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16 New king of Judah: Ahaz

Father’s name: Jotham

His age at the beginning of his reign: 20 years old

Length of reign: 16 years, in Jerusalem

Character of his reign: evil

Reigning in Israel at that time: King Pekah (son of Remaliah), who had been the king there for 17 years

But he did not follow the Lord as his ancestor David had; he was as wicked as the kings of Israel. He even killed his own son by offering him as a burnt sacrifice to the gods, following the heathen customs of the nations around Judah—nations that the Lord destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land. He also sacrificed and burned incense at the shrines on the hills and at the numerous altars in the groves of trees.

Then King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah (son of Remaliah) of Israel declared war on Ahaz and besieged Jerusalem; but they did not conquer it. However, at that time King Rezin of Syria recovered the city of Elath for Syria; he drove out the Jews and sent Syrians to live there, as they do to this day. King Ahaz sent a messenger to King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria, begging him to help him fight the attacking armies of Syria and Israel.[a] Ahaz took the silver and gold from the Temple and from the royal vaults and sent it as a payment to the Assyrian king. So the Assyrians attacked Damascus, the capital of Syria. They took away the population of the city as captives, resettling them in Kir, and King Rezin of Syria was killed.

10 King Ahaz now went to Damascus to meet with King Tiglath-pileser, and while he was there he noticed an unusual altar in a heathen temple.[b] He jotted down its dimensions and made a sketch and sent it back to Uriah the priest with a detailed description. 11-12 Uriah built one just like it by following these directions and had it ready for the king, who, upon his return from Damascus, inaugurated it with an offering. 13 The king presented a burnt offering and a grain offering, poured a drink offering over it, and sprinkled the blood of peace offerings upon it. 14 Then he removed the old bronze altar from the front of the Temple (it had stood between the Temple entrance and the new altar), and placed it on the north side of the new altar. 15 He instructed Uriah the priest to use the new altar for the sacrifices of burnt offering, the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt offering and grain offering, and the offerings of the people, including their drink offerings. The blood from the burnt offerings and sacrifices was also to be sprinkled over the new altar. So the old altar was used only for purposes of divination.

“The old bronze altar,” he said, “will be only for my personal use.”

16 Uriah the priest did as King Ahaz instructed him. 17 Then the king dismantled the wheeled stands in the Temple, removed their crosspieces and the water vats they supported, and removed the great tank from the backs of the bronze oxen and placed it upon the stone pavement. 18 In deference to the king of Assyria he also removed the festive passageway he had constructed between the palace and the Temple.[c]

19 The rest of the history of the reign of King Ahaz is recorded in The Annals of the Kings of Judah. 20 When Ahaz died he was buried in the royal cemetery, in the City of David sector of Jerusalem, and his son Hezekiah became the new king.


  1. 2 Kings 16:7 begging him to . . . fight . . . Syria and Israel, literally, “saying, ‘I am your servant and your son. Come and rescue me.’”
  2. 2 Kings 16:10 an unusual altar in a heathen temple, literally, “he saw the altar that was at Damascus.”
  3. 2 Kings 16:18 The Hebrew is unclear.

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