2 Chr 31.1-21 tells us about the aftermath of this Passover celebration and revival. The people repented of their idolatry and broke the pillars into pieces, cut down the Asherim and pulled down the bamot (high places) and altars throughout the land. The “teshuvah” (repentance) was not only in Judah, but it was also seen in Ephraim and Manasseh.
Hezekiah organized the kohanim (priesthood) and the Levites into their divisions that were set up by David (1 Chr 24). He also supported their work with his own goods. This was for the Tamid service and for the fixed festivals, as written (not oral) in the Torah. He also commanded that the Tithe be brought (not an option) and given to the Levites (Num 18.21) so that they could devote themselves to the Torah. The people gave in abundance.
We want to go over an important concept here. Passover is not over till Shavuot, which is seen as the “atzeret” (conclusion) of the Passover season. That is why that “heaps” were made of the tithe until “the third month” (Sivan) when Shavuot occurred, and finished them by the “seventh month” at Sukkot (Tishri). Let’s take a brief look at the subject of Biblical Tithing.
Biblical Tithing only applied when you lived in the land, and it was agricultural, meaning you tithed if you made your living off the land. Biblical years to the Yovel (Jubilee) were broken down into seven year cycles called a Shemitah. Seven shemitah cycles (7 x 7), plus one year, brought you to the fiftieth year, called a Yovel. So a shemitah is a seven year period and tithing was broken down like this.
In the first year of the Shemitah, the first tithe (Maaser Rishon) was brought to the Levitical city storehouse in their area at Shavuot. At Sukkot, the Second Tithe (Maaser Sheni) was brought to the Temple for a massive banquet with the poor, the widow and the orphan, etc. You stayed until it was gone (Deut 14.22-29). In the second year of the Shemitah, the Maaser Rishon (first tithe) is brought to the Levitical city storehouse at Shavuot. At Sukkot, the Maaser Sheni (second tithe) is brought to the Temple for a massive banquet. In the third year, the Maaser Rishon is brought to the Levitical city storehouse at Shavuot and the Maaser Sheni is brought to the Levitical city storehouse at Sukkot.
In the fourth year of the Shemitah, the Maaser Rishon is brought to the Levitical city storehouse at Shavuo and the Maaser Sheni is taken to the Temple at Sukkot. In the fifth year, the Maaser Rishon is taken to the Levitical city storehouse at Shavuot, and the Maaser Sheni is taken to the Temple at Sukkot. In the sixth year, the Maaser Rishon is taken to the Levitical city storehouse at Shavuot, and the Maaser Sheni is taken to the Levitical city storehouse at Sukkot. In the seventh year there are no crops, so there was no tithing. It is the Shemitah year. If it was the forty-ninth year of the cycle, there was no crops the next year either because it was the Yovel year. For more information on this, see our article entitled “Tithing and Biblical Giving” on this website.
That is why the tithes of the “third month” at Shavuot (v 11) was put in heaps, and why Hezekiah prepared “rooms in the house” (storerooms in the Temple). Then Hezekiah organized the administration of the tithes by appointing overseers. Hezekiah did what was right before the Lord with all his heart, and he prospered.
2 Chr 32.1-33 tells us that even though Hezekiah was the most godly king since David, he still had trouble. The King of Assyria (Sennacherib) came and besieged the fortified cities of Judah. This invasion will be a picture of the Russian invasion of Israel in the third year of the Birth-pains, right before Sukkot. Isa 36 and 37, and Ezek 38 and 39 also talks about this event. The Lord will protect Israel against the Russians.
We think that if we are faithful to God we won’t have any problems, but Hezekiah faced an invasion of his kingdom by the most powerful army in the world, and he was sick (32.24). But Yehovah did not permit this invasion until after the reformation was accomplished. Hezekiah tried to “buy off” Sennacherib with gold and silver, but that didn’t work (2 Kings 18.13-16). The writer of Chronicles expects the reader to know that, so it was omitted.
