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2 Chronicles 31


(LXX versing)
Idols Are Destroyed The Reforms of Hezekiah Hezekiah's Reform and His Re-establishment of the Priests and Levites Hezekiah Reforms Religious Life The Purification of the Country
31:1 31:1 31:1 31:1 31:1
The Reorganization of the Priests and Levites
31:2 31:2-4 31:2-10 31:2-3 31:2-8
Reforms Continued
31:11-19 31:11-19 31:11-19 31:11-19
31:20-21 31:20-21 31:20-21 31:20-21 31:20-21

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.


1Now when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah, broke the pillars in pieces, cut down the Asherim and pulled down the high places and the altars throughout all Judah and Benjamin, as well as in Ephraim and Manasseh, until they had destroyed them all. Then all the sons of Israel returned to their cities, each to his possession.

31:1 It was the worshipers (i.e., "all Israel who were present at the Passover") of chapter 30 who spread out over Judah, as well as Ephraim and Manasseh, destroying the Ba'al high places.

  1. broke the pillars ‒ a raised stone symbolizing Ba'al (i.e., a phallic symbol)
  2. cut down the Asherim ‒ a planted or carved tree on the raised stone platform symbolizing the tree of life
  3. pulled down the high places ‒ altars made of cut stone to form a raised platform for worship
  4. altars ‒ probably a reference to the incense altars (cf. 2 Chr. 28:24; 30:14)


"as well as Ephraim and Manasseh" Why these two northern tribes are mentioned is uncertain (cf. 2 Chr. 30:1).

2And Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites by their divisions, each according to his service, both the priests and the Levites, for burnt offerings and for peace offerings, to minister and to give thanks and to praise in the gates of the camp of the Lord.

31:2 These divisions of the families of Levites to assigned tasks goes back to David (cf. 1 Chronicles 23-26; 28:13,21; 2 Chr. 28:13).

"burnt offerings" These were free-will gifts totally burned on the altar of sacrifice, cf. Leviticus 1.

"peace offerings" These were free-will gifts of which a part was

  1. burned (i.e., fat, blood) to YHWH
  2. given to the priest
  3. given to the offerer to eat within three days (Leviticus 3)

Surprisingly, the two required offerings were not mentioned (i.e., sin and guilt, cf. Leviticus 4-6), nor the grain/meal offering (cf. Leviticus 2).

"to give thanks and to praise in the gates" These two INFINITIVE CONSTRUCTS (BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil and BDB 237, KB 248, Piel) denote music and singing (cf. 1 Chr. 16:4; 23:30; 25:3; 2 Chr. 5:13; 31:2; Ezra 3:11; Neh. 12:24,26).

The "in the gates" denotes "within the temple compound," not just at/in the gates. Music was a major part of the Israelite worship experience, thanks to David, the shepherd singer of Israel!

"of the camp" This is an anachronism, going back to the tabernacle days of a portable sanctuary. The Chronicler likes to link back to the United Monarchy, especially David or here, possibly, back to Moses (see note at 2 Chr. 31:3).

3He also appointed the king's portion of his goods for the burnt offerings, namely, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths and for the new moons and for the fixed festivals, as it is written in the law of the Lord. 4Also he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the law of the Lord. 5As soon as the order spread, the sons of Israel provided in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, oil, honey and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of all. 6The sons of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of sacred gifts which were consecrated to the Lord their God, and placed them in heaps. 7In the third month they began to make the heaps, and finished them by the seventh month. 8When Hezekiah and the rulers came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord and His people Israel. 9Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps. 10Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok said to him, "Since the contributions began to be brought into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat with plenty left over, for the Lord has blessed His people, and this great quantity is left over."

31:3 The king was responsible for several offerings (cf. Ezek. 45:17,22; 46:2,16-18).

