2 CHRONICLES CHAPTER 31
Further Measures for Restoring the True Worship.
PROVISION MADE FOR THE LEVITES. — V. 1. Now, when all this was finished, at the end of the great Passover celebration, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah and brake the images in pieces, the statues consecrated to Baal, and cut down the groves, the wooden pillars, or Asherim, erected in honor of Astarte, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, that is, the southern kingdom, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, in the northern kingdom, until they had utterly destroyed them all; wherever they had influence in their own circles they eradicated every vestige of idolatry. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities. The pure worship of Jehovah had been restored throughout the land of Canaan, wherever members of the ancient tribes were living, and the people looked forward to a happy future of national peace and prosperity. V. 2. And Hezekiah appointed the courses of the priests and the Levites after their courses, as arranged by David, each one being assigned his proper place and duty, every man according to his service, the priests and Levites for burnt offerings and for peace-offerings, the two chief sacrifices of the Jewish worship, to minister, and to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the tents of the Lord, in the Sanctuary proper as well as in the Court of the Priests, for the liturgical service took place entirely in the latter part of the Temple area. V. 3. He appointed also the king's portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, what the king contributed in sacrificial animals out of his own possessions, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths, when special sacrifices were required, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, the great festivals of the Jewish Church, as it is written in the Law of the Lord, Num. 28 and 29; Lev. 23; Deut. 16. V. 4. Moreover, he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, the firstlings and tithes of the increase of the cattle and the field, Ex. 23, 19; Num. 18, 8. 12. 21-25; Lev. 27, 30-33, that they might be encouraged in the Law of the Lord, devote their entire time to the work of their office, free from ordinary earthly cares. V. 5. And as soon as the commandment came abroad, as soon as it was spread forth in all directions, in all parts of the kingdom, the children of Israel brought in abundance the first fruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly. This duty had naturally been neglected during the time when idolatry had invaded the land and only a comparatively small number of believing worshipers of Jehovah remained. V. 6. And concerning the children of Israel and Judah that dwelt in the cities of Judah, who owned no farms or orchards, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, for there were pastures in the neighborhood of the cities, and the tithe of holy things, heave-offerings of all consecrated things, which were consecrated unto the Lord, their God, and laid them by heaps, each of the several products and offerings by itself. V. 7. In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, at the time when the wheat-harvest began, and finished them in the seventh month, the time when the orchards had yielded their increase. V. 8. And when Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord, for working such eager willingness, and His people Israel, for their faithfulness in heeding the command of the Lord. V. 9. Then Hezekiah questioned with the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps, discussed with them regarding the disposal of the offerings and the possible sufficiency of the offerings for the purpose which they were intended to serve. V. 10. 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, the method had proved more than satisfactory; for the Lord hath blessed His people; and that which is left is this great store. It is an easy matter for the members of Christ's Church to meet all the needs of the Gospel, both in providing for home purposes and in sending out men to the foreign fields.
THE TITHES AND THE DEDICATED THINGS. — V. 11. Then Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers, special rooms for storage, in the house of the Lord; either the old ones were repaired or additional ones were built. And they prepared them, v. 12. and brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated things faithfully, with conscientious care; over which Cononiah, the Levite, was ruler, and Shimei, his brother, was the next, these two men having charge of all the stores as deposited in the Temple under this arrangement. V. 13. 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. These two having given the orders, the appointments were made at once. V. 14. And Kore, the son of Imnah, the Levite, the porter toward the east, where the main entrance of the Temple was, was over the free-will offerings of God, the portion of the peace-offerings belonging to Jehovah, and by Him designated for the use of the priests, to distribute the oblations of the Lord and the most holy things, the part of the sin and trespass-offerings to be eaten by the priests in the Temple. V. 15. And next him were Eden, and Miniamin, and Jeshua, and Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah, as his assistants, in the cities of the priests, in their set office, rather, "in faithfulness," for they also worked with conscientious application, to give to their brethren by courses, as well to the great as to the small, with absolute fairness to all; v. 16. beside their genealogy of males, the register of all male children, from three years old and upward, even unto everyone that entereth into the house of the Lord, consecrated to the Temple service, his daily portion for their service in their charges according to their courses; each one who was entitled to it received his share of the income of the Temple; v. 17. both to the genealogy of the priests by the house of their fathers, those registered in the genealogical lists, and the Levites from twenty years old and upward, in their charges by their courses; v. 18. and to the genealogy of all their little ones, their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, through all the congregation, all these being registered in the lists of the tribe of Levi; for in their set office they sanctified themselves in holiness, that is, in their faithfulness they sanctified themselves in the holy thing, righteously distributing the offerings which they were entitled to receive for that purpose; v. 19. also of the sons of Aaron, the priests, which were in the fields of the suburbs of their cities, the pasturelands of the priestly cities being assigned to them, Deut. 25, 34; Num. 35, 5, 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. All those who were included in the tribe of Levi were provided for in accordance with the precept of Jehovah. V. 20. And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah and wrought that which was good, of real value, and right, in agreement with the Law, and truth, done in all faithfulness, before the Lord, his God. V. 21. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the cause of true religion, and in the Law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, while he made it his object to set the kingdom on the old footing in its relation to the covenant God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered. Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.