Keil and Delitzsch OT 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:In the general statements as to the king's age, and the duration and the spirit of his reign, both accounts (2 Chronicles 28:1-4; 2 Kings 16:1-4), agree entirely, with the exception of some unessential divergences; see the commentary on 2 Kings 16:1-4. From 2 Chronicles 28:5 onwards both historians go their own ways, so that they coincide only in mentioning the most important events of the reign of this quite untheocratic king. The author of the book of Kings, in accordance with his plan, records only very briefly the advance of the allied kings Rezin and Pekah against Jerusalem, the capture of the seaport Elath by the Syrians, the recourse which the hard-pressed Ahaz had to the help of Tiglath-pileser the king of Assyria, whom he induced, by sending him the temple and palace treasures of gold and silver, to advance upon Damascus, to capture that city, to destroy the Syrian kingdom, to lead the inhabitants away captive to Kir, and to slay King Rezin (2 Chronicles 28:5-9). Then he records how Ahaz, on a visit which he paid the Assyrian king in Damascus, saw an altar which so delighted him, that he sent a pattern of it to the priest Urijah, with the command to build a similar altar for the temple of the Lord, on which Ahaz on his return not only sacrificed himself, but also commanded that all the sacrifices of the congregation should be offered. And finally, he recounts how he laid violent hands on the brazen vessels of the court, and caused the outer covered sabbath way to be removed into the temple because of the king of Assyria (2 Chronicles 28:10-18); and then the history of Ahaz is concluded by the standing formulae (2 Chronicles 28:19, 2 Chronicles 28:20). The author of the Chronicle, on the contrary, depicts in holy indignation against the crimes of the godless Ahaz, how God punished him for his sins. 1. He tells us how God gave Ahaz into the hand of the king of Syria, who smote him and led away many prisoners to Damascus, and into the hand of King Pekah of Israel, who inflicted on him a dreadful defeat, slew 120,000 men, together with a royal prince and two of the highest officials of the court, and carried away 200,000 prisoners-women and children-with a great booty (2 Chronicles 28:5-8); and how the Israelites yet, at the exhortation of the prophet Oded, and of some of the heads of the people who supported the prophet, again freed the prisoners, provided them with food and clothing, and conducted them back to Jericho (2 Chronicles 28:9-15). 2. He records that Ahaz turned to the king of Assyria for help (2 Chronicles 28:16), but that God still further humbled Israel by an invasion of the land by the Edomites, who carried prisoners away (2 Chronicles 28:17); by an attack of the Philistines, who deprived Judah of a great number of cities (2 Chronicles 28:18); and finally also by the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser, who, although Ahaz had sent him the gold and silver of the temple and of the palaces of the kings and princes, yet did not help him, but rather oppressed him (2 Chronicles 28:20.). 3. Then he recounts how, notwithstanding all this, Ahaz sinned still more against Jahve by sacrificing to the idols of the Syrians, cutting up the vessels of the house of God, closing the doors of the temple, and erecting altars and high places in all corners of Jerusalem, and in all the cities of Judah, for the purpose of sacrificing to idols (2 Chronicles 28:22-25). This whole description is planned and wrought out rhetorically; cf. C. P. Caspari, der syrisch-ephraimitische Krieg, S. 42ff. Out of the historical materials, those facts which show how Ahaz, notwithstanding the heavy blows which Jahve inflicted upon him, always sinned more deeply against the Lord his God, are chosen, and oratorically so presented as not only to bring before us the increasing obduracy of Ahaz, but also, by the representation of the conduct of the citizens and warriors of the kingdom of Israel towards the people of Judah who were prisoners, the deep fall of that kingdom.
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.The war with the Kings Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Israel. - On the events of this war, so far as they can be ascertained by uniting the statements of our chapter with the summary account in 2 Kings 16, see the commentary on 2 Kings 16:5. The author of the Chronicle brings the two main battles prominently forward as illustrations of the way in which Jahve gave Ahaz into the power of his enemies because of his defection from Him. Into the power of the king of Aram. They (ויּכּוּ, and they, the Arameans) smote בו, in him, i.e., they inflicted on his army a great defeat. Just so also ממּנוּ signifies of his army. גּדולה שׁביה, a great imprisonment, i.e., a great number of prisoners. And into the power of the king of Israel, Pekah, who inflicted on him a still greater defeat. He slew in (among) Judah 120,000 men "in one day," i.e., in a great decisive battle. Judah suffered these defeats because they (the men of Judah) had forsaken Jahve the God of their fathers. Judah's defection from the Lord is not, indeed, expressly mentioned in the first verses of the chapter, but may be inferred as a matter of course from the remark as to the people under Jotham, 2 Chronicles 27:2. If under that king, who did that which was right in the eyes of Jahve, and stedfastly walked before the Lord (2 Chronicles 27:6), they did corruptly, they must naturally have departed much further from the God of the fathers, and been sunk much deeper in the worship of idols, and the worship on high places, under Ahaz, who served the Baals and other idols.
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.In this battle, Zichri, an Ephraimite hero, slew three men who were closely connected with the king: Maaseiah, the king's son, i.e., not a son of Ahaz, for in the first years of his reign, in which this war arose, he cannot have had an adult son capable of bearing arms, but a royal prince, a cousin or uncle of Ahaz, as in 2 Chronicles 18:25; 2 Chronicles 22:11, etc. (cf. Caspari, loc. cit. S. 45ff.); Azrikam, a prince of the house, probably not of the house of God (2 Chronicles 31:13; 2 Chronicles 9:11), but a high official in the royal palace; and Elkanah, the second from the king, i.e., his first minister; cf. Esther 10:3; 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.The Israelites, moreover, carried away 200,000 - women, sons, and daughters-from their brethren, and a great quantity of spoil, and brought the booty (prisoners and goods; cf. for שׁלל of men, Judges 5:30) to Samaria. אחיהם, the brethren of the Israelites, is the name given, with emphasis, to the inhabitants of Judah, here and in 2 Chronicles 28:11, in order to point out the cruelty of the Israelites in not scrupling to carry away captive the defenceless women and children of their brethren.
The modern critics have taken offence at the large numbers, 120,000 slain and 200,000 women and children taken prisoners, and have declared them to be exaggerations of the wonder-loving chronicler (Gesen. on Isa., De Wette, Winer, etc.). But in this they are mistaken; for if we consider the war more closely, we learn from Isaiah 7:6 that the allied kings purposed to annihilate the kingdom of Judah. And, moreover, the Ephraimites acted always with extreme cruelty in war (cf. 2 Kings 15:16); but more especially cherished the fiercest hatred against the men of Judah, because these regarded them as having fallen away from the service of the true God (2 Chronicles 25:6-10; 2 Chronicles 13:4.). But in a war for the existence of the kingdom, Ahaz must certainly have called out the whole male population capable of bearing arms, which is estimated in the time of Amaziah at 300,000 men, and in that of Uzziah at 307,500 (Isaiah 25:5; Isaiah 26:13), - numbers which appear thoroughly credible, considering the size and populousness of Judah. If we suppose the army of Ahaz to have been as large, in a decisive battle fought with all possible energy nearly 120,000 men may have fallen, especially if the Ephraimites, in their exasperation, unsparingly butchered their enemies, as the narrative would seem to hint both by the word הרג in 2 Chronicles 28:6, which signifies to murder, massacre, butcher, and by the saying of the prophet, 2 Chronicles 28:9, "Ye massacred among them with a rage which reached to heaven." By the character of the war, which resembled a civil or even a religious war, and by the cruelty of the Israelites, the great number of those carried captive is accounted for; for after the great defeat of the men of Judah the whole land fell into the hands of the enemy, so that they could sate their hatred and anger to their heart's content by carrying off the defenceless women and children to make them slaves. And finally, we must also consider that the numbers of the slain and of the prisoners are not founded upon exact enumeration, but upon a mere general estimate. The immense loss which was sustained in the battle was estimated on the side of Judah at 120,000 men; and the number of captive women and children was so immense, that they were, or might be, estimated at 200,000 souls, it being impossible to give an exact statement of their number. These numbers were consequently recorded in the annals of the kingdom, whence the author of the Chronicle has taken them; cf. Caspari, S. 37ff.
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.The liberation of the prisoners. - In Samaria there was a prophet of the Lord (i.e., not of the Jahve there worshipped in the calf images, but of the true God, like Hosea, who also at that time laboured in the kingdom of the ten tribes), Oded by name. He went forth to meet the army returning with the prisoners and the booty, as Azariha-ben-Oded (2 Chronicles 15:2) once went to meet Asa; pointed out to the warriors the cruelty of their treatment of their brethren, and the guilt, calling to Heaven for vengeance, which they thereby incurred; and exhorted them to turn away the anger of God which was upon them, by sending back the prisoners. To soften the hearts of the rude warriors, and to gain them for his purpose, he tells them (2 Chronicles 28:9), "Because the Lord God of your fathers was wroth, He gave them (the men of Judah) into your hand:" your victory over them is consequently not the fruit of your power and valour, but the work of the God of your fathers, whose wrath Judah has drawn upon itself by its defection from Him. This you should have considered, and so have had pity upon those smitten by the wrath of God; "but he have slaughtered among them with a rage which reacheth up to heaven," i.e., not merely with a rage beyond all measure, but a rage which calls to God for vengeance; cf. Ezra 9:6.
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?"And now the sons of Judah and Jerusalem ye purpose to subject to yourselves for bondmen and bondwomen!" יהוּדה בּני is accus., and precedes as being emphatic; i.e., your brethren, whom the wrath of God has smitten, you purpose to keep in subjection. אתּם also is emphatically placed, and then is again emphasized at the end of the sentence by the suffix in לכם: "Are there not, only concerning you, with you, sins with Jahve your God?" i.e., Have you, to regard only you, not also burdened yourselves with many sins against the Lord? The question הלא, is a lively way of expressing assurance as to a matter which is not at all doubtful.
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.After thus quickening the conscience, he calls upon them to send back the prisoners which they had carried away from among their brethren, because the anger of Jahve was upon them. Already in their pitiless butchery of their brethren they had committed a sin which cried to heaven, which challenged God's anger and His punishments; but by the carrying away of the women and children from their brethren they had filled up the measure of their sin, so that God's anger and rage must fall upon them.
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,This speech made a deep impression. Four of the heads of the Ephraimites, here mentioned by name, - according to 2 Chronicles 28:12, four princes at the head of the assembled people, - came before those coming from the army (על קוּם, to come forward before one, to meet one), and said, 2 Chronicles 28:13, "Bring not the captives hither; for in order that a sin of Jahve come upon us, do you purpose (do you intend) to add to our sins and to our guilt?" i.e., to increase our sins and our guilt by making these prisoners slaves; "for great is our guilt, and fierce wrath upon Israel."
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.Then the armed men (החלוּץ, cf. 1 Chronicles 12:23) who had escorted the prisoners to Samaria left the prisoners and the booty before the princes and the whole assembly.
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."And the men which were specified by name stood up." בשׁמות נקּבוּ אשׁר does not signify those before mentioned (2 Chronicles 28:12), but the men specified by name, distinguished or famous men (see on 1 Chronicles 12:31), among whom, without doubt, those mentioned in 2 Chronicles 28:12 are included, but not these alone; other prominent men are also meant. These received the prisoners and the booty, clothed all the naked, providing them with clothes and shoes (sandals) from the booty, gave them to eat and to drink, anointed them, and set all the feeble upon asses, and brought them to Jericho to their brethren (countrymen). The description is picturesque, portraying with satisfaction the loving pity for the miserable. מערמּים, nakedness, abstr. pro concr., the naked. לכל־כּושׁל is accus., and a nearer definition of the suffix in ynahaluwm: they brought them, (not all, but only) all the stumbling, who could not, owing to their fatigue, make the journey on foot. Jericho, the city of palm trees, as in Judges 3:13, in the tribe of Benjamin, belonged to the kingdom of Judah; see Joshua 18:21. Arrived there, the prisoners were with their brethren.
The speech of the prophet Oded is reckoned by Gesenius, on Isaiah, S. 269, among the speeches invented by the chronicler; but very erroneously so: cf. against him, Caspari, loc cit. i. S. 49ff. The speech cannot be separated from the fact of the liberation of the prisoners carried away from Judah, which it brought about; and that is shown to be a historical fact by the names of the tribal princes of Ephraim, who, in consequence of the warning of the prophet, took his part and accomplished the sending of them back; they being names which are not elsewhere met with (2 Chronicles 28:12). The spontaneous interference of these tribal chiefs would not be in itself impossible, but yet it is very improbable, and becomes perfectly comprehensible only by the statement that these men were roused and encouraged thereto by the word of a prophet. We must consequently regard the speech of the prophet as a fact which is as well established as that narrated in 2 Chronicles 28:12-15. "If that which is narrated in 2 Chronicles 28:12. be not invented, it would betray the greatest levity to hold that which is recorded in 2 Chronicles 28:9-11 to be incredible" (Casp.). And, moreover, the speech of the prophet does not contain the thoughts and phrases current with the author of the Chronicle, but is quite suitable to the circumstances, and so fully corresponds to what we should expect to hear from a prophet on such an occasion, that there is not the slightest reason to doubt the authenticity of its contents. Finally, the whole transaction is exactly parallel to the interference of the prophet Shemaiah in 1 Kings 12:22-24 (2 Chronicles 11:1-4), who exhorted the army of Judah, fully determined upon war with the ten tribes which had just revolted from the house of David, not to make war upon their brethren the Israelites, as the revolt had been brought about by God. "That fact at the beginning of the history of the two separated kingdoms, and this at the end of it, finely correspond to each other. In the one place it is a Judaean prophet who exhorts the men of Judah, in the other an Ephraimite prophet who exhorts the Ephraimites, to show a conciliatory spirit to the related people; and in both cases they are successful. If we do not doubt the truth of the even narrated in 1 Kings 12:22-24, why should that recorded in 2 Chronicles 28:9-11 be invented?" (Casp. S. 50.)
At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him.The further chastisements inflicted upon King Ahaz and the kingdom of Judah. - 2 Chronicles 28:16. At this time, when the kings Rezin and Pekah had so smitten Ahaz, the latter sent to the king of Assyria praying him for help. The time when Ahaz sought the help of the king of Assyria is neither exactly stated in 2 Kings 16:7-9, nor can we conclude, as Bertheau thinks we can, from Isaiah 7. that it happened soon after the invasion of Judah by the allied kings. The plural אשּׁוּר מלכי is rhetorical, like the plur. בּנין, 2 Chronicles 28:3. For, that Ahaz applied only to one king, in the opinion of the chronicler also, we learn from 2 Chronicles 28:20, 2 Chronicles 28:21. By the plural the thought is expressed that Ahaz, instead of seeking the help of Jahve his God, which the prophet had promised him (Isaiah 7:4.), turned to the kings of the world-power, so hostile to the kingdom of God, from whom he naturally could obtain no real help. Even here the thought which is expressed only in 2 Chronicles 28:20, 2 Chronicles 28:21, is present to the mind of the author of the Chronicle. For before he narrates the issue of the help thus sought from the Assyrian world-power in 2 Chronicles 28:17-19, he ranges all the other afflictions which Judah suffered by its enemies, viz., the devastating inroads of the Edomites and Philistines, in a series of circumstantial clauses, as they preceded in time the oppression of Tiglath-pileser.
For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives.2 Chronicles 28:17 is to be translated, "And besides, the Edomites had come, and had inflicted a defeat upon Judah, and carried away captives." עוד, yet besides, praeterea, as in Genesis 43:6; Isaiah 1:5. The Edomites had been made subject to the kingdom of Judah only by Amaziah and Uzziah (2 Chronicles 25:11., 2 Chronicles 26:2); but freed by Rezin from this (cf. 2 Kings 16:6), they immediately seized the opportunity to make an inroad upon Judah, and take vengeance on the inhabitants.
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.And the Philistines whom Uzziah had subdued (2 Chronicles 26:6) made use of the pressure of the Syrians and Ephraimites upon Judah, not only to shake off the yoke imposed upon them, but also to fall plundering upon the cities of the lowland and the south of Judah, and to extend their territory by the capture of several cities of Judah. They took Beth-shemesh, the present Ain Shems; and Ajalon, the present village Jlo (see on 1 Chronicles 6:44 and 1 Chronicles 6:54); Gederoth in the lowland (Joshua 15:41), not yet discovered, for there are not sufficient grounds for identifying it with Gedera (Joshua 15:36), which v. de Velde has pointed out south-eastward from Jabneh (see on 1 Chronicles 12:4); Shocho, the present Shuweike, which Rehoboam had fortified (2 Chronicles 11:7); Timnah, on the frontier of the tribal domain of Judah, the present Tibneh, three-quarters of an hour to the west of Ain Shems (see on Joshua 15:10); and Gimzo, now Jims, a large village about two miles south-east of Lydda (Lud) on the way to Jerusalem (Rob. sub voce). The three last-named cities, with their daughters, i.e., the small villages dependent upon them.
For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the LORD.Judah suffered this defeat, because God humbled them on account of Ahaz. Ahaz is called king of Israel, not because he walked in the ways of the kings of the kingdom of the ten tribes (2 Chronicles 28:2), but ironically, because his government was the bitterest satire upon the name of the king of Israel, i.e., of the people of God (Casp.); so that Israel here, and in 2 Chronicles 28:27, as in 2 Chronicles 21:2; 2 Chronicles 12:6, is used with reference to the pregnant signification of the word. הפריע כּי, for (Ahaz) had acted wantonly in Judah; not: made Judah wanton, for הפריע is construed with b, not with accus. obj., as in Exodus 5:4.
After this episode the narrator comes back upon the help which Ahaz sought of the Assyrians. The Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser (on the name, see on 1 Chronicles 5:6) did indeed come, but עליו, against him (Ahaz), and oppressed him, but strengthened him not. חזקו ולא לו ויּצר Thenius and Bertheau translate: he oppressed him, that is, besieged him, yet did not overcome him; adducing in support of this, that חזק c. accus. cannot be shown to occur in the signification to strengthen one, and according to Jeremiah 20:7; 1 Kings 16:22, is to be translated, to overcome. But this translation does not at all suit the reason given in the following clause: "for Ahaz had plundered the house of Jahve, ... and given it to the king of Asshur; but it did not result in help to him." The sending away of the temple and palace treasures to the Assyrian king, to obtain his help, cannot possibly be stated as the reason why Tiglath-pileser besieged Ahaz, but did not overcome him, but only as a reason why he did not give Ahaz the expected help, and so did not strengthen him. חזקו ולא corresponds to the לו לעזרה ולא, 2 Chronicles 28:21, and both clauses refer back to לו לעזר, 2 Chronicles 28:16. That which Ahaz wished to buy from Tiglath-pileser, by sending him the treasures of the palace and the temple, - namely, help against his enemies, - he did not thereby obtain, but the opposite, viz., that Tiglath-pileser came against him and oppressed him. When, on the contrary, Thenius takes the matter thus, that the subjection of Ahaz under Tiglath-pileser was indeed prevented by the treasures given, but the support desired was not purchased by them, he has ungrammatically taken חזק as imperfect, and violently torn away the לו לעזרה לו ולא from what precedes. If we connect these words, as the adversative ולא requires, with וגו ויּתּן, then the expression, "Ahaz gave the Assyrian king the treasures of the temple, ... but it did not result in help to him," gives no support to the idea that Tiglath-pileser besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. The context therefore necessarily demands that חזק should have the active signification, to strengthen, notwithstanding that חזק in Kal is mainly used as intransitive. Moreover, לו ויּצר also does not denote he besieged, as אליו ויּצר or עליו, 2 Samuel 20:15; 1 Samuel 23:8; but only, he oppressed him, and cannot here be translated otherwise than the לו חצר, 2 Chronicles 28:22, which corresponds to it, where Bertheau also has decided in favour of the signification oppress. It is not stated wherein the oppression consisted; but without doubt it was that Tiglath-pileser, after he had both slain Rezin and conquered his kingdom, and also taken away many cities in Galilee and the land of Naphtali from Pekah, carrying away the inhabitants to Assyria (2 Kings 16:9 and 2 Kings 15:29), advanced against Ahaz himself, to make him a tributary. The verbs חלק and ויּתּן (2 Chronicles 28:21) are pluperfects: "for Ahaz had plundered," etc. Not when Tiglath-pileser oppressed him, but when he besought help of that king, Ahaz had sent him the treasures of the temple and the palace as שׁחד, 2 Kings 16:7-8. חלק denotes to plunder, like חלק, a share of booty, Numbers 31:36, and booty, Job 17:5. The selection of this word for the taking away of the treasures of silver and gold out of the temple and palace arises from the impassioned nature of the language. The taking away of these treasures was, in fact, a plundering of the temple and of the palace. Had Ahaz trusted in the Lord his God, he would not have required to lay violent hands on these treasures. והשּׂרים is added to המּלך בּית, to signify that Ahaz laid hands upon the precious things belonging to the high officials who dwelt in the palace, and delivered them over to the Assyrian king (Berth.).
Although the author of the Chronicle makes the further remark, that the giving of these treasures over did not result in help to Ahaz, yet it cannot be at all doubtful that he had the fact recorded in 2 Kings 16:7-9 before his eyes, and says nothing inconsistent with that account. According to 2 Kings 16:9, Tiglath-pileser, in consequence of the present sent him, took the field, conquered and destroyed the kingdom of Rezin, and also took possession of the northern part of the kingdom of Israel, as is narrated in 2 Kings 15:29. The author of the Chronicle has not mentioned these events, because Ahaz was not thereby really helped. Although the kings Rezin and Pekah were compelled to abandon their plan of capturing Jerusalem and subduing the kingdom of Judah, by the inroad of the Assyrians into their land, yet this help was to be regarded as nothing, seeing that Tiglath-pileser not only retained the conquered territories and cities for himself, but also undertook the whole campaign, not to strengthen Ahaz, but for the extension of his own (the Assyrian) power, and so made use of it, and, as we are told in 2 Chronicles 28:20 of the Chronicle, oppressed Ahaz. This oppression is, it is true, not expressly mentioned in 2 Kings 16, but is hinted in 2 Kings 16:18, and placed beyond doubt by 2 Kings 18:7, 2 Kings 18:14, 2 Kings 18:20; cf. Isaiah 36:5. In 2 Kings 16:18 it is recorded that Ahaz removed the covered sabbath portico which had been built to the house of God, and the external entrance of the king into the house of the Lord, because of (מפּני) the king of Assyria. Manifestly Ahaz feared, as J. D. Mich. has already rightly concluded from this, that the king of Assyria, whom he had summoned to his assistance, might at some time desire to take possession of the city, and that in such a case this covered sabbath porch and an external entrance into the temple might be of use to him in the siege. This note, therefore, notwithstanding its obscurity, yet gives sufficiently clear testimony in favour of the statement in the Chronicle, that the king of Assyria, who had been called upon by Ahaz for help, oppressed him, upon which doubt has been cast by Gesen. Isa. i. S. 269, etc. Tiglath-pileser must have in some way shown a desire to possess Jerusalem, and Ahaz have consequently feared that he might wish to take it by force. But from 2 Kings 18:7, 2 Kings 18:14, 2 Kings 18:20, cf. Isaiah 36:5, it is quite certain Ahaz had become tributary to the Assyrian king, and the kingdom dependent upon the Assyrians. It is true, indeed, that in these passages, strictly interpreted, this subjection of Judah is only said to exist immediately before the invasion of Sennacherib; but since Assyria made no war upon Judah between the campaign of Tiglath-pileser against Damascus and Samaria and Sennacherib's attack, the subjection of Judah to Assyria, which Hezekiah brought to an end, can only have dated from the time of Ahaz, and can only have commenced when Ahaz had called in Tiglath-pileser to aid him against his enemies. Certainly the exact means by which Tiglath-pileser compelled Ahaz to submit and to pay tribute cannot be recognised under, and ascertained from, the rhetorical mode of expression: Tiglath-pileser came against him, and oppressed him. Neither עליו ויּבא nor לו ויּצר require us to suppose that Tiglath-pileser advanced against Jerusalem with an army, although it is not impossible that Tiglath-pileser, after having conquered the Israelite cities in Galilee and the land of Naphtali, and carried away their inhabitants to Assyria (2 Kings 15:29), may have made a further advance, and demanded of Ahaz tribute and submission, ordering a detachment of his troops to march into Judah to enforce his demand. But the words quoted do not necessarily mean more than that Tiglath made the demand on Ahaz for tribute from Galilee, with the threat that, if he should refuse it, he would march into and conquer Judah; and that Ahaz, feeling himself unable to cope successfully with so powerful a king, promised to pay the tribute without going to war. Even in this last case the author of the Chronicle might say that the king who had been summoned by Ahaz to his assistance came against him and oppressed him, and helped him not. Cf. also the elaborate defence of the account in the Chronicle, in Caspari, S. 56ff.
And Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not.
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.Increase of Ahaz' transgressions against the Lord. - 2 Chronicles 28:22. After this proof that Ahaz only brought greater oppression upon himself by seeking help from the king of Assyria (2 Chronicles 28:16-21), there follows (2 Chronicles 28:22.) an account of how he, in his trouble, continued to sin more and more against God the Lord, and hardened himself more and more in idolatry. לו הצר וּבעת corresponds to the ההיא בּעת 2 Chronicles 28:16. "At the time when they oppressed him, he trespassed yet more against the Lord, he King Ahaz." In the last words the rhetorical emphasizing of the subject comes clearly out. The sentence contains a general estimation of the attitude of the godless king under the divine chastisement, which is then illustrated by facts (2 Chronicles 28:23-25).
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.He sacrificed to the gods of Damascus, which smote him, saying, i.e., thinking, The gods of the kings of Aram which helped them, to them will I sacrifice, and they will help me. כּי serves to introduce the saying, and both הם and להם are rhetorical. Berth. incorrectly translates the participle המּכּים by the pluperfect: who had smitten him. It was not after the Syrians had smitten him that Ahaz sought to gain by sacrifice the help of their gods, but while the Syrians were inflicting defeats upon him; not after the conclusion of the Syrian war, but during its course. The ungrammatical translation of the participle by the pluperfect arises from the view that the contents of our verse, the statement that Ahaz sacrificed to the Syrian gods, is an unhistorical misinterpretation of the statement in 2 Kings 16:10., about the altar which Ahaz saw when he went to meet the Assyrian king in Damascus, and a copy of which he caused to be made in Jerusalem, and set up in the temple court, in the place of the copper altar of burnt-offering. But we have already rejected that view as unfounded, in the exposition of 2 Kings 16:10. Since Ahaz had cast and erected statues to the Baals, and even sacrificed his son to Moloch, he naturally would not scruple to sacrifice to the Assyrian gods to secure their help. But they (these gods) brought ruin to him and to all Israel. לכל־ישׂ is in the accusative, and co-ordinate with the suffix in הכשׁילו.
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.Not content with thus worshipping strange gods, Ahaz laid violent hands upon the temple vessels and suppressed the temple worship. He collected all the vessels of the house of God together, and broke them in pieces. These words also are rhetorical, so that neither the יאסף, which depicts the matter vividly, nor the כּל, is to be pressed. The קצּץ of the vessels consisted, according to 2 Kings 16:17, in this, that he mutilated the artistically wrought vessels of the court, and cut out the panels from the bases, and took away the lavers from them, and took down the brazen sea from the oxen on which it stood, and set it upon a pavement of stones. "And he closed the doors of the house of Jahve," in order to put an end to the Jahve-worship in the temple, which he regarded as superfluous, since he had erected altars at the corners of all the streets in Jerusalem, and in all the cities of Judah. The statement as to the closing of the temple doors, to which reference is made in 2 Chronicles 29:3, 2 Chronicles 29:7, is said by Berth. not to reset upon good historical recollection, because the book of Kings not only does not say anything of it, but also clearly gives us to understand that Ahaz allowed the Jahve-worship to continue, 2 Kings 16:15. That the book of Kings (2 Chronicles 2:16) makes no mention of this circumstance does not prove much, it being an argumentum e silentio; for the book of Kings is not a complete history, it contains only a short excerpt from the history of the kings; while the intimation given us in 2 Kings 16:15. as to the continuation of the worship of Jahve, may without difficulty be reconciled with the closing of the temple doors. The יהוה בּית דּלתות are not the gates of the court of the temple, but, according to the clear explanation of the Chronicle, 2 Chronicles 29:7, the doors of the porch, which in 2 Chronicles 29:3 are also called doors of the house of Jahve; the "house of Jahve" signifying here not the whole group of temple buildings, but, in the narrower sense of the words, denoting only the main body of the temple (the Holy Place and the Most Holy, wherein Jahve was enthroned). By the closing of the doors of the porch the worship of Jahve in the Holy Place and the Most Holy was indeed suspended, but the worship at the altar in the court was not thereby necessarily interfered with: it might still continue. Now it is the worship at the altar of burnt-offering alone of which it is said in 2 Kings 16:15 that Ahaz allowed it to continue to this extent, that he ordered the priest Urijah to offer all the burnt-offerings and sacrifices, meat-offerings and drink-offerings, which were offered morning and evening by both king and people, not upon the copper sacrificial altar (Solomon's), but on the altar built after the pattern of that which he had seen at Damascus. The cessation of worship at this altar is also left unmentioned by the Chronicle, and in 2 Chronicles 29:7. Hezekiah, when he again opened the doors of the house of Jahve, only says to the priests and Levites, "Our fathers have forsaken Jahve, and turned their backs on His sanctuary; yea, have shut the doors of the porch, put out the lamps, and have not burnt incense nor offered burnt-offerings in the Holy Place unto the God of Israel." Sacrificing upon an altar built after a heathen model was not sacrificing to the God of Israel. There is therefore no ground to doubt the historical truth of the statement in our verse. The description of the idolatrous conduct of Ahaz concludes with the remark, 2 Chronicles 28:25, that Ahaz thereby provoked Jahve, the God of his fathers, to anger.
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.The end of his reign. - 2 Chronicles 28:27. Ahaz indeed both died and was buried in the city, in Jerusalem (as 2 Kings 16:20), but was not laid in the graves of the kings, because he had not ruled like a king of the people of God, the true Israel. Since the name Israel is used in a pregnant sense, as in 2 Chronicles 28:19, the terms in which the place where he died is designated, "in the city, in Jerusalem," would seem to have been purposely selected to intimate that Ahaz, because he had not walked during life like his ancestor David, was not buried along with David when he died.
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.