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:
Verse 1. - Ahaz. The signification of this word is "graspng." Isaiah (Isaiah 7:1; 38:8), Hosea, and Micah were contemporaries of Ahaz, whoso reign may be set down at B.C. 744-728. His name shows in the Assyrian tablets, Jahukhazi, or Jehoahaz.
For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim.
Verse 2. - Molten images; Hebrew, מַסֵּכות. This was a characteristic sin of Israel, but Judah had not been guilty of making molten images during late reigns.
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.
Verse 3. - Burnt incense... Hinnom. The sin of Solomon (1 Kings 11:7, 8) is reproduced. For the valley of the son of Hinnom, which curved round the south-west and west of Jerusalem (Ge Ben-Hinnom), see Conder's 'Handbook,' ch. 7. pp. 330-332. Burnt his children (see Leviticus 18:21); but there cannot be any doubt that Ahaz's practice here stated was an incident of the Moloch-superstition and horrible cruelty (see the parallel in its vers. 3, 4).
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.
Verse 5. - The King of Syria. The name of this king (Rezin) does not appear in this chapter, but it does in the parallel, vers. 5,6, 9. They smote him. A previous unsuccessful attempt of Rezin and Pekah is apparently passed over in our chapter (2 Kings 16:5), while the contents of our present yeas must be understood to have its place just before the last clause of ver. 5 in the parallel, and to be significantly confirmed by the contents of its following verse. They smote... carried away... brought. These plurals strongly indicate the dialocation of sentences in compiled matter. They probably came from original sources, where the conjoined names of Rezin and Pekah had been the antecedents (see on this history, Isaiah 7, 8, 9.). Brought them to Damascus. The mode of the first introduction of the name of Ahaz in connection with Damascus in the parallel (ver. 10) is a suggestive illustration of how these parallel but very various narratives proffer to piece themselves, and in a wonderful manner clear their, whole subject of any possible taint of the "cunningly devised fable." A great multitude of Judah's people had been carried captives and "brought to Damascus." When the King of Assyria (parallel, ver. 9) came to the help of Ahaz, he struck a fierce and evidently decisive blow against Damascus and Rezin, and to Damascus," to meat" Assyria's king, Tiglath-Pileser, the very next verso tells us, Ahaz. went - little doubt to pay his bills, over which a decent veil of silence is thrown. He was also delivered into the hand, etc. The form of this sentence, with its "also," and with its evidently tacked-on appearance, coupled with the conjunction "for" with which the following verso is dragged in, seems to give great probability to the idea, first, that the latter half of ver. 5 and all of ver. 6 find their real place before (say) the word "Damascus;" and secondly, that they are strictly and conterminously paralleled by the former part of ver. 5 parallel.
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.
Verse 6. - (See foregoing note.) An hundred and twenty thousand. The number is large, but, the uncertainty of very many of these figures notwithstanding, it is impossible absolutely to pronounce it incredible. Because they had forsaken. The now frequent refrain of the writer.
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.
Verse 7. - The king's son. This can scarcely mean the child of Ahaz, considering Ahaz's age; some think a brother of the present king, son of Jotham, may be intended. We have also to fall back upon the use of the phrase, "king's son," for some special official of the king or court (see note on 2 Chronicles 18:25; and its parallel, 1 Kings 22:26). The governor of the house; Revised Version, ruler. We have probably a sufficient clue to this designation in 1 Kings 4:6; and the designation itself, 2 Chronicles 18:3; 2 Kings 18:18; 2 Chronicles 19:11. Next to the king; Hebrew, מִשְׁנֵה הַמֶּלֶך; literally, therefore, the next of the king, the general meaning of which expression cannot be doubtful (comp. 1 Chronicles 16:5; Esther 10:3; Nehemiah 11:9), but the exacter scope and functions of the person under the kings of the divided kingdom thus designated is less certain. It is naturally to be supposed his place may have been king's deputy in councils in his absence, or in and over the city itself, when he was at a distance with an army.
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.
Verse 8. - To Samaria. While the Syrian king carried his captives to Damascus (ver. 5), the Israel king carried his to Samaria. The numbers in this verse, with the added hundred and twenty thousand whom Pekah slew (ver. 6), may be compared with the military strength of the kingdom in Uzziah's time, as given in 2 Chronicles 26:13.
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.
Verse 9. - The very interesting contents of this and the following six verses are not found in the parallel. A prophet of the Lord... Oded. We do not know any particulars of this prophet; for his name and its possible identity with the name Iddo, see notes on 2 Chronicles 9:29; 15:1, 8. The growingly frequent references to the interposition of the prophets is much to be noticed, and their dignity, courage, fidelity, are brought into grand relief. They are very typical of the moral presence of which no national history, a.s centuries solemnly flow on, gives the slightest symptom of a slackening need. The very same may be said alike of the truth and those qualified and commissioned to bear it, of the message and the messenger. Before the host; i.e. in very face of the host, somewhat too mildly rendered "to meet" the host, in 2 Chronicles 15:2, etc. In a rage that reacheth up unto heaven. To the wonderful life of this figure, that must strike every reader, must be added the force that comes of its moral rather than merely material suggestion - a moral suggestion that reminds us of that of the sentence of far greater antiquity, and from the sacred lip of the Inspirer of all prophets, "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." The rage had not been that on which the sun did not go down; it had been so fierce that upon it the sun ought never to have been required to look. See for interesting particulars and then more general references, Jeremiah 51:9; Ezra 9:6; Psalm 38:4; Genesis 18:21; Genesis 28:12; Job 20:6. The expression of the text, however, "reach-eth," or "toucheth," cannot be understood to reproduce as a perfect equivalent the older above-quoted one of "crieth." In other words, the magnitude of the rage is the first thing set forth, and the particular language in which it is set forth well postulates the inference of its abominableness in God's sight.
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?
Verse 10. - For bondmen and bondwomen unto you. The denunciation of Deuteronomy 28:68 may be instructively compared with the emphatic prohibition of Leviticus 25:46. The moral thread of ordinance that runs everywhere through the divinely established economy of the Old Testament Judaism should be devoutly observed. The verse, in the position of its words, furnishes an example of almost classical pattern: And now persons who are children of Judah and Jerusalem, ye are resolving within yourselves (literally, saying) to subdue into bondmen and bondwomen for yourselves.
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.
Verse 11. - The fierce wrath; i.e. not unannounced, for Oded means to say, "You are doing contrary to the Law and the Prophet Moses," as just quoted.
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,
Verse 12. - Oded's appeal, and forcible but most temperate and pertinent argument of the previous verses, was addressed to those who led the returning army, flushed with victory and haughty with their captives led in triumph, and, as ver. 15 shows, cruelly, and with every deprivation of clothes and of shoes, etc. It now, however, fortunately meets with most welcome practical support from those (certain of the heads of the children of Ephraim) who had not had a hand in what had been done, and now stood by, in some measure like umpires. They, at any rate, are convinced, partly perhaps in that their blood was not hot with the battles that had been. We do not know particulars of these four worthier men, whose names, with their fathers', are here "expressed" (ver. 15). They were evidently conscious of their past sins, had fear toward God, were not of those who, sinning, hastened to sin yet more; but they wished to flee from the wrath to come, the "fierce wrath," already impending. Ephraim (see note on 2 Chronicles 25:7).
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.
Verse 13. - Hither. The returning army was, no doubt, on the outskirts of Samaria, though the exact site of this interesting scene is not written. For whereas we have offended against the Lord; Hebrew; לְאַשְׁמַת יְהוָהו עָלֵינוּ. Translate, For to the just cause of offence on the part of Jehovah with us, ye propose to add to our sins, and to the offence existing already with us; for great is that offence, etc. The genius of the word here rendered" offence," seems, from careful comparison of the eighteen times of its occurrence, to point to "guilt, sin," or "trespass," as the causes awakening offence in any one against these who do them. The repentant temper of these "heads of the children of Ephraim" was admirable, and indicated their distance from many, many others of their people and day, and Of Judah, who were either callous or reckless.
So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the congregation.
Verse 14. - Before the princes and all the congregation; i.e. the four and those who were now congregated round them.
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.
Verse 15. - The men which were expressed by name; Revised Version, which have been expressed by name. This is the probable, yet hardly certain, meaning of the clause. My name should be "by names." And the meaning may be that "the men who were now specified by names for the work rose up," etc. Under any aspect, it was likely enough these would embrace the four who had already spoken so piously and seasonably (2 Chronicles 31:19; 1 Chronicles 12:31; 1 Chronicles 16:41). The captives; Hebrew, שִׁבְיָה; literally, the captivity; i.e. of course, the body of captives (Deuteronomy 21:11; Deuteronomy 32:42). Clothed... arrayed. These two renderings are both the same verb (לָבַשׁ), and even the same (hiph.) conjugation. The undisguised, apparent repetition in the Hebrew text, veiled and disguised in both the Authorized and Revised Versions, may perhaps be owing to the intentness of the narrative on saying, first, that all who were literally naked were clothed from their own captive spoil; and then, secondly, that all whosoever (dusty, dirty, tired, footsore) were clothed, in the sense of being fresh dressed. The eleven particulars of this verso are uncommonly graphic in the Hebrew text brevity of description. The verse may read thus: And the men appointed by their names rose up, and took the captives by the hand, and all of the naked of them they dressed from the very spoil, and dressed them (all), and shod them, and fed them, and gave them drink, and anointed them, and carried upon asses all the feeble ones, and brought them to Jericho, city of palms, to the very side of their brethren, and... returned to Samaria. These made their own so far the blessedness of them of Matthew 25:34-36. Jericho; i.e. well within their own land, to a fertile and shaded spot of it, with plenty of water, and whence probably all might most easily wend their ways to their own district and town, Jericho lay on the border of Benjamin. See Stanley's most interesting account ('Sinai and Palestine,' p. 805).
At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him.
Verse 16. - At that time did King Ahaz... kings of Assyria. The vagueness of this common formula, "at that time," would doubtless not have been apparent in the original sources. In the present instance we may fall back on our vers. 5, 6 to give it distinctness; but see vers. 5, 6, 7 of the parallel, which involve their own formula and the present in some little uncertainty. The kings of Assyria. The Septuagint and other versions show the singular number. Our plural may perhaps find an explanation in 2 Chronicles 30:6; 2 Chronicles 32:4.
For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives.
Verse 17. - The Edomites. So the work of Amaziah (2 Chronicles 25:11, 14; 2 Kings 14:7) in reducing Edom was again undone (see also 2 Kings 16:7, where "Edom" should be read for "Aram").
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.
Verse 18. - The Philistines. These also had been subjugated again and again, and of late by Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6, 7), work that was now undone. The exultant relief to the Philistines, short-lived though it was, is referred to elsewhere, as in the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 14:29, 81), the Psalms (Palm 60:8). Beth-shemesh. On the border of Judah (2 Chronicles 25:23, and our note there; 1 Chronicles 6:44). Ajalon, This was also on the border (1 Chronicles 6:54; 2 Chronicles 11:10). Gederoth. This was in the Shefelah (Joshua 15:41). Shocho; or, Socho, one of Rehoboam's cities, near the Philistines, and therefore selected for fortification (2 Chronicles 11:7). Timnah. This bordered on Dan (Joshua 15:10). Gimzo. Not elsewhere mentioned, but well known in the modern village Jimzu, its site on what would have been the border of Dan. They dwelt there. This expression is, of course, designed to indicate that the Philistines obtained successfully some foothold.
For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the LORD.
Verse 19. - Ahaz King of Israel. So Jehoshaphat was called in 2 Chronicles 21:2 "King of Israel." If these two occasions are not merely cases of the writer's or of a copyist's easily imaginable mistake, they must be regarded as naming the king of the chief divided kingdom by the title of the whole kingdom or people. He made Judah naked; Revised Version, had dealt wantonly in Judah; or margin, Revised Version, had cast away restraint in Judah; Hebrew, הִפְרִיַע.
And Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not.
Verse 20. - Tilgath-Pilneser (see 1 Chronicles 5:6, 26; 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 16:10, our parallel. See our notes in full on 1 Chronicles 5:6, 26). Gesenius dates his reign as King of Assyria as B.C. 753-734; others as about B.C. 747-728. Distressed him, but strengthened him not. This is in our writer's usual deeper moral and religious vein, and was no doubt most true. For all Ahaz paid and bribed out of the sacrilegiously employed treasure of the temple, out of the depreciating and partial dismantling of "the house of the king," and out of the begged contributions or taxes extortionately wrung "of the princes" (see the succinct account of next verse, and compare the parallel in its vers. 8, 18), he bought a master for himself, servitude, tributariness, and the humiliation of disgrace itself. The temporary relief he obtained (and which the writer of Chronicles in no way means to deny) from one enemy rivetted round his neck the yoke of another and greater. And worse than this, he secured in his own heart the greatest adversary of all - a restless, implacable foe, which ever goaded him on to worse folly and deeper sin.
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.
Verse 21. - Add to references of last verse 2 Chronicles 16:2; 2 Kings 12:18; 2 Kings 18:15. But he helped him not. See the parallel in its ver. 9 (2 Kings 16.), and note on our foregoing verse.
And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the LORD: this is that king Ahaz.
Verse 22. - This is that King Ahaz. Expunge the words in italic type. Revised Version, this same King Ahaz. But the most literal rendering will be the most forcible: He, the King Ahaz.
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.
Verse 23. - He sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him. The writer must be understood to speak from the point of view of Ahaz, in putting it, that it was the gods of Damascus who smote." The formula, all Israel, is a clear instance of how the name "Israel" is used as "Judah." The gods of Damascus were, of course, the same with those of Syria, of which Damascus was capital. Their names were Rimmon, Tabrim-men, Hadad, and some others. Perhaps no verse in Chronicles is more typical of the special moral aspects and aims of the writer.
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.
Verse 24. - This verse (completed, indeed, by the verse following) heightens to its climax the description of the guilt of Ahaz, which grew to madness. Vers. 17, 18 of the parallel enlarge our view of what Ahaz did in the way of destruction, relating his mutilation of the bases and laver and sea, after also the displacement of the brazen altar in favour of that the pattern of which he had sent from Damascus to Urijah the priest, who must have been a consenting party to the iniquity. Our 2 Chronicles 30:14 speaks of the time that came when these wicked steps of king and priest began to be retraced, and, with the previous verses of same chapter, are the sad but interesting reverse of the present passage. The modern Jews commemorate, by the observance of a fast, this mournful crisis of Judah's history.
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.
Verse 26. - The book of the kings of Judah and Israel. Parallel (ver. 19), "the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah."
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.
Verse 27. - Slept with his fathers... buried... in the city,... Jerusalem... not brought into the sepulchres of the kings. Parallel (ver. 20), "slept with his fathers... buried with his fathers in the city of David." See our notes on 2 Chronicles 26:23 (parallel, 2 Kings 15:7); 2 Chronicles 24:25 (parallel, 2 Kings 12:21); 2 Chronicles 21:20 (parallel, 2 Kings 8:24).