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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abijam over Judah.
2Three years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.
Three years - More strictly, not much more than two years (compare 1 Kings 15:1, 1 Kings 15:9). Any part of a year may, however, in Jewish reckoning, be taken as a year.
His mother's name was Maachah - Or Michaiah, according to the present reading of marginal reference.
The daughter of Abishalom - Absalom seems to have had but one daughter, Tamar 2 Samuel 14:27, so that Maachah must have been, not his daughter, but his grand-daughter. Her father (see the margin) was Uriel of Gibeah whom, therefore, Tamar married. Maachah took her name from her great-grandmother 2 Samuel 3:3.
3And 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.
He walked in all the sins of his father - Yet Abijam prepared precious offerings for the temple service 1 Kings 15:15, probably to replace vessels which Shishak had carried off, and in his war with Jeroboam professed himself a faithful servant of Yahweh 2 Chronicles 13:10-12.
4Nevertheless 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:
To set up his son - The idolatry of Abijam deserved the same punishment as that of Jeroboam 1 Kings 14:10-14, of Baasha 1 Kings 16:2-4, or of Zimri 1 Kings 16:19, the cutting off of his seed, and the transfer of the crown to another family. That these consequences did not follow in the kingdom of Judah, was owing to the "faithfulness" of David (see the marginal reference), which brought a blessing on his posterity. Few things are more remarkable and more difficult to account for on mere grounds of human reason, than the stability of the succession in Judah, and its excessive instability in the sister kingdom. One family in Judah holds the throne from first to last, during a space but little short of four centuries, while in Israel there are nine changes of dynasty within two hundred and fifty years.
5Because 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.
6And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life.
The writer repeats what he had said in 1 Kings 14:30, in order to remind the reader that Abijam inherited this war from his father. Abijam's war is described in marginal reference That the author of Kings gives none of its details is agreeable to his common practice in mere military matters. Thus he gives no details of Shishak's expedition, and omits Zerah's expedition altogether.
7Now 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.
8And Abijam slept with his fathers; and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead.
9And in the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel reigned Asa over Judah.
10And forty and one years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.
Mother's name - Rather, "grandmother's." The Jews cal any male ancestor, however remote, a father, and any female ancestor a mother (compare 1 Kings 15:2; Genesis 3:20). This Maachah was the favorite wife of Rehoboam 2 Chronicles 11:21, and the mother of Abijam. The way in which she is here mentioned strongly favors the notion that the position of queen-mother was a definite one at the court, and could only be held by one person at a time.
11And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father.
12And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.
13And 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.
Asa degraded Maachah from the rank and state of queen-mother.
The word translated "idol" both here and in the parallel passage (marginal reference), does not occur elsewhere in Scripture. It is derived from a root signifying "fear" or "trembling," and may perhaps best be understood as "a fright, a horror." Such a name would seem best to apply to a grotesque and hideous image like the Phthah of the Egyptians. She made it to serve in lieu of the ordinary "grove" - asherah, or idolatrous emblem of Astarte (Exodus 34:13 note). Asa cut it down, for like the usual "asherah," Maachah's "horror" was fixed in the ground.
And burnt it at the brook Kidron - Similarly Josiah, when he removed Manasseh's "grove" - asherah - from the house of the Lord, brought it out to the brook Kidron, and burned it there. The object probably was to prevent the pollution of the holy city by even the ashes from the burning.
14But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa's heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.
2 Chronicles 14:3 would seem at first sight to imply that he entirely put down the worship. But idolatry, if at one time put down, crept back afterward; or while Asa endeavored to sweep it wholly away, his subjects would not be controlled, but found a means of maintaining it in some places - not perhaps in the cities (see 2 Chronicles 14:5), but in remote country districts, where the royal authority was weaker, and secrecy more practicable.
15And 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.
Abijam's dedications were made after his victory over Jeroboam, and probably consisted of a portion of the spoils which were the fruit of the battle 2 Chronicles 13:16-19.
Asa's dedications may have been made from the spoils of Zerah the Ethiopian, who attacked him in his eleventh year (2 Chronicles 14:9, etc.). They were not deposited in the temple until his fifteenth year 2 Chronicles 15:10, 2 Chronicles 15:18.
16And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.
Baasha became king of Israel in the third year of Asa 1 Kings 15:33. The petty warfare which ordinarily prevailed on the borders of the two kingdoms continued "all the days" of Asa and Baasha. During the first ten years of Asa's reign he was little molested 2 Chronicles 14:1, 2 Chronicles 14:6.
17And 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.
Ramah (perhaps "Er-Ram;" marginal reference) was situated halfway between Bethel and Jerusalem. Its distance from Jerusalem was no more than five miles so that its occupation was a menace to that capital. Baasha's seizure of Ramah implies a previous recovery of the towns taken by Abijam from Jeroboam, namely, Bethel, Jeshanah, and Ephrain 2 Chronicles 13:19, and was a carrying of the war into the enemy's country. Could his conquest have been maintained, it would have crippled Judah seriously, and have almost compelled a transfer of the capital to Hebron.
That he might not suffer any to go out or come in - Baasha, in seizing Ramah, professed to be acting on the defensive. His complaint seems to have been well founded (compare 2 Chronicles 15:9); but it was more than a defensive measure - it was the first step toward a conquest of the southern kingdom.
18Then 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,
Left - Or, according to another reading, "found." The wealthy condition of the temple treasury is sufficiently indicated in 1 Kings 15:15. Compare 2 Chronicles 15:18.
