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Abijam Reigns over Judah: Idolatry and War
Now in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam son of Nebat, Abijam began to reign over Judah. 2He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom. 3He committed all the sins that his father did before him; his heart was not true to the Lord his God, like the heart of his father David. 4Nevertheless for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem; 5because David did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. 6The war begun between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continued all the days of his life. 7The rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? There was war between Abijam and Jeroboam. 8Abijam slept with his ancestors, and they buried him in the city of David. Then his son Asa succeeded him.
Asa Reigns over Judah
9 In the twentieth year of King Jeroboam of Israel, Asa began to reign over Judah; 10he reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom. 11Asa did what was right in the sight of the Lord, as his father David had done. 12He put away the male temple prostitutes out of the land, and removed all the idols that his ancestors had made. 13He also removed his mother Maacah from being queen mother, because she had made an abominable image for Asherah; Asa cut down her image and burned it at the Wadi Kidron. 14But the high places were not taken away. Nevertheless the heart of Asa was true to the Lord all his days. 15He brought into the house of the Lord the votive gifts of his father and his own votive gifts—silver, gold, and utensils.
Alliance with Aram against Israel
16 There was war between Asa and King Baasha of Israel all their days. 17King Baasha of Israel went up against Judah, and built Ramah, to prevent anyone from going out or coming in to King Asa of Judah. 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 gave them into the hands of his servants. King Asa sent them to King Ben-hadad son of Tabrimmon son of Hezion of Aram, who resided in Damascus, saying, 19“Let there be an alliance between me and you, like that between my father and your father: I am sending you a present of silver and gold; go, break your alliance with King Baasha of Israel, so that he may withdraw from me.” 20Ben-hadad listened to King Asa, and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel. He conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah, and all Chinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali. 21When Baasha heard of it, he stopped building Ramah and lived in Tirzah. 22Then King Asa made a proclamation to all Judah, none was exempt: they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber, with which Baasha had been building; with them King Asa built Geba of Benjamin and Mizpah. 23Now the rest of all the acts of Asa, all his power, all that he did, and the cities that he built, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? But in his old age he was diseased in his feet. 24Then Asa slept with his ancestors, and was buried with his ancestors in the city of his father David; his son Jehoshaphat succeeded him.
Nadab Reigns over Israel
25 Nadab son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of King Asa of Judah; he reigned over Israel two years. 26He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, walking in the way of his ancestor and in the sin that he caused Israel to commit.
27 Baasha son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him; and Baasha struck him down at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines; for Nadab and all Israel were laying siege to Gibbethon. 28So Baasha killed Nadab in the third year of King Asa of Judah, and succeeded him. 29As soon as he was king, he killed all the house of Jeroboam; he left to the house of Jeroboam not one that breathed, until he had destroyed it, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite— 30because of the sins of Jeroboam that he committed and that he caused Israel to commit, and because of the anger to which he provoked the Lord, the God of Israel.
31 Now the rest of the acts of Nadab, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel? 32There was war between Asa and King Baasha of Israel all their days.
Second Dynasty: Baasha Reigns over Israel
33 In the third year of King Asa of Judah, Baasha son of Ahijah began to reign over all Israel at Tirzah; he reigned twenty-four years. 34He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, walking in the way of Jeroboam and in the sin that he caused Israel to commit.
1Ki 15:1-8. Abijam's Wicked Reign over Judah.
1. Abijam—His name was at first Abijah (2Ch 12:16); "Jah," the name of God, according to an ancient fashion, being conjoined with it. But afterwards, when he was found "walking in all the sins of his father" [1Ki 15:3], that honorable addition was withdrawn, and his name in sacred history changed into Abijam [Lightfoot].
2. Three years reigned he—(compare 1Ki 15:1 with 1Ki 15:9). Parts of years are often counted in Scripture as whole years. The reign began in Jeroboam's eighteenth year, continued till the nineteenth, and ended in the course of the twentieth.
his mother's name was Maachah—or Michaiah (2Ch 13:2), probably altered from the one to the other on her becoming queen, as was very common under a change of circumstances. She is called the daughter of Abishalom, or Absalom (2Ch 11:21), of Uriel (2Ch 13:2). Hence, it has been thought probable that Tamar, the daughter of Absalom (2Sa 14:27; 18:18), had been married to Uriel, and that Maachah was their daughter.
