2 Kings 16:6
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.
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(6) At that time.—Bähr regards this verse as a parenthesis, so that 2Kings 16:7 is the strict continuation of 2Kings 16:5, and “At that time” simply assigns this war as the epoch when Judah lost its only harbour and chief emporium—a grave blow to the national prosperity. It is perhaps impossible to weave the various data of Isaiah, Kings, and Chronicles into a single narrative which shall be free from all objection. But it seems probable that, after the successes recorded in 2Chronicles 28:5, seq., the confederates advanced upon Jerusalem, and that Ahaz despatched his envoys to Tiglath Pileser. The allies soon despaired of a siege, and Pekah fell to ravaging the country, while Rezin pushed on to Elath, determined not to return home without having achieved some permanent success. The approach of Tiglath Pileser compelled the two kings to give up their enterprise, and hasten to defend their own frontiers.

Recovered Elath to Syria . . . the Syrians.—The words for Syria and Edom, Syrians and Edomties, are very much alike in Hebrew writing, and the Hebrew margin, many MSS., the LXX. and Vulg. read Edomites for Syrians here. If this be correct, we must also restore Edom for Syria, as many critics propose. The meaning then becomes this: Rezin emancipated the Edomites from the yoke of Judah imposed on them by Uzziah (2Kings 14:22) in order to win their active co-operation against Judah. Bähr, however, prefers the readings of the ordinary text, and supposes that Rezin simply expelled the Jews from Elath, and established there a commercial colony of Syrians.

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.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. 6. Rezin … recovered Elath—which Azariah had got into his possession (2Ki 14:22).

the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day—The Septuagint version has "the Edomites," which the most judicious commentators and travellers [Robinson] prefer.

Recovered Elath, i.e. took it from the Jews, who had not long since taken it, 2 Kings 14:22. It lay in the land of Edom, upon the Red Sea, very conveniently for navigation; of which See Poole "1 Kings 9:26".

At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria,.... A port on the Red sea, that formerly belonged to Edom, taken from them by David, retaken by them when they revolted in Joram's time, and perhaps taken by Amaziah again, since his son Azariah rebuilt it, and restored it to Judah, 2 Kings 14:22 and it seems by this that it had been in the hands of the Syrians, who now recovered it; unless instead of Aram, rendered Syrians, we could substitute Edom, which Le Clerc has ventured to do without any authority:

and drave the Jews from Elath; who were in possession of it. This is the first time that the inhabitants of the kingdom of Judah are called Jews, from the name of their original patriarch, and principal tribe; though some think (m) they had this name from the time this tribe went up first against the Canaanites, Judges 1:1, however, it is a mistake of R. Elias Levita (n), that it is never found in the Bible they were called Jews, but from the time the ten tribes were carried captive, and not before; and a greater mistake still it is of Tacitus (o), that they were called Jews or Judaeans, as if they were Idaeans from Mount Ida in Crete, from whence he supposes they came:

and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day; the marginal reading is Edomites; and so read the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions; and Kimchi observes that it is written "Aramim", Syrians, because the king of Syria took it, and by his means the Edomites returned to it, but is read "Edomim", Edomites, because it belonged to the children of Edom; and it is certain the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, 2 Chronicles 28:17.

(m) Polydor. Virgil. de Invent. l. 4. c. 1.((n) Tishbi, p. 143. So David de Pomis Lexic. fol. 83. 4. (o) Hist. l. 5. sect. 2.

At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered {d} Elath to Syria, and drave the Jews from Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day.

(d) Which Azariah had taken from the Syrians and fortified, 2Ki 14:22.

6. Rezin … recovered Elath to Syria] Elath was a place of much importance to the Jews. It was situate at the top of the gulf of Akabah (sinus Ælaniticus), and was part of the land of Edom. But when the Edomites were in subjection to Judah, the port was to all intents and purposes a harbour of Judah. Now the Jews were driven from it, and the Syrians came and occupied it, having overrun Edom in their progress towards Elath.

the Syrians came to Elath] The LXX. says the ‘Idumæans’, i.e. the Edomites came to Elath, and this is supported by the marginal reading (Keri) of the Hebrew Bible. But it is a reading which cannot be accepted. The Edomites were at Elath already. It was part of their own land. Therefore they could not be said to come to it. There is very little difference in Hebrew between ‘Idumæans’ i.e. Edomites, and Aramæans, i.e. Syrians. The latter is ארומים, the former ארומים, a difference only in one letter and that of the slightest kind. Hence the confusion.

and dwelt there unto this day] On this expression as a mark of faithful reproduction by the compiler of what he found in the document he was using, see note on chap. 2 Kings 2:22.

