Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. In his days the land was quiet ten years--This long interval of
peace was the continued effect of the great battle of Zemaraim (compare
2. Asa did that which was good and right--(compare
Still his character and life were not free from faults
(2Ch 16:7, 10, 12).
3. brake down the images--of Baal
cut down the groves--rather, "Asherim."
5. he took away . . . the high places--that is, those devoted to
took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the
images--All public objects and relics of idolatry in Jerusalem and
other cities through his kingdom were destroyed; but those high places
where God was worshipped under the figure of an ox, as at Beth-el, were
allowed to remain
so far the reformation was incomplete.
6. he built fenced cities in
7. while the land is yet before us--that is, while we have free and
undisputed progress everywhere; no foe is near; but, as this happy time
of peace may not last always and the kingdom is but small and weak, let
us prepare suitable defenses in case of need. He had also an army of
five hundred eighty thousand men. Judah furnished the heavily armed
soldiers, and Benjamin the archers. This large number does not mean a
body of professional soldiers, but all capable of bearing arms and
liable to be called into service.
9. there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian--This could not
have been from Ethiopia south of the cataracts of the Nile, for in the
reign of Osorkon I, successor of Shishak, no foreign army would have
been allowed a free passage through Egypt. Zerah must, therefore, have
been chief of the Cushites, or Ethiopians of Arabia, as they were
evidently a nomad horde who had a settlement of tents and cattle in the
neighborhood of Gerar.
a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots--"Twenty camels
employed to carry couriers upon them might have procured that number of
men to meet in a short time. As Zerah was the aggressor, he had time to
choose when he would summon these men and attack the enemy. Every one
of these Cushite shepherds, carrying with them their own provisions of
flour and water, as is their invariable custom, might have fought with
Asa without eating a loaf of Zerah's bread or drinking a pint of his
water" [BRUCE, Travels].
10. Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array
. . . at Mareshah--one of the towns which Rehoboam
near a great southern pass in the low country of Judah
The engagement between the armies took place in a plain near the town,
called "the valley of Zephathah," supposed to be the broad way coming
down Beit Jibrin towards Tell Es-Safren [ROBINSON].
11-13. Asa cried unto the Lord his God--Strong in the confidence that
the power of God was able to give the victory equally with few as with
many, the pious king marched with a comparatively small force to
encounter the formidable host of marauders at his southern frontier.
Committing his cause to God, he engaged in the conflict--completely
routed the enemy, and succeeded in obtaining, as the reward of his
victory, a rich booty in treasure and cattle from the tents of this