II Kings 16

 

 

                        The General Character of the Reign of Ahaz (vs. 1-4)

 

Ahaz was the most wicked king that had as yet reigned in Judah. The author, therefore,

prefaces his account of the reign by a brief summary of some of the king’s chief

iniquities:

 

  • He departed from the way of David (v. 2);
  • He made his son pass through the fire to Moloch (v. 3);
  • He took an active part in the worship at the high places and in the

            groves, at which most previous kings had winked, but which they had not

            countenanced.

 

1  In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah Ahaz the son of

Jotham King of Judah began to reign.   2 Twenty years old was Ahaz when

he began to reign,” -  As sixteen years afterwards his son Hezekiah was twenty-five

(ch.18:2), it is scarcely possible that Ahaz can have been no more than twenty at his

accession, since in that case he must have married at ten years of age, and have had

a son at eleven! The reading of “twenty-five” instead of “twenty,” found in some

Hebrew codices, in the Vatican manuscript of the Septuagint, and elsewhere, is

therefore to be preferred -  “and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem,” -  So 

II Chronicles 28:1 and Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:12. § 3). The reign of Ahaz probably

lasted from B.C. 742 to B.C. 727 – “and did not that which was right in the sight

of the Lord his God, like David his father.”  Compare what is said of Abijah

(I Kings 15:3), but the form of speech here used is stronger. Manasseh (ch. 21:2)

and Amon (Ibid. vs.20-22) alone, of all the kings of Judah, receive greater

condemnation.

 

3  But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel,” -  Not, of

course, by establishing a worship of calves, but by following the worst

practices of the worst Israelite kings, e.g. Ahab and Ahaziah, and

reintroducing into Judah the Phoenician idolatry, which Joash and the high

priest Jehoiada had cast out (ch. 11:17-18). II Chronicles 28:2 says, “He

walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for

Baalim.” Baalim is either a plural of dignity, or a word denoting the different

forms under which Baal was worshipped, as Melkarth, Adonis, Rimmon  -

yea, and made his son to pass through the fire,” -  In Chronicles (Ibid.

v.3) we are told that “he burnt incense in the valley of Hinnom, and burnt his

children in the fire,” as if he had sacrificed more than one son. The practice

of offering children in sacrifice was not a feature of the Assyro-Babylonian

religion, as some suppose, but an intrinsic part of the worship of the

Phoenicians, common to them with the Moabites, Ammonites, and others.

It was based upon the principle of a man’s offering to God that which was

dearest and most precious to himself, whence the crowning sacrifice of the

kind was a man’s offering of his firstborn son (see ch. 3:27; Micah 6:7).

“Passing through the fire’ was no innocent ceremony but involved the

death of the children. II Chronicles 28:3 says, Ahaz burnt his children

 in the fire;” (Jeremiah 19:5, “They have built also the

high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto

Baal;” Ezekiel 16:21, “Thou hast slain my children, and delivered them

to cause them to pass through the fire.” Josephus declares of Ahaz that he

made his own son a whole burnt offering.   Diodorus Sicalus describes the

ceremony as it took place at Carthage, the Phoenician colony. There was in

the great temple there, he says, an image of Saturn (Moloch), which was a

human figure with a bull’s head and outstretched arms. This image of metal

was made glowing hot by a fire kindled within it; and the children, laid in its

arms, rolled from thence into the fiery lap below. If the children cried, the

parents stopped their noise by fondling and kissing them; for the victim

ought not to weep, and the sound of complaint was drowned in the din

of flutes and kettle-drums (Died. Sic., 20:14). “Mothers,” says Plutarch

(‘De Superstitione,’ § 13), “stood by without tears or sobs; if they wept

or sobbed, they lost the honor of the act, and the children were sacrificed

notwithstanding.” The only doubtful point is whether the children were placed

alive in the glowing arms of the image, or whether they were first killed and

afterwards burnt in sacrifice; but the description of Diodorus seems to imply

the more cruel of the two proceedings – “according to the abominations

of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of

Israel.”  (On the practice of this terrible rite by the Canaanitish nations at

the time of the Israelite invasion, see Leviticus 18:21; Deuteronomy 12:31;

18:9-10; Psalm 106:37-38.)

 

4   “And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places,” -  The

special sin of Ahaz here noted is that he not only allowed the high-place

and grove worship, as so many other kings of Judah had done, e.g. Solomon,

Rehoboam, Asa, Jehoshophat, Joash, Amaziah, Azariah and Jotham

( I Kings 3:2; 14:23; 15:14; 22:43;  II Kings 12:3; 14:4; 15:4; 15:35), but

himself countenanced and took part in it, which no other king appears to

have done. It was probably the stimulus that his example gave to the cult

which induced Hezekiah to abolish it (ch.18:4) “and on the hills, and under

every green tree. (I Kings 14:23, with the comment).

