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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 15

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verses 1-2

ABIJAM’S REIGN, 1 Kings 15:1-9.

2. Three years As Abijam began to reign in the eighteenth and his son in the twentieth year of Jeroboam, (compare 1 Kings 15:1; 1 Kings 15:9,) his reign must have been less than three full years. But it was common with the Hebrews thus to speak of periods of time; as when Jesus is said to have been in the grave three days, though in fact it was but one whole day and part of two others.

Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom She was the favourite wife of Rehoboam, and he took special care to make her son his successor. 2 Chronicles 11:21-22. According to Josephus, she was the daughter of Absalom by Tamar, that is, a granddaughter of Absalom through his daughter Ta-mar, (2 Samuel 14:27,) who probably married Uriel of Gibeah. See 2 Chronicles 13:2.

Verse 3

3. In all the sins of his father The writer of Chronicles makes no mention of Abijah’s sins, though he dwells on other facts of his history in far greater detail than the writer of Kings.

Not perfect See note at 1 Kings 11:4.

Verse 4

4. A lamp in Jerusalem A light sacredly preserved in the person of the successive kings of Jerusalem to attract the gaze of men, and shine out a constant evidence of the promise to David, and a standing prophecy of the coming Messiah, the light of the world. See note on 1 Kings 11:36.

Verse 5

5. Save only in the matter of Uriah This was David’s great, crying offence, which drew down on him the judgments of God, and is ever mentioned to his shame. But he was guilty of other sins as the neglect to properly discipline his sons, the primal cause of Absalom’s and Adonijah’s ruin; his falsehoods before Achish, (1 Samuel 27:10;) and his sin in numbering Israel. 2 Samuel 24:10. But all these are, in comparison with his guilt in adultery with Bathsheba, and in the murder of Uriah, as sins of infirmity and ignorance. “This great, presumptuous sin,” says Bishop Sanderson, “standeth up as a pillar or monument erected to his perpetual shame in that particular, for all succeeding generations to take warning and example by.”

Verse 6

6. War between Rehoboam and Jeroboam This statement, repeated from 1 Kings 14:30, is thought by some to be an interpolation here, others think, instead of Rehoboam we should read Abijam; but in that case the like statement in the next verse would be superfluous. The repetition is only in keeping with other similar repetitions common in Old Testament writers, and in connexion with the next verse is equivalent to saying that the wars and hostility of Rehoboam against Jeroboam were continued by his son Abijam.

Verse 7

7. The rest of the acts of Abijam We have, in 2 Chronicles 13, a detailed account of his successful war with Jeroboam. There, too, we learn that the prophet Iddo chronicled his acts, and his book contained, perhaps, things not recorded in the public annuals.

Verse 10

ASA’S REIGN, 1 Kings 15:9-24.

10. His mother’s name was Maachah She was his father’s mother, (see on 1 Kings 15:2,) and therefore, properly speaking, his grandmother, as the margin rightly explains. The word אם , mother, like בן , son, and בת , daughter, is capable of such indefinite usage. Asa’s grandmother is mentioned here because of her prominent position as queen-mother, (compare 1 Kings 15:13,) and as such she probably exercised the regal functions during the earlier years of his reign, while he was yet too young.

Verse 11

11. Asa did that which was right Literally, Asa did the right. It is a relief amid these records of regal crimes and follies to find at times the record of a righteous sovereign.

Verse 12

12. Sodomites See note on 1 Kings 14:24.

Verse 13

13. Queen “There can be no queen-consort where there is more than one wife; and, in the East, where there is no more than one, she is not a queen, she is simply the zan-i-shah, ‘the king’s wife’ that is all. There is, however, in most cases, some one in the harem who, on one account or another, is recognised as the chief lady. There was one whose claim to be chief lady, or queen, was superior to all others, and that was the MOTHER of the king. The prevalent usage of the East assigns the first rank in every household not to the wife of the master, but to his mother, to whom the wife merely becomes another daughter. And so the rank of ‘the king’s mother’ was the nearest approach to the rank and dignity of a non-regnant queen.” Kitto. A close analogy is supposed to be in the Sultana Walide, in the Ottoman empire.

She had made an idol in a grove Rather, she made a horrible statue to Asherah. On Asherah, see note at 1 Kings 14:15. The word מפלצת , here rendered idol, means something horrible or terrible. Furst, after some of the Rabbins, regards it as the name of a Phallus-statue, erected to the goddess Asherah, and a symbol of the procreative power of nature. Whatever its form and its symbolism, it was an idol set up in honour of a licentious goddess and a foul system of worship, and, therefore, a horrible thing for a mother in Israel to make.

Burnt it As Moses did the golden calf. Exodus 32:20. So this idol of Maachah, like the calf at Sinai, was probably made of wood, and covered over with gold.

Kidron which runs through the deep valley beneath the walls of Jerusalem on the east. See note on 2 Samuel 15:23.

Verse 14

14. But the high places were not removed That is, the high places, like those of 1 Kings 3:2, where Jehovah, and not idols, was worshipped. According to 2 Chronicles 14:3, he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places of the same; but the temple worship had probably fallen into such disrepute during the reigns of Rehoboam and Abijam that large numbers of the people resorted to the practice so common before the temple was built, (see 1 Kings 3:2,) of sacrificing on high places. And this had now become so prevalent a practice that Asa could not effectually stop it.

Nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect That is, he followed the commandments of God with his whole heart, and in that respect was like David, 1 Kings 14:8. The standard of perfection by which we are to measure the perfect ones of the Old Testament history is not the fulness of spiritual light and religious attainment which is set before us in the New Testament, but rather a singleness and earnestness of pious purpose to obey God and maintain the honour of his name.

All his days His earnest purpose to maintain the true worship of God doubtless continued all his days; but he was angry with the prophet, who reproved him for seeking help of the king of Syria rather than of Jehovah, and imprisoned him; and in his disease he sought aid of the physicians instead of the Lord. 2Ch 16:10 ; 2 Chronicles 16:12.

Verse 15

15. The things which his father had dedicated Probably the spoils of gold and silver which he captured in the war with Jeroboam, described 2 Chronicles 13:0.

Things which himself had dedicated Spoils taken in his war with the Ethiopians. See 2 Chronicles 14:9-15. He thus in part repaired the losses which his kingdom had suffered by the invasion of Shishak. 1 Kings 14:26.

Verse 16

16. War between Asa and Baasha… all their days Though there were intervals of rest and comparative peace, like those mentioned 2 Chronicles 14:1; 2 Chronicles 15:19, the feeling of hostility was such that, together with the open conflicts that occasionally took place, it might well be spoken of as continual war. How Baasha came to be king of Israel is related in 1 Kings 15:27-28.

Verse 17

17. Built Ramah That is, he attempted to fortify it so as to make it a fortress for his troops; and since Ramah lay midway between Beth-el and Jerusalem, it was a choice spot to serve his purpose of checking the emigration of Israelites into the kingdom of Judah.

Not suffer any to go out or come in to Asa The conviction that Jerusalem was the proper place to worship drew multitudes there, and Jeroboam and his successors found that the calf-worship at Beth-el and Dan would not command the respect of all his people. Compare 1 Kings 12:27; 2 Chronicles 11:13-17; Tob 1:6 . Baasha thought to check this going up to Jerusalem by force of arms. He would build a stronghold at Ramah and station forces there to oppose all emigration out of his realm.

Verse 18

18. Then Asa took all the silver Alas! that he who so recently dedicated these spoils to the Lord (1 Kings 15:15) should make such use of them as is here described!

Ben-hadad Three kings of this name reigned in Damascus. The name seems to have been a royal title, like the Egyptian Pharaoh.

Son of Tabrimon Of whom nothing more is known.

Hezion He was probably the same as Rezon, the contemporary and adversary of Solomon. 1 Kings 11:23.

Verse 19

19. A league A covenant or treaty of peace, binding the two kingdoms to preserve friendly relations and intercourse. Of this treaty we have elsewhere no account. David had subdued Damascus and put garrisons therein; (2 Samuel 8:5-6;) and the city seems to have been tributary to the throne of David until Rezon established himself there. He was hostile to Israel all the days of Solomon, (1 Kings 11:25;) but it seems from this verse that Asa’s father had made some treaty of peace with the king of Damascus, and that a similar league had been formed between Baasha and Ben-hadad.

A present of silver and gold These presents of gold and silver were probably more effectual in influencing Ben-hadad’s action than any persuasions on the part of Asa’s ambassadors.

Verse 20

20. Ijon “At the base of the mountains of Naphtali, a few miles northwest of the city of Dan, is a fertile and beautiful plain called Merj Ayun, (the Arabic word Ayun, though different in meaning, is radically identical with the Hebrew עיון ,) and near its northern end is a large mound, called Tell Dibbin. The writer visited it some years ago, and found there the traces of a strong and ancient city. This, in all probability, is the site of the long lost Ijon.” J.L. Porter. The spot was visited in 1852 by Robinson, who regarded it as the site of the ancient Ijon, and described it as “a noble site for a city, overlooking, as it does, the whole plain of the Merj, and commanding one of the great roads between the seacoast and the interior. Unmistakable traces likewise show that in very ancient times the place was occupied by a city.”

Dan See on Judges 18:29. Here Jeroboam had erected one of his golden calves. 1 Kings 12:29.

Abel-bethmaachah See on 2 Samuel 20:14.

All Chinneroth This was probably a district lying in the territory of Naphtali, and adjoining the sea of Galilee, which was anciently called the sea of Cinneroth. See at Numbers 34:11; Joshua 12:3. It may have taken its name either from the sea or from some city. See on Joshua 11:2.

Verse 21

21. He left off building of Ramah So Asa’s policy had its desired effect, and Baasha feared to have war on so many sides, and be hemmed in by hostile powers.

Tirzah See note on 1 Kings 14:17. Baasha seems to have thought his wisest policy was at present to accept the situation, and quietly retire to his royal city, and provoke not further the wrath of the neighbouring kingdoms.

Verse 22

22. Asa made a proclamation throughout all Judah Rather, summoned, or called together, all Judah. He called out all the able men of his kingdom to take away the building material which Baasha had collected at Barnah, and with those stones he fortified Geba and Mizpah. On Geba, see 1 Samuel 13:3; and on Mizpah, see 1 Samuel 7:5.

Verse 23

2 3.

Cities which he built See 2 Chronicles 14:6-7.

Diseased in his feet The disease is supposed by most interpreters to have been the gout. 2 Chronicles adds, (2 Chronicles 16:12,) that “in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians.” From the fact that the writer of Chronicles mentions the sins of Asa, which are passed over in silence by the writer of Kings, Wordsworth argues against the assumption of some, that the writer of Chronicles was partial to the house of David, and sought to cover up their faults. Chronicles makes no mention of Solomon’s apostasy, and Kings says nothing of Asa’s sins. Thus one of these sacred historians supplies the omissions of the other, and yet both together do not assume to give an exhaustive history of the subjects they take in hand. Large portions of their narrative are professedly excerpts from the public annals.

Verse 25

NADAB’S REIGN, 1 Kings 15:25-26.

25. Nadab The first and last of Jeroboam’s house that succeeded him on the throne. Here was the end of the first Israelitish dynasty. Nadab’s acts, which were written in the public annals, (1 Kings 15:31,) furnished no lessons worthy of transcription by the sacred writer.

Verse 27

BAASHA’S REIGN, Ki 15:27 to 1 Kings 16:7.

27. Baasha… house of Issachar That is, a descendant of the fifth son of Jacob by Leah, (Genesis 30:18,) whose lot in the tribe-division of the land is described Joshua 19:17-23.

Conspired against him Baasha was probably commander, or chief captain, in Nadab’s army, and wickedly laid his schemes to assassinate the king, and use the army now at his command to establish himself upon the throne.

Gibbethon A city belonging to the territory of Dan. Joshua 19:44. It was assigned, with its suburbs, to “the Levites which remained of the children of Kohath,”

(Joshua 21:23,) but at the time of Nadab it was held by the Philistines, and probably they had always held it. It has not been identified with any modern town.

Laid siege to Gibbethon What led Nadab to turn his forces against this city does not appear. We learn from chapter 1 Kings 16:15 that the siege was continued in the time of Zimri.

Verse 29

29. He smote all the house of Jeroboam Thus signally fulfilling the prophecy of Ahijah. 1 Kings 14:10-14. But this slaughter was not, on the part of Baasha, a design or desire to fulfil the word of the Lord; it was his policy, and the bloody policy of most ancient sovereigns and of all usurpers, to rid themselves of every heir or claimant of the usurped possession.

Verse 32

32. War between Asa and Baasha See note on 1 Kings 15:16.

Verse 33

33. Twenty and four years That is, he reigned twenty-four years.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/1-kings-15.html. 1874-1909.
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