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KD Old Testament Lesson 30: Hezekiah

Posted by Karl D. on August 5, 2010

Gospel Doctrine
Lesson: Hezekiah
Reading: 2 Chronicles 29-30, 32, 34

1 A Note on approach

These represent the notes I made during my reading of the scriptural text for this lesson. It is not a lesson outline or a lesson plan but really notes about issues and questions that struck me as interesting during my reading. Consequently, the notes do not have a conclusion and very little mention of application. I like to let those things arise while I teach.

2 Hezekiah, Solomon, and the Chronicler

2.1 Solomon and the Chronicler

  • Why does the Chronicler paint Hezekiah as a “new” Solomon (Note, he also seems to draw on David imagery as well)? 1 Wasn’t Solomon ultimately flawed? Didn’t the Lord anoint Jeroboam to take Solomon’s place?
  • All the preceding are part of Solomon’s reign according to the author of Kings but are missing in Chronicles. Solomon is throughout an ideal or near ideal King. Israel is free from faction and strife during his reign(2 Chr 8-10). There is no mention of forced labor (1 Kings 9:11-16) or Solomon’s unauthorized marriages to foreign woman, the building high places for his wives, or the anointing of Jeroboam in his place (1 Kings 11:1-38).

2.2 Hezekiah-Solomon Parallels

2.2.1 Hezekiah Unites Judah and Israel

Hezekiah unites Judah and Israel (at least he unites Judah with the remnants of a scattered and displaced Israel) for the first time since Solomon.

  • Thus Israel has one king and one temple during both reigns.
  • The Chronicler uses the phrase “land of Israel” only on four occasions: David (1 Chr 22:2), Solomon (2 Chr 2:16), Hezekiah (2 Chr 30:25), and Josiah (2 Chr 34:7).2

2.2.2 Immediate Concern: The Temple

Immediately after ascension to the throne both Kings (Solomon and Hezekiah) turn their attention to the temple (2 Chr 1-2:1 and 2 Chr 29).

  • Read 2 Chr 1:3-4:

(3) So Solomon, and all the congregation with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for there was the tabernacle of the congregation of God, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness. (4) But the ark of God had David brought up from Kirjathjearim to the place which David had prepared for it: for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem.

  • Is this is true according to the author of the book of Kings? Think back to when we discussed Solomon a few weeks ago? What did Solomon do right after ascending to the throne?
  • A similar account is found in Kings but it is not exactly the same. Read 1 Kings 3:4-5:

(4) And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar. (5) In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.

  • Differences? Are the differences significant or important?
  • Also, are these really the right comparison verses? According to the book of Kings is this the first important thing that Solomon does after his ascension to the throne?
  • In 2 chronicles Solomon’s performing a sacrifice at Gibeon is the first act mentioned after taking power (his mind really does turn first to the temple/tabernacle). This isn’t true in the book of Kings. Solomon comes to power in 1 Kings 2 and his first act(s) are quite different. What does Solomon do first after becoming King and how does it make the portrait of Solomon in Kings contrast with the portrait in Chronicles?

2.2.3 Hezekiah’s Passover Celebration Compared to Solomon’s

Hezekiah’s Passover celebration elicits an explicit mention of Solomon:

26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem.

2.2.4 Hezekiah’s Passover Celebration Lasts Two Weeks

Hezekiah’s Passover celebration lasts two weeks (2 Chr 30:22-23). Solomon’s temple dedication/celebration last two weeks(2 Chr 7:8-10). Both events last an extra week.

Read 2 Chr 7:8-10:

(8) Also at the same time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt. (9) And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly: for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days. (10) And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the LORD had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.

Read 2 Chr 30:22-23,25-26:

(22) And Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the LORD: and they did eat throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings, and making confession to the LORD God of their fathers. (23) And the whole assembly took counsel to keep other seven days: and they kept other seven days with gladness … (25) And all the congregation of Judah, with the priests and the Levites, and all the congregation that came out of Israel, and the strangers that came out of the land of Israel, and that dwelt in Judah, rejoiced. (26) So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem.

  • What are the common threads between these two situations?
  • Do these descriptions remind you of any situations in the Book of Mormon?
  • What do these verses tell us about the leadership of Solomon and Hezekiah? What do they tell us about an ideal or good leader?

2.2.5 Hezekiah’s Great Wealth

The Chronicler emphasizes Hezekiah’s great wealth (2 Chr 32:27-29), and, of course, Solomon’s wealth is also emphasized by the Chronicler (2 Chr 9:13-14).

2.2.6 Gifts from Gentile Kings

Gentile Kings bring gifts to Hezekiah (2 Chr 32:27-29) just as they did to Solomon (2 Chr 9:23-24).

2.2.7 Intercessory Prayer

Hezekiah and Solomon both utter intercessory prayers (2 Chr 30:18-20 and 2 Chr 6).

Read 2 Chr 7:12-14:

(12) And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. (13) If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; (14) If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Read 2 Chr 30:18-20:

(18) For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one (19) That prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. (20) And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.

