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Politically and religiously, Ahaz’s reign over Judah was disastrous. He came to the throne about 735 BC, when Assyria was rapidly expanding its power and becoming a threat to all the countries of the region.

To resist the Assyrian threat, Israel and Syria asked Judah to join them in a three-part defence alliance. When Ahaz refused, Israel and Syria attacked Jerusalem, planning to put a king of their own choice on Judah’s throne. Ahaz panicked and, against the advice of Isaiah the prophet, asked Assyria to help defend him. Isaiah promised that faith in God, and nothing else, would bring lasting victory. In the short term, Assyrian help might save Jerusalem, but in the long term it would bring Judah under the power of Assyria (2 Kings 16:5; 2 Kings 16:7-9; Isaiah 7:1-9; Isaiah 8:5-8). (Concerning God’s sign of assurance given to Ahaz in Isaiah 7:10-25, see IMMANUEL; VIRGIN.)

Ahaz’s policies during the war with Israel-Syria almost ruined Judah’s national economy. His hiring of Assyria was costly (2 Kings 16:7-8; 2 Kings 16:17-18; 2 Chronicles 28:20-21), and though it enabled him to repel the Israelite-Syrian army, he lost thousands of soldiers killed in the battle (2 Chronicles 28:5-7). He almost lost thousands more as prisoners, but a prophet told the Israelites to send all the prisoners, and all the loot, back to Judah (2 Chronicles 28:8-15). Ahaz suffered further losses at the hands of invading Edomites and Philistines, and lost control of the important Red Sea port of Elath (Ezion-geber) (2 Kings 16:6; 2 Chronicles 28:17-18).

In addition to damaging Judah’s political and economic standing, Ahaz corrupted Judah’s religion. He worshipped the gods of the foreigners who had shown such strength in battle, and introduced their religion into Judah. He built a copy of their altar of sacrifice to replace the existing altar of sacrifice in the Jerusalem temple (2 Kings 16:10-16; 2 Chronicles 28:22-24), and built shrines for the foreign religions throughout the towns of Judah (2 Chronicles 28:25). He even burnt his son as a human sacrifice (2 Kings 16:2-4).

Ahaz did such harm to Judah’s national life, that the nation’s leaders refused to give him a burial place among the royal tombs (2 Chronicles 28:27). His son and successor Hezekiah soon began a vigorous reformation of Judah (2 Kings 18:1-6).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Ahaz'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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