In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah Ahaz the son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign.
Verse 1. - In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah Ahaz the son of Jotham King of Judah began to reign. (For the chronological difficulties connected with this statement, see the comment on 2 Kings 15:27.)
Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD his God, like David his father.
Verse 2. - Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign. As sixteen years afterwards his son Hezekiah was twenty-five (2 Kings 18:2), it is scarcely possible that Ahaz can have been no more than twenty at his accession, since in that case he must have married at ten years of age, and have had a son at eleven! The reading of "twenty-five" instead of "twenty," found in some Hebrew codices, in the Vatican manuscript of the Septuagint, and elsewhere, is therefore to be preferred. And reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. So the author of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 28:1) and Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 9:12. § 3). The reign of Ahaz probably lasted from B.C. 742 to B.C. 727. And did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord his God, like David his father. Compare what is said of Abijah (1 Kings 15:3), but the form of speech here used is stronger. Manasseh (2 Kings 21:2) and Amon (2 Kings 21:20-22) alone, of all the kings of Judah, receive greater condemnation.
But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel.
Verse 3. - But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. Not, of course, by establishing a worship of calves, but by following the worst practices of the worst Israelite kings, e.g., Ahab and Ahaziah, and reintroducing into Judah the Phoenician idolatry, which Joash and the high priest Jehoiada had cast out (2 Kings 11:17, 18). As the writer of Chronicles says (2 Chronicles 28:2), "He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim." Baalim is either a plural of dignity, or a word denoting the different forms under which Baal was worshipped, as Melkarth, Adonis, Rimmon, etc. Yea, and made his son to pass through the fire. In Chronicles (2 Chronicles 28:3) we are told that "he burnt incense in the valley of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire," as if he had sacrificed more than one son. The practice of offering children in sacrifice was not a feature of the Assyro-Babylonian religion, as some suppose, but an intrinsic part of the worship of the Phoenicians, common to them with the Moabites, Ammonites, and others. It was based upon the principle of a man's offering to God that which was dearest and most precious to himself, whence the crowning sacrifice of the kind was a man's offering of his firstborn son (see 2 Kings 3:27; Micah 6:7). Some have supposed that the rite was a mere dedication or lustration, the children passing between two fires, and being thenceforward employed only in God's service. But the expressions used by the sacred writer and others, and still more the descriptions that have come down to us from heathen and patristic authors, make it absolutely certain that the "passing through the fire' was no such innocent ceremony as this, but involved the death of the children. The author of Chronicles says, "Ahaz burnt his children in the fire;" Jeremiah 19:5, "They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal;" Ezekiel 16:21, "Thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire." Josephus declares of Ahaz that he "made his own son a whole burnt offering (ἴδιον ὠλοκαύτωσε παῖδα)." Diodorus Sicalus describes the ceremony as it took place at Carthage, the Phoenician colony. There was in the great temple there, he says, an image of Saturn (Moloch), which was a human figure with a bull's head and outstretched arms. This image of metal was made glowing hot by a fire kindled within it; and the children, laid in its arms, rolled from thence into the fiery lap below. If the children cried, the parents stopped their noise by fondling and kissing them; for the victim ought not to weep, and the sound of complaint was drowned in the din of flutes and kettle-drums (Died. Sic., 20:14). "Mothers," says Plutarch ('De Superstitione,' § 13), "stood by without tears or sobs; if they wept or sobbed, they lost the honor of the act, and the children were sacrificed notwithstanding." The only doubtful point is whether the children were placed alive in the glowing arms of the image, or whether they were first killed and afterwards burnt in sacrifice; but the description of Diodorus seems to imply the more cruel of the two proceedings. According to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord east out from before the children of Israel. (On the practice of this terrible rite by the Canaanitish nations at the time of the Israelite invasion, see Leviticus 18:21; Deuteronomy 12:31; Deuteronomy 18:9, 10; Psalm 106:37, 38.)
And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.