  • What are the common threads between these two situations?
  • Why the language, “the Lord .. healed the people?” Why this language in both? Why not say they were purified at least in Hezekiah’s passage?
  • One reason could be to allude to the Solomon situation in a clearer or more forceful way.
  • I think the connection to Jesus as a healer are pretty hard for Christians to miss.
  • I think the maybe an important area of overlap in terms of the thoughts or concepts these verses evoke in me is that they both make me thing of “grace.” How is grace operating in this situation? What is it doing?
    1. Is the grace compensatory?
    2. Is the grace corrective or transforming? Something like what is mentioned in Ether 12:6?
    3. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity.

    4. Something else?

3 Hezekiah and Flexibility

We often represent the Mosaic law as inflexible. But in this example it is anything but inflexible (note, this is a pattern for Hezekiah). Read 2 Chr 30:2-4:

(2) For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second month. (3) For they could not keep it at that time, because the priests had not sanctified themselves sufficiently, neither had the people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem. (4) And the thing pleased the king and all the congregation.

  • What changes, alterations, or adjustments did Hezekiah make with regards to passover?
  • Why did Jeroboam get condemned (1 Kings 13:28-33) and Hezekiah not get condemned for altering dates of rituals?
  • Did the Mosaic law allow for these alterations or adjustments?
  • There is a provision to delay Passover for certain kinds of people. Read Numbers 9:9-11:

(9) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (10) Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto the LORD. (11) The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

  • What are the exceptions for Passover delay and how is Passover delayed in those cases?
  • Do the exceptions mentioned apply to this situation? Why or why not?
  • What does invoking these exceptions universally to apply to all of Israel tell us about Israel during the reign of Hezekiah? What does it tell us about Hezekiah? About the LORD?
  • Does it make sense to suggest that Hezekiah is trying to unite, and he feels the only way to unite is through covenant renewal?

4 Hezekiah: Odds and Ends

Read 2 Chr 29:34:

(34) But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings: wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them, till the work was ended, and until the other priests had sanctified themselves: for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests.

  • Why the distinction between the priests and the Levites? Was their role different?

    One explanation of the difference between priests and Levites is that those called priests were Levites descended from Dike, high priest at the time of Solomon. Among the Levites, Zadok’s descendants had the responsibility for temple ritual.3

  • What does “were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves” mean in this context?
  • I wonder why the Levites are singled out as having more upright hearts? Given that we are taking about groups with certain responsibilities, one wonders if differences in responsibility or role contributed? Does 2 Chronicles 30:22 hint at something that might have helped the Levites to remain more “upright in heart” (a responsibility advantage?)? Do you think this generalizes or applies more widely to other situations, places, or times?

    Read 2 Chr 30:22:

(22) And Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the LORD: and they did eat throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings, and making confession to the LORD God of their fathers.

5 Josiah-Joash Parallels

There are many parallels between the reigns of Josiah and Joash.4

5.1 Parallels

  1. Josiah and Joash were both enthroned as children (2 Chr 34:1 and 2 Chr 24:1). Josiah was 8 and Joash was 7.
  2. Both involved with collecting funds for the temple.
  3. Both restore the temple.
  4. Both are described as following the LORD and not turning from him (Josiah: 2 Chr 34:33 and Joash 24:2).

5.2 Differences?

There is something different about the description Joash’s faithfulness according to the Chronicler, and it leads to a very different outcome. Read 2 Chr 24:2:

(2) And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.

Read 2 Chr 34:1-3

(1) Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. (2) And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left. (3) For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.

  • What is different about these two description? Is the difference significant?
  • Is the difference an important reminder or instructive for us today?

6 Big Picture

Throughout both Kings and Chronicles there is a cycle of apostasy and restoration.5

  • Compare and contrast this cycle with what we observe in the Book of Mormon?
  • Does prosperity play a role in the cycle like it does in the Book of Mormon?
  • Does pride play a role?
  • What about the role of the King in the cycle? Do we see anything similar in the Book of Mormon? Mosiah 23:6-8:

(6) And the people were desirous that Alma should be their king, for he was beloved by his people. (7) But he said unto them: Behold, it is not expedient that we should have a king; for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another; therefore I say unto you it is not expedient that ye should have a king. (8) Nevertheless, if it were possible that ye could always have just men to be your kings it would be well for you to have a king.

Footnotes:

1 For a nice discussion of these parallels see Dillard, Raymond B, World Bible Commentary, Vol 15, pg 226–282.

2 Dillard, Raymond B, World Bible Commentary, Vol 15, pg 226–282.

3 Jim F’s notes for this same lesson.

4 adapted from Dillard, Raymond B, World Bible Commentary, Vol 15, pg 277.

5 I may have stolen these questions from Jim F. when I originally wrote up these notes four years ago

2 Responses to “KD Old Testament Lesson 30: Hezekiah”

  1. Jim F. said

    Karl, you cannot have stolen what was offered freely. Use whatever you find useful–and many, many thanks for posting your own notes. The more of us who come to these with our own thinking, the more each of us can enrich the others.

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