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Abijah's Warning to Israel
v. 1. Now, in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, Rehoboam having died after a reign of fully seventeen years, began Abijah to reign over Judah.
v. 2. He reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Michaiah (or Maachah, 2 Chronicles 11:20), the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah, who had married Tamar, the daughter of Absalom. And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam, not merely a state of hostility, where each side rested on its arms, but actual, bitter warfare.
v. 3. And Abijah, apparently in an effort to regain the northern territory for the house of David, set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, experienced, veteran troops, even four hundred thousand chosen men, for most men in those days were trained in the use of arms. Jeroboam also set the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men, being mighty men of valor. It was civil war in dead earnest, with no prophet interfering in behalf of Israel, since Jeroboam, on account of his idolatry, had forfeited all claims for protection.
v. 4. And Abijah stood up upon Mount Zemaraim, which is in Mount Ephraim, probably in the neighborhood of Bethel, and said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam and all Israel!
v. 5. Ought ye not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David forever, 2 Samuel 7:12-16, even to him and to his sons, by a covenant of salt? He pictured the covenant as an unchangeable and irrevocable promise on the part of Jehovah, substantiated by the meat-offering, which was always prepared with salt, Leviticus 2:13; Numbers 18:19.
v. 6. Yet Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon, the son of David, is risen up and hath rebelled against his lord, Jeroboam thus being represented as a miserable usurper, who had taken advantage of Rehoboam's youth and inexperience.
v. 7. And there are gathered unto him vain men, literally, "sons of worthlessness," the children of Belial, vain, useless fellows, loose, fickle, and unreliable, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tender-hearted and could not withstand them, they showed themselves strong against him while he was as yet unstable and unable to resist them.
v. 8. And now ye think to withstand, by making themselves strong, the kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with you golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods, this being a sharp censure of the gross idolatry which now had official recognition in the northern kingdom, 1 Kings 12:28.
v. 9. Have ye not, in consequence of the gross idolatry introduced by Jeroboam, cast out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, all these having been put out of office and expelled from the country when Jeroboam selected priests for his cult who were not of the sons of Levi, 1 Kings 12:31; 2 Chronicles 11:14, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams, changing the requirements of the law also in this respect and making it a priesthood of ungods, Exodus 29; Deuteronomy 32:21, the same may be a priest of them that are no gods.
v. 10. But as for us, the members of the southern nation, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken Him, the pure and regular observance of the true religion was found only in Judah; and the priests which minister unto the Lord are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business;
v. 11. and they burn unto the Lord every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense; the showbread also set they in order upon the pure table, the special table overlaid with gold in the Holy Place, and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof to burn every evening; for we keep the charge of the Lord, our God, performing all the acts of public worship in strict conformity with His regulations; but ye have forsaken Him.
v. 12. And, behold, God Himself is with us for our Captain, the army of Judah had placed itself entirely under His leadership and protection, and His priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you, for that was one of the functions of the priests, to sound the clanging trumpets and thereby call upon the Lord to help His people in war, Numbers 10:9. Abijah ended with one last fervent appeal: O children of Israel, fight ye not against the Lord God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper. It is only where the Word of God is the lamp to a community or nation that He will truly bless and prosper the people.
The Defeat of Jeroboam
v. 13. But Jeroboam, while Abijah harangued his army from his elevated station, caused an ambushment to come about behind them, to surprise the army of Judah in the rear; so they, the main division of Israel's army, were before Judah, and the ambushment was behind them.
v. 14. And when Judah looked back, their attention having been called to the enemy's detachment in their rear, behold, the battle was before and behind. And they cried unto the Lord, and the priests sounded with the trumpets, this being the pledge of victory and intended to reassure the soldiers of Judah.
v. 15. Then the men of Judah, filled with new courage by the well-known signal, gave a shout, their war-cry combining with the sound of the trumpets; and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. It is particularly emphasized that the ranks of Israel were broken due to the interference of Jehovah in behalf of Judah.
v. 16. And the children of Israel fled before Judah; and God delivered them into their hand.
v. 11. And Abijah and his people, inflamed by the usual passions of civil war, slew them with a great slaughter; so there fell down slain of Israel five hundred thousand chosen men.
v. 18. Thus the children of Israel were brought under at that time, defeated and humbled, also weakened by their terrible loss of armed men, and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied upon the Lord God of their fathers, and not on account of their own invincible valor.
v. 19. And Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him: Bethel with the towns thereof, the hamlets surrounding it, and Jeshanah with the towns thereof, and Ephrain with the towns thereof, all border cities which, strictly speaking, belonged to the territory of Judah and Benjamin.
v. 20. Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days of Abijah, he could not recover from the awful blow which had been struck; and the Lord struck him, and he died, not snatching him away by a sudden death, but visiting him with misfortune and heaping one blow after another upon him, so that he outlived Abijah by only two years. 1 Kings 14:20; 1 Kings 15:9.
v. 21. But Abijah, as long as he adhered to the Lord alone, waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives, and begat twenty and two sons and sixteen daughters, this, of course, having taken place before he became king, long before the war with Jeroboam.
v. 22. And the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways, and his sayings, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo, which is mentioned elsewhere also as a source from which the sacred writer drew. We who, by the grace of God, have His pure Word and Sacraments, should heed the warning contained in this history and beware of apostasy.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 13". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany