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Jerusalem had been cleansed 2 Chronicles 30:14; now the land had to be purged. Hezekiah therefore gave his sanction to a popular movement directed as much against the “high places” which had been maintained since the times of the patriarchs, as against the remnants of the Baal-worship, or the innovations of Ahaz. See 2 Kings 18:4 note. The invasion of the northern kingdom “Ephraim and Manasseh” by a tumultuous crowd from the southern one, and the success which attended the movement, can only be explained by the state of weakness into which the northern kingdom had fallen (see the note at 2 Chronicles 29:24).
The tents - literally, “the camps.” The temple is called the “camp of Yahweh” by an apt metaphor: the square enclosure, with its gates and stations, its guards and porters, its reliefs, its orderly arrangement, and the tabernacle, or tent, of the great commander in the midst, very much resembled a camp.
The king’s portion - Amid the general neglect of the observances commanded by the Law, the tithe system had naturally fallen into disuse. Hezekiah revived it; and, to encourage the people to give what was due, cheerfully set the example of paying the full proportion from his own considerable possessions (compare 2 Chronicles 32:28-29). His tithe was, it seems, especially devoted to the purposes mentioned in this verse (compare the marginal reference). There were needed for these purposes in the course of the year nearly 1,100 lambs, 113 bullocks, 37 rams, and 30 goats, besides vast quantities of flour, oil, and wine for the accompanying meat and drink offerings.
That they might be encouraged ... - i. e. to devote themselves wholly to their proper work, the service of the sanctuary and the teaching of God’s Law 2 Chronicles 17:7-9, and not engage in secular occupations. Compare Nehemiah 13:10-14.
Honey - See the margin. It is doubtful whether bee-honey was liable to first-fruits. The sort here intended may therefore be that which, according to Josephus, was manufactured from dates.
By “the children of Israel” in 2 Chronicles 31:5, seem to be intended the inhabitants of Jerusalem only (see 2 Chronicles 31:4); by “the children of Israel and Judah that dwelt in the cities of Judah” in this verse, seem to be meant the Jews of the country districts and the Israelites who dwelt among them 2 Chronicles 30:25. Of these two classes, the first brought both first-fruits and tithes of “all things;” while the others, who had not been included in the command 2 Chronicles 31:4, brought in first-fruits and paid the tithe of sheep and oxen only, and of the things which they had vowed to God.
The third month - Compare 2 Chronicles 29:3; 2Ch 30:2, 2 Chronicles 30:13. The events hitherto described - the destruction of the high places, the re-appointment of the courses, and the re-establishment of the tithes followed so closely upon the Passover, that a month had not elapsed from the conclusion of the Feast before the gifts began to pour in. In the seventh month the harvest was completed; and the last tithes and first-fruits of the year would naturally come in then.
“Hezekiah questioned” in order to know whether the ministering priests and Levites had had their maintenance out of the tithes, and whether the accumulation which he saw was clear surplus.
If this Azariah was the same as he who resisted Uzziah 2 Chronicles 26:17-20, he must have held his office at least 33 years. Compare 2 Chronicles 27:1; 2 Chronicles 28:1.
The Lord hath blessed his people - i. e. God has made the harvest unusually abundant, and hence the great amount of tithes and first-fruits.
The porter toward the east - i. e. the chief door-keeper at the east gate, where the proper number of the porters was six 1 Chronicles 26:17.
The most holy things - The sin-offerings and trespass-offerings Leviticus 6:25; Leviticus 7:1-6.
The cities of the priests - i. e. the Levitical cities (compare marginal reference). Of these, some had gone to decay, while others, as Libnah and Beth-shemesh 2 Chronicles 21:10; 2 Chronicles 28:18, had been lost, so that the original number, thirteen, was now, apparently, reduced to six.
In their set office - Rather, as in marg. These six Levites were stationed at the Levitical cities, with the trust following committed to them.
Beside their genealogy of males ... - Some translate it: “Excepting the list of males,” etc. i. e. they distributed to all the members of the priestly families, excepting to those who at the time were performing the duties of their office at Jerusalem. These persons no doubt obtained their share at the temple itself.
Both to the genealogy of the priests ... - Some prefer: “And as for the list of the priests, it was according to the houses of their fathers, and that of the Levites was from twenty years,” etc. The writer states the nature of the lists which guided the officers who made the distributions. Three lists are enumerated one of the priests made out according to families; one of the Levites, including all above 20 years of age (see the marginal reference), and made out according to courses; and a third 2 Chronicles 31:18 of the priestly and Levitical families.
And to the genealogy of all their little ones ... - Or, “And as to the list of all their little ones, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, it extended to the whole body, for they dealt with the holy things faithfully.”
The country priests and Levites are here distinguished from those who dwelt in the towns. The writer means to note that not even were they neglected.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 31". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany