31
Hezekiah Reforms Religious Life
1After 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.
2King Hezekiah re-established 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#Num 28.1—29.39From 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 # Num 18.12–1321 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. 5As soon as the order was given, the people of Israel brought gifts of their finest corn, wine, olive oil, honey, and other farm produce, and they also brought the tithes#31.5 gifts… tithes: The gifts were for the priests, and the tithes for the Levites (see Num 18). of everything they had. 6All 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. 7The gifts started arriving in the third month and continued to pile up for the next four months. 8When King Hezekiah and his officials saw how much had been given, they praised the Lord and praised his people Israel. 9The king spoke to the priests and the Levites about these gifts, 10and 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.”
11On the king's orders they prepared storerooms in the Temple area 12and put all the gifts and tithes in them for safe-keeping. They placed a Levite named Conaniah in charge and made his brother Shimei his assistant. 13Ten 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. 14Kore 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. 15In 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, 16and not by clans. They gave a share to all males thirty#31.16 Probable text thirty; Hebrew three. years of age or older who had daily responsibilities in the Temple in accordance with their positions. 17The priests were assigned their duties by clans, and the Levites twenty years of age or older were assigned theirs by work groups. 18They were all registered together with their wives, children, and other dependants, because they were required to be ready to perform their sacred duties at any time. 19Among 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.
20Throughout all Judah, King Hezekiah did what was right and what was pleasing to the Lord his God. 21He 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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