King Ahaz of Judah
1 Ahaz was 20 years old when he became the king of Judah. He ruled from Jerusalem for 16 years. His ancestor King David was a good king, but Ahaz was not like David. He constantly disobeyed Yahweh 2 and was as sinful as the kings of Israel had been. He made idols of the god Baal. 3 He burned incense in Hinnom Valley. He even killed some of his own sons and offered them as sacrifices to be completely burned. That imitated the disgusting customs of the people-groups who previously lived there, people whom Yahweh had expelled as the Israelis advanced through the land. 4 Ahaz offered sacrifices to idols at shrines on hilltops and under every big green tree.
5 Therefore Yahweh his God allowed his army to be defeated by the army of the king of Syria. They captured many soldiers of Judah and took them as prisoners to Damascus.
The army of the king of Israel also defeated the army of Judah and killed very many of their soldiers. 6 In one day the army of Remaliah’s son, King Pekah of Israel, killed 120,000 soldiers in Judah. That happened because the people of Judah had abandoned Yahweh, the God whom their ancestors worshiped. 7 Zicri, a warrior from the tribe of Ephraim, killed king Ahaz’s son Maaseiah, Azrikam the officer in charge of the palace, and Elkanah, the king’s assistant. 8 The soldiers of Israel captured 200,000 of the people of Judah, including many wives and sons and daughters of the soldiers of Judah. They also seized and took back to Samaria many valuable things.
9 But a prophet of Yahweh whose name was Obed was there in Samaria. He went out of the city to meet the army when it returned to Samaria. He said to them, “Because Yahweh, the God whom your ancestors belonged to, was angry with the people of Judah, he allowed you to defeat them. But God has seen the cruel way that you slaughtered them. 10 And now you want to sin by causing men and women from Judah to become your slaves, but you have certainly also sinned against Yahweh our God! 11 So listen to me! Send back to Judah your fellow-countrymen whom you have captured, because Yahweh is extremely angry with you for what you did to them.”
12 Then some of the leaders of the tribe of Ephraim—Azariah the son of Jehohanan, Berekiah the son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai—rebuked those who were returning from the battle. 13 They said to them, “You must not bring those prisoners here! If you do that, Yahweh will consider that we are guilty of sinning. We are already guilty of committing many sins; do you want to cause us to be even more guilty by committing another sin? God is already very angry with us people of Israel!”
14 So, while their leaders and others were watching, the soldiers released the prisoners, and also gave back to them the valuable things that they had captured. 15 The leaders who were selected took some of the clothes that the soldiers had taken from the prisoners and gave those clothes back to the people who were naked. They also gave to the prisoners sandals and other clothes and things to eat and drink, and they gave them olive oil to rub on their wounds. They gave donkeys to those who were very weak, in order that they could ride on them. Then they led them all to Jericho, the city that had many palm trees. Then those leaders of Israel returned to Samaria.
16 About that time, King Ahaz sent a message to the king of Assyria requesting help. 17 He did that because the army from the Edom people-group had come again and attacked Judah and taken away many of the people of Judah as prisoners. 18 At the same time, men from Philistia had raided/attacked towns in the foothills and in the southern desert of Judah. They had captured Beth-Shemesh, Aijalon, and Gederoth cities, as well as Soco, Timnah and Gimzo towns and the nearby villages. 19 Yahweh allowed those things to happen in order to humble king Ahaz, because he had encouraged the people of Judah to do wicked things and had disobeyed Yahweh very much. 20 Tiglath-Pileser, the king of Assyria, sent his army saying that they would help Ahaz, but instead of helping him, they caused him to experience trouble. 21 Ahaz’s soldiers took some of the valuable things from the temple and from the king’s palace and from other leaders of Judah and sent them to the king of Assyria to pay him to help them, but the king of Assyria refused to help Ahaz.
22 While King Ahaz was experiencing those troubles, he disobeyed Yahweh even more. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods that were worshiped in Damascus, whose army had defeated his army. He thought, “The gods that are worshiped by the kings of Syria have helped them, so I will offer sacrifices to those gods in order that they will help me.” But worshiping those gods caused Ahaz and all of Israel to be ruined.
24 Ahaz gathered all the furnishings that were used in the temple and broke them into pieces. He locked the doors of the temple and set up altars for worshiping idols at every street corner in Jerusalem. 25 In every town in Judah, his workers built shrines to burn sacrifices to other gods, and that caused Yahweh, the God whom their ancestors worshiped, to be very angry.
26 A record of the other things that Ahaz did while he was the king, from when he started to rule until he died, is written in the scroll called ‘The History of the Kings of Judah and Israel’. 27 Ahaz died and was buried in Jerusalem, but he was not buried in the tombs where the other kings had been buried. Then his son Hezekiah became the king.