2 Kings 16:15
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) The great altar—i.e., as we say, “the high altar,” the new Syrian one. So the high priest is sometimes called “the great priest” (kôhèn hāggādôl), Ahaz orders that the daily national sacrifices, the royal offerings, and those of private individuals, shall all be offered at the new altar.

The morning burnt offering, and the evening meat offering.—Not that there was no meat offering in the morning, and no burnt offering in the evening. (See Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 28:3-8.) The morning meat offering is implied in the mention of the burnt offering, because no burnt offering was offered without one (Numbers 7:87; Numbers 15:2-12). On the other hand, the evening meat offering was the only part of the evening sacrifice which the congregation could stay out, for the burnt offering had to burn all the night through (Leviticus 6:9).

The brasen altar.—The contrast seems to imply that the new altar was of a different material.

Shall be for me to enquire by—i.e., for consulting God. So Rashi. Others (as Keil): “I will think about what to do with it.” Perhaps it is simply, “It shall be for me to look at,” i.e., an ornamental duplicate of the other altar. (Comp. Psalm 27:4.) Grätz suggests “to draw near” (i.e., to sacrifice), transposing the last two letters of the verb, which does not suit the context; and Thenius would read, “to seek,” after the Syriac, which has “to ask” (i.e., to pray), as if the old altar of sacrifice were henceforth to be an altar of prayer. (?)

2 Kings 16:15. Ahaz commanded, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt-offering, &c. — He made a solemn injunction, that all the public sacrifices, of what sort soever they were, whether made by himself or by the people, should be constantly offered upon his altar, which he calls the great altar, because it was much larger, it is probable, than the altar of God. The command, probably, referred principally, if not only, to sacrifices to be offered to the true God, whose service, it seems, he had not yet utterly forsaken, but occasionally worshipped idols with him. The brazen altar shall be for me to inquire by — That shall be reserved for my proper use, at which I may seek God, or inquire his will, by sacrifices joined with prayer, when I shall see fit. He says only, לבקר, lebakker, to seek, or to inquire; not to seek the Lord, or to inquire of the Lord, as the phrase is more largely expressed elsewhere: for, says Poole, “he would not vouchsafe to mention the name of the Lord, whom he had so grossly forsaken and despised.” Thus, having thrust out the altar of God from the use for which it was instituted, which was to sanctify the gifts offered upon it, he pretends to advance it above its institution, a practice common with superstitious people. But to overdo is to under do. The altar was never designed for an oracle, but Ahaz will have it for that use. Some, indeed, put a different sense on Ahaz’s words, and understand him to mean, As for the brazen altar, I will consider what to do with it, and will give orders accordingly.”

16:10-16 God's altar had hitherto been kept in its place, and in use; but Ahaz put another in the room of it. The natural regard of the mind of man to some sort of religion, is not easily extinguished; but except it be regulated by the word, and by the Spirit of God, it produces absurd superstitions, or detestable idolatries. Or, at best, it quiets the sinner's conscience with unmeaning ceremonies. Infidels have often been remarkable for believing ridiculous falsehoods.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." 10-16. And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser—This was a visit of respect, and perhaps of gratitude. During his stay in that heathen city, Ahaz saw an altar with which he was greatly captivated. Forthwith a sketch of it was transmitted to Jerusalem, with orders to Urijah the priest to get one constructed according to the Damascus model, and let this new altar supersede the old one in the temple. Urijah, with culpable complaisance, acted according to his instructions (2Ki 16:16). The sin in this affair consisted in meddling with, and improving according to human taste and fancy, the altars of the temple, the patterns of which had been furnished by divine authority (Ex 25:40; 26:30; 27:1; 1Ch 28:19). Urijah was one of the witnesses taken by Isaiah to bear his prediction against Syria and Israel (Isa 8:2). Upon the great altar, i.e. this new altar; which was greater than Solomon’s, either in quantity, or in his estimation. Whatsoever is offered to the true God, either in my name, (for possibly he did not yet utterly forsake God, but worshipped idols with him,) or on the behalf of the people, shall be offered upon this new altar; which he seems to prescribe not only to gratify his own humour, but also in design to discourage, and by degrees to extinguish, the worship of the true God; for he concluded that the worshippers of God would never be willing to offer their sacrifices upon his altar. The brazen altar shall be for me to inquire by; that shall be reserved for my proper use, to inquire by, i.e. at which I may seek God, or his favour, or inquire of his will, to wit, by sacrifices joined with prayer, when I shall see fit. He saith only to seek, or to inquire; not seek the Lord, or to inquire of the Lord, as the phrase is more largely expressed elsewhere; but he would not vouchsafe to mention the name of the Lord, whom he had so grossly forsaken and despised.

And King Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying,.... Who was not to be commanded by the king in matters of worship, but to attend to the laws and institutions of God:

saying, upon the great altar; meaning the new one, which either was of a larger size than the altar of God, or was greater in the esteem of Ahaz:

burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meat offering; the daily sacrifice, morning and evening:

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; such as were offered up at any time on the account of the rulers of the land in particular, or of the whole congregation of Israel, see Leviticus 4:1

and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice; as it used to be sprinkled upon the altar of the Lord:

and the brasen altar shall be for me to inquire by; to search, inquire, and consider what was to be done with it; for altars were never inquired by as oracles; the meaning is, that it was never to be made use of but by him, and when he pleased.

