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Ahaz (Hebrew: אָחָז, ʼĀḥāz ; "has held"; Greek: Ἄχαζ Akhaz; Latin: Ahaz; an abbreviation of Jehoahaz, "Yahweh has held") was king of Judah, and the son and successor of Jotham. He is one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.
Ahaz was twenty when he became king of Judah and reigned for sixteen years. His reign commenced in the seventeenth year of the reign of Pekah of Israel. Edwin Thiele concluded that Ahaz was coregent with Jotham from 736/735 BC, and that his sole reign began in 732/731 and ended in 716/715 BC. William F. Albright has dated his reign to 744 – 728 (16 years) BC.
His reign is described in 2 Kings 16; Isaiah 7-9; and 2 Chronicles 28. He is said to have given himself up to a life of wickedness, introducing many pagan and idolatrous customs (Isaiah 8:19; 38:8; 2 Kings 23:12). Perhaps his wickedest deed was sacrificing his own son, likely to have been Rimmon. He also added an idolatrous altar into the Temple. He ignored the remonstrances and warnings of the prophets Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah.
In c. 732 BCE, Pekah, king of Israel, and Rezin, king of Aram, allied themselves and threatened Jerusalem. (2 Kings 16:5) Ahaz appealed for help to Tiglath-Pileser III, the king of Assyria and paid tribute to Tiglath-Pileser, (2 Kings 16:7-9) Tiglath-Pileser sacked Damascus and annexed Aram. According to 2 Kings 16:9, the population of Aram was deported and Rezin executed. According to 2 Kings 15:29, Tiglath-Pileser then attacked Israel and "took Ijon, Abel Beth Maacah, Janoah, Kedesh and Hazor. He took Gilead and Galilee, including all the land of Naphtali, and deported the people to Assyria." Tiglath-Pileser also records this act in one of his inscriptions.
|Rulers of Judah|
He died at the age of 36 and was succeeded by his son, Hezekiah. Because of his wickedness he was "not brought into the sepulchre of the kings" (2 Chronicles 28:27). An insight into Ahaz's neglect of the worship of the Lord is found in the statement that on the first day of the month of Nisan that followed Ahaz's death, his son Hezekiah commissioned the priests and Levites to open and repair the doors of the Temple and to remove the defilements of the sanctuary, a task which took 16 days (2 Chronicles 29:3-20).
There has been considerable academic debate about the actual dates of reigns of the Israelite kings. Scholars have endeavored to synchronize the chronology of events referred to in the Bible with those derived from other external sources.
The calendars for reckoning the years of kings in Judah and Israel were offset by six months, that of Judah starting in Tishri (in the fall) and that of Israel in Nisan (in the spring). Cross-synchronizations between the two kingdoms therefore often allow narrowing of the beginning and/or ending dates of a king to within a six-month range. For Ahaz, the Scriptural data allow dating the beginning of his coregency with Jotham to some time in the six-month interval beginning of Nisan 1 of 735 BC. By the Judean calendar that started the regnal year in Tishri (a fall month), this could be written as 736/735, or more simply 736 BC. His father was removed from responsibility by the pro-Assyrian faction at some time in the year that started in Tishri of 732 BC. He died some time between Tishri 1 of 716 BC and Nisan 1 of 715 BC, i.e. in 716/715, or more simply 716 BC.
Rodger Young offers a possible explanation of why four extra years are assigned to Jotham in 2 Kings 15:30 and why Ahaz's 16 year reign (2 Kings 16:2) is measured from the time of Jotham's death in 732/731, instead of when Jotham was deposed in 736/735. Taking into account the factionalism of the time, Young writes:
[A]ny record such as 2 Kings 16:2 that recognized these last four years for Jotham must have come from the annals of the anti-Assyrian and anti-Ahaz court that prevailed after the death of Ahaz. Ahaz is given sixteen years in these annals, measuring from the start of his sole reign, instead of the twenty or twenty-one years that he would be credited with if the counting started from 736t [i.e. 736/735 BC], when he deposed Jotham.
Ahaz of Judah
|King of Judah|
Coregency: 736 – 732 BC
Sole reign: 732 – 729 BC
Coregency: 729 – 716 BC
In the mid-1990s a bulla appeared on the antiquities market. This bulla measures .4 inches (10 mm) wide. The back of the bulla bears the imprint of the papyrus it once sealed, as well as the double string which held it together. It contains a fingerprint on the left edge. Like many bullae, it was preserved due to being baked by fire, presumably incidentally (house or city was burned), as in a kiln. The inscription reads: “Belonging to Ahaz (son of) Yehotam, King of Judah.” Given the process that created and preserved bullae, they are virtually impossible to forge. Most scholars believe this bulla to be authentic. It bears the seal of King Ahaz of Judah, who ruled from 732-716 BC. Another important source regarding the historicity of Ahaz comes from Tiglat Pileser III annals, mentioning tributes and payments he received from Ahaz, king of Judah and Menahem, king of Israel
Unprovenanced artifacts that originate in the antiquities market are subject to authentication disputes. The authenticity of ancient bullae has been the topic of scholarly discussion. According to Robert Deutsch, an archeologist who is also the antique dealer who sold the Ahaz bulla, most scholars believe the bullae to be authentic. Others, such as Andrew Vaughn, agree that it would be difficult to fake a bulla, but do not rule out such a possibility, and in fact conclude that some bullae are forgeries.
In 2004, the State of Israel initiated a criminal case alleging forgery against five antiquities dealers, including Oded Golan and Robert Deutsch. Two of the accused turned state's evidence in exchange for having the charges against them dropped. Faiz al-Amla, a Palestinian dealer from the village of Beit Ula in the Hebron Hills was convicted and sentenced to a six-month jail term as part of a plea bargain. On March 14, 2012, Golan was acquitted of the forgery charges but convicted of illegal trading in antiquities. The judge said this acquittal "does not mean that the inscription on the ossuary is authentic or that it was written 2,000 years ago." Deutsch was acquitted of all charges.