Verse 4. - And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places. The special sin of Ahaz here noted is that he not only allowed the high-place and grove worship, as so many other kings of Judah had done, e.g. Solomon (1 Kings 3:2), Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:23), Asa (1 Kings 15:14), Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:43), Joash (2 Kings 12:3), Amaziah (2 Kings 14:4), Azariah (2 Kings 15:4), and Jotham (2 Kings 15:35), but himself countenanced and took part in it, which no other king appears to have done. It was probably the stimulus that his example gave to the cult which induced Hezekiah to abolish it (see 2 Kings 18:4). And on the hills, and under every green tree (comp. 1 Kings 14:23, with the comment).
Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him.
Verses 5, 6. - War of Ahazleith Pekah and Rezin. Verse 5. - Then Rezin King of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah King of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war. The alliance between Rezin and Pekah has been already glanced at (2 Kings 16:37). It began, apparently, in the reign of Jotham. The policy which brought it about was one that was entirely new. Since Syria developed an aggressive tendency under the first Ben-hadad (1 Kings 20:1), there had till now been no alliance made with her by either of the two Israelite kingdoms. She had been reckoned as their common enemy; and while they had on two occasions been allied together against her (1 Kings 22:4-36; 2 Kings 8:28), never as yet had either asked her help against the other. Now, however, Ephraim became confederate with Syria against Judah. The new policy must be ascribed to the new condition of things consequent upon the attitude assumed by Assyria under Tiglath-pileser. Assyria had been under a cloud for forty years. The nations of the western coast of Asia had ceased to fear her, and had felt at liberty to pursue their own quarrels. Her recovery of vigor altered the whole situation. It was at once evident to the statesmen who directed the policy of the small western states that, unless they combined; they were lost. Hence the alliance between Pekah and Rezin. Probably they would have been glad to have drawn Ahaz into the confederacy; but it would seem that he did not share their fears, and would not join them. Hereupon the design was formed to dethrone him, and set up in his place a new ruler, a certain Ben-Tabeal (Isaiah 7:6), on whose assistance they could rely. The two confederate princes then began the campaign. Pekah invaded Judaea, and gained a great victory over Ahaz, which is perhaps exaggerated in 2 Chronicles 28:6-15; Rezin carried his arms further south, took Elath, and reestablished the Edomites in power (see the comment on ver. 6). Then the allies joined forces and proceeded to besiege Jerusalem. And they besieged Ahaz, but could not ever-come him. The siege is mentioned by Isaiah 7:1, who was commissioned by God to comfort Ahaz, and assure him that the city would not fall (Isaiah 7:7). The fortifications of Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:9) and Jotham (2 Chronicles 27:3) had, no doubt, greatly strengthened the city since the time when (as related in 2 Kings 14:13) it was captured so easily by Joash.
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.
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.
So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me.
Verses 7-9. - Expedition of Tiglath-pileser against Pekah and Rezin. In the extremity of his danger, when the confederacy had declared itself, or perhaps later, when he had suffered terrible defeats, and was about. to be besieged in his capital (2 Chronicles 28:5, 6), Ahaz invoked the aid of Tiglath-pileser, sent him all the treasure on which he could lay his hands (ver. 8), offered to place himself and his kingdom under the Assyrian monarch's suzerainty, and entreated him to come and "save him out of the hands" of his enemies (ver. 7). Humanly speaking, he might be justified. He had not called in one foreign power until Pekah had called in another. There was no other prospect (again humanly speaking) of escape. But, had he accepted the offers of Isaiah 7:4-16, and relied wholly on Jehovah, his position would have been far better. However, he was unable to see this; he made his application; and Tiglath-pileser "came up," and utterly crushed the Syro-Israelite confederacy (ver. 9). Verse 7. - So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser King of Assyria, saying. This appeal to man rather than to God, this trust in "an arm of flesh," was exactly what Isaiah had been endeavoring to prevent, what he viewed as unfaithfulness, and as inevitably drawing down God's wrath both upon king and kingdom. Ahaz was young, was weak, and had no doubt a large body of advisers, who considered the prophet to be a fanatic, who had no belief in supernatural aid, and who thought that in any emergency recourse was to be had to the measures which human prudence and human policy dictated. The aid of Tiglath-pileser seemed to them, under the circumstances, the only thing that could save them; and they persuaded the weak prince to adopt their views. I am thy servant and thy son. The offer of submission was unmistakable. "Servant," in the language of the time, meant "slave." Complete subjection, enrollment among Assyria's feudatories, the entire loss of independence, was well understood to be the price that had to be paid for Assyria's protection. Ahaz and his worldly advisers were prepared to pay it. They surrendered themselves, body and soul, into the hands of the great world-power of the period. Come up, and save me out of the hand of the King of Syria, and out of the hand of the King of Israel, which rise up against me. Syria is put forward as at once the more formidable of the two foes, and the one most open to Assyrian attack. Already Damascus had been more than once menaced by Assyrian armies ('Eponym Canon,' pp. 113, 115, 116), while the kingdom of Samaria had only suffered at her extremities (2 Kings 15:29). Samaria could not well be approached excepting through Syria, and after Syria's downfall.