The Chronicler, before mentioning the appeal of Ahaz to Tiglath-Pileser, which is here related in the next verse, gives an account how the two hundred thousand captives taken by the Israelites (see above on verse 5) were brought to Samaria, and how Oded, a prophet of the Lord, forbad in God’s name that the children of Judah and Jerusalem should be kept by Israel for bondmen and bondwomen. Some also among the chief men of Israel declared that the captives should not be brought into Samaria. They were in consequence set free, and, after being fed and clothed, were conducted homeward as far as Jericho. The Chronicler also records the names of the men who thus withstood the bringing in of the Jewish prisoners as if he were taking them from some contemporary record.

Verse 6. - At that time Rezin, King of Syria recovered Elath to Syria. The Syrians had certainly never previously been masters of Elath, which had always hitherto been either Jewish or Edomite (see 1 Kings 9:26; 1 Kings 22:48; 2 Kings 14:22). Hence it seems to be necessary that we should either translate the Hebrew verb חֵשִׁיב by "gained," "conquered," instead of "recovered;" or else change אַרַם, "Syria," into ךאדֹם "Edom." The Syrians could "recover" Elath for Edom; they could only "gain" it for themselves. And drave the Jews from Elath - i.e. expelled the Jewish garrison which had been maintained in Elath from the time of its conquest by Uzziah (2 Kings 14:22) - and the Syrians came to Elath; rather, the Edomites - רוט אֲדומִים אֲרומִים. Rezin could not have thought of holding a place so remote from Damascus as Elath; and, had he done so, the danger of his kingdom in the next year would have necessitated the relinquishment of so distant a possession. And dwelt there unto this day. It is quite certain that Elath belonged to Edom, and not to Syria, at the time when the Books of Kings were written. 2 Kings 16:6Of the war which the allied Syrians and Israelites waged upon Ahaz, only the principal fact is mentioned in 2 Kings 16:5, namely, that the enemy marched to Jerusalem to war, but were not able to make war upon the city, i.e., to conquer it; and in 2 Kings 16:6 we have a brief notice of the capture of the port of Elath by the Syrians. We find 2 Kings 16:5 again, with very trifling alterations, in Isaiah 7:1 at the head of the prophecy, in which the prophet promises the king the help of God and predicts that the plans of his enemies will fail. According to this, the allied kings intended to take Judah, to dethrone Ahaz, and to install a vassal king, viz., the son of Tabeel. We learn still more concerning this war, which had already begun, according to 2 Kings 15:37, in the closing years of Jotham, from 2 Chronicles 28:5-15; namely, that the two kings inflicted great defeats upon Ahaz, and carried off many prisoners and a large amount of booty, but that the Israelites set their prisoners at liberty again, by the direction of the prophet Oded, and after feeding and clothing them, sent them back to their brethren. It is now generally admitted that these statements are not at variance with our account (as Ges., Winer, and others maintain), but can be easily reconciled with it, and simply serve to complete it.

(Note: Compare C. P. Caspari's article on the Syro-Ephraimitish war in the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz (Univers. Progr. von Christiania, 1849), where the different views concerning the relation between the two accounts are fully discussed, and the objections to the credibility of the account given in the Chronicles most conclusively answered.)