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 {k} brasen altar shall be for me to enquire by.

(k) Here he establishes by commandment his own wicked proceedings, and abolishes the commandment and ordinance of God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. Upon the great altar] By this name he distinguishes his own altar. We know nothing of its dimensions but we need not refer the adjective ‘great’ to the size of the structure. The king calls it so, because he means it to be the ‘principal’ altar. The same adjective is used for the ‘eldest’ among sons, and for the ‘chief’ among priests.

For an account of the burnt offering, which was accompanied also by a meal offering and a drink offering, see Exodus 29:38-42. These burnt offerings were offered, according to the original ordinance, every morning and every evening, and double as much on the Sabbath (Numbers 28:9-10). It would almost appear that in the time of Ahaz the Mosaic ritual was relaxed, and the burnt offering made in the morning and the meal offering in the evening. But this is not clear.

the king’s burnt sacrifice] R.V. offering. The word is the same as in the previous clause, and in that which follows immediately.

all the blood of the sacrifice] The change made in the previous note was most needful, because here we have a different word, and one which is always rendered ‘sacrifice’. The distinction between ‘burnt offering’ and ‘sacrifice’, of both which all the blood is commanded to be sprinkled on the new altar, is that in the former the whole animal was consumed in the fire, whereas in ‘sacrifices’, e.g. of peace offerings, only some portion of the victim was burnt, and the other parts eaten by the offerers.

and [R.V. but] the brasen altar shall be for me to inquire by] No doubt the verb here used is found in the sense of ‘to inquire’ after God and God’s will, as in Psalm 27:4 ‘to inquire in His temple’, though in that verse some render ‘to consider’ ‘to look with pleasure upon’. But Ahaz was not minded to do any such thing. He was casting away Jehovah’s worship as fully and as fast as he could. It seems better therefore to render these words ‘but as regards the brasen altar it shall be for me to inquire’, i.e. I will see later on what shall be done with it. The Vulgate renders ‘paratum erit ad voluntatem meam’, i.e. it shall be used as I hereafter decide. So the verb is found in Proverbs 20:25, ‘It is a snare … after vows to make inquiry’, i.e. to deliberate and consider whether they shall be paid or not. The LXX. has read the verb with different vowel points and renders it ‘for the morning’ (εἰς τὸ πρωὶ).

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, but to the pontificale. Urijah ought to have refused obedience. Upon the great altar. Certainly not so called because of its size (Keil), for it was probably much smaller than the old altar, but because of its position (see the comment on ver. 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 1 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 (comp. Exodus 29:16, 20; Leviticus 1:5, 11; Leviticus 3:2, 8, 13; Leviticus 7:2; Leviticus 17:6; Numbers 18:17, etc.) 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. 2 Kings 16:15He also commanded that the daily morning and evening sacrifice, and the special offerings of the king and the people, should be presented upon the new altar, and thereby put a stop to the use of the Solomonian altar, "about which he would consider." The Chethb ויצוּהוּ is not to be altered; the pron. suff. stands before the noun, as is frequently the case in the more diffuse popular speech. The new altar is called "the great altar," probably because it was somewhat larger than that of Solomon. הקטר: used for the burning of the sacrifices. הערב מנחת is not merely the meat-offering offered in the evening, but the whole of the evening sacrifice, consisting of a burnt-offering and a meat-offering, as in 1 Kings 18:29, 1 Kings 18:36. לבקּר יהיה־לי, the brazen altar "will be to me for deliberation," i.e., I will reflect upon it, and then make further arrangements. On בּקּר in this sense see Proverbs 20:25. In the opinion of Ahaz, the altar which had been built after the model of that of Damascus was not to be an idolatrous altar, but an altar of Jehovah. The reason for this arbitrary removal of the altar of Solomon, which had been sanctified by the Lord Himself at the dedication of the temple by fire from heaven, was, in all probability, chiefly that the Damascene altar pleased Ahaz better; and the innovation was a sin against Jehovah, inasmuch as God Himself had prescribed the form for His sanctuary (cf. Exodus 25:40; Exodus 26:30; 1 Chronicles 28:19), so that any altar planned by man and built according to a heathen model was practically the same as an idolatrous altar. - The account of this altar is omitted from the Chronicles; but in v. 23 we have this statement instead: "Ahaz offered sacrifice to the gods of Damascus, who smote him, saying, The gods of the kings of Aram helped them; I will sacrifice to them that they may help me: and they were the ruin of him and of all Israel." Thenius and Bertheau find in this account an alteration of our account of the copying of the Damascene altar introduced by the chronicler as favouring his design, namely, to give as glaring a description as possible of the ungodliness of Ahaz. But they are mistaken. For even if the notice in the Chronicles had really sprung from this alone, the chronicler would have been able from the standpoint of the Mosaic law to designate the offering of sacrifice upon the altar built after the model of an idolatrous Syrian altar as sacrificing to these gods. But it is a question whether the chronicler had in his mind merely the sacrifices offered upon that altar in the temple-court, and not rather sacrifices which Ahaz offered upon some bamah to the gods of Syria, when he was defeated and oppressed by the Syrians, for the purpose of procuring their assistance. As Ahaz offered his son in sacrifice to Moloch according to 2 Kings 16:3, he might just as well have offered sacrifice to the gods of the Syrians.
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