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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 16

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah Ahaz the son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD his God, like David his father.

Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign. What kind of education this young king had received, and to what unhappy influences he had been subjected, was soon made apparent after he assumed the sole power of government. At the time of his accession the nation do not seem to have generally apostatized with their king to the worship of false gods. In the whole account given in this chapter of the idolatries of Ahaz, not the slightest hint in thrown out respecting the co-operation of his subjects. But the seeds of corruption were sown, and the baneful influence of royal example rapidly spread the contagion of idolatry.

And did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord. The character of this king's reign, the voluptuousness and religious degeneracy of all classes of the people, are graphically portrayed in the writings of Isaiah, who prophesied at that period. The great increase of worldly wealth and luxury in the reigns of Azariah and Jotham had introduced a host of corruptions, which, during the reign and by the influence of Ahaz, bore fruit in the idolatrous practices of every kind which prevailed in all parts of the kingdom (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 28:24).

Verse 3

But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel.

Walked in the way of the kings of Israel. This is descriptive of the early part of his reign, when, like the kings of Israel, he patronized the symbolic worship of God by images, but he gradually went further into gross idolatry (2 Chronicles 28:2).

Made his son to pass through the fire (2 Kings 23:10). The hands of the idol Moloch, or Baal, being red hot, the children were passed through between them, which was considered a form of lustration; but there is reason to believe that in certain circumstances the children were burnt to death (Deuteronomy 12:31; Psalms 106:37; Jeremiah 7:31; Ezekiel 16:20-21; Ezekiel 23:37-39). It was the former of these practices Ahaz observed-that of purifying or sanctifying his children, by letting or 'making them pass through the fire,' and thereby dedicating them to that pagan divinity. It was a simple and quick operation, merely placing the child between the glowing arms of the idol; but the rite was considered symbolical of purity. And something like this is observed still in Persia by the king of Persia, who sends his son, seated on black horse, to ride through the flames, in order to prove the sacredness of his character, and to show to the crowd that fire will not hurt him. The practice, however, of making children pass through the fire was strongly prohibited in the law (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2-5; Deuteronomy 18:10), although there is no evidence that it was practiced in Israel until the time of Ahaz.

Verse 4

And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 5

Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him.

Then Rezin ... and Pekah ... came up to Jerusalem to war. Notwithstanding their great efforts and military preparations, they failed to take it, and, being disappointed, raised the siege and returned home (cf. Isaiah 7:1). It appears from Isaiah 7:6 that the invasion of Judah by the confederate kings (confederate in one sense; but Rezin was the superior, and Pekah a tributary vassal, bound to follow his master) was not a mere predatory expedition, but that it was the permanent reduction of the country, the destruction of the whole family of David, and the establishment of another tributary prince, that they had in view. A close examination of the seventh and eighth chapters in the hook of that prophet will furnish clear proof that there was in Jerusalem itself a powerful faction who were actively favouring the designs of the northern allies. [The word qesher (H7195), rendered (2 Kings 16:12) a confederacy, is used throughout the history of the kings to signify a conspiracy only (2 Kings 11:14; 2 Kings 12:21; 2 Kings 14:19; 2 Kings 15:30).]

At the head of this conspiracy was the son of Tabeal, whom the invaders intended to set, as their vassal, on the throne of Judah, as the geographical position of Syria excluded the possibility of dividing the former country, and annexing any part of it to the dominions of Rezin. Their ultimate object was to bring Judah as well as Israel under vassalage to Syria, that by the union of the three kingdoms (and it is probable, cf. 2 Kings 17:4, that Egypt secretly favoured this policy) a broad, compact phalanx of opposition might be presented to the overwhelming power of Assyria. The extirpation of whole dynasties was familiar to those who were connected with Oriental courts; and the older a dynasty was, the more venerated and beloved by the people, the more necessary it was that no survivor should be left to claim back the crown from its usurper. But the unconditional promise given to David, that his seed should for ever sit on the throne of Israel, irrespective of the conduct of his descendants (2 Samuel 7:12-16), prevented such dynastic changes in Judah, and occasioned purpose of the allied kings being defeated, in spite of Ahaz. This result was all the more striking, that at another time, and in other circumstances, he was left to himself under incomparably greater calamities, when his kingdom was all but annihilated (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 28:5; 2 Chronicles 28:8; 2 Chronicles 28:17-18) (see 'Jewish Intelligence,' March,


Verse 6

At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drave the Jews from Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day.

Rezin ... recovered Elath - which Azariah had gotten into his possession (2 Kings 14:22).

And drave the Jews from Elath. This is the first passage in which the name has occurred. It was only in an advanced period of their history that the Hebrews were called "Jews," from the tribe of Judah, which was honoured to furnish the name, both because it returned in great prosperity from Babylon, while the other tribes were hopelessly dispersed, and because from it was to spring the king Messiah.

The Syrians ... dwelt there unto this day, ['Arowmiym. It is most improbable that the Syrians came from Elath. The Qeri' and very many ancient manuscripts have 'Edowmiym (H130), Edomites. The Septuagint version has 'the Edomites,' which the most judicious commentators and travelers prefer.]

