2 Kings 16:5
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.
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(5) Then Rezin king of Syria . . . to war.—This verse agrees almost word for word with Isaiah 7:1. The time is soon after the accession of Ahaz. “Jotham, the last of a series of strong and generally successful princes, had died at a critical moment, when Pekah and Rezin were maturing their plans against his kingdom. The opposing parties in northern Israel suspended their feuds to make common cause against Judah (Isaiah 9:21), and the proud inhabitants of Samaria hoped by this policy to more than restore the prestige forfeited in previous years of calamity (Isaiah 9:9-10). At the same time the Syrians began to operate in the eastern dependencies of Judah, their aim being to possess themselves of the harbour of Elath on the Red Sea, while the Philistines attacked the Judeans in the rear, and ravaged the fertile lowlands (Isaiah 9:12, 2Kings 16:6). A heavy and sudden disaster had already fallen on the Judean arms, a defeat in which ‘head and tail, palm-branch and rush’ had been mown down in indiscriminate slaughter (Isaiah 9:14). Ahaz was no fit leader in so critical a time; his character was petulant and childish, his policy was dictated in the harem (Isaiah 3:12). Nor was the internal order of the state calculated to inspire confidence. Wealth, indeed, had greatly accumulated in the preceding time of prosperity, but its distribution had been such that it weakened rather than added strength to the nation. The rich nobles were steeped in sensual luxury, the court was full of gallantry, feminine extravagance and vanity gave the tone to aristocratic society (Isaiah 5:11; Isaiah 3:16; comp. Isaiah 3:12; Isaiah 4:4), which, like the noblesse of France on the eve of the Revolution, was absorbed in gaiety and pleasure, while the masses were ground down by oppression, and the cry of their distress filled the land (Isaiah 3:15; Isaiah 5:7).”—Prof. Robertson Smith.

They besieged Ahaz.—The allies wanted to compel Judah to join them in their attempt to throw off the burdensome yoke of Assyria, imposed in 738 B.C. (2Kings 15:19); and thought the best way to secure this was to dethrone the dynasty of David, and set up a creature of their own—“the son of Tabeal” (Isaiah 7:6).

Could not overcome him.—Literally, they were not able to war, as in Isaiah 7:2. The allies could not storm the city, which had been strongly fortified by Uzziah and Jotham (2Chronicles 26:9; 2Chronicles 27:3).

2 Kings 16:5-6. But could not overcome him — Because God, of his own mere grace, undertook the protection of Judah, as he promised to do, and disappointed the designs and hopes of their enemies, Isaiah 7:1-9. At that time Rezin recovered Elath — Took it from the Jews, who had not long been in possession of it, having but lately recovered it, with the rest of Edom: see on 2 Kings 14:22. So that, though the confederate kings of Syria and Israel failed, through the interference of Divine Providence, in their attempts on Jerusalem, the former made himself master of this considerable and very commodious port on the Red sea.16:1-9 Few and evil were the days of Ahaz. Those whose hearts condemn them, will go any where in a day of distress, rather than to God. The sin was its own punishment. It is common for those who bring themselves into straits by one sin, to try to help themselves out by another.Rezin and Pekah, who had already begun their attacks upon Judaea in the reign of Jotham 2 Kings 15:37, regarded the accession of a boy-king, only 16 years of age, as especially favorable to their projects, and proceeded without loss of time to carry them out. The earlier scenes of the war, omitted by the writer of Kings, are given at some length in 2 Chronicles 28:5-15. 5. Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem—Notwithstanding their great efforts and military preparations, they failed to take it and, being disappointed, raised the siege and returned home (compare Isa 7:1). Because God of his own mere grace undertook their protection, as he promised to do, and disappointed the hopes and design of their enemies; of which see on Isa 7. Then Rezin king of Syria, and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to war,.... To fight with Ahaz, moved to it by the Lord, to chastise Ahaz for his idolatry, 2 Kings 15:37.

but could not overcome him; so as to take Jerusalem, and set up another king there, as their scheme was, Isaiah 7:5 though they had both at other times got great advantages over him, and slew many of his people, and carried them captive, see 2 Chronicles 28:5.

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 {c} him.

(c) For the Lord preserved the city and his people for the sake of his promise made to David.

5. came up to Jerusalem to war] The plans which had been formed in the reign of Jotham (see 2 Kings 15:37) were now put into execution. And from Isaiah 7:2 we can see into what agitation the people of Judah were brought by the advance of the allied enemies. ‘It was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim (i.e. Israel). And his heart was moved and the heart of his people as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind’.

they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him] i.e. They never took Jerusalem (cf. Isaiah 7:1). This is the security which Isaiah was instructed to promise to Ahaz. But it is evident from the narrative of the Chronicler that much damage was done in the land by the invasion. He says (2 Chronicles 28:5) that Ahaz was delivered into the hand of the king of Syria, who smote him and carried away a great multitude of captives and brought them to Damascus, and he was also delivered into the hand of Pekah king of Israel, who slew in Judah a hundred and twenty thousand men in one day, and carried away captive two hundred thousand, women, sons and daughters, along with much spoil. We can understand the stir caused in Jerusalem by the approach of an army which had already inflicted such blows upon the land.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. In those days the Lord began to send against Judah Rezin, etc. It is evident from the position of this verse at the close of the account of Jotham, that the incursions of the allied Syrians and Israelites into Judah under the command of Rezin and Pekah commenced in the closing years of Jotham, so that these foes appeared before Jerusalem at the very beginning of the reign of Ahaz. - It is true that the Syrians had been subjugated by Jeroboam II((2 Kings 14:28); but in the anarchical condition of the Israelitish kingdom after his death, they had no doubt recovered their independence. They must also have been overcome by the Assyrians under Pul, for he could never have marched against Israel without having first of all conquered Syria. But as the power of the Assyrians was greatly weakened for a time by the falling away of the Medes and Babylonians, the Syrians had taken advantage of this weakness to refuse the payment of tribute to Assyria, and had formed an alliance with Pekah of Israel to conquer Judah, and thereby to strengthen their power so as to be able to offer a successful resistance to any attack from the side of the Euphrates. - But as 2 Kings 16:6. and 2 Kings 17 show, it was otherwise decreed in the counsels of the Lord.
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