2 Chronicles 28
This chapter is the history of the reign of Ahaz the son of Jotham; a
bad reign it was, and which helped to augment the fierce anger of the
Lord. We have here,
I. His great wickedness,
2 Chronicles 28:1-4.
II. The trouble he brought himself into by it,
2 Chronicles 28:5-8.
III. The reproof which God sent by a prophet to the army of Israel for
trampling upon their brethren of Judah, and the obedient ear they gave
to that reproof,
2 Chronicles 28:9-15.
IV. The many calamities that followed to Ahaz and his people,
2 Chronicles 28:16-21.
V. The continuance of his idolatry notwithstanding
(2 Chronicles 28:22-25),
and so his story ends,
2 Chronicles 28:26,27.
|The Wickedness of Ahaz.
||B. C. 738.|
1 Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he
reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: but he did not that which
was right in the sight of the LORD, like David his father:
2 For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made
also molten images for Baalim.
3 Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom,
and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the
heathen whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.
4 He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and
on the hills, and under every green tree.
5 Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the
king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great
multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And
he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who
smote him with a great slaughter.
Never surely had a man greater opportunity of doing well than Ahaz had,
finding things in a good posture, the kingdom rich and strong and
religion established; and yet here we have him in these few verses,
1. Wretchedly corrupted and debauched. He had had a good education
given him and a good example set him: but parents cannot give grace to
their children. All the instructions he had were lost upon him: He
did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord
(2 Chronicles 28:1),
nay, he did a great deal that was wrong, a wrong to God, to his own
soul, and to his people; he walked in the way of the revolted
Israelites and the devoted Canaanites, made molten images and
worshipped them, contrary to the second commandment; nay, he made them
for Baalim, contrary to the first commandment. He forsook the temple of
the Lord and sacrificed and burnt incense on the hills, as if they
would place him nearer heaven, and under every green tree, as if they
would signify the protection and influence of heaven by their shade and
dropping. To complete his wickedness, as one perfectly divested of all
natural affection as well as religion and perfectly devoted to the
service and interest of the great enemy of mankind, he burnt his
children in the fire to Moloch
(2 Chronicles 28:3),
not thinking it enough to dedicate them to that infernal fiend by
causing them to pass through the fire. See what an absolute sway the
prince of the power of the air bears among the children of
2. Wretchedly spoiled and made a prey of. When he forsook God, and at
a vast expense put himself under the protection of false gods, God, who
of right was his God, delivered him into the hands of his enemies,
2 Chronicles 28:5.
(1.) The Syrians insulted him and triumphed over him, beat him in the
field and carried away a great many of his people into captivity.
(2.) The king of Israel, though an idolater too, was made a scourge to
him, and smote him with a great slaughter. The people suffered
by these judgments: their blood was shed, their country wasted, their
families ruined; for when they had a good king, though they did
(2 Chronicles 27:2),
yet then his goodness sheltered them; but now that they had a bad one
all the defence had departed from them and an inundation of judgments
broke in upon them. Those that knew not their happiness in the
foregoing reign were taught to value it by the miseries of this
|The King of Israel Defeats Ahaz.
||B. C. 738.|
6 For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah a hundred and
twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men; because
they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers.
7 And Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, slew Maaseiah the king's
son, and Azrikam the governor of the house, and Elkanah that
was next to the king.
8 And the children of Israel carried away captive of their
brethren two hundred thousand, women, sons, and daughters, and
took also away much spoil from them, and brought the spoil to
9 But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded:
and he went out before the host that came to Samaria, and said
unto them, Behold, because the LORD God of your fathers was wroth
with Judah, he hath delivered them into your hand, and ye have
slain them in a rage that reacheth up unto heaven.
10 And now ye purpose to keep under the children of Judah and
Jerusalem for bondmen and bondwomen unto you: but are there not
with you, even with you, sins against the LORD your God?
11 Now hear me therefore, and deliver the captives again, which
ye have taken captive of your brethren: for the fierce wrath of
the LORD is upon you.
12 Then certain of the heads of the children of Ephraim,
Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth,
and Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai,
stood up against them that came from the war,
13 And said unto them, Ye shall not bring in the captives
hither: for whereas we have offended against the LORD already,
ye intend to add more to our sins and to our trespass: for our
trespass is great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel.
14 So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the
princes and all the congregation.
15 And the men which were expressed by name rose up, and took
the captives, and with the spoil clothed all that were naked
among them, and arrayed them, and shod them, and gave them to eat
and to drink, and anointed them, and carried all the feeble of
them upon asses, and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm
trees, to their brethren: then they returned to Samaria.
We have here,
I. Treacherous Judah under the rebukes of God's providence, and they
are very severe. Never was such bloody work made among them since they
were a kingdom, and by Israelites too. Ahaz walked in the ways of the
kings of Israel, and the king of Israel was the instrument God made use
of for his punishment. It is just with God to make those our plagues
whom we make our patterns or make ourselves partners with in sin. A war
broke out between Judah and Israel, in which Judah was worsted. For,
1. There was a great slaughter of men in the field of battle. Vast
numbers (120,000 men, and valiant men too at other times) were slain
(2 Chronicles 28:6)
and some of the first rank, the king's son for one. He had sacrificed
some of this sons to Moloch; justly therefore is this sacrificed to the
divine vengeance. Here is another that was next the king, his
friend, the prime-minister of state, or perhaps next him in the battle,
so that the king himself had a narrow escape,
2 Chronicles 28:7.
The kingdom of Israel was not strong at this time, and yet strong
enough to bring this great destruction upon Judah. But certainly so
many men, great men, stout men, could not have been cut off in one day
if they had not been strangely dispirited both by the consciousness of
their own guilt and by the righteous hand of God upon them. Even
valiant men were numbered as sheep for the slaughter, and became
an easy prey to the enemy because they had forsaken the Lord God of
their fathers, and he had therefore forsaken them.
2. There was a great captivity of women and children,
2 Chronicles 28:8.
When the army in the field was routed, the cities, and towns, and
country villages, were all easily stripped, the inhabitants taken for
slaves, and their wealth for a prey.
II. Even victorious Israel under the rebuke of God's word for the bad
principle they had gone upon in making war with Judah and the bad use
they had made of their success, and the good effect of this rebuke.
1. The message which God sent them by a prophet, who went out to meet
them, not to applaud their valour or congratulate them on their
victory, though they returned laden with spoils and triumphs, but in
God's name to tell them of their faults and warn them of the judgments
(1.) He told them how they came by this victory of which they were so
proud. It was not because God favoured them, or that they had merited
it at his hand, but because he was wroth with Judah, and made
them the rod of his indignation. Not for your righteousness, be
it known to you, but for their wickedness
they are broken off; therefore be not you high-minded, but
fear lest God also spare not you,
(2.) He charged them with the abuse of the power God had given them
over their brethren. Those understand not what victory is who think it
gives them authority to do what they will, and that the longest sword
is the clearest claim to lives and estates (Jusque datum
sceleri--might is right); no, as it is impolitic not to use a
victory, so it is impious to abuse it. The conquerors are here
[1.] For the cruelty of the slaughter they had made in the field. They
had indeed shed the blood of war in war; we suppose that to be
lawful, but it turned into sin to them, because they did it from a bad
principle of enmity to their brethren and after a bad manner, with a
barbarous fury, a rage reaching up to heaven, that is, that
cried to God for vengeance against such bloody men, that delighted in
military execution. Those that serve God's justice, if they do it with
rage and a spirit of revenge, make themselves obnoxious to it, and
forfeit the honour of acting for him; for the wrath of man worketh
not the righteousness of God.
[2.] For the imperious treatment they gave their prisoners. "You now
purpose to keep them under, to use them or sell them as slaves,
though they are your brethren and free-born Israelites." God takes
notice of what men purpose, as well as of what they say and do.
(3.) He reminded them of their own sins, by which they also were
obnoxious to the wrath of God: Are there not with you, even with
you, sins against the Lord your God?
2 Chronicles 28:10.
He appeals to their own consciences, and to the notorious evidence of
the thing. "Though you are now made the instruments of correcting Judah
for sin, yet do not think that you are therefore innocent yourselves;
no, you also are guilty before God." This is intended as a check,
[1.] To their triumph in their success. "You are sinners, and it ill
becomes sinners to be proud; you have carried the day now, but be not
secure, the wheel may ere long return upon yourselves, for, if judgment
begin thus with those that have the house of God among them,
what shall be the end of such as worship the calves?"
[2.] To their severity towards their brethren. "You have now got them
under, but you ought to show mercy to them, for you yourselves are
undone if you do not find mercy with God. It ill becomes sinners to be
cruel. You have transgressions enough to answer for already, and need
not add this to the rest."
(4.) He commanded them to release the prisoners, and to send them home
(2 Chronicles 28:11);
"for you having sinned, the fierce wrath of God is upon you, and
there is no other way of escaping it than by showing mercy."
2. The resolution of the princes thereupon not to detain the prisoners.
They stood up against those that came from the war, though
flushed with victory, and told them plainly that they should not bring
their captives into Samaria,
2 Chronicles 28:12,13.
They had sin enough already to answer for, and would have nothing done
to add to their trespass. In this they discovered an obedient regard to
the word of God by his prophet and a tender compassion towards their
brethren, which was wrought in them by the tender mercy of God; for he
regarded the affliction of this poor people, and hears their cry, and
made them to be pitied of all those that carried them captive,
3. The compliance of the soldiers with the resolutions of the princes
in this matter, and the dismission of the captives thereupon.
(1.) The armed men, though being armed they might be force have
maintained their title to what they got by the sword, acquiesced, and
left their captives and the spoil to the disposal of the princes
(2 Chronicles 28:14),
and herein they showed more truly heroic bravery than they did in
taking them. It is a great honour for any man to yield to the authority
of reason and religion against his interest.
(2.) The princes very generously sent home the poor captives well
2 Chronicles 28:15.
Those that hope to find mercy with God must learn hence with what
tenderness to carry themselves towards those that lie at their mercy.
It is strange that these princes, who in this instance discovered such
a deference to the word of God, and such an influence upon the people,
had not so much grace as, in obedience to the calls of God by so many
prophets, to root idolatry out of their kingdom, which, soon after
this, was the ruin of it.
|The Death of Ahaz.
||B. C. 738.|
16 At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to
17 For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and
carried away captives.
18 The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the low
country, and of the south of Judah, and had taken Beth-shemesh,
and Ajalon, and Gederoth, and Shocho with the villages thereof,
and Timnah with the villages thereof, Gimzo also and the villages
thereof: and they dwelt there.
19 For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of
Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against
20 And Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria came unto him, and
distressed him, but strengthened him not.
21 For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of the LORD,
and out of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave
it unto the king of Assyria: but he helped him not.
22 And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more
against the LORD: this is that king Ahaz.
23 For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote
him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help
them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help
me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel.
24 And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God,
and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up
the doors of the house of the LORD, and he made him altars in
every corner of Jerusalem.
25 And in every several city of Judah he made high places to
burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the LORD God
of his fathers.
26 Now the rest of his acts and of all his ways, first and
last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of
Judah and Israel.
27 And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the
city, even in Jerusalem: but they brought him not into the
sepulchres of the kings of Israel: and Hezekiah his son reigned
in his stead.
