Old Testament Lesson 30 (2 Chron. 29–30; 32; 34)
THE BOOKS OF KINGS AND CHRONICLES
During this period of Israelite history, two records were kept: The Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles. Just as the Nephites did, they kept part of their history in the Book of Kings and another part of their history (covering the same period of time) in the Book of Chronicles.
- The Book of Second Chronicles, specifically recounts the reign of King Solomon—in particular the building of the temple—and the division of the kingdom into two parts (Judah and Israel). Toward the end of this book we find a history of the kings who followed Solomon, some of who were righteous and many of whom were wicked.
- The Book of Second Kings covers the same period of time from a religious perspective.
- Isaiah 36 covers this same period of time from he perspective of the prophet Isaiah. By reading all three of these accounts we can get a more full and accurate picture of events.
Hezekiah Orders the House of the Lord to Be Cleansed (2 Chron. 29–30)
- Hezekiah became king of Judah in 715 BC. The Lord blessed him because he turned to the Lord to a greater extent than any previous king of Judah (2 Kings 18:1–8; Isaiah 38:3).
- He opened the doors of the temple and ordered the priests and Levites to cleanse and sanctify it (2 Chron. 29:1–5).
- We are also commanded to keep unclean things out of the temple (D&C 97:15–17).
- Hezekiah hoped that by doing these things the Lord would turn away his wrath from Judah and deliver them from their enemies (2 Chron. 29:6–10).
- The king and people then offered sacrifices, seeking forgiveness and the sanctification of the temple (2 Chron. 29:20–21, 29–31, 36).
- The brazen serpent raised by Moses in the desert (Numbers 21:4–9) was preserved in Israel and, in time, became an object of adoration and was worshiped by the Israelites much as they worshiped idols.
- In his zeal to eradicate all forms of idolatry in Judah, King Hezekiah had the brazen serpent destroyed along with the idols. The word “nehushtan” (v. 4) comes from the Hebrew and means “a brazen thing” or an object made of brass. The implication may be that Hezekiah was speaking contemptuously of the object being worshiped, saying it was merely a “thing of brass” and nothing more.
- Hezekiah invited all the people of Judah and also Israel to come to the house of the Lord for the celebration of the Passover (2 Chron. 30:1, 6–9).
- Much of the kingdom of Israel had been taken captive by the Assyrians. Hezekiah promised the remaining Israelites that if they would “turn again unto the Lord,” the captives would be released. Most of the people of Israel rejected Hezekiah’s invitation but the faithful of Israel worshiped the Lord in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 30:10–27).
- Hezekiah and his people worshiped and praised the Lord (2 Chron. 29:20–36).
The Assyrians Invade the Kingdom of Judah
- Eventually, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, invaded Judah and spoke abusively against the Lord (32:1–19). Isaiah and Hezekiah prayed for help, and an angel of the Lord destroyed much of the Assyrian army (32:20–23).
- Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah, conquering Lachish and other cities (2 Kings 18:9–37).
- Sennacherib tried to intimidate Jerusalem into surrendering, saying “your God will not save you” (2 Kings 19:8–13; Isaiah 36; 37:8–13).
- The account in 2 Kings 18:13–19:37 is very similar to the one in Isaiah 36–37. And Sennacherib’s own account squares very well with these Biblical accounts:
“As for Hezekiah the Jew, who did not submit to my yoke, 46 of his strong, walled cities, as well as the small cities in their neighborhood, which were without number—by constructing a rampart out of trampled earth and by bringing up battering-rams, by the attack of infantry, by tunnels, breaches, and [the use of] axes, I besieged and took [those cities]. 200,450 people, great and small, male and female, horses, mules, asses, camels, cattle, and sheep without number, I brought away from them and counted as spoil. Himself like a caged bird I shut in Jerusalem his royal city. Earthworks I threw up against him; the one coming out of the city gate I turned back to his misery.”1
Preparedness and Faith
Hezekiah did all that he could do to spiritually prepare his people and increase their faith through temple worship. He trusted absolutely in the Lord’s ability to deliver them (2 Chron. 32:6–8). But he did more than believe. He also planned and prepared temporally.
