(Chap. 27) REIGN OF RIGHTEOUS JOTHAM – A GOOD KING BUT STILL CORRUPT PEOPLE
DESPITE THE POSITIVE REIGN OF JOTHAM AND DIVINE BLESSING OF BUILDING PROJECTS AND INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS, THE PEOPLE FAIL TO REFORM
Raymond Dillard: This wholly positive account of Jotham represents a break in the Chronicler’s practice seen in the preceding three reigns of dividing his accounts of individual kings into alternating periods of good and bad; he will follow the practice of presenting a single consistent judgment through his account of Hezekiah (Williamson, 341).
Geoffrey Kirkland: Background & Bigger Context of the Ancient Near Eastern World:
• Jotham reigned in a period when the Assyrians were on the rise — powerfully, globally, increasingly, fearfully, and violently! And the contemporary prophets were Hosea, Micah, Amos and Isaiah. (this gives us a clue as to the society/culture of life in Judah during Jotham’s reign).
• See Isaiah 1:1; 7:1; Hosea 1:1; Micah 1:1 [all speak of the reign of “Jotham” during these prophetic times]
• This speaks of a corrupt, unjust, idolatrous, pagan, deceitful, greedy, arrogant time in Judah & Israel!
Frederick Mabie: The summary evaluation of Jotham is similar to that of Uzziah (cf. 26:4). As with Uzziah (recall their long coregency; cf. v. 1), Jotham “grew powerful” (v. 6), enjoyed success in battle (v. 5), and received tribute from foreign nations (v. 5). Unlike Uzziah, however, Jotham did not grow proud and challenge Yahweh’s covenantal bounds regarding temple service, but instead “walked steadfastly” (or better, “caused his ways to be ordered”) before the Lord (v. 6). Unfortunately, the people under Jotham’s rule were not similarly inspired to pursue covenantal faithfulness.
Andrew Hill: The Chronicler’s review of Jotham’s reign applauds achievements on three fronts: his building program, his military success, and his consolidation of political power (27:3-6).
L.M. Grant: Jotham’s reign was comparatively short, just 16 years, and he died at 41years. He did what was right as his father had done, though he did not follow his father’s bad example of entering the temple of the Lord. Yet in spite of his reign being better than most of the kings, the people still acted corruptly. This evil included their sacrificing in high places (2 Kings 15:35). Thus, though Jotham was personally faithful to the Lord, he did not have the spiritual energy to banish the false worship from Judah. But his good work of building the upper gate of the temple and on the wall of Ophel, and his building cities in the mountains and fortresses and towers in the forests, is commendable (vv.3-4).
Jotham also by warfare brought the Ammonites into subjection, so that they paid him tribute of 100 talents of silver, 10,000 cors; of wheat and 10,000 of barley for three years in succession (v.5). The Ammonites picture the doctrine of demons, which, though not destroyed, were allowed no liberty during Jotham’s reign. Thus we are told, “Jotham became mighty because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God” (v.6). His short reign of 16 years, he died and was buried in Jerusalem. Then his son Ahaz became king.
(:1-2) PROLOGUE – OPENING SUMMARY OF HIS REIGN
A. (:1a) Age and Duration of Reign
“Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king,
and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem.”
Raymond Dillard: Jotham’s sixteen years included a ten-year coregency due to the illness of his father Uzziah (750–740/39 B.C.); however, the sixteen-year figure did not include a three-to-four-year overlap of his reign with that of his own son and successor Ahaz (735–732/31 B.C.), a fact that would allow for the synchronism with Jotham’s twentieth year (2 Kgs 15:30).
B. (:1b) Identification of His Mother
“And his mother’s name was Jerushah the daughter of Zadok.”
C. (:2) Moral Evaluation
1. Positive Reign in Following the General Pattern of His Father
“And he did right in the sight of the LORD,
according to all that his father Uzziah had done;”
Knapp: Jotham is the only one of all the Hebrew kings, from Saul down, against whom God has nothing bad to record. In this his character is in beautiful accord with his name, Jehovah-perfect.
2. Avoided the Major Sin of His Father
“however he did not enter the temple of the LORD.”
Thomas Constable: However, Jotham appears to have failed to lead his people in righteousness. There was no reformation of abuses or revival during his reign, as far as we know. Evidently the reference to Jotham not entering the temple (v. 2) means that he did not inappropriately violate the holy place, like his father had done (26:16). Another view is that he did not want to have anything to do with the temple, since God had judged his father when Uzziah entered it and offered incense inappropriately.
