Hezekiah Rules in Judah
1Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became the king of Judah, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. 2He did what was pleasing in the lord’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done.
Hezekiah Reopens the Temple
3In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Temple of the lord and repaired them. 4He summoned the priests and Levites to meet him at the courtyard east of the Temple. 5He said to them, “Listen to me, you Levites! Purify yourselves, and purify the Temple of the lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all the defiled things from the sanctuary. 6Our ancestors were unfaithful and did what was evil in the sight of the lord our God. They abandoned the lord and his dwelling place; they turned their backs on him. 7They also shut the doors to the Temple’s entry room, and they snuffed out the lamps. They stopped burning incense and presenting burnt offerings at the sanctuary of the God of Israel.
8“That is why the lord’s anger has fallen upon Judah and Jerusalem. He has made them an object of dread, horror, and ridicule, as you can see with your own eyes. 9Because of this, our fathers have been killed in battle, and our sons and daughters and wives have been captured. 10But now I will make a covenant with the lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. 11My sons, do not neglect your duties any longer! The lord has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him, and to lead the people in worship and present offerings to him.”
12Then these Levites got right to work:
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.
13From the family of Elizaphan: Shimri and Jeiel.
From the family of Asaph: Zechariah and Mattaniah.
14From the family of Heman: Jehiel and Shimei.
From the family of Jeduthun: Shemaiah and Uzziel.
15These men called together their fellow Levites, and they all purified themselves. Then they began to cleanse the Temple of the lord, just as the king had commanded. They were careful to follow all the lord’s instructions in their work. 16The priests went into the sanctuary of the Temple of the lord to cleanse it, and they took out to the Temple courtyard all the defiled things they found. From there the Levites carted it all out to the Kidron Valley.
17They began the work in early spring, on the first day of the new year,# Hebrew on the first day of the first month. This day in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in March or early April, 715 B.C. and in eight days they had reached the entry room of the lord’s Temple. Then they purified the Temple of the lord itself, which took another eight days. So the entire task was completed in sixteen days.
The Temple Rededication
18Then the Levites went to King Hezekiah and gave him this report: “We have cleansed the entire Temple of the lord, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the table of the Bread of the Presence with all its utensils. 19We have also recovered all the items discarded by King Ahaz when he was unfaithful and closed the Temple. They are now in front of the altar of the lord, purified and ready for use.”
20Early the next morning King Hezekiah gathered the city officials and went to the Temple of the lord. 21They brought seven bulls, seven rams, and seven male lambs as a burnt offering, together with seven male goats as a sin offering for the kingdom, for the Temple, and for Judah. The king commanded the priests, who were descendants of Aaron, to sacrifice the animals on the altar of the lord.
22So they killed the bulls, and the priests took the blood and sprinkled it on the altar. Next they killed the rams and sprinkled their blood on the altar. And finally, they did the same with the male lambs. 23The male goats for the sin offering were then brought before the king and the assembly of people, who laid their hands on them. 24The priests then killed the goats as a sin offering and sprinkled their blood on the altar to make atonement for the sins of all Israel. The king had specifically commanded that this burnt offering and sin offering should be made for all Israel.
25King Hezekiah then stationed the Levites at the Temple of the lord with cymbals, lyres, and harps. He obeyed all the commands that the lord had given to King David through Gad, the king’s seer, and the prophet Nathan. 26The Levites then took their positions around the Temple with the instruments of David, and the priests took their positions with the trumpets.
27Then Hezekiah ordered that the burnt offering be placed on the altar. As the burnt offering was presented, songs of praise to the lord were begun, accompanied by the trumpets and other instruments of David, the former king of Israel. 28The entire assembly worshiped the lord as the singers sang and the trumpets blew, until all the burnt offerings were finished. 29Then the king and everyone with him bowed down in worship. 30King Hezekiah and the officials ordered the Levites to praise the lord with the psalms written by David and by Asaph the seer. So they offered joyous praise and bowed down in worship.
31Then Hezekiah declared, “Now that you have consecrated yourselves to the lord, bring your sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings to the Temple of the lord.” So the people brought their sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings, and all whose hearts were willing brought burnt offerings, too. 32The people brought to the lord 70 bulls, 100 rams, and 200 male lambs for burnt offerings. 33They also brought 600 cattle and 3,000 sheep and goats as sacred offerings.
34But there were too few priests to prepare all the burnt offerings. So their relatives the Levites helped them until the work was finished and more priests had been purified, for the Levites had been more conscientious about purifying themselves than the priests had been. 35There was an abundance of burnt offerings, along with the usual liquid offerings, and a great deal of fat from the many peace offerings.
So the Temple of the lord was restored to service. 36And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because of what God had done for the people, for everything had been accomplished so quickly.