3. his heart was not perfect with the Lord … , as the heart of David his father—(Compare 1Ki 11:4; 14:22). He was not positively bad at first, for it appears that he had done something to restore the pillaged treasures of the temple (1Ki 15:15). This phrase contains a comparative reference to David's heart. His doing that which was right in the eyes of the Lord (1Ki 15:5) is frequently used in speaking of the kings of Judah, and means only that they did or did not do that which, in the general course and tendency of their government, was acceptable to God. It furnishes no evidence as to the lawfulness or piety of one specific act.
4. for David's sake did the Lord his God give him a lamp—"A lamp" in one's house is an Oriental phrase for continuance of family name and prosperity. Abijam was not rejected only in consequence of the divine promise to David (see on 1Ki 11:13-36).
1Ki 15:9-22. Asa's Good Reign.
10-13. his mother's name was Maachah—She was properly his grandmother, and she is here called "the king's mother," from the post of dignity which at the beginning of his reign she possessed. Asa, as a constitutional monarch, acted like the pious David, laboring to abolish the traces and polluting practices of idolatry, and in pursuance of his impartial conduct, he did not spare delinquents even of the highest rank.
13. also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen—The sultana, or queen dowager, was not necessarily the king's natural mother (see 1Ki 2:19), nor was Maachah. Her title, and the privileges connected with that honor and dignity which gave her precedency among the ladies of the royal family, and great influence in the kingdom, were taken away. She was degraded for her idolatry.
because she had made an idol in a grove—A very obscene figure, and the grove was devoted to the grossest licentiousness. His plans of religious reformation, however, were not completely carried through, "the high places were not removed" (see 1Ki 3:2). The suppression of this private worship on natural or artificial hills, though a forbidden service after the temple had been declared the exclusive place of worship, the most pious king's laws were not able to accomplish.
15. he brought in the things which his father had dedicated—Probably the spoils which Abijam had taken from the vanquished army of Jeroboam (see 2Ch 13:16).
and the things which himself had dedicated—after his own victory over the Cushites (2Ch 14:12).
16, 17. there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days—Asa enjoyed a ten years' peace after Jeroboam's defeat by Abijam, and this interval was wisely and energetically spent in making internal reforms, as well as increasing the means of national defense (2Ch 14:1-7). In the fifteenth year of his reign, however, the king of Israel commenced hostilities against him, and, invading his kingdom, erected a strong fortress at Ramah, which was near Gibeah, and only six Roman miles from Jerusalem. Afraid lest his subjects might quit his kingdom and return to the worship of their fathers, he wished to cut off all intercourse between the two nations. Ramah stood on an eminence overhanging a narrow ravine which separated Israel from Judah, and therefore he took up a hostile position in that place.
18-20. Then Asa took all the silver and the gold that were left in the … house of the Lord—Asa's religious character is now seen to decline. He trusted not in the Lord (2Ch 16:7). In this emergency Asa solicited the powerful aid of the king of Damascene-Syria; and to bribe him to break off his alliance with Baasha, he transmitted to him the treasure lying in the temple and palace. The Syrian mercenaries were gained. Instances are to be found, both in the ancient and modern history of the East, of the violation of treaties equally sudden and unscrupulous, through the presentation of some tempting bribe. Ben-hadad poured an army into the northern provinces of Israel, and having captured some cities in Galilee, on the borders of Syria, compelled Baasha to withdraw from Ramah back within his own territories.
Ben-hadad—(See on 1Ki 11:14).
22. Then king Asa made a proclamation—The fortifications which Baasha had erected at Ramah were demolished, and with the materials were built other defenses, where Asa thought they were needed—at Geba (now Jeba) and Mizpeh (now Neby Samuil), about two hours' travelling north of Jerusalem.
23. in the time of his old age he was diseased in his feet—(See on 2Ch 16:12, where an additional proof is given of his religious degeneracy.)
1Ki 15:25-34. Nadab's Wicked Reign.
25. Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign—No record is given of him, except his close adherence to the bad policy of his father.
27. Baasha smote him at Gibbethon—This town, within the tribe of Dan, was given to the Levites (Jos 19:44). It lay on the Philistine borders, and having been seized by that people, Nadab laid siege to recover it.
29. when he reigned, he smote all the house of Jeroboam—It was according to a barbarous practice too common in the East, for a usurper to extirpate all rival candidates for the throne; but it was an accomplishment of Ahijah's prophecy concerning Jeroboam (1Ki 14:10, 11).