And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria.
Verse 8. - And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king's house. Hitherto the temple treasures had been diverted from their proper use, and secularized for the sole purpose (except in one instance) of buying off the hostility of foreign foe, who threatened the city and the temple itself with destruction (see 1 Kings 14:26; 2 Kings 12:18; 2 Kings 14:14). Now, as on one former occasion (1 Kings 15:18), they were utilized to purchase an alliance. And sent it for a present to the King of Assyria. So Gyges King of Syria sent presents to Asshur-bani-pal to purchase his aid against the Cimmerians ('Records of the Past,' vol. 1. p. 68), and Susub of Babylon sent his temple treasures to Umman-Minan of Elam (ibid., pp. 46, 47), to purchase his assistance against Sennacherib.
And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him: for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin.
Verse 9. - And the King of Assyria hearkened unto him. Overtures of the kind were almost certain to be accepted. The great conquering monarchs of the East were always glad to receive small states into their alliance for a time, and even to allow them a shadow of independence, while they made use of their services against their near neighbors. Tiglath-pileser was already bent on conquering Samaria and Damascus, and could not fail to perceive that their subjugation would be greatly facilitated by his having the support of Judaea. For the King of Assyria - rather, and the King of Assyria - went up against Damascus. Damascus was naturally attacked first, as nearer to Assyria than Samaria, and also as more wealthy and more important. Tiglath-pileser's records contain an account of the campaign, but it is unfortunately much mutilated. We may gather from it, however, that Resin began by meeting his assailant in the field, and engaging him in a battle which was stoutly contested. Eventually the Assyrians were victorious, and Resin, having fled hastily to Damascus, shut himself up within its walls. Tiglath-pileser pursued him, laid siege to the city, and eventually took it, though not perhaps till it had resisted for above a year ('Eponym Canon,' p. 65). The Assyrian monarch thus describes the siege (ibid., p. 121): "Damascus, his city, I besieged, and like a caged bird I enclosed him. His forests, the trees of which were without number, I cut down; I did not leave a tree standing. [I burnt] Hadara, the house of the father of Rezin, King of Syria." And took it. The ancient Damascene kingdom, which had lasted from the time of Solomon (1 Kings 11:24), was thus brought to an end. Damascus gave the Assyrians no further trouble; and within little more than thirty years it had been so absolutely absorbed into the empire that its governor was one of the Assyrian eponyms ('Eponym Canon,' p. 68). The capture of the city, foretold by Amos 1:4, 5, was followed by the destruction of its walls and palaces. And carried the people of it captive. The system of transplanting large masses of the population from one part of the empire to another seems to have begun with Tiglath-pileser. In his very imperfect and fragmentary annals we find the removal of above thirty thousand captives recorded, of whom more than half are women. His example was followed by his successors on a still larger scale. To Kir. The situation of "Kir" (קִיר) is wholly uncertain. It has been identified with Kis (Elam or Kissia); with the country watered by the Kur; with Kourena or Koura, on the river Mardus; with Karine, the modern Kirrind; with Kirkhi near Diartekr; and with Kiransi in the Urumiyeh country. But the similarity of sound is the sole basis for each and all of these identifications. It is best to confess our ignorance. And slew Rezin. This is perhaps implied, but it is not distinctly stated, in the extant annals of Tiglath-pileser.
And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.
Verses 10-18. - Religious changes introduced into Judea by Ahaz. The new position into which Ahaz had brought himself with respect to Assyria was followed by certain religious changes, which were probably, in part at any rate, its consequence, though some of them may have been the result of his own religious (or irreligious) convictions. He had a new altar made and introduced into the temple, which at first he used for his own private sacrifices (vers. 10-13); then, that his new altar might occupy the pest of honor, he removed from its place the old brazen altar of Solomon, and put it in an inferior position (ver. 14). After this, he required all sacrifices to be offered on the new altar (ver. 15). Finally, he proceeded to interfere with several other of Solomon's arrangements, with what particular object is not very apparent (vers. 17, 18). In carrying out all these changes, he had the high priest of the time for his obsequious servant. Verse 10. - And King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser King of Assyria. It was a practice of the Assyrian monarchs to hold durbar's, or courts, at central places in the provinces, in the course of their military expeditions, whereat to receive the subject princes of the neighborhood, who were expected to do homage, and bring with them presents, or their fixed tribute. Tiglath-pileser held one such court in the earlier part of his reign at Arpad, a Syrian town, at which were present the kings of Comma-gene, Syria, Tyre, Carchemish, Gaugama, and others. He seems to have held another at some unknown place, about B.C. 732 (it may have been at Damascus), which was attended by the kings of Commagene, Car-chemish, Gebal, Hamath, Gaugama, Tubal, Arvad, Ammon, Moab, Askelon, Gaza, Edom, and Judah, the last-mentioned being Yahu-khazi (Jehoahaz), by which is probably meant Ahaz. It is with reason conjectured that this was the occasion mentioned in the text, when "King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser." And saw an altar that was at Damascus. It is almost certain that this was an Assyrian altar. Ahaz may at one time have turned for help to the gods of Syria (2 Chronicles 28:23), and asked their aid against his enemies; but the glory of Syria was now gone, her gods were discredited, and the place of power was occupied by Assyria, which had asserted its supremacy. When Ahaz visited Tiglath-pileser at Damascus, and "saw an altar," it was, in all probability, Tiglath-pileser's altar. The Assyrian kings were accustomed to carry altars about with them, and to have them set up in their fortified camps, or in other convenient places. They also, not infrequently, set up altars to the great gods in the countries which they conquered, and required the inhabitants to pay them reverence. Ahaz may either have been required by Tiglath-pileser to set up an Assyrian altar in the temple, or he may have volunteered the act as one which was likely to please his suzerain. And King Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest - i.e., the high priest - the fashion of the altar and the pattern of it. Assyrian altars were quite different from Jewish ones. Generally they were of small size, either square with a battlemented edge, or round at the top and supported on a triangular base ('Dict. of the Bible,' ad voc. "Altar," vol. 1. p. 55, woodcuts Nos. 3 and 5). It is scarcely likely that Ahaz was particularly pleased with the pattern (Keil), and therefore wished to have one like it. He probably merely wished to satisfy his suzerain that he had conformed to some of his religious usages. According to all the workmanship thereof. Though not very elaborate, the Assyrian altars have an ornamentation which is peculiar and unmistakable. Careful instructions would be needed for workmen who had never seen the sort of object which they were required to produce.
And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus.
Verse 11. - And Urijah the priest. No doubt the Uriah of Isaiah (Isaiah 8:2), who might be a "faithful witness" to the record of a fact, though a bad man, over-complaisant in carrying out the will of the king. Built an altar according to all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus: - rather, built the altar, i.e. the altar commanded by the monarch - so Urijah the priest made it against King Ahaz came from Damascus. A bold high priest like Azariah (2 Chronicles 26:17) would have refused to work the king's will in such a matter, which was certainly a desecration of the temple, and to some extent a compromise with idolatry. But Urijah was a man of a weaker fiber, and does not seem to have thought even of remonstrance, much less of resistance.
