2 Chronicles 28; 2 Chronicles 29; 2 Chronicles 30; 2 Chronicles 31

1 Ahaz became king at the age of twenty, and he ruled in Jerusalem for sixteen years. He did not follow the good example of his ancestor King David; instead, he did what was not pleasing to the Lord 2 and followed the example of the kings of Israel. He had metal images of Baal made, 3 burned incense in Hinnom Valley, and even sacrificed his own sons as burnt offerings to idols, imitating the disgusting practice of the people whom the Lord had driven out of the land as the Israelites advanced. 4 At the pagan places of worship, on the hills, and under every shady tree Ahaz offered sacrifices and burned incense. 5 Because King Ahaz sinned, the Lord his God let the king of Syria defeat him and take a large number of Judeans back to Damascus as prisoners. The Lord also let the king of Israel, Pekah son of Remaliah, defeat Ahaz and kill 120,000 of the bravest Judean soldiers in one day. The Lord, the God of their ancestors, permitted this to happen, because the people of Judah had abandoned him. 7 An Israelite soldier named Zichri killed King Ahaz' son Maaseiah, the palace administrator Azrikam, and Elkanah, who was second in command to the king. 8 Even though the Judeans were their own relatives, the Israelite army captured 200,000 women and children as prisoners and took them back to Samaria, along with large amounts of loot. 9 A man named Oded, a prophet of the Lord, lived in the city of Samaria. He met the returning Israelite army with its Judean prisoners as it was about to enter the city, and he said, "The Lord God of your ancestors was angry with Judah and let you defeat them, but now he has heard of the vicious way you slaughtered them. 10 And now you intend to make the men and women of Jerusalem and Judah your slaves. Don't you know that you also have committed sins against the Lord your God? 11 Listen to me! These prisoners are your brothers and sisters. Let them go, or the Lord will punish you in his anger." 12 Four of the leading men of the Northern Kingdom, Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berechiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai also opposed the actions of the army. 13 They said, "Don't bring those prisoners here! We have already sinned against the Lord and made him angry enough to punish us. Now you want to do something that will increase our guilt." 14 So then the army handed the prisoners and the loot over to the people and their leaders, 15 and the four men were appointed to provide the prisoners with clothing from the captured loot. They gave them clothes and sandals to wear, gave them enough to eat and drink, and put olive oil on their wounds. Those who were too weak to walk were put on donkeys, and all the prisoners were taken back to Judean territory at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then the Israelites returned home to Samaria. 16 The Edomites began to raid Judah again and captured many prisoners, so King Ahaz asked Tiglath Pileser, the emperor of Assyria, to send help. 18 At this same time the Philistines were raiding the towns in the western foothills and in southern Judah. They captured the cities of Beth Shemesh, Aijalon, and Gederoth, and the cities of Soco, Timnah, and Gimzo with their villages, and settled there permanently. 19 Because King Ahaz of Judah had violated the rights of his people and had defied the Lord, the Lord brought troubles on Judah. 20 The Assyrian emperor, instead of helping Ahaz, opposed him and caused him trouble. 21 So Ahaz took the gold from the Temple, the palace, and the homes of the leaders of the people, and gave it to the emperor, but even this did not help. 22 When his troubles were at their worst, that man Ahaz sinned against the Lord more than ever. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of the Syrians, who had defeated him. He said, "The Syrian gods helped the kings of Syria, so if I sacrifice to them, they may help me too." This brought disaster on him and on his nation. 24 In addition, he took all the Temple equipment and broke it in pieces. He closed the Temple and set up altars in every part of Jerusalem. 25 In every city and town in Judah he built pagan places of worship, where incense was to be burned to foreign gods. In this way he brought on himself the anger of the Lord, the God of his ancestors. 26 All the other events of his reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in [The History of the Kings of Judah and Israel.] 27 King Ahaz died and was buried in Jerusalem, but not in the royal tombs. His son Hezekiah succeeded him as king.
