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2Ki 16:1 In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah Ahaz the son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign-
Ahaz means 'taker hold of', and Isaiah [who prophesied at his time] seems to make a play on his name when he uses the word about the judgment which was to come upon or 'take hold of' him (Is. 5:29; 13:8; 21:3; 33:14).

2Ki 16:2 Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign; and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. He didn’t do that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh his God, like David his father-
Isaiah, Hosea and Micah all prophesied during his evil reign and provide more details about the awful nature of his sins.

2Ki 16:3 But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel-
Although Israel is often described as the source of Judah's apostacy, we must give due weight to Ezekiel's word that Judah was in fact more wicked than Israel. This could have been because Judah fell further, from greater spiritual potential. Or maybe because sinners can provoke people to sin worse than they do.


Yes, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations, whom Yahweh cast out from before the children of Israel-
Hezekiah his son somehow survived this, but may have reacted to his father's murder of his brothers by turning right against such idolatry. This means that his apparent zeal for Yahweh [remembering that he turned away from Him in the end and raised Manasseh] was partly due to a psychological reaction against his father and traumatic childhood experiences. For he would have lived in constant fear that he would also be offered, at the whim of the gods of his father. It was common to make children pass through fire as a kind of dedication ceremony; but he actually burnt his children in the fire, such was his obsession.

The valley of Hinnom, Ge Hinnom, was to later be known as Gehenna, and became a symbol used by the Lord for complete destruction (Mt. 5:22). As they burnt their children there, to destruction, so sinners would be burnt to destruction in that same place. Joachim Jeremias explains how the literal valley of Gehenna came to be misinterpreted as a symbol of a ‘hell’ that is supposed to be a place of fire: “[Gehenna]…since ancient times has been the name of the valley west and south of Jerusalem…from the woes pronounced by the prophets on the valley (Jer. 7:32 = 19:6; cf. Is. 31:9; 66:24) because sacrifices to Moloch took place there (2 Kings 16:3; 21:6), there developed in the second century BC the idea that the valley of Hinnom would be the place of a fiery hell (Eth. Enoch 26; 90.26)… it is distinguished from sheol(New Testament Theology, London: SCM, 1972 p. 129).

2Ki 16:4 He sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places and on the hills, and under every green tree-
Large, flourishing green trees weren't so common in the landscape, and they therefore came to be seen as the presence of fertility gods. This is the huge significance of the old covenant promising fertility from Yahweh- for most of the pagan gods were seen as fertility gods, and this is why they were worshipped by largely agricultural people.

2Ki 16:5 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-
2 Chron. 28 records their massive military victories against Ahaz. But Kings wishes to stress that despite these, they could not overcome him in order to take Jerusalem. He outlived their siege. It seems he lost nearly all of Judah apart from Jerusalem. This focus upon the fact Jerusalem was retained is perhaps to show how it was preserved by grace, because of God's special grace toward the throne of David there. But that grace was not limitless, and the situation was to repeat in Hezekiah's time, until finally Jerusalem did fall, because of the persistent evil of the people.

2Ki 16:6 At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drove the Jews from Elath; and the Syrians came to Elath, and lived there, to this day-
Elath was Judah's eastern port, and yet it was surrounded by Edom. "The Syrians" could be as LXX "the Idumeans", i.e. the Edomites. 

2Ki 16:7 So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath Pileser king of Assyria saying, I am your servant and your 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, who are rising up against me-
2 Kings 16:7 "Syria" is LXX "Edom". Although Kings then records the Assyrian attack upon Syria (:17). So perhaps the idea is that the Edomites of 2 Chron. 28:17 were in fact under the control of Syria: "For again the Edomites had come and struck Judah, and carried away captives". It seems Edom was under the control of Syria. And so Ahaz paid Assyria to attack Syria. Or it could be [putting the Kings record together with this] that Ahaz paid Assyria to help him against Edom, but Assyria instead attacked Syria, claiming that was good enough work done for the money. Even though Assyria had their own agenda for attacking Syria (Aram).

2Ki 16:8 Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of Yahweh, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria-
Chronicles says that he "gathered together the vessels of the house of God and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God", as if he melted them down to send to Assyria. He showed thereby how little respect he had for the things of Yahweh worship. Gold is a symbol of faith (1 Pet. 1:7), and his faith was clearly not in God but in the might of Assyria- which was to later almost destroy Judah in Hezekiah's time.

2Ki 16:9 The king of Assyria listened to him. The king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried its people captive to Kir, and killed Rezin-
2 Chron. 28:20 comments that "Tilgath Pilneser king of Assyria came to him and distressed him, but didn’t strengthen him". Giving God's money to Gentile powers never achieved anything but only ever made matters worse (2 Chron. 16:2; 2 Kings 12:18; 18:15). But even Hezekiah refused to learn this clearly taught theme in the history of God's people. "It didn't help him" was to be Judah's later experience in seeking help from Egypt against Babylon (s.w. Is. 31:1; Lam. 4:17). Again, they failed to learn the lessons from history, unwilling to see that these historical situations spoke directly to their own situations and lives. We too can fail to perceive this. In fact the choice of histories and biographies we have in the Bible have been carefully selected in order that man need never feel alone; in essence, every life situation has been met at some point and time in the past.

2Ki 16:10 King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath Pileser king of Assyria, and saw the altar that was at Damascus-
This was surely one of the mobile altars which the Assyrians took with them. Assyria had conquered Damascus and so were enthroning their gods there. Tiglath Pileser was known for holding regional courts for his vassals as he travelled around on his campaigns.

And king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and its pattern, according to all its workmanship-
However, Ahaz also tried worshipping the gods of Syria (Aram) whom he had asked Assyria to attack: "For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which struck him. He said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, so I will sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel" (2 Chron. 28:23). The increasing distress upon Ahaz was intended to elicit his repentance and turning to Yahweh. But instead he turned even more to idolatry. This mad obsession with idolatry is described in Ezekiel and Hosea as like a kind of sexual addiction, whereby the more partners a sex addict has, the more they require. Most nations had a set of national gods, and they only changed them if they were conquered by other nations and forced to accept their gods. But God's people had an obsession with every kind of god, until the Jerusalem temple was filled with all manner of shrines to various gods at the time of its destruction. And the bizarre thing was that Syria was to fall at this time to Assyria (2 Kings 16:9); their gods didn't ultimately help them, and in fact Ahaz had paid money to Assyria to attack the Syrians.  

"Fashion... pattern" is a similar phrase to that in Gen. 1:26, where God made man in His image and likeness. Here, Ahaz creates after another image and likeness. Just as man has in a sense created gods after his own image and likeness, and not in God's.

2Ki 16:11 Urijah the priest built an altar: according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus, so Urijah the priest made it for the coming of king Ahaz from Damascus-
If Urijah the priest is the one of Is. 8:2, we see how even Isaiah's inner circle had fallen away. Assyrian altars were small and mobile (see on :10), built on a triangular base with very specific Assyrian inscriptions. We note the pagan associations of the triangle have a long history, which continues in the false doctrine of the Trinity.

2Ki 16:12 When the king had come from Damascus, the king saw the altar, and the king drew near to the altar, and offered on it-
He acted as a priest within the temple. Uzziah did this and was struck with leprosy. Ahaz apparently 'got away with it'. But this connects with the question as to why such a sinful man had such a long reign. We can only assume that this was because God kept trying with him, in the hope of repentance. But God responds differently to sin in every life; and therein lies the fallacy of churches seeking to have a standard policy on how to respond to sin and failure. Each case is different, even if the external sin is apparently the same. Seeing and then worshipping recalls the sin of Adam and Eve, seeing the fruit and then eating it. Their sin was indeed the essence of every sin which was to follow.

2Ki 16:13 He burnt his burnt offering and his meal offering, and poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings on the altar-
Again we see Ahaz acting as a priest (see on :12), although with no faithful priest like Azariah to step in and stop him (2 Chron. 26:17). We note he offered peace offerings, something only possible through having persuaded himself that he could worship idols as a form of Yahweh worship. Are we going to be like Israel, who offered peace offerings, and then rose up from their tables to worship idols and indulge their flesh (Ex. 32:5,6)? Are we going to be like those Israelites who offered a peace offering, when actually they were not at peace with God at all (1 Sam. 13:9; 2 Kings 16:13; Prov. 7:14; Am. 5:22)? These are challenges especially appropriate to the breaking of bread meeting, which is a kind of new covenant equivalent for the peace offering.

2Ki 16:14 The bronze altar, which was before Yahweh, he brought from the forefront of the house, from between his altar and the house of Yahweh, and put it on the north side of his altar-
We note he didn't destroy Yahweh's altar nor melt it down as he did other things in the temple (2 Chron. 28:24). He saw himself as reinterpreting Yahweh worship, rather than destroying it.

2Ki 16:15 King Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest saying, On the great altar burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meal offering, and the king’s burnt offering, and his meal offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their meal offering and their drink offerings; and sprinkle on it all the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice; but the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by-
Again we see Ahaz continuing to worship Yahweh, but claiming to do so through worshipping idols. This has been the perennial temptation for God's people, to mix flesh and spirit, to go the way of the flesh in the name of the Spirit. The king continued to have "his" special offerings. He did not turn away from Yahweh officially, but rather sought to show that he was continuing faithful to the tradition of the king leading the way in offering sacrifice (1 Kings 8:62).

2Ki 16:16 Urijah the priest did so, according to all that king Ahaz commanded-
We must compare the scene with the reminiscence of 2 Chron. 29:7: "Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place to the God of Israel".
I suggest that offerings were offered there, but to Yahweh through the pagan gods. But this was not therefore offering to the God of Israel, who demands totally devotion to Himself as the only true God. For the temple services continued on some level (2 Kings 16:14-16), although Ahaz had brought idols into the holy place of the temple (2 Chron. 29:5).

Ahaz didn't totally reject Yahweh worship (see on 2 Chron. 28:24). He had mixed Yahweh worship with idolatry, which in essence is the temptation we all have. Scientific atheism, a total rejection of our God, is likely not our biggest temptation; rather is it to mix His ways with those of the flesh and the secular world. 

2Ki 16:17 King Ahaz cut off the panels of the bases, and removed the basins from off them, and took down the sea from off the bronze oxen that were under it, and put it on a pavement of stone-
Ahaz saw no need for cleansing within the rituals of worship. He had no conscience of personal sin. And so his desecration of the laver is particularly recorded. The 'gathering together' of the temple vessels (2 Chron. 28:24) may mean he melted them down. However 2 Kings 16:17 implies this was only done to the huge supports of the laver. I suggest Ahaz retained some level of belief in Yahweh, for the temple services continued on some level (2 Kings 16:13), although Ahaz had brought idols into the holy place of the temple (2 Chron. 29:5). He had mixed Yahweh worship with idolatry, which in essence is the temptation we all have. Scientific atheism, a total rejection of our God, is likely not our biggest temptation; rather is it to mix His ways with those of the flesh and the secular world.

2Ki 16:18 The covered way for the Sabbath that they had built in the house, and the king’s entry outside the house of Yahweh, he changed because of the king of Assyria-
2 Chron. 28:24 says that "Ahaz gathered together the vessels of God’s house, cut in pieces the vessels of God’s house, and shut up the doors of the house of Yahweh; and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem". But perhaps 2 Kings 16:18 helps understand this as meaning that he shut up one door or gate of the temple and devoted it to the idols of Assyria; without meaning that all the doors or gates of the temple were closed. It's doubtful Ahaz resigned all belief in Yahweh, but rather wanted to treat all his gods equally. Lest he offend any of them. The fundamental teaching that Yahweh is one, the one and only God, was ignored. This particular "way" was the passage between the king's house and the temple which he used every Sabbath. He "changed" it, or perhaps named it in honour of the king of Assyria.

These changes to the temple and its equipment in :17,18 are similar to how the Egyptian kings are recorded as mutilating their gods and temples when the gods fell out of favour with them. However we noted on :15 that Ahaz continued the semblance of worship of Yahweh, but dedicated it instead to his new gods. It is too simplistic to think that he totally rejected Yahweh for other gods. Our temptations likewise are not a case of becoming atheists. 

2Ki 16:19 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, aren’t they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?-
This may not be the same book of Chronicles which we have in our Bibles. See on 2 Kings 15:21.

2Ki 16:20 Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David; and Hezekiah his son reigned in his place
The description of death as sleeping with fathers is clear evidence that death is seen as a sleep, unconsciousness, and not as the start of an immortal soul going to heaven or 'hell'. Good and bad, David and Solomon, are gathered together in death. The division between them will only therefore come at the resurrection of the dead, and the granting of immortality at the judgment seat of the Lord Jesus.