Ahaz Rules in Judah
1Ahaz 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. 2Instead, he followed the example of the kings of Israel. He cast metal images for the worship of Baal. 3He offered sacrifices in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, even sacrificing his own sons in the fire.# Or even making his sons pass through the fire. In this way, he followed the detestable practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. 4He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the pagan shrines and on the hills and under every green tree.
5Because of all this, 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 the king of Israel also defeated Ahaz and inflicted many casualties on his army. 6In a single day Pekah son of Remaliah, Israel’s king, killed 120,000 of Judah’s troops, all of them experienced warriors, because they had abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 7Then 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. 8The armies of Israel captured 200,000 women and children from Judah and seized tremendous amounts of plunder, which they took back to Samaria.
9But 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. 10And now you are planning to make slaves of these people from Judah and Jerusalem. What about your own sins against the Lord your God? 11Listen to me and return these prisoners you have taken, for they are your own relatives. Watch out, because now the Lord’s fierce anger has been turned against you!”
12Then some of the leaders of Israel# Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel.—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. 13“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.”
14So the warriors released the prisoners and handed over the plunder in the sight of the leaders and all the people. 15Then the four men just 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 people in Jericho, the city of palms. Then they returned to Samaria.
Ahaz Closes the Temple
16At that time King Ahaz of Judah asked the king of Assyria for help. 17The armies of Edom had again invaded Judah and taken captives. 18And the Philistines had raided towns located in the foothills of Judah# Hebrew the Shephelah. and in the Negev of Judah. They had already captured and occupied Beth-shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, Soco with its villages, Timnah with its villages, and Gimzo with its villages. 19The Lord was humbling Judah because of King Ahaz of Judah,# Masoretic Text reads of Israel; also in 28:23, 27. The author of Chronicles sees Judah as representative of the true Israel. (Some Hebrew manuscripts and Greek version read of Judah.) for he had encouraged his people to sin and had been utterly unfaithful to the Lord.
20So when King Tiglath-pileser# Hebrew Tilgath-pilneser, a variant spelling of Tiglath-pileser. of Assyria arrived, he attacked Ahaz instead of helping him. 21Ahaz 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 this did not help him.
22Even during this time of trouble, King Ahaz continued to reject the Lord. 23He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him, for he said, “Since these gods helped the kings of Aram, they will help me, too, if I sacrifice to them.” But instead, they led to his ruin and the ruin of all Judah.
24The king took the various articles 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 he set up altars to pagan gods in every corner of Jerusalem. 25He 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.
26The rest of the events of Ahaz’s reign and everything he did, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 27When Ahaz died, he was buried in Jerusalem but not in the royal cemetery of the kings of Judah. Then his son Hezekiah became the next king.
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