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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 16

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-4

Ahaz’s assessment 16:1-4

Pekah’s seventeenth year (2 Kings 16:1) was 735 B.C. Ahaz did not follow David’s example of godliness (2 Kings 16:2). Rather he followed the kings of Israel and those of his pagan neighbors and went so far as offering at least one of his sons as a human sacrifice (Leviticus 18:21; Deuteronomy 12:31; cf. Deuteronomy 3:27). [Note: See Wiseman, pp. 260-61.] These sacrificial rites took place near the confluence of the Hinnom and Kidron valleys at a place called Topheth. This place developed a reputation for wickedness, and then filth, because it became a constantly burning garbage heap. Jesus compared it to the place of eternal punishment (Gehenna; cf. Matthew 5:22; Matthew 5:29-30; Matthew 10:28; et al).

". . . desperate to solve his political problems, Judah’s king becomes a dedicated polytheist in hopes that some god may deliver him from his trouble." [Note: House, p. 336.]

Verses 5-9

Ahaz’s folly 16:5-9

Aram had captured the town of Elath from Judah (2 Kings 16:6; cf. 2 Kings 14:22). When Aram and Israel threatened to invade Judah, Ahaz did not seek Yahweh but Tiglath-Pileser for deliverance. Rather than putting himself under Yahweh’s direction, he appealed to the king of Assyria as his "servant" and his "son" (2 Kings 16:7). This reflects a failure to see his role under God and God’s role over Israel. Instead of making sacrifices to Yahweh, he sent them to Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 16:8).

Verses 10-18

Ahaz’s apostasy 16:10-18

As Ahab had imported Baal worship from Phoenicia, so Ahaz imported a foreign altar from Damascus (cf. Amaziah of Judah’s Edomite idols, 2 Chronicles 25:14; 2 Chronicles 25:20). As Judah’s king-priest, he led the nation in worshipping at an altar different from what Yahweh had specified (Exodus 27:1-8). Furthermore, he removed the altar God had established from the place God had said it should occupy in the temple courtyard (Exodus 40:6; Exodus 40:29).

"Readers could hardly miss the similarities between Jeroboam, the father of institutionalized idolatry in Israel, and Ahaz, the Judahite king who makes polytheism acceptable nationwide." [Note: Ibid., p. 337.]

Ahaz did not completely discard the worship God had prescribed, but he changed it according to his liking, thus claiming God’s authority (2 Kings 16:15). The high priest unfortunately cooperated with the king. Ahaz likewise changed the other temple furnishings to please the Assyrian king (2 Kings 16:18). [Note: For a more favorable evaluation of Ahaz’s actions, see Richard Nelson, "The Altar of Ahaz: A Revisionist View," Hebrew Annual Review 10 (1986):267-76.]

Verses 19-20

Ahaz’s death 16:19-20

The godly people in Judah gave Ahaz a respectable burial (2 Kings 16:20), but they did not honor him by burying him in the royal sepulchers with the good Judean kings (2 Chronicles 28:27).

Ahaz reduced Judah to a new low politically and spiritually. The forces that influenced him were his culture and the people around him rather than God’s Word.

"When Ahaz dies about 715 B.C., he is succeeded by Hezekiah, his son. He leaves a legacy of appeasement and syncretism unmatched to this time. Assyria can count on him for money, loyalty, and zealous acceptance of their gods. Judah’s king seems genuinely pleased to serve a powerful master who can deliver him from regional foes. No doubt he feels safe, but the historian duly notes the ways in which he has exceeded Jeroboam’s wickedness. If Jeroboam’s practices are worth condemning, what will happen to a nation who rejects the Lord even more clearly?" [Note: House, p. 338.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Kings 16". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/2-kings-16.html. 2012.
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