Handout #30: Hezekiah, Passover, Manasseh, Siloam Tunnel, spring of Gihon, 15 yr extension, Selah, Sennacherib, Levites, Psalm 48 August 2014
Hezekiah, Ḥizkiyyahu (Heb. strengthen, fortify) , son of Ahaz, 13th king of Judah. Reigned 715 BC. Born: Jerusalem, Israel. Died: 687 BC, Jerusalem, Israel. Parents: Abijah, Ahaz, Children: Manasseh of Judah. He assumed throne at 25. The main account of Hezekiah’s reign is found in 2 Kings 18-20, Isaiah 36-39, and 2 Chronicles 29-32.
Among Hezekiah’s first acts was the repair of the Temple, which had been closed during the reign of Ahaz. He reorganized the services of the priests and Levites, purged the Second Temple and its vessels, and opened it with imposing sacrifices (2 Chronicles 29:3-36)
Hezekiah also resumed the Passover pilgrimage and the tradition of inviting the scattered tribes of Israel to take part in a Passover festival. He also sent messengers to Ephraim and Manasseh inviting them to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover. 1-5. This great religious festival had not been regularly observed by the Hebrews in their national capacity for a long time because of the division of the kingdom and the many disorders that had followed that unhappy event. Hezekiah longed to see its observance revived; and the expression of his wishes having received a hearty response from the princes and chief men of his own kingdom, the preparatory steps were taken for a renewed celebration of the national solemnity.
The messengers, however, were laughed at; only a few men of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun came to Jerusalem. Nevertheless the Passover was celebrated with great solemnity and such rejoicing as had not been in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon.
Hezekiah is portrayed as a great and good king. He is one of the few kings praised so highly as to have “trusted in the Lord the God of Israel; so that there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah after him, or among those who were before him”. (2 Kings 18:5)
Hezekiah made at least two major preparations that would help Jerusalem to resist conquest: the construction of Hezekiah’s Tunnel (aka the Siloam Tunnel), and construction of the Broad Wall.
The temple, as the dwelling place of God, is described as a house of prayer, of repentance and forgiveness, mercy, and covenants (Davidic (2 Sam 7:16). Hezekiah repaired Solomon’s Temple, said to house the Ark of the Covenant. It stood 410 years, destroyed in 422 b.c. or thereabouts.
He turned Judah away from idols;] when later in the same century Hezekiah is confronted with a siege by the Assyrian king Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:23, 19:1, Hezekiah “instead of plundering the temple treasuries… now uses the temple the way it is designed to be used — as a house of prayer (2 Kings 19:1–14).
Hezekiah’s son Manasseh, however, was much different from his father; during his reign of the early and middle seventh century (2 Kings 21:4–9), Manasseh made innovations to the Temple cult. He has been described as a Solomon who also fell into idolatry, and Manasseh is described as a king who “makes” (2 Kings 21:3–7) or “builds” (2 Kings 21:3) high places (cf. 1 Kings 11:7) (see Deuteronomy 12 for the prohibition against high place worship), yet while Solomon’s idolatry was punished by a divided kingdom, Manasseh’s idolatry was punished by exile.
At this point in time, Israel (Northern Kingdom) is in its last days under its last king, Hoshea. King Hezekiah of Judah tore down the “high places,” the pagan altars, and the “groves” (Hebrew: Asherah) which were altars to the Phoenician goddess. Broke bronze serpent the people had begun to worship (Num 21:4-9). He beats back the Philistines and rebels against the Assyrians.
Clarification: All priests were Levites, but all Levites were not priests. Aaron and a multitude of others were descendants of Levi. This tribe was designated to be the replacement for the firstborn of each tribe of Israel. This begins to unfold in the aftermath of the golden calf episode in Exodus 38. From this point forward, the Levites were special. In Num 3 the Levites were all assigned duties but only the descendants of Aaron were designated to serve in the actual priesthood. (Num 18:1-7).
During Hezekiah’s reign, Israel and much of Judah were overcome by the Assyrian conquest of Israel. They used deportation and heathen repopulation as their tools of occupation. After the Assyrian army moved on, the locals who had not been deported had some freedoms, but not their own government leadership. That’s why Jerusalem was such a notable prize to the Assyrians. King Hoshea, of the Northern Kingdom, was a puppet king of the Assyrians. For the last three years of his reign, Samaria was under siege by the Assyrians and finally destroyed. However, Jerusalem, the capital of the Southern Kingdom, still thrived – especially under Hezekiah. who tried to unite Israel and Judah .
Hezekiah prepared for the inevitable siege of Assyria. He redirected waters from the Spring of Gihon outside the city to the Pool of Siloam inside Jerusalem so people could have running water. Remarkable engineering feat ( II Chronicles 32:30). He repaired walls around the city. made them higher. Manufactured ample weapons for use atop the fortifications. Told people of approach of the Assyrians.
In the Psalms the word “selah” is often used. Means “prayer”. It is Arabic and denotes the daily ritual prayer of Islam, used in the worship of their “Allah”. Generally, the word means an act of worship, a personal liturgy. An obligation to pray.
Hezekiah reigned twenty-nine years (II Chron. 29:1; II Kings 18:2); Hoshea, the last king of Israel, started to reign in Samaria in the twelfth year of Ahaz, father of Hezekiah (II Kings 17: 1); Ahaz reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem (II Chron. 28: 1); in the third year of Hoshea, Hezekiah began to reign (II Kings 18: 1);
Hoshea reigned in Samaria nine years (II Kings 17: 1); but that already in the fourth year of Hezekiah “which was the seventh year of Hoshea”, Shalmaneser came against Samaria and besieged it (II Kings 18: 9); the siege of Samaria endured three years (II Kings 17: 5); at the end of these three years, in the ninth year of Hoshea, which was the sixth of Hezekiah, Samaria fell (II Kings 18: 10); in the ninth year of his reign Hoshea was captured, fettered, and put in prison (II Kings 17: 9), probably in Assyria.
When Hezekiah fell sick he was promised a grace of fifteen years (Isaiah 38:1). The figure fifteen is not arbitrarily chosen. Hebrew midrashim (a body of stories by rabbis, sages to explain passages in Torah) explains that on the memorable day of Hezekiah the sun retarded to set by the same amount, namely ten degrees (maaloth in Hebrew is preferably “degrees” and more so when applied to the sundial) by which it speeded up to descend on the sundial built by Ahaz.
In response to Hezekiah’s prayer, God granted Hezekiah fifteen years more. God gave two gifts to Hezekiah. 1) extended life and 2) knowing he only had fifteen years left. This gave Hezekiah the motivation to walk right with God and to set his house in order. What did Hezekiah do with these added 15 years? He fathered a son who would succeed him on the throne of Judah. Of the next king of Judah, Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, it is written that he was 12 years old when he became king (2 Kings 21:1). This means he must have been born in the last 15 years of Hezekiah’s life.
Sadly, fathering Manasseh was not a worthy achievement. It was written of him, And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel (2 Kings 21:2). In fact, God specifically targeted Judah for judgment because of the terrible sins of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:10-15).
Psalm 48: A Song and Psalm for the sons of Korah. This psalm equates the greatness of God with the greatness of God’s city, Jerusalem (Zion) and the King. Probably sung on the Passover.
1 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.
2 Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.
3 God is known in her palaces for a refuge.
4 For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together.
5 They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away.
6 Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail.
7 Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind.
8 As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it forever. Selah.
9 We have thought of thy loving kindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.
10 According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness.
11 Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments.
12 Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.
13 Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following.
14 For this God is our God forever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.
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