And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon.
Verse 12. - And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon. It is not necessarily implied in these words that Ahaz, like Uzziah, usurped the priestly functions, though conceivably he may have done so, and Urijah may have stood tamely by. What the writer has it in his mind to record is that the king, on his return from Damascus, at once made use of the new' altar for his private sacrifices. If he had meant to tax Ahaz with so great a sin as that which brought the curse of leprosy upon Uzziah, he would almost certainly have made his meaning clearer.
And he burnt his burnt offering and his meat offering, and poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings, upon the altar.
Verse 13. - And he burnt his burnt offering and his meat offering, and poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings, upon the altar. (On the different kinds of offerings, see Leviticus 1-7.)
And he brought also the brasen altar, which was before the LORD, from the forefront of the house, from between the altar and the house of the LORD, and put it on the north side of the altar.
Verse 14. - And he brought also the brazen altar, which was before the Lord. One sin leads on to another. Having introduced his self-invented quasi-idolatrous altar into the temple, and so inserted "the thin end of the wedge," Ahaz was not satisfied, but proceeded to another innovation. Urijah, having had no express order from the king with respect to the position of the new altar, had placed it in front of the old one, between it and the eastern gate of the court. Thus the old altar, which was directly in front of the temple porch, seemed to cut the new altar off from the temple. Ahaz would not have this continue, and resolved on removing the altar of Solomon from, its place, and putting it elsewhere. From the forefront of the house (comp. 1 Kings 8:54), from between the altar - i.e., the new altar - and the house of the Lord - i.e. the temple building - and put it on the north side of the altar. The removal of Solomon's altar from its place of honor to a side position left the space clear between the temple and the new altar, which thus, without exactly occupying the same site, took practically the place of Solomon's altar. Solomon's altar, shifted to one side, was put, as it were, in the background; the eye rested on the new altar, right in front of the porch and temple, which so became "the main altar" (הַמִּזְבַּת חַגָּדול), as it is called in the next verse.
And king Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meat offering, and the king's burnt sacrifice, and his meat offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice: and the brasen altar shall be for me to inquire by.
Verse 15. - And King Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying. Here the king, no doubt, stepped out of the sphere of his duties, not to usurp exactly the priestly office, but to give directions in matters which belonged, not to the regale, but to the pontificale. Urijah ought to have refused obedience. Upon the great altar. Certainly not so called because of its size (Keil), for it was probably much smaller than the old altar, but because of its position (see the comment on ver. 14). Burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meat offering - i.e. offer the daily sacrifice both morning and evening - and the king's burnt sacrifice, and his meat offering - i.e. the customary royal sacrifices (see 1 Kings 8:62) - with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings - i.e., all the private offerings of the people for themselves - and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice (comp. Exodus 29:16, 20; Leviticus 1:5, 11; Leviticus 3:2, 8, 13; Leviticus 7:2; Leviticus 17:6; Numbers 18:17, etc.) and the brazen altar shall be for me to inquire by; rather, and as for the brazen altar, it will be for me to inquire concerning it; i.e. I shall hereafter determine what use, if any, it shall be put to. As, by the king's directions, all the regular and all the occasional sacrifices were to be offered upon his new altar, the other would practically be superfluous. It would have been only logical to remove it, or break it up; but this the king was probably afraid of doing. He therefore said that he would take time to consider what he should do.
Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that king Ahaz commanded.
Verse 16. - Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that King Ahaz commanded. An emphatic condemnation of the high priest, whose subserviency evidently pro-yokes the writer's indignation.
And king Ahaz cut off the borders 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 stones.
Verse 17. - And King Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases. By "the bases" are probably meant the stands of the ten brazen layers, which Hiram the Tyrian artificer made for Solomon, and which Solomon placed outside the temple, five on either side of the entrance (1 Kings 7:39). The "borders of the bases" seem to have consisted of ornamental panels, on which were carved, in relief, figures of lions, oxen, and cherubim (1 Kings 7:29), The object of Ahaz in these mutilations may have been merely destructive, as we find Egyptian kings, after a change of religion, mutilating the tablets, and erasing the inscriptions put up in honor of those gods who had ceased to be in favor with them. Or, possibly, he may, as Keil supposes, have wished to transfer the ornamental carvings to some other edifice, e.g. an idolatrous temple or a palace. And removed the laver from off them - removed, i.e., from each base "the laver" which stood upon it - and took down the sea from off the brazen oxen that were under it. (On Solomon's "molten sea," or great laver, and the twelve oxen which supported it, comp. 1 Kings 7:23-26, and Jeremiah 52:20.) The "sea" was probably removed from off the backs of the oxen, in order that they might be made use of, as ornaments, elsewhere. And put it upon a pavement of stones; rather, upon a pedestal of stone (ἐπὶ βάσιν λιθίνην, LXX.).
And the covert for the sabbath that they had built in the house, and the king's entry without, turned he from the house of the LORD for the king of Assyria.
Verse 18. - And the covert for the sabbath that they had built in the house. The "covert for the sabbath" was probably (as Keil notes) "a covered place or stand in the court of the temple, to be used by the king whenever he visited the temple with his retinue on the sabbath, or on feast-days." It may have been elaborately ornamented. And the king's entry without. This may have been "the ascent into the house of the Lord," which Solomon constructed for his own use (1 Kings 10:5), and which was among those marvels of art that made the spirit of the Queen of Sheba faint within her. Turned he from the house of the Lord for the King of Assyria. It is not clear what meaning our translators intended to express, and it is still less clear what was the sense intended by the original writer. Ahaz did something to the royal stand inside the temple, and to the;' ascent" which led to it, and what he did was done, not "for the King of Assyria," but "for fear of the King of Assyria;" but what exactly his action was, we cannot say. No satisfactory meaning has been assigned to הֵסֵב בֵית יְהוָה by any commentator.
Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
Verses 19, 20. - The death of Ahaz. The writer terminates his account of the reign of Ahaz with his usual formulae, which in this instance are wholly colorless. Ahaz's acts were written in the book of the chronicles of the kings; he died, and was buried with his fathers; Hezekiah, his son, reigned in his stead. This is all that he thinks it needful to say. Verse 19. - Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? The writer of Chronicles adds some important facts not found in the narrative of Kings. Among them are the following:
(1) The complete defeat of Ahaz by Pekah, who "smote him with a great slaughter" (2 Chronicles 28:5), killing a hundred and twenty thousand of his soldiers, and carrying Off two hundred thousand captives, men, women, and children (2 Chronicles 28:8); these captives were, however, afterwards restored (ver. 15).
(2) His defeat by the Syrians (ver. 5). This is, perhaps, implied in 2 Kings 16:6; but it is not expressly stated.
(3) His defeat by the Edomites, who invaded his land, and made a largo number of prisoners (2 Chronicles 28:17).
(4) The conquest in his reign of a considerable portion of Southern Judaea by the Philistines (ver. 18).
(5) The fact that Ahaz at one time in his life adopted the Syrian worship, and "sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which smote him" (ver. 23).
(6) The fact that in his latter years he shut up the temple (ver. 24), closing the doors of the porch (2 Chronicles 29:7), extinguishing the lamps (2 Chronicles 29:7), and putting an end to the burning of incense and the offering of sacrifice.
(7) The fact that, not content with the previously existing high places, he set up a number of new ones, so that there should be a "high place" in every several city (2 Chronicles 28:25). The religious condition of Judaea can scarcely have been worse in the worst time of Manasseh or Amon.
And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.
Verse 20. - And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. This must be taken in the same sense, and with the same limitations, as the same phrase in 2 Kings 12:21. The writer of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 28:27) says, "And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, even in Jerusalem: but they brought him not into the sepulchers of the kings." Like Uzziah, he was not thought worthy of sepulture in the royal catacomb (see the comment on 2 Kings 12:21).