Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: but he did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD, like David his father:2 Chronicles 28:1-4. He did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord —
Nay, he did a great deal that was wrong, very wrong, and that toward God, toward his own soul, and toward his people. He walked in the way of the revolted Israelites, and the devoted Canaanites; made molten images and worshipped them, contrary to the second commandment; nay, he made them for Baalim, contrary to the first. He forsook the temple of the Lord, and sacrificed, and burned incense on the hills, and under every green tree, in imitation of the neighbouring idolaters. And, to complete his wickedness, as one perfectly divested of all natural affection, as well as of all religion, and perfectly devoted to the service and interest of the great enemy of mankind, he burned his children in the fire to Moloch — Not thinking it enough to dedicate them to that infernal fiend, by causing them to pass through the fire. Such is the absolute sway which the prince of the power of the air sometimes exercises over the children of disobedience! But of his true character and complicated wickedness, see notes on 2 Kings 16:1-4; 2 Kings 16:10-18.
÷2Ch 28:1-27 A.M. 3263. — B.C. 741.
Ahaz reigns ill, 2 Chronicles 28:1-4. Is smitten by the Syrians and Israelites, 2 Chronicles 28:5-8; who send back the captives they had taken, 2 Chronicles 28:9-15. Ahaz sends for help to the king of Assyria, but in vain, 2 Chronicles 28:16-21. Yet he continues in idolatry, 2 Chronicles 28:22-25; and dies, 2 Chronicles 28:26, 2 Chronicles 28:27.
For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim.
Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.
He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.
Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter.2 Chronicles 28:5. Wherefore the Lord his God delivered him, &c. — Jehovah was his God, though not by special relation, which Ahaz had renounced, yet by his sovereign dominion over him: for God did not forfeit his right by Ahaz’s denying it. Into the hand of the king of Syria — Who insulted him, triumphed over him, beat him in the field, and carried away a great many of his people into captivity. He was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel — Who, though an idolater as well as Ahaz, was made a terrible scourge to him and his people, shedding their blood, wasting their country, and ruining their families. When they had a good king, and acted wickedly, his goodness in some sort sheltered them; but now they had a bad one, all their defence was departed from them, and an inundation of judgments broke in upon them. And they that knew not their happiness in the foregoing reign, were taught to value it by the miseries of this.
For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah an hundred and twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men; because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers.2 Chronicles 28:6. Pekah slew in Judah a hundred and twenty thousand in one day — Never was such bloody work made among them before, since they were a nation, and that by Israelites too! The kingdom of Israel was not strong at this time, and yet strong enough, it appears, to bring this great destruction upon Judah. But certainly so many men, valiant men, could not have been cut off in one day, if they had not been strangely dispirited, both by the consciousness of their own guilt, and the righteous hand of God upon them. Because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers — Ahaz walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and God chose the kings of Israel for his scourge: it is just with God, to make them a plague to us, whom we have made our patterns, or partners in sin.
And Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, slew Maaseiah the king's son, and Azrikam the governor of the house, and Elkanah that was next to the king.
And the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand, women, sons, and daughters, and took also away much spoil from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria.2 Chronicles 28:8. The children of Israel carried away captive two hundred thousand, women, &c. — When the army in the field was routed, the cities, and towns, and country villages were all easily stripped, the inhabitants taken for slaves, and their wealth for a prey.
But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded: and he went out before the host that came to Samaria, and said unto them, Behold, because the LORD God of your fathers was wroth with Judah, he hath delivered them into your hand, and ye have slain them in a rage that reacheth up unto heaven.2 Chronicles 28:9. A prophet of the Lord was there — By this it appears God continued his prophets among the Israelites, idolatrous as they were, that he might bring them to repentance, if they would hearken to their admonitions. This prophet meets the victorious army of Israel, not to applaud their valour or congratulate their victory; though they returned laden with spoils and triumphs; but in God’s name to tell them of their faults, and warn them of the judgments of God. And said unto them, Behold, because the Lord was wroth with Judah — He exhorts them not to be lifted up with their victory; which he assures them was not to be ascribed so much to their own valour, as to the anger of God against Judah, to chastise whom, he had used them as the rod of his indignation. And ye have slain them in a rage that reacheth up to heaven — An unbounded rage, which cries to God for vengeance against such bloody men.
And now ye purpose to keep under the children of Judah and Jerusalem for bondmen and bondwomen unto you: but are there not with you, even with you, sins against the LORD your God?2 Chronicles 28:10. Ye purpose to keep the children of Judah for bond-men and bond-women — To use them, or sell them as slaves, though they are your brethren, and free-born Israelites. God takes notice of what men purpose, as well as of what they say and do. But are there not with you, even with you, sins against the Lord your God? — Which, if not repented of, may bring down the divine vengeance upon your own heads. He appeals to their own consciences, and to the notorious evidence of the fact. As if he had said, It ill becomes sinners to be cruel. Show mercy to them, for you are undone if God do not show mercy to you.
Now hear me therefore, and deliver the captives again, which ye have taken captive of your brethren: for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you.
Then certain of the heads of the children of Ephraim, Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, and Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against them that came from the war,
And said unto them, Ye shall not bring in the captives hither: for whereas we have offended against the LORD already, ye intend to add more to our sins and to our trespass: for our trespass is great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel.
So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the congregation.2 Chronicles 28:14. So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes, &c. — To be disposed of as they pleased. And herein they showed a more truly heroic bravery than they did by taking them. For it is true honour to yield to reason and religion, even in spite of interest. It was a wonderful instance of deference and obedience, which these armed men manifested toward their princes on this occasion, in restoring not only the captives, which were very valuable, but all the spoil also, which no doubt was considerable. What might not these great men have done to bring them to repentance for their idolatries, and to effect a reformation among them, if they had been themselves truly religious, and had exerted their authority among them for these purposes.
