2 KINGS CHAPTER 16.
The Wicked Reign of Ahaz in Judah.
AHAZ CALLS UPON ASSYRIA FOR HELP. — V. 1. In the seventeenth year of Pekah, the son of Remaliah, the second-last king of Israel, Ahaz, the son of Jotham, king of Judah, began to reign. V. 2. Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord, his God, like David, his father; he forsook the traditional piety of the kings of Judah. V. 3. But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, following their idolatrous customs, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, in a form of the terrible human sacrifices in use among the Moabites and the Assyrians, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, Deut. 12, 31. V. 4. And he sacrificed and burned incense, with all the rites observed in true worship, in the high places and on the hills, where there was no house of the Lord, but only idolatrous altars, and under every green tree. V. 5. Then Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, son of Remaliah, king of Israel, who had formed an alliance at the time of Jotham, chap. 15, 37, came up to Jerusalem to war; and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him; they were unable to take the city, which had been strongly fortified by Uzziah and Jotham. Thus a prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled, Is. 7, 1-9. But while the allies did not accomplish their purpose of taking Jerusalem and embodying Judah in their mighty confederacy, they had success elsewhere. V. 6. At that time Rezin, king of Syria, recovered Elath, the important harbor and commercial city at the head of the Elanitic Gulf, to Syria, and drave the Jews from Elath, thus cutting off one of the chief sources of prosperity of Judah. And the Syrians came to Elath, settling there a commercial colony, and dwelt there unto this day, until the time this account was written. V. 7. So Ahaz, in his great extremity, sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son, thereby offering to become a tributary vassal; come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me. It seems, then, that Ahaz placed no faith in the promises of Isaiah. V. 8. And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasures of the king’s house, all that had accumulated since Jehoash of Israel had plundered these treasures, chap. 14, 13, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria, thus buying his assistance and entering into a federation against which Isaiah had warned. V. 9. And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him; for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, the capital of Syria, and took it, and carried the people of It captive to Kir, leading them into exile to the modern Georgia, south of the Caspian Sea, and slew Rezin. Thus the word of the prophet, Amos 1, 3-5, was fulfilled. Subsequent events show that this move did Ahaz no good, for the Assyrian ruler did not regard or treat him as a friend and equal, but as a vassal. He who places his trust in men has, at best, a poor prop for his weakness.
AHAZ PROFANES THE TEMPLE. — V. 10. And King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, to express his appreciation of the assistance which had been rendered him and his people, and saw an altar that was at Damascus, which struck his fancy. And King Ahaz sent to Urijah, the priest, the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof, he gave a description of its shape, sent a model with the full plans and specifications, including those for the decorations on the altar. V. 11. And Urijah, the priest, far from resenting this unwarranted action of the king, built an altar according to all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus, an exact counterpart of the heathen altar; so Urijah, the priest, made it against King Ahaz came from Damascus, he had it ready at the return of the king. V. 12. And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar. And the king approached to the altar and offered thereon, evidently in person and unrebuked by any priest. V. 13. And he burned his burnt offering and his meat-offering, and poured his drink-offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace-offerings upon the altar, all this being really a usurpation of rights which did not belong to him, but which he presumed upon in order to express to his own gods his gratitude for his safe return. V.14. And he brought also the brazen altar, which was before the Lord, the altar of burnt offering, from the forefront of the house, from between the altar, that is, the new altar, and the house of the Lord, the Sanctuary proper, and put it on the north side of the altar, in a location of minor importance, so that the new altar was, if anything, superior to the old one. V. 15. And King Ahaz commanded Urijah, the priest, saying, Upon the great altar, the new altar, which was now the principal one, burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meat-offering, the corresponding sacrifice being understood in every case, Ex. 29, 38-42; Num. 28, 3-8; 7, 87; 15, 2-12, and the king’s burnt sacrifice, and his meat-offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their meat-offering, and their drink-offerings, and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice, the new altar was to be used exclusively for all these purposes. And the brazen altar shall be for me to enquire by, concerning this he wanted to find out, he reserved his final decision about this altar for some future time. V. 16. Thus did Urijah, the priest, according to all that King Ahaz commanded; he readily agreed to these unwarranted changes and thus became guilty with the king. V. 17. And King Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases, those which held the water receptacles, 1 Kings 7, 27-37, and removed the laver from off them; and took down the sea from off the brazen oxen that were under it, 1 Kings 7, 23-25, and put it upon a pavement of stones, on a special foundation of stone, probably a covered platform. All this was probably done to remove everything costly, lest the king of Assyria demand them for himself. V. 18. And the covert for the Sabbath that they had built in the house, evidently a covered hall in the court of the Temple, set apart for the king when he visited the Sanctuary, and the king’s entry without, the ascent to the Temple mentioned 1 Kings 10, 5, turned he from the house of the Lord for the king of Assyria, all this being done lest the mighty ruler’s cupidity be aroused. V. 19. Now, the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? V. 20. And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings, 2 Chron. 28, 27; and Hezekiah, his son, reigned in his stead. Woe unto every person who is so carried away with his godlessness that he is beyond warning and restraint! Self-hardening is followed by obduration on the part of God, and the end is everlasting death.