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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 14

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Introduction

Second Chronicles Chapter 14

2 Chronicles 14:1 "So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years."

The city of David was in Jerusalem. The son of Abijah was Asa. He was a good king, who reigned 41 years in Judah. Asa was strong in his belief of worship of the One True God. He was greatly opposed to idolatry. He even removed his grandmother as queen mother, because she had an idol. The first ten years of his reign was a time of peace.

2 Chronicles 14:2 "And Asa did [that which was] good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God:"

He burned the idols he could find, and worshipped the True God. He restored the worship in the temple in its proper way.

2 Chronicles 14:3 "For he took away the altars of the strange [gods], and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves:"

It seemed, that Asa’s father had allowed the worship of idols along with the worship of Jehovah. The favorite place for this false worship was in the groves and the high places. The strange gods, here, are speaking of false gods that strangers had brought into Judah. He established the temple as the place of worship for Judah.

2 Chronicles 14:4 "And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment."

The keeping of the law, that God had given them, was what made them different from the countries around them. God had given the twelve tribes His law to live by on the way to the promised land. Every time they wandered away from the law, they fell. God’s blessings on them were conditional, on if they kept His law and commandments.

2 Chronicles 14:5 "Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him."

The images could have been anything they could see with their physical eyes. God is a Spirit. If you can see something, or someone, with your physical eyes, it is not God. Whatever these were, they were idols. Asa tore them down.

2 Chronicles 14:6 "And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the LORD had given him rest."

They could turn all of their energies to building, because there was no war. God had poured out His blessing upon them, because they were obeying His law and commandments.

2 Chronicles 14:7 "Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about [them] walls, and towers, gates, and bars, [while] the land [is] yet before us; because we have sought the LORD our God, we have sought [him], and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered."

One of the major reasons the other countries left them alone, was possibly, because they heard what God had done to Jeroboam and his men, when they came against them. True Peace, and rest come only from God. Notice, Asa was aware the peace was here, because they sought the LORD with all their hearts.

2 Chronicles 14:8 "And Asa had an army [of men] that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows, two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these [were] mighty men of valour."

This has jumped to a time after the 10 years of peace. This happened after the cities were finished. Asa had a very large army of 300,000 men of Judah. He, also, had 280,000 of the tribe of Benjamin. These were mighty men, because their strength was in their LORD.

2 Chronicles 14:9 "And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah."

The Ethiopian army was 1,000,000 strong. The Ethiopian, Zerah, was known as a Cushite. Most scholars believe this army included many Egyptians who were mercenaries. The chariots were a trademark of Egyptian armies.

2 Chronicles 14:10 "Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah."

This Zephathah appears to be a long, deep valley near Philistia. Mareshah was a town of Judah near this valley. It is important to note the Ethiopians came against Judah.

2 Chronicles 14:11 "And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, [it is] nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou [art] our God; let not man prevail against thee."

This is a beautiful request of God from Asa. Asa and Judah cannot fail, because they have placed themselves in the hands of God. They knew they were outnumbered, but with God, one and God is a majority. This war was against God as much as it was against Asa and Judah. God would intervene.

2 Chronicles 14:12 "So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled."

The glory for winning this battle was to be given to the LORD. He delivered Asa and Judah, and caused the Ethiopians to run in fear.

2 Chronicles 14:13 "And Asa and the people that [were] with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil."

Asa and his men were the hands that the LORD used to win the battle, but it was the LORD who won the battle for Asa. Gerar is a Philistine city. It was Asa and his men who spoiled the Ethiopians, and took many treasures home with them.

2 Chronicles 14:14 "And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the LORD came upon them: and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them."

It appears, these Philistines had thrown in with these Ethiopians. They all lost together, and Asa spoiled all of the Philistine towns and cities near Gerar. It appears, there was very little resistance from the Ethiopians, or the Philistines. The fear of the LORD had overcome them.

2 Chronicles 14:15 "They smote also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem."

These were the tents of the invading army. This, possibly, had all of their back-up equipment. It was, also, full of animals, possibly, to feed the million men that had come to fight. They would have no more need of these things. Asa, and the men of Judah, took them as spoil of the battle.

2 Chronicles 14 Questions

1. Where was Abijah buried?

2. Who reigned in his stead?

3. What kind of king was Asa?

4. What did he do to his grandmother, that lets us know he was sincere in his belief in God?

5. Quote 2 Chronicles 14:2.

6. Where were the favorite places to worship false gods?

7. What were the strange gods, in 2 Chronicles 14:3, speaking of?

8. What made Judah different from the heathen countries?

9. Who had God given His law to?

10. How was God’s blessings conditional?

11. What can an image be?

12. If you can see something, or someone, with your physical eyes, it is not _______.

13. Why could they turn all of their energies to building?

14. Why had the lands around them left them alone?

15. How many from Judah were in Asa’s army?

16. How many from Benjamin were in Asa’s army?

17. How large was the Ethiopian army?

18. Where did they meet in battle?

19. Quote 2 Chronicles 14:11.

20. Who smote the Ethiopians?

21. How far did Asa pursue them?

22. When they were overthrown, what did Asa do?

23. Where else did Asa spoil?

24. What did he take from the camp of the invading army?

25. Why were there so many animals there?

Verses 1-8

2Ch 14:1-8

2 Chronicles 14:1-8

ASA’S WAR WITH ZERAH THE ETHIOPIAN

ASA (913-873 B.C.)

