Ahaz - a Young Father

AHAZ – A YOUNG FATHER


“Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem.” (2 Kings 16:2 NKJV) “Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king.” (2 Kings 18:1 NKJV)

Some have great difficulty with the statement that Ahaz was 36 years old when his son Hezekiah was 25 years old, for that would require that Ahaz was only 11 years old when he became the father of Hezekiah:
 Barnes Commentary states, “Its improbability is so great, that most commentators suggest a corruption in some of the numbers.” (2 Kings 18:2 Barnes' Notes)
 The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary states, “The reading found in the LXX, Syriac, and Arabic at 2 Chronicles 28:1, and also in certain codices, viz., five and twenty instead of twenty, may therefore be a preferable one. According to this, Hezekiah, like Ahaz, was born in his father's sixteenth year.” (2 Kings 16:1-4 Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament)
 The Wycliffe Bible Commentary states, “Ahaz would, then, have been twenty-three years old, and Hezekiah would have been twelve, which would make Ahaz eleven when Hezekiah was born, and that is too young. It becomes clear that the age twenty at which Ahaz is said to have come to the throne was his age at the beginning of his coregency with Jotham. The statement that he reigned sixteen years must refer to the period of his independent reign. According to this reckoning he died at age forty. And he must have been only fifteen years old when his son Hezekiah was born.” (2 Kings 18:1-3 The Wycliffe Bible Commentary)
 The New American Commentary states, “Montgomery and Gehman date Hezekiah’s era as 725–696 BC and state that the “fourteenth year” in 2 Kings 18:13 “may be a scribal miswriting of ‘24,’ which would give the correct date; or the figure was induced by the statement of the promise to Hezekiah of an additional 15 years of life (20:6), i.e., 29–15 = 14.” If so, there is no other textual tradition that reflects the copyist’s error. Perhaps R. Hubbard’s comments on the text are the fairest way to address the matter: ‘At present, the best solution is to concede that the problem lies in the synchronisms with Hoshea. It is possible that their dates are correct but calculated by some principles not clear to us. Though substantial, our knowledge of ancient chronological methods is imperfect. For the moment, one must concede that no good solution exists.’” (2 Kings 18:2 The New American Commentary)
 The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges states “This date can hardly be right. Ahaz came to the throne in the seventeenth year of Pekah (16:1), and Pekah reigned twenty years (15:27), so that the throne of Israel became vacant in the fourth year of Ahaz. But Hoshea succeeded Pekah (15:30, in agreement with the Assyrian Annals), and there is no trace of an interregnum, so that we should read fourth year for twelfth. This reckoning brings the fall of Samaria and consequently the whole of the reign of Hoshea within the period occupied by the reign of Ahaz in Judah. The reading twelfth together with the chronological statements of 18:9, 10, which represent the reigns of Hoshea and Hezekiah as partly contemporaneous, must be given up. Cp. note on 18:13, in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah.” (1 Kings 18:2 The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

Some apply creative dating techniques
 The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary states, “As the ancient writers, in the computation of time, take notice of the year they mention, whether finished or newly begun, so Ahaz might be near twenty-one years old at the beginning of his reign, and near seventeen years older at his death; while, on the other hand, Hezekiah, when he began to reign, might be just entering into his twenty-fifth year, and so Ahaz would be near fourteen years old when his son Hezekiah was born -no uncommon age for a young man to become a father in southern latitudes.” (2 Kings 18:1–2 Jamieson, Fausset, Brown)
 The Bible Knowledge Commentary states, “Evidently Hezekiah reigned as coregent with his father Ahaz for 14 years (729-715 BC)” (2 Kings 18:1–2 The Bible knowledge Commentary)
 The KJV Bible Commentary states, “If he came to the throne in the third year of Hoshea, he evidently was a co-regent with his father Ahaz.” (1 Kings 18:2 KJV Bible Commentary)

Counterpart with Solomon
Any manipulation of the dates applied to Ahaz would also have to be applied to Solomon. The article “Solomon’s Age” (http://www.3amthoughts.com/article/people-and-places/solomons-age) indicates that Solomon also may have had a son when Solomon was only 11 years old.

It would appear prudent to simply trust that the Scripture is accurate
 Adam Clark states, “Ahaz might be only eleven or twelve years old when he had Hezekiah: this is not at all impossible; as we know that the youth of both sexes in the eastern countries are marriageable at ten or twelve years of age, and are frequently betrothed when they are but nine … I hold it therefore quite a possible case that Ahaz might have had a son born to him when he was but eleven or twelve years old.” (2 Kings 16:2 Adam Clarke's Commentary)
 Barnes Commentary states, “This statement, combined with that of 2 Kings 16:2, would make it necessary that his father Ahaz should have married at the age of 10, and have had a child born to him when he was 11 years of age.” (2 Kings 18:2 Barnes' Notes)
 The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary states, “He must have been born when his father Ahaz was no more than eleven years old. Paternity at an age so early is not unprecedented in the warm climates of the south, where the human frame is matured sooner than in our northern regions.” (2 Kings 18:2 Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary)
 The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary states, “Ahaz must have begotten him in the eleventh year of his age. It is true that in southern lands this is neither impossible nor unknown. In the East they marry girls of nine or ten years of age to boys of twelve or thirteen. Among the Indians husbands of ten years of age and wives of eight are mentioned. In Abyssinia boys of twelve and even ten years old marry. Among the Jews in Tiberias, mothers of eleven years of age and fathers of thirteen are not uncommon; and Lynch saw a wife there, who to all appearance was a mere child about ten years of age, who had been married two years already … Bochart has also cited examples of one boy of ten years and another of nine. (2 Kings 16:1-4 Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament)
 The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges states, “This makes Hezekiah to have been born when his father was extremely young. He ascended the throne at twenty-five. Ahaz had done so at twenty. Add to this a little more than fourteen years (say fifteen) for his reign. Thus his whole life must have been but thirty-five years; so that his son, according to this chronology, must have been born when Ahaz was ten years of age.” (1 Kings 18:2 The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)