The Word Made Fresh
1At the conclusion of the festival the people who were present went to the cities of Judah and destroyed all the columns and totem poles and hilltop shrines and other altars throughout the territory of Judah and Benjamin and Ephraim and Manasseh. Then they returned to their homes.
2Hezekiah organized the groups of priests and Levites, section by section, so that each was given particular duties regarding burnt offerings and peace offerings, or to work within the gates of the LORD’s precincts to give thanks and praise. 3The king contributed from his own holdings the burnt offering for morning and evening, for sabbaths, new moons and appointed festivals as written in the Law of the LORD. 4He ordered the people of Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and Levites so that they would be enabled to be completely devoted to the law of the LORD. 5When this was announced the people of Israel gave abundant contributions of grain, wine, oil, honey and all the crops of the fields. They faithfully brought in ten percent of everything. 6The people in the cities of Israel and Judah made heaps of their tithes of cattle and sheep and things set apart for the LORD their God.
7They began bringing the produce in the third month and continued through the seventh month. 8When Hezekiah and the officials saw the abundance of gifts, they blessed the LORD and the LORD’s people Israel. 9Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites about the piles of gifts. 10Azariah of the family of Zadok, the chief priest, said, “Since they began bringing their offerings to the LORD’s house, we have had plenty to eat and then some. The LORD has blessed the people, and we have all this left over.”
11Then Hezekiah told them to prepare storage areas in the LORD’s house, and they did. 12They brought the contributions, tithes and all the dedicated gifts; Conaniah the Levite was in charge of it all, and his brother Shimei was second.
13Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath, and Benaiah were appointed to oversee the work by king Hezekiah and Azariah the temple custodian.
14Kore son of Imnah (a Levite) was in charge of the east gate and the distribution of the freewill offerings made to God there.
15Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah were managing the cities of the priests – distributing their portions to young and old by groups. 16They also provided for boys three years old and older whose names were included in the family records and who would minister in the LORD’s temple as they were assigned. 17The priests were assigned to duties according to their family groups – Levites twenty years old and older. 18The priests were listed including their infants and wives, sons and daughters, as long as they kept themselves purified.
19As to the descendants of Aaron (the priests) who worked in the fields belonging to each of their towns, they were to receive portions according to every male among the priests and to every Levite who was enrolled.
20Hezekiah put this organization in place throughout Judah. He was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God. 21Everything he did for the temple of the LORD, and in accordance with the law and commandments decreed by his God, he did whole-heartedly, and he succeeded.
1: After the double Festival of Unleavened Bread the people go on a rampage as they return to their cities and towns throughout Judah and Israel, destroying all the pagan idols and hilltop shrines.
2-10: Hezekiah re-organizes the Department of Religion. He orders that the daily, weekly, monthly, and festival burnt offerings be taken from the royal holdings. He commands the people to provide grain and meat for the priests and Levites so that they can dedicate themselves to studying and teaching the law. A wave of reform and religious fervor sweeps through the country and the people bring so much for the priests that piles of supplies accumulate in Jerusalem.
11-19: Hezekiah continues his reforms by having storerooms added to the temple precincts, and by organizing the priests and Levites into units to be in charge of each area of work. The priests and Levites are suddenly completely dedicated to their responsibilities.
20-21: Hezekiah is quite the guy. Under his leadership and authority informed by his faith, the whole country flourishes.
Dedication is a contagious virtue. It is inspiring to be around someone who continues to serve regardless of reward or lack thereof, regardless of support or lack thereof, and even regardless of appreciation or approval from others.