THE DEATH OF ABIJAH AND THE ACCESSION OF ASA

"So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David; and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years. And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of Jehovah his God: for he took away the foreign altars, and the high places, and brake down the pillars, and hewed down the Asherim, and commanded Judah to seek Jehovah, the God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment. Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the sun-images: and the kingdom was quiet before him. And he built fortified cities in Judah; for the land was quiet, and he had no war in those years, because Jehovah had given him rest. For he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars; the land is yet before us, because we have sought Jehovah our God; we have sought him, and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered. And Asa had an army that bare bucklers and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these were mighty men of war."

"In his days, the land was quiet ten years" (2 Chronicles 14:1). This was most likely due in large part to the tremendous victory that God had given Abijah over Jeroboam. Judah had rest, "Until the invasion of Zerah in 896 B.C.; and this was God’s reward for Asa’s reforms."

The Chronicler gave much more space to Asa than was given in Kings; but this was not due to the Chronicler’s having derived all of this, "from his Midrashic source," a false allegation common enough among critics. Greater and greater respect among competent scholars for Chronicles tends more and more to the acceptance of the absolute historicity of every word in it.

"He took away ... the foreign altars ... the high places ... brake down the pillars ... hewed down the Asherim" (2 Chronicles 14:3). Kings also records other reforms of Asa, but these are supplementary, not contradictory. Some scholars have fallen into the error of supposing that the high places, "In earlier years, had been acceptable secondary places for worshipping Jehovah"; but this cannot possibly be true. God had specifically forbidden all of these pagan things in Deuteronomy 16:21-22, and had sternly demanded their destruction (Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:3).

We reject the ridiculous emendation by which the RSV translated pillars in this passage (2 Chronicles 14:5) as incense altars. They were no such thing. The very height of them would have made them useless as altars of incense; those that Solomon put in the temple were 35 cubits high! "They were probably the symbols of the male element in nature ... they and the sacred trees of the Asherah were associated with sexual practices repugnant to the worshippers of God." P.C. Barker backs up this opinion in the Pulpit Commentary.

While serving as a chaplain in Japan and Korea during the Korean war, this writer saw some of those `pillars’ associated with pagan worship. They were carved wooden models of the human penis six to eight feet in height; and he still has photographs of them. They were carried in a procession by young virgins in an annual parade.

"Three hundred thousand ... two hundred and fourscore thousand" (2 Chronicles 14:8). Payne thought that, "These figures must have included the whole population"; and Ellison rejected the mention of Zerah’s million man army in 2 Chronicles 14:9 with the comment that, "A million probably means no more than an exceedingly large number." Such comments must be rejected, because they are merely scholarly devices for saying, "Of course, this is not true." Regarding the numbers in 2 Chronicles 14:8, Canon F. C. Cook observed that, "They correspond well with the numbers given in 2 Chronicles 13:19. In ten years of peace, the army had grown from 400,000 to 580,000, as should have been expected in a time of peace and prosperity."

And, as regards that million man army mentioned in 2 Chronicles 14:9, below, Cook pointed out that, "This is the largest collected army of which we read in Scripture; but it does not exceed the known numbers of other Oriental armies of ancient times. Darius Codomannus brought into the field of Abela a force of 1,040,000; and Xerxes crossed the Hellespont with more than a million combatants."

Any thoughtful person may see prejudice and bias in the fact than any statement by any pagan writer whomsover, regardless of how preposterous it may be, is received as gospel truth, while a malicious skepticism is pointed at every line of the Sacred Scriptures. The army of Zerah mentioned in the next verse, below, just as certainly had a million men in it as did the army of Zerxes, a fact that is implicit in Asa’s prayer in which he recognized that his own force of only 580,000 was as nothing compared with it.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 14:1. Quiet ten years means there were no war activities in that time. City of David was called Mount Zion also, and was the most prominent part of Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles 14:2. Right in the eyes of the Lord is a more significant expression than is realized many times. Almost anything would be right in the eyes of some men; the real question is, what does the Lord consider to be right.

2 Chronicles 14:3. Strange means "foreign or outside." Strange gods, then, would be gods outside of the authority of the true God. Images is defined in the margin of some Bibles as "statues." They had been erected at the high places (see my comments at 1 Kings 3:2), for which the sacrifices were offered on the altars referred to in the same connection. See comments at 2 Kings 17:16 for explanation of the groves.

2 Chronicles 14:4-5. The reformation of Asa was scriptural and logical in its order. He first had the unlawful practices stopped, then commanded the people to resume that which was lawful. It would not have been of any use to profess the lawful service while continuing the evil kind. The same principle holds good today. If a man expects the Lord to receive his services, he must first cease his evil practices.