Asa's conduct in calling Benhadad to his aid, condemned by the seer Hanani 2 Chronicles 16:7, cannot, of course, be justified; but there was much to excuse it. An alliance, it appears, had existed between Abijam and Tabrimon, Benhadad's father 1 Kings 15:19 - an alliance which may have helped Abijam to gain his great victory over Jeroboam and achieve his subsequent conquests 2 Chronicles 13:17-20. This had been brought to an end by Baasha, who had succeeded in inducing Benhadad to enter into a league with him. It was only natural that Asa should endeavor to break up this league; and, politically speaking, he had a full right to go further, and obtain, if he could, the support of the Syrian troops for himself. The Israelites had set the example of calling in a foreign power, when Jeroboam obtained the aid of Shishak.
To Benhadad - On the probable succession of the Damascene kings, and on the meaning of the name Hadad, see 1 Kings 11:14, 1 Kings 11:23.
19There 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.
Rather, "Let there be a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father."
20So 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.
Ijon is probably marked by the ruins called "Tel-Dibbin," which are situated a few miles northwest of the site of Dan, in a fertile and beautiful little plain which bears the name of "Merj' Ayun" or "meadow of fountains." On Abel-beth-maachah, or Abel-maim ("Abel-on-the waters") and Dan, see the marginal references
For Cinneroth or Genesareth see Joshua 11:2.
21And it came to pass, when Baasha heard thereof, that he left off building of Ramah, and dwelt in Tirzah.
22Then 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.
Geba, situated opposite to Michmash 1 Samuel 14:5, is almost certainly "Jeba," which stands picturesquely on the top of its steep terraced hill on the very edge of the "Wady Suweinit." Its position was thus exceedingly strong; and, as it lay further north than Ramah, Asa may have considered that to fortify and garrison it would be a better protection to his northern frontier than fortifying Ramah.
For Mizpah see the marginal reference From Jeremiah 41:9 we learn that Asa, besides fortifying the place, sank a deep well there to secure his garrison from want of water if the town should be besieged.
23The 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.
The rest of all the acts of Asa - A few of these are preserved in 2 Chronicles 15:9-15; 2 Chronicles 16:7-12. From the whole narrative of Chronicles we gather that the character of Asa deteriorated as he grew old, and that, while he maintained the worship of Yahweh consistently from first to last, he failed to maintain the personal faith and piety which had been so conspicuous in his early youth.
The cities which he built - Asa, during the earlier part of his reign, before any serious attack had been made upon him, had the prudence to "build fenced cities in Judah," with "walls and towers, gates and bars," so strengthening himself against a possible evil day 2 Chronicles 14:6-7.
In the time of his old age - See the marginal reference. If it has been rightly supposed that Rehoboam was a young man of 21 or 22 at his accession 1 Kings 12:8, Asa's age at this time must have been less than 50. It may seem strange to speak of "old age" in such a case; but Solomon was regarded as "old" at about 50 (1 Kings 11:4 note).
24And 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.
Asa prepared his own sepulchre in his lifetime, as has been so often done by Oriental kings; and his funeral was conducted with great magnificence 2 Chronicles 16:14.
25And Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned over Israel two years.
The sacred historian now gives an account of the contemporary kings of Israel, beginning with Nadab, who ascended the throne in Asa's second year, and concluding with Ahab, in whose fourth year Asa died. This narrative occupies him almost to the close of the first Book of Kings.
Chronology of Kingdoms Year of the Divided Kingdom Kings of Judah Years of Reign Kings of Israel Years of Reign 1 Rehoboam 17 Jeroboam 22 5 (Invasion of Shishak) 18 Abijam 3 20 Asa 41 22 Nadab 2 23 Baasha 21 31 (Invasion of Zerah) 34 (Great Feast at Jerusalem) 46 Elah 2 47 Zimri
Omri 12 58 Ahab 22 61 (Last year of Asa) (4th year of Ahab)
26And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.
27And Baasha the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him; and Baasha smote him at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines; for Nadab and all Israel laid siege to Gibbethon.
Baasha ... of the house of Issachar - It is curious to find Issachar furnishing a king. Tola, its one very undistinguished Judge Jdg 10:1, on obtaining office had at once settled himself in the territory of Ephraim. The tribe was as little famous as any that could be named. The "ass crouching between two burthens" was a true symbol of the patient, plodding cultivators of the plain of Esdraelon Genesis 49:14-15. Baasha probably owed his rise neither to his tribe nor to his social position, but simply to his audacity, and his known valor and skill as a soldier 1 Kings 16:2.
28Even in the third year of Asa king of Judah did Baasha slay him, and reigned in his stead.
29And it came to pass, when he reigned, that he smote all the house of Jeroboam; he left not to Jeroboam any that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according unto the saying of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite:
30Because of the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned, and which he made Israel sin, by his provocation wherewith he provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger.
31Now the rest of the acts of Nadab, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
32And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.
An exact repetition of 1 Kings 15:16. From the book before him 1 Kings 15:31 the writer extracts a passage which happens to correspond exactly with one which he has already extracted from the "Book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah." He does not object to repeating himself (compare 1 Kings 14:21, 1 Kings 14:31; 1 Kings 14:30; 1 Kings 15:6; 2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:11).
33In the third year of Asa king of Judah began Baasha the son of Ahijah to reign over all Israel in Tirzah, twenty and four years.
34And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.