Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
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:Ch. 2 Chronicles 28:1-4 (= 2 Kings 16:1-4). Ahaz succeeds and practises Idolatry
1. Ahaz] The full form of the name is Jehoahaz, the “Ja-u-ḥa-zi” of an inscription of Tiglath-pileser III.
twenty years old] As he died sixteen years later leaving a son of twenty-five (2 Chronicles 29:1), the reading of Pesh. “twenty-five years old” is more suitable and may be right, but the coincidence would be strange if three kings in succession ascended the throne at twenty-five years of age (cp. 2 Chronicles 27:1 and 2 Chronicles 29:1).
he did not that which was right] It is not said of Ahaz as of Manasseh, “he did that which was evil” (2 Chronicles 33:2).
For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim.2. for Baalim] R.V. for the 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.3. the valley of the son of Hinnom] This name was of harmless signification at first (Jeremiah 7:31-32), but its Heb. form Gê-hinnôm was afterwards corrupted into “Gehenna” (Matthew 5:22, R.V. mg.) and it gained an evil reputation from its connexion with the worship of Molech. It was S. and S.W. of Jerusalem.
burnt … in the fire] In Kings “made … to pass through, the fire.” The latter phrase lends support to the theory that at least in later times children were “passed through the fire” in order to signify their dedication to Molech, yet in such a way as to escape permanent injury. It is probable however that the original significance of the custom is preserved in the phrase used by the Chronicler, and that children offered to Molech were really burnt. Of course such a sacrifice would be resorted to only in extremities; cp. 2 Kings 3:27.
his children] In Kings, “his son” (sing.), a better reading. It is possible that the sacrifice was intended to avert the danger threatened by the Syro-Ephraimite alliance.
after] R.V. according to (cp. 2 Chronicles 34:21).
He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.4. He sacrificed also] R.V. And he sacrificed.
under every green tree] The Heb. word here used for “green” (ra‘anân) means rather “flourishing,” the reference being not so much to colour as to condition and size. Large fine trees (which are rarer In the East than in the West) are important landmarks; cp. 1 Chronicles 10:12; Genesis 12:6; Genesis 35:4. In different ways such trees acquired a sacred or semi-sacred character (Genesis 18:1; Genesis 21:33; Jdg 6:11); in some cases because they were associated with theophanies, in others perhaps because the flourishing state of the tree was regarded as the sign of the presence of some local deity.
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.5. smote him] From 2 Kin. it appears that the Syrian king, (1) helped to shut up Ahaz in Jerusalem, (2) seized the port of Elath (Eloth) on the Red Sea which had belonged to Judah. Some of the “captives” taken to Damascus were no doubt brought from Elath.
carried away a great multitude of them captives] R.V. carried away of his a great multitude of captives.
5–7 (cp. 2 Kings 16:5-9; Isaiah 7:1-9). The Syro-Ephraimite War
The Chronicler describes the war from a different point of view from that taken in 2 Kin. In the latter the failure of the allies to take Jerusalem is the chief feature in the account, while in Chron. the damage and loss inflicted on Judah takes the first place. Thus far the two accounts supplement each other.
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.6. an hundred and twenty thousand] i.e. more than a third of the host as reckoned in 2 Chronicles 26:13.
which were all] R.V. all of them.
the Lord God] R.V. the LORD, the God. “The LORD” stands here for the proper name “Jehovah”; cp. 2 Chronicles 21:10, 2 Chronicles 24:18; 2 Chronicles 24:24.
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.7. the governor of the house] R.V. the ruler (nâgîd, Heb.) of the house. Probably the head of the king’s household is meant, his “chancellor”; but cp. Nehemiah 11:11, “the ruler (nâgîd) of the house of God.”
next to the king] Cp. 1 Samuel 23:17.
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.8–15 (not in Kings; but cp. 2 Kings 6:21-23, a similar incident). Israel sends back the Jewish Captives
8. of their brethren] Cp. 2 Chronicles 11:4, “ye shall not … fight against your brethren.”
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.9. a prophet of the Lord was there] Nothing further is known of Oded, but this may have been the only occasion on which be appeared as a prophet.
he went out before] R.V. he went out to meet.
that reacheth up] R.V. which hath reached up. Cp. Genesis 4:10.
heaven] There is a tendency in some later books of the Bible to write “heaven” for “God”; cp. 2 Chronicles 32:20, “prayed and cried to heaven.” From a similar feeling of reverence the Chronicler is sparing in his use of the name “Jehovah”; cp. 2 Chronicles 17:4 (note).
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?10. keep under] In Nehemiah 5:5, the same Heb. word is translated, “bring into bondage”; cp. Ryle’s note on Hebrew slavery in loco. One Hebrew might hold another Hebrew as a slave for a limited period, but in the present passage the case is of one part of the people taking advantage of the fortune of war to reduce to slavery thousands of their fellow-countrymen.
with you, even with you, sins] R.V. even with you trespasses (“guiltinesses” Heb., cp. 2 Chronicles 24:18) of your own.
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.11. deliver the captives again] R.V. send back the captives.
the fierce wrath of the Lord is upon you] Cp. Zechariah 1:15.
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.13. for whereas we have offended against the Lord already, ye intend to add more to our sins] R.V. for ye purpose that which will bring upon us a trespass (mg. “guilt”) against the LORD, to add unto our sins.
trespass] R.V. mg. “guilt.”
So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the congregation.
