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Ahaz was king of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

, and the son and successor of Jotham
Jotham of Judah
Jotham or Yotam was the king of Judah, and son of Uzziah with Jerusha, daughter of Zadok.He took the throne at the age of twenty-five and reigned for sixteen years. William F. Albright dated his reign to 742 – 735 BC. Edwin R...

. He is one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus
Genealogy of Jesus
The genealogy of Jesus is described in two passages of the Gospels: Luke 3:23–38 and Matthew 1:1–17.* Matthew's genealogy commences with Abraham and then from King David's son Solomon follows the legal line of the kings through Jeconiah, the king whose descendants were cursed, to Joseph, legal...

 in the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...


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
Pekah was king of Israel. He was a captain in the army of king Pekahiah of Israel, whom he killed to become king. Pekah was the son of Remaliah ....

 of Israel. Edwin Thiele
Edwin R. Thiele
Edwin R. Thiele was an American missionary in China, an editor, archaeologist, writer, and Old Testament professor. He is best known for his chronological studies of the Hebrew kingdom period.- Biography :...

 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
William F. Albright
William Foxwell Albright was an American archaeologist, biblical scholar, philologist and expert on ceramics. From the early twentieth century until his death, he was the dean of biblical archaeologists and the universally acknowledged founder of the Biblical archaeology movement...

 has dated his reign to 735 – 715 BC.

His legacy

His reign is described in ; ; and . He is said to have given himself up to a life of wickedness, introducing many pagan and idolatrous customs . Perhaps his wickedest deed was sacrificing his own son, likely to have been Rimmon
Rimmon is the proper name for a number of people or objects in the Hebrew Bible:# A man of Beeroth , one of the four Gibeonite cities. # A Syrian cult image, mentioned only in 2 Kings 5:18...

. He also added an idolatrous altar into the Temple. He ignored the remonstrances and warnings of the prophets Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...

, Hosea
Hosea was the son of Beeri and a prophet in Israel in the 8th century BC. He is one of the Twelve Prophets of the Jewish Hebrew Bible, also known as the Minor Prophets of the Christian Old Testament. Hosea is often seen as a "prophet of doom", but underneath his message of destruction is a promise...

, and Micah
Micah (prophet)
Micah, meaning “who is like Yahweh," was a prophet who prophesied from approximately 737-690 BC in Judah and is the author of the Book of Micah. He was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos and Hosea and is considered one of the twelve minor prophets of the Tanakh . Micah was from...


The seal impression of Ahaz King of Judah


Role in destruction of Northern Kingdom

In c. 732 BCE, when Pekah
Pekah was king of Israel. He was a captain in the army of king Pekahiah of Israel, whom he killed to become king. Pekah was the son of Remaliah ....

, king of Israel, allied with Rezin
King Rezin of Aram or Rasin of Syria in DRB ruled from Damascus during the 8th century BC. During his reign he was a tributary of King Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria....

, king of Aram
Aram Damascus
Aram Damascus was an Aramaean state around Damascus in Syria, from the late 12th century BCE to 734 BCE.Sources for this state come from texts that can be divided into three categories: Assyrian annals, Aramaean texts, and the Hebrew Bible....

, threatened Jerusalem, Ahaz appealed to Tiglath-Pileser III
Tiglath-Pileser III
Tiglath-Pileser III was a prominent king of Assyria in the eighth century BC and is widely regarded as the founder of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Tiglath-Pileser III seized the Assyrian throne during a civil war and killed the royal family...

, the king of Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, for help. After Ahaz paid tribute to Tiglath-Pileser, Tiglath-Pileser sacked Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and annexed Aram. According to , the population of Aram was deported and Rezin executed. According to , Tiglath-Pileser then attacked Israel and "took Ijon, Abel Beth Maacah, Janoah, Kedesh
The ruins of the ancient Canaanite village of Kedesh are located within the modern Kibbutz Malkiya in Israel on the Israeli-Lebanese border....

 and Hazor. He took Gilead
In the Bible "Gilead" means hill of testimony or mound of witness, , a mountainous region east of the Jordan River, situated in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It is also referred to by the Aramaic name Yegar-Sahadutha, which carries the same meaning as the Hebrew . From its mountainous character...

 and Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

, including all the land of Naphtali
Tribe of Naphtali
The Tribe of Naphtali was one of the Tribes of Israel.Following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelite tribes after about 1200 BCE, Joshua allocated the land among the twelve tribes...

, and deported the people to Assyria." Tiglath-Pileser also records this act in one of his inscriptions.


He died at the age of 36 and was succeeded by his son, Hezekiah
Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and the 14th king of Judah. Edwin Thiele has concluded that his reign was between c. 715 and 686 BC. He is also one of the most prominent kings of Judah mentioned in the Hebrew Bible....

. Because of his wickedness he was "not brought into the sepulchre of the kings" . 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
Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and the 14th king of Judah. Edwin Thiele has concluded that his reign was between c. 715 and 686 BC. He is also one of the most prominent kings of Judah mentioned in the Hebrew Bible....

 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 .

Chronological notes

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 and why Ahaz's 16 year reign 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 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.

Archeological Findings

In the mid-1990s a bulla
Bulla (seal)
Bulla , is a type of seal impression. It comes in two forms: metal and clay.- Clay bullae :The original bulla was a lump of clay molded around a cord and stamped with a seal...

 appeared on the antiquities market. This bulla measures 0.4 inches (1 cm) 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.

Authenticity debate

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
Oded Golan
Oded Golan is an Israeli engineer, Israeli artifact collector, and currently on trial for forgery of antiquities. Some of the artifacts he has uncovered have produced great excitement in religious and archaeological circles, and have caused allegations of fraud and forgery...

 and Robert Deutsch. Two of the accused turned state's evidence
Turn state's evidence
To turn state's evidence is when an accused or convicted criminal testifies as a witness for the state against his associates or accomplices. Turning state's evidence is occasionally a result of a change of heart or feelings of guilt, but more often is done in response to a generous offer from the...

 in exchange for having the charges against them dropped. Faiz al-Amla, a Palestinian dealer from the village of Beit Ula
Beit Ula
Beit Ula is a Palestinian town in the Hebron Governorate, located ten kilometers northwest of Hebron, in the southern West Bank. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the town had a population of 10,885 inhabitants in 2007....

 in the Hebron Hills was convicted and sentenced to a six-month jail term as part of a plea bargain
Plea bargain
A plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal case whereby the prosecutor offers the defendant the opportunity to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge or to the original criminal charge with a recommendation of a lighter than the maximum sentence.A plea bargain allows criminal defendants to...

. As of 2009, the trial against Golan and Deutsch is ongoing.