II Chronicles 28
This chapter is paralleled by II Kings 16. There is a great deal gained in this
case by addition on the two accounts, however. Our chapter contains the
wickedness by idolatry of Ahaz, the severe punishment thereof by the King
unexpectedly (vs. 1-15); other punishments by war of Ahaz, his hardened
heart, greater sins, and end (vs. 16-27). The united unsuccessful attacks
attempt at the siege of Ahaz there; the Syrian recovery of Elath, and
expulsion of the Jews thence, and the Assyrian taking of Damascus II Kings
16:5-9), are, though so full of interest, all omitted from our chapter.
1 "Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned
sixteen years in
the sight of the LORD, like David his father:" Ahaz. The signification
of this word is “grasping.” Isaiah (7:1; 38:8), Hosea, and Micah were
contemporaries of Ahaz, whoso reign may be set down at B.C. 744-728.
His name shows in the Assyrian tablets, Jahukhazi, or Jehoahaz.
2 "For he walked in the ways of the kings of
molten images for Baalim." Molten images; Hebrew, מַסֵּכות.
This was a characteristic sin of
of making molten images during late reigns.
3 "Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and
burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen
whom the LORD had
cast out before the children of
Burnt incense… Hinnom. The sin of Solomon (I Kings 11:7-8)
is reproduced. For the valley of the son of Hinnom, which
curved round the southwest and west of
Conder’s ‘Handbook,’ ch. 7. pp. 330-332. Burnt his children (see
Leviticus 18:21); but there cannot be any doubt that Ahaz’s practice
here stated was an incident of the Moloch-superstition and horrible cruelty
(see the parallel in its vs. 3-4).
4 "He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills,
and under every green tree. 5 Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him
into the hand of
the king of
great multitude of
them captives, and brought them to
he was also
delivered into the hand of the king of
a great slaughter." The King of Syria. The name of this king (Rezin) does not
appear in this chapter, but it does in the parallel, vs. 5-6, 9. They smote
him. A previous unsuccessful attempt of Rezin and Pekah is apparently
passed over in our chapter (II Kings 16:5), while the contents of our
present verse must be understood to have its place just before the last clause
of v. 5 in the parallel, and to be significantly confirmed by the contents of
its following verse. They smote… carried away… brought. These
plurals strongly indicate the dislocation of sentences in compiled matter.
They probably came from original sources, where the conjoined names of
Rezin and Pekah had been the antecedents (see on this history, Isaiah
chapters 7., 8., 9.). Brought them to Damascus. The mode of the first
introduction of the name of Ahaz
in connection with
(v. 10) is a suggestive illustration of how these parallel but very various
narratives proffer to piece themselves, and in a wonderful manner clear their,
whole subject of any possible taint of the “cunningly devised fable.” A great
Ahaz, he struck a fierce and evidently decisive blow against
Rezin, and to
next verse tells us, Ahaz went — little doubt to pay his bills, over which a
decent veil of silence is thrown. He was also delivered into the hand, etc.
The form of this sentence, with its “also,” and with its evidently tacked-on
appearance, coupled with the conjunction “for” with which the following
verse is dragged in, seems to give great probability to the idea, first, that
the latter half of v. 5 and all of v. 6 find their real place before (say) the
paralleled by the former part of v. 5 parallel.
Spiritual Rebound (vs. 1-4)
From Jotham to Ahaz, from the king who “made his ways firm before
Jehovah” to the king who “made molten images for Baalim,” and “burnt
incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the
fire, after the abominations of the heathen,” what a terrible rebound, what a
deplorable reaction! We may regard this as:
Ø Sometimes to the nation. We have a notable instance of this in the
reaction from the Puritan strictness of the Commonwealth to the
unbounded licence of the Restoration.
Ø Sometimes to the Church. A sudden passing from the ardor of some
fervent enthusiasm to the rigor of utter indifference and inactivity.
Ø Sometimes to the family. When a godly, devoted, and useful parent is
succeeded by a dissolute and mischief-working son (as in the text).
Ø Sometimes in the individual. A man is led to the appearance (if not the
reality) of piety and zeal; he worships regularly in the house of the Lord,
and takes a prominent part in the activities of the Church; then with more
or less of suddenness he declines; he abandons his religious convictions and
his moral principles, and stands before society as a spiritual renegade,
living to injure and destroy all he had appeared to love and had busied
himself to promote.
Ø Not in any law of human change. It may be contended that there is in the
mind and in the history of man a constant ebb and flow as in the tides of
the sea; that when a mental or moral movement has proceeded long and far
in one direction, the time has come for a counter-movement in the opposite
direction. But there is no reason, in the nature of things, why we should
not move steadily on in the direction of wisdom and virtue. Such a
tendency as this is not properly a law; it is only a generalization from a
comparatively small number of particulars. Hence we also say:
Ø Not in any inherent human fickleness. Man is more or less fickle; i.e.
many men are very fickle, and some men are seriously so, and others
slightly so. But other men are constant, faithful, loyal to the last. Man, as
man, is under no necessity to change his course, to reverse his direction, to
pursue what he has shunned, to pull down what he has built up. We find
the explanation we seek:
Ø Partly in the rashness of the good. Possibly Jotham may have been an
unwise father in some material respects; he may have so acted, so ruled his
royal household, as to present to his son an unattractive aspect of
godliness; he may have failed to distinguish between the requirements of
manhood and of youth. Certainly, if he did not, very many parents do, and
this their folly is the account of the departure and defection of their sons.
It is clear that the unwise austerity of the Puritans had much to do with the
excesses of the following generation. Very often, indeed, the intemperate
heats of some body of Christian or philanthropic men account, in a large
degree, for the repugnance and retrogression of the community. Folly
in the good may be as mischievous in its results as the very transgressions
of the wicked.
Ø Partly in the shallowness of the piety or morality in question. When this
is nothing more than mere habit, especially when that habit is of the body
rather than of the mind, is fleshly rather than spiritual, it is not to be
expected that loyalty will last; it is to be expected that the first strong wind
of inclination, or of worldly interest, or of social pressure, will carry such a
one away and bear him whithersoever it wills. The great lesson for parents,
teachers, pastors, reformers, patriots, is this — dig deep IF YOU WOULD
HAVE YOUR HOUSE STAND! If you would not see your sons and
daughters, your fellow-members or fellow-citizens swept round with the
current, facing the wrong goal, exerting their influence for evil instead of
for good, then do not be content with scattering seed anyhow and anywhere.
Dig the deep furrow, sow the seed well; plant living convictions in the
judgment and in the conscience of men. Get the whole nature on the side
of truth and righteousness. If the man himself, and not only his external
habits, not only his feelings and inclinations ¯ “if he himself, through his
whole spiritual nature, gives himself to the service of Christ and of man,
you need not fear the coming of an adverse tide; you need not fret about
the fickleness of our kind; you will witness no painful and pitiable reaction;
the path of those you serve will be one of continuous ascent; it will be
“the path of the just, shining brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.”
6 "For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in
twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men; because
they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers."
