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For New King James text and comment, click here.
I Kings 15:1-24; II Chronicles 13-16 Listen
Rehoboam out; Abijam (aka Abijah) in (I Kings 15:1-8; II Chronicles 13)
I Kings 15
II Chronicles 13
|1 Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abijam over Judah.
2 Three years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.
3 And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father.
4 Nevertheless for David’s sake did the LORD his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem:
5 Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.
6 And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life.
7 Now the rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam.
8 And Abijam slept with his fathers; and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead.
|1 Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam began Abijah to reign over Judah.
2 He reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Michaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam.
3 And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men: Jeroboam also set the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men, being mighty men of valour.
4 And Abijah stood up upon mount Zemaraim, which is in mount Ephraim, and said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel;
5 Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?
6 Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, is risen up, and hath rebelled against his lord.
7 And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them.
8 And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with you golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods.
9 Have ye not cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams, the same may be a priest of them that are no gods.
10 But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests, which minister unto the LORD, are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business:
11 And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him.
12 And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper.
13 But Jeroboam caused an ambushment to come about behind them: so they were before Judah, and the ambushment was behind them.
14 And when Judah looked back, behold, the battle was before and behind: and they cried unto the LORD, and the priests sounded with the trumpets.
15 Then the men of Judah gave a shout: and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass, that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.
16 And the children of Israel fled before Judah: and God delivered them into their hand.
17 And Abijah and his people slew them with a great slaughter: so there fell down slain of Israel five hundred thousand chosen men.
18 Thus the children of Israel were brought under at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied upon the LORD God of their fathers.
19 And Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him, Bethel with the towns thereof, and Jeshanah with the towns thereof, and Ephrain with the towns thereof.
20 Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days of Abijah: and the LORD struck him, and he died.
21 But Abijah waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives, and begat twenty and two sons, and sixteen daughters.
22 And the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways, and his sayings, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo.
Rehoboam's boy takes over after his death, but reigns only 3 years - didn't serve the One True God according to I Kings 15:3. He is compared (in a bad way) to David in this verse. David is commended for having a "perfect heart" before God here. For more information on David's "perfect heart," click here. Abijah was pretty much preoccupied with getting Israel united with Judah once again for his 3 years as king of Judah. He even went to war with the Northern Kingdom in what can only be described as an enormously bloody battle. With supernatural help from God and despite an ambush maneuver by Jeroboam, 500,000 of the 800,000-man army of Israel (Northern Kingdom) under King Jeroboam were wiped out.
Abijah does precede the battle with a noteworthy speech, making some excellent points to Jeroboam in II Chronicles 13:4-12. He basically says to Jeroboam, "Your new gods ain't nuthin'!" Obviously, Abijah intends to leave a legacy of a united Israel. Abijah does, in fact, prevail in that battle, and Jeroboam never recovers afterward. But with all the excitement of his three years, when the smoke clears, there's still a Northern Kingdom separate from Judah (Southern Kingdom). Abijah's only significant legacy at the end of his short reign was 14 wives, 22 sons and 16 daughters. I wonder when he even had time to fight.
The "covenant of salt" found in II Chronicles 13:5 is only referenced one other time in the Old Testament - Numbers 18:19 (see notes), "All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer unto the LORD, have I given thee, and thy sons and thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: it is a covenant of salt for ever before the LORD unto thee and to thy seed with thee." It is apparently a reference to the preservation, the permanence of a covenant.
Incidentally, in verse 7 Abijah refers to "children of Belial." While the KJV frequently transliterates the Hebrew word, Belial, as a proper name, in fact it is a general Hebrew word meaning worthless or wicked. Seeing it capitalized, one might get the impression that it was the name of a pagan god, but not so.
So...Abijah's three-year mission as king of Judah was characterized as a Northern/Southern Kingdom of Israel unification period, but it failed. He died after tremendous bloodshed with nothing to show for his efforts. There's a great lesson to be learned here. Abijah missed the whole point...BIG TIME! The kingdom split because of Solomon's tolerance for paganism (I Kings 11, see notes). The split of Israel into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms was done by the hand of God. Therefore, restoring the Kingdom of Israel as it was during Solomon's reign could only have been accomplished by King Abijah serving the one true God of Israel. However, I Kings 15:3 says he did not have any interest in that; instead, "he walked in all the sins of his father." As I said, Abijah missed the point - the spiritual point. The forced reunification of Israel was not the remedy for a spiritual problem...yet Abijah was not in tune with God and did not see that.