 

 

                        War of Ahaz with Pekah and Rezin (vs. 5-6)

 

5  Then Rezin King of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah King of Israel came

up to Jerusalem to war:” -  The alliance between Rezin and Pekah has been already

glanced at (ch.15:37). It began, apparently, in the reign of Jotham. The policy which

brought it about was one that was entirely new. Since Syria developed an aggressive

tendency under the first Ben-hadad (I Kings 20:1), there had till now been no

alliance made with her by either of the two Israelite kingdoms. She had been reckoned

as their common enemy; and while they had on two occasions been allied together

against her (Ibid.  22:4-36; ch.8:28), never as yet had either asked her help against the

other. Now, however, Ephraim became confederate with Syria against Judah. The

new policy must be ascribed to the new condition of things consequent upon the

attitude assumed by Assyria under Tiglath-pileser. Assyria had been under

a cloud for forty years. The nations of the western coast of Asia had ceased

to fear her, and had felt at liberty to pursue their own quarrels. Her

recovery of vigor altered the whole situation. It was at once evident to the

statesmen who directed the policy of the small western states that, unless

they combined; they were lost. Hence the alliance between Pekah and

Rezin. Probably they would have been glad to have drawn Ahaz into the

confederacy; but it would seem that he did not share their fears, and would

not join them. Hereupon the design was formed to dethrone him, and set

up in his place a new ruler, a certain Ben-Tabeal (Isaiah 7:6), on whose

assistance they could rely. The two confederate princes then began the

campaign. Pekah invaded Judaea, and gained a great victory over Ahaz,

which is perhaps exaggerated in II Chronicles 28:6-15; Rezin carried his

arms further south, took Elath, and reestablished the Edomites in power.

(see comment on v. 6) - Then the allies joined forces and proceeded to besiege

Jerusalem“and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him.” The

siege is mentioned by Isaiah in Isaiah 7:1, who was commissioned by God to

comfort Ahaz, and assure him that the city would not fall v. 7). The fortifications

of Uzziah  and Jotham (IIChronicles 26:9; 27:3) had, no doubt, greatly

strengthened the city since the time when (as related in ch. 14:13) it was captured

so easily by Joash.

 

6  At that time Rezin, King of Syria recovered Elath to Syria,” -

The Syrians had certainly never previously been masters of Elath, which

had always hitherto been either Jewish or Edomite (see I Kings 9:26; 22:48;

ch. 14:22). Hence it seems to be necessary that we should either translate the

Hebrew verb byvije by “gained,” “conquered,” instead of “recovered;” or

else change μr"a", “Syria,” into μdoaEdom.” The Syrians could “recover”

Elath for Edom; they could only “gain” it for themselves – “and drave the

Jews from Elath-  i.e. expelled the Jewish garrison which had been maintained

in Elath from the time of its conquest by Uzziah (Ibid.) — “and the Syrians

came to Elath,” -  rather, the EdomitesμymiwOda} for μymiwOra}. Rezin

could not have thought of holding a place so remote from Damascus as Elath;

and, had he done so, the danger of his kingdom in the next year would have

necessitated the relinquishment of so distant a possession - “and dwelt there

unto this day.” It is quite certain that Elath belonged to Edom, and not to Syria,

at the time when the Books of Kings were written.

 

 

       Expedition of Tiglath-pileser against Pekah and Rezin (vs. 7-9)

 

In the extremity of his danger, when the confederacy had declared itself, or

perhaps later, when he had suffered terrible defeats, and was about. to be

besieged in his capitol (II Chronicles 28:5-6), Ahaz invoked the aid of

Tiglath-pileser, sent him all the treasure on which he could lay his hands

(v. 8), offered to place himself and his kingdom under the Assyrian

monarch’s suzerainty, and entreated him to come and “save him out of the

hands” of his enemies (v. 7). Humanly speaking, he might be justified. He

had not called in one foreign power until Pekah had called in another.

There was no other prospect (again humanly speaking) of escape. But, had

he accepted the offers of Isaiah 7:4-16, and relied wholly on Jehovah,

his position would have been far better. However, he was unable to see

this; he made his application; and Tiglath-pileser “came up,” and utterly

crushed the Syro-Israelite confederacy (v. 9).