Ron Daniel: I don’t believe this is saying that he was afraid to go TO the temple, for in the very next verse, we will see that he built the upper gate of the temple (2Chron. 27:3).
No, I believe that the Chronicler is saying that “he did what dad did, but not the bad stuff.”
3. Unable to Reform the People
“But the people continued acting corruptly.”
Matthew Henry: It certainly reflects a great deal of blame upon the people, that they did not do what they might have done to improve the advantages of so good a reign: they had good instructions given them and a good example set before them, but they would not be reformed; so that even in the reign of their good kings, as well as in that of the bad ones, they were treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath; for they still did corruptly, and the founder melted in vain.
Peter Wallace: The Chronicler’s point seems to be that in spite of Jotham’s faithfulness the people followed corrupt practices.
I. (:3-4) EXTENSIVE BUILDING PROJECTS
“He built the upper gate of the house of the LORD,
and he built extensively the wall of Ophel.
4 Moreover, he built cities in the hill country of Judah,
and he built fortresses and towers on the wooded hills.”
Mark Boda: Interestingly, if the “upper gate” referred to here was that gate that linked the royal palace to the Temple courts (cf. 23:20), Jotham’s reconstruction work may signal a desire to protect the Temple courts from royal intrusion.
Jerry Thrower: One of the first things he did had to do with repairing the Temple of the LORD. He served the LORD first! He went to work for the LORD and did something for HIM! He didn’t enter the Temple like is father did in pride and try to do what he was never called to do, “he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD”, he used his reign to serve the LORD! He showed that by repairing the Temple!
J. Parker: Ophel means “the mount.” Where was the mount? On the southern slope. Why did the king build so much on Ophel? Because it was most accessible to the enemy. Like a wise commander he remembered that no man is stronger than his weakest point, and that no fortification is stronger than its frailest part; so the king built much where the wall was weakest, or where the access of the enemy was most open; and in doing so he gathered up and represented the wisdom and experience of the ages, and anticipated what we and all the sons of time ought to do. What is your weakest point in life? Build much there.
Raymond Dillard: The Chronicler has already compared Jotham with Uzziah (27:2), and he appears to be deliberately perfecting the parallel. Uzziah rebuilt Corner Gate and Valley Gate (26:9), and Jotham works on the Upper Gate of the temple. Uzziah built towers in the desert and in Jerusalem (26:10), and Jotham builds towers in forested areas.
August Konkel: Jotham’s enterprises are a sequel to those of his father. The work of restoration begun by Uzziah was continued in sections that had not been completed. His forts and towers were in the forests, providing a network of lookouts and highway defenses, both on the frontier and within the kingdom.
Ron Daniel: He is building protection for the house of God. That is very interesting to me. You see, it seems that every time the enemy breaks into Jerusalem, they invade the temple and steal the valuable things which are sanctified for the Lord. This is the way our enemy still works. The enemy’s primary goal is to invade the house of God and steal that which is sanctified for God: us.
II. (:5) ENDURING SUBJUGATION OF THE AMMONITES
A. Forced the Ammonites to Pay Valuable Tribute
“He fought also with the king of the Ammonites and prevailed over them
so that the Ammonites gave him during that year one hundred talents of silver, ten thousand kors of wheat and ten thousand of barley.”
B. Forced the Ammonites to Pay Annual Tribute
“The Ammonites also paid him this amount in the second and in the third year.”
J.A. Thompson: While Uzziah’s main success in battle was against the Philistines (26:6-7) and the Ammonites paid him tribute (26:8), Jotham fought only the Ammonites (war against the Ammonites is recorded only here). Apparently they had stopped paying the tribute. This tribute seems to us to be very large. A hundred talents of silver is about 3.4 metric tons, and 10,000 cors of barley probably is about 62,000 bushels. The tribute apparently ceased again after three years, perhaps due to the rising power of Aram-Damascus in the area.
III. (:6) EMPOWERED BY HIS GODLY ORIENTATION
“So Jotham became mighty
because he ordered his ways before the LORD his God.”
Andrew Hill: The reference to Jotham’s becoming “powerful” is instructive. The same expression was used to characterize Uzziah’s earlier reign (Heb. hzq; cf. 26:16). But unlike his father, Jotham does not fall prey to the temptation of pride and turn away from God. His success is attributed directly to the fact that he “walked steadfastly before the Lord” (27:6). This unique expression is generally understood to be synonymous with the phrase “to set one’s heart on God” (cf. 1 Chron. 22:19; 28:9; 2 Chron. 30:19).
Mark Boda: Here the Hebrew is literally, “He made firm his ways before Yahweh his God,” an expression that refers to doing something without flinching or wavering (see Prov 21:29 for the same phrase).
F.B. Meyer: I do not remember ever meeting one who really walked with God who did not make orderliness one of the first principles of life… They are the habits of the soul that walks before God, and which is accustomed to think of Him as seeing in secret, and considering all our ways.
(:7-9) EPILOGUE — CLOSING SUMMARY OF HIS REIGN
A. (:7) Recorded Deeds
“Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, even all his wars and his acts,
behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.”
B. (:8) Repetition of Age and Duration of Reign
“He was twenty-five years old when he became king,
and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem.”
C. (:9a) Death and Burial
“And Jotham slept with his fathers,”
“and they bur
ied him in the city of David;”
J.A. Thompson: The Chronicler omits any reference to difficulties with Rezin and Pekah (2 Kgs 15:37), perhaps because he did not understand it as judgment on Jotham but on Judah generally and especially on Jotham’s successor, Ahaz. The account of Jotham is clearly a truncated one. Details of his death are not given, but he was buried with his fathers in the City of David, a burial that befitted his life and character (cp. 26:23).
D. (:9b) Succession
“and Ahaz his son became king in his place.”
(Chap. 28) REIGN OF WICKED AHAZ – HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?
DESPERATION DRIVES THE WICKED TO TRUST IN FALSE SOURCES OF POWER AND DELIVERANCE
Iain Duguid: The dramatic developments affecting Judah that eventuated during Ahaz’s sixteen-year reign (ch. 28) are for the Chronicler the result of Ahaz’s unfaithfulness (28:1–5, 19). An attack by the alliance of Syria and Israel brought some devastation to Judah (28:5–8), and a weakened Judah was then attacked by Philistines and Edomites; Ahaz sought help from Assyria, which demanded tribute (28:16–21). Ahaz’s apostasy increased, even to shutting the doors of the temple (28:22–27).
August Konkel: The reign of Ahaz was a disaster both politically and in regard to covenant faithfulness. The Chronicler essentially shares the views of the other prophets regarding Ahaz. Isaiah, through the names of children, had exhorted Ahaz to be faithful in the fear of the Lord. His warning was unequivocal: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (Isa 7:9b). Isaiah offered the king a sign, but it was refused as if it would be tempting God (7:12). Ahaz had already made his own plans when confronted by Isaiah and his son; he would turn to the Assyrians for help against his enemies (2 Chron 28:16). But Ahaz could not escape God; the promise of the sign was that God would be with him (Immanuel). God was indeed with him. The Assyrians would flood through his land like the overflow of the Euphrates and then he would know that God was with him (Isa 8:7-8). The Chronicler speaks of Ahaz’s losses to the Edomites and Philistines (2 Chron 28:17-18). The decimation of Judah had begun.
Frederick Mabie: In a rapid departure from his father Jotham (cf. 2Ch 27:6), Ahaz becomes one of the most ungodly kings in the history of Judah’s monarchy (note v. 19), thus underscoring how quickly one generation can abandon the values of the previous generation.
J.A. Thompson: King Ahaz (735-715 B.C.) probably is most familiar to Bible students as the faithless king to whom the prophet Isaiah delivered the prophecy of Immanuel in Isa 7:14. But the biblical historians, especially the Chronicler, furnish much more information about him. He was king at a critical time in Judah’s history, which saw a corrupt Israel fall to a revived Assyrian Empire, thus ending the divided monarchy. Any hopes on the part of the faithful that Judah might learn from this event and return to the Lord were dashed by the reign of Ahaz, who patterned himself after everyone but his righteous predecessors.
Mark Boda: While in the book of Kings, Manasseh represents the lowest point in the history, in the book of Chronicles Ahaz plays this role (Smelik 1992:182-183; 1998: 164, 181). Hezekiah will soon appear on the scene and usher in a new ideal period of renewal for Judah, inviting faithful northerners to join him in worship at Jerusalem. But before Hezekiah arrives, it is Ahaz who creates the conditions of nothing short of “exile” as he first desecrates the land with inappropriate worship practices, sees a foreign emperor take control of his kingdom, then closes the Temple (cf. Dillard 1987:261; Mosis 1973:41-43, 186-188).
(:1-4) PROLOGUE – OPENING SUMMARY OF HIS APOSTATE REIGN –
WALKED IN THE WAYS OF THE KINGS OF ISRAEL
A. (:1a) Age and Duration of Reign
“Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king,
and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem;”
B. (:1b-4) Moral Evaluation
1. (:1b-2a) General Evaluation
a. (:1b) Did Not Follow the Righteous Example of David
“and he did not do right in the sight of the LORD
as David his father had done.”
b. (:2a) Followed the Wicked Example of the Kings of Israel
“But he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel;”
Iain Duguid: The Chronicler’s account of Ahaz’s reign is the most negative of any king in the book. Unlike with other rulers, Ahaz’s description is negative throughout, beginning with the admission that “he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord” and ending with the statement that he was “provoking to anger the Lord, the God of his fathers” (2 Chron. 28:1, 25); further, Ahaz is buried separately from the “tombs of the kings of Israel [i.e., Judah]” (v. 27; cf. 21:20; 24:25). While other kings had been “unfaithful” (12:2; 26:16, 18; 1 Chron. 10:13), Ahaz was “very unfaithful” and became “yet more faithless” (2 Chron. 28:19, 22).
2. (:2b-4) Specific Areas of Apostasy = Abominable Idolatry
a. (:2b) Casting Molten Images
“he also made molten images for the Baals.”
b. (:3a) Burning Incense
“Moreover, he burned incense in the valley of Ben-hinnom,”
Frederick Mabie: A key attraction to Baal-Hadad was his presumed dominion over storms (i.e., rain), while a key attraction point for Asherah was her presumed dominion over fertility – both of which were key areas of concern for ancient societies such as Judah and Israel. But acts of spiritual compromise can have unexpected waves of consequences, as seen in the subsequent events of this chapter. . .
The Valley of Ben Hinnom was located south of the Temple Mount and came to symbolize grave apostasy (Jer 32:35). During the reforms of Josiah this area was purged of its ignominious usage (cf. 2Ki 23:4-14). Ul
timately the area became a city dump used for refuse and even the bodies of criminals; it was marked by constant fires and dreadful sights and smells. In the light of this imagery, the Hebrew expression for this valley (approximately “Gehenna”) came to be used of hell itself (cf. Mt 10:28; Mk 9:43, 47).
c. (:3b) Child Sacrifice
“and burned his sons in fire,
according to the abominations of the nations
whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel.”
J.A. Thompson: Even worse than imitating the apostasy of the Northern Kingdom, Ahaz is condemned for behaving as the cursed Canaanites, whose culture was so vile that God had ordered its elimination (Lev 18:28; 20:23; Deut 7:22-26; 12:2-4; 18:9-14). Little wonder that Yahweh visited Ahaz with judgment in the form of an Aramean attack.
John Schultz: Evidently, in the worship of Molech, babies and young children were thrown alive in the mouth of the idol in which a fire was burning.
When Israel was on her way to Canaan, God warned them about the atrocious practices of the people of the land. We read: “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.” And: “You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.”
d. (:4) Worshiping at Idolatrous Locations
“And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places,
on the hills, and under every green tree.”
I. (:5-8) DIVINELY ORDERED DEFEAT BY THE KINGS OF BOTH ARAM AND ISRAEL (WITH SEVERE CONSEQUENCES)
A. (:5a) Defeat by the King of Aram
1. Divine Ordination of Defeat
“Wherefore, the LORD his God delivered him
into the hand of the king of Aram;”
2. Historical Fact of Defeat
“and they defeated him”
Iain Duguid: The Chronicler repeatedly shows how the chaos was the Lord’s judgment on Ahaz’s “faithlessness” (2 Chron. 28:5 [“therefore”], 9, 19, 22–23, 25). Ahaz’s rejection of worship of the Lord and his active embracing of other gods (a sign of desperation?) was characteristic of his entire reign.
3. Severe Consequences of Defeat
and carried away from him a great number of captives,
and brought them to Damascus.”
Iain Duguid: One group of captives was taken 140 miles (225 km) north to Damascus, the capital of a key Syrian kingdom. Here is the first instance in the Chronicles narrative6 of people’s being taken captive to a far land, foreshadowed in Solomon’s prayer (6:36–38) and serving as a foretaste of the later greater exile to Babylon, when Judah was again given into the hand of the attackers (36:17–20).
