2 CHRONICLES CHAPTER 28
The Reign of Ahaz.
AHAZ DEFEATED BY THE SYRIANS AND BY ISRAEL. — V. 1. Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; but he did not that which was right, in accordance with the Law of God, in the sight of the Lord, like David, his father. In spite of the fact that he had the great prophet Isaiah in his kingdom, he was given to idolatry and to other forms of wickedness, all of which he refused to forsake. V. 2. For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, whose defection from the worship of Jehovah was notorious, and made also molten images for Baalim, the idols of the heathen Canaanites. V. 3. Moreover, he burnt incense in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, southwest of Jerusalem, the Valley Ben-hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, sacrificing them to Moloch, the idol of the Moabites, after the abominations of the heathen whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. This was not only base ingratitude, but was equivalent to a challenge to the Lord. V. 4. He sacrificed also and burned incense in the high places and on the hills and under every green tree, deliberately indulging in every abomination which the Lord had so emphatically forbidden time and again. V. 5. Wherefore the Lord, his God, still his God and ready to accept him if he would but turn to Him in true repentance, delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria, who had shown a hostile attitude even in the days of Jotham; and they, the Syrians, smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. That was the result of the first part of the campaign, briefly summarized. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter, by defeating his army and cutting them down with the usual bitterness existing between related nations in case of war. V. 6. For Pekah, the son of Remaliah, slew in Judah an hundred and twenty thousand in one day, in a slaughter which was a terrible calamity, which were all valiant men, the flower of the nation, because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers; it was a direct punishment. V. 7. And Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, slew Maaseiah, the king’s son, probably a royal prince of an older generation, and Azrikam, the governor of the house, a high officer of the royal palace, perhaps chief chamberlain, and Elkanah, that was next to the king, his minister or chancellor. V. 8. And the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren (note the feature of civil war brought out) two hundred thousand, women, sons, and daughters, whom they probably captured by a raid upon the cities of Judah, and took also away much spoil from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria. This was a terrible blow for the southern kingdom, and showed the character of the war as a barbarous strife between brother nations. V. 9. But a prophet of the Lord was there, whose name was Oded, he still maintained his position in the midst of the idolatrous nation; and he went out before the host that came to Samaria, before they had reached the capital and said unto them, Behold, because the Lord God of your fathers was wroth with Judah, He hath delivered them into your hand, not on account of the superiority of Israel’s arms and valor, and ye have slain them in a rage that reacheth up unto heaven, in a frantic slaughter, in an unprovoked carnage, whereby they had abused their victory. V. 10. And now ye purpose to keep under the children of Judah and Jerusalem for bondmen and bondwomen unto you, treating them as slaves of heathen nations, such as were captured in rightful war; but are there not with you, even with you, sins against the Lord, your God? Their own national sins were of such a nature that they could hardly set themselves up as judges of their brethren, to punish them with such unexampled harshness and barbarous cruelty. V. 11. Now, hear me therefore, and deliver the captives again, set them at liberty, which ye have taken captive of your brethren; for the fierce wrath of the Lord is upon you, they would add to their guilt by this unnatural and sinful cruelty. Cp. Lev. 25, 39-46. V. 12. Then certain of the heads of the children of Ephraim, some of the princes of Israel themselves, 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, adding their indignant protest to that of Oded, v. 13. and said unto them, Ye shall not bring in the captives hither, into the city; for whereas we have offended against the Lord already, ye intend to add more to our sins and to our trespass; for our trespass is great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel, their debt was even then so great that a further increase would bring the Lord’s punishment upon them in unendurable measure. V. 14. So the armed men, overcome by the earnestness of the remonstrances, left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the congregation. V. 15. And the men which were expressed by name, very likely the same princes of Ephraim who had exhibited the fine measure of courage in stopping the procession of the captives with their armed escort, rose up and took the captives, and with the spoil clothed all that were naked among them, and arrayed them, in a decent outfit of clothes, and shod them, and gave them to eat and to drink, and anointed them, because they should return home happy and cheerful, and carried all the feeble of them, literally, “the stumblers,” such as stumbled for weariness, upon asses, and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm-trees, on their southeastern border, to their brethren. Then they returned to Samaria. It was a fine example of brotherly love, expressed in a beautiful manner, a refreshing incident in the midst of a history full of unpleasant narratives, a lesson also for our day, when true charity has become almost unknown, in spite of all boasting.
AHAZ, DISTRESSED BY ASSYRIA, CONTINUES IN HIS WICKEDNESS. — V. 16. At that time, when Judah had just suffered this severe defeat, besides losing the harbor of Eloth, on the Red Sea, to the Syrians, did King Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him, since Assyria was a mighty empire and was gaining in strength. V. 17. For again the Edomites, freed from the sovereignty of Judah by the campaign of Rezin of Syria, had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives. These raids were made along the southern and southeastern border. V. 18. The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the low country, the lowlands toward the Mediterranean, and of the south of Judah, and had taken Beth-shemesh, and Ajalon, and Gederoth, and Shocho with the villages thereof, and Timnah with the villages thereof, Gimzo also and the villages thereof, all cities along the Philistine border in the west and southwest; and they dwelt there. V. 19. For the Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz, king of Israel, given this title because he was guilty of all the idolatry of the kings of Israel; for he, Ahaz, made Judah naked, he had behaved in a dissolute manner in the nation and with its people, and transgressed sore against the Lord. V. 20. And Tilgathpilneser, king of Assyria, welcoming the opportunity to interfere in the affairs of the nations to the south, came unto him and distressed him, added to his burdens by oppressing him all the more, but strengthened him not. V. 21. For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of the Lord and out of the house of the king and of the princes, plundering the treasures of the kingdom in his vain attempts to find relief, and gave it unto the king of Assyria; but he helped him not. V. 22. And in the time of his distress, when he should have repented and turned to the Lord for help, did he trespass yet more against the Lord. This is that King Ahaz, an example of foolish perverseness for all times. V. 23. For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus which smote him; and he said, arguing foolishly in his blindness and attempting to excuse his further progress in wickedness, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will l sacrifice to them that they may help me, the very argument used in our days by such as sell their souls for the sake of outward success. But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel. V. 24. And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, probably also to be used for tribute-money, and shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, thus suspending the worship both in the Holy Place and in the Most Holy Place; and he made him altars, devoted to idolatry, in every corner of Jerusalem, including the brazen altar erected by the priest Uriah after the pattern furnished him by the king, 2 Kings 16, 10-16. V. 25. And in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense unto other gods, thus making idolatry of the grossest kind the official religion of the kingdom, and provoked to anger the Lord God of his fathers. V. 26. Now, the rest of his acts and of all his ways, first and last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. V. 27. And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, even in Jerusalem, for the sake of his office, not of his person; but they brought him not into the sepulchers of the kings of Israel, they did not disgrace the tombs of the good kings of the line of David by placing his corpse by their side; and Hezekiah, his son, reigned in his stead. A terrible fate awaits him who refuses to be halted in his career of enmity toward God and dies in the hardness of his heart.