 

7   “So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser King of Assyria,

saying,  This appeal to man rather than to God, this trust in “an arm of

flesh,” was exactly what Isaiah had been endeavoring to prevent, what he

viewed as unfaithfulness, and as inevitably drawing down God’s wrath both

upon king and kingdom. Ahaz was young, was weak, and had no doubt a

large body of advisers, who considered the prophet to be a fanatic, who

had no belief in supernatural aid, and who thought that in any emergency

recourse was to be had to the measures which human prudence and human

policy dictated. The aid of Tiglath-pileser seemed to them, under the

circumstances, the only thing that could save them; and they persuaded the

weak prince to adopt their views – “I am thy servant and thy son:” - The

offer of submission was unmistakable. “Servant,” in the language of the

time, meant “slave.” Complete subjection, enrollment among Assyria’s

feudatories, the entire loss of independence, was well understood to be the

price that had to be paid for Assyria’s protection. Ahaz and his worldly

advisers were prepared to pay it. They surrendered themselves,  body

and soul, into the hands of the great world-power of the period – “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.”  Syria is put forward as at

once the more formidable of the two foes, and the one most open to

Assyrian attack. Already Damascus had been more than once menaced by

Assyrian armies (‘Eponym Canon,’ pp. 113, 115, 116), while the kingdom

of Samaria had only suffered at her extremities (ch.15:29).  Samaria could not

well be approached excepting through Syria, and after Syria’s downfall.

 

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,” -  Hitherto the temple treasures

had been diverted from their proper use, and secularized for the sole purpose (except

in one instance) of buying off the hostility of foreign foe, who threatened the city and

the temple itself with destruction (I Kings 14:26; ch. 12:18; 14:14). Now, as on

one former occasion (I Kings 15:18), they were utilized to purchase an alliance –

and sent it for a present to the King of Assyria.” So Gyges King of Syria

sent presents to Asshur-bani-pal to purchase his aid against the Cimmerians

(‘Records of the Past,’ vol. 1. p. 68), and Susub of Babylon sent his temple

treasures to Umman-Minan of Elam (ibid., pp. 46-47), to purchase his assistance

against Sennacherib.

 

9  And the King of Assyria hearkened unto him:” -  Overtures of

the kind were almost certain to be accepted. The great conquering

monarchs of the East were always glad to receive small states into their

alliance for a time, and even to allow them a shadow of independence,

while they made use of their services against their near neighbors. Tiglathpileser

was already bent on conquering Samaria and Damascus, and could

not fail to perceive that their subjugation would be greatly facilitated by his

having the support of Judaea – “for the King of Assyria — rather, and the

King of Assyria — went up against Damascus,” - Damascus was naturally

attacked first, as nearer to Assyria than Samaria, and also as more wealthy

and more important. Tiglath-pileser’s records contain an account of the

campaign, but it is unfortunately much mutilated. We may gather from it,

however, that Resin began by meeting his assailant in the field, and

engaging him in a battle which was stoutly contested. Eventually the

Assyrians were victorious, and Resin, having fled hastily to Damascus, shut

himself up within its walls. Tiglath-pileser pursued him, laid siege to the

city, and eventually took it, though not perhaps till it had resisted for above

a year (‘Eponym Canon,’ p. 65). The Assyrian monarch thus describes the

siege (ibid., p. 121): “Damascus, his city, I besieged, and like a caged bird I

enclosed him. His forests, the trees of which were without number, I cut

down; I did not leave a tree standing. [I burnt] Hadara, the house of the

father of Rezin, King of Syria.” – and took it,” -  The ancient Damascene

kingdom, which had lasted from the time of Solomon (I Kings 11:24),

was thus brought to an end. Damascus gave the Assyrians no further

trouble; and within little more than thirty years it had been so absolutely

absorbed into the empire that its governor was one of the Assyrian

eponyms (‘Eponym Canon,’ p. 68). The capture of the city, foretold by

Amos 1:4-5, was followed by the destruction of its walls and palaces – “and

carried the people of it captive” -  The system of transplanting large masses

of the population from one part of the empire to another seems to have

begun with Tiglath-pileser. In his very imperfect and fragmentary annals we

find the removal of above thirty thousand captives recorded, of whom

more than half are women. His example was followed by his successors on

a still larger scale – “to Kir and slew Rezin.”  This is perhaps implied, but

it is not distinctly stated, in the extant annals of Tiglath-pileser.

 

 

      Religious Changes Introduced into Judea by Ahaz (vs, 10-18)

 

The new position into which Ahaz had brought himself with respect to Assyria

was followed by certain religious changes, which were probably, in part at

any rate, its consequence, though some of them may have been the result

of his own religious (or irreligious) convictions. He had a new altar made

and introduced into the temple, which at first he used for his own private

sacrifices (vs. 10-13); then, that his new altar might occupy the post of

honor, he removed from its place the old brazen altar of Solomon, and put

it in an inferior position (v. 14). After this, he required all sacrifices to be

offered on the new altar (v. 15). Finally, he proceeded to interfere with

several other of Solomon’s arrangements, with what particular object is not

very apparent (vs. 17-18). In carrying out all these changes, he had the

high priest of the time for his obsequious servant.

 

10  And King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser

king of Assyria,” -  It was a practice of the Assyrian monarchs to hold

durbars, or courts, at central places in the provinces, in the course of their

military expeditions, whereat to receive the subject princes of the

neighborhood, who were expected to do homage, and bring with them

presents, or their fixed tribute. Tiglath-pileser held one such court in the

earlier part of his reign at Arpad, a Syrian town, at which were present the

kings of Comma-gene, Syria, Tyre, Carchemish, Gaugama, and others. He

seems to have held another at some unknown place, about B.C. 732 (it

may have been at Damascus), which was attended by the kings of

Commagene, Car-chemish, Gebal, Hamath, Gaugama, Tubal, Arvad,

Ammon, Moab, Askelon, Gaza, Edom, and Judah, the last-mentioned

being Yahu-khazi (Jehoahaz), by which is probably meant Ahaz. It is with

reason conjectured that this was the occasion mentioned in the text, when

“King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser.”“and saw an

altar that was at Damascus: -  It is almost certain that this was an Assyrian

altar. Ahaz may at one time have turned for help to the gods of Syria

(II Chronicles 28:23 – don’t foget the clause “and they were the ruin of

him and all Israel– CY - 2011), and asked their aid against his enemies;

but the glory of Syria was now gone, her gods were discredited, and the place

of power was occupied by Assyria, which had asserted its supremacy. When

Ahaz visited Tiglath-pileser at Damascus, and “saw an altar,” it was, in all

probability, Tiglath-pileser’s altar. The Assyrian kings were accustomed to

carry altars about with them, and to have them set up in their fortified

camps, or in other convenient places. They also, not infrequently, set up

altars to the great gods in the countries which they conquered, and

required the inhabitants to pay them reverence. Ahaz may either have been

required by Tiglath-pileser to set up an Assyrian altar in the temple, or he

may have volunteered the act as one which was likely to please his

suzerain“and King Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest i.e., the high priest

— the fashion of the altar and the pattern of it,” -  Assyrian altars were

quite different from Jewish ones. Generally they were of small size, either

square with a battlemented edge, or round at the top and supported on a

triangular base (‘Dict. of the Bible,’ ad voc. “Altar,” vol. 1. p. 55,

woodcuts Nos. 3 and 5). It is scarcely likely that Ahaz was particularly

pleased with the pattern, and therefore wished to have one like it. He

probably merely wished to satisfy his suzerain that he had conformed to

some of his religious usages – “according to all the workmanship thereof.”

(a violation of Exodus 25:9,40) -  Though not very elaborate, the Assyrian

altars have an ornamentation which is peculiar and unmistakable. Careful

instructions would be needed for workmen who had never seen the sort of

object which they were required to produce.

 

11  And Urijah the priest” -  No doubt the Uriah of Isaiah 8:2, who might be a

faithful witness” to the record of a fact, though a bad man, over-complaisant in

carrying out the will of the king - “built an altar according to all that King Ahaz

had sent from Damascus: — rather, built the altar, i.e. the altar commanded by

the monarch — so Urijah the priest made it against King Ahaz came from

Damascus.” A bold high priest like Azariah (II Chronicles 26:17-18) would

have refused to work the king’s will in such a matter, which was certainly a

desecration of the temple, and to some extent a compromise with idolatry.

But Urijah was a man of a weaker fiber, and does not seem to have thought

even of remonstrance, much less of resistance.

 

12  And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar:

and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon.”  It is not

necessarily implied in these words that Ahaz, like Uzziah, usurped the priestly

functions, though conceivably he may have done so, and Urijah may have stood

tamely by. What the writer has it in his mind to record is that the king, on his

return from Damascus, at once made use of the new’ altar for his private sacrifices.

If he had meant to tax Ahaz with so great a sin as that which brought the curse

of leprosy upon Uzziah, he would almost certainly have made his meaning clearer.

 

13  And he burnt his burnt offering and his meat offering, and poured his

drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings, upon the altar.”

 (On the different kinds of offerings, see Leviticus 1-7.)  14  And he brought also

the brazen altar, which was before the Lord” -  One sin leads on to another.

Having introduced his self-invented quasi-idolatrous altar into the temple, and so

inserted “the thin end of the wedge,” Ahaz was not satisfied, but proceeded to

another innovation.  Urijah, having had no express order from the king with respect

to the position of the new altar, had placed it in front of the old one, between it

and the eastern gate of the court. Thus the old altar, which was directly in front

of the temple porch, seemed to cut the new altar off from the temple.  Ahaz would

not have this continue, and resolved on removing the altar of Solomon from, its

place, and putting it elsewhere  - “from the forefront of the house (compare

I Kings 8:54), from between the altar i.e., the new altar — and the house of

the Lord — i.e. the temple building — and put it on the north side of the altar.”

 The removal of Solomon’s altar from its place of honor to a side position left the

space clear between the temple and the new altar, which thus, without exactly

occupying the same site, took practically the place of Solomon’s altar. Solomon’s

altar, shifted to one side, was put, as it were, in the background; the eye rested

on the new altar, right in front of the porch and temple, which so became “the

main altar” (lwOdG;j" tB"z]Mih"), as it is called in the next verse.

 

15 -  And King Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying,” - Here the king,

no doubt, stepped out of the sphere of his duties, not to usurp exactly the priestly

office, but to give directions in matters which belonged, not to the regale, (king)

but to the pontificale (priests). Urijah ought to have refused obedience  -

“Upon the great altar” -  Certainly not so called because of its size, for it was

probably much smaller than the old altar, but because of its position (see the

comment on v 14)  - “burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening

meat offering — i.e. offer the daily sacrifice both morning and evening — and

the king’s burnt sacrifice, and his meat offering i.e. the customary royal

sacrifices (see I Kings 8:62) — with the burnt offering of all the people of the

land, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings i.e., all the private

offerings of the people for themselves — and sprinkle upon it all the blood of

the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice (compare Exodus 29:16,20;

Leviticus 1:5, 11; 3:2, 8, 13; 7:2; 17:6; Numbers 18:17) and the brazen altar shall

be for me to inquire by.” -  rather, and as for the brazen altar, it will be for me

to inquire concerning it; i.e. I shall hereafter determine what use, if any, it shall be

put to. As, by the king’s directions, all the regular and all the occasional

sacrifices were to be offered upon his new altar, the other would practically

be superfluous. It would have been only logical to remove it, or break it

up; but this the king was probably afraid of doing. He therefore said that he

would take time to consider what he should do.

 

16  Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that King Ahaz commanded.”

An emphatic condemnation of the high priest, whose subserviency evidently provokes

the writer’s indignation.

 

17  And King Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases,” -  By “the

basesare probably meant the stands of the ten brazen layers, which Hiram

the Tyrian artificer made for Solomon, and which Solomon placed outside

the temple, five on either side of the entrance (I Kings 7:39). The “borders of

 the bases” seem to have consisted of ornamental panels, on which were carved,

in relief, figures of lions, oxen, and cherubim (Ibid. v. 29), The object of Ahaz in

hese mutilations may have been merely destructive, as we find Egyptian kings,

after a change of religion, mutilating the tablets, and erasing the inscriptions put

up in honor of those gods who had ceased to be in favor with them. Or, possibly,

he may have wished to transfer the ornamental carvings to some other edifice,

e.g. an idolatrous temple or a palace  - “and removed the laver from off them”

 — removed, i.e., from each base “the laver” which stood upon it — “and took

down the sea from off the brazen oxen that were under it,” - (On Solomon’s

molten sea,” or great laver, and the twelve oxen which supported it, compare

Ibid. 7:23-26, and Jeremiah 52:20.) The “sea” was probably removed from

off the backs of the oxen, in order that they might be made use of, as ornaments,

elsewhere“and put it upon a pavement of stones.” -  rather, upon a pedestal

 of stone.

 

18  And the covert for the sabbath that they had built in the house,” - The

covert for the sabbath was probably a covered place or stand in the court of

the temple, to be used by the king whenever he visited the temple with his retinue

on the sabbath, or on feastdays.”  It may have been elaborately ornamented –

and the king’s entry without,” -  This may have been “the ascent into the

house of the Lord,” which Solomon constructed for his own use (I Kings 10:5),

and which was among those marvels of art that made the spirit of the Queen of

Sheba faint within her  - “turned he from the house of the Lord for the king

of Assyria.”  It is not clear what meaning our translators intended to express,

and it is still less clear what was the sense intended by the original writer.

Ahaz did something to the royal stand inside the temple, and to the “ascent”

which led to it, and what he did was done, not “for the King of Assyria,” but

for fear of the King of Assyria;” but what exactly his action was, we cannot say.

No satisfactory meaning has been assigned to hwO;hy] tybe bsehe by any

commentator.

 

 

                        The Death of Ahaz (vs. 19-20)

 

The writer terminates his account of the reign of Ahaz with his usual formulae, which

in this instance are wholly colorless. Ahaz’s acts were written in the book of the

chronicles of the kings; he died, and was buried with his fathers; Hezekiah, his son,

reigned in his stead. This is all that he thinks it needful to say.

 

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?”  The writer of Chronicles

adds some important facts not found in the narrative of Kings. Among them are

the following:

 

  • The complete defeat of Ahaz by Pekah, who “smote him with a great

            slaughter (II Chronicles 28:5), killing a hundred and twenty thousand

            of his soldiers, and carrying off two hundred thousand captives, men,

            women, and children (v.8); these captives were, however, afterwards

            restored (v.15).

 

  • His defeat by the Syrians (v. 5). This is, perhaps, implied in II Kings

      16:6; but it is not expressly stated.

 

  • His defeat by the Edomites, who invaded his land, and made a large

            number of prisoners (v. 17).

 

  • The conquest in his reign of a considerable portion of Southern Judaea

            by the Philistines (v. 18).

 

  • The fact that Ahaz at one time in his life adopted the Syrian worship,

            and “sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which smote him” (v. 23).

