A Question I Was Asked:
'Did Ahaz Become a Father Aged 11 – Or is this a Bible Error?'
Here is the actual question:
“According to 2 Kings 16:2, 20, 18:1-2 Ahaz was thirty-six years old when he died. His twenty-five year old son Hezekiah succeeded him. Doesn't this mean that Ahaz was a ten or eleven year old father?”
Okay. Let us consider this fair question.
I have carefully checked this out but the comments in both 2 Chronicles 28 and 2 Kings 16:2, 20; 18:1-2 on Ahaz and the age of his son seem to be consistent. I agree with Bible commentator Adam Clarke that Ahaz might indeed have been only eleven or twelve years old when he had Hezekiah. This is really not at all impossible, neither would it be such a strange thing in the world of that time. Even today the young people in many eastern countries are considered of marriageable age at 12! It often shocks westerners when they see girls of only 11-13 going into arranged marriages in eastern countries but many countries do not share the view we have in the West that 11-13 year olds are mere children. In fact, the kids are frequently even betrothed (pledged, or promised, for future marriage) when they are only 9 years old!
2 Kings 16:3 seems to present a further problem because it says that Ahaz caused his son to 'pass through the fire' (NKJV), or,'sacrificed his son in the fire' (NIV) but it is now far better understood that this usually did not refer to child sacrifice but was often a reference to initiation into the pagan religion. If so, this would make the NIV somewhat in error in this verse. However, if this does refer to child sacrifice, this was obviously a son born after Hezekiah.
We can quote Adam Clarke here. He wrote this:
There are several opinions concerning the meaning of passing through the fire to Molech. 1. Some think that the semen humanum was offered on the fire to this idol. 2. Others think that the children were actually made a burnt-offering to him. 3. But others suppose the children were not burnt, but only passed through the fire, or between two fires, by way of consecration to him. That some were actually burnt alive to this idol several scriptures, according to the opinion of commentators, seem strongly to intimate; see among others, Psalms 106:38;; Jeremiah 7:31, and ; Ezekiel 23:37-39. That others were only consecrated to his service by passing between two fires the rabbins strongly assert; and if Ahaz had but one son, Hezekiah, (though it is probable he had others, see 2 Chronicles 28:3,) he is said to have passed through the fire to Molech, 2 Kings 16:3, yet he succeeded his father in the kingdom, 2 Kings 18:1, therefore this could only be a consecration, his idolatrous father intending thereby to initiate him early into the service of this demon.
Adam Clarke's Commentary.
Ahaz did much evil indeed but his son Hezekiah would grow up to be one of the truly just and righteous kings of Judah!
Robin A. Brace, 2006.