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ASA'S FAITHFUL EFFORTS TO BRING ISRAEL BACK TO GOD;
AZARIAH'S ADMONITION FOR ISRAEL
"And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Obed: and he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: for Jehovah is with you while ye are with him; and if ye seek him he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Now for a long season Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law: but when in their distress they turned unto Jehovah, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them. And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in; but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the lands. And they were broken in pieces, nation against nation, and city against city; for God did vex them with all adversity. But be ye strong, and let not your hands be slack; for your work shall be rewarded."
Azariah's purpose here is clear enough, namely, the encouragement of God's people to be constant in their faithfulness to their God, for it was their lack of faithfulness which had so frequently resulted in manifold sorrows for the Chosen People.
2 Chronicles 15:3-6 are interpreted in various ways. Cook believed that, "They refer to the many apostasies of God's people in the times of the Judges." Curtis (Madsen) applied the words to, "The Northern Kingdom"; and Keil stated that, "We must take the words in a general sense, applying then exclusively neither to the past nor to the future, because the truth uttered here has force at all times."
"Without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law" (2 Chronicles 15:3). There were many times in Israel's history when these conditions prevailed. "It was not that Israel did not have instruction; Israel would not receive it."
ASA'S CONTINUING PROGRAM OF RELIGIOUS REFORM
"And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Obed the prophet, he took courage and put away the abominations out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from the hill-country of Ephraim; and he renewed the altar of Jehovah, that was before the porch of Jehovah. And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and them that sojourned with them out of Ephraim, and Mansasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that Jehovah his God was with him. So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa. And they sacrificed to Jehovah in that day, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen, and seven thousand sheep. And they entered into the covenant to seek Jehovah, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul; and that whosoever would not seek Jehovah, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. And they sware unto Jehovah with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and Jehovah gave them rest round about."
"And the prophecy of Obed" (2 Chronicles 15:8). "Some versions have, `the prophecy of Azariah the son of Obed,' which may be the true reading."
"In the third month of the fifteen year of Asa" (2 Chronicles 15:10). "This was June (Sivan), on the sixth day of which the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) was observed. The great sacrifices on this occasion included some of the booty they had taken in the war with Zerah"; and if the conjecture that Zerah came against Asa in his eleventh year is correct, this would indicate that the war lasted four years. However, a great deal of the chronology of all of these Hebrew kings is very uncertain.
"And they entered into the covenant" (2 Chronicles 15:12). The original covenant between God and his people is recorded in Exodus 24:3-8; it was renewed again at Shechem (Joshua 8:30-35); this was a third ratification; and still another took place in the times of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10:20).
"Whosoever would not seek Jehovah ... should be put to death" (2 Chronicles 15:23). This was part of the original covenant (Deuteronomy 17:2-8); and thus we have another testimonial to the prior existence of the Pentateuch, long centuries before the times of Josiah. The account here is a true record of what occurred in the reign of Asa (913-873 B.C.).
MORE ABOUT ASA'S REFORMS
"And also Maacah, the mother of Asa the king, he removed from being the queen (mother), because she had made an abominable image for an Asherah and Asa cut down her image and made dust of it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron. But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days. And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels. And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa."
The unceasing war against Chronicles by the radical critics focuses upon two things in this paragraph.
(1) "In 2 Chronicles 15:17 we read that the high places were not taken away, but in 2 Chronicles 15:8 that they were!" This is typical of the type of unprincipled and dishonest efforts of unbelievers to discredit Chronicles. Note that 2 Chronicles 15:8 does not even mention the high places! Furthermore, the abominations which Asa put away were those "in the cities"; and many of them continued to be observed in the rural areas. "Even Asa's best efforts were not sufficient to eradicate pagan practices entirely."
(2) The other attack is directed against an alleged `contradiction' between 1 Kings 15:16, which says, "There was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days," and the word here in 2 Chronicles 15:19 that, "There was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa." Cook suggested that a corrupted text is responsible for this; but Barker has an even better explanation: "What this says, actually, is that a state of war was chronic between Asa and Baasha." Of course, this savage hatred between the two Israels continued without intermission as long as the Northern Israel existed.
"The mother of Asa ... had made an abominable image for an Asherah" (2 Chronicles 15:16). This was some kind of a pillar, called here an image; and we have been encouraged by some to think of it as an incense altar (See the RSV). However, the word abominable, as used here, is also rendered unspeakable, horrible, etc. by translators. These words are much too strong for anything innocent.
The Douay Version translates this passage like it is: "Maacah the mother of Asa made in a grove an idol of Priapus." This was an image of the human phallus, which in all probability was the usual form these pillars took. Curtis (Madsen) accepted this meaning of this passage, writing that, "This understanding of it is as good as any, and it is generally accepted." "In Greek and Roman mythology, this was the god of male procreative power."
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 15". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14