2 Kings 16:3
But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yes, 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.
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(3) But he walked in the way.—See Notes on 2Chronicles 28:2.

Made his son to pass through the fire.—The chronicler rightly explains this as a sacrifice by fire. That such an appalling rite is really intended may be seen by reference to 2Kings 17:31; Jeremiah 19:5; Ezekiel 16:20; Ezekiel 23:37; Jeremiah 32:35. The expression, “To make-to pass through the fire to Moloch” (Leviticus 18:21) may have originated, as Movers suggests, in the idea that the burning was a kind of passage to union with the deity, after the dross of the flesh had been purged away; or it may be a mere euphemism. Ahaz appears to have been the first Israelite king who offered such a sacrifice. He, no doubt, regarded it as a last desperate resource against the oppression of his northern enemies. It is absurd to suppose that the king intended it in love to his child, as Thenius suggests. (See Judges 11:31.) Such dreadful sacrifices were only made in cases of dire extremity. (Comp. 2Kings 3:27.)

The heathen.—More particularly the Ammonites, who made such sacrifices to Molech or Milcom.

2 Kings 16:3. He walked in the way of the kings of Israel — Who all worshipped the calves, and were therefore idolaters. He was not joined in any affinity with them, as Jehoram and Ahaziah were with the house of Ahab, but of his own accord and voluntary motion, and, without any instigation, he walked in their way. The kings of Israel pleaded policy and reasons of state for their idolatry; but Ahaz had no such pretence: in him it was the most unreasonable and impolitic conduct that could be. They were his enemies, and had manifested that they were enemies to themselves too by their idolatry; yet he walked in their way. And made his son to pass through the fire — By way of oblation, so as to be consumed for a burnt- offering, which was the practice of heathen, and of some Israelites in imitation of them. Thus 2 Chronicles 28:3, it is said, He burned his children in the fire, that is, some of them, first one, as is here mentioned, and afterward others, as is there observed. See on Leviticus 18:21, and Deuteronomy 18:10. According to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out — It was an instance of his great folly that, in his religion, he would be guided by and imitate those whom he saw fallen into the ditch before his eyes; and of his great impiety, that he would conform to those usages which God had declared to be abominable to him.16:1-9 Few and evil were the days of Ahaz. Those whose hearts condemn them, will go any where in a day of distress, rather than to God. The sin was its own punishment. It is common for those who bring themselves into straits by one sin, to try to help themselves out by another.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.).

3. walked in the way of the kings of Israel—This is descriptive of the early part of his reign, when, like the kings of Israel, he patronized the symbolic worship of God by images but he gradually went farther into gross idolatry (2Ch 28:2).

made his son to pass through the fire—(2Ki 23:10). The hands of the idol Moloch being red hot, the children were passed through between them, which was considered a form of lustration. There is reason to believe that, in certain circumstances, the children were burnt to death (Ps 106:37). This was strongly prohibited in the law (Le 18:21; 20:2-5; De 18:10), although there is no evidence that it was practised in Israel till the time of Ahaz.

Made his son to pass through the fire; either,

1. By way of lustration, to pass hastily through it, so as to be scorched, and, as it were, baptized with it. Or,

2. By way of oblation, so as to be utterly consumed, and offered for a burntoffering, which was the practice of heathens, and of some Israelites, in imitation of them; of which see 2 Kings 21:6 Psalm 105:35 Jeremiah 7:31; which seems best to agree with 2 Chronicles 28:3, where it is said he burnt his children, i.e., some of them; first one, as is here noted; and afterwards others of them, as is there observed. Of these practices, see more on Leviticus 18:21 Deu 18:10. But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel..... Worshipping the calves as they did; which, as it was contrary to the religious sentiments in which he was educated, so against his political interest, which was the only, or at least the principal thing, which swayed with the kings of Israel to continue that idolatry:

yea, and made his son to pass through the fire; between two fires to Molech, by way of lustration; which might be true of Hezekiah his son, and others of his sons, for he had more he burnt with fire, as appears from 2 Chronicles 28:3, both ways were used in that sort of idolatry; see Gill on Leviticus 18:21,

according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel; the old Canaanites; so the Carthaginians, a colony of the Phoenicians, used in time of calamity to offer human sacrifices, and even their children, to appease their deities (l). Theodoret says, he had seen in some cities, in his time, piles kindled once a year, over which not only boys, but men, would leap, and infants were carried by their mothers through the flames; which seemed to be an expiation or purgation, and which he takes to be the same with the sin of Ahaz.

(l) Justin. e Trogo, Hist. l. 18. c. 6. Curt. Hist. l. 4. c. 3. Pescennius Festus apud Lactant. de fals. Relig. l. 1. c. 21.

But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to {b} pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel.

(b) That is, offered him to Molech or made him pass between two fires, as the manner of the Gentiles was, Le 18:21, De 18:10.

3. he walked in the way of the kings of Israel] This is more fully explained by the Chronicler, and means that he followed after all kinds of heathen idolatry, not that he introduced the worship of the calves from Israel into Judah. ‘He made molten images for the Baalim, and burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom.’ ‘It is hard not to be infected with a contagious neighbourhood. Whoever read that the kingdom of Israel was seasoned with the vicinity of the true religion of Judah? Goodness, such as our nature is, is not so apt to spread. A tainted air doth more easily affect a sound body, than a wholesome air can clear the sick’. (Bp. Hall.)

yea, and made his son to pass through the fire] i.e. To Moloch. Thus introducing into Judah once more, as in Solomon’s days (1 Kings 11:7) the worship of ‘the abomination of the children of Ammon’. The words of this verse might be made to refer only to a passing through flame, as a ceremony significant of purification. But the words of the Chronicler are stronger: ‘he burnt his children in the fire.’ From which it would appear that not one son only was offered. That the children offered in such sacrifices were actually burnt is seen from 2 Kings 17:31; Ezekiel 16:21; and many other passages. But from the words of Ezekiel it may perhaps be inferred that the victims were first slain and then burnt. ‘Thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters whom thou hast borne unto me and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured … thou hast slain my children and delivered them up in causing them to pass through the fire unto them.’

according to the abominations of the heathen] The word ‘abomination’ is constantly employed of idols and their worship, their rites being often of the foulest character. The heathen practices of Tyre and Sidon, of the Ammonites, and of the Syrians of Damascus all now found place and worshippers in Jerusalem.Verse 3. - But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. Not, of course, by establishing a worship of calves, but by following the worst practices of the worst Israelite kings, e.g., Ahab and Ahaziah, and reintroducing into Judah the Phoenician idolatry, which Joash and the high priest Jehoiada had cast out (2 Kings 11:17, 18). As the writer of Chronicles says (2 Chronicles 28:2), "He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim." Baalim is either a plural of dignity, or a word denoting the different forms under which Baal was worshipped, as Melkarth, Adonis, Rimmon, etc. Yea, and made his son to pass through the fire. In Chronicles (2 Chronicles 28:3) we are told that "he burnt incense in the valley of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire," as if he had sacrificed more than one son. The practice of offering children in sacrifice was not a feature of the Assyro-Babylonian religion, as some suppose, but an intrinsic part of the worship of the Phoenicians, common to them with the Moabites, Ammonites, and others. It was based upon the principle of a man's offering to God that which was dearest and most precious to himself, whence the crowning sacrifice of the kind was a man's offering of his firstborn son (see 2 Kings 3:27; Micah 6:7). Some have supposed that the rite was a mere dedication or lustration, the children passing between two fires, and being thenceforward employed only in God's service. But the expressions used by the sacred writer and others, and still more the descriptions that have come down to us from heathen and patristic authors, make it absolutely certain that the "passing through the fire' was no such innocent ceremony as this, but involved the death of the children. The author of Chronicles says, "Ahaz burnt his children in the fire;" Jeremiah 19:5, "They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal;" Ezekiel 16:21, "Thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire." Josephus declares of Ahaz that he "made his own son a whole burnt offering (ἴδιον ὠλοκαύτωσε παῖδα)." Diodorus Sicalus describes the ceremony as it took place at Carthage, the Phoenician colony. There was in the great temple there, he says, an image of Saturn (Moloch), which was a human figure with a bull's head and outstretched arms. This image of metal was made glowing hot by a fire kindled within it; and the children, laid in its arms, rolled from thence into the fiery lap below. If the children cried, the parents stopped their noise by fondling and kissing them; for the victim ought not to weep, and the sound of complaint was drowned in the din of flutes and kettle-drums (Died. Sic., 20:14). "Mothers," says Plutarch ('De Superstitione,' § 13), "stood by without tears or sobs; if they wept or sobbed, they lost the honor of the act, and the children were sacrificed notwithstanding." The only doubtful point is whether the children were placed alive in the glowing arms of the image, or whether they were first killed and afterwards burnt in sacrifice; but the description of Diodorus seems to imply the more cruel of the two proceedings. According to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord east out from before the children of Israel. (On the practice of this terrible rite by the Canaanitish nations at the time of the Israelite invasion, see Leviticus 18:21; Deuteronomy 12:31; Deuteronomy 18:9, 10; Psalm 106:37, 38.) Reign of Jotham of Judah (cf. 2 Chronicles 27:1-9). - 2 Kings 15:32. "In the second year of Pekah Jotham began to reign." This agrees with the statement in 2 Kings 15:27, that Pekah became king in the last year of Uzziah, supposing that it occurred at the commencement of the year. Jotham's sixteen years therefore came to a close in the seventeenth year of Pekah's reign (2 Kings 16:1). His reign was like that of his father Uzziah (compare 2 Kings 15:34, 2 Kings 15:35 with 2 Kings 15:3, 2 Kings 15:4), except, as is added in Chr. 2 Kings 15:2, that he did not force himself into the temple of the Lord, as Uzziah had done (2 Chronicles 26:16). All that is mentioned of his enterprises in the account before us is that he built the upper gate of the house of Jehovah, that is to say, that he restored it, or perhaps added to its beauty. The upper gate, according to Ezekiel 9:2 compared with 2 Kings 8:3, 2 Kings 8:5,2 Kings 8:14 and 2 Kings 8:16, is the gate at the north side of the inner or upper court, where all the sacrifices were slaughtered, according to Ezekiel 40:38-43. We also find from 2 Chronicles 27:3. that he built against the wall of Ophel, and several cities in the mountains of Judah, and castles and towers in the forests, and subdued the Ammonites, so that they paid him tribute for three years. Jotham carried on with great vigour, therefore, the work which his father had began, to increase the material prosperity of his subjects.
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