(See foregoing note.) An hundred and twenty thousand. The
number is large, but, the uncertainty of very many of these figures
notwithstanding, it is impossible absolutely to pronounce it incredible.
Because they had forsaken. The now frequent refrain of the writer.
7 "And Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, slew Maaseiah the king’s
son, and Azrikam the governor of the house, and Elkanah that was
next to the king." The king’s son. This can scarcely mean the child of Ahaz,
considering Ahaz’s age; some think a brother of the present king, son of
Jotham, may be intended. We have also to fall back upon the use of the
phrase, “king’s son,” for some special official of the king or court (see note
on ch.18:25; and its parallel, I Kings 22:26). The governor of the house;
Revised Version, ruler. We have probably a sufficient clue to this designation
in I Kings 4:6; and the designation itself, ch. 18:3; 19:11; II Kings 18:18.
Next to the king; Hebrew, מִשְׁנֵה הַמֶּלֶך; literally, therefore, the next of
the king, the general meaning of which expression cannot be doubtful
(compare I Chronicles 16:5; Esther 10:3; Nehemiah 11:9), but the
more exact scope and functions of the person under the kings of the divided
kingdom thus designated is less certain. It is naturally to be supposed his
place may have been king’s deputy in councils in his absence, or in and
over the city itself, when he was at a distance with an army.
8 "And the children of
two hundred thousand, women, sons, and daughters, and took also
away much spoil
from them, and brought the spoil to
To Samaria. While the Syrian king carried his captives to
this verse, with the added hundred and twenty thousand whom Pekah slew
(v. 6), may be compared with the military strength of the kingdom in
Uzziah’s time, as given in ch. 26:13.
9 "But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded: and
he went out
before the host that came to
them, Behold, because the LORD God of your fathers was wroth
slain them in a rage that reacheth up unto heaven."
The very interesting contents of this and the following six verses
are not found in the parallel. A prophet of the Lord… Oded. We do not
know any particulars of this prophet; for his name and its possible identity
with the name Iddo, see notes on ch. 9:29; 15:1, 8. The
growingly frequent references to the interposition of the prophets is much
to be noticed, and their dignity, courage, fidelity, are brought into grand
relief. They are very typical of the moral presence of which no national
history, as centuries solemnly flow on, gives the slightest symptom of a
slackening need. The very same may be said alike of the truth and those
qualified and commissioned to bear it, of the message and the messenger.
Before the host; i.e. in very face of the host, somewhat too mildly
rendered “to meet” the host, in ch. 15:2, etc. In a rage that
reacheth up unto heaven. To the wonderful life of this figure, that must
strike every reader, must be added the force that comes of its moral rather
than merely material suggestion — a moral suggestion that reminds us of
that of the sentence of far greater antiquity, and from the sacred lip of the
Inspirer of all prophets, “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me
from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10) The rage had not been that on which the
sun did not go down; it had been so fierce that upon it the sun ought never
to have been required to look. See for interesting particulars and then more
general references, Jeremiah 51:9; Ezra 9:6; Psalm 38:4; Genesis 18:21; 28:12;
Job 20:6. The expression of the text, however, “reacheth,”
or “toucheth,” cannot be understood to reproduce as a perfect
equivalent the older above-quoted one of “crieth.” In other words, the
magnitude of the rage is the first thing set forth, and the particular
language in which it is set forth well postulates the inference of its
abominableness in God’s sight.
10 "And now ye purpose to keep under the children of
not with you, even with you, sins against the LORD your God?"
For bondmen and bondwomen unto you. The denunciation
of Deuteronomy 28:68 may be instructively compared with the
emphatic prohibition of Leviticus 25:46. The moral thread of ordinance
that runs everywhere through the divinely established economy of the Old
Testament Judaism should be devoutly observed. The verse, in the position
of its words, furnishes an example of almost classical pattern: And now
persons who are children of
yourselves (literally, saying) to subdue into bondmen and bondwomen for
11 "Now hear me therefore, and deliver the captives again, which ye
have taken captive of your brethren: for the fierce wrath of the LORD is
upon you." The fierce wrath; i.e. not unannounced, for Oded means to say,
“You are doing contrary to the Law and the Prophet Moses,” as just quoted.
12 "Then certain of the heads of the children of Ephraim, Azariah the son of
Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, and Jehizkiah the son of Shallum,
and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against them that came from the war,"
Oded’s appeal, and forcible but most temperate and pertinent
argument of the previous verses, was addressed to those who led the
returning army, flushed with victory and haughty with their captives led in
triumph, and, as v. 15 shows, cruelly, and with every deprivation of
clothes and of shoes, etc. It now, however, fortunately meets with most
welcome practical support from those (certain of the heads of the
children of Ephraim) who had not had a hand in what had been done, and
now stood by, in some measure like umpires. They, at any rate, are
convinced, partly perhaps in that their blood was not hot with the battles
that had been. We do not know particulars of these four worthier men,
whose names, with their fathers’, are here “expressed” (v. 15). They
were evidently conscious of their past sins, had fear toward God, were not
of those who, sinning, hastened to sin yet more; but they wished to flee
from the wrath to come, the “fierce wrath,” already impending. Ephraim
(see note on ch. 25:7).
13 "And said unto them, Ye shall not bring in the captives hither: for
whereas we have offended against the LORD already, ye intend to
add more to our sins and to our trespass: for our trespass is great,
and there is
fierce wrath against
no doubt, on the outskirts of
scene is not written. For whereas we have offended against the Lord; Hebrew;
לְאַשְׁמַת יְהוָהו עָלֵינוּ. Translate, For to the just cause of offence on the
part of Jehovah with us, ye propose to add to our sins, and to the offence existing
already with us; for great is that offence, etc. The genius of the word here
rendered "offence,” seems, from careful comparison of the eighteen times
of its occurrence, to point to “guilt, sin,” or “trespass,” as the causes
awakening offence in any one against these who do them. The repentant
temper of these “heads of the children of Ephraim” was admirable, and
indicated their distance from many, many others of their people and day,
14 "So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes
and all the congregation." Before the princes and all the congregation; i.e.
the four and those who were now congregated round them.
15 "And the men which were expressed by name rose up, and took the
captives, and with the spoil clothed all that were naked among
them, and arrayed them, and shod them, and gave them to eat and
to drink, and anointed them, and carried all the feeble of them
upon asses, and
brought them to
then they returned to
The men which were expressed by name; Revised Version,
which have been expressed by name. This is the probable, yet hardly
certain, meaning of the clause. My name should be “by names.” And the
meaning may be that “the men who were now specified by names for the
work rose up,” etc. Under any aspect, it was likely enough these would
embrace the four who had already spoken so piously and seasonably
(ch. 31:19; I Chronicles 12:31; 16:41). The captives; Hebrew,
שִׁבְיָה; literally, the captivity; i.e. of course, the body of captives
(Deuteronomy 21:11; 32:42). Clothed… arrayed. These two
renderings are both the same verb (לָבַשׁ), and even the same (hiph.)
conjugation. The undisguised, apparent repetition in the Hebrew text,
veiled and disguised in both the Authorized and Revised Versions, may
perhaps be owing to the intentness of the narrative on saying, first, that all
who were literally naked were clothed from their own captive spoil; and
then, secondly, that all whosoever (dusty, dirty, tired, footsore) were
clothed, in the sense of being fresh dressed. The eleven particulars of this
verse are uncommonly graphic in the Hebrew text brevity of description.
The verse may read thus: And the men appointed by their names rose up,
and took the captives by the hand, and all of the naked of them they
dressed from the very spoil, and dressed them (all), and shod them, and
fed them, and gave them drink, and anointed them, and carried upon asses
all the feeble ones, and brought them to
side of their brethren, and… returned to
so far the blessedness of them of Matthew 25:34-36.
within their own land, to a fertile and shaded spot of it, with plenty of
water, and whence probably all might most easily wend their ways to their
own district and town,
The Sending Back of the Captives — an Incident of the Israelitish War
Ø The number of the captives. Two hundred thousand persons.
o This, following upon a slaughter of one hundred and twenty thousand
soldiers, showed the crushing nature of the blow which had fallen upon
o It exemplified the horrors of war, especially among ancient peoples,
with whom the deportation of vast hordes of a country’s population was a
familiar phenomenon. Compare among the Jews the twenty thousand
footmen taken by David from Hadadezer of Zobah (II Samuel 8:4;
I Chronicles 18:4), and the ten thousand Edomites captured by Amaziah
(ch. 25:12); amongst the Assyrians the carrying away of the inhabitants
‘Records,’ etc., 5:52) — “the population, the goods of its people (and
Sargon II. of
27,280 of the leading inhabitants of
and Media (‘Records,’ etc., 7:28); and amongst the Egyptians the
foreign peoples transported to the
of successful campaigns, a number so great as with their descendants
to compose in the time of Rameses Sesostris “a third, aud probably
still more, of
all the families of
o It illustrated the ease with which, when God willed it, a nation could be
“minished and brought low” (Job 12:23; Psalm 107:39).
o It attested the certainty and severity of God’s judgments on account of
sin, whether upon nations or individuals (Leviticus 26:17;
Deuteronomy 32:30; here, ch.15:6).
Ø The persons of the captives.
o The brethren of the Israelites, i.e. their kinsmen; hence the wickedness
of their conduct in enslaving not merely human beings, which was bad, but
their own flesh and blood, which was worse, yea, was unnatural; and
o of these, not the men who had fought against them, which might have
been in some sort excusable, but, which was wholly indefensible, the
women, with their sons and daughters, who were all alike innocent of
offence in either causing or sustaining the war, and therefore should have
been exempted from experiencing its miseries.
The destination of the captives.
Samir- i-na (Schrader, ‘Die Keilinschriften,’ p. 191), the capital of the
northern kingdom, built by Omri (I Kings 16:24).
Ø The prophet’s name. Oded, “Setting up.” The name of the father of
Azariah who went out to meet Asa (ch.15:2).
Ø The prophet’s designation. A prophet of Jehovah, not of the false
but of the true Jehovah, which shows that, apostate as the northern
kingdom had become, it was not entirely destitute of true religion-even
there Jehovah having at least prophets who witnessed for Him, like Hosea
(Hosea 1:1) and Oded, if not also adherents who worshipped Him.
Ø The prophet’s courage. He went out to meet the hosts of
returned from their successful campaign, and warned them of the
wickedness of which they had been guilty; as Jehu, the son of Hanani, had
met Jehoshaphat returning from Ramoth-Gilead (ch. 19:2), and a prophet of
Jehovah had confronted Amaziah coming from the slaughter of the Edomites
Ø The prophet’s address.
o A reminder that the victory they had obtained had been due not so
much (if at all) to their superior military skill or bravery, as to the fact that
been angry with
their hands (v. 9; compare Nehemiah 9:27).
o A rebuke for the want of pity they had shown towards their brethren
upon whom the anger of God had fallen — a circumstance which should
have moved their hearts to clemency (Job 19:21), but which had rather
lent intensity to their rage.
o An accusation that they purposed to make bondmen and bondwomen
of the sons and
being an act of cruelty, was likewise an act of folly, since it could not be
Jehovah’s favor was finally withdrawn from
of presumption, inasmuch as they themselves had not been blameless in
the matter of apostatizing from Jehovah, and, if the truth were told, were
as much deserving to be punished as their southern brethren and sisters.
o An appeal to their conscience to say whether what he now affirmed was
not correct: “Are there not with you, even with you, sins against the Lord
God?” Their idolatry
was as great as that of
pitiless butchery of their brethren was crying up against them to heaven.
Their bringing away of these innocent women and children was an
iniquity which filled up the measure of their guilt (v. 10).
o An exhortation to desist from their criminal intention to enslave their
brethren, and to send back the captives they had brought, with all
convenient speed and with due expressions of regret (v. 11).
o An argument to quicken their movements in the path of duty; if they did
not, the fierce wrath of Jehovah, which was already on them, would engulf
them. The speech, which was a model in respect of compact brevity, lofty
eloquence, clear statement, pathetic appeal, resistless logic, and which
must have been delivered with combined boldness and persuasiveness,
made a deep impression.
Ø The names of the princes.
o Azariah (ch. 15:2; 22:6), the son of Johanan, “Jehovah is gracious;”
o Berechiah, “Whom Jehovah hath blessed” (I Chronicles 6:39),
son of Meshillemoth, “Retribution;”
o Jehizkiah, the same as Hezekiah, “The might of Jehovah,” son of
Shallum, “Retribution” (II Kings 15:10); and
o Amasa, “Burden,” the name of one of Absalom’s captains
(II Samuel 17:25), the son of Hadlai, “Rest.”
These princes were obviously at the head of the Israelitish congregation (v. 14).
Ø The action of the princes. They joined the Prophet Oded in resisting the
introduction by the soldiers of the captives into the city. That people is
fortunate whose leaders are courageous to oppose them in evil-doing, and
to point out to them the path of duty. (“Blessed is the nation whose God
is the Lord” - Psalm 33:12)
Ø The speech of the princes.
o A refusal to admit the captives into the city (v. 13);
o a confession that already they, as a people, had transgressed against
Jehovah, and incurred His wrath; and
o an intimation that the course the soldiers were pursuing was such as
would increase their sin and trespass, and expose them to a heavier
charge of guilt.
Ø The success of the princes. “The armed men left the captives and the
spoil before the princes and all the congregation” (v. 14). Happy is that
community in which the wise and good counsels of its leaders prevail.
Ø The kindness of the princes. The above-named (v. 12), with other
famous and distinguished leaders, to whom a similar designation was
customarily applied (ch. 31:19; I Chronicles 12:31; 16:41;
rose up from their seats of honor in the midst of the assembly,
stood forth as the representatives of the people and received at the hands
of the soldiers the crowd of captives; out of the spoil, which, as usual,
consisted in garments, flocks, and herds, with other articles of value
(ch. 15:14-15; 20:25), clothed and shod all amongst them who were
naked, giving them to eat and drink (II Kings 6:22-23); anointed with
oil such of them as had wounds (Luke 10:34); set the feeble upon
asses, of which animals there was a plentiful supply (I Chronicles 27:30;
Ezra 2:67) — a lively picture of the pity and compassion which
should ever be shown towards the unfortunate, suffering, and miserable,
especially by the people of God (Isaiah 58:6-7; Job 30:25; Luke 10:37;
14:12; I Timothy 5:10; I John 3:17).
Ø The return of the captives. Thus generously treated by the princes, they
were sent back, those able to travel by themselves, those requiring to ride
conductors, who journeyed with them as far as
the city of
palm trees (Judges 3:13), distant from
and a half hours walk, situated in the tribe of Benjamin, and belonging to
which their conductors returned to
Ø The sin of slavery.
Ø The function of prophecy.
Ø The beauty of charity.
Divine and Human Pity (vs. 9-15)
A very striking and a most unusual incident is here related; it has very few
parallels in the page of ancient history. The hand that struck down the
enemy very rarely failed to strike him when he was down. Here we have a
refreshing picture of human relenting; of men who had just presented the
cup of woe putting to the lips of the suffering a cup of mercy. But first we
have a picture of:
the people of
grievously sinned against the Lord (see v. 9). But there was a point
beyond which justice did not demand that penalty should go. And at that
point Divine pity might appear. There it did appear, and it arrested the
hand of the cruel smiter. God sends judgment, but in wrath He “remembers
mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2). He sends the serious sickness which brings
pain and weakness, but at a certain point He sends the remedy and
restoration. He brings down upon the guilty the strong indignation of their
kind, but He raises up the compassionate and the considerate who visit the
prisoner or the lonely with words of friendly sympathy and cheer. He
brings the strong but rebellious kingdom to defeat and humiliation, but He
causes it to grow up again to competence and power. He bruises, but He
does not shatter; he lays low, but he raises up. (Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:17-19)
to play on this occasion, but he bore himself right nobly (vs. 9-11). He
did not flinch from words of energetic condemnation (vs. 9, 10), or from
words of unpalatable advice (v. 11). If God puts us into any responsible
position, whether in the family, or in the Church, or in the city, or in the
councils of the nation, we are most sacredly bound to play our part
courageously. No man is fitted to occupy a post of trust and honor unless
he is prepared, at times, to say and do that which is likely to be resented.
Though we may not be called upon to face a triumphant army with words
of remonstrance and command, as Oded did now, yet we are sure to be
under obligation to say that which is unacceptable and to confront the
dislike and disapproval of men. If we are not prepared to do that, we had
better stand down at once, and take a lower place. Certainly we are not
qualified to speak for GOD!
being exercised with remarkable success. The outspoken prophet
persuades the princes, and they in their turn persuade the soldiers to release
the captives and to abandon the spoil which they had taken. This was a
truly remarkable success. To induce men who are flushed with victory to
forego the advantages they have won with the sword is to accomplish a
great feat. It shows what man can do with man; what influence a strong
voice can exert upon the human heart.
Ø It is always well worth while to interpose between men and the wrong
they are meditating; we may save them from great guilt and others from
Ø We must be in downright earnest, and speak with entire fearlessness and
frankness, as both prophet and princes did now, or we shall not succeed.
We must speak as those who are perfectly convinced, as those who know
what is right, and have no hesitation at all as to the course which should
age might have been done without pity or remorse, we have these soldiers
thing now for men to show a magnanimous kindness to their fallen enemy
even on the battle-field. But the teaching of the Lord of love has done its
work to some considerable extent, and has mercifully modified the cruelties
of war. The scene of the text was something of an anticipation of the
injunction, “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink.”
(Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:20) It is for us to illustrate the spirit then shown,
on every opportunity. We should spare those who are in our power; it may be
in the domain of business; it may be in the social circle; it may be round the
domestic table; it may be in something so simple as a debate, so common as
an ordinary argument. But wherever or whatever it be, to spare our opponent
when he is down, to save him from the miseries of defeat, to put him in the
way of return to self-respect
and honor, to “take back our captives to
is to do no more than these Israelites did on this particular occasion; it is to
do no less than our Master requires of us at all times and under every
circumstance (Matthew 5:43-48).
16 "At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him."
The vagueness of this common formula, “at that time,” would doubtless not
have been apparent in the original sources. In the present instance we may
fall back on our vs. 5-6 to give it distinctness; but see vs. 5-7 of the
parallel, which involve their own formula and the present in some little
uncertainty. The kings of Assyria. The Septuagint and other versions show the
singular number. Our plural may perhaps find an explanation in ch. 30:6; 32:4.
17 "For again the Edomites had
come and smitten
away captives. The Edomites. So the work of Amaziah (ch. 25:11, 14;
II Kings 14:7) in reducing
18 "The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the low country, and
of the south of
Gederoth, and Shocho with the villages thereof, and Timnah with the
villages thereof, Gimzo also and the villages thereof: and they
dwelt there.” The Philistines. These also had been subjugated again and
again, and of late by Uzziah (ch. 26:6-7), work that was now
undone. The exultant relief to the Philistines, short-lived though it was, is
referred to elsewhere, as in the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 14:29, 31), the
Psalms (Psalm 60:8). Beth-shemesh. On
the border of
and our note there; I Chronicles 6:44). Ajalon. This was also
on the border (ibid. v. 54; ch. 11:10). Gederoth. This was in the Shefelah
(Joshua 15:41). Shocho; or, Socho, one of Rehoboam’s cities, near the
Philistines, and therefore selected for fortification (ch. 11:7). Timnah. This
bordered on Dan (Joshua 15:10). Gimzo. Not elsewhere mentioned, but well
known in the modern village Jimzu, its site on what would have been the border
of Dan. They dwelt there. This expression is, of course, designed to indicate
that the Philistines obtained successfully some foothold.
19 "For the LORD brought
for he made
Ahaz King of Israel. So Jehoshaphat was called in ch. 21:2 “King of
If these two occasions are not merely cases of the writer’s or of a copyist’s
easily imaginable mistake, they must be regarded as naming the king of the
chief divided kingdom by the title of the whole kingdom or people. He made
Revised Version, had cast away
Blow upon Blow (vs. 17-19)
Ahaz was a very great transgressor, and he was (as we might expect he
would be) a very great sufferer. He received blow upon blow from the
righteous hand of that holy Ruler who by present and temporal visitations
was educating His people in the ways of heavenly wisdom.
1. First Rezin King of
2. Then Pekah King of
slaughter (v. 6).
3. Then the Edomites smote
4. Then the Philistines “invaded the cities of the low country,” and took
several important places (v. 18).
Thus “the Lord brought
until the land was thoroughly smitten and stripped, left “naked to its enemies”
(v. 19). We are reminded by these successive inflictions of:
Ø This often comes in the form of obvious and apparent losses. The
trangressor who “fears not God, neither regards man,” finds himself
subjected to a series of adversities, which he regards as misfortunes, but
which we recognize as penalties. He loses the confidence and esteem of his
worthier neighbors; then he loses custom, trade, support, and then and
thus he loses money; then he loses his substance by extravagance and, it
may be, by one or more expensive vices — and vice is a very expensive
thing; then he loses health and spirit and hope; then he loses the regard of
his neighbors generally. So, step by step, he goes down, until “the Lord
Ø Or penalty may come in the way of inward and spiritual deterioration.
We cannot pretend to say in what order this proceeds; it varies with
individual souls; but blow upon blow descends; bruise upon bruise is
suffered by the soul; one defense after another is taken away from the
citadel until the land is “naked.” It may be that the fine sense of
truthfulness goes first (Isaiah 59:14); then, perhaps, the spirit of reverence;
then the loss of thorough rectitude; then the loss of purity; then may come an
indifference to the judgment of the good and wise; then the decay of self-
respect; — and what then is left? Let the man who, like Ahaz, hardens
himself against God understand this, that as he goes on his guilty way, even
if outward prosperity remains to him, there is descending upon his spiritual
nature, upon himself if not upon his circumstances, blow upon blow of
righteous penalty — blows which are bruising and slaying him, beneath
which HE IS SURELY PERISHING!
SOMETIMES ENDURES. “Many are the afflictions (even) of the
righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:19).
To the patient Job, to the faithful Jeremiah, to the devoted Paul, they come
in large number and in great strength. Even to the purest and loveliest of the
sons and daughters of God there sometimes falls a sad succession of trials;
it may be in the heart and on the lips of the most worthy to say, “All thy
waves and thy billows are gone over me.” (Psalm 42:7) Blow upon blow
descends upon their head. What does it mean? It simply means that the
branch which is bearing fruit the Lord of the vineyard is pruning, “that it
may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2); it means that “whom the Lord
loveth He chasteneth” (Hebrews 12:6), in order that he may make them to
be “partakers of His holiness” (ibid. v. 10)it means that the Divine Master
is refining and cultivating his servant, to prepare him for a far broader and
nobler sphere and for higher and heavenlier,work hereafter; it means that
affliction is working out an “exceeding weight of glory.” (II Corinthians 4:17)
20 "And Tilgathpilneser king of
him, but strengthened him not." Tilgath-Pilneser (see I Chronicles 5:6, 26;
II Kings 15:29; 16:10, our parallel. See our notes in full on I Chronicles 5:6, 26).
Gesenius dates his reign as King of Assyria as B.C. 753-734; others as
about B.C. 747-728. Distressed him, but strengthened him not. This is
in our writer’s usual deeper moral and religious vein, and was no doubt
most true. For all Ahaz paid and bribed out of the sacrilegiously employed
treasure of the temple, out of the depreciating and partial dismantling of
“the house of the king,” and out of the begged contributions or taxes
extortionately wrung “of the princes” (see the succinct account of next
verse, and compare the parallel in II Kings 16:8, 18), he bought a master for
himself, servitude, tributariness, and the humiliation of disgrace itself. The
temporary relief he obtained (and which the writer of Chronicles in no way
means to deny) from one enemy riveted round his neck the yoke of
another and greater. And worse than this, he secured in his own heart the
greatest adversary of all — a restless, implacable foe, which ever goaded
him on to worse folly and deeper sin.
21 "For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of the LORD, and
out of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave it unto
the king of
last verse ch.16:2; II Kings 12:18; 18:15. But he helped him not. See the
parallel in its v. 9 (II Kings 16.), and note on our foregoing verse.
An Unfortunate Embassy (vs. 16, 20-21)
Pileser (II Kings 16:7); in Assyrian, Takul-u-(Tukeal)-habal-i-sar-ra,
meaning “He who puts his trust in Adar,” or, “Adar is my confidence;” in
the Septuagint Θαλγα(θφελασσάρ - Thalgath-phelassar - Tilgath-Pileser -
the same person as Pul King of
pp. 223-240), to whom Menahem of Israel gave a thousand talents of
silver as a bribe for aid to keep the throne he had usurped (II Kings 15:17).
Originally a gardener (according to Greek tradition), Pul rose to eminence
as a soldier, and eventually seized the crown of
been felt in numerous
expeditions towards the West.
particular, Rezin (‘Records,’ etc., 5:48), and Menahem, one of Pekah’s
predecessors on the throne of
paying him tribute (II Kings 15:29; ‘Records,’ etc., 5:48). Accordingly,
Ahaz had no doubt that the mighty Assyrian could by a word call off the
two royal bandits that, like terriers, had sprung at his throat. Despatching
ambassadors to Tiglath-Pileser, he requested aid against his foes from the
north and east. To render his application successful, he sent with his
plenipotentiaries a heavy largess, in the shape of presents of gold and silver
taken from the temple, the palace, and the princes’ mansions (II Kings
16:7-8). An inscription, composed in the last or year before last year of
Tiglath-Pileser’s reign, speaks of the Assyrian monarch as having received
tribute from Mitinti of Askalon, Joachaz of Juda, and Kosmalak of Edom
(Schrader, ‘Die Keilinschriften,’ p. 263). Though this tribute was probably
that which Ahaz
paid on visiting Tiglath-Pileser at
it will serve to illustrate and confirm the fact here mentioned, that
Ahaz sent a present with his plenipotentiaries when they went to solicit
Ø He marched against Rezin. (II Kings 16:9.) The King of Syria was
defeated in a pitched battle, and retreated to his capital. “He, to save his
life, fled away alone and like a deer, and into the great gate of his city he
entered. His generals alive in hand I captured, and on crosses I raised them.
His country I
subdued” (Inscription of Tiglath-Pileser, No. 10). “
was closely invested; the trees in its neighborhood were cut down; the
districts dependent on it were ravaged, and forces were dispatched to
punish the Israelites, Ammonites, Moabites, and Philistines, who had been
the allies of Reson.… At last, in B.C. 732, after a siege of two years,
given over to plunder and ruin, and its inhabitants transported to Kip”
Discoveries,’ p. 282; Schrader, ‘ Die Keilinschriften,’ pp. 258, 259).
Ø He turned upon
the siege of
towns of Ijon, Abel-beth-maachah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazer, with the
Gilead, Galilee, and all the
populations carried away to
perished at the hands of a conspirator, Hoshea, who forthwith seized upon
the throne. These details likewise receive confirmation from the
monuments. Fragment No. 2 of Tiglath-Pileser’s inscription, narrating his
[Abel-beth-maachah]… with the
as having been
joined to the borders of
having been sent to
been slain” (Smith, ‘Assyrian Discoveries,’ pp. 284, 285; ‘Records,’ etc.,
5:51, 52; Schrader, ‘Die Keilinschriften,’ pp, 255, 256).
Ø He subjected
statement, that Tiglath-Pileser “distressed Ahaz, but strengthened him not.”
Instead of helping him to become an independent sovereign, Tiglath-Pileser
made him a tributary to the Assyrian crown; and exactly in harmony with
this, Joachaz of Juda appears, along with Mitinti of Askalon, Kosmalak of
seventeenth or eighteenth year of his reign, did homage to the great king
22 "And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the
LORD: this is that king Ahaz." (I recommend II Chronicles 28 – Spurgeon
Sermon – That King Ahaz – this website – CY – 2016)
23 "For he sacrificed unto the gods of
and he said,
Because the gods of the kings of
therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they
were the ruin of
him, and of all
point of view of Ahaz, in putting it, that it was the gods of
smote.” The formula,
used as “
Hadad, and some others. Perhaps no verse in Chronicles is more typical of the
special moral aspects and aims of the writer.