B. (:5b-8) Defeat by the King of Israel
1. (:5b) Divine Ordination of Defeat
“And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel,
2. (:5c-7) Historical Fact of Defeat
“who inflicted him with heavy casualties.”
3. (:6-7) Severe Consequences of Defeat
a. (:6) Defeat at Hand of Pekah
“For Pekah the son of Remaliah
slew in Judah 120,000 in one day, all valiant men,
because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers.”
b. (:7) Defeat at Hand of Zichri
“And Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim,
slew Maaseiah the king’s son,
and Azrikam the ruler of the house
and Elkanah the second to the king.”
Andrew Hill: Beyond the sheer totals, the devastating losses to Judah are compounded by the deaths of key officials, namely, “the king’s son,” the overseer of the palace, and the leader who is “second to the king” (28:7). The expression “the king’s son” may be a title for a high-ranking officer, or the person named Maaseiah may be one of the royal princes. The title “second to the king” occurs elsewhere in the Old Testament only in Esther 10:3, where context suggests it is the office held by the senior political adviser. In any case, the deaths of three members of Ahaz’s “cabinet” would have had a crippling effect in the administration of political and military affairs in Judah.
4. (:8) Captivity and Despoiling of Judah
“And the sons of Israel carried away captive of their brethren 200,000
women, sons, and daughters; and took also a great deal of spoil from them, and they brought the spoil to Samaria.”
II. (:9-15) DIVINELY COMMANDED MERCY SHOWN BY ISRAEL TO THEIR CAPTIVES FROM JUDAH
A. (:9-11) Prophecy of Oded Rebukes Israel for their Overreach
1. (:9a) Confrontation with Returning Army
“But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded;
and he went out to meet the army which came to Samaria
and said to them,”
2. (:9b) Culpability Due to Angry Overreach
“Behold, because the LORD, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, He has delivered them into your hand, and you have slain them in a rage which has even reached heaven.”
3. (:10) Caution against Further Transgression
a. Impropriety of Making Fellow Jews
“And now you are proposing to subjugate for yourselves
the people of Judah and Jerusalem for male and female slaves.”
b. Hypocrisy of Overlooking Your Own Sins
“Surely, do you not have transgressions of your own
against the LORD your God?”
J.A. Thompson: Any intention to make the people of Judah slaves was a breach of the law that forbade the enslaving of fellow Israelites (Lev 25:39-55). Short-term slavery of one Israelite to another was allowable, but ruling over one’s brothers “ruthlessly” (Lev 25:43) was forbidden. Israel itself was only a hairsbreadth from judgment. Repentance toward God and magnanimity toward their brethren was called for. They had taken prisoners. These should be sent back. Repentance required some display of appropriate action.
4. (:11) Charge to Return the Captives and Escape God’s Judgment
“Now therefore, listen to me and return the captives whom you captured from your brothers, for the burning anger of the LORD is against you.”
August Konkel: The response of the Israelites to the appeal of Obed the prophet is further evidence of the unity that God intends for his people. It is testimony to the firm belief of the Chronicler that this is one nation. The political realities that have come about must not give a false impression of that underlying reality. It is seen in the way the words of the prophet can subvert political and material ambitions with spiritual victory and community concord. In the darkest time of a virtual exile for Judah, there is at the same time the evidence of the light the darkness cannot overcome.
Martin Selman: 3 Reasons given by the prophet to return the captives:
1) the Israelites had reacted with excessive rage (v. 9),
2) their plan to subject the Judean prisoners of war to the usual fate of slavery was unacceptable (v. 10a), and
3) they had “committed sins” (v. 10b).
B. (:12-15) Patriarchal Leadership of Ephraim Directs Israel to Repent and Show Mercy to the Captives
1. (:12-13) Confrontation with the Victorious Warriors
“Then some of the heads of the sons of Ephraim– Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai– arose against those who were coming from the battle, 13 and said to them, ‘You must not bring the captives in here, for you are proposing to bring upon us guilt against the LORD adding to our sins and our guilt; for our guilt is great so that His burning anger is against Israel.’”
Andrew Hill: Unlike King Ahaz and their Judean counterparts, the leadership of Israel responds to the word of God through the prophet Oded and repents of their actions (28:12-13).
2. (:14) Change of Malicious Intent
“So the armed men left the captives and the spoil
before the officers and all the assembly.”
3. (:15) Compassionate Care toward the Captives
“Then the men who were designated by name arose, took the captives, and they clothed all their naked ones from the spoil; and they gave them clothes and sandals, fed them and gave them drink, anointed them with oil, led all their feeble ones on donkeys, and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm trees, to their brothers; then they returned to Samaria.”
Iain Duguid: At a time when Israel was about to end as a nation due to her apostasy, experiencing the Lord’s “fierce wrath,” the Chronicler tells of the Ephraimites’ confession of “great guilt” and actions that demonstrated some repentance. The positive treatment of the captives is given in much detail; they could not have done more! Political reunion may not have been possible at that chaotic time (“they returned to Samaria”), but the compassionate righting of all the damage involved in taking captives is commended.
Martin Selman: The Chronicler’s message, which must have been clear to his contemporaries, is that God’s mercy was freely available even to captives. The story is in fact so striking that Jesus used it twice in his teaching. Anointing of the prisoners’ wounds, the mention of donkeys and of Jericho make this an important source of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), while the provision of food and clothing to brothers who are naked and hungry prisoners clearly lied behind Matthew 25:34-46. No-one’s situation is too hopeless for God to redeem, and he reserves the right to show mercy through the most unexpected people, even one’s traditional enemies (cf. Jon. 1-4; Acts 10:1 – 11:18).
III. (:16-21) DEPENDING ON THE KING OF ASSYRIA FOR HELP
Andrew Hill: This dangerous diplomacy of playing one ancient superpower (i.e., Assyria) against another (I.e., Egypt) as an ally in petty border wars with neighboring nations was a ploy of the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of Jeroboam II – a tactic soundly condemned by Hosea the prophet (Hos. 7:11).
A. (:16) Placing Confidence in Foreign Power
“At that time King Ahaz sent to the kings of Assyria for help.”
J.A. Thompson: Ahaz was in dire straits. His predecessors who had been faithful to the Lord had seen God subdue such enemies many times. But Ahaz did not trust in the Lord (cf. Isa 7:10-16). With Philistines and Edomites in the south and the Syro-Ephraimite invasion in the north (vv. 5-8), he faced a two-front war. The verb “help” is important to the Chronicler. God was ever available to “help” faithful kings (1 Chr 5:20; 2 Chr 14:11; 18:31; 25:8; 26:7, 15; 32:8). Such “help” (azar) was not available from other sources (vv. 21, 23). Ahaz had turned to human – indeed foreign – help instead of to the God of Israel.
B. (:17-18) Pressure from Foreign Attacks
1. (:17) Attacks by the Edomites
“For again the Edomites had come and attacked Judah,
and carried away captives.”
Frederick Mabie: In addition to the pressure on Judah from Aram and Israel to the north (vv. 5-8), Ahaz also faces pressure in the south as the
Edomites launch offensives into Judah (v. 17). In addition, the Philistines seize several key Judean cities in the Shephelah, including Beth Shemesh, Aijalon, Soco, and Timnah (v. 18). Note that most of these cities were located on the major passes (roads) leading into the central hill country.
2. (:18) Attacks by the Philistines
“The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the lowland and of the Negev of Judah, and had taken Beth-shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, and Soco with its villages, Timnah with its villages, and Gimzo with its villages, and they settled there.”
Raymond Dillard: The inciting incident in Ahaz’s seeking the help of Tiglath-pileser III was the attack of the Syro-Ephraimite coalition according to 2 Kgs 16:7; here instead it is attacks from the Edomites and Philistines. These two nations were natural allies against Judah and could have been seeking to forge overland trading routes free of Judean influence linking the strategic gulf trade through Elath with the coastal highway to the west; Uzziah had extended Judean control into the region (26:7–8). Pressure from the North (28:5) would have encouraged opportunism on Judah’s southern and western flanks. The attacks from Edom may have been incited by the Arameans to further the interests of the coalition against Judah or the Aram of 2 Kgs 16:6 may have derived from misreading Edom. The cities captured by the Philistines (with the exception of Gimzo) were all along the Ayyalon, Sorek, and Elah valleys in the buffer zone of the Shephelah between the two nations or in the Negev (Arad).