A Summary of King #2 over Judah from 913 to 911 B.C.: Abijam (aka Abijah)
|References||The Good||The Bad|
I Kings 15:1-8
I Kings 15:3 And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father.
How about a good king for a change...enter Asa (I Kings 15:9-15; II Chronicles 14)
I Kings 15
II Chronicles 14
|9 And in the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel reigned Asa over Judah.
10 And forty and one years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.
11 And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father.
12 And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.
13 And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.
14 But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.
15 And he brought in the things which his father had dedicated, and the things which himself had dedicated, into the house of the LORD, silver, and gold, and vessels.
|1 So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years.
2 And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God:
3 For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves:
4 And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment.
5 Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him.
6 And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the LORD had given him rest.
7 Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us; because we have sought the LORD our God, we have sought him, and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered.
8 And Asa had an army of men that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows, two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these were mighty men of valour.
9 And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah.
10 Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.
11 And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.
12 So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.
13 And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.
14 And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the LORD came upon them: and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them.
15 They smote also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem.
Abijah's boy, Asa, becomes king - a good king - not perfect, but a good king. It's about time. Asa rids the land of the male prostitutes and removes all the idols his father had made. He got rid of most of the high places (altars to pagan gods) - the ones in the cities of Judah anyway. According to I Kings 15:14, he didn't exactly get all of them though. They kind of crept back in during his reign. He fortified the cities of Judah and built up a 580,000-man army. Asa had a large army, but it was nothing compared to the Ethiopian army of 1 million that attacks Judah, headed up by Zerah the Ethiopian (aka Zerah the Cushite). Following is an entry extracted from "The Expositor's Bible Commentary" regarding this battle: "Cushites, known also as Nubians, served as Egyptian mercenaries and, by the close of the next century, had come to rule all Egypt, as the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty."
This battle was fought in Southern Israel. However, Asa prays for victory! God enables Judah to pursue them as they fled back toward Ethiopia and wipe out this massive army. What a miracle and a testimony to the power of God!
We again see a little bit of complication with elementary math when it comes to counting up the Tribes of Israel. Even though Judah was the lone tribe of the Southern Kingdom, it is obvious from this passage that a sizable fighting force (280,000) from the Tribe of Benjamin joined with them. You will recall that Simeon had no distinct territorial lines of its own; it was all contained within the borders of Judah. It must be that some of the Tribe of Benjamin aligned themselves with the Northern Kingdom, while others merged with Judah. Otherwise, one can only account for nine Northern Kingdom tribes instead of ten. Click here to see more on that issue from the notes on I Kings 12:16-24.
Asa's all Jehovah all the time (II Chronicles 15)
1 And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:
2 And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.
3 Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.
4 But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.
5 And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.
6 And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity.
7 Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.
8 And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.
9 And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.
10 So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.
11 And they offered unto the LORD the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.
12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;
13 That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.
14 And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.
15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about.
16 And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.
17 But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.
18 And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.
19 And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.
Then Asa gets really zealous towards God at this point after hearing from God through Azariah the son of Oded. He gets rid of more idols and high places to false gods. These little rascal gods seemed to multiply (with some help from the misguided people). He goes one step further this time in an attempt to suspend their seeming proliferation; he enters into an oath with the people of Judah to stop making those idols and stop worshipping those gods...and death this time to those who have a relapse. The oath was marked with one of those big smoky days at the really big altar - 700 oxen and 7,000 sheep sacrificed...in one day. He even makes the gutsy move of removing his own Mama from being Queen because of her idol worship. And then, here it is again, verse 17 says he did fall a tad short of complete success in his extermination of false worship.
