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Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
The people destroy all traces of idolatry throughout Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh, 2 Chronicles 31:1. Hezekiah reforms the state of religion in general; and the tithes are brought in from all quarters, and proper officers set over them, 2 Chronicles 31:2-13. They bring to also the freewill-offerings, and regulate the priests and Levites and their families, according to their genealogies, 2 Chronicles 31:14-19. Hezekiah does every thing in sincerity and truth, and is prosperous, 2 Chronicles 31:20, 2 Chronicles 31:21.
1Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities.
Brake the images in pieces - This species of reformation was not only carried on through Judah, but they carried it into Israel; whether through a transport of religious zeal, or whether with the consent of Hoshea the Israelitish king, we cannot tell.
2And Hezekiah appointed the courses of the priests and the Levites after their courses, every man according to his service, the priests and Levites for burnt offerings and for peace offerings, to minister, and to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the tents of the LORD.
In the gates of the tents of the Lord - That is, in the temple; for this was the house, tabernacle, tent, and camp, of the Most High.
3He appointed also the king's portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the LORD.
The king's portion of his substance for the burnt-offerings - It is conjectured that the Jewish kings, at least from the time of David, furnished the morning and evening sacrifice daily at their own expense, and several others also.
4Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the LORD.
5And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits 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.
Brought - the first-fruits - These were principally for the maintenance of the priests and Levites; they brought tithes of all the produce of the field, whether commanded or not, as we see in the instance of honey, which was not to be offered to the Lord, Leviticus 2:11, yet it appears it might be offered to the priests as first-fruits, or in the way of tithes.
6And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the LORD their God, and laid them by heaps.
7In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month.
In the third month - "The month Sivan; the seventh, Tisri." - Targum.
The heaps - The vast collections of grain which they had from the tithes over and above their own consumption; see 2 Chronicles 31:10.
8And when Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD, and his people Israel.
9Then Hezekiah questioned with the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps.
10And 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: for the LORD hath blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store.
11Then Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD; and they prepared them,
To prepare chambers - To make granaries to lay up this superabundance.
12And brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated things faithfully: over which Cononiah the Levite was ruler, and Shimei his brother was the next.
Shimei - was the next - He was assistant to Cononiah.
13And 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.
14And Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, the porter toward the east, was over the freewill offerings of God, to distribute the oblations of the LORD, and the most holy things.
15And next him were Eden, and Miniamin, and Jeshua, and Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah, in the cities of the priests, in their set office, to give to their brethren by courses, as well to the great as to the small:
And Miniamin - Instead of מנימן, Miniamin, בנימן, Benjamin, is the reading of three of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS.; and this is the reading of the Vulgate, Syriac, Septuagint, and Arabic.
16Beside their genealogy of males, from three years old and upward, even unto every one that entereth into the house of the LORD, his daily portion for their service in their charges according to their courses;
17Both to the genealogy of the priests by the house of their fathers, and the Levites from twenty years old and upward, in their charges by their courses;
From twenty years old - Moses had ordered that the Levites should not begin their labor till they were thirty years of age; but David changed this order, and obliged them to begin at twenty.
18And to the genealogy of all their little ones, their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, through all the congregation: for in their set office they sanctified themselves in holiness:
19Also of the sons of Aaron the priests, which were in the fields of the suburbs of their cities, 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.
20And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God.
Wrought - good and right and truth - Here is the proper character of a worthy king: he is Good, and he does good; he is Upright, and he acts justly and maintains justice; he is truly Religious, and he lives according to that truth which he receives as a revelation from God.
21And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.
He did it with all his heart - In every respect he was a thoroughly excellent man, saw his duty to God and to his people, and performed it with becoming zeal and diligence. May God ever send such kings to the nations of the world; and may the people who are blessed with such be duly obedient to them, and thankful to the God who sends them!