1 Hezekiah became king of Judah at the age of twenty-five, and he ruled in Jerusalem for twenty-nine years. His mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. 2 Following the example of his ancestor King David, he did what was pleasing to the Lord. 3 In the first month of the year after Hezekiah became king, he reopened the gates of the Temple and had them repaired. 4 He assembled a group of priests and Levites in the east courtyard of the Temple 5 and spoke to them there. He said, "You Levites are to consecrate yourselves and purify the Temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove from the Temple everything that defiles it. 6 Our ancestors were unfaithful to the Lord our God and did what was displeasing to him. They abandoned him and turned their backs on the place where he dwells. 7 They closed the doors of the Temple, let the lamps go out, and failed to burn incense or offer burnt offerings in the Temple of the God of Israel. 8 Because of this the Lord has been angry with Judah and Jerusalem, and what he has done to them has shocked and frightened everyone. You know this very well. 9 Our fathers were killed in battle, and our wives and children have been taken away as prisoners. 10 "I have now decided to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that he will no longer be angry with us. 11 My sons, do not lose any time. You are the ones that the Lord has chosen to burn incense to him and to lead the people in worshiping him." 12 The following Levites were there: From the clan of Kohath, Mahath son of Amasai and Joel son of Azariah From the clan of Merari, Kish son of Abdi and Azariah son of Jehallelel From the clan of Gershon, Joah son of Zimmah and Eden son of Joah From the clan of Elizaphan, Shimri and Jeuel From the clan of Asaph, Zechariah and Mattaniah From the clan of Heman, Jehuel and Shimei From the clan of Jeduthun, Shemaiah and Uzziel 15 These men assembled their fellow Levites, and they all made themselves ritually clean. Then, as the king had commanded them to do, they began to make the Temple ritually clean, according to the Law of the Lord. 16 The priests went inside the Temple to purify it, and they carried out into the Temple courtyard everything that was ritually unclean. From there the Levites took it all outside the city to Kidron Valley. 17 The work was begun on the first day of the first month, and by the eighth day they had finished it all, including the entrance room to the Temple. Then they worked for the next eight days, until the sixteenth of the month, preparing the Temple for worship. 18 The Levites made the following report to King Hezekiah: "We have completed the ritual purification of the whole Temple, including the altar for burnt offerings, the table for the sacred bread, and all their equipment. 19 We have also brought back all the equipment which King Ahaz took away during those years he was unfaithful to God, and we have rededicated it. It is all in front of the Lord's altar." 20 Without delay King Hezekiah assembled the leading men of the city, and together they went to the Temple. 21 As an offering to take away the sins of the royal family and of the people of Judah and to purify the Temple, they took seven bulls, seven sheep, seven lambs, and seven goats. The king told the priests, who were descendants of Aaron, to offer the animals as sacrifices on the altar. 22 The priests killed the bulls first, then the sheep, and then the lambs, and sprinkled the blood of each sacrifice on the altar. 23 Finally they took the goats to the king and to the other worshipers, who laid their hands on them. 24 Then the priests killed the goats and poured their blood on the altar as a sacrifice to take away the sin of all the people, for the king had commanded that burnt offerings and sin offerings be made for all Israel. 25 The king followed the instructions that the Lord had given to King David through Gad, the king's prophet, and through the prophet Nathan; he stationed Levites in the Temple, with harps and cymbals, 26 instruments like those that King David had used. The priests also stood there with trumpets. 27 Hezekiah gave the order for the burnt offering to be presented; and as the offering began, the people sang praise to the Lord, and the musicians began to play the trumpets and all the other instruments. 28 Everyone who was there joined in worship, and the singing and the rest of the music continued until all the sacrifices had been burned. 29 Then King Hezekiah and all the people knelt down and worshiped God. 30 The king and the leaders of the nation told the Levites to sing to the Lord the songs of praise that were written by David and by Asaph the prophet. So everyone sang with great joy as they knelt and worshiped God. 31 Hezekiah said to the people, "Now that you are ritually clean, bring sacrifices as offerings of thanksgiving to the Lord." They obeyed, and some of them also voluntarily brought animals to be sacrificed as burnt offerings. 32 They brought 70 bulls, 100 sheep, and 200 lambs as burnt offerings for the Lord; 33 they also brought 600 bulls and 3,000 sheep as sacrifices for the people to eat. 34 Since there were not enough priests to kill all these animals, the Levites helped them until the work was finished. By then more priests had made themselves ritually clean. (The Levites were more faithful in keeping ritually clean than the priests were.) 35 In addition to offering the sacrifices that were burned whole, the priests were responsible for burning the fat that was offered from the sacrifices which the people ate, and for pouring out the wine that was presented with the burnt offerings. And so worship in the Temple was begun again. 36 King Hezekiah and the people were happy, because God had helped them to do all this so quickly.
