Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, May 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 16

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-20

Judah’s decline under Ahaz (15:27-16:20)

The writer of Kings records the Assyrian attack mentioned above. Pekah’s policy had proved fatal and he was assassinated by Hoshea, a sympathizer with Assyria. Hoshea then became king and won temporary relief for Israel by submitting to Assyria’s control (27-31).

Before speaking further of Hoshea, the writer returns to the time before Pekah was assassinated. Pekah’s program for the conquest of Judah had begun during the reign of Jotham, but reached its climax in the reign of Jotham’s successor Ahaz. The aggression of Israel-Syria and the constant threat from Assyria prompted Jotham to build defence fortifications throughout Judah. He also made his borders secure by taking control of neighbouring Ammon (32-38; 2 Chronicles 27:3-6).

Because of his lack of faith in God, Ahaz had a disastrous reign. Apart from the damage he did to Judah by following other gods, he almost ruined the nation’s economy by his policies in the war with Israel and Syria. Buying Assyrian aid did not save him from heavy losses in the war, and he would have suffered even more had not Israel released the war prisoners taken from Judah. His weakened country suffered further at the hands of invading Edomites from the south and Philistines from the west. He also lost the Red Sea port of Elath (Ezion-geber) (16:1-9; 2 Chronicles 28:5-18).

Earlier, after losing a battle with Syria, Ahaz had turned from Yahweh to worship the ‘victorious’ Syrian gods. He closed the temple to Yahweh in Jerusalem and built altars to foreign gods throughout Judah (2 Chronicles 28:22-25). But Assyria, acting on Ahaz’s request, had now conquered Syria (see v. 9) and established its religion and its administration in Damascus. Ahaz now replaced the Syrians’ religion with the Assyrians’, and built a copy of their altar in Jerusalem (10-16). Ahaz’s hiring of Assyria was so costly that he removed valuable metal from the temple to pay Tiglath-pileser (17-20). (It was after this conquest of Syria that Tiglath-pileser overran eastern and northern Israel; see 15:29.)

The importance of Isaiah

There was great variety in the kinds of people God chose to be his prophets. Whereas Amos was a poor farmer, Isaiah was a person of high social standing, an adviser to the king who was able to influence national policy. His ministry had begun long before the time of Ahaz. It began in the year of Uzziah’s death and continued through the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (Isaiah 1:1; Isaiah 6:1). The traditional belief is that he was executed during the reign of the wicked Manasseh by being sawn in two (cf. 21:1-2,16; Hebrews 11:37).

In the early part of the book of Isaiah, the prophet records his attempts to persuade Ahaz to trust in God, not in Assyria, to save Judah from the Israel-Syrian invasion. In the next part of the book he records his attempts to control the zeal of the good king Hezekiah, who was rather too keen to rely on help from Egypt in revolting against Assyria (see notes on 18:1-20:21). Isaiah shows that all these nations, and others as well, were under God’s judgment. Judah too would be punished for its sin, and its people taken into captivity.
The final section of the book of Isaiah shows that God would not cast off his people for ever. He would preserve that minority of people who had always remained faithful to him, and through them he would rebuild the nation. God’s people would return to their land and enjoy peace and prosperity once more. The Messiah-king would come, and his kingdom would spread to all nations.

Micah accuses the rich landowners

No doubt one man who cooperated with Isaiah was Micah, who prophesied during the same period of Judah’s history (Isaiah 1:1; Micah 1:1). While Isaiah was using his influence at Jerusalem’s royal court, Micah was coming to the aid of the small farmers. (He came from a farming village and was probably a farmer himself; Micah 1:1,Micah 1:14.) As Amos and Hosea had done before him, he condemned the injustice, greed and false religion that were widespread in Judah, especially among the upper class people of Jerusalem (Micah 3:1-3,Micah 3:9-11; Micah 6:9-12; Micah 7:3).

Micah was particularly concerned at how the rich ruthlessly gained possession of the land of the small farmers. They lent money to the farmers at high interest, then, when the farmers found it impossible to pay their debts, seized the farmers’ houses and land as payment (Micah 2:1-3,Micah 2:9). The farmers then were required to rent their land from their new masters, which increased their burden even more. The state of affairs showed no thought for the rights of others, no understanding of true religion, and no knowledge of the character of God. It was a sure indication that Judah was heading for judgment (Micah 3:12; Micah 6:16).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Kings 16". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/2-kings-16.html. 2005.
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