AHAZ, son and successor of Jotham, king of Judah, came to the throne about b.c. 734. The only notable event of his reign, so far as we know, was the invasion made by his northern neighbours, Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Damascus. These two kings had made an alliance against the Assyrians, and were trying to compel Ahaz to join the coalition. His refusal so exasperated them that they planned his deposition and the appointment of a creature of their own to the throne. Ahaz did not venture to take the field, but shut himself up in Jerusalem and strengthened its fortifications. It was perhaps at this time of need that he sacrificed his son as a burnt-offering to Jahweh. Isaiah tried to encourage the faint-hearted king, pointing out that his enemies had no prospect of success or even of long existence. But Ahaz had more faith in political measures than in the prophetic word. He sent a message to Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, submitting himself unreservedly to him. The embassy carried substantial evidence of vassalage in the shape of all the gold and silver from the palace treasury and from the Temple (2Ki 16, Is 7).
Tiglath-pileser was already on the march, and at once laid siege to Damascus, thus freeing Jerusalem from its enemies. Two years later the Assyrian king entered Damascus, and was visited there by Ahaz. The result of the visit was the construction of a new altar for the Temple at Jerusalem, and apparently the introduction of Assyrian divinities (2Ki 16:10 ff.).
H. P. Smith.