Ahaz, king of Judah, His wicked reign. (1-9) Ahaz takes a pattern from an idol's altar. (10-16) Ahaz spoils the temple. (17-20)
Verses 1-9 Few and evil were the days of Ahaz. Those whose hearts condemn them, will go any where in a day of distress, rather than to God. The sin was its own punishment. It is common for those who bring themselves into straits by one sin, to try to help themselves out by another.
Verses 10-16 God's altar had hitherto been kept in its place, and in use; but Ahaz put another in the room of it. The natural regard of the mind of man to some sort of religion, is not easily extinguished; but except it be regulated by the word, and by the Spirit of God, it produces absurd superstitions, or detestable idolatries. Or, at best, it quiets the sinner's conscience with unmeaning ceremonies. Infidels have often been remarkable for believing ridiculous falsehoods.
Verses 17-20 Ahaz put contempt upon the sabbath, and thus opened a wide inlet to all manner of sin. This he did for the king of Assyria. When those who have had a ready passage to the house of the Lord, turn it another way to please their neighbours, they are going down-hill apace to ruin.
2 Kings 16:1-16 . AHAZ' WICKED REIGN OVER JUDAH.
1-4. Ahaz . . . did not that which was right in the sight of the 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 his 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 2 Chronicles 28:24 ).
3. 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 farther 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 being red hot, the children were passed through between them, which was considered a form of lustration. There is reason to believe that, in certain circumstances, the children were burnt to death ( Psalms 106:37 ). This was strongly prohibited in the law ( Leviticus 18:21 , 20:2-5 , Deuteronomy 18:10 ), although there is no evidence that it was practised in Israel till the time of Ahaz.
5. Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem--Notwithstanding their great efforts and military preparations, they failed to take it and, being disappointed, raised the siege and returned home (compare Isaiah 7:1 ).
6. Rezin . . . recovered Elath--which Azariah had got into his possession ( 2 Kings 14:22 ).
the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day--The Septuagint version has "the Edomites," which the most judicious commentators and travellers [ROBINSON] prefer.
7-9. 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 , 8:4 ), that the confederate kings would not prevail against him, Ahaz sought aid from the Assyrian monarch, to purchase which he sent the treasures of the palace and temple. Tiglath-pileser marched against Damascus, slew Rezin the king, and carried the people of Damascus into captivity to Kir, which is thought to have been the city Karine (now Kerend), in Media.
10-16. And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser--This was a visit of respect, and perhaps of gratitude. During his stay in that heathen 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 let this new altar supersede the old one in the temple. 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 , 26:30 , 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 ).
2 Kings 16:17-19 . HE SPOILS THE TEMPLE.
17. cut off the borders of the bases, &c.--It is thought that he did this to use the elaborate sculpture in adorning his palace.
18. the covert for the Sabbath--the portico through which the priests entered the temple on the Sabbath.
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.