of atonement sacrifices, the king and
all civic rulers who were present joined in the worship. A grand anthem
by the choir, consisting of some of the psalms of David and Asaph, and
a great number of thank offerings, praise offerings, and freewill burnt
offerings were presented at the invitation of the king.
31. Hezekiah . . . said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the
Lord, come near--This address was made to the priests as being now, by
the sacrifice of the expiation offerings, anew consecrated to the
service of God and qualified to resume the functions of their sacred
(Ex 28:41; 29:32).
the congregation brought in--that is, the body of civic rulers present.
34-36. the priests were too few, . . . wherefore their brethren the
Levites did help them--The skins of beasts intended as peace offerings
might be taken off by the officers, because, in such cases, the carcass
was not wholly laid upon the altar; but animals meant for burnt
offerings which were wholly consumed by fire could be flayed by the
priests alone, not even the Levites being allowed to touch them, except
in cases of unavoidable necessity
The duty being assigned by the law to the priests
was construed by consuetudinary practice as an exclusion of all others
not connected with the Aaronic family.
for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than
the priests--that is, displayed greater alacrity than the priests. This
service was hastened by the irrepressible solicitude of the king.
Whether it was that many of the priests, being absent in the country,
had not arrived in time--whether from the long interruption of the
public duties, some of them had relaxed in their wonted attentions to
personal cleanliness, and had many preparations to make--or whether
from some having participated in the idolatrous services introduced by
Ahaz, they were backward in repairing to the temple--a reflection does
seem to be cast upon their order as dilatory and not universally ready
for duty (compare
Thus was the newly consecrated temple reopened to the no small joy of
the pious king and all the people.