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Asa's League with Damascus
v. 1. In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa, or, more exactly, so many years after the division of the kingdom, in Asa's sixteenth year, Baasha, king of Israel, the successor of Nadab, who followed Jeroboam, came up against Judah and built Ramah, on his southern boundary, about six miles north of Jerusalem, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa, king of Judah, since the prosperity of Judah and the purity of its religious worship were attracting people from the northern kingdom in increasing numbers. Cf 1 Kings 15:16-22.
v. 2. Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the Lord and of the king's house, a part of the immense sums gathered by David and Solomon, and sent to Benhadad, king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying,
v. 3. There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father, for the Syrian kingdoms had apparently ceased to be tributary to the Jews after the division of the kingdom; behold, I have sent thee silver and gold, namely, with the present embassy, which he had taken from the treasuries of Jerusalem; go, break thy league with Baasha, king of Israel, that he may depart from me.
v. 4. And Benhadad hearkened unto King Asa, induced to do so by the greatness of the present sent to him, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel, to divert Baasha from his purpose by an attack on his country; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, two cities on the extreme northern border of Israel, and Abelmaim, or, Abel-beth-maachah, situated on a marshy plain near the sources of Jordan, and all the store cities of Naphtali, probably such cities in which the surplus of grain was stored.
v. 5. And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and therewith his hostile undertaking against Judah, and let his work cease. It was never resumed, for his death occurred shortly afterwards.
v. 6. Then Asa the king took all Judah, he assembled all able-bodied men; and they carried away the stones of Ramah and the timber thereof wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah, he fortified cities on his own border. It was a weakness of Asa to place his trust in the king of Syria. But to this day the danger is great for believers to turn from the Lord in the hour of distress and trouble and to rely upon weak, mortal men.
Asa Reproved by Hanani
v. 7. 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, placing his trust in flesh, and not relied on the Lord, thy God, for whom it would have been an easy matter to find a way of deliverance, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand, he had lost the opportunity of a victory over the combined forces of Israel and Syria.
v. 8. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, 2 Chronicles 14:9; 2 Chronicles 12:3, with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because thou didst rely on the Lord, He delivered them into thine hand. This experience should have strengthened Asa's faith to such an extent that he would not have thought of making use of the political tricks wherewith he had shown a lack of trust in Jehovah. V . 9. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, He is the omniscient and omnipresent God, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him, who cling to Him with undivided loyalty. His mighty help has never yet abandoned His children. Herein thou hast done foolishly, acted like a fool, without proper understanding; therefore from henceforth, as a punishment for this lack of trust, thou shalt have wars. Both Asa and his successors were entangled in the quarrels of the great powers which were neighbors to Judah.
v. 10. Then Asa, adding to his foolishness, was wroth with the seer and put him in a prison-house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. His pride was offended, he resented the frankness of the prophet. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time, he vented his spite also on others of whom he knew or thought that they agreed in the censure of the prophet.
v. 11. And, behold, the acts of Asa, first and last, a full account of his reign, lo, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.
v. 12. And Asa, in the thirty and ninth year of his reign, was diseased in his feet, probably with the gout or a similar sickness, until his disease was exceeding great, literally, "till it reached a great height," either because it slowly spread upward through his body, or because the pain was exceedingly severe; yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians, His transgression did not consist in his consulting good medical skill, but in placing his trust in these men without first and primarily consulting the Lord, since without His blessing the greatest skill of physicians is useless.
v. 13. And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign, having, as it seems, returned to a better state of mind.
v. 14. And they buried him in his own sepulchers, which he had made for himself in the City of David, very likely excavated in the side of a rock, according to the custom then in use, and laid him in the bed, which was filled with sweet odors and divers kinds of spices, very costly embalming compounds, prepared by the apothecaries' art; and they made a very great burning for him, of the sweet-smelling substances mentioned, an honor which was shown especially to such kings as were held in general love and esteem, Jeremiah 34:5. Asa, it seems, returned to the Lord in true repentance before his death, 1 Kings 15:24. God has patience with the weakness of His children and brings them back from their ways of error.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 16". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany