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Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
Ahaz succeeds his father Jotham, and reigns wickedly for sixteen years, 2 Chronicles 28:1. He restores idolatry in its grossest forms, 2 Chronicles 28:2-4; and is delivered Into the hands of the kings of Israel and Syria, 2 Chronicles 28:5. Pekah slays one hundred and twenty thousand Jews in one day, and carries away captive two hundred thousand of the people, whom, at the instance of Oded the prophet, they restore to liberty, and send home, clothed and fed, 2 Chronicles 28:6-15. Ahaz sends to the king of Assyria for help against the Edomites, Philistines, etc., from whom he receives no effectual succor, 2 Chronicles 28:16-21. He sins yet more, spoils and shuts up the temple of God, and propagates idolatry throughout the land, 2 Chronicles 28:22-25. A reference to has acts, his death, and burial, 2 Chronicles 28:26, 2 Chronicles 28:27.
1Ahaz 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:
Ahaz was twenty years old - For the difficulties in this chronology, see the notes on 2 Kings 16:2 (note).
2For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim.
3Moreover 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.
Burnt his children in the fire - There is a most remarkable addition here in the Chaldee which I shall give at length: "Ahaz burnt his children in the fire; but the Word of the Lord snatched Hezekiah from among them; for it was manifest before the Lord that the three righteous men, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were to proceed from him; who should deliver up their bodies that they might be cast into a burning fiery furnace, on account of the great and glorious Name, (יהוה) and from which they should escape. First, Abram escaped from the furnace of fire among the Chaldeans, into which he had been cast by Nimrod, because he would not worship their idols. Secondly, Tamar escaped burning in the house of judgment of Judah, who had said, Bring her out, that she may be burnt. Thirdly, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz escaped from the burning, when Ahaz his father cast him into the valley of the son of Hinnom, on the altars of Tophet. Fourthly, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, escaped from the burning fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. Fifthly, Joshua, the son of Josedek the high priest, escaped, when the impious Nebuchadnezzar had cast him into a burning fiery furnace, with Achaab the son of Kolia, and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, the false prophet. They were consumed by fire; but Joshua the son of Josedek escaped because of his righteousness."
4He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.
5Wherefore 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.
Delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria - For the better understanding of these passages, the reader is requested to refer to what has been advanced in the notes on the sixteenth chapter of 2 Kings 16:5, etc.
6For 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.
A hundred and twenty thousand - It is very probable that there is a mistake in this number. It is hardly possible that a hundred and twenty thousand men could have been slain in one day; yet all the versions and MSS. agree in this number. The whole people seem to have been given up into the hands of their enemies.
7And 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.
8And 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.
9But 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.
But a prophet of the Lord - whose name was Oded - To this beautiful speech nothing can be added by the best comment; it is simple, humane, pious, and overwhelmingly convincing: no wonder it produced the effect mentioned here. That there was much of humanity in the heads of the children of Ephraim who joined with the prophet on this occasion, the fifteenth verse sufficiently proves. They did not barely dismiss these most unfortunate captives, but they took that very spoil which their victorious army had brought away; and they clothed, fed, shod, and anointed, these distressed people, set the feeblest of them upon asses, and escorted them safely to Jericho. We can scarcely find a parallel to this in the universal history of the wars which savage man has carried on against his fellows, from the foundation of the world.
10And 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?
11Now 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.
12Then 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,
13And 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.
14So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the congregation.
15And 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.
16At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him.
The kings of Assyria to help him - Instead of מלכי malchey; Kings; the Vulgate, Syriac, Arabic, and Chaldee, one MS., and the parallel place, 2 Kings 16:7, have מלך melek, King, in the singular number. This king was Tiglath-pileser, as we learn from the second book of Kings.
17For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives.
18The 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.
19For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the LORD.
20And Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not.
21For 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.
But he helped him not - He did him no ultimate service. See the note on 2 Kings 16:9.
After 2 Kings 16:15, the 23d, 24th, and 25th verses are introduced before the 16th, in the Syriac and Arabic, and the 22d verse is wholly wanting in both, though some of the expressions may be found in the twenty-first verse.
22And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the LORD: this is that king Ahaz.
23For 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 unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him - "This passage," says Mr. Hallet, "greatly surprised me; for the sacred historian himself is here represented as saying, The gods of Damascus had smitten Ahaz. But it is impossible to suppose that an inspired author could say this; for the Scripture everywhere represents the heathen idols as nothing and vanity, and as incapable of doing either good or hurt. All difficulty is avoided if we follow the old Hebrew copies, from which the Greek translation was made, Και ειπεν ὁ βασιλεις Αχαζ, εκζητησω τους Θεους Δαμασκου τους τυπτοντας με, And King Ahaz said, I Will Seek to the Gods of Damascus Which Have Smitten Me; and then it follows, both in Hebrew and Greek, He said moreover, Because the gods of the king of Syria help them; therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. Both the Syriac and Arabic give it a similar turn; and say that Ahaz sacrificed to the gods of Damascus, and said, Ye are my gods and my lords; you will I worship, and to you will I sacrifice."
24And 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.
Shut up the doors - He caused the Divine worship to be totally suspended; and they continued shut till the beginning of the reign of Hezekiah, one of whose first acts was to reopen them, and thus to restore the Divine worship, 2 Chronicles 29:3.
25And 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.
26Now 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.
27And 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.
The kings of Israel - It is a common thing for the writer of this book to put Israel for Judah. He still considers them as one people, because proceeding from one stock. The versions and MSS. have the same reading with the Hebrew; the matter is of little importance, and with this interpretation none can mistake.