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Abijah Reigns over Judah

13

In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, Abijah began to reign over Judah. 2He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Micaiah daughter of Uriel of Gibeah.

Now there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3Abijah engaged in battle, having an army of valiant warriors, four hundred thousand picked men; and Jeroboam drew up his line of battle against him with eight hundred thousand picked mighty warriors. 4Then Abijah stood on the slope of Mount Zemaraim that is in the hill country of Ephraim, and said, “Listen to me, Jeroboam and all Israel! 5Do you not know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt? 6Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, a servant of Solomon son of David, rose up and rebelled against his lord; 7and certain worthless scoundrels gathered around him and defied Rehoboam son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and irresolute and could not withstand them.

8 “And now you think that you can withstand the kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David, because you are a great multitude and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made as gods for you. 9Have you not driven out the priests of the Lord, the descendants of Aaron, and the Levites, and made priests for yourselves like the peoples of other lands? Whoever comes to be consecrated with a young bull or seven rams becomes a priest of what are no gods. 10But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not abandoned him. We have priests ministering to the Lord who are descendants of Aaron, and Levites for their service. 11They offer to the Lord every morning and every evening burnt offerings and fragrant incense, set out the rows of bread on the table of pure gold, and care for the golden lampstand so that its lamps may burn every evening; for we keep the charge of the Lord our God, but you have abandoned him. 12See, God is with us at our head, and his priests have their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O Israelites, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your ancestors; for you cannot succeed.”

13 Jeroboam had sent an ambush around to come on them from behind; thus his troops were in front of Judah, and the ambush was behind them. 14When Judah turned, the battle was in front of them and behind them. They cried out to the Lord, and the priests blew the trumpets. 15Then the people of Judah raised the battle shout. And when the people of Judah shouted, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. 16The Israelites fled before Judah, and God gave them into their hands. 17Abijah and his army defeated them with great slaughter; five hundred thousand picked men of Israel fell slain. 18Thus the Israelites were subdued at that time, and the people of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 19Abijah pursued Jeroboam, and took cities from him: Bethel with its villages and Jeshanah with its villages and Ephron with its villages. 20Jeroboam did not recover his power in the days of Abijah; the Lord struck him down, and he died. 21But Abijah grew strong. He took fourteen wives, and became the father of twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters. 22The rest of the acts of Abijah, his behavior and his deeds, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo.


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2Ch 13:1-20. Abijah, Succeeding, Makes War against Jeroboam, and Overcomes Him.

2. His mother's name also was Michaiah, the daughter of Uriel—the same as Maachah (see on 1Ki 15:2). She was "the daughter," that is, granddaughter of Absalom (1Ki 15:2; compare 2Sa 14:1-33), mother of Abijah, "mother," that is, grandmother (1Ki 15:10, Margin) of Asa.

of Gibeah—probably implies that Uriel was connected with the house of Saul.

there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam—The occasion of this war is not recorded (see 1Ki 15:6, 7), but it may be inferred from the tenor of Abijah's address that it arose from his youthful ambition to recover the full hereditary dominion of his ancestors. No prophet now forbade a war with Israel (2Ch 11:23) for Jeroboam had forfeited all claim to protection.

3. Abijah set the battle in array—that is, took the field and opened the campaign.

with … four hundred thousand chosen men … Jeroboam with eight hundred thousand—These are, doubtless, large numbers, considering the smallness of the two kingdoms. It must be borne in mind, however, that Oriental armies are mere mobs—vast numbers accompanying the camp in hope of plunder, so that the gross numbers described as going upon an Asiatic expedition are often far from denoting the exact number of fighting men. But in accounting for the large number of soldiers enlisted in the respective armies of Abijah and Jeroboam, there is no need of resorting to this mode of explanation; for we know by the census of David the immense number of the population that was capable of bearing arms (1Ch 21:5; compare 2Ch 14:8; 17:14).

4-12. Abijah stood up upon Mount Zemaraim—He had entered the enemy's territory and was encamped on an eminence near Beth-el (Jos 18:22). Jeroboam's army lay at the foot of the hill, and as a pitched battle was expected, Abijah, according to the singular usage of ancient times, harangued the enemy. The speakers in such circumstances, while always extolling their own merits, poured out torrents of invective and virulent abuse upon the adversary. So did Abijah. He dwelt on the divine right of the house of David to the throne; and sinking all reference to the heaven-condemned offenses of Solomon and the divine appointment of Jeroboam, as well as the divine sanction of the separation, he upbraided Jeroboam as a usurper, and his subjects as rebels, who took advantage of the youth and inexperience of Rehoboam. Then contrasting the religious state of the two kingdoms, he drew a black picture of the impious innovations and gross idolatry introduced by Jeroboam, with his expulsion and impoverishment (2Ch 11:14) of the Levites. He dwelt with reasonable pride on the pure and regular observance of the ancient institutions of Moses in his own dominion [2Ch 13:11] and concluded with this emphatic appeal: "O children of Israel, fight ye not against Jehovah, the God of your fathers, for ye shall not prosper."

13-17. But Jeroboam caused an ambushment to come about behind them—The oration of Abijah, however animating an effect it might have produced on his own troops, was unheeded by the party to whom it was addressed; for while he was wasting time in useless words, Jeroboam had ordered a detachment of his men to move quietly round the base of the hill, so that when Abijah stopped speaking, he and his followers found themselves surprised in the rear, while the main body of the Israelitish forces remained in front. A panic might have ensued, had not the leaders "cried unto the Lord," and the priests "sounded with the trumpets"—the pledge of victory (Nu 10:9; 31:6). Reassured by the well-known signal, the men of Judah responded with a war shout, which, echoed by the whole army, was followed by an impetuous rush against the foe. The shock was resistless. The ranks of the Israelites were broken, for "God smote Jeroboam and all Israel." They took to flight, and the merciless slaughter that ensued can be accounted for only by tracing it to the rancorous passions enkindled by a civil war.

19. Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him—This sanguinary action widened the breach between the people of the two kingdoms. Abijah abandoned his original design of attempting the subjugation of the ten tribes, contenting himself with the recovery of a few border towns, which, though lying within Judah or Benjamin, had been alienated to the new or northern kingdom. Among these was Beth-el, which, with its sacred associations, he might be strongly desirous to wrest from profanation.

20. Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days of Abijah—The disastrous action at Zemaraim, which caused the loss of the flower and chivalry of his army, broke his spirits and crippled his power.

the Lord struck him, and he died—that is, Jeroboam. He lived, indeed, two years after the death of Abijah (1Ki 14:20; 15:9). But he had been threatened with great calamities upon himself and his house, and it is apparently to the execution of these threatenings, which issued in his death, that an anticipatory reference is here made.




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