Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Abijam--His name was at first Abijah
"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"
that honorable addition was withdrawn, and his name in sacred history
changed into Abijam [LIGHTFOOT].
2. Three years reigned he--(compare
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
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
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
This phrase contains a comparative reference to David's heart. His
doing that which was right in the eyes of the Lord
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
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
13. also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen--The
sultana, or queen dowager, was not necessarily the king's natural
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
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
15. he brought in the things which his father had dedicated--Probably
the spoils which Abijam had taken from the vanquished army of Jeroboam
and the things which himself had dedicated--after his own victory over
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
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
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.
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
23. in the time of his old age he was diseased in his
where an additional proof is given of his religious degeneracy.)
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
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).