 

  • The fact that in his latter years he shut up the temple (v. 24), closing

            the doors of the porch, extinguishing the lamps (29:7), and putting

            an end to the burning of incense and the offering of sacrifice.

 

  • The fact that, not content with the previously existing high places, he

            set up a number of new ones, so that there should be a “high place” in

            every several city (28:25). The religious condition of Judaea can scarcely

            have been worse in the worst time of Manasseh or Amon.

 

20  And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the

city of David.”  This must be taken in the same sense, and with the same limitations,

as the same phrase in II Kings 12:21. II Chronicles 28:27) says, “And Ahaz slept

 with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, even in Jerusalem: but they

brought him not into the sepulchers of the kings.” Like Uzziah, he was not

thought worthy of sepulture in the royal catacomb (see the comment on ch.12:21).

 

 

                                    ADDITIONAL NOTES (vs. 1-4)

 

The godliness of parents does not secure the perseverance of their children in well

doing,  but increases the children’s guilt if they take to evil courses.  Ahaz, the worst

of all the  kings of Judah, is the son of Jotham of whom it is said that “he did right in

the sight of the  Lord(ch. 15:34).  Manasseh, perhaps the next worst, is the child

of the Hezekiah for whom the sacred writers have no word of blame. (ch. 20:21)

Wicked Abimelech is the son of the pious Gideon (Judges ch. 9). We naturally expect

the contrary of this to happen. We suppose that education does everything, and we

look to see the children of godly parents grow up godly, and are apt, without any

inquiry into the circumstances, to suppose that every ill-conducted young man must

have been badly brought up. The dictum of the wise man, “Train up a child in the

way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs

22:6), may be quoted in justification of such views, and is often so quoted, as if it

were a rule without any exception. But no proverb is of this character. All are

general rules, which admit of exceptions; and the exceptional character of this

particular proverb is continually allowed in the Scriptures (Proverbs 17:21, 25;

19:13; Ezekiel 18:10). The points to be urged practically are:

 

  • THAT PARENTS SHOULD MAKE EVERY POSSIBLE EFFORT,

            JUST AS IF THEIR CHILDREN’S CHARACTERS DEPENDED

            ENTIRELY UPON THEM. “Instruction,” education, training, though

            sometimes of no avail, have, in the majority of cases, very great weight.

            Even when they seem to have failed, it often happens that their results

            remain deep buried in the soul, and in the end show themselves, and are of

            sufficient force to snatch many a brand from the burning. The parent must

            not despair because he does not see much fruit of his labors at once. He

            has to do his best, to “liberate his own soul,” to see that, if his child be lost,

            it is not owing to his neglect. He has to “hope against hope,” to persevere

            with his efforts, to be unwearied in his prayers, to do the utmost that lies in

            his power to lead his children into the right path. A parent ought never to

            despair. While there is life there is hope. The way of repentance is open to

            all; and, historically, there have been repentances from such a depth of

            depravity that no case should seem quite hopeless. Where sin abounded,

            grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20). The mercy of God is

            unsearchable, unfathomable. There is no saying what sinner may not turn

            from his sin, put away the iniquity of his doings, and become a true servant

            of the Most High.  (But by and large, “It is much easier to lead your

            children into Sodom than to lead them out of it!” – CY – 2011)

 

  • THAT PARENTS SHOULD NOT BE OVER-SORROWFUL, OR

            DEPRESSED BEYOND MEASURE, BECAUSE THEIR EFFORTS TO

            KEEP THEIR CHILDREN IN THE RIGHT PATH HAVE IN SOME

            CASES FAILED. If, indeed, they have had many children, and their efforts

            have failed with all, they may reasonably suspect some defect in themselves

            or in their system. But if the results are varied, if a portion of their children

            have been all that they could wish, while others — despite all that they

            could do — have preferred to “walk in the way of sinners,” and even to

            sit in the seat of the scornful,”  (Psalm 1:1) then they have no need to

            sorrow overmuch, or to regard themselves as culpable. The influences which

            go to form each man’s character are countless, and with hundreds of them a

            parent has nothing to do. Again, there is “the personal equation,” There do

            seem to be some who, “as soon as they are born, go astray and speak lies.”

            (Psalm 58:3) - It is among the mysteries of man’s existence here on earth that

            natural dispositions should so greatly vary. No parent of many children but

            knows, by certain experience, that this is so. One child gives no trouble, and

            scarcely requires any guidance. Another is willful, perverse, headstrong,

            almost devoid of good impulses, and full of inclination to evil. Parents are

            answerable for neglect, for unwisdom, above all for bad example; but they

            need not fear, if they earnestly endeavor to do their duty by their children,

            that in God’s just judgment the iniquity of their children will be imputed to

            them. “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the

            father bear the iniquity of the son (Ezekiel 18:20); “The soul that

            sinneth, it shall die” (Ibid. v. 4).

