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Ahaz succeeds his father Jotham, and reigns wickedly for sixteen years, 2 Chronicles 28:1. He restores idolatry in its grossest forms, 2 Chronicles 28:2-4; and is delivered Into the hands of the kings of Israel and Syria, 2 Chronicles 28:5. Pekah slays one hundred and twenty thousand Jews in one day, and carries away captive two hundred thousand of the people, whom, at the instance of Oded the prophet, they restore to liberty, and send home, clothed and fed, 2 Chronicles 28:6-15. Ahaz sends to the king of Assyria for help against the Edomites, Philistines, etc., from whom he receives no effectual succor, 2 Chronicles 28:16-21. He sins yet more, spoils and shuts up the temple of God, and propagates idolatry throughout the land, 2 Chronicles 28:22-25. A reference to has acts, his death, and burial, 2 Chronicles 28:26, 2 Chronicles 28:27.
Ahaz was twenty years old - For the difficulties in this chronology, see the notes on 2 Kings 16:2 (note).
Burnt his children in the fire - There is a most remarkable addition here in the Chaldee which I shall give at length: “Ahaz burnt his children in the fire; but the Word of the Lord snatched Hezekiah from among them; for it was manifest before the Lord that the three righteous men, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were to proceed from him; who should deliver up their bodies that they might be cast into a burning fiery furnace, on account of the great and glorious Name, (יהוה) and from which they should escape. First, Abram escaped from the furnace of fire among the Chaldeans, into which he had been cast by Nimrod, because he would not worship their idols. Secondly, Tamar escaped burning in the house of judgment of Judah, who had said, Bring her out, that she may be burnt. Thirdly, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz escaped from the burning, when Ahaz his father cast him into the valley of the son of Hinnom, on the altars of Tophet. Fourthly, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, escaped from the burning fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. Fifthly, Joshua, the son of Josedek the high priest, escaped, when the impious Nebuchadnezzar had cast him into a burning fiery furnace, with Achaab the son of Kolia, and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, the false prophet. They were consumed by fire; but Joshua the son of Josedek escaped because of his righteousness.”
Delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria - For the better understanding of these passages, the reader is requested to refer to what has been advanced in the notes on the sixteenth chapter of 2 Kings 16:5, etc.
A hundred and twenty thousand - It is very probable that there is a mistake in this number. It is hardly possible that a hundred and twenty thousand men could have been slain in one day; yet all the versions and MSS. agree in this number. The whole people seem to have been given up into the hands of their enemies.
But a prophet of the Lord - whose name was Oded - To this beautiful speech nothing can be added by the best comment; it is simple, humane, pious, and overwhelmingly convincing: no wonder it produced the effect mentioned here. That there was much of humanity in the heads of the children of Ephraim who joined with the prophet on this occasion, the fifteenth verse sufficiently proves. They did not barely dismiss these most unfortunate captives, but they took that very spoil which their victorious army had brought away; and they clothed, fed, shod, and anointed, these distressed people, set the feeblest of them upon asses, and escorted them safely to Jericho. We can scarcely find a parallel to this in the universal history of the wars which savage man has carried on against his fellows, from the foundation of the world.
The kings of Assyria to help him - Instead of מלכי (malchey); Kings; the Vulgate, Syriac, Arabic, and Chaldee, one MS., and the parallel place, 2 Kings 16:7, have מלך (melek), King, in the singular number. This king was Tiglath-pileser, as we learn from the second book of Kings.
But he helped him not - He did him no ultimate service. See the note on 2 Kings 16:9.
After 2 Kings 16:15, the 23d, 24th, and 25th verses are introduced before the 16th, in the Syriac and Arabic, and the 22d verse is wholly wanting in both, though some of the expressions may be found in the twenty-first verse.
He sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him - “This passage,” says Mr. Hallet, “greatly surprised me; for the sacred historian himself is here represented as saying, The gods of Damascus had smitten Ahaz. But it is impossible to suppose that an inspired author could say this; for the Scripture everywhere represents the heathen idols as nothing and vanity, and as incapable of doing either good or hurt. All difficulty is avoided if we follow the old Hebrew copies, from which the Greek translation was made, Και ειπεν ὁ βασιλεις Αχαζ, εκζητησω τους Θεους Δαμασκου τους τυπτοντας με , And King Ahaz said, I Will Seek to the Gods of Damascus Which Have Smitten Me; and then it follows, both in Hebrew and Greek, He said moreover, Because the gods of the king of Syria help them; therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. Both the Syriac and Arabic give it a similar turn; and say that Ahaz sacrificed to the gods of Damascus, and said, Ye are my gods and my lords; you will I worship, and to you will I sacrifice.”
Shut up the doors - He caused the Divine worship to be totally suspended; and they continued shut till the beginning of the reign of Hezekiah, one of whose first acts was to reopen them, and thus to restore the Divine worship, 2 Chronicles 29:3.
The kings of Israel - It is a common thing for the writer of this book to put Israel for Judah. He still considers them as one people, because proceeding from one stock. The versions and MSS. have the same reading with the Hebrew; the matter is of little importance, and with this interpretation none can mistake.