2 Chronicles 28:23 MEANING

2 Chronicles 28:23
(23) For (and) he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus.--The statement of this verse is peculiar to the Chronicle; and the same may be said of the next also. Both here and in the preceding account of the relations of Ahaz to Tiglath-pileser, the writer appears to have drawn upon another source than the book of Kings.

Damascus may, perhaps, be put for the Damascenes, though in that case Aram would have been more natural. (Not "at Damascus," as Thenius renders.)

Which smote him.--Did the chronicler himself believe that the gods of Aram had any power or real existence? That such was the common belief of the Israelites in the days of Ahaz appears certain. (See Exodus 15:11; Judges 11:24; 1 Samuel 26:19.) In the latter half of Isaiah we find the nothingness of the false gods strongly asserted; but there was also another current opinion, which St. Paul repeats, and which Milton has adopted in Paradise Lost, viz., that "the things which the heathen sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons" (1 Corinthians 8:4; 1 Corinthians 10:20; Deuteronomy 32:17).

Because the gods.--Omit because (the Hebrew particle simply introduces what the speaker said). "The gods of the kings of Aram, they help them; to them will I sacrifice, that they may help me." Such is the word ascribed to Ahaz, implying a doubt of Jehovah's power or willingness to help. (Ma'z?rim, "help," an Aramaised form.)

But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel.--Literally, and they (i.e., those very gods) were to him to make him stumble, and all Israel. The mode of expression, as well as the thought expressed, is highly characteristic.

Israel = Judah, as usual.

Verse 23. - He sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him. The writer must be understood to speak from the point of view of Ahaz, in putting it, that it was the gods of Damascus who smote." The formula, all Israel, is a clear instance of how the name "Israel" is used as "Judah." The gods of Damascus were, of course, the same with those of Syria, of which Damascus was capital. Their names were Rimmon, Tabrim-men, Hadad, and some others. Perhaps no verse in Chronicles is more typical of the special moral aspects and aims of the writer.

28:1-27 The wicked reign of Ahaz in Judah. - Israel gained this victory because God was wroth with Judah, and made them the rod of his indignation. He reminds them of their own sins. It ill becomes sinners to be cruel. Could they hope for the mercy of God, if they neither showed mercy nor justice to their brethren? Let it be remembered, that every man is our neighbour, our brother, our fellow man, if not our fellow Christian. And no man who is acquainted with the word of God, need fear to maintain that slavery is against the law of love and the gospel of grace. Who can hold his brother in bondage, without breaking the rule of doing to others as he would they should do unto him? But when sinners are left to their own heart's lusts, they grow more desperate in wickedness. God commands them to release the prisoners, and they obeyed. The Lord brought Judah low. Those who will not humble themselves under the word of God, will justly be humbled by his judgments. 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. This is that king Ahaz! that wretched man! 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, and have their hearts more fully set in them to do evil. But no marvel that men's affections and devotions are misplaced, when they mistake the author of their trouble and of their help. The progress of wickedness and misery is often rapid; and it is awful to reflect upon a sinner's being driven away in his wickedness into the eternal world.For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him,.... As he foolishly imagined, that they might do him no more hurt; as it is said of the Indians, that they worship the devil, that he may not hurt them; but that a king of Judah should do this is monstrous stupidity; rather therefore the meaning may be, that he worshipped the gods of those that smote him, those of the men or soldiers of Damascus (m) see 2 Chronicles 28:5 for the Spirit of God would never ascribe the smiting of him to idols, though he himself might:

and he said, because the gods of the kings of Syria help them; which looks as if this was before Damascus was taken by the king of Assyria, and when Rezin king of Syria prevailed over Ahaz:

therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me; against the Edomites and Philistines; wherefore rather to this, his idolatry, respect is had in 2 Chronicles 28:22,

but they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel; the worship of them was the cause of all the calamities that came upon that part of Israel of which he was king.

(m) So Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

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