When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib’s army planned to attack Jerusalem, he diverted the water of the spring of Gihon to the pool of Siloam, inside the city walls (2 Chron. 32:1–5, 30).2
The Spring of Gihon was a natural water source in the Kidron Valley (v.17). In early times, before Israelite occupation, the inhabitants of Jerusalem sent their women to the spring for water. Standing on an elevated platform, the women let their leather buckets down a forty-foot shaft, or conduit, that led to the spring below and hauled up their water. Some think this was the “conduit of the Upper Pool.” Located nearby was the “fuller’s field.”
This was done by digging a conduit (tunnel) for the water through about 1770 feet of limestone rock. Hezekiah then ordered that the fountains outside the city be covered to deny the Assyrians easy access to the water. Without this water inside the walls of the city, the people of Jerusalem would not have survived the siege by the Assyrians.
The water from the spring of Gihon was vital for the physical survival of Hezekiah’s people during their battles with the Assyrians. It was truly “living water” for their physical well-being.
Spiritual Living Water
John 4:10–14. We also need “living water” of the spiritual kind in order to survive spiritually what the adversary does to try to destroy us. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “[Living water is] the words of eternal life, the message of salvation, the truths about God and his kingdom; it is the doctrines of the gospel.”3
How can we open a conduit to the Lord so that living water can flow into our lives?
One important way is to go to the temple, the house of the Lord, where we may be endowed with power and understanding, be instructed by the Lord, and feel peace and joy. This kind of spiritual preparation was as essential to the Kingdom of Juday in Hezekiah’s day as it is for us today.
The Lord Supports Those Who Seek Him
- Sennacherib sent his servants to speak to the people in Jerusalem, seeking to further intimidate and frighten them (2 Chron. 32:9–19).
- Hezekiah prayed to the Lord for protection from this vicious enemy, after sending word to the prophet Isaiah, seeking the Lord’s help (2 Chron. 32:20; 2 Kings 19:1–5, 14–19).
“For the children are come to the birth, and there Is not strength to bring forth” is “a figure denoting extreme danger, the most desperate circumstances (2 Kings 19:3). If the woman in travail has not strength to bring forth the child which has come to the mouth of the womb, both the life of the child and that of the mother are exposed to the greatest danger; and this was the condition of the people here.”4
- Isaiah prophesied the destruction of the Assyrians and Sennacherib’s death (2 Kings 19:6–7).
- The Lord promised that the Assyrians would never enter Jerusalem and would go home without a fight (Isaiah 37:33–38; 2 Chron. 32:21–22). That very night Isaiah’s promise was fulfilled. Some mysterious plague struck the Assyrian camp, and in the morning 185,000 Assyrians lay dead. Assyria’s remnant left the scene.
- We have a conditional promise of protection in our own day—if we are righteous (D&C 103:7–8 ).
- Hezekiah and his people received the Lord’s protection because of their righteousness and their worship at the temple. We have also been promised protection if we are faithful and temple worthy (D&C 109:24–31).
President Ezra Taft Benson said:
Let us be a temple-attending people. Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow. Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may it. Teach them about the purposes of the house of the Lord. Have them plan from their earliest years to go there and to remain worthy of that blessing.
If proximity to a temple does not allow frequent attendance, gather in the history of your family and prepare the names for the sacred ordinances performed only in the temple. This family research is essential to the work of the temples, and blessings surely will come to those who do that work.5
- The Lord addressed Assyria through Isaiah (2 Kings 19:22–28). Though Assyria had taken credit for all she had done, the Lord set the record straight: Assyria was but a tool in his hands. Since she was only a tool, he still controlled her, and she was at his mercy.
- 2 Chron. 34 Hezekiah’s son and grandson ruled in wickedness. But when Hezekiah’s great-grandson Josiah became king of Judah he followed Hezekiah’s example by destroying the idols in the kingdom and repairing the temple (34:1–13).
- The book of the law was found in the temple and read to Josiah, who wept when he learned how far the people had strayed from the law (34:14–21).
- Huldah the prophetess told of the forthcoming desolation of Judah but prophesied that Josiah would not have to witness it (34:22–28).
- Josiah and his people covenanted to serve the Lord (34:29–33), and as long as the did this, they were protected.
- In Madeleine S. Miller and J. Lane Miller, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Sennacherib.”.
- Bible Dictionary, “Hezekiah’s Tunnel,” 702.
- Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 1:151.
- Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 10 vols. , 1:3:442.
- In Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 8; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 8