What about freedom of religion? Not here! Notice verse 13, "That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman." Asa was obviously DEAD serious about the one true God. We see in verse 9 that Asa's influence against pagan worship extended into the Northern Kingdom (verses 8-9), but he fell short of ridding Judah AND Israel of their pagan worship when it says in verse 17, "But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days."
Asa has a tough time in his elder years (I Kings 15:16-24; II Chronicles 16)
I Kings 15
II Chronicles 16
|16 And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.
17 And Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah, and built Ramah, that he might not suffer any to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.
18 Then Asa took all the silver and the gold that were left in the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants: and king Asa sent them to Benhadad, the son of Tabrimon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying,
19 There is a league between me and thee, and between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent unto thee a present of silver and gold; come and break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.
20 So Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of the hosts which he had against the cities of Israel, and smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelbethmaachah, and all Cinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali.
21 And it came to pass, when Baasha heard thereof, that he left off building of Ramah, and dwelt in Tirzah.
22 Then king Asa made a proclamation throughout all Judah; none was exempted: and they took away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha had builded; and king Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah.
23 The rest of all the acts of Asa, and all his might, and all that he did, and the cities which he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? Nevertheless in the time of his old age he was diseased in his feet.
24 And Asa slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead.
|1 In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.
2 Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the LORD and of the king’s house, and sent to Benhadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying,
3 There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.
4 And Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelmaim, and all the store cities of Naphtali.
5 And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease.
6 Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah.
7 And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.
8 Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand.
9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.
10 Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time.
11 And, behold, the acts of Asa, first and last, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel.
12 And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.
13 And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign.
14 And they buried him in his own sepulchres, which he had made for himself in the city of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries’ art: and they made a very great burning for him.
In the 36th year of Asa's 41 years of reign, Baasha, King of Israel (Northern Kingdom), builds Ramah right outside Jerusalem for the purpose of interrupting Judah's trade routes. So, what does Asa do - kick them out like he did the 1,000,000 Ethiopians with God's help? No! He calls the King of Syria (Benhadad) for assistance - of all people, the King of Syria. Here's the good news and the bad news. That worked; Baasha did evacuate Ramah and give up the idea of attacking Jerusalem, but God sends a prophet, Hanani, to tell Asa that, because he didn't rely on God like before against the Ethiopians, it'll be war for the rest of his days. It's great to have a conduit to God like this bold prophet, right? Well, Asa goes on a tear and locks the prophet up while exercising cruelties toward some of his own people.
There's a not-so-obvious dynamic working here which may explain Asa's decision to involve the King of Syria. Asa's father, Abijam (aka Abijah) had wiped out the Northern Kingdom's army back in II Chronicles 13:17 (see above) - 500,000 men. So, basically, Israel was unable to defend itself from predators. It is likely that Baasha was no more than a vassal king of Syria's King Benhadad at this point in time, and the only way he was able to flex his muscles at all was with the assistance of the Syrians. Without assistance from the Syrians, Baasha had no warring abilities to speak of. It probably made sense to Asa to call in the markers with the King of Syria to abandon his relationship with the Northern Kingdom and support Judah instead - for a price of course. Once Syria switched its support from the North to the South, it was over.
Asa dies after reigning for 41 years - dies of a foot disease. Sounds like diabetes to me. II Chronicles 16:12 says, "And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians." With all the good Asa did before the Lord, his life ends with a lapse of spiritual insight accompanied by bad judgment.
A Summary of King #3 over Judah from 911 to 870 B.C.: Asa
|References||The Good||The Bad|
I Kings 15:9-24;
I Kings 15:11-13 And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father. And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.
I Kings 15:14b Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.
II Chronicles 14:3 For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves:
II Chronicles 15:8 And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.
II Chronicles 15:16 And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.
In II Chronicles 15:12-19, Asa enters into an oath with the people of Judah to stop making those idols and stop worshipping those gods.
I Kings 15:14 But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.
II Chronicles 15:17 But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.
(Apparently the high places were built back during his reign, but not under Asa's direction.)
King Asa solicited the King of Syria's assistance in fighting against the Northern Kingdom, for which he was rebuked by God's prophet in II Chronicles 16:7-9. He put the prophet, Hanani, in prison and oppressed some of his people in the aftermath.