2 Kings 16


‘In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign. Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.’ 2 Kings 16:1-4

Ahaz King Of Judah

Ahaz now becomes king of Judah at the age of twenty and he reigned in Judah from 732 B.C. to 716 B.C. 2 Chronicles 28:1-27. The writer informs us that he did three things wrong as leader and king of Judah.

1. He didn’t walk in the way of David, that is a man after God’s own heart, who was obedient to God, Acts 13:22.

2. He offered his son as a burnt offering to Molech, 1 Kings 11:7 / 2 Kings 3:27, which was condemned by the prophets, 2 Kings 23:10 / Psalm 106:38 / Jeremiah 7:31 / Ezekiel 16:21.

3. He participated in the immoral worship in the high places, although just before he died, he did close the temple hall and suspended the temple worship, 2 Chronicles 28:24.

The kings before him accepted Canaanite worship in the high places, but Ahaz is the first king to actually get involved in it. When we compare the words, ‘under every spreading tree’ used here, with the way Jeremiah uses the phrase over in Jeremiah 3:6, we quickly learn that this phrase is used metaphorically for prostitution, which gives us an insight to the kind of worship Ahaz was involved with.

‘Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem and besieged Ahaz, but they could not overpower him. At that time, Rezin king of Aram recovered Elath for Aram by driving out the people of Judah. Edomites then moved into Elath and have lived there to this day. Ahaz sent messengers to say to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, ‘I am your servant and vassal. Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.’ And Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent it as a gift to the king of Assyria. The king of Assyria complied by attacking Damascus and capturing it. He deported its inhabitants to Kir and put Rezin to death.’ 2 Kings 16:5-9

Rezin and Pekah weren’t successful in their attack against Jerusalem because of the strong fortifications of the city. Although most translations have the word Edomites, some translations use the word Syrians, but it really doesn’t make any difference as to how they are described.

Coffman says the following in his commentary.

‘2 Kings 16:5 here is practically identical with Isaiah 7:1. In fact, Isaiah probably is the author of a great many passages in Kings. From the account in Isaiah we learn the reason for this war against Judah. Syria, mentioned first here, was the leader of a coalition in which they had also enlisted Pekah with a projected purpose of forming a widespread alliance against the rising authority of Assyria. They desperately wanted Judah to join this coalition, and when Ahaz refused, Syria and Israel under Pekah decided to replace Ahaz on the throne of Judah with a man of their own choice, Ben-Tabeel, Isaiah 7:6.’

Cook in his commentary says the following.

‘A large party in Judah were weary of the house of David, Isaiah 7:13, and were ready to join the coalition. Their siege of Jerusalem was for that purpose, but although they inflicted great damage and casualties upon Judah, they could not compel the removal of Ahaz.’

Notice that Ahaz took the gold and silver he found in the temple, throughout Israel’s history, the stores of wealth in Jerusalem were often plundered by foreign kings or used by the kings of Judah to buy the allegiance of foreign powers, 1 Kings 14:26 / 1 Kings 15:18 / 2 Kings 12:18.

Because Tiglath-Pileser killed Rezin, the king of Syria, this meant that the nation of Syria no longer acted like a boundary between Syria and Israel.

Snaith in his commentary says the following.

‘Rezin of Syria-Damascus and Pekah of Israel tried to bully Ahaz into joining their coalition against their common Assyrian overlord. Ahaz called for help from Assyria, buying it with great treasure and was saved from his immediate enemies. Damascus was captured, its people deported, and their king Rezin killed. This was the end of Syrian Damascus as a power. This destruction of Damascus had been prophesied by Amos, Amos 1:3-5.’

Please note that the word translated ‘gift’ in 2 Kings 16:8 is the same word also rendered ‘bribe’. The sad thing concerning Ahaz, is that he could have easily avoided all of this, if he had listened to and took Isaiah’s advice, Isaiah 7:4-25.

‘Then King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. He saw an altar in Damascus and sent to Uriah the priest a sketch of the altar, with detailed plans for its construction. So Uriah the priest built an altar in accordance with all the plans that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus and finished it before King Ahaz returned. When the king came back from Damascus and saw the altar, he approached it and presented offerings on it. He offered up his burnt offering and grain offering, poured out his drink offering, and splashed the blood of his fellowship offerings against the altar. As for the bronze altar that stood before the LORD, he brought it from the front of the temple—from between the new altar and the temple of the LORD—and put it on the north side of the new altar. King Ahaz then gave these orders to Uriah the priest: ‘On the large new altar, offer the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, and the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. Splash against this altar the blood of all the burnt offerings and sacrifices. But I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance.’ And Uriah the priest did just as King Ahaz had ordered. King Ahaz cut off the side panels and removed the basins from the movable stands. He removed the Sea from the bronze bulls that supported it and set it on a stone base. He took away the Sabbath canopy that had been built at the temple and removed the royal entryway outside the temple of the LORD, in deference to the king of Assyria. As for the other events of the reign of Ahaz, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? Ahaz rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the City of David. And Hezekiah his son succeeded him as king.’ 2 Kings 16:10-20

Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria and he saw a pagan god altar.

However, he didn’t just like the altar, he went as far as having a copy of it made and placed in the courtyard of the temple in Jerusalem. It’s possible that he is now introducing these foreign gods to Israel as a way of showing his allegiance to the Assyrians and the Syrians.

Notice that Uriah the priest built the altar, he is mentioned as a witness in Isaiah 8:2, but make no mistake about it, by building this altar, he was demonstrating how evil as priest he really was. He should have refused to build it, just as Azariah did when he refused to obey the king, 1 Chronicles 26:17.

The bronze altar was the original bronze altar found within the temple, Exodus 25:40 / Exodus 26:30 / 1 Chronicles 28:19. It wasn’t destroyed as some commentators suggest, Jeremiah 52:17-20, but it appears that all of its purposes were transferred to the new altar designed after Ahaz’s orders.

It appears that the original bronze altar now has second place, in the eyes of Ahaz, he moves it to a place where he can inquire of the Lord, Ezekiel 21:36.

After the death of Ahaz, Hezekiah now becomes king of Judah.

Go To 2 Kings 17


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