II Chronicles 29

The Word Made Fresh

1Hezekiah began his reign when he was twenty-five years old, and he ruled for twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother was Abijah, daughter of Zechariah. 2Hezekiah followed the ways of the LORD as his ancestor David had done.

3In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he re-opened the doors of the LORD’s temple and repaired them. 4He brought the priests and Levites together in the square east of the temple 5and said to them, “Listen to me, Levites. Purify yourselves and the temple of the LORD, the God of our ancestors. Remove everything that has been desecrated from the sacred room. 6Our ancestors have been unfaithful and have done evil things in the sight of the LORD our God; they turned their backs on the LORD our God and on the LORD’s dwelling place. 7They locked the doors to the entrance and put out the lamps and neglected to offer the God of Israel the incense offerings and burnt offerings in the sanctuary. 8That is why the LORD’s anger has come upon Judah and Jerusalem. You can see with your own eyes that the LORD has made Judah and Jerusalem objects of horror and astonishment, something to be disregarded. 9Our fathers have fallen in battle and our sons and daughters and wives are in captivity because of this. 10But my heart longs to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel and turn the LORD’s anger away from us. 11My sons, don’t neglect this, for you are chosen by the LORD for this service, to make offerings to our God.”

12Then the Levites organized themselves for the work.

The Kohath division was headed by Mahath son of Amasai and Joel son of Azariah.

The Merari division was headed by Kish son of Abdi and Azariah son of Jehallel.

The Gershon division was headed by Joah son of Zimmah and Eden son of Joah.

13The Elizaphan division was headed by Shimri and Jeuel.

The Asaph division was headed by Zechariah and Mattaniah.

14The Heman division was headed by Jehuel and Shimei.

The Jeduthun division was headed by Shemaiah and Uzziel.

15They gathered their relatives, purified themselves, and began to purify the LORD’s house as the king had ordered. 16The priests entered the sanctuary and removed all the things that defiled it to the courtyard of the temple, where the Levites took them to the Kidron wadi. 17They began the purification on the first day of the first month, and seven days later they came into the vestibule of the LORD and for eight days cleansed the LORD’s house. On the sixteenth day of the month they finished. 18Then they went to king Hezekiah to report. “We have restored the LORD’s temple,” they said, “including the altar for burnt offerings, all the tools and containers, and the table for the bread and it’s utensils. 19Everything King Ahaz desecrated when he was king, we have purified. All is prepared. Go and see; we have arranged them in front of the LORD’s altar.”

20King Hezekiah rose early the next day and summoned all the officials of the city. He led them up to the LORD’s temple. 21They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs and seven male goats as sin offerings for the kingdom and for the sanctuary and for Judah. Hezekiah instructed the priests, the descendants of Aaron, to offer them on the LORD’s altar. 22They slaughtered the bulls, and the priests dashed the blood against the altar. Then they slaughtered the rams and dashed the blood against the altar. 23Then the male goats were brought forward before the king. The leaders laid their hands on them, 24and the priests slaughtered them and offered them as a sin offering to atone for all of Israel as the king had ordered.

25He stationed Levites in the temple of the LORD with cymbals, harps and lyres just as David had prescribed with his advisor Gad and the prophet Nathan (but the order really came from God through the prophets). 26The Levites stood with the cymbals, harps and lyres, and the priests with trumpets. 27Then Hezekiah ordered them to place the burnt offerings on the altar, and when they did the song to the LORD began with the trumpets and the other instruments of King David of Israel.

28The whole congregation worshiped, the singers sang, and the trumpets sounded, and this continued until the offerings were completed. 29Then the king and all the people bowed down and worshiped. 30King Hezekiah and the leaders ordered the Levites to sing praise to God with the songs of David and the prophet Asaph. They sang with joy and bowed down and worshiped.

31Then Hezekiah said, “You have committed yourselves to the LORD. Come forward now with your sacrifices and peace offerings to the LORD’s temple.” They brought them forward, and those who were willing also brought burnt offerings. 32The burnt offerings to the LORD totaled seventy bulls, a hundred rams and two hundred lambs. 33In addition there were special offerings of six hundred bulls and three thousand sheep. 34However, there were not enough priests who had purified themselves to sacrifice all the animal offerings, so their relatives, the Levites, assisted them until the work was finished. The Levites had been more conscientious about purifying themselves than the priests had been. 35In addition to the burnt offerings there was the fat of the peace offerings and the drink offerings.

In this way the temple of the LORD was restored, 36and Hezekiah and the people celebrated because of what God had done for them, and because it had all come together so quickly.


1-2: Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, comes to the throne at the age of 25, and rules for 29 years. Finally, a king like David!

4-11: His first order of business is to restore the worship of the LORD. He gathers the priests and Levites together and tells them that the reason Judah has been defeated, ransacked and carried away as captives by the Israelites, Arameans, Philistines, and Edomites is because the people in charge of things defiled the temple and forsook the LORD. He therefore orders them to get to work restoring the temple and reinstituting the daily offices of worship.

12-19: The Levites get to work. They gather up all the junk Ahaz had allowed to accumulate in the temple precincts and haul it to the public landfill in the Kidron valley outside the city. They carry out purification rituals for the temple for eight days, and report back to Hezekiah that all is restored.

20-24: Hezekiah accompanies the priests to the temple, and they make appropriate sin offerings for the whole nation.

25-30: Hezekiah organizes the musicians and reinstitutes the practice of offering burnt offerings to the LORD. The burnt offerings are given as acknowledgments of God’s sovereignty and Israel’s servanthood. They have a great service of worship with music and songs. This is the first time in the Bible the use of the songs of David is mentioned with regards to public worship at the temple.

31-36: Now the people bring their sacrifices of thanksgiving – hundreds of animals are slaughtered, so many that the priests can’t keep up with it. So, the Levites take part in the ritual butchering of bulls and rams and lambs and sheep (priests are Levites, too, but are of that part of the tribe of Levi that is descended from Moses’ brother Aaron). It is interesting that the judgment given by the chronicler (who almost certainly is a priest or a group of priests) is that the Levites are more conscientious in carrying out the rituals of sanctification than the priests, and that small detail may explain a lot about how Ahaz was able to corrupt the worship of Judah without significant opposition, because the priests had become lax in their duties.


Sometimes the best children come from the worst parents (like Hezekiah son of Ahaz), and sometimes the worst children come from the best parents (like Ahaz son of Jotham). The lesson? You can’t blame your parents for yourself.