The only questions in dispute are, whether the two accounts refer to two different campaigns, or merely to two different events in the same campaign, and whether the battles to which the Chronicles allude are to be placed before or after the siege of Jerusalem mentioned in our text. The first question cannot be absolutely decided, since there are no decisive arguments to be found in favour of either the one supposition or the other; and even "the one strong argument" which Caspari finds in Isaiah 7:6 against the idea of two campaigns is not conclusive. For if the design which the prophet there attributes to the allied kings, "we will make a breach in Judah," i.e., storm his fortresses and his passes and conquer them, does obviously presuppose, that at the time when the enemy spake or thought in this manner, Judah was still standing uninjured and unconquered, and therefore the battles mentioned in 2 Chronicles 28:5-6 cannot yet have been fought; it by no means follows from the connection between Isaiah 7:6 and Isaiah 7:1 (of the same chapter) that Isaiah 7:6 refers to plans which the enemy had only just formed at the time when Isaiah spoke (2 Kings 7:4.). On the contrary, Isaiah is simply describing the plans which the enemy devised and pursued, and which they had no doubt formed from the very commencement of the war, and now that they were marching against Jerusalem, hoped to attain by the conquest of the capital. All that we can assume as certain is, that the war lasted longer than a year, since the invasion of Judah by these foes had already commenced before the death of Jotham, and that the greater battles (2 Chronicles 28:5-6) were not fought till the time of Ahaz, and it was not till his reign that the enemy advanced to the siege of Jerusalem. - With regard to the second question, it cannot be at all doubtful that the battles mentioned preceded the advance of the enemy to the front of Jerusalem, and therefore our account merely mentions the last and principal event of the war, and that the enemy was compelled to retreat from Jerusalem by the fact that the king of Assyria, Tiglath-pileser, whom Ahaz had called to his help, marched against Syria and compelled Rezin to hurry back to the defence of his kingdom. - It is more difficult to arrange in the account of the capture of Elath by the Syrians (2 Kings 16:6) among the events of this war. The expression ההיא בּעת merely assigns it in a perfectly general manner to the period of the war. The supposition of Thenius, that it did not take place till after the siege of Jerusalem had been relinquished, and that Rezin, after the failure of his attempt to take Jerusalem, that he might not have come altogether in vain, marched away from Jerusalem round the southern point of the Dead Sea and conquered Elath, is impossible, because he would never have left his own kingdom in such a defenceless state to the advancing Assyrians. We must therefore place the taking of Elath by Rezin before his march against Jerusalem, though we still leave it undecided how Rezin conducted the war against Ahaz: whether by advancing along the country to the east of the Jordan, defeating the Judaeans there (2 Chronicles 28:5), and then pressing forward to Elath and conquering that city, while Pekah made a simultaneous incursion into Judah from the north and smote Ahaz, so that it was not till after the conquest of Elath that Rezin entered the land from the south, and there joined Pekah for a common attack upon Jerusalem, as Caspari supposes; or whether by advancing into Judah along with Pekah at the very outset, and after he had defeated the army of Ahaz in a great battle, sending a detachment of his own army to Idumaea, to wrest that land from Judah and conquer Elath, while he marched with the rest of his forces in combination with Pekah against Jerusalem.

"Rezin brought Elath to Aram and drove the Jews out of Elath, and Aramaeans came to Elath and dwelt therein to this day." השׁיב does not mean "to lead back" here, but literally to turn, to bring to a person; for Elath had never belonged to Aram before this, but was an Edomitish city, so that even if we were to read אדום for ארם, השׁיב could not mean to bring back. But there is no ground whatever for altering לארם into לאדום (Cler., Mich., Ew., Then., and others), whereas the form ארם is at variance with such an alteration through the assumption of an exchange of r and d, because אדום is never written defective אדם except in Ezekiel 25:14. There are also no sufficient reasons for altering וארומים into וארומים (Keri); ארומיּם is merely a Syriac form for ארמּים with the dull Syriac u-sound, several examples of which form occur in this very chapter, - e.g., הקּומים for הקּמים 2 Kings 16:7, דּוּמשׂק for דּמּשׂק 2 Kings 16:10, and אילות for אילת 2 Kings 16:6, - whereas אדום, with additions, is only written plene twice in the ancient books, and that in the Chronicles, where the scriptio plena is generally preferred (2 Chronicles 25:14 and 2 Chronicles 28:17), but is always written defective (אדמים). Moreover the statement that "אדומים (Edomites, not the Edomites) came thither," etc., would be very inappropriate, since Edomites certainly lived in this Idumaean city in perfect security, even while it was under Judaean government. And there would be no sense in the expression "the Edomites dwelt there to this day," since the Edomites remained in their own land to the time of the captivity. All this is applicable to Aramaeans alone. As soon as Rezin had conquered this important seaport town, it was a very natural thing to establish an Aramaean colony there, which obtained possession of the trade of the town, and remained there till the time when the annals of the kings were composed (for it is to this that the expression הזּה עד־היּום refers), even after the kingdom of Rezin had long been destroyed by the Assyrians, since Elath and the Aramaeans settled there were not affected by that blow.

(Note: If we only observe that ארומים has not the article, and therefore the words merely indicate the march of an Aramaean colony to Elath, it is evident that אדומים would be unsuitable; for when the יהודים had been driven from the city which the Syrians had conquered, it was certainly not some Edomites but the Edomites who took possession again. Hence Winer, Caspari, and others are quite right in deciding that ארומים is the only correct reading.)

As soon as the Edomites had been released by Rezin from the control of Judah, to which they had been brought back by Amaziah and Uzziah (2 Kings 14:7, 2 Kings 14:22), they began plundering Judah again (2 Chronicles 28:17); and even the Philistines took possession of several cities in the lowland, to avenge themselves for the humiliation they had sustained at the hand of Uzziah (2 Chronicles 28:18).

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