C. (:19) Process of Divine Discipline
1. Reality of Discipline
“For the LORD humbled Judah”
2. Reasons for Discipline
“because of Ahaz king of Israel,”
a. Unrestrained — Lack of Restraint in Conduct
“for he had brought about a lack of restraint in Judah”
b. Unfaithful — Lack of Loyalty to the Lord
“and was very unfaithful to the LORD.”
D. (:20-21) Payoff Attempted by Ahaz
1. (:20) Assyria Hurting Instead of Helping
“So Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria came against him
and afflicted him instead of strengthening him.”
2. (:21) Ahaz Unsuccessfully Attempting to Buy Assistance
“Although Ahaz took a portion out of the house of the LORD
and out of the palace of the king and of the princes,
and gave it to the king of Assyria, it did not help him.”
IV. (:22-25) DEGENERATING INTO COMPOUNDED APOSTASY
A. (:22-23) Promoting False Worship
1. (:22) Wrong Response to Pressure
“Now in the time of his distress
this same King Ahaz became yet more unfaithful to the LORD.”
Instead of repenting, he doubled down on his unfaithfulness.
Frederick Mabie: This is one of the saddest verses in all of Chronicles. As noted above (vv. 9, 19), the judgment of God via the incursions of the surrounding nations is a direct result of the unfaithfulness of Ahaz (and Judah) to obey and trust the Lord fully. While such covenantal consequences are intended to drive God’s people back to him in repentance, Ahaz instead becomes “even more unfaithful” and pursues greater levels of wickedness by raiding the temple and palace treasuries, worshiping additional deities associated with the Arameans, and looting the temple for the furnishings of his many high places (cf. vv. 21-25). By so doing Ahaz spurns the forgiving nature of the God, who abounds in mercy and forgiveness when his people seek him in humility and contrition.
2. (:23a) Worship of False Gods
“For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him,
and said, ‘Because the gods of the kings of Aram helped them,
I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.’”
3. (:23b) Wreaking Havoc on Ahaz and Israel
“But they became the downfall of him and all Israel.”
J.A. Thompson: A list of his apostasies is given. He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus whom he regarded as his conquerors, obviously blind to the truth that it was the Lord who was responsible for his defeat. It was a case of extreme apostasy, for it involved repudiation of the religious regulations the Lord gave Israel through Moses and David, although Ahaz probably worshiped the Lord along with the gods of Aram. Certainly Ahaz seems to have turned in all directions for help – the Assyrians, the gods of the kings of Aram – everywhere except to the Lord, the God of Israel, the source of the “help” he needed. These others served only to ruin Ahaz and all Israel.
B. (:24-25a) Perverting True Worship
1. (:24a) Cutting up the Temple Utensils
“Moreover, when Ahaz gathered together the utensils of the house of God, he cut the utensils of the house of God in pieces;”
2. (:24b) Closing the Doors of the Temple
“and he closed the doors of the house of the LORD,
and made altars for himself in every corner of Jerusalem.”
3. (:25a) Creating High Places for Idolatrous Worship
“And in every city of Judah he made high places
to burn incense to other gods,”
C. (:25b) Provoking the Lord to Anger
“and provoked the LORD, the God of his fathers, to anger.”
Iain Duguid: Ahaz’s attitude to the worship of the Lord became even more antagonistic. He not only wantonly destroyed some of the temple items but also ended temple worship (cf. 2 Chron. 29:7). Instead of worshiping the Lord according to the Mosaic law in one temple, Ahaz multiplied worship of “other gods,” the extent highlighted
by repetition of “every” for both “corner of Jerusalem” and “city of Judah” (cf. Jer. 2:28). Here is the first instance in Chronicles of the Lord’s being “provoked to anger” (Hb. form of kaʻas), to be used later of Manasseh (2 Chron. 33:6) and the people (34:25), another example of a foretaste of the Babylonian exile due to persistent failure to be faithful in worshiping the Lord alone.
(:26-27) — EPILOGUE – CLOSING SUMMARY OF HIS REIGN
A. (:26) Record of His Deeds
“Now the rest of his acts and all his ways, from first to last,
behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.”
B. (:27a) Death and Burial
“So Ahaz slept with his fathers,”
“and they buried him in the city, in Jerusalem,
for they did not bring him into the tombs of the kings of Israel;”
Raymond Dillard: He is the third king about whom the author reports the loss of this honor at death (Jehoram, 21:20; Joash, 24:25; Uzziah, 26:23; cf. 33:20).
C. (:27b) Succession
“and Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.”