24 "And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and
cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors
of the house of the LORD, and he made him altars in every corner
to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the LORD God of
his fathers." This verse (completed, indeed, by the verse following)
heightens to its climax the description of the guilt of Ahaz, which grew to
madness. II Kings 16:17-18 enlarge our view of what Ahaz did in
the way of destruction, relating his mutilation of the bases and laver and
sea, after also the displacement of the brazen altar in favor of that the
pattern of which he had sent from
have been a consenting party to the iniquity. Our ch. 30:14 speaks of the time
that came when these wicked steps of king and priest began to be retraced, and,
with the previous verses of same chapter, are the sad but interesting reverse of
the present passage. The modern Jews commemorate, by the observance of a
fast, this mournful crisis of
26 "Now the rest of his acts and of all his ways, first and last, behold,
they are written
in the book of the kings of
Parallel (II Kings 16:19), “the book of the chronicles of
the kings of
27 "And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city,
the kings of
Parallel (ibid. v. 20), “slept with his fathers… buried with his fathers in
the city of
ch. 24:25 (parallel, II Kings 12:21); ch. 21:20 (parallel, II Kings 8:24).
This King Ahaz:” (the “progress” of a king literally devoid of religion).
In such words, the significance of which no one can mistake, is the royal
person who is the chief subject of this chapter pointed to (v. 22). Ahaz is
the bad son of a good father. He is a type of those who begin badly, who
are untaught by experience, who grow worse by suffering and adversity,
and who end by maddening themselves, to their own destruction! The
career of his father Jotham is written, apparently, without a fault, and
without a reflection to be cast on him; the career of this son is written,
apparently, without one redeeming feature to be put to his account. The
contents of this chapter look like a series of pictures, marking a royal
progress in wrongness, and which, in the issue, led to a very insanity of
irreligion! In this progress notice how the king:
was at once to lack the stamp of a true royalty. To be “like the kings of
ungenuine royalty. This description (v. 2) of “the ways” in which
king “walked” was, indeed, on the other hand, a fearful characterization for
that same schismatic line of
described, as at the beginning of his reign, when he was already arrived at
the twenty-fifth year of his age, was an evil, anyway, of that worst calamity,
viz. hope for an altered future almost hopelessly shut out! The augury
proved too true. Ahaz counts for nothing Moses, as well as “his father
David.” He systematically “framed mischief by” his own “law,” and the law
of heathendom. He flagrantly breaks, and teaches the breaking of, the first
two of the ever-venerable ten commandments — that vital Heaven-graven
foundation-code of legislation of his kingdom. Sacrilege, idolatry, and each
most heathenish practice and rite of “unnatural religion” he honors and
follows. He gets as far as it is possible to get from “fearing” and “loving”
and “serving” the Lord God of his fathers “with all the heart, and mind, and
soul, and strength.” For a young man, for any man to forsake the right
model, the one Example, is to leave himself to pick among many, uncertain
in every direction, except in THE ONE CERTAINTY OF BEING WRONG!
“This young man, the prodigal son, started wrong – that was the
trouble with him. He was like hundreds and thousands of young
men in our cities today who have a false idea of life; and when
a man has a false idea of life, it is hard for his father or his
mother, or any of his friends to do any thing with him.”
(excerpt from sermon Luke 15 - The Prodigal Son by Dwight Moody -
this website – CY – 2016) )
One only safe right rule is ours to follow; “If the Lord be God, follow Him”
(I Kings 18:21). Examples abound, but absolute safety and rightness can be
found in ONE ONLY!
long succession, to say nothing of all those who may have gone before,
was not merely warning written, preached loudly and earnestly and with
prophet’s voice proclaimed, but it was that practical warning, the
ultimatum of all, the warning of consequences. Defeat, and the captivity of
many of his people at the hand of the King of Syria; defeat, and the
captivity of many of his people at the hand of the King of Israel; the slaying
of his son, of the governor of his house, and of the man that was “the
second to him in the kingdom;” — all these judgments, offering to bring
closer and closer home to him and to his conscience the facts of the case,
of his own sins, and of the consequences of those sins, he is blind to, or,
not blind, he nevertheless disregards them to the very point of infatuation.
But, again, not only are the practical warnings of “wrath” thus set at
naught. Providences of mercy compete with those of “wrath” In one of the
most remarkable and pathetic passages of all history, startling us by its
lifelike and more than dramatic reality — a very monograph of pathos —
seven verses (9-15) here record this providence. They tell us how, by the
“certain of the
heads of the children of Ephraim in
attentively to the remonstrance and teaching of the Prophet Oded, are open
to the impression of the justness of what he says, see in a moment the truth
of things for themselves, and reason without delay with the people,
producing salutary convictions in them; and then, even with the atoning
addition of all tenderest ministrations (v. 15), lead back their captives of
kinder shelter of “their brethren.” What a practical message that was for a
hardened heart like that of Ahaz! What an appeal and suggestion for the
better feelings, if any, of
was in vain!
TO THE REAPING OF GREATER PUNISHMENT AND DEEPER
DEGRADATION FOR HIMSELF AND NATION. The Edomites have
successfully “smitten” him; the harrying incursions of the Philistines are
ever on him; they take village after village, and also so take them, that they
are safe in taking up their abode in them, for they dwelt there (v. 18),
Ahaz does not repent, and does not for a moment “seek to the Lord.” The
strickennees of sin is on him; the persistence in evil is his disease; the fatal
aggravation of folly and infatuation of obstinacy cloud his brain, eclipse his
reason, “make gross” his heart. He seeks to the King of
him with the sacred things of the house of the Lord, with the precious
things of his own palace, with the robbed things of his princes. And that
king takes all, but gives no help — “he helped him not” (v. 21); mocks
his defenselessness; makes sport of his supplications to him! To one deeper
depth, in his deafened despair, he descends. Ahaz vows for his own the
gods of those who “smote him” (v. 23). His logic is that the house too of
“the gods of the
itself! It was a last, cruel, hapless resort! The refuge was the refuge of ruin
— “the ruin of him, and of all
for his memory loathing unqualified. He hacks to pieces the collected
“vessels of the house of God;” but shuts up (by just so much too late) “the
doors of the house” itself; rears every wild altar; profanes with “high places
every several city
excludes his own bones from the sepulchers of the best of his ancestors;
and leaves us one more fearful lesson, that none and nothing make so sure
a mock as sin itself makes of the “fool, who makes a mock” at it!
“This is that King Ahaz.” (vs. 1-27)
Tigiath-Plleser inscriptions, which probably confounded him with the son
of Jehoram (ch.21:17), he is called Jehoahaz, “Whom Jehovah grasps,”
though the Scripture writers may have dropped the prefix “Jeho-” on
account of his wickedness.
