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THE CONCLUSION OF THE REIGN OF ASA;
HIS REBUKE BY THE PROPHET;
BAASHA; THE KING OF ISRAEL; BEGINS TO FORTIFY RAMAH
"In the sixth and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah, and built Ramah, that he might not suffer any one to come unto or go in to Asa king of Judah. Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of Jehovah and of the king's house, and sent to Benhadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying, There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father, behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me. Then Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abel-maim, and all the store-cities of Napthtali. And it came to pass when Baasha heard thereof, that he left off building Ramah, and let the work cease. Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha had builded; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah."
David was "a man after God's own heart"; yet he was guilty of many sins; and likewise Asa, although his heart was "perfect toward Jehovah," yet, like all mortals, he was guilty of sin; and the Chronicler in this chapter cites two events in which king Asa did wrong in the sight of God. The first of these was his seeking aid of Benhadad the king of Syria instead of seeking it of the Lord.
"Baasha ... built Ramah" (2 Chronicles 16:1). That is, he began to do so, because the invasion of Benhadad compelled him to abandon the project. It is not hard to see what was in the mind of Baasha. The popularity of Asa's reign, and the general knowledge that God was blessing him had led many in Baasha's northern kingdom to go to Jerusalem for the legitimate worship of God. All of the northern kings vigorously opposed this, because they considered it a threat to the continuity of Northern Israel; and Baasha, by fortifying Ramah, had in mind to prohibit such excursions to Jerusalem, which, of course, occurred three times annually on the occasions of the three set feasts: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.
"Asa brought out silver and gold" (2 Chronicles 16:2). It apparently never entered the mind of Asa that, "If silver and gold could buy the help of Syria, a little more silver and gold could cancel it and deliver their help to someone else."
One may only wonder at Asa's actions here. God had delivered him from a far greater threat in that war with Zerah. Northern Israel was nothing compared with the tremendous strength of Egypt; and perhaps that was the reason that Asa might have felt that he did not need God in this instance, feeling that he was able to take care of this threat without God's help. Such a feeling on the part of any mortal is never justified. All men need God's help continually, in small matters as well as large ones; and it is always sinful for men to trust in themselves instead of seeking God's help.
GOD'S PROPHET REBUKED ASA; AND ASA WAS ANGRY
"And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and hast not relied on Jehovah thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thy hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim a huge host, with chariots and horsemen exceeding many? yet, because thou didst rely on Jehovah, he delivered them into thy hand. For the eyes of Jehovah run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect before him. Herein thou hast done foolishly; for from henceforth thou shalt have wars. Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in the prison-house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time."
One thing that the Chronicler most certainly had in mind here was to show the colossal failure of the whole institution of the monarchy. Even a good king like Asa could not remain uncorrupted while wielding the scepter of unchallenged power. The constant pressure of the flattering sycophants that surround every ruler, and the constantly nourished and promoted conceit of any natural man have the power eventually to break down the strongest heart.
Also, it may have been his way of establishing the principle that all men are sinners. The Sinless One did not appear until the Christ was cradled in the manger at Bethlehem.
THE DEATH OF ASA
"And, behold, the acts of Asa, first and last, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. And in the thirty and ninth year of his reign, Asa was diseased in his feet; his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to Jehovah, but to the physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign. And they buried him in his own sepulchres, which he had hewn out for himself in the city of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odors and divers kinds of spices prepared by the perfumers' art: and they made a very great burning for him."
"And they made a very great burning for him" (2 Chronicles 16:14). "This is a reference to the burning of spices," an ancient custom designed to fill the atmosphere with sweet odors accompanying a funeral procession. The Romans used large quantities of incense for this purpose. (We have discussed this custom rather extensively under the title, The Triumph Metaphor, in Vol. 7 (Corinthians) of our N.T. Commentaries, pp. 324,325.)
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 16". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter