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2 Kings 16:6. Recovered Elath to Syria— Elath, or Elam, was a famous port on the Red Sea, which David in his conquest of the kingdom took, and there established a great trade to divers parts of the world.
2 Kings 16:9. Went up against Damascus— In the time of Abraham, Damascus was in being; for it is certain, that one whom he had made free and appointed steward of his house was of Damascus, Gen 15:2 at the time that he pursued Chedorlaomer, and the five confederate kings as far as Hoba, which lies northward of Damascus; Genesis 14:15. The Scripture says nothing more of this city till the time of David, when Hadad, who, according to Josephus, was the first that took upon him the title of king of Damascus, sending troops to the assistance of king Hadad-ezer, king of Zabah, was himself defeated by David, and his country subdued. Towards the end of Solomon's reign, Rezin recovered the kingdom of Damascus, and shook off the Jewish yoke; 1 Kings 11:23; 1 Kings 11:43. Some time after this, Asa king of Judah implored the help of Ben-hadad king of Damascus against Baasha king of Israel, 1 Kings 15:18.; and from his time the kings of Damascus were generally called Ben-hadad, till, in this last controversy with them, Ahaz called in the assistance of the king of Assyria, who killed their king, and carried his subjects into captivity, according to the prediction of Isaiah, chap. 7: and Amos, chap. 7: See Calmet.
Captive to Kir— i.e. Media, as appears in Josephus. Media therefore was yet subject to Assyria, which destroys the credit of the Ctesian kings of Media, who, as he reports, having revolted from and beaten Sardanapalus, had now reigned a long time, Arbaces being the first of them; whereas Herodotus makes Dejoces the first. See chap. 2 Kings 17:6.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Ahaz, the son of pious Jotham, degenerated greatly from the steps of his holy ancestors. The idolatry of Israel pleased him better than the pure worship of Judah; and Molech is preferred to the glorious Jehovah. He sacrifices on the high places, which his fathers, though they left them, had never used; and, as if unsatisfied with lesser abominations, made his own son pass between, or through, the fires of lustration, to the honour of his hateful idols. Note; (1.) They who provoke God to give them up, lose every natural affection, and turn monsters instead of men. (2.) The desperate wickedness of the heart of man, when left to itself, who can know?
2nd, The sin of Ahaz soon brought him into deep distress, Isaiah 7:2. His country was ravaged, Elath lost, and his capital besieged by the confederate forces of Syria and Israel. Yet, far from having recourse to God, or depending on his promises, Isa 7:4-16 he rather trusted in an arm of flesh; and, to engage the king of Assyria to make a diversion in his favour, robbed the house of God of the dedicated treasures, impoverished his own, and professed himself the vassal of an idolatrous Assyrian, rather than be the servant of the King of kings, who was so much better able to deliver him. The project succeeded: the king of Syria was slain, his capital taken, and his people led captive to Kir, as foretold Amos 1:5. Note; (1.) God is the last resource that a sinner will fly to. (2.) They who cast off God's government make themselves quickly the worst of slaves. (3.) When men by their wickedness involve themselves in trouble, they will scarcely stop at any fraud or injustice to extricate themselves from it.
2 Kings 16:11. Urijah the priest built an altar, &c.— It must not be denied, that the high priest carried his complaisance much too far in obeying the king's injunction, which he ought to have opposed with all his interest and power. God prescribed to Moses in what form and with what materials he was to make the altar, Exodus 27:1; Exodus 27:21. The altar which Solomon made, indeed, was four times as large, 2 Chronicles 4:1. But when God gave such solemn testimony of his approbation of it, there was no touching it without impiety. For the high priest could not but know that this innovation of the king's did not proceed from any principle of religion, but from a design to degrade the altar of the Lord, as well as the other sacred vessels of the temple. But what shall we say to this? There will, in all ages, be some men found ready to execute the most impious commands that can possibly come from the throne. See Patrick and Calmet.
REFLECTIONS.—He who had enslaved his body to Assyria's king, now enslaves his soul to Assyria's idols.
1. On a visit to the king of Assyria, to congratulate him on his success, and to pay him the homage that he had promised, he saw at Damascus, whilst probably he joined with him in his idol-sacrifices, an altar which much pleased him for its beauty; and instantly he resolves to copy it, sends the model to Urijah the priest, and bids him prepare just such another against his return.
2. Urijah, a true court priest, to gratify his master, consents to prostitute his office; and Ahaz, at his return, is vastly pleased with the altar, offers on it his burnt-offerings; and though the priest had some shame left, and set it behind the brasen altar, the king will have the old altar thrown by, and will consider what to do with it, whilst his own is advanced into its place; and Urijah basely complies. Note; (1.) Of all characters, a sycophant priest is the most detestable. (2.) Court air is dangerous to breathe in: they who set their hearts on rising, rather than offend their great patrons, will worship at their altars, and comply with their evil ways.
2 Kings 16:18. And the covert for the sabbath— Something, perhaps, which was made for this purpose, that, on the sabbath days, there coming a great throng, the porch not being able to contain them, they might be kept under this covering from the injuries of the weather. Houbigant supposes that it was something of this kind. The prophet Ezekiel tells us expressly, that the gate of the inner court which looked towards the east was opened only on the sabbath, and on the day of the new moon; and that on these days the king was to enter the temple at this gate, and to continue at the entrance of the priests' court (where was the brazen scaffold which Solomon erected, 2 Chronicles 6:13 a place for the king to pay his devotions on) until his sacrifices were offered: and if so, the word מיסךֶ musak, which we translate covert, might be a kind of canopy, or other covered place under which the king sat when he came to the service of the temple on the sabbath, or other great solemnities, and which was therefore called the covert of the sabbath: and the reason why the king ordered this to be taken away was, because he intended to trouble himself no more with coming to the temple, and by this action to express his hatred and contempt of the sabbath, as his removing the bases, the laver, and the brasen sea, 2Ki 16:17 was palpably with a design to deface the service of God in the temple, and thence to bring it into public disesteem. But, in the midst of his days, God, in mercy to his people, stopped his career of wickedness, and at thirty-six years of age he died, and left his crown to his most worthy successor and son Hezekiah.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Kings 16". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany