The wicked reign of Ahaz in Judah.
- Israel gained this victory because God was wroth with Judah, and made them the rod of his indignation. He reminds them of their own sins. It ill becomes sinners to be cruel. Could they hope for the mercy of God, if they neither showed mercy nor justice to their brethren? Let it be remembered, that every man is our neighbour, our brother, our fellow man, if not our fellow Christian. And no man who is acquainted with the word of God, need fear to maintain that slavery is against the law of love and the gospel of grace. Who can hold his brother in bondage, without breaking the rule of doing to others as he would they should do unto him? But when sinners are left to their own heart's lusts, they grow more desperate in wickedness. God commands them to release the prisoners, and they obeyed. The Lord brought Judah low. Those who will not humble themselves under the word of God, will justly be humbled by his judgments. It is often found, that wicked men themselves have no real affection for those that revolt to them, nor do they care to do them a kindness. This is that king Ahaz! that wretched man! Those are wicked and vile indeed, that are made worse by their afflictions, instead of being made better by them; who, in their distress, trespass yet more, and have their hearts more fully set in them to do evil. But no marvel that men's affections and devotions are misplaced, when they mistake the author of their trouble and of their help. The progress of wickedness and misery is often rapid; and it is awful to reflect upon a sinner's being driven away in his wickedness into the eternal world.
2 Chronicles 28:1-21 . AHAZ, REIGNING WICKEDLY, IS AFFLICTED BY THE SYRIANS.
1-4. Ahaz was twenty years This prince, discarding the principles and example of his excellent father, early betrayed a strong bias to idolatry. He ruled with an arbitrary and absolute authority, and not as a theocratic sovereign: he not only forsook the temple of God, but embraced first the symbolic worship established in the sister kingdom, and afterwards the gross idolatry practised by the Canaanites.
5-7. the Lord . . . delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria . . . he was also delivered into the hand of the King of Israel--These verses, without alluding to the formation of a confederacy between the Syrian and Israelitish kings to invade the kingdom of Judah, or relating the commencement of the war in the close of Jotham's reign ( 2 Kings 15:37 ), give the issue only of some battles that were fought in the early part of the campaign.
delivered him . . . smote him . . . he was also delivered--that is, his army, for Ahaz was not personally included in the number either of the slain or the captives. The slaughter of one hundred twenty thousand in one day was a terrible calamity, which, it is expressly said, was inflicted as a judgment on Judah, "because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers." Among the slain were some persons of distinction:
7. Maaseiah the king's son--the sons of Ahaz being too young to take part in a battle, this individual must have been a younger son of the late King Jotham;
Azrikam the governor of the house--that is, "the palace"; and
Elkanah that was next to the king--that is, the vizier or prime minister ( Genesis 41:40 , Esther 10:3 ). These were all cut down on the field by Zichri, an Israelitish warrior, or as some think, ordered to be put to death after the battle. A vast number of captives also fell into the power of the conquerors; and an equal division of war prisoners being made between the allies, they were sent off under a military escort to the respective capitals of Syria and Israel ( 2 Chronicles 28:8 ).
8-14. the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand--These captives included a great number of women, boys, and girls, a circumstance which creates a presumption that the Hebrews, like other Orientals, were accompanied in the war by multitudes of non-combatants these "brethren," being brought as captives to Samaria, excited general indignation among the better-disposed inhabitants; and Oded, a prophet, accompanied by the princes ( 2 Chronicles 28:12 , compared with 2 Chronicles 28:14 ), went out, as the escort was approaching, to prevent the disgraceful outrage of introducing such prisoners into the city. The officers of the squadron were, of course, not to blame; they were simply doing their military duty in conducting those prisoners of war to their destination. But Oded clearly showed that the Israelitish army had gained the victory--not by the superiority of their arms, but in consequence of the divine judgment against Judah. He forcibly exposed the enormity of the offense of keeping "their brethren" as slaves got in war. He protested earnestly against adding this great offense of unnatural and sinful cruelty ( Leviticus 25:43 Leviticus 25:44 , Micah 2:8 Micah 2:9 ) to the already overwhelming amount of their own national sins. Such was the effect of his spirited remonstrance and the opposing tide of popular feeling, that "the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the congregation."
15. the men which were expressed by name rose up--These were either the "heads of the children of Ephraim" (mentioned 2 Chronicles 28:12 ), or some other leading individuals chosen for the benevolent office. Under their kindly superintendence, the prisoners were not only released, but out of the spoils were comfortably relieved with food and clothing, and conveyed as far as Jericho on their way back to their own homes. This is a beautiful incident, and full of interest, as showing that even at this period of national decline, there were not a few who steadfastly adhered to the law of God.
16. At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria--"kings," the plural for the singular, which is found in many ancient versions. "At that time," refers to the period of Ahaz' great distress, when, after a succession of defeats, he retreated within the walls of Jerusalem. Either in the same or a subsequent campaign, the Syrian and Israelitish allies marched there to besiege him Though delivered from this danger, other enemies infested his dominions both on the south and the west.
17. again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah--This invasion must have been after Rezin (at the beginning of the recent Syro-Israelitish war), had released that people from the yoke of Judah ( 2 Chronicles 15:11 ; compare 2 Kings 16:6 ).
18. Gederoth--on the Philistine frontier ( Joshua 15:41 ).
Shocho--or Socoh ( Joshua 15:35 ), now Shuweikeh, a town in the Valley
Gimzo--now Jimza, a little east of Ludd (Lydda) [ROBINSON]. All these disasters, by which the "Lord brought Judah low," were because of Ahaz, king of Israel (Judah), see 2 Chronicles 21:2 , 24:16 , 28:27 , who made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the Lord.
20. Tilgath-pilneser . . . distressed him, but strengthened him not--that is, notwithstanding the temporary relief which Tilgath-pilneser afforded him by the conquest of Damascus and the slaughter of Rezin ( 2 Kings 16:9 ), little advantage resulted from it, for Tilgath-pilneser spent the winter in voluptuous revelry at Damascus; and the connection formed with the Assyrian king was eventually a source of new and greater calamities and humiliation to the kingdom of Judah ( 2 Chronicles 28:2 2 Chronicles 28:3 ).
2 Chronicles 28:22-27 . HIS IDOLATRY IN HIS DISTRESS.
22. in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the Lord--This infatuated king surrendered himself to the influence of idolatry and exerted his royal authority to extend it, with the intensity of a passion--with the ignorance and servile fear of a heathen ( 2 Chronicles 28:23 ) and a ruthless defiance of God