I. The great distress which the kingdom of Ahaz was reduced to for his
sin. In general,
1. The Lord brought Judah low,
2 Chronicles 28:19.
They had lately been very high in wealth and power; but God found means
to bring them down, and make them as despicable as they had been
formidable. Those that will not humble themselves under the word of God
will justly be humbled by his judgments. Iniquity brings men
2. Ahaz made Judah naked. As his sin debased them, so it exposed them.
It made them naked to their shame; for it exposed them to contempt, as
a man unclothed. It made them naked to their danger; for it exposed
them to assaults, as a man unarmed,
Sin strips men. In particular, the Edomites, to be revenged for
Amaziah's cruel treatment of them
(2 Chronicles 25:12),
smote Judah, and carried off many captives,
2 Chronicles 28:17.
The Philistines also insulted them, took and kept possession of several
cities and villages that lay near them
(2 Chronicles 28:18),
and so they were revenged for the incursions which Uzziah had made upon
2 Chronicles 26:6.
And, to show that it was purely the sin of Ahaz that brought the
Philistines upon his country, in the very year that he died the prophet
Isaiah foretold the destruction of the Philistines by his son,
II. The addition which Ahaz made both to the national distress and the
1. He added to the distress, by making court to strange kings, in hopes
they would relieve him. When the Edomites and Philistines were
vexatious to him, he sent to the kings of Assyria to help him
(2 Chronicles 28:16);
for he found his own kingdom weakened and made naked, and he could not
put any confidence in God, and therefore was at a vast expense to get
an interest in the king of Assyria. He pillaged the house of God, and
the king's house, and squeezed the princes for money to hire these
foreign forces into his service,
2 Chronicles 28:21.
Though he had conformed to the idolatry of the heathen nations, his
neighbours, they did not value him for that, nor love him the better,
nor did his compliance, by which he lost God, gain them, nor could he
make any interest in them, but with his money. 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. A degenerate branch is
looked upon, on all sides, as an abominable branch,
But what did Ahaz get by the king of Assyria? Why, he came to
him, but he distressed him, and strengthened him not
(2 Chronicles 28:20),
helped him not,
2 Chronicles 28:21.
The forces of the Assyrian quartered upon his country, and so
impoverished and weakened it; they grew insolent and imperious, and
created him a great deal of vexation, like a broken reed, which not
only fails, but pierces the hand.
2. He added to the guilt, by making court to strange gods, in hopes
they would relieve him. In his distress, instead of repenting of his
idolatry, which he had reason enough to see the folly of, he
trespassed yet more
(2 Chronicles 28:22),
was more mad than ever upon his idols. A brand of infamy is here set
upon him for it: This is that king Ahaz, that wretched man, who
was the scandal of the house of David and the curse and plague of his
generation. Note, 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, have their corruptions
exasperated by that which should mollify them, and their hearts more
fully set in them to do evil. Let us see what his trespass was.
(1.) He abused the house of God; for he cut in pieces the
vessels of it, that the priests might not perform the service of
the temple, or not as it should be performed, for want of vessels; and,
at length, he shut up the doors, that the people might not
2 Chronicles 28:24.
This was worse than the worst of the kings before him had done.
(2.) He confronted the altar of God, for he made himself altars in
every corner of Jerusalem; so that, as the prophet speaks, they
were like heaps in the furrows of the fields,
And in the cities of Judah, either by his power or by his purse,
perhaps by both, he erected high places for the people to burn incense
to what idols they pleased, as if on purpose to provoke the God of
2 Chronicles 28:25.
(3.) He cast off God himself; for he sacrificed to the gods of
(2 Chronicles 28:23),
not because he loved them, for he thought they smote him; but because
he feared them, thinking that they helped his enemies, and that, if he
could bring them into his interest, they would help him. Foolish man!
It was his own God that smote him and strengthened the Syrians against
him, not the gods of Damascus; had he sacrificed to him, and to him
only, he would have helped him. But no marvel that men's affections and
devotions are misplaced when they mistake the author of their trouble
and their help. And what comes of it? The gods of Syria befriend Ahaz
no more than the kings of Assyria did; they were the ruin of him and
of all Israel. This sin provoked God to bring judgments upon them,
to cut him off in the midst of his days, when he was but thirty-six
years old; and it debauched the people so that the reformation of the
next reign could not prevail to cure them of their inclination to
idolatry, but they retained that root of bitterness till the captivity
in Babylon plucked it up.
The chapter concludes with the conclusion of the reign of Ahaz,
2 Chronicles 28:26,27.
For aught that appears, he died impenitent, and therefore died
inglorious; for he was not buried in the sepulchres of the
kings. Justly was he thought unworthy to be laid among them who was
so unlike them--to be buried with kings who had used his kingly power
for the destruction of the church and not for its protection or