Ø He possessed his father’s nature. Of necessity, as his father’s son
(Genesis 5:3). Yet he improved not upon that nature, but rather
deteriorated and corrupted it. Heredity in him took a downward direction.
Some knowledge of who his mother was might shed important light upon
the question of how he came by his peculiarities of character and disposition,
Ø He enjoyed his father’s example. Jotham “prepared his ways before the
Lord his God” (ch. 27:6), yet his pious conduct seemingly
exerted no beneficial influence upon his son. Ahaz followed not his father’s
footsteps, but carved out a path of his own. Example, especially when
good, may be potent, but is not omnipotent.
Ø He obtained his father’s throne. Yet he rather tarnished it than added to
its luster. New dignities do not give new hearts or new powers. At the age
of twenty — five years younger than his father (ch. 27:1), and only four
than his grandfather (ch. 26:1) — he assumed the
If the reading “twenty-five”
Syriac) be preferred (Ewald, Thenius, Bertheau, Keil, Bahr), on the ground
that otherwise he must have married in his tenth or eleventh year, in order,
after sixteen years, to be succeeded by a son as old as Hezekiah, who
was twenty-five on ascending the throne (ch. 29:1), he was still but a youth
when crowned, which may suggest that early promotion is not the same
thing as early conversion.
Ø He lacked, i.e. did not possess, his father’s goodness. Grace runs not in
the blood (John 1:13), though corruption does (Job 14:4; Psalm 51:5).
A man may communicate to his son wealth, learning, fame, power;
be cannot, certainly, impart either grace or goodness.
Ø He attained not to his father’s grave. When he died his people buried
his lifetime had been no true Israelite, though he wore a crown, must not in
his death be laid among the sovereigns who were Israelites indeed. Death,
which destroys all time’s distinctions between man and man (Joshua 23:14;
Job 3:19; Ecclesiastes 8:8), nevertheless effectually distinguishes
between the righteous and the wicked (Proverbs 14:32; Luke 16:22;
discovered what manner of spirit he was of. With a perfect passion for
idolatry — “a mania for foreign
religious practices” (
soon outstripped his people, if not the heathen themselves, in his
becoming their Coryphaeus in superstitious rites, showing himself to be the
idolater par excellence in
subjects down into unknown depths of infamy (v. 19).
Ø He renounced the true religion of Jehovah. Not merely as it had been
practised by David (v. 1), Asa (ch. 15:17), and Jehoshaphat (ch.17:3), but
as it had been observed by his immediate predecessors, Jotham, Uzziah,
and Amaziah. If not discontinued at once as to outward form, it was kept
up for a season merely as a form; it was from the first abandoned in heart.
He began his reign by practicing the arts of a hypocrite.
Ø He adopted the false worship of Baal, which had long held sway in the
northern kingdom (v. 2). Whether he introduced the calf-worship of
Jeroboam (Keil), or restricted himself to the manufacture of images of Baal
(Bahr), in either case he followed in the way of the Israelitish kings
(I Kings 12:28; 16:32; II Kings 3:2). “It is hard not to be infected by a
neighborhood: whoever read that the
the vicinity of the true religion of
Ø He utilized all the idol-sanctuaries already existing in the land. “He
sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under
every green tree” (v. 4). In so doing he copied bad masters, reproducing
the slate of
matters which had existed in
14:23), and at
the moment flourished in
(II Kings 17:10) — a state of matters which from the first had prevailed
among the heathen inhabitants of the land (Deuteronomy 12:2), but
which they had been commanded ruthlessly to destroy. On the nature of
this worship consult the Exposition.
Ø He introduced the worship of Moloch, “the savage god of the Ammonites’’
of Divine Law (Leviticus 18:21; Deuteronomy 18:10), setting up an image
of that idol — a human figure with a bull’s head and outstretched arms —
‘Handbook to the Bible,’ p. 330), and even sacrificing to it one (II Kings
16:3) or more (here, v. 3) of his own sons, as Manasseh afterwards did
(ch. 33:6). “The image of metal was made hot by a fire kindled within
it, and the children, laid in its arms, rolled from thence into the fiery
lap below. Voluntary offering on the part of the parents was essential to
the success of the sacrifice. Even the firstborn, nay, the only child of the
family, was given up. The parents stopped the cries of their children 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 kettledrums” (Dr.
Dollinger, ‘Heidenthum und Judenthum,’ quoted by Rawlinson, ‘Story of
through the fire as an act of purgation, but actually burned, seems
indisputable; it is not certain that the children were thrown alive into the
idol’s glowing arms, the opinion that they were first slain (Keil, Bahr,
Schurer) appearing to be warranted by certain passages in Scripture
(Ezekiel 16:20-21; 23:39; Isaiah 57:5; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:5; compare
II Kings 3:27).
He sacrificed to the gods of
o He did this when the Syrians were inflicting on him military reverses,
i.e. in the time of his distress (Keil), not after it (Bertheau). Strange that
just then, when men most need the help of God, in the hour of affliction
and season of calamity, they usually manifest a tendency to run from
Him, looking for assistance from every quarter but the right one!
(Jeremiah 3:23) — exemplified in Ahaziah (II Kings 1:2-3).
o The reason of his doing this was that he imagined his ill success upon
the field of battle had been due, not at all to the hand of God who
thereby punished his wickedness, but to the assistance derived by the
Syrians from their divinities (v. 23), and conceived that, by paying
them respect in sacrificing to them, he would win their favor to himself
instead of them (ch. 25:14). Wicked men seldom ascribe their
misfortunes or adversities to the right cause, their own ill deserts
and God’s hand in punishing the same, but mostly attribute them
to the “scientific idols,” called “chance,” “circumstances,”
“ill luck,” etc., which deities they hope to propitiate in a manner
hardly less foolish than that of Ahaz, by sacrificing at their
o The specific mode in which he served the Syrian gods is not stated, as
the divinities themselves are not named, and indeed in Scripture never
10:6). The incident of the altar seen by Ahaz at
the Chronicler. The altar incident occurred when Ahaz was attending
Tiglath- Pileser’s durbar at
while Ahaz was fighting with the Syrians.
result of his appeal to the gods of
17:13), while “their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after
other gods” (Psalm 16:4), and “they that observe lying vanities
forsake their own mercies” (Jonah 2:8); for “idolaters shall have
their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone,
which is the second death. ” (Revelation 21:8).
Ø He shut up the doors of the house of the Lord. (v. 24.) It was high
time. The man who could displace the brazen altar made by Solomon after
patterns furnished by Jehovah (Exodus 25:40; 26:30; 27:1; I Chronicles 28:19),
to make room for a new shrine, no matter of what costly material, copied
from a heathen
capital and sacrifice to it his own child; the devotee who was so mad
upon foreign gods, that the very sight of a heathen temple, altar, or
idol caused him to fall a-worshipping; — had obviously no excuse for
longer affecting to be a worshipper of Jehovah. Accordingly, he smashed
up the vessels and closed the doors of the temple. There should be no more
worshipping of Jehovah, if he could help it. It was horrible sacrilege, but it
was at least honest.
