15 million Ukrainian are displaced by Russia's war.
Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

1 Kings 15

Verse 2

Three years - More strictly, not much more than two years (compare 1 Kings 15:1, 1 Kings 15:9). Any part of a year may, however, in Jewish reckoning, be taken as a year.

His mother’s name was Maachah - Or Michaiah, according to the present reading of marginal reference.

The daughter of Abishalom - Absalom seems to have had but one daughter, Tamar 2 Samuel 14:27, so that Maachah must have been, not his daughter, but his grand-daughter. Her father (see the margin) was Uriel of Gibeah whom, therefore, Tamar married. Maachah took her name from her great-grandmother 2 Samuel 3:3.

Verse 3

He walked in all the sins of his father - Yet Abijam prepared precious offerings for the temple service 1 Kings 15:15, probably to replace vessels which Shishak had carried off, and in his war with Jeroboam professed himself a faithful servant of Yahweh 2 Chronicles 13:10-12.

Verse 4

To set up his son - The idolatry of Abijam deserved the same punishment as that of Jeroboam 1 Kings 14:10-14, of Baasha 1 Kings 16:2-4, or of Zimri 1 Kings 16:19, the cutting off of his seed, and the transfer of the crown to another family. That these consequences did not follow in the kingdom of Judah, was owing to the “faithfulness” of David (see the marginal reference), which brought a blessing on his posterity. Few things are more remarkable and more difficult to account for on mere grounds of human reason, than the stability of the succession in Judah, and its excessive instability in the sister kingdom. One family in Judah holds the throne from first to last, during a space but little short of four centuries, while in Israel there are nine changes of dynasty within two hundred and fifty years.

Verse 6

The writer repeats what he had said in 1 Kings 14:30, in order to remind the reader that Abijam inherited this war from his father. Abijam’s war is described in marginal reference That the author of Kings gives none of its details is agreeable to his common practice in mere military matters. Thus he gives no details of Shishak’s expedition, and omits Zerah’s expedition altogether.

Verse 10

Mother’s name - Rather, “grandmother’s.” The Jews cal any male ancestor, however remote, a father, and any female ancestor a mother (compare 1 Kings 15:2; Genesis 3:20). This Maachah was the favorite wife of Rehoboam 2 Chronicles 11:21, and the mother of Abijam. The way in which she is here mentioned strongly favors the notion that the position of queen-mother was a definite one at the court, and could only be held by one person at a time.

Verse 13

Asa degraded Maachah from the rank and state of queen-mother.

The word translated “idol” both here and in the parallel passage (marginal reference), does not occur elsewhere in Scripture. It is derived from a root signifying “fear” or “trembling,” and may perhaps best be understood as “a fright, a horror.” Such a name would seem best to apply to a grotesque and hideous image like the Phthah of the Egyptians. She made it to serve in lieu of the ordinary “grove” - asherah, or idolatrous emblem of Astarte (Exodus 34:13 note). Asa cut it down, for like the usual “asherah,” Maachah’s “horror” was fixed in the ground.

And burnt it at the brook Kidron - Similarly Josiah, when he removed Manasseh’s “grove” - asherah - from the house of the Lord, brought it out to the brook Kidron, and burned it there. The object probably was to prevent the pollution of the holy city by even the ashes from the burning.

Verse 14

2 Chronicles 14:3 would seem at first sight to imply that he entirely put down the worship. But idolatry, if at one time put down, crept back afterward; or while Asa endeavored to sweep it wholly away, his subjects would not be controlled, but found a means of maintaining it in some places - not perhaps in the cities (see 2 Chronicles 14:5), but in remote country districts, where the royal authority was weaker, and secrecy more practicable.

Verse 15

Abijam’s dedications were made after his victory over Jeroboam, and probably consisted of a portion of the spoils which were the fruit of the battle 2 Chronicles 13:16-19.

Asa’s dedications may have been made from the spoils of Zerah the Ethiopian, who attacked him in his eleventh year (2 Chronicles 14:9, etc.). They were not deposited in the temple until his fifteenth year 2 Chronicles 15:10, 2 Chronicles 15:18.

Verse 16

Baasha became king of Israel in the third year of Asa 1 Kings 15:33. The petty warfare which ordinarily prevailed on the borders of the two kingdoms continued “all the days” of Asa and Baasha. During the first ten years of Asa’s reign he was little molested 2 Chronicles 14:1, 2 Chronicles 14:6.

Verse 17

Ramah (perhaps “Er-Ram;” marginal reference) was situated halfway between Bethel and Jerusalem. Its distance from Jerusalem was no more than five miles so that its occupation was a menace to that capital. Baasha’s seizure of Ramah implies a previous recovery of the towns taken by Abijam from Jeroboam, namely, Bethel, Jeshanah, and Ephrain 2 Chronicles 13:19, and was a carrying of the war into the enemy’s country. Could his conquest have been maintained, it would have crippled Judah seriously, and have almost compelled a transfer of the capital to Hebron.