Hezekiah prepares for war and a siege against Jerusalem. All the other cities of Judah have fallen and he knows that the real prize is Jerusalem, and Assyria can’t be stopped. He encourages the people by saying, “Be strong and courageous, do not fear of be dismayed because of the king of Assyria, nor because of his multitude which is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him” ((2 Chr 32.7). This concept is also quoted in 1 John 4.4. All Judah was lost and Hezekiah was losing the war. Sennacherib sent his agents to the last city standing, Jerusalem, to begin a propaganda campaign against Hezekiah and the people (v 9-19). Psychological warfare will also apply to our own spiritual warfare (Isa 36.1-22).
Sennacherib sent Rabshakeh (a title) as his agent and he began to speak words of discouragement to the people of Jerusalem (Isa 36.4-5), and he began to lift up the problems that he thought the Jews had (Isa 36.12). He also speaks to those who do not know what to do and plays mind games (Isa 36.10). He promises peace and false things, but they will end up in slavery anyway of they listen to his words. The essence of psychological warfare is to confuse the meaning of words and infiltrate the mind with conflicting concepts contrary to what is true.
Hezekiah wasn’t buying it and he says nothing, and he goes before the Lord in the Temple with Isaiah the prophet. Hezekiah needed to know what to do and he sought the Lord himself, but he also had godly counsel (Isaiah). So we learn two very important concepts here. First, Hezekiah never answered Rabshakeh’s words (good advice) and secondly, he sought godly counsel. He will also not be presumptuous in what he thought God was going to do (Isa 37.4; Lam 3.37).
Hezekiah was losing the war, as we have said, and he is trapped inside Jerusalem. He tried to cut a deal with Sennacherib and he lost his wives, sons and daughters to Sennacherib. He also paid tribute to Sennacherib out of the Temple treasury, but nothing worked. We don’t believe Hezekiah was correct doing this, but he had no strength to deliver his people. But the elders say to Isaiah, “Perhaps the Lord your God will hear” the blasphemous words of Sennacherib and help Judah (Isa 37.1-4). Yehovah answers his prayer through Isaiah the prophet and the Lord will deliver Judah and Jerusalem from the hand of the Assyrians. God sent a plague and the Assyrian army was destroyed.
Israel will be invaded in the third year of the Birth-pains, around Yom Kippur and before Sukkot. Hezekiah’s prayer will be a type of the prayer that the people of Israel will pray when Russia attacks. They will believe in Yeshua as the Messiah and God will destroy Russia like he did with the Assyrians.
Herodotus was a Greek historian and he said the army of the Assyria was infested with mice and they ate the bow strings, the slings and the feathers off the arrows of the Assyrian army. This story is also recorded in Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 10, Chapter 1.4. The Egyptian army, led by Pharaoh Tirhakah, came up to fight Assyria to help Hezekiah, but after the weapons of the Assyrians were destroyed, the Assyrians turned and left the battlefield, and so Tirhakah and the Egyptians then unexpectedly left, and Hezekiah wasn’t helped at all.
But the Lord was going to destroy the Assyrians himself and did not allow Egypt to help. Right after that, 185,000 Assyrians were killed in one night by the Lord, ending Sennacherib’s campaign against Judah (Isa 37.36). He returned home defeated, but he was lifted up in pride. He commissioned a record of this campaign against Judah and it can be found in the Taylor Prism in the British Museum. He said he attacked Hezekiah of Judah and took 46 forts and carried away 200,150 people. He also had a multitude of horses, bulls, asses, camels and oxen. He had Hezekiah “locked up in Jerusalem like a bird in its cage.” He then laid siege to the city.
The Assyrian history basically agrees with the biblical account, but it leaves out the destruction of the army. It does not claim that Jerusalem was taken, but describes receiving tribute from Hezekiah. God spared Sennacherib from the plague because he had a different end planned for him. He died at the hands of his own children. In our spiritual warfare, when the Lord gives us a victory, we don’t need to plan revenge, leave all that in God’s hands.
We know Hezekiah became sick “In those days” (with Assyria invading-Isa 38.1-8) was going to die and he wept because he had no heir as promised, and this was during the Assyrian invasion on top of all that (v 6). But God gave him 15 more years and he had a son named Manasseh three years later. Eventually, Hezekiah died and they buried him in the upper section of the tombs of the sons of David. All of Judah and Jerusalem honored him at his death. The reign of Hezekiah is a picture of the third year of the Birth-pains.
We will pick up in 2 Chr 33.1-20 in Part 10.