2 Chronicles 14:6. Fenced cities were those with walls, built around them for defense.

2 Chronicles 14:7. Build these cities does not mean to start them, but to improve and fortify them. While the land is yet before us, and given us rest, are significant expressions, and are related in one principle, "in time of peace prepare for war." This is an old saying that is wise, and shows the motive that Asa had at the time he proposed his work on the cities. They were then in his possession, and he was not occupied with war. It was an opportune time, therefore, to "strengthen the things that remained." But the inclination for war was so general that Asa was destined not to be at rest always as we shall soon see.

2 Chronicles 14:8. Asa not only prepared for the future by the works he did on his cities, but he formed and maintained a strong military force which is described in this verse. Targets were large shields for defense against the spears and darts of the enemy. The spears were long poles with points of metal at the end, used by casting against the foe. Shields were similar to the targets except that they were smaller. These instruments of aggression and defense were wielded by an army of several thousand men who were strong and brave.

Verses 9-15

2Ch 14:9-15

2 Chronicles 14:9-15

ASA AND JUDAH OVERCOME ZERAH’S MIGHTY FORCE

"And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an army of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and he came unto Mareshah. Then Asa went out to meet him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried unto his God, and said, Jehovah, there is none beside thee to help, between the mighty and him that hath no strength; help us, O Jehovah our God; for we rely on thee, and in thy name are we come against this multitude, O Jehovah, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee. So Jehovah smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and there fell of the Ethiopians so many that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before Jehovah, and before his host; and they carried away very much booty. And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of Jehovah came upon them: and they despoiled all the cities; for there was much spoil in them. They smote also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep in abundance, and camels, and returned to Jerusalem."

"They set the battle in array ... at Mareshah" (2 Chronicles 14:9-10). "This place was in the valley that marks the entrance into the hills, half way between Gaza and Jerusalem. This was one of the cities that Rehoboam had fortified in anticipation of just such an attack."

Some scholars have tried to make it out that this was an invasion of Arabians, but Payne is doubtless correct. He identified Zerah as, "Osorkon I, the second Pharaoh of the Twenty-second Dynasty in Egypt, who attempted to duplicate the invasion and pillage of his predecessor Sheshonk (Shishak)." The truth of this identification is corroborated by the historical truth that, "It was Egypt (not Arabia) that never recovered from this blow for more than three centuries; not until 609 B.C., did Egypt again venture into Palestine with hostile intentions."

Also when Judah defeated the enemy, they fled to Gerar, "A town to the south of Gaza,” which was in the direction of Egypt, not Arabia.

"They smote also the tents of the cattle" (2 Chronicles 14:15). "These were the ten The RSV makes it more understandable, "They smote the tents of those who had cattle."

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 14:9. Chariots were vehicles so constructed as to be useful in battle, although they could be used for purposes of transportation also. They consisted of a single pair of wheels on an axle, upon which was a car with high front and sides, but open at the back. Such an arrangement would serve as a defense against the enemy that was being faced. The opening at the rear would make it convenient when the occupants wished to leave the chariot, either for hasty retreat on foot if the chariot horses were killed, or when it was decided to make a hand-to-hand attack. There were 300 of such vehicles with their equipment, also a host or army of a million soldiers that confronted Asa for battle.

2 Chronicles 14:10. Set the battle in array means they drew up in battle formation.

2 Chronicles 14:11. Nothing with thee to help denotes that great numbers will not count for anything against the Lord. The Ethiopians had brought a large force against the people of God. Asa relied on the strength of his God, and in that faith he offered his prayer "just before the battle." The situation was the same in principle as that in the case of David and Goliath. That was one where physical strength was to be pitted against the large. The present situation with Asa was to put small numbers against the large.

2 Chronicles 14:12. To smite means to strike or hit another, either with the result of immediate destruction, or with lesser effect. In the case at hand the effect of the smiting was to cause the enemy to flee. Before Asa and before Judah are stated in this way because Asa was the king of Judah. The two terms, then, mean the same forces.

2 Chronicles 14:13. God could completely destroy an enemy on the ground. However, he desired man to have a part in the work, so the foe was first smitten sufficiently to make him flee, then the servants of the Lord were to pursue and make their attack Before the Lord and before his host. These phrases are in keeping with the thoughts just expressed. The Lord and his people were to be workers together. We may read of the same principle as taught by Paul. (1 Corinthians 3:9.) The spoil was the loot or valuable personal property taken from the enemy.

2 Chronicles 14:14. Smote all the cities means they smote the people in them. This smiting was severe enough to cause the inhabitants to be afraid of the Lord, and so much that they yielded up their spoil or personal valuables.

2 Chronicles 14:15. To smite the tents of cattle would mean the tents were attacked and the beasts captured. Thus ended successfully this battle of Asa against his enemies.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Chronicles 14". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/2-chronicles-14.html.
 
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