That he might not suffer any to go out or come in - Baasha, in seizing Ramah, professed to be acting on the defensive. His complaint seems to have been well founded (compare 2 Chronicles 15:9); but it was more than a defensive measure - it was the first step toward a conquest of the southern kingdom.

Verse 18

Left - Or, according to another reading, “found.” The wealthy condition of the temple treasury is sufficiently indicated in 1 Kings 15:15. Compare 2 Chronicles 15:18.

Asa’s conduct in calling Benhadad to his aid, condemned by the seer Hanani 2 Chronicles 16:7, cannot, of course, be justified; but there was much to excuse it. An alliance, it appears, had existed between Abijam and Tabrimon, Benhadad’s father 1 Kings 15:19 - an alliance which may have helped Abijam to gain his great victory over Jeroboam and achieve his subsequent conquests 2 Chronicles 13:17-20. This had been brought to an end by Baasha, who had succeeded in inducing Benhadad to enter into a league with him. It was only natural that Asa should endeavor to break up this league; and, politically speaking, he had a full right to go further, and obtain, if he could, the support of the Syrian troops for himself. The Israelites had set the example of calling in a foreign power, when Jeroboam obtained the aid of Shishak.

To Benhadad - On the probable succession of the Damascene kings, and on the meaning of the name Hadad, see 1 Kings 11:14, 1 Kings 11:23.

Verse 19

Rather, “Let there be a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father.”

Verse 20

Ijon is probably marked by the ruins called “Tel-Dibbin,” which are situated a few miles northwest of the site of Dan, in a fertile and beautiful little plain which bears the name of “Merj’ Ayun” or “meadow of fountains.” On Abel-beth-maachah, or Abel-maim (“Abel-on-the waters”) and Dan, see the marginal references

For Cinneroth or Genesareth see Joshua 11:2.

Verse 22

Geba, situated opposite to Michmash 1 Samuel 14:5, is almost certainly “Jeba,” which stands picturesquely on the top of its steep terraced hill on the very edge of the “Wady Suweinit.” Its position was thus exceedingly strong; and, as it lay further north than Ramah, Asa may have considered that to fortify and garrison it would be a better protection to his northern frontier than fortifying Ramah.

For Mizpah see the marginal reference From Jeremiah 41:9 we learn that Asa, besides fortifying the place, sank a deep well there to secure his garrison from want of water if the town should be besieged.

Verse 23

The rest of all the acts of Asa - A few of these are preserved in 2 Chronicles 15:9-15; 2 Chronicles 16:7-12. From the whole narrative of Chronicles we gather that the character of Asa deteriorated as he grew old, and that, while he maintained the worship of Yahweh consistently from first to last, he failed to maintain the personal faith and piety which had been so conspicuous in his early youth.

The cities which he built - Asa, during the earlier part of his reign, before any serious attack had been made upon him, had the prudence to “build fenced cities in Judah,” with “walls and towers, gates and bars,” so strengthening himself against a possible evil day 2 Chronicles 14:6-7.

In the time of his old age - See the marginal reference. If it has been rightly supposed that Rehoboam was a young man of 21 or 22 at his accession 1 Kings 12:8, Asa’s age at this time must have been less than 50. It may seem strange to speak of “old age” in such a case; but Solomon was regarded as “old” at about 50 (1 Kings 11:4 note).

Verse 24

Asa prepared his own sepulchre in his lifetime, as has been so often done by Oriental kings; and his funeral was conducted with great magnificence 2 Chronicles 16:14.

Verse 25

The sacred historian now gives an account of the contemporary kings of Israel, beginning with Nadab, who ascended the throne in Asa’s second year, and concluding with Ahab, in whose fourth year Asa died. This narrative occupies him almost to the close of the first Book of Kings.

Chronology of Kingdoms
Year of the Divided Kingdom Kings of Judah Years of Reign Kings of Israel Years of Reign
1 Rehoboam 17 Jeroboam 22
5 (Invasion of Shishak)

18 Abijam 3

20 Asa 41


Nadab 2

Baasha 21
31 (Invasion of Zerah)

34 (Great Feast at Jerusalem)


Elah 2

Zimri Omri 12

Ahab 22
61 (Last year of Asa)
(4th year of Ahab)

Verse 27

Baasha ... of the house of Issachar - It is curious to find Issachar furnishing a king. Tola, its one very undistinguished Judge Judges 10:1, on obtaining office had at once settled himself in the territory of Ephraim. The tribe was as little famous as any that could be named. The “ass crouching between two burthens” was a true symbol of the patient, plodding cultivators of the plain of Esdraelon Genesis 49:14-15. Baasha probably owed his rise neither to his tribe nor to his social position, but simply to his audacity, and his known valor and skill as a soldier 1 Kings 16:2.

Verse 32

An exact repetition of 1 Kings 15:16. From the book before him 1 Kings 15:31 the writer extracts a passage which happens to correspond exactly with one which he has already extracted from the “Book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah.” He does not object to repeating himself (compare 1 Kings 14:21, 1Ki 14:31; 1 Kings 14:30; 1 Kings 15:6; 2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:11).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.