  1. the continual
  2. sabbaths
  3. new moons (cf. 1 Chr. 23:21; 2 Chr. 2:3; 8:13; 31:3)
  4. fixed festivals

Notice these different offerings involved daily, weekly, monthly, and annual worship events (cf. 1 Chr. 23:31; 2 Chr. 2:4; 8:13), which reflects Gen. 1:14.


"as it is written in the law of the Lord" Obedience to the Mosaic covenant (cf. Numbers 28) was a crucial aspect of Hezekiah's reform.

Chronicles reaffirms over and over that YHWH had revealed Himself through Moses. The Mosaic guidelines were not from a human origin but from YHWH. All things must be done according to these guidelines (cf. 1 Chr. 6:89; 15:15; 16:40; 22:13; 2 Chr. 8:13; 23:18; 24:6; 25:4; 30:16; 33:8; 34:14; 35:6,12).

31:4-6 YHWH's people were to support the temple and its servants (cf. Numbers 18).

31:5 "the first fruits" The first ripened fruit and grain were given to YHWH as

  1. recognition of His ownership of all crops
  2. a thank offering for His blessings (i.e., good weather for good harvest)

"honey" This would be honey from "dates" (Josephus), not "bees." It was given for the priests and Levites to eat but not to be put on the altar in the series of sacrifices. See NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 337, #4.

"the tithe of all" "All" could be understood as

  1. all agricultural (v. 5) and pastoral (v. 6) required gifts
  2. all the people's portion (v. 4)

In Numbers 18, YHWH's method for supporting the personnel of the tabernacle and later temple is spelled out.

  1. priests' portion (cf. Num. 18:8-20)
    1. part of animal sacrifices
    2. the wave offerings
    3. the grain/cereal offerings
    4. first fruits
    5. redemption price of firstborn
    6. a tithe from the Levites of the people's tithe (cf. Num. 18:26)
  2. Levites' portion (cf. Num. 18:21-32 ‒ the tithe of the people)


31:7 "the seventh month" This harvest month (i.e., Tishri) has three scheduled corporate worship days.

  1. Feast of Trumpets
  2. Day of Atonement
  3. Feast of Booths/Tabernacles


31:8 Hezekiah was surprised and blessed by the obedience of Judah's gifts to the temple.

It is unusual that the king and his officials "blessed" the people; usually it was the priests. After Solomon's dedication of the temple in 2 Kgs. 8:66, the people "blessed" him.

YHWH's covenant people took "blessings" seriously. They had an effect!

31:10 "Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok" Solomon exiled the priestly house of Abiathar (cf. 1 Kgs. 2:26-27). Both Zadok and Abiathar were high priests during David's reign.

The descendants of Zadok are hard to follow because

  1. only some are named
  2. often names move through families

A good brief summary is found in Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel, "The Descendants of Zadok," pp. 375-376.

11Then Hezekiah commanded them to prepare rooms in the house of the Lord, and they prepared them. 12They faithfully brought in the contributions and the tithes and the consecrated things; and Conaniah the Levite was the officer in charge of them and his brother Shimei was second. 13Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath and Benaiah were overseers under the authority of Conaniah and Shimei his brother by the appointment of King Hezekiah, and Azariah was the chief officer of the house of God. 14Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, the keeper of the eastern gate, was over the freewill offerings of God, to apportion the contributions for the Lord and the most holy things. 15Under his authority were Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah and Shecaniah in the cities of the priests, to distribute faithfully their portions to their brothers by divisions, whether great or small, 16without regard to their genealogical enrollment, to the males from thirty years old and upward—everyone who entered the house of the Lord for his daily obligations—for their work in their duties according to their divisions; 17as well as the priests who were enrolled genealogically according to their fathers' households, and the Levites from twenty years old and upwards, by their duties and their divisions. 18The genealogical enrollment included all their little children, their wives, their sons and their daughters, for the whole assembly, for they consecrated themselves faithfully in holiness. 19Also for the sons of Aaron the priests who were in the pasture lands of their cities, or in each and every city, there were men who were designated by name to distribute portions to every male among the priests and to everyone genealogically enrolled among the Levites.

31:12 Here is a list of the things brought to the temple.

  1. the contributions, BDB 925
  2. the tithes, BDB 798
  3. the consecrated/dedicated things, BDB 871
  4. freewill offerings, 2 Chr. 31:14, BDB 621

31:14 "the keeper of the eastern gate" This was the main entrance to the temple area. The inner shrine faced east. These Levitical gatekeepers controlled access to the sacred area. See IVP, Bible Background Commentary (OT), p. 454.

"the most holy things" This referred to the priests' part of the sin and guilt offering. The blood of these was taken into the shrine, therefore, it became "most holy" and could be eaten only by priests (cf. Lev. 6:24-30; 7:1-6).

31:15 "the cities of the priests" See Joshua 20-21.


"whether great or small" This could be interpreted in two ways.

  1. age (cf. 2 Chr. 31:16)
  2. size of family or division

31:16 "their genealogical enrollment" The offices of priest and Levite were hereditary. The family lineage must be established.

The Levites were given their portion of the gifts from "thirty" years up. All ancient versions and the MT have "three," but this number does not make sense with the following phrase. The UBS Text Project gives "3" an "A" rating, p. 479. However, NASB, NAB, TEV, and NJB emend it to "thirty" (cf. Num. 4:3,23,35; 1 Chr. 23:3).

The forms are close.

  1. "three" ‒ BDB 1025, three forms
    1. שׁלשׁ
    2. שׁלשׁה
    3. שׁלושׁ
  2. "thirty" ‒ BDB1026, three forms
    1. שׁלשׁיםi (2 Chronicles, 9 times)
    2. שׁלשׁם
    3. שׁלושׁיםi (1 Chr. 11:15; 16:12)
  3. they appear together in 1 Chr. 3:4; 11:15; 29:24

31:17 The priests were given their portion of the gifts from "twenty" years up.

"from twenty years old and upwards" This lower age requirement changes from period to period either because

  1. there was a five year apprenticeship
  2. the number of Levites was smaller and they needed more; even after fifty the Levites could do some things in temple service that required less physical strength
  3. see Hard Sayings of the Bible, p. 164

31:18 The gifts were shared with the priests' and Levites' families (except that which was "most holy").

31:19 All of the Levitical families did not live close to Jerusalem but all shared.

  1. priests in offerings
  2. Levites in the tithe

20Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah; and he did what was good, right and true before the Lord his God. 21Every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered.

31:20 Notice how Hezekiah's actions are characterized.

  1. what was good
  2. what was right
  3. what was true

31:21 Hezekiah did

  1. what was written in the law of Moses (v. 3)
  2. what was according to his heart which sought YHWH completely (this VERB "seek" is common in Chronicles, i.e., BDB 205, KB 233; as well as its SYNONYM, BDB 134, KB 152. Notice how both are used in 2 Chronicles 15:

BDB 205; 15:12-15

BDB 134; 15:4,15

These are the twin requirements of the old covenant.

  1. obedience
  2. a heart for YHWH Himself

31:21 "prospered" This was a fulfillment of the blessings for covenant obedience found in Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28. Hezekiah was faithful, the people were faithful; all had abundance!

This "prosperity" emphasis is often transferred to the NT but this is a performance-based covenant. The NT (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-36) is a grace-based covenant. See Gordon Fee, The Disease of the Health and Wealth Gospel.

Prosperity is not the goal of the NT, but Christlikeness!


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. Describe the "high places" and their worship.
  2. How did these worshipers manage to destroy the "high places" even in Israel?
  3. How many events did the king provide sacrificial animals for?
  4. How were the priests and Levites supported?
  5. Why do the ages of serving Levites differ in the OT?
  6. What things did Hezekiah do that caused YHWH to bless and prosper him?

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