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.15. were expressed] R.V. have been expressed. The phrase is characteristic of the Chronicler; cp. 2 Chronicles 31:19; 1 Chronicles 12:31; 1 Chronicles 16:41; Ezra 8:20.
took the captives] Render, took hold of the captives; i.e. succoured them; cp. Hebrews 2:16 (ἐπιλαμβάνεται = “he taketh hold of”).
to eat and to drink] Cp. 2 Kings 6:23.
anointed them] Part of the host’s duty; cp. Luke 7:44-46.
to Jericho] Jericho perhaps belonged to the northern kingdom; cp. 1 Kings 16:34; 2 Kings 2:4. A road led to it from Mount Ephraim past ‘Ain ed-Duk, G. A. Smith, Hist. Geography, pp. 266 ff.
the city of palm trees] Cp. Deuteronomy 34:3. The phrase is an alternative name of Jericho; cp. Jdg 1:16; Jdg 3:13. Date palms were common in Jericho down to the seventh century of the Christian Era. Bädeker, p. 164.
to their brethren] Lit. “to the side of their brethren.” Jericho probably belonged to the northern kingdom; see above.
At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him.16. the kings] LXX. “king” (sing.). This monarch was Tiglath-pileser III.; cp. 2 Kings 16:7.
16–21 (= 2 Kings 16:7-9). Ahaz invokes Assyrian aid
There is a variation here between Chron. and Kings. According to the former (2 Chronicles 28:21) Ahaz gained nothing by his tribute to the king of Assyria; according to Kings the Assyrian accepted the offering and marched against Syria, capturing Damascus and slaying Rezin.
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.18. had invaded] Rather, raided.
the low country] R.V. the lowland (Heb. Shephçlâh). Cp. 2 Chronicles 1:15 (note).
Beth-shemesh] Cp. 1 Chronicles 6:59 [44, Heb.], note.
Ajalon] R.V. Aijalon; cp. 2 Chronicles 11:10.
Gederoth] Joshua 15:41. Shocho] R.V. Soco; cp. 2 Chronicles 11:7.
Timnah] Joshua 15:10; Jdg 14:1 ff.
Gimzo] The modern Jimzu S.E. of Lydda, Bädeker, p. 18. The place is not mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament.
For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the LORD.19. king of Israel] Cp. 2 Chronicles 11:3 (note).
he made Judah naked] R.V. he had dealt wantonly in Judah (mg. “cast away restraint”). Cp. Exodus 32:25 (A.V. and R.V.) where the same Heb. verb is twice used.
And Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not.20. Tilgath-pilneser] i.e. Tiglath-pileser III. Cp. 1 Chronicles 5:6 (note).
came … him not] Some error in the text is probable here. The Hebrew cannot be rendered as in the A.V., but no satisfactory emendation has been proposed.
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.21. took away a portion out of the house of the Lord, and out of the house] Render, plundered the house of the LORD and the house, etc.
but he helped] R.V. but it helped.
And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the LORD: this is that king Ahaz.22–25 (cp. 2 Kings 16:10-18). Apostasy of Ahaz
22. did he trespass … against the LORD: this is that king Ahaz] R.V. did he trespass … against the LORD, this same king Ahaz. For the phrase “this same” cp. 2 Chronicles 32:30; 2 Chronicles 33:23 (R.V.).
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.23. the gods of Damascus] In 2 Kin. the statement is that Ahaz made a copy of an altar which he saw at Damascus and sacrificed upon it. The altar at Damascus was probably the one used by Tiglath-pileser and therefore an Assyrian rather than a Damascene altar. The use of such an altar was an act of apostasy from Jehovah for a foreign altar implied a foreign god; cp. 2 Kings 5:17.
the gods of the kings of Syria help them] At this time the Syrians of Damascus had been conquered by the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 16:9), so that the statement needs to be corrected by reading “kings of Assyria (Asshur)” for “kings of Syria (Aram).’ The confusion is due to some writer or scribe, who lived at a time when one Empire extended from Babylon to the Mediterranean and included both Syria and Assyria. Such was the case under the Persians and under the successors of Alexander down to the time of the Maccabees. The Romans similarly failed at first to distinguish the ancient empire east of the Euphrates, i.e. Assyria (= Asshur) from the peoples west of the Euphrates, the Aramaeans, whom they mistakenly called “Syrians” (a shortened form of “Assyrians”), whose chief cities were Antioch, Hamath, and Damascus. This use of “Syrian” has passed over into English, but the more accurate designation is “Aramaean”; cp. Genesis 28:5 (R.V.).
help them] The R.V. “helped them” is wrong.
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.24. cut in pieces the vessels] Presumably in order to smelt them and put the metal to other uses; cp. 2 Kings 24:13. According to 2 Kings 16:17 Ahaz merely “cut off the borders (‘panels’ R.V. mg.) of the bases and removed the laver from off them, and took down the sea from off the brasen oxen that were under it, and put it upon a pavement of stone.” In Chron. something more than this is suggested, for “the vessels” would naturally mean such vessels as are mentioned in 2 Kings 24:13.
shut up the doors] The Chronicler perhaps misunderstands the difficult passage 2 Kings 16:18 (vide A.V. and R.V.). That passage speaks of an alteration carried out by Ahaz on one of the entrances to the Temple, but says nothing of a complete closing of the Temple; indeed it may be gathered from 2 Kings 16:14-16 that the daily service went on with one great change, viz. that the king’s new altar was used instead of the brazen altar.
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.25. in every several city] Cp. Jeremiah 2:28.
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.26, 27 (= 2 Kings 16:19-20). The End of Ahaz
27. they brought him not into the sepulchres of the kings of Israel] According to 2 Kin. Ahaz “was buried with his fathers.” It is not clear what distinction the Chronicler wishes to draw here, but cp. 2 Chronicles 16:14; 2 Chronicles 21:20; 2 Chronicles 24:25; 2 Chronicles 26:23. A wicked king is buried as a king “with his fathers,” yet as a wicked man he sleeps in some separate place of his own.