 

  • THAT CHILDREN WHO HAVE BEEN RELIGIOUSLY

            BROUGHT UP, IF THEY TURN TO EVIL COURSES, INCUR A

            FEARFUL RESPONSIBILITY. “It had been better for them not to

            have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it,

             to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (II Peter

            2:21). If children, notwithstanding a godly training, take to an evil life, what

            must we suppose that they would have done had they been born, as so many

            are, amidst adverse influences, and from infancy exposed to contact with

            indecency, drunkenness, blasphemy? Alas! every blessing abused becomes

            a curse; and to have a pattern of goodness before our eyes, to have virtue

            instilled into us, and then to reject it — to choose the evil and refuse the

            good — is to provoke God’s heavy displeasure, and bring down his severe

            judgments upon us. What excuse can such persons offer for their

            misconduct? They know that by sin they displease God, grieve their

            parents, injure themselves, ruin their worldly prospects, imperil their

            salvation; yet for a little present pleasure they shut their eyes to all

            future consequences, and rush to their destruction. Their conduct is folly,

            madness, idiocy; but not the sort of madness which shuts out responsibility.

            They are answerable for it, and will have to answer at God’s judgment

            seat.  Oh! that they would pause ere it is too late, recognize the folly of

            their evil courses, and “put away their iniquity!” God is still willing to

            pardon all whom he suffers to live. Let them “arise, and go to their

            Father,” and say unto Him, “We have sinned;” and He will go out to

            meet them, and receive them, and “there will be joy in the presence of

            the angels of God over each such sinner that repenteth, more than

            over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:7, 10).

 

 

                                    ADDITONAL NOTES (vs. 5-7)

 

God’s punishments of a nation’s sins are often long delayed, but, when they come,

it is not by degrees, but suddenly, violently, and at once.  “He that being often

reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without

remedy!”  (Proverbs 29:1)

 

  • THE SINS OF JUDAH. Though, on the whole, less guilty than her

            sister, Ephraim, still Judah had, from the division of the kingdom of

            Solomon, been more or less unfaithful to Jehovah in several respects.

 

ü      An unauthorized and illegitimate high-place worship, tinged with

                        superstition and perhaps even idolatry, had maintained its place by

                        the side of the authorized Jehovah-worship, throughout the whole

                        period of the divided monarchy, from the accession of Rehoboam

                        to the death of Ahaz (I Kings 14:23; 15:14; 22:43; II Kings 12:3;

                        14:4; 15:4, 35; 16:4).

 

ü      The worship of Baal had been introduced from the sister kingdom

      by the influence of Athaliah, and had prevailed during the reigns of

      her husband, Jehoram, her son, Ahaziah, and her own (ch. 8:18,27;

      11:18).

 

ü      Luxury and effeminacy had crept in, especially during the prosperous

                        reigns of Uzziah and Jotham, and had led on to debauchery and

                        licentiousness (Isaiah 1:4; 2:6-8; 3:16-24; 5:11-12; Joel 1:5;

                                                Amos 6:1-6).

 

ü      Injustice and oppression had become rife. The rich men sought to

      join house to house, and field to field’” – (Isaiah 5:8); they

      stripped the poor of their small properties by legal chicanery,

      oppressed them, and “ground their faces” - (Ibid. 3:14-15).

      The judges in the courts accepted bribes (Ibid. 1:23) and gave

      wrong judgments (Ibid. 5:23). Widows and orphans were the

      special objects of attack, on account of their weakness and

      defenselessness (Ibid. 1:17, 23; 10:2).

 

ü      Forms of religion were kept up, but the spirit had evaporated. Men

                        thronged God’s courts, brought abundant offerings, made many

                        prayers, kept the new moons and the sabbaths and the appointed

                        feasts, but without any real care for the honor of God or any

                         thought of seeking to serve and obey Him. Hence their worship

                        was “an offence;” their ceremonies were mockeries, their oblations

                        vain,” their solemn meetings “iniquity” God was “weary to bear

                        them (Isaiah 1:11-15).

 

  • THE LONG DELAY IN THEIR PUNISHMENT. More than two

            centuries had elapsed since Judah began to “do evil in the sight of the Lord,

            and to provoke him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed,

            above all that their fathers had done” (I Kings 14:22). Above a century

            had passed since the apostasy of Jehoram and Ahaziah. During all this time

            Judah had maintained her independence, had received no severe blow,

            fallen under no crushing affliction. Latterly, she had even prospered. Under

            Uzziah she had recovered Elath (2 Kings 14:22), conquered a part of

            Philistia (II Chronicles 26:6), defeated the Arabians and Mehunim

            (Ibid. v.7), and made the Ammonites her tributaries (Ibid. v. 8); under

            Jotham she had maintained these conquests, and when Ammon revolted

            had reduced her to subjection (Ibid. 27:5) without any difficulty. God,

            in His long-suffering mercy, bore with His people. He would win them

            by kindness, draw them to him by cords of love, at any rate give them

            ample time for repentance. But it was in vain.  The longer He left them

            unpunished, the further they wandered from the right way, and the more

            they hardened their hearts. The time came when the prophet could only

            say of them, “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed

            of evil-doers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the

            Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they

            are gone away backward. The whole head is sick, and the whole

             heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is

             no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores”

             (Isaiah 1:4-6).

