The Antiquities of the Jews, 9.243–9.257

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

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2431. Now Jotham died when he had lived forty-one years, and of them reigned sixteen, and was buried in the sepulchers of the kings; and the kingdom came to his son Ahaz, who proved most impious towards God, and a transgressor of the laws of his country. He imitated the kings of Israel, and reared altars in Jerusalem, and offered sacrifices upon them to idols; to which also he offered his own son as a burnt-offering, according to the practices of the Canaanites. His other actions were also of the same sort. 244Now as he was going on in this mad course, Rezin, the king of Syria and Damascus, and Pekah, the king of Israel, who were now at amity one with another, made war with him; and when they had driven him into Jerusalem, they besieged that city a long while, making but a small progress, on account of the strength of its walls; 245and when the king of Syria had taken the city Elath, upon the Red Sea, and had slain the inhabitants, he peopled it with Syrians; and when he had slain those in the [other] garrisons, and the Jews in their neighborhood, and had driven away much prey, he returned with his army back to Damascus. 246Now when the king of Jerusalem knew that the Syrians were returned home, he, supposing himself a match for the king of Israel, drew out his army against him, and joining battle with him was beaten; and this happened because God was angry with him, on account of his many and great enormities. 247Accordingly there were slain by the Israelites one hundred and twenty thousand of his men that day, whose general, Amaziah by name, slew Zechariah the king’s son, in his conflict with Ahaz, as well as the governor of the kingdom, whose name was Azricam. He also carried Elkanah, the general of the troops of the tribe of Judah, into captivity. They also carried the women and children of the tribe of Benjamin captives; and when they had gotten a great deal of prey, they returned to Samaria.

2482. Now there was one Obed, who was a prophet at that time in Samaria; he met the army before the city walls, and with a loud voice told them that they had gotten the victory not by their own strength, but by reason of the anger God had against king Ahaz. 249And he complained that they were not satisfied with the good success they had had against him, but were so bold as to make captives out of their kinsmen the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. He also gave them counsel to let them go home without doing them any harm, for that if they did not obey God herein, they should be punished. 250So the people of Israel came together to their assembly, and considered of these matters, when a man whose name was Berechiah, and who was one of chief reputation in the government, stood up, and the others with him, and said, “We will not suffer the citizens to bring these prisoners into the city, lest we be all destroyed by God; we have sins enough of our own that we have committed against him, as the prophets assure us; nor ought we therefore to introduce the practice of new crimes.” 251When the soldiers heard that, they permitted them to do what they thought best. So the forenamed men took the captives, and let them go, and took care of them, and gave them provisions, and sent them to their own country, without doing them any harm. However, these four went along with them, and conducted them as far as Jericho, which is not far from Jerusalem, and returned to Samaria.

2523. Hereupon king Ahaz, having been so thoroughly beaten by the Israelites, sent to Tiglath-Pileser, king of the Assyrians, and sued for assistance from him in his war against the Israelites, and Syrians, and Damascenes, with a promise to send him much money; he sent him also great presents at the same time. 253Now this king, upon the reception of those ambassadors, came to assist Ahaz, and made war upon the Syrians, and laid their country waste, and took Damascus by force, and slew Rezin their king, and transplanted the people of Damascus into the Upper Media, and brought a colony of Assyrians, and planted them in Damascus. 254He also afflicted the land of Israel, and took many captives out of it. While he was doing thus with the Syrians, king Ahaz took all the gold that was in the king’s treasures, and the silver, and what was in the temple of God, and what precious gifts were there, and he carried them with him, and came to Damascus, and gave it to the king of Assyria, according to his agreement. So he confessed that he owed him thanks for all he had done for him, and returned to Jerusalem. 255Now this king was so sottish and thoughtless of what was for his own good, that he would not leave off worshipping the Syrian gods when he was beaten by them, but he went on in worshipping them, as though they would procure him the victory; 256and when he was beaten again, he began to honor the gods of the Assyrians; and he seemed more desirous to honor any other gods than his own paternal and true God, whose anger was the cause of his defeat; 257nay, he proceeded to such a degree of despite and contempt [of God’s worship], that he shut up the temple entirely, and forbade them to bring in the appointed sacrifices, and took away the gifts that had been given to it. And when he had offered these indignities to God, he died, having lived thirty-six years, and of them reigned sixteen; and he left his son Hezekiah for his successor.

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