Ahaz was 20 years old when he became king; he reigned 16 years in Jerusalem. He did not do what was right in the LORD's sight like his forefather David,
for he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and made cast images of the Baals.
He burned incense in the Valley of Hinnom and burned his children in the fire, imitating the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had dispossessed before the Israelites.
He sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.
So the LORD his God handed Ahaz over to the king of Aram. He attacked him and took many captives to Damascus. Ahaz was also handed over to the king of Israel, who struck him with great force:
Pekah son of Remaliah killed 120,000 in Judah in one day-- all brave men-- because they had abandoned the LORD God of their ancestors.
An Ephraimite warrior named Zichri killed the king's son Maaseiah, Azrikam governor of the palace, and Elkanah who was second to the king.
Then the Israelites took 200,000 captives from their brothers-- women, sons, and daughters. They also took a great deal of plunder from them and brought it to Samaria.
A prophet of the LORD named Oded was there. He went out to meet the army that came to Samaria and said to them, "Look, the LORD God of your ancestors handed them over to you because of His wrath against Judah, but you slaughtered them in a rage that has reached heaven.
Now you plan to reduce the people of Judah and Jerusalem, male and female, to slavery. Are you not also guilty before the LORD your God?
Listen to me and return the captives you took from your brothers, for the LORD's fierce wrath is on you."
So some men who were leaders of the Ephraimites-- Azariah son of Johanan, Berechiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai-- stood in opposition to those coming from the war.
They said to them, "You must not bring the captives here, for you plan to bring guilt on us from the LORD to add to our sins and our guilt. For we have much guilt, and fierce wrath is on Israel."
The army left the captives and the plunder in the presence of the officers and the congregation.
Then the men who were designated by name took charge of the captives and provided clothes for their naked ones from the plunder. They clothed them, gave them sandals, food and drink, dressed their wounds, and provided donkeys for all the feeble. The Israelites brought them to Jericho, the City of Palms, among their brothers. Then they returned to Samaria.
At that time King Ahaz asked the king of Assyria for help.
The Edomites came again, attacked Judah, and took captives.
The Philistines also raided the cities of the Judean foothills and the Negev of Judah and captured Beth-shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, Soco and its villages, Timnah and its villages, Gimzo and its villages, and they lived there.
For the LORD humbled Judah because of King Ahaz of Judah, who threw off restraint in Judah and was unfaithful to the LORD.
Then Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came against Ahaz; he oppressed him and did not give him support.
Although Ahaz plundered the LORD's temple and the palace of the king and of the rulers and gave the plunder to the king of Assyria, it did not help him.
At the time of his distress, King Ahaz himself became more unfaithful to the LORD.
He sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him; he said, "Since the gods of the kings of Aram are helping them, I will sacrifice to them so that they will help me." But they were the downfall of him and of all Israel.
Then Ahaz gathered up the utensils of God's temple, cut them into pieces, shut the doors of the LORD's temple, and made himself altars on every street corner in Jerusalem.
He made high places in every city of Judah to offer incense to other gods, and he provoked the God of his ancestors.
As for the rest of his deeds and all his ways, from beginning to end, they are written about in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.
Ahaz rested with his fathers and was buried in the city, in Jerusalem, and his son Hezekiah became king in his place.
Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king; he reigned 29 years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah.
He did what was right in the LORD's sight just as his ancestor David had done.
In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the LORD's temple and repaired them.
Then he brought in the priests and Levites and gathered them in the eastern public square.
He said to them, "Hear me, Levites. Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the LORD God of your ancestors. Remove everything detestable from the holy place.
For our fathers were unfaithful and did what is evil in the sight of the LORD our God. They abandoned Him, turned their faces away from the LORD's tabernacle, and turned their backs on Him.
They also closed the doors of the vestibule, extinguished the lamps, did not burn incense, and did not offer burnt offerings in the holy place of the God of Israel.
Therefore, the wrath of the LORD was on Judah and Jerusalem, and He made them an object of terror, horror, and hissing, as you see with your own eyes.
Our fathers fell by the sword, and our sons, our daughters, and our wives are in captivity because of this.
It is in my heart now to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel so that His fierce wrath may turn away from us.
My sons, don't be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand in His presence, to serve Him, and to be His ministers and burners of incense."
Then the Levites stood up: Mahath son of Amasai and Joel son of Azariah from the Kohathites; Kish son of Abdi and Azariah son of Jehallelel from the Merarites; Joah son of Zimmah and Eden son of Joah from the Gershonites;
Shimri and Jeuel from the Elizaphanites; Zechariah and Mattaniah from the Asaphites;
Jehiel and Shimei from the Hemanites; Shemaiah and Uzziel from the Jeduthunites.
They gathered their brothers together, consecrated themselves, and went according to the king's command by the words of the LORD to cleanse the LORD's temple.
The priests went to the entrance of the LORD's temple to cleanse it. They took all the detestable things they found in the LORD's sanctuary to the courtyard of the LORD's temple. Then the Levites received them and took them outside to the Kidron Valley.
They began the consecration on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the LORD's [temple]. They consecrated the LORD's temple for eight days, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished.
Then they went inside to King Hezekiah and said, "We have cleansed the whole temple of the LORD, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the table for the rows [of the bread of the Presence] and all its utensils.
