2 Kings 16:17
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 brazen oxen that were under it, and put it on the pavement of stones.
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(17, 18) And king Ahaz cut off.—The key to the right understanding of these verses is given in the last words of 2Kings 16:18. Ahaz spoiled the Temple of its ornamental work, not out of wanton malice, but from dire necessity. He had to provide a present for the king of Assyria. Thus these verses are really a continuation of the first statement of 2Kings 16:10. They inform us how Ahaz managed not to appear empty-handed at Damascus. (So Thenius.) Prof. R. Smith says: “Ahaz, whose treasures had been exhausted by his first tribute, was soon driven by the repeated demands of his masters to strip the Temple even of its ancient bronze-work and other fixed ornaments. The incidental mention of this fact in a fragment of the history of the Temple incorporated in the Book of Kings is sufficient evidence of the straits to which the kingdom of Judah was reduced.”

Borders of the bases.—See 1Kings 7:28. Thenius thinks Ahaz replaced them with unadorned plates, and set the laver up in a different fashion; but the text does not say so. (Comp., however, 2Kings 25:13; 2Kings 25:16; Jeremiah 52:17.)

The brasen oxen.—These were ultimately carried off by the Babylonians (Jeremiah 52:20).

A pavement of stonesi.e., a pedestal or foundation of stonework: ἐπὶ βάσιν λιθίνην (LXX.).

2 Kings 16:17. Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases, and took down the sea from off the brazen oxen, &c. — Probably that he might dispose of them, or of the brass of them, in some other way; perhaps that he might turn them into money, either by casting them into such pieces as were current, or by selling them as they were.16:17-20 Ahaz put contempt upon the sabbath, and thus opened a wide inlet to all manner of sin. This he did for the king of Assyria. When those who have had a ready passage to the house of the Lord, turn it another way to please their neighbours, they are going down-hill apace to ruin.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.

A pavement of stones - Probably a pavement made expressly, for the stones of the court seem to have been covered with a planking of cedar 1 Kings 6:36; 1 Kings 7:12.

2Ki 16:17-19. He Spoils the Temple.

17. cut off the borders of the bases, &c.—It is thought that he did this to use the elaborate sculpture in adorning his palace.

Which he did, either to express his contempt of them, or to render them inconvenient for the uses to which they had been designed; or to dispose of them, or of the brass of them, in some other place and way, as best suited with his fancy; or for the king of Assyria as it follows in the next verse. And King Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases, and removed the laver from off them,.... In the temple there were ten lavers for the priests to wash in, which are here meant, the singular being put for the plural; and these had bases of brass, on which they were set; and about these bases were borders, which had on them figures of various creatures, lions, oxen, and cherubim; and these Ahaz cut off, either to deface them, in contempt of them, or to convert the brass to other uses, as he might also the bases themselves, since he removed the lavers from off of them, see 1 Kings 7:27.

and took down the sea from off the brasen oxen that were under it; the molten sea Solomon made, which he set upon twelve oxen made of brass; this Ahaz took down from thence, either to abate its magnificence, and render it despicable, or for the sake of the brass, of which the oxen were made, see 1 Kings 7:23.

and put it upon a pavement of stones; not upon the floor of the temple, for that was of wood, fir, or cedar, but on rows of stones, placed instead of bases for it to stand upon.

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 brazen oxen that were under it, and put it upon the pavement of stones.
17. Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases] For a description of these bases, which were moveable stands to carry the lavers used for the sacrifices, see 1 Kings 7:27-39. The borders were of highly wrought ornamental work, made by Hiram of Tyre for king Solomon.

removed the laver from off them] i.e. From each of them. There were ten bases, with a laver on the top of each one.

and took down the sea from off the brasen oxen] This sea was also the work of Hiram. See 1 Kings 7:23-26. It was supported by twelve oxen, three looking each way, and standing with their tails beneath the huge vessel. Ahaz took these beautiful castings away and allowed the sea to rest upon stone supports. As all these acts are in the next verse said to be done ‘because of the king of Assyria’ we may suppose that Tiglath-pileser was disposed to ask for the beautiful things which he saw, and as it was not in Ahaz’s power to say him nay, the king removed these treasures that the Assyrian monarch might not see and ask for them.Verse 17. - And King Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases. By "the bases" are 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 (1 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 (1 Kings 7:29), The object of Ahaz in these 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, as Keil supposes, 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, comp. 1 Kings 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 (ἐπὶ βάσιν λιθίνην, LXX.). Ahaz paid Tiglath-pileser a visit in Damascus, "to present to him his thanks and congratulations, and possibly also to prevent a visit from Tiglath-pileser to himself, which would not have been very welcome" (Thenius). The form דּוּמשׂק is neither to be altered into דּמּשׂק nor regarded as a copyist's error for דּרמשׂק, as we have several words in this chapter that are formed with dull Syriac u-sound. The visit of Ahaz to Damascus is simply mentioned on account of what follows, namely, that Ahaz saw an altar there, which pleased him so much that he sent a picture and model of it "according to all the workmanship thereof," i.e., its style of architecture, to Urijah the priest (see Isaiah 8:2), and had an altar made like it for the temple, upon which, on his return to Jerusalem, he ordered all the burnt-offerings, meat-offerings, and drink-offerings to be presented. The allusion here is to the offerings which he commanded to be presented for his prosperous return to Jerusalem.
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