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THE WICKED REIGN OF AHAZ BRINGS AWFUL PUNISHMENT UPON JUDAH
XI. AHAZ (735-715 B.C.)
A SUMMARY OF THE WICKEDNESS OF AHAZ
"Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign; and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: and he did not that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, like David his father; but he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for the Baalim. Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the sons of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom Jehovah cast out before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree."
Pages 197-207 in my commentary on 2Kings are devoted to a discussion of the reign of Ahaz; and the only section of this chapter which is not mentioned there is found in 2 Chronicles 27:8-15. These verses provide a remarakbly interesting insight into the problems of those times.
It will suffice here to note that Ahaz was by far the most wicked of the kings of Judah up to this point in their history. He even sacrificed his son to Molech, closed the temple, and worshipped pagan gods.
GOD DELIVERED JUDAH INTO THE HANDS OF DAMASCUS AND SAMARIA
"Wherefore Jehovah his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away of his a great multitude of captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he also delivered him into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter. For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah a hundred and twenty thousand in one day, all of them valiant men; because they had forsaken Jehovah, the God of their fathers. And Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, slew Maaseiah the king's son, and Azrikam the ruler of the house, and Elkanah that was next to the king."
This disaster that fell upon Judah was wrought by a coalition of Rezin king of Syria (Damascus) and Pekah the king of Israel. They almost succeeded in capturing Ahaz, but they could not actually overcome him. However, they carried away two hundred thousand captives and much spoil.
THE PROPHET OBED INTERCEDES FOR THE CAPTIVES
"And the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand, women, sons, and daughters, and also took away much spoil from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria. But a prophet of Jehovah was there, whose name was Obed: and he went out to meet the host that came to Samaria, and said unto them, because Jehovah, the God of your fathers, was wroth with Judah, he hath delivered them into your hand, and ye have slain them in a rage which hath reached up into heaven. And now ye purpose to keep under the children of Judah and Jerusalem for bondmen and bondwomen unto you: but are there not even with you trespasses of your own against Jehovah your God? Now hear me therefore and send back the captives, that ye have taken captive of your brethren; for the fierce wrath of Jehovah is upon you. 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, and said unto them, Ye shall not bring in the captives hither: for ye purpose that which will bring upon us a trespass against Jehovah, to add unto 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 assembly. And the men that have been mentioned 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, unto their brethren: then they returned to Samaria."
"But a prophet of Jehovah was there ... Obed" (2 Chronicles 28:9). God never stopped his pleading with the northern tribes through his holy prophets, despite the fact that within a decade, or a little less time, the Northern Israel would be destroyed and many of them transported as captives by Assyria in 722 B.C. The reign of Ahaz (735-715 B.C.) would not close until after the fall of Samaria. "Thus this change of heart by some of the men of Ephraim came at a time when it was already too late." This act of mercy on their part must therefore be viewed, not as any fundamental change in the apostate Israel, but as an act of God's mercy upon Judah, even in his judgment against them. Significantly, "Nothing is known of this prophet Obed, except what is written here." There may have been many such prophets whom God sent in his futile efforts to win back from their rebellion the northern kingdom.
"Certain of the heads of the children of Ephraim" (2 Chronicles 28:12). Here the word Ephraim is used, as frequently in the O.T., for all of northern Israel.
The radical critics' hatred of Chronicles is typically expressed by Curtis (Madsen) who called this passage (2 Chronicles 28:8-15), "A good example of Midrash." The meaning of such a comment is simply that, "There's not a word of truth in it." This writer is happy to reject out of hand such unbelieving, unsupported, and inaccurate comments. It is refreshing indeed to find that today, long after the fulminations of the International Critical Commentary, many great scholars, even liberal critics, give a much more favorable view of this passage. Myers, for example, treated this paragraph as authentic, and as being supported by the sources available to the Chronicler. There are no legitimate grounds for denying anything in Chronicles.
AHAZ MAKES JUDAH A VASSAL OF ASSYRIA IN HIS APPEAL TO THEM FOR HELP
"At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him. For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives. The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the lowland, and of the South of Judah, and had taken Beth-shemesh, and Aijalon, and Gederoth, and Soco with the towns thereof, and Timnah with the towns thereof, and Gimzo with the towns thereof: and they dwelt there. For Jehovah brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he had dealt wantonly in Judah, and trespassed sore against Jehovah. And Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria came unto him and distressed him, but strengthened him not. For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of Jehovah, and out of the house of the king and of the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria, but it helped him not."
"Ahaz king of Israel" (2 Chronicles 28:19). In the view of the Chronicler, Judah was the only real Israel left, after the apostasy of the northern tribes, and thus in this line he referred to Ahaz as king of Israel, meaning the king of Judah, the only real Israel.
(See our comments in Second Kings upon this disastrous maneuver of Ahaz in seeking aid from Assyria and, in doing so, making himself, in effect, a vassal of that ambitious and cruel monolithic empire.)
FURTHER WICKEDNESS OF AHAZ; HIS DEATH; AND THE SUCCESSION OF HEZEKIAH
"And in the time of his distress did he transgress yet more against Jehovah, this same Ahaz. For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him; and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Assyria helped them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel. 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 Jehovah; and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem. And in every city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods, and provoked to anger Jehovah, the God of his fathers. Now the rest of his acts, and all his ways, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, even in Jerusalem, for they brought him not into the sepulchres of the kings of Israel: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead."
We have commented extensively upon the wickedness of Ahaz in Second Kings; and there is no need to elaborate the discussion here.
His great failure was his adoption of the theological ideas that prevailed throughout the ancient world, namely, that each country had its gods, and that their victories or defeats were due to the will of such pagan deities. In God's deliverance of Israel from Egypt, he had established most conclusively the principle that there is only one true and Almighty God, that the pagan deities are not merely powerless, but that they are actually nonentities, and finally that God's People would prosper or suffer in direct proportion to their fidelity, or lack of it, to the One True and Only God.
The long time sins and apostasies of the Chosen People had all but completely erased from their hearts those basic truths; and the final result of that shameful development would be rapidly revealed in the defeat and deportation, first, of Northern Israel to Assyria (722 B.C.), and later, in the defeat and captivity of Judah in Babylon (586 B.C.).
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 28". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25