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PJSFaithAs Isaiah 7 opens, Ahaz, the wicked king of the southern kingdom of Judah, is under extreme pressure from “Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel” (Isa. 7:1).

The chapter unfolds in 734 B.C., following Ahaz’s ascent to power in Judah. This passage (which opens a new unit that extends through Isaiah 12) does not provide the background to this complex situation. That is found in 2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28—although the details in those chapters are not easily correlated. They are written from two different perspectives, emphasize different aspects of the situation and speak of events that are similar but not necessarily identical.

As Delitzsch states:

Indisputable as the credibility of these events may be, it is nevertheless very difficult to connect them together, either substantially or chronologically, in a certain and reliable manner.

The threat facing Ahaz had been in place since the reign of Jotham (2 Kings 15:37).

The cumulative effect of this siege is described in 2 Chronicles 28:6-8: “For Pekah the son of Remaliah killed one hundred and twenty thousand in Judah in one day, all valiant men, because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers. Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, killed Maaseiah the king’s son, Azrikam the officer over the house, and Elkanah who was second to the king. And the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand women, sons, and daughters; and they also took away much spoil from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria.”

The fact that this calamity fell as a chastisement upon the head of Ahaz is in no way unjustified when we consider the magnitude of his impiety as revealed in 2 Kings 16:1-4 and 2 Chronicles 28:1-5, 19.

The situation facing him led Ahaz to take the drastic, godless action of imploring “Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria” (2 Chron. 28:20) for aid (cf. 2 Kings 16:7-9; 2 Chron. 28:16).

Keil and Delitzsch summarize as follows:

The allied Syrians and Israelites completely defeated the Judaeans, slew more than a hundred thousand men and led away a much larger number of prisoners, and then advanced to Jerusalem to put an end to the kingdom of Judah by the conquest of the capital. In this distress, instead of seeking help from the Lord, who promised him deliverance through the prophet Isaiah, Ahaz sought help from Tiglath-pileser the king of Assyria, who came and delivered him from the oppression of Rezin and Pekah by the conquest of Damascus, Galilee, and the Israelitish land to the east of the Jordan, but who then oppressed him himself, so that Ahaz was obliged to purchase the friendship of this conqueror by sending him all the treasures of the temple and palace.[2]

News of the latest military maneuvers by Israel and Syria sent Ahaz into a panic that must have been similar to that which Christ spoke of when He talked about “men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26; cf. Isa. 7:2).

Imagine the infinite grace and mercy of God in even condescending to send His prophet, “The LORD is Salvation”—not to mention the prophet’s son, “A Remnant Shall Return”—to meet the wicked king as he, trembling and still trusting in purely temporal resources, went to check the city’s dwindling water supply (Isa. 7:3).

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Copyright © 2015 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[1] Franz Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Prophecies of Isaiah, Vol. 1, trans. James Martin (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 207.

[2] C.F. Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament: The Books of the Kings, trans. James Martin (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 398.