In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah Ahaz the son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign.
Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD his God, like David his father.
But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel.
Ahaz was the worst of all the kings of Judah. He imitated the worst of the Israelite kings - Ahab and Ahaziah - by a re-introduction of the Baal worship, which had been rooted out of Israel by Jehu and out of Judah by Jehoiada.
And made Iris son to pass through the fire - i. e. Ahaz adopted the Moloch worship of the Ammonites and Moabites 2 Kings 3:27; Micah 6:7, and sacrificed at least one son, probably his firstborn, according to the horrid rites of those nations, and the Canaanite tribes Deuteronomy 12:31; Psalm 106:37-38. Hereto, apparently, the Jews had been guiltless of this abomination. They had been warned against it by Moses (marginal reference; Deuteronomy 18:10); and if (as some think) they had practiced it in the wilderness Ezekiel 20:26; Amos 5:26, the sin must have been rare and exceptional; from the date of their entrance into the promised land they had wholly put it away. Now, however, it became so frequent (compare 2 Kings 17:17; 2 Kings 21:6) as to meet with the strongest protest from Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Jeremiah 7:31-32; Jeremiah 19:2-6; Jeremiah 32:35; Ezekiel 16:20; Ezekiel 20:26; Ezekiel 23:37, etc.).
And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.
He sacrificed ... - Other kings of Judah bad allowed their people to do so. Ahaz was the first, so far as we know, to countenance the practice by his own example.
Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him.
Rezin and Pekah, who had already begun their attacks upon Judaea in the reign of Jotham 2 Kings 15:37, regarded the accession of a boy-king, only 16 years of age, as especially favorable to their projects, and proceeded without loss of time to carry them out. The earlier scenes of the war, omitted by the writer of Kings, are given at some length in 2 Chronicles 28:5-15.
At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drave the Jews from Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day.
Either during the siege, or on breaking up from before Jeruasalem, Rezin made an expedition to the lied Sea coast, and became master of the city which had belonged to Judaea about 70 years (marginal reference). Most moderns render this verse, "Rezin recovered (or restored) Elath to Edom ... and the Edomites came to Elath." On the resemblance of the words Aram and Edom in the original, see 2 Samuel 8:12 note.
So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: 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.
Ahaz was threatened on all sides, on the north by Rezin and Pekah; on the southeast by Edom 2 Chronicles 28:17; and on the southwest by the Philistines 2 Chronicles 28:18. To these external dangers was added the still greater peril of disaffection at home. A large party in Judah was "weary" of the house of David Isaiah 7:13, ready to join the confederacy Isaiah 8:6, Isaiah 8:12, and to accept for king "the son of Tabeal." Ahaz saw no hope of safety unless he could obtain a powerful protector; and, Egypt being particularly weak at this time, he turned to Assyria.
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, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria.
Compare the marginal reference and 1 Kings 15:18. Political necessity was always held to justify the devotion of the temple treasure to secular purposes.
And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him: for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin.
The submission of Judah, which Ahaz proffered, would be of the utmost importance in connection with any projects that might be entertained of Egyptian conquests. Naturally, Damascus was the first object of attack. It was the head of the confederacy, and it lay nearest to an army descending upon Lower Syria, as all Asiatic armies would descend, from the north. It appears from an inscription of Tiglath-pileser's, that Rezin met him in the field, was defeated, and slain. An attack upon Pekah followed. Now probably it was that the entire trans-Jordanic region was overrun: and that the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, were carried into captivity 1 Chronicles 5:26. Megiddo and Dor appear also to have been occupied, and the Arabs of the south chastised. Tiglathpileser then returned to Damascus, where a son of Rezin had assumed the crown; he besieged and took the city, and punished Rezin's son with death. Tiglath-pileser appears by one of his inscriptions to have held a court at Damascus, to which it is probable that the tributary kings of the neighborhood were summoned to pay their tributes and do homage for their kingdoms. Among the tributes brought to him at this time, those of Judaea, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Gaza, Ascalon, and Tyre, are mentioned.
Kir - Kir is mentioned by Amos Amo 9:7 as the country from which the Syrians came. It is joined by Isaiah Isa 22:6 with Elam or Elymais. Its position can only be conjectured. Perhaps the word designates a region adjoining Elymais, in the extreme southeastern limits of Assyria.
And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.
And saw an altar - Rather, "The altar," i. e. an Assyrian altar, and connected with that formal recognition of the Assyrian deities which the Ninevite monarchs appear to have required of all the nations whom they received into their empire.
The fashion of the altar - Assyrian altars were not very elaborate, but they were very different from the Jewish. They were comparatively small, and scarcely suited for "whole burnt-offerings." One type was square, about half the height of a man, and ornamented round the top with a sort of battlement. Another had a triangular base and a circular top consisting of a single flat stone. A third was a sort of portable stand, narrow, and about the height of a man. This last was of the kind which the kings took with them in their expeditions.
And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus.
And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon.
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.
And he brought also the brasen altar, which was before the LORD, from the forefront of the house, from between the altar and the house of the LORD, and put it on the north side of the altar.
Hereto the "Brasen altar" (marginal reference) had, it would seem, occupied a position directly in front of the temple porch, which it exactly equalled in width. Now Ahaz removed it from this place, and gave the honorable position to his new altar, which he designed to supersede the old far all ordinary purposes 2 Kings 16:15.
From between the altar ... - Urijah, having received no official directions, had placed the new altar in front of the old, between it and the eastern gate of the court. Ahaz consequently on his arrival found the brasen altar "between the (new) altar and the house of the Lord."
And king Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meat offering, and the king's burnt sacrifice, and his meat offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice: and the brasen altar shall be for me to inquire by.
The brasen altar shall be for me to inquire by - The bulk of modern commentators translate - "As for the Brasen altar, it will be for me to inquire (or consider) what I shall do with it."
Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that king Ahaz commanded.
The writer condemns the obsequiousness of Urijah, whose conduct was the more inexcusable after the noble example of his predecessor Azariah 2 Chronicles 26:17-20.
And king Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases, and removed the laver from off them; and took down the sea from off the brasen oxen that were under it, and put it upon a pavement of stones.
See the marginal references. The acts recorded here, were probably not mere wanton acts of mutilation, but steps in the conversion of these sacred objects to other uses, as to the ornamentation of a palace or of an idol temple. The bases, the oxen, and the sea were not destroyed - they remained at Jerusalem until its final capture Jeremiah 52:17, Jeremiah 52:20. Probably they were restored to their original uses by Hezekiah 2 Chronicles 29:19.
And the covert for the sabbath that they had built in the house, and the king's entry without, turned he from the house of the LORD for the king of Assyria.
The covert ... in the house - A canopied seat in the temple for the king and his family when they attended public worship on the sabbath. It stood no doubt in the inner court of the temple.
The king's entry without - This would seem to have been a private passage by which the king crossed the outer court to the east gate of the inner court when he visited the temple Ezekiel 46:1-2.
Turned he from the house of the Lord for the king of Assyria - This passage is very obscure. Some translate - "altered he in the house of the Lord, because of the kine of Assyria," supposing the "covert" and the "passage" to have been of rich materials, and Ahaz to have taken them to eke out his "presents to the king of Assyria." Others render, "removed he into the house of the Lord from fear of the king of Assyria."
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 rest of the acts of Ahaz - Such as are described in Isaiah 7:10-13; 2 Chronicles 28:23-25; 2 Chronicles 29:3, 2 Chronicles 29:7.
And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.