All the utensils that King Ahaz rejected during his reign when he became unfaithful we have set up and consecrated. They are in front of the altar of the LORD."
King Hezekiah got up early, gathered the city officials, and went up to the LORD's temple.
They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats as a sin offering for the kingdom, for the sanctuary, and for Judah. Then he told the descendants of Aaron, the priests, to offer them on the altar of the LORD.
So they slaughtered the bulls, and the priests received the blood and sprinkled it on the altar. They slaughtered the rams and sprinkled the blood on the altar. They slaughtered the lambs and sprinkled the blood on the altar.
Then they brought the sin offering goats right into the presence of the king and the congregation, who laid their hands on them.
The priests slaughtered the goats and put their blood on the altar for a sin offering, to make atonement for all Israel, for the king said that the burnt offering and sin offering were for all Israel.
Hezekiah stationed the Levites in the LORD's temple with cymbals, harps, and lyres according to the command of David, Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet. For the command was from the LORD through His prophets.
The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.
Then Hezekiah ordered that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. When the burnt offerings began, the song of the LORD and the trumpets began, accompanied by the instruments of David king of Israel.
The whole assembly was worshiping, singing the song, and blowing the trumpets-- all of this [continued] until the burnt offering was completed.
When the burnt offerings were completed, the king and all those present with him bowed down and worshiped.
Then King Hezekiah and the officials told the Levites to sing praise to the LORD in the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with rejoicing and bowed down and worshiped.
Hezekiah concluded, "Now you are consecrated to the LORD. Come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the LORD's temple." So the congregation brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all those with willing hearts brought burnt offerings.
The number of burnt offerings the congregation brought was 70 bulls, 100 rams, and 200 lambs; all these were for a burnt offering to the LORD.
Six hundred bulls and 3,000 sheep were consecrated.
However, since there were not enough priests, they weren't able to skin all the burnt offerings, so their Levite brothers helped them until the work was finished and until the priests consecrated themselves. For the Levites were more conscientious to consecrate themselves than the priests were.
Furthermore, the burnt offerings were abundant, along with the fat of the fellowship offerings and with the drink offerings for the burnt offering. So the service of the LORD's temple was established.
Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced over how God had prepared the people, for it had come about suddenly.
Then Hezekiah sent [word] throughout all Israel and Judah, and he also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh to come to the LORD's temple in Jerusalem to observe the Passover of the LORD God of Israel.
For the king and his officials and the entire congregation in Jerusalem decided to observe the Passover of the LORD in the second month
because they were not able to observe it at the appropriate time, since not enough of the priests had consecrated themselves and the people hadn't been gathered together in Jerusalem.
The proposal pleased the king and the congregation,
so they affirmed the proposal and spread the message throughout all Israel, from Beer-sheba to Dan, to come to observe the Passover of the LORD God of Israel in Jerusalem, for they hadn't observed it often, as prescribed.
So the couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the hand of the king and his officials, and according to the king's command, saying, "Israelites, return to the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel so that He may return to those of you who remain, who have escaped from the grasp of the kings of Assyria.
Don't be like your fathers and your brothers who were unfaithful to the LORD God of their ancestors so that He made them an object of horror as you yourselves see.
Don't become obstinate now like your fathers did. Give your allegiance to the LORD, and come to His sanctuary that He has consecrated forever. Serve the LORD your God so that He may turn His fierce wrath away from you,
for when you return to the LORD, your brothers and your sons [will receive] mercy in the presence of their captors and will return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful; He will not turn [His] face away from you if you return to Him."
The couriers traveled from city to city in the land of Ephraim and Manasseh as far as Zebulun, but the inhabitants laughed at them and mocked them.
But some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.
Also, the hand of God was in Judah to give them one heart to carry out the command of the king and his officials by the word of the LORD.
A very large assembly of people was gathered in Jerusalem to observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread in the second month.
They proceeded to take away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and they took away the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley.
They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and Levites were ashamed, and they consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the LORD's temple.
They stood at their prescribed posts, according to the law of Moses the man of God. The priests sprinkled the blood [received] from the hand of the Levites,
for there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves, and so the Levites were in charge of slaughtering the Passover [lambs] for every unclean person to consecrate [the lambs] to the LORD.
For a large number of the people-- many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun-- were unclean, yet they had eaten the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah had interceded for them, saying, "May the good LORD provide atonement on behalf of
whoever sets his whole heart on seeking God, the LORD God of his ancestors, even though not according to the purification [rules] of the sanctuary."
So the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem observed the Festival of Unleavened Bread seven days with great joy, and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day after day with loud instruments.
Then Hezekiah encouraged all the Levites who performed skillfully before the LORD. They ate the appointed feast for seven days, sacrificing fellowship offerings and giving thanks to the LORD God of their ancestors.
The whole congregation decided to observe seven more days, so they observed seven days with joy,
for Hezekiah king of Judah contributed 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep for the congregation. Also, the officials contributed 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep for the congregation, and many priests consecrated themselves.
Then the whole assembly of Judah with the priests and Levites, the whole assembly that came from Israel, the foreigners who came from the land of Israel, and those who were living in Judah, rejoiced.
Such rejoicing had not been seen in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon son of David, the king of Israel.
Then the priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard their voice, and their prayer came into His holy dwelling place in heaven.