Kgs 16:10–20 reports a number of adjustments to the temple’s iconographic and ritual inventory as a result of Ahaz’s trip to Damascus to meet its conqueror Tiglath-Pileser III (ca. 732 B.C.E.), the most conspicuous of which was a new altar modeled on the one Ahaz saw in Damascus. The old bronze altar was moved to the north side of the new altar and its use was restricted to the king’s personal use for inquiry (lə-baqqēr). All of Ahaz’s changes received a negative appraisal by the Deuteronomistic historian: his cutting off the frames and removing the lavers from the cult stands, the bronze oxen from under the sea, and the “covered portal for use on the Sabbath” are labeled a bribe (šōħad) for the Arryian king and this together with the new altar are said to be on account of the king of Assyria (mippənê melek ’aššûr). The historical likelihood of the Assyrians wanting to affect the cult of a vassal is remote, especially when that change does not also involve the worship of Assyrian deities, and Ahaz’s innovation may be explained simply as an attempt to be current with the Aramaized cultic koine of the Assyrian empire.
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