« Arundel, Thomas Asa Asaph »

Asa

ASA, ê´sa: Third king of Judah, son and successor of Abijah. He is said to have reigned forty-one years, contemporary with Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Ahab of Israel. His dates, according to the old chronology, are 955–914 B.C.; according to Hommel, 911–871; according to Duncker, 929–872; according to Kamphausen, 917–877. Although in I Kings xv, 10, Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom, is mentioned as his mother, who, according to verse 2, was the mother of Abijah (called “Abijam” in I Kings; see Abijah), he was probably not the latter’s brother, but his son, as is stated in verse 8. Maachah was probably the name of both his mother and his grandmother, and “daughter of Abishalom” is erroneously inserted in verse 10 from verse 2. Asa tried to uproot idolatry, and deposed his mother “because she had made an idol in a grove” (I Kings xv, 13, A. V.; R. V., “because she had made an abominable image for an Asherah;” the object in question may have been a phallic image). He drove the Sodomites from the land, and destroyed the idols. The high places, however, were not removed. At the suggestion of the prophet Azariah (according to the Chronicler) he caused his people to renew their vows to Yahweh at a great festival. He is said to have built cities and performed mighty deeds, but no details are given.

What is told of Asa’s conduct in the war with Israel does not redound to his glory (I Kings xv, 16 sqq.). When Baasha fortified Ramah on the frontier between Israel and Judah, Asa could think of no better way to retaliate than to hire Ben-hadad, king of Syria, to invade Israel. The expedient accomplished its immediate purpose by forcing Baasha to retire from Ramah; but the ultimate outcome was the hundred years’ war between Israel and the Arameans, which brought misfortune upon both lands and even involved Judah. The Chronicler states that the prophet Hanani was sent to rebuke Asa for his conduct, and was imprisoned for his boldness. The Chronicler further relates that in the eleventh year of Asa’s reign “Zerah the Ethiopian” invaded Judah and met a great defeat. The event is not mentioned in the Book of Kings, and some regard the narrative as unhistorical. Those who accept it have not succeeded in identifying Zerah the Ethiopian. In his old age Asa suffered from a disease of the feet, perhaps gout. [The Chronicler characteristically remarks “yet in his disease he sought not to Yahweh, but to the physicians”.] Asa’s history is in I Kings xv, 9–14; II Chron. xiv–xvi.

(W. Lotz.)

The most probable dates for Asa are 912–872 B.C.

J. F. M.

Bibliography: Consult the works mentioned under Ahab, and, in addition, for Zerah the Ethiopian, H. Winckler, Alttestamentliche Untersuchungen, pp. 160 sqq., Leipsic, 1892.

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