1 The people had not been able to celebrate the Passover Festival at the proper time in the first month, because not enough priests were ritually clean and not many people had assembled in Jerusalem. So King Hezekiah, his officials, and the people of Jerusalem agreed to celebrate it in the second month, and the king sent word to all the people of Israel and Judah. He took special care to send letters to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover in honor of the Lord, the God of Israel. 4 The king and the people were pleased with their plan, 5 so they invited all the Israelites, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, to come together in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover according to the Law, in larger numbers than ever before. 6 Messengers went out at the command of the king and his officials through all Judah and Israel with the following invitation: "People of Israel, you have survived the Assyrian conquest of the land. Now return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and he will return to you. 7 Do not be like your ancestors and your Israelite relatives who were unfaithful to the Lord their God. As you can see, he punished them severely. 8 Do not be stubborn as they were, but obey the Lord. Come to the Temple in Jerusalem, which the Lord your God has made holy forever, and worship him so that he will no longer be angry with you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then those who have taken your relatives away as prisoners will take pity on them and let them come back home. The Lord your God is kind and merciful, and if you return to him, he will accept you." 10 The messengers went to every city in the territory of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far north as the tribe of Zebulun, but people laughed at them and made fun of them. 11 Still, there were some from the tribes of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun who were willing to come to Jerusalem. 12 God was also at work in Judah and united the people in their determination to obey his will by following the commands of the king and his officials. 13 A great number of people gathered in Jerusalem in the second month to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. 14 They took all the altars that had been used in Jerusalem for offering sacrifices and burning incense and threw them into Kidron Valley. 15 And on the fourteenth day of the month they killed the lambs for the Passover sacrifice. The priests and Levites who were not ritually clean became so ashamed that they dedicated themselves to the Lord, and now they could sacrifice burnt offerings in the Temple. 16 They took their places in the Temple according to the instructions in the Law of Moses, the man of God. The Levites gave the blood of the sacrifices to the priests, who sprinkled it on the altar. 17 Because many of the people were not ritually clean, they could not kill the Passover lambs, so the Levites did it for them and dedicated the lambs to the Lord. 18 In addition, many of those who had come from the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not performed the ritual of purification, and so they were observing Passover improperly. King Hezekiah offered this prayer for them: 19 "O Lord, the God of our ancestors, in your goodness forgive those who are worshiping you with all their heart, even though they are not ritually clean." 20 The Lord answered Hezekiah's prayer; he forgave the people and did not harm them. 21 For seven days the people who had gathered in Jerusalem celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread with great joy, and day after day the Levites and the priests praised the Lord with all their strength. 22 Hezekiah praised the Levites for their skill in conducting the worship of the Lord. After the seven days during which they offered sacrifices in praise of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, 23 they all decided to celebrate for another seven days. So they celebrated with joy. 24 King Hezekiah contributed 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep for the people to kill and eat, and the officials gave them another 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep. A large number of priests went through the ritual of purification. 25 So everyone was happy - the people of Judah, the priests, the Levites, the people who had come from the north, and the foreigners who had settled permanently in Israel and Judah. 26 The city of Jerusalem was filled with joy, because nothing like this had happened since the days of King Solomon, the son of David. 27 The priests and the Levites asked the Lord's blessing on the people. In his home in heaven God heard their prayers and accepted them.
1 After the festival ended, all the people of Israel went to every city in Judah and broke the stone pillars, cut down the symbols of the goddess Asherah, and destroyed the altars and the pagan places of worship. They did the same thing throughout the rest of Judah, and the territories of Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh; then they all returned home. 2 King Hezekiah reestablished the organization of the priests and Levites, under which they each had specific duties. These included offering the burnt offerings and the fellowship offerings, taking part in the Temple worship, and giving praise and thanks in the various parts of the Temple. 3 From his own flocks and herds he provided animals for the burnt offerings each morning and evening, and for those offered on the Sabbath, at the New Moon Festival, and at the other festivals which are required by the Law of the Lord. 4 In addition, the king told the people of Jerusalem to bring the offerings to which the priests and the Levites were entitled, so that they could give all their time to the requirements of the Law of the Lord. 5 As soon as the order was given, the people of Israel brought gifts of their finest grain, wine, olive oil, honey, and other farm produce, and they also brought the tithes of everything they had. 6 All the people who lived in the cities of Judah brought tithes of their cattle and sheep, and they also brought large quantities of gifts which they dedicated to the Lord their God. 7 The gifts started arriving in the third month and continued to pile up for the next four months. 8 When King Hezekiah and his officials saw how much had been given, they praised the Lord and praised his people Israel. 9 The king spoke to the priests and the Levites about these gifts, 10 and Azariah the High Priest, a descendant of Zadok, said to him, "Since the people started bringing their gifts to the Temple, there has been enough to eat and a large surplus besides. We have all this because the Lord has blessed his people." 11 On the king's orders they prepared storerooms in the Temple area 12 and put all the gifts and tithes in them for safekeeping. They placed a Levite named Conaniah in charge and made his brother Shimei his assistant. 13 Ten Levites were assigned to work under them: Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath, and Benaiah. All this was done under the authority of King Hezekiah and Azariah the High Priest. 14 Kore son of Imnah, a Levite who was chief guard at the East Gate of the Temple, was in charge of receiving the gifts offered to the Lord and of distributing them. 15 In the other cities where priests lived, he was faithfully assisted in this by other Levites: Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah. They distributed the food equally to their fellow Levites according to what their duties were, 16 and not by clans. They gave a share to all males thirty years of age or older who had daily responsibilities in the Temple in accordance with their positions. 17 The priests were assigned their duties by clans, and the Levites twenty years of age or older were assigned theirs by work groups. 18 They were all registered together with their wives, children, and other dependents, because they were required to be ready to perform their sacred duties at any time. 19 Among the priests who lived in the cities assigned to Aaron's descendants or in the pasture lands belonging to these cities, there were responsible men who distributed the food to all the males in the priestly families and to everyone who was on the rolls of the Levite clans. 20 Throughout all Judah, King Hezekiah did what was right and what was pleasing to the Lord his God. 21 He was successful, because everything he did for the Temple or in observance of the Law, he did in a spirit of complete loyalty and devotion to his God.
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