And the men which were expressed by name rose up, and took the captives, and with the spoil clothed all that were naked among them, and arrayed them, and shod them, and gave them to eat and to drink, and anointed them, and carried all the feeble of them upon asses, and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm trees, to their brethren: then they returned to Samaria.2 Chronicles 28:15. The men expressed by name — Nominated and appointed by the heads of the people, to take care of the captives, and see them well treated, which they did even to a very high degree of humanity.
At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him.2 Chronicles 28:16-19. Did Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him — That is, the king, namely, Tiglath-pileser, (2 Kings 16:7,) the plural number being put for the singular, either because he was a great king, a king of kings, or because Ahaz sent to divers of his princes also, who may be called kings in a more general signification of the word. Ahaz found his own kingdom weakened and made naked, and he could not put any confidence in God, and therefore was at a vast expense to procure an interest in the king of Assyria, 2 Chronicles 28:18-19. The cities of the low country — That part of Judah which was toward the sea, and toward the Philistines’ land. For the Lord brought Judah low — As high as they were before in wealth and power. They that will not humble themselves under the word of God will be humbled by his judgments. For he made Judah naked — Taking away their ornament, and their defence and strength, namely, their treasures, which Ahaz sent to the Assyrian to no purpose; their frontier towns, and other strong holds, which by his folly and wickedness were lost; their religion, and the divine protection, which was their great and only security, which by his sins he forfeited. And transgressed sore against the Lord — The Targum renders it, The house of Judah ceased from the worship of God, which Ahaz in a manner wholly abolished, and thereby transgressed more grievously than any or all of his predecessors.
For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives.
The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the low country, and of the south of Judah, and had taken Bethshemesh, and Ajalon, and Gederoth, and Shocho with the villages thereof, and Timnah with the villages thereof, Gimzo also and the villages thereof: and they dwelt there.
For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the LORD.
And Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not.2 Chronicles 28:20-21. Tilgath-pilneser came and distressed him — By quartering the Assyrian soldiers upon his country, by growing insolent and imperious, and creating him a great deal of vexation, and by proving as a broken reed, which not only fails him that leans upon it, but pierces his hand. Or, straitened him, (as יצר, jatsar, rather signifies,) namely, by robbing him of his treasures. For Ahaz took away a portion, &c. — He pillaged the house of God, and the king’s house, and pressed the princes for money to hire these foreign forces into his service. For though he had conformed to the idolatry of these his heathen neighbours, they did not value or love him the more for that; nor did his compliance, by which he lost God, gain them; nor could he make any interest with them but by his money. Thus it is generally found that wicked men have no real affection for those that revolt to them, nor care to do them a kindness. But he strengthened him not — A most emphatical expression: for though he weakened his present enemy, the Syrian, as is related 2 Kings 16:9, taking Damascus, and carrying the people away captive; yet really, all things considered, he did not strengthen Ahaz and his kingdom. He did not help him to recover the cities which the Philistines had taken from him; nor did he lend him any forces, or enable him to recruit his own. On the contrary, he weakened him; for by removing the Syrian, who, though a troublesome neighbour, was a kind of bulwark to him, and by destroying Samaria, he opened a way for the invasion of his country with more facility, as happened in the very next reign.
For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of the LORD, and out of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria: but he helped him not.
And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the LORD: this is that king Ahaz.2 Chronicles 28:22. This is that King Ahaz — That monster and reproach of mankind, that unteachable and incorrigible prince, whom even grievous afflictions made worse, which commonly make men better. This is he whose name deserves to be remembered and detested for ever.
For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel.2 Chronicles 28:23. He sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus that smote him — Or, which had smitten him formerly; that is, had enabled their worshippers, the Syrians, as he foolishly imagined, to smite him. He sacrificed to them, therefore, not because he loved them, but because he feared them, thinking they had helped his enemies, and hoping, if he could bring them over to his interest, they would help him. “O blind superstition!” exclaims Bishop Hall, “how did the gods of Syria help their kings, when both those kings, and their gods, were vanquished and taken by the king of Assyria? Even this Damascus, and this altar, were the spoil of a foreign enemy: how then did the gods of Syria help their kings, any otherwise than to their ruin? What dotage is this, to make choice of a foiled protection! But, had the Syrians prospered, must their gods have the thanks? Are there no authors of good but blocks or devils? or is an outward prosperity the only argument of truth, the only motive of devotion? O foolish Ahaz! It is the God thou hast forsaken that punishes thee, under whose only arm thou mightest have prevailed. His power beats those pagan stocks one against another, so as one while one seems victorious, another vanquished; and at last he confounds both together, with their proudest clients, of which thyself art certainly the most striking instance.” Alas! Ahaz did not see that it was Jehovah that smote him, and strengthened the Syrians against him, and not the gods of Damascus. Had he sacrificed to him, and him only, and worshipped and served him aright, he would have been helped effectually. No marvel that men’s affections and devotions are misplaced, when they mistake the author of their trouble and their help. And what was the consequence? The gods of Syria befriended Ahaz no more than the kings of Assyria did: but were the ruin of him and of all Israel. This sin, among others, provoked God to bring judgments upon them; to cut him off in the midst of his days, when he was but thirty-six years of age; and it corrupted the people so that the reformation of the next reign could not prevail to cure them of their inclination to idolatry, but they retained that root of bitterness till the captivity in Babylon eradicated it.
And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem.
And in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the LORD God of his fathers.
Now the rest of his acts and of all his ways, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel.
And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, even in Jerusalem: but they brought him not into the sepulchres of the kings of Israel: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.