Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
2. His mother's name also was Michaiah, the daughter of Uriel--the
same as Maachah (see on
She was "the daughter," that is, granddaughter of Absalom
mother of Abijah, "mother," that is, grandmother
Margin) of Asa.
of Gibeah--probably implies that Uriel was connected with the house of
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
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
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
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
of the Levites. He dwelt with reasonable pride on the pure and regular
observance of the ancient institutions of Moses in his own dominion
and concluded with this emphatic appeal: "O children of Israel, fight
ye not against Jehovah, the God of your fathers, for ye shall not
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
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