Ø He did his utmost to provoke Jehovah to anger. Building altars in every
given to idolatry, literally stuffed full of idols (Acts 17:16), and erecting
every city of
(vs. 24-25); he did his best to pour contempt upon the God of his
fathers; in his outrageous, fanatical, and senseless idolatry eclipsing all his
predecessors, leaving behind him in the race to perdition experts in heathen
worship like Rehoboam and Jehoram in
vengeance on this nonpareil idolater.
and people, he and they were “brought low,” :
Ø diminished in numbers,
Ø weakened in power, and
Ø humbled in spirit,
by Jehovah, who raised up against them three foreign foes.
Ø The Syrians and Israelites. (vs. 5-7.)
o The leaders of the allied forces were — of the Syrians, Rezin, or Rezon
— in the inscriptions, Razinu, King of Syria, whose capital was
inscriptions, Pakaha, a usurper; whose metropolis was
(‘Records,’ etc., 5:48-52).
time selected for their assault upon
reign of Ahaz, although for some years previous to Jotham’s death
similar attacks had not been wanting (II Kings 15:37).
o The object contemplated by the expedition was to overturn the Davidic
dynasty, and place upon the throne of Judah a vassal king, whose
father’s name, Tabeel, shows that he must have been a Syrian”
(Sayce); the Hauran inscriptions exhibiting several names, like
Tab’el, compounded with el, and the Syrian Tab’-rimmon forming
an exact parallel (Delitzsch, on Isaiah 7:6). It is supposed that a
o The plan of campaign appears to have been that Rezin should invade
had restored to
directly from the north across the borders of the southern kingdom,
and that both
armies should meet in front of
if possible, by a siege.
o The result of the invasion, so far as Ahaz and his people were
concerned, was disastrous in the extreme. The capital, as Isaiah had
predicted, was not taken. It may be questioned if the programme was
carried out to the extent of besieging the city. There is ground for
thinking this was prevented by the appearance upon the scene of
Tiglath-Pileser II. of
§ Rezin of Damascus, besides recovering Eloth (ibid. v. 6),
defeated Ahaz m a pitched battle, and carried away a
his subjects captive to
§ Pekah also routed him with great slaughter in one day’s fight,
slaying a hundred and twenty thousand of his veteran troops.
In particular, Zichri, an Ephraimite hero, struck down three
warriors closely related to Ahaz:
ü Maaseiah the king’s son, i.e. cousin or uncle, as in
chps. 18:25 and 22:11, since Ahaz could hardly at
the commencement of his reign have had a son
capable of bearing arms;
ü Azrikam, the ruler of the house, not of the temple
(ch. 31:13; I Chronicles 9:11), but of the palace,
hence a high official in the royal household; and
ü Elkanah, that was next or second to the king, i.e.
his prime minister.
In addition, two hundred thousand women, sons and daughters,
spoil, were carried captive to
number of the slain and of the captives may be accounted for
by remembering that it was practically a war for the existence
of the southern kingdom, which would require Ahaz to call
out all his able- bodied population; that the Israelites were
accustomed to act with great cruelty in war (II Kings 15:16),
and probably did so on this occasion (v. 9); and that
Jehovah had delivered Ahaz and his people into the hands
of their enemies on account of their apostasy, as by the lips
of Moses (Leviticus 26:17, 37) he had threatened he would
in such cases do.
Ø The Edomites. These, whom Uzziah had reduced to subjection (ch. 26:2),
were probably emboldened by Rezin’s successful attack upon Eloth
16:6) to throw off the yoke of
in the shape of an invasion of Judaean territory. This they executed with
such military skill, that they carried off, as the Syrians and Israelites had
done, a number of prisoners.
Ø The Philistines. During the previous reign these also had been
conquered, and their country occupied by garrisons of Judaean soldiers
(ch. 26:6); but, embracing the opportunity afforded by the simultaneous
attacks directed upon their ancient enemy and present suzerain, they
asserted their independence, made an irruption into the low land and
with their dependent villages:
o Beth-shemesh (see on ch. 25:21);
o Ajalon, the modem Jalo (ch. 11:10);
Gederoth, in the hill country of
Gedor of the ‘Onomasticon,’ ten miles from Eleutheropolis,
on the road to Diospolis, now the ruin Jedireh” (Conder,
‘Handbook,’ p. 411);
o Shocho (ch. 11:7), the Shuweike of to-day;
Timnah, the present Tibneh,
on the frontier of
quarters of an hour from Ain-shems; and
Gimzo, now Jimsu, a large
village between Lydda and
Ø The degeneracy of human nature — a good Jotham begets a wicked
Ø The madness of idolatry, exemplified in the career of Ahaz.
The certainty of
retribution, illustrated by the “bringing
Sin in Its Issues (vs. 21-27)
To what will sin lead us? What, when it nears its end and when it is finished,
will it bring forth? We have the answer in this portion of Ahaz’s life.
in order to bribe the King of Assyria to help him, instead of going to the
house of the Lord as a servant and suppliant of Jehovah, to seek and find
his help. That is to say, he committed robbery and sacrilege in order to
secure the succor of a man who afterwards deceived and defrauded him
(v. 21), when, by simple piety and integrity, he might have secured the
aid of Omnipotence, the help of One that never fails His people. His course
was one of utter infatuation. He neglected the one way that was quite open
to him, and that would certainly have succeeded; he adopted a measure
that was full of iniquity, and that was likely to end, as it did, in failure. He
put the finishing stroke to his fatuity when he worshipped “the gods which
smote him” (v. 23). Sin does lead down to infatuation, it leads men to
seek their joy and their heritage in the poorest and most unsatisfying
springs, to pursue wisdom and wealth in directions where emptiness and
poverty are alone to be obtained; it leads men to neglect the Fountain of
living waters (Jeremiah 2:13), the Source of all truth and wisdom, of all
excellency and joy. It strews the path of the guilty with melancholy failures.
his fathers, the Divine One whom he was taught and trained to worship,
than he did by his conduct as here described (vs. 24-25). It was an act of
unholy hardihood, of almost desperate defiance, that could only be the
outcome of a guilty obduracy of spirit. He must have resented the action of
Jehovah and determined to go all possible lengths in defying His authority.
Well might the spirit of Isaiah be aroused as he witnessed this profanation,
this open and daring rebellion against the living God. When men have long
given way to their folly and to their sinful inclinations they do sometimes
go to this awful length. They defy the God that made them, in whose
power they stand. They may deny His existence; they may mock at His
judgments, and at His final condemnation of their course; they may speak
arrogantly and impiously of His power and of His rule: “How doth God
know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?” (Psalm 73:11).
We do not wonder that he died before he reached the age of forty.
The disasters he brought upon his country, and the mental strain which he
must have undergone to proceed to such lengths of impiety, are enough to
account for a premature decline and death. And all the better instincts of
that instructed people led them to refuse the funeral honor they usually
paid to their kings. “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
(James 1:15) The issue of all sin is DEATH:
This is its wages. Let those who are moving down its sad decline take note
of the end to which they move. But let us realize that to all who will turn
from its enticements and break from its evil power, to all who will accept
the supreme gift of God in Jesus Christ, “eternal life” is open (Romans 6:23).
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