Verse 7

So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me.

So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser. In spite of the assurance given him by Isaiah by two signs-the one immediate, the other remote (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:4) - that the confederate kings would not prevail against him, Abaz sought aid from the Assyrian monarch.

Saying, I am thy servant, and thy son. This was a plain acknowledgement of his dependent position upon the Assyrian king (cf. 2 Kings 17:4). The same fact may be inferred from various passages, both in Kings and Chronicles; and it can now be proved from the Assyrian monuments, which record the payment of tribute by the tribes of Israel at a much earlier period than any passage of Scripture intimates (see 'Nineveh and Babylon'). To procure an adequate sum for purchasing the succour of the protector's power, Ahaz ransacked the treasures both of the palace and the temple.

Verse 8

And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria. No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 9

And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him: for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin.

The king of Assyria hearkened unto him. Thus, Ahaz and his people were delivered from impending danger; but it was at an immense sacrifice, as they found afterward (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 28:20). [The Septuagint, Alexandrine, has Kureeneen; but Cyrene was in Africa.]

Verse 10

And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.

Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tigiath-pileser. This was a visit of respect, and perhaps of gratitude. It was the first time, in all probability, that Ahaz and his courtiers had come into contact with the mighty lord-paramount, and yet, although many scenes must have been witnessed in the Assyrian camp, betokening the pomp and circumstance of the great conqueror, one incident only has been put on record, evidently from its being regarded by the sacred historian as being of an idolatrous character. This is expressly stated in the parallel passage (2 Chronicles 28:3). Besides, the Assyrian conquerors required all their tributaries to set up in their capitals altars to the great gods, as a token of gratitude, on the part of the victor, to the deities by whose favour he had triumphed, and a badge of subjection to their suzerain on the part of the dependents. During his stay that pagan city, Ahaz saw an altar with which he was greatly captivated. Forthwith a sketch of it was transmitted to Jerusalem, with orders to Urijah the priest to get one constructed according to the Damascus model, and to let this new altar supersede the old one in the temple.

Verses 11-14

And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 15

And king Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meat offering, and the king's burnt sacrifice, and his meat offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice: and the brasen altar shall be for me to inquire by.

The brasen altar shall be for me to inquire by. Urijah, with culpable complaisance, acted according to his instructions (2 Kings 16:16). The sin in this affair consisted in meddling with, and improving, according to human taste and fancy, the altars of the temple, the patterns of which had been furnished by divine authority (Exodus 25:40; Exodus 26:30; Exodus 27:1; 1 Chronicles 28:19). Urijah was one of the witnesses taken by Isaiah to bear his prediction against Syria and Israel (Isaiah 8:2). But neither the king nor Urijah would have dared to commit such gross sacrilege had not a fondness for idolatry prevailed to wide extent in Jerusalem at the time when those incidents occurred (cf. Isaiah 1:1-31 and Isaiah 2:1-22.) [ lªbaqeer (H1239), to look at mentally, to think upon (cf. Proverbs 20:25) - i:e., to worship at; and so the Syriac and Arabic versions render it. The Septuagint has: eis to prooi, for the morning; having evidently read boqer (H1242)].

Verse 16

Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that king Ahaz commanded.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 17

And king Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases, and removed the laver from off them; and took down the sea from off the brasen oxen that were under it, and put it upon a pavement of stones.

Cut off the borders of the bases ... It is thought that be did this to employ the elaborate sculpture in adorning his palace. Many writers have supposed that the design of Ahaz in 'cutting off the borders of the bases,' and removing the layer from off them, 'was to melt them down, and apply them to some idolatrous uses; and as the temple was closed, it is highly probable that he did pervert them to such purposes, as we know that he did with the bronze altar (2 Kings 16:15) and many of the vessels abstracted from the Lord's house (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 28:24). But that the brasen oxen were excepted from this process of fusion and transmutation, appears from the record of Jeremiah, who describes them as preserved in their entireness, and enumerates them among other articles removed to Babylon (Jeremiah 52:17-20).'

Verse 18

And the covert for the sabbath that they had built in the house, and the king's entry without, turned he from the house of the LORD for the king of Assyria.

And the covert for the sabbath that they had built in the house [meeycak), Khethib; muwcak (H4329), Qeri'. Gesenius renders it, 'a covered walk, a portico.' The Septuagint has: ton themelion tees kathedras, the base, or foundation of the chair, The Syriac and Arabic versions call it, 'the house of the Sabbath']. Some think it was the bronze scaffold which Solomon erected in the temple, and on which he stood on the Sabbath or festival days (cf. 2 Chronicles 6:13); while others take it to have been a canopy drawn over the courts of the temple, to screen the worshippers. Whatever it was, and it is not easy to attach a definite meaning to the original word, it seems to have been formed of costly materials, and decorated with rich ornaments, from the anxiety of Ahaz to secrete it from the cupidity of the Assyrian monarch.

The king's entry without - a private external entrance for the king into the temple. The change made by Ahaz consisted in removing both of these into the temple, from fear of the king of Assyria, that, in case of a siege, he might secure the entrance of the temple from him.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-kings-16.html. 1871-8.
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