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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Kings 15

Verse 10

1 Kings 15:10. And his mother's name was Maachah According to the margin of our Bibles, mother signifies the same here as grandmother. Houbigant thinks that it should be rendered Anah.

Verse 13

1 Kings 15:13. Maachah his mother—he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove The word which we render idol, is in the original מפלצת mepletzet, the signification of which has been doubted. The Vulgate, however, has in a great measure cleared the matter, by rendering the passage that this queen-mother was the high priestess in the sacrifices of Priapus; and when the LXX, according to the Vatican copy, informs us, that she held an assembly in this grove, and that her son Asa cut down all the close harbours or places of retreat; as the word Συνοδος which we render assembly, may have a more carnal meaning; and the other, καταδυους properly signifies hiding places, or places of retirement for wicked and obscene purposes; we may hence infer, that both the Latin and Greek translators took the idol of Maachah to be some lewd and lascivious deity, which loved to be worshipped in filthy and abominable actions; and that this could be no other than the Roman Priapus, whose worshippers were chiefly women, seems to be implied in the very etymology of the word, which properly signifies terriculamentum, or a device to frighten things away; for this was exactly the office of Priapus in all gardens. Such is the opinion of Mr. Jurieu, in his Hist. des Dogmes et Culte, part. 4: chap. 2 with whom Parkhurst in some measure agrees, though he differs in the derivation. See his Lexicon on פלצ, and Vossius de Orig. et Prog. Idol. lib. 2: cap. 14: and 74:

Verse 14

1 Kings 15:14. But the high places were not removed This seems to be contradicted by 2Ch 14:3 where we are told that Asa took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places; but for the right understanding and reconciling this, we may observe, that there were two kinds of high places, the one tolerated for religious purposes, the other abominable from their first institution. The one frequented by devout worshippers, the other made the receptacle of the wicked and idolatrous only. Asa took away the latter; but those where God alone was worshipped had obtained so long, and were looked upon with so sacred a veneration, that, for fear of giving a general offence, though he knew they were contrary to a divine injunction, he would not venture to abolish them. The truth is, these high places were famous for some miraculous event; had either been places of abode for the ark of the Lord, or such as some prophet or patriarch of old had rendered venerable by his prayers and sacrifices; and therefore they were looked upon as consecrated to the service of God. However, when Hezekiah arose, he had the courage to effect a thorough reformation. See Calmet.

Verse 18

1 Kings 15:18. Then Asa took all the silver and the gold, &c.— In cases of extreme danger, it was always held lawful to employ sacred things in the service of one's country; but there was no such necessity in this case. God had appeared wonderfully in Asa's defence against an enemy much more powerful than Baasha was; nay, he had promised him his protection at all times, and success in all his undertakings, if he would but adhere to his service; and yet, forgetting all this, he strips the temple of its treasure, and bribes a heathen prince to come to his assistance, and break his league to another to whom he stood engaged; so that here were three offences in this one act of Asa. 1. He alienated things consecrated to God without necessity. 2. He did this out of a carnal fear, and a distrust of that God whose power and goodness he had lately experienced; and 3. He did it with an ill intent to hire Benhadad, in breach of his league and covenant with Baasha.

Verse 19

1 Kings 15:19. Behold, I have sent unto thee a present The presenting of gifts is one of the most universal methods of doing honour. The sending presents to princes to engage them to help the distressed, has been practised in the east in late times, as well as in the days of Asa. To us it may appear strange, that a present should be thought capable of inducing one prince to break with another, and engage himself in war; but it was anciently sufficient: so we find in the Gesta Dei per Francos, that an eastern nobleman, who had the custody of a castle called Hasarth, quarrelling with his master, the prince of Aleppo, and finding a want of foreign aid, sent presents to Godfrey of Boulogne to induce him to assist him. What they were, we are not told; but gold and silver, the things which Asa sent Ben-hadad, were frequently sent in those times to the Croisade princes, and might probably be sent on this occasion to Godfrey. Presents were frequently sent to the great, before those who sent them made their appearance. See Observations, p. 246.

Verse 27

1 Kings 15:27. And Baasha, the son of Ahijah See note on 1Ki 15:2 of the next chapter.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Asa succeeded to the throne of Israel in the twentieth year of Jeroboam, and reigned long and successfully over Judah.

1. His piety is recorded to his honour. He copied after the illustrious David in all that was excellent, and was constantly and zealously attached to the worship of God all his days. His heart was right with God, and therefore he laboured to suppress all wickedness, and to reform his deluded subjects. The men of unnatural propensities were removed: either they were put to death, or they fled out of the land for fear. Such abominations a good prince will never suffer among his subjects. The idols which his father made, he destroyed; and because his grandmother Maachah was the great patroness of idolatry, he spared not to put her and her idol to public shame. He burnt it, cast the dust into the brook Kidron, and, degrading her from her dignity, removed her from court, lest her bad example should corrupt it, and that after such an example none might hope to be connived at. He also enriched God's house with the treasures that he had dedicated from the spoil of the Ethiopians; see 2Ch 14:13-14 as well as those which his father had dedicated out of the spoils of Jeroboam, 2 Chronicles 13:21. Note; A good king, who would promote religion among his subjects, must begin with discountenancing all wickedness at court.

2. His faults are faithfully transmitted. The high places, such of them at least as had been resorted to before the temple was built, were left: he feared that it might be dangerous to attempt rooting out what long custom had consecrated. His war with Baasha put him on a sinful project, to cause a diversion in his favour, and recover Ramah. He robbed the treasury of God's house of the dedicated things, and sent them to Ben-hadad, in order to engage him to a wicked violation of his league with Baasha. The contrivance was successful; Ben-hadad consented; and whilst, to oppose his invasion, the king of Israel drew off his forces, Asa by proclamation summoned all his subjects, who went up, and brought away all the stones and timber of Ramah, and utterly demolished the place. But God rebuked him for his sin, 2Ch 16:7-9 and he suffered for it by the continual wars in which he was involved. Note; Though a sinful project may succeed, the success will be embittered.

3. He strengthened his kingdom by new cities which he built; two with materials brought from Ramah, and others besides, 1 Kings 15:23. To him, probably, the more pious Israelites returned, and chose their abode under his rule, rather than dwell in the tents of ungodliness. But his greatness or goodness prevented not the infirmities of old age coming upon him; till death, after a glorious reign of forty-one years, removed him to a better kingdom, whilst his pious son Jehoshaphat, who succeeded him, made his loss in Judah less sensibly felt.

2nd, We are led to turn our eyes from the flourishing state of Judah to the distractions of Israel. Nadab, the heir of his father's crimes, as well as his crown, walked in the established idolatry; and God's patience with the house of Jeroboam being ended, he raised up Baasha to conspire against him. Baasha was, probably, an officer in his army; and whilst Nadab besieged Gibbethon, which the Philistines had seized, he slew him in the camp, and was by the army proclaimed king in his stead. His first care was, to extirpate the family of Jeroboam, with an intention only to secure the kingdom to himself; but was made herein God's instrument to execute the threatened judgment on that ungodly house. But, though he removed his rivals, he took no care to depart from their sins, and so inherited the same curse that he had executed upon them. Note; (1.) God's patience has its bounds: he will say to the sinner, My spirit shall no longer strive. (2.) The path of sin leads down to death and hell.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Kings 15". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.