Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. He did not do what was pleasing in the sight of the LORD, as his ancestor David had done.
Instead, he followed the example of the kings of Israel and cast images for the worship of Baal.
He offered sacrifices in the valley of the son of Hinnom, even sacrificing his own sons in the fire. a He imitated the detestable practices of the pagan nations whom the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.
He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the pagan shrines and on the hills and under every green tree.
That is why the LORD his God allowed the king of Aram to defeat Ahaz and to exile large numbers of his people to Damascus. The armies of Israel also defeated Ahaz and inflicted many casualties on his army.
In a single day Pekah son of Remaliah, Israel's king, killed 120,000 of Judah's troops because they had abandoned the LORD, the God of their ancestors.
Then Zicri, a warrior from Ephraim, killed Maaseiah, the king's son; Azrikam, the king's palace commander; and Elkanah, the king's second-in-command.
The armies of Israel captured 200,000 women and children from Judah and took tremendous amounts of plunder, which they took back to Samaria.
But a prophet of the LORD named Oded was there in Samaria when the army of Israel returned home. He went out to meet them and said, "The LORD, the God of your ancestors, was angry with Judah and let you defeat them. But you have gone too far, killing them without mercy, and all heaven is disturbed.
And now you are planning to make slaves of these people from Judah and Jerusalem. What about your own sins against the LORD your God?
Listen to me and return these captives you have taken, for they are your own relatives. Watch out, because now the LORD's fierce anger has been turned against you!"
Then some of the leaders of Israel b -- Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berekiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai -- agreed with this and confronted the men returning from battle.
"You must not bring the prisoners here!" they declared. "We cannot afford to add to our sins and guilt. Our guilt is already great, and the LORD's fierce anger is already turned against Israel."
So the warriors released the prisoners and handed over the plunder in the sight of all the leaders and people.
Then the four men mentioned by name came forward and distributed clothes from the plunder to the prisoners who were naked. They provided clothing and sandals to wear, gave them enough food and drink, and dressed their wounds with olive oil. They put those who were weak on donkeys and took all the prisoners back to their own land -- to Jericho, the city of palms. Then they returned to Samaria.
About that time King Ahaz of Judah asked the king of Assyria for help against his enemies.
The armies of Edom had again invaded Judah and taken captives.
And the Philistines had raided towns located in the foothills of Judah c and in the Negev. They had already captured Beth-shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, Soco with its villages, Timnah with its villages, and Gimzo with its villages, and the Philistines had occupied these towns.
The LORD was humbling Judah because of King Ahaz of Judah, d for he had encouraged his people to sin and had been utterly unfaithful to the LORD.
So when King Tiglath-pileser e of Assyria arrived, he oppressed King Ahaz instead of helping him.
Ahaz took valuable items from the LORD's Temple, the royal palace, and from the homes of his officials and gave them to the king of Assyria as tribute. But even this did not help him.
And when trouble came to King Ahaz, he became even more unfaithful to the LORD.
He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him, for he said, "These gods helped the kings of Aram, so they will help me, too, if I sacrifice to them." But instead, they led to his ruin and the ruin of all Israel.
The king took the utensils from the Temple of God and broke them into pieces. He shut the doors of the LORD's Temple so that no one could worship there and then set up altars to pagan gods in every corner of Jerusalem.
He made pagan shrines in all the towns of Judah for offering sacrifices to other gods. In this way, he aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of his ancestors.
The rest of the events of Ahaz's reign and all his dealings, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.
When King Ahaz died, he was buried in Jerusalem but not in the royal cemetery. Then his son Hezekiah became the next king.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)