Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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:
2Ch 28:1-21. Ahaz, Reigning Wickedly, Is Afflicted by the Syrians.
1-4. Ahaz was twenty years old—(See on 2Ki 16:1-4). This prince, discarding the principles and example of his excellent father, early betrayed a strong bias to idolatry. He ruled with an arbitrary and absolute authority, and not as a theocratic sovereign: he not only forsook the temple of God, but embraced first the symbolic worship established in the sister kingdom, and afterwards the gross idolatry practised by the Canaanites.
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.
5-7. the Lord … delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria … he was also delivered into the hand of the King of Israel—These verses, without alluding to the formation of a confederacy between the Syrian and Israelitish kings to invade the kingdom of Judah, or relating the commencement of the war in the close of Jotham's reign (2Ki 15:37), give the issue only of some battles that were fought in the early part of the campaign.
delivered him … smote him … he was also delivered—that is, his army, for Ahaz was not personally included in the number either of the slain or the captives. The slaughter of one hundred twenty thousand in one day was a terrible calamity, which, it is (2Ch 28:6) expressly said, was inflicted as a judgment on Judah, "because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers." Among the slain were some persons of distinction:
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.
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. Maaseiah the king's son—the sons of Ahaz being too young to take part in a battle, this individual must have been a younger son of the late King Jotham;
Azrikam the governor of the house—that is, "the palace"; and
Elkanah that was next to the king—that is, the vizier or prime minister (Ge 41:40; Es 10:3). These were all cut down on the field by Zichri, an Israelitish warrior, or as some think, ordered to be put to death after the battle. A vast number of captives also fell into the power of the conquerors; and an equal division of war prisoners being made between the allies, they were sent off under a military escort to the respective capitals of Syria and Israel [2Ch 28:8].
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.
8-14. the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand—These captives included a great number of women, boys, and girls, a circumstance which creates a presumption that the Hebrews, like other Orientals, were accompanied in the war by multitudes of non-combatants (see on Jud 4:8). The report of these "brethren," being brought as captives to Samaria, excited general indignation among the better-disposed inhabitants; and Oded, a prophet, accompanied by the princes (2Ch 28:12 compared with 2Ch 28:14), went out, as the escort was approaching, to prevent the disgraceful outrage of introducing such prisoners into the city. The officers of the squadron were, of course, not to blame; they were simply doing their military duty in conducting those prisoners of war to their destination. But Oded clearly showed that the Israelitish army had gained the victory—not by the superiority of their arms, but in consequence of the divine judgment against Judah. He forcibly exposed the enormity of the offense of keeping "their brethren" as slaves got in war. He protested earnestly against adding this great offense of unnatural and sinful cruelty (Le 25:43, 44; Mic 2:8, 9) to the already overwhelming amount of their own national sins. Such was the effect of his spirited remonstrance and the opposing tide of popular feeling, that "the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the congregation."
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.
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?
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.
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. the men which were expressed by name rose up—These were either the "heads of the children of Ephraim" (mentioned 2Ch 28:12), or some other leading individuals chosen for the benevolent office. Under their kindly superintendence, the prisoners were not only released, but out of the spoils were comfortably relieved with food and clothing, and conveyed as far as Jericho on their way back to their own homes. This is a beautiful incident, and full of interest, as showing that even at this period of national decline, there were not a few who steadfastly adhered to the law of God.
At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him.
16. At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria—"kings," the plural for the singular, which is found in many ancient versions. "At that time," refers to the period of Ahaz' great distress, when, after a succession of defeats, he retreated within the walls of Jerusalem. Either in the same or a subsequent campaign, the Syrian and Israelitish allies marched there to besiege him (see on 2Ki 16:7). Though delivered from this danger, other enemies infested his dominions both on the south and the west.
For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives.
17. again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah—This invasion must have been after Rezin (at the beginning of the recent Syro-Israelitish war), had released that people from the yoke of Judah (2Ch 15:11; compare 2Ki 16:6).
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. Gederoth—on the Philistine frontier (Jos 15:41).
Shocho—or Socoh (Jos 15:35), now Shuweikeh, a town in the Valley of Judah (see on 1Sa 17:1).
Gimzo—now Jimza, a little east of Ludd (Lydda) [Robinson]. All these disasters, by which the "Lord brought Judah low," were because of Ahaz, king of Israel (Judah), see 2Ch 21:2; 24:16; 28:27, who made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the Lord.
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.
20. Tilgath-pilneser … distressed him, but strengthened him not—that is, notwithstanding the temporary relief which Tilgath-pilneser afforded him by the conquest of Damascus and the slaughter of Rezin (2Ki 16:9), little advantage resulted from it, for Tilgath-pilneser spent the winter in voluptuous revelry at Damascus; and the connection formed with the Assyrian king was eventually a source of new and greater calamities and humiliation to the kingdom of Judah (2Ch 28:2, 3).
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.
2Ch 28:22-27. His Idolatry in His Distress.
22. in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the Lord—This infatuated king surrendered himself to the influence of idolatry and exerted his royal authority to extend it, with the intensity of a passion—with the ignorance and servile fear of a heathen (2Ch 28:23) and a ruthless defiance of God (see on 2Ki 16:10-20).
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.
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.