 

 

 

  • THE SUDDENNESS AND OVERWHELMING FORCE WITH

            WHICH THE PUNISHMENT DESCENDED WHEN IT CAME.

            The punishment which God brings upon vicious individuals in this world,

            there is often a long respite. After the chief bad consequences, temporal

            consequences, of their follies have been delayed for a great while; at length

            they break in irresistibly, like an armed force; repentance is too late to

             relieve, and can only serve to aggravate their distress; the case is

            become desperate, and poverty and sickness, remorse and anguish,

            infamy and death, the effects of their own doings, overwhelm

            them, beyond possibility of remedy or escape.  And so it is often with

            nations; so it was now with the nation of the Jews. As soon as the

            punishment began, blow was dealt upon blow. First, Rezin “smote them,

            and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought

             them to Damascus (II Chronicles 28:5). Then they were delivered into

            the hand of Pekah, who “smote them with a great slaughter, slaying

             a hundred and twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men

            because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers”  (Ibid. vs. 5-6).

            Next, Edom had her fling at the sick lion, and “came and

            smote Judah, and carried away captives” (Ibid. 28:17). Then Philistia

            attacked the cities of the low country, and of the south of Judah, and took

            a number of them, “and dwelt there” (Ibid. v.18). Presently, Pekah and

            Rezin, joining their forces, advanced together to the siege of Jerusalem.

            All was lost, except only honor; and then honor was thrown into the gulf;

            Judah went down on her knees to Assyria, and implored aid, gave tribute,

            accepted a suzerain, made the inglorious confession, “I am thy servant

             and thy son” (here: v. 7). Having incurred defeat, disgrace, the loss of

            military honor, the loss of the flower of her troops, she crowns all by

            giving up her national independence, inviting a master, and herself

            placing a foreign yoke upon her own shoulders. But for the wonderful

            efforts made by Hezekiah when he ascended the throne (ch.18:3-8),

            Judaea’s ruin would have been completed under Ahaz; and the

            punishment  so long delayed, when it came, would have been final,

            without escape or remedy.”

 

  • (I would like to recommend the reading of  Ezekiel 23:1-49 in

      light of the route that Israel and Judah took to oblivion – CY – 2011) 

 

  • God  Almighty’s assessment of the situation is:

 

            Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people,

            transgressed very much after all the abominations of the

            heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which He

            had hallowed in Jerusalem.  And the LORD God of their

            fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes,

            and sending; because He had compassion on His people,

            and on His dwelling place:  But they mocked the messengers

            of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets,

            until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people,

            till there was NO REMEDY!”  ( II Chronicles 36:14-16)

            (I recommend The Wrath of God by Arthur Pink - #4 this

            web site – CY – 2011)

 

  • God Almighty’s will for His people was:

 

            “I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the

            land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.  But

            my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would

            none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust:

            and they walked in their own counsels.  Oh that my people

            had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!

            I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my

            hand against their adversaries.  The haters of the LORD

            should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time

            should have endured for ever.  He should have fed them

            also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the

            rock should I have satisfied thee.”  (Psalm 81:10-16)

 

  • God’s Almighty’s will for you and me today is:

 

            “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some

            men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward,

            not willing that any should perish but that ALL SHOULD

            COME TO REPENTANCE!”  (II Peter 3:9)  [If you do

            not know God’s forgiveness and hope of eternal life through

            Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son – I recommend

            How to Be Saved! - # 5 – this web site – CY – 2011)

 

 

   A Wicked King (Ahaz) Allowed to Have His Way by a Weak Priest (Urijah)

                                                (vs. 10-17)

 

A weak priest, timid and time-serving, allows the rights of his order to be trampled on,

and lays up no less an amount of trouble in the future for the nation to which he

belongs. If Ahaz had been succeeded by another worldly minded and ambitious king,

instead of the pious Hezekiah, there is no saying how low the ecclesiastical authority

might not have sunk, or how soon the kingly office might not have freed itself from

all checks, arid have become absolute, and in a short time tyrannical. Urijah did his

best to destroy the constitution of his country, and to turn the Judaean

limited monarchy into a pure despotism. He was weak rather than wicked;

but his weakness might have had the worst results. It was only Ahaz being

succeeded by a truly religious prince that prevented the precedent, which

he had set, from entailing ruinous consequences.

 

(I recommend II Chronicles 28 – Spurgeon Sermon – That King Ahaz

this web site – CY – 2011)

 

 

 

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