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% 2 Kings x. 19-25.

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Jonah's shipmates. Moreover, observing that after so doing the sea became calm, they deemed

their prayer answered, feared Jehovah exceedingly, 1 Jonah i. 15-16. offered a sacrifice, and made vows."

This mixing up of true and false religious worship and offerings is further illustrated by Jehu, who proclaimed that he had a great sacrifice to do to Baal, and then put to death Baal's priests.” We now

come to the days of the youthful Joash, who did right so long as he was directed by Jehoiada the priest. Even the wicked Athaliah,

who had broken up the house of God, bestowed 32 Chron. xxiv. the dedicated things upon the Baalim. Joash

accordingly proposed to the priests that all the money of the dedicated things brought into the house of the Lord, and all voluntary gifts, should be taken for temple repairs. But the priests did not forward the matter : whereupon Joash asked why the repairs were not done ; after which the priests consented to receive no more money of the

people; but neither did they consent to make good 4 2 Kings xii. 4-8. the repairs."

The king, however, being minded to restore the house of the Lord, gathered the priests and Levites, and said to them: “Go out unto the cities of Judah, and gather of all Israel money to repair the house

of your God from year to year.” But the Levites 52 Chron. xxiv. 5. did not bestir themselves.5

Then the king commanded, and they made a chest, bored a hole in the lid, and set it beside the altar; and the priests that kept the door put therein all the money that was brought into the house.

This money was given to the workmen for repairs, but not expended for making sacred vessels. Also the trespass-money and sin-money were not brought into the house of the Lord : it was the priests’.11.-26Kings xii. We read again of this chest, or one like it, set without, at the gate of the house of the Lord, con- 82 Chron. xxiv. 8. cerning which they made a proclamation, throughout Judah and Jerusalem, to bring in for the Lord the tax (presumably the half shekel ") that Moses the 3 Exod. XXX. 13. servant of God laid upon Israel in the wilderness. Thus they gathered money in abundance. The workmen wrought, and when they had finished the house, they made of the rest of the money vessels. , for the temple, after which, we read, they offered burnt offerings in the house of the Lord continually all the days of Jehoiada."

But after the death of Jehoiada, Joash forsook the house of Jehovah, and, with the princes, fell away to idols, so that wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for their guiltiness.”

Nor do things appear to have been any better at this time in Israel, if we may judge from the ironical and derisive words of Amos, who prophesied some few years later :

" Come to Bethel and transgress; to Gilgal and multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes every three days; and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill offerings, and publish them; for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel." 6

These sarcastic words seem to bid the people go on in their rebellion, reminding them, however, that

4 2 Chron. xxiv. 4:14.

5 2 Chron. xxiv. 17-18.

6 Amos iv. 5.

1 Amos iv. 6.

1

they were already suffering punishment. “I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places; yet have ye not returned unto Me, saith the Lord.”

This is the first time we have met with the word “tithes” since its occurrence in the Pentateuch; but tithes are now mentioned in such a way as to suggest that they were normally paid by Israel, only, in this case, for the worship of the golden calves. This condition of things, so far as Israel was concerned, was brought to a close by the carrying away of the ten tribes to Babylon, about B.C. 721.

As for the kingdom of Judah, the established religion had been almost annihilated under Ahaz, who sacrificed to the gods of Damascus, introduced

strange worship into the temple, and then shut up Chron. xxviii. the doors of the house of the Lord.”

This was the condition of things when Hezekiah came to the throne, and that monarch in the first

year of his reign re-opened the doors of the house 32 Chron.xxix. 3. of the Lord.s Incense and burnt offering had

ceased, and the vessels of the house of the Lord 12 Chron. xxix. had been cast away under Ahaz. All this was

at once changed by Hezekiah, who offered seven bullocks, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven hegoats for a sin offering ; the Levites and priests were restored in the order prescribed by David ; and the congregation offered 70 bullocks, 100 rams, and 200 lambs as burnt offerings. Also

Also among the consecrated things were 600 oxen and 3,000 sheep; 5 2 Chron. xxix. and the house of God was set in order. After this

22-4 ; 2 Kings

xvi. 12.

7-19.

21, 32-5.

1 2 Chron. xxx.

24.

Hezekiah observed the Passover for fourteen days, giving for offerings 1,000 bullocks and 7,000 sheep; whilst the princes added 1,000 bullocks and 10,000 sheep."

Now, when the priests and Levites were thus re-appointed, the king's portion of his substance for burnt offerings was arranged for the services according to the law; and Hezekiah commanded the people in Jerusalem to furnish the portion of the priests and Levites, that they might give themselves to the law of the Lord; whereupon, as soon as the commandment was promulgated, the children of Israel gave in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, oil, and honey, and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly; whilst the people living in the towns of Judah brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of dedicated things, and laid them by heaps.”

Questioned concerning these heaps, the chief priest said, “Since the people began to bring the oblations into the house of the Lord, we have eaten and had enough, and have left plenty ; for the Lord hath blessed His people ; and that which is left is this great store.” Then Hezekiah prepared chambers in the house of the Lord, and the people brought faithfully oblations, tithes, and dedicated things, over which two Levites were appointed chief rulers, with ten overseers under them. Besides 3 2 Chron. xxxi. this, another Levite was over the freewill offerings, and under him were six assistants to distribute the oblations of the Lord to the Levites in their courses, and to the priests in their cities; and in every town

% 2 Chron. xxxi. 3-6.

10-13

14-19

men were appointed to give portions to the priests, and to all that were reckoned by genealogy among

the Levites, their little ones, wives, sons, and 1 2 Chron. xxxi. daughters.?

From this reformation by Hezekiah we may reasonably deduce that the closing of the temple had brought poverty upon the priests and Levites, but that, on the restoration of the services, the normal state of things was restored, and the payment anew of the tithes and offerings brought back peace and plenty.

The next king, Manasseh, re-established idolatry, and was taken captive to Babylon; but, being restored to his kingdom in Jerusalem in answer to prayer, he took away the strange gods out of

the temple, built up the altar of Jehovah, and 2.2 Chron. xxxiii. offered thereon sacrifices. On the other hand,

Amon, his son, sacrificed to the graven images 8 2 Chron. xxxiii. which Manasseh, his father, had made.

We now come to Josiah, the last of the reforming kings of Judah, who, after purging the land of idolatry, directed the money collected by the Levites at the door of the temple, from all Judah, Benjamin, and Jerusalem, as well as from the peoples of Manasseh, Ephraim, and the remnant of all Israel, to be expended on temple repairs. In the course of these repairs a copy of the law of the Lord was discovered. The king at once gathered the elders of Judah and Jerusalem, and they made a covenant

to perform the law, and all the people stood to the k 2 Kings xxiii. covenant."

Then Josiah kept a Passover, and gave of his own

22.

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