2 Kings 16

CHAPTER XVI

Ahaz begins to reign, acts wickedly, and restores idolatry in

Judea, 1-4.

Rezin, king of Syria, besieges Jerusalem, but cannot take it;

he takes Elath, and drives the Jews thence, 5, 6.

Ahaz hires Tiglath-pileser against the king of Syria and the

king of Israel, and gives him the silver and gold that were

found in the treasures of the house of the Lord, 7, 8.

Tiglath-pileser takes Damascus and slays Rezin, 9.

Ahaz goes to meet him at Damascus: sees an altar there, a

pattern of which he sends to Urijah, the priest; and orders

him to make one like it, which he does, 10-15.

He makes several alterations in the temple; dies; and Hezekiah

his son reigns in his stead, 16-20.

NOTES ON CHAP. XVI

Verse 2. Twenty years old was Ahaz] Here is another considerable

difficulty in the chronology. Ahaz was but twenty years old when

he began to reign, and he died after he had reigned sixteen years;

consequently his whole age amounted only to thirty-six years. But

Hezekiah his son was twenty-five years old when he began to reign;

and if this were so, then Ahaz must have been the father of

Hezekiah when he was but eleven years of age! Some think that the

twenty years mentioned here respect the beginning of the reign

of Jotham, father of Ahaz; so that the passage should be thus

translated: Ahaz was twenty years of age when his father began to

reign; and consequently he was fifty-two years old when he died,

seeing Jotham reigned sixteen years: and therefore Hezekiah was

born when his father was twenty-seven years of age. This however

is a violent solution, and worthy of little credit. It is better

to return to the text as it stands, and allow that Ahaz might be

only eleven or twelve years old when he had Hezekiah: this is not

at all impossible; as we know that the youth of both sexes in the

eastern countries are marriageable at ten or twelve years of age,

and are frequently betrothed when they are but nine. I know a

woman, an East Indian, who had the second of her two first

children when she was only fourteen years of age, and must have

had the first when between eleven and twelve. I hold it

therefore quite a possible case that Ahaz might have had a son

born to him when he was but eleven or twelve years old.

Verse 3. Made his son to pass through the fire] On this passage

I beg leave to refer the reader to my notes on

Le 18:21; 20:2, 14, where the subject is considered at large.

Verse 5. But could not overcome him.] It is likely that this was

the time when Isaiah was sent to console Ahaz; (see Isa 7:1;) and

predicted the death both of Rezin and Pekah, his enemies.

Verse 6. Recovered Elath to Syria]

See Clarke on 2Ki 14:22.

Verse 7. I am thy servant and thy son] I will obey thee in all,

and become tributary to thee; only help me against Syria and

Israel.

Verse 9. The king of Assyria hearkened unto him] It is said,

2Ch 28:20, that

Tilgath-pilneser distressed him, but strengthened him not.

Though he came against the Syrians, and took Damascus, and slew

Rezin, yet he did not help Ahaz against the Philistines, nor did

he lend him any forces to assist against Israel; and he distressed

him by taking the royal treasures, and the treasures of the

temple, and did him little service for so great a sacrifice. He

helped him a little, but distressed him on the whole.

It appears that, about this time, Pekah king of Israel nearly

ruined Judea: it is said, 2Ch 28:6,

that he slew one hundred thousand valiant men in one day; and

that he carried away captive to Samaria two hundred thousand women

and children, and much spoil; but, at the instance of the prophet

Oded, these were all sent back, fed and clothed, 2Ch 28:8-16.

Verse 10. Ahaz went to Damascus] He had received so much help on

the defeat of Rezin, that he went to Damascus to meet the king of

Assyria, and render him thanks.

Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar] This

was some idolatrous altar, the shape and workmanship of which

pleased Ahaz so well that he determined to have one like it at

Jerusalem. For this he had no Divine authority, and the compliance

of Urijah was both mean and sinful. That Ahaz did this for an

idolatrous purpose, is evident from 2Ch 28:21-25: "For he

sacrificed to the gods of Damascus;-and he said, Because the gods

of the kings of Syria help them, I will sacrifice to them, that

they may help me. And he made high places to burn incense to other

gods in every city of Judah."

Verse 14. Put it on the north side] He seems to have intended to

conform every thing in the Lord's house as much as possible to the

idolatrous temples which he saw at Damascus, and to model the

Divine worship in the same way: in a word to honour and worship

the gods of Syria, and not the God of heaven. All the alterations

specified here were in contempt of the true God. Thus he provoked

to anger the Lord God of his fathers, 2Ch 28:25.

Verse 18. And the covert for the Sabbath] There are a great

number of conjectures concerning this covert, or, as it is in the

Hebrew, the musach, of the Sabbath. As the word, and others

derived from the same root, signify covering or booths, it is very

likely that this means either a sort of canopy which was erected

on the Sabbath days for the accommodation of the people who came

to worship, and which Ahaz took away to discourage them from that

worship; or a canopy under which the king and his family reposed

themselves, and which he transported to some other place to

accommodate the king of Assyria when he visited him. Jarchi

supposes that it was a sort of covert way that the kings of Judah

had to the temple, and Ahaz had it removed lest the king of

Assyria, going by that way, and seeing the sacred vessels, should

covet them. If that way had been open, he might have gone by it

into the temple, and have seen the sacred vessels, and so have

asked them from a man who was in no condition to refuse them,

however unwilling he might be to give them up. The removing of

this, whatever it was, whether throne or canopy, or covered way,

cut off the communication between the king's house and the temple;

and the king of Assyria would not attempt to go into that sacred

place by that other passage to which the priests alone had access.

Verse 20. Was buried with his fathers in the city of David] But

it is expressly declared, 2Ch 28:27, that

he was not buried in the sepulchres of the kings of Israel; and

this was undoubtedly intended as a mark of degradation.

His reign was disastrous and impious; and it was disastrous

because it was impious. He had been a scourge, not a blessing,

to his people. He had not only made illegal alterations in the

temple, and in the mode of worship prescribed by the true God, but

he had polluted all the cities of Judah with idolatry, and brought

ruin upon the nation. On the whole, a worse king than himself had

not as yet sat on the Jewish throne; and yet he had many

advantages: he had for counsellor one of the greatest men ever

produced in the Jewish nation, ISAIAH the prophet; and God

condescended to interpose especially for him when grievously

straitened by the kings of Israel and Syria, both of whom were cut

off according to the prediction of this prophet. But he would not

lay it to heart, and therefore the wrath of God fell heavily upon

him, and upon the stiff-necked and rebellious people whom he

governed. He had sufficient warning and was without excuse. He

would sin, and therefore he must suffer.

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