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The reign of Asa is written much more fully in this and the two following chapters than in the book of Kings. The parallel history in Kings, however, records some things not mentioned by the chronicler. Compare notes on 1 Kings 15:9-24.
1. In his days the land was quiet ten years This was probably the result, largely, of Abijah’s great victory over Jeroboam.
3. Took away… the high places This statement, repeated in 2 Chronicles 14:5, seems to be contradicted in 2 Chronicles 15:17, where it is said “the high places were not taken away out of Israel.” This apparent discrepancy is explicable in several ways. Some think that the high places here referred to were those of the strange gods; a possible explanation, though scarcely satisfactory, since no mention of strange gods occurs in 2 Chronicles 14:5, or 2 Chronicles 15:17. We may suppose that Asa succeeded, at one period of his reign, in abolishing all the high places, but that they subsequently appeared again, and he died without seeing his kingdom entirely rid of them. But perhaps the best explanation is, that Asa made the greatest effort to remove the high places from his kingdom, and was largely successful, but, notwithstanding all his efforts, he failed of complete success. The writer does not say that he took away all the high places. Either of these explanations is more rational than to suppose that the writer contradicted himself in the space of a chapter.
6. Built fenced cities in Judah He probably restored the fortresses which Shishak had taken and dismantled. Compare 2 Chronicles 12:4. The kingdom of Judah had probably been tributary to Egypt since the time of Shishak’s invasion, (2 Chronicles 12:8-9;) but now Asa discerned a favourable time to throw off this foreign yoke, and “while the land was yet before” them, (2 Chronicles 14:7, that is, unoccupied and unguarded by the Egyptians, so that they could move about in it at pleasure,) he improved his opportunity to fortify his kingdom. 2 Chronicles 14:8 shows also that the number of valiant warriors in Judah and Benjamin was now much greater than it was in Abijah’s reign. Comp. 2 Chronicles 13:3.
WAR WITH ZERAH THE ETHIOPIAN, 2 Chronicles 14:9-15.
9. Zerah the Ethiopian belonged, probably, to the same dynasty as Shishak, (see note on 1 Kings 11:40; 1 Kings 14:25,) for the composition of his army of “the Ethiopians and the Lubims,” (2 Chronicles 16:8,) the same nations as composed the army of Shishak, (2 Chronicles 12:3,) proves him to have been an Egyptian, not, as some have thought, an Asiatic or Arabian king. He was known as the Ethiopian, doubtless, because he was such by birth, being, as Rawlinson says, the son-in-law, not the son, of his predecessor on the throne of Egypt. Hence he is most probably to be identified with Usarken II., (written also Osarchon,) the third king of the twenty-second dynasty, and the second after Shishak. His object in invading Judah was doubtless to recover to Egypt the cities which Asa had been fortifying, (2 Chronicles 14:6, note,) for Asa’s procedure had been virtually a rebellion against Egypt.
A thousand thousand An enormous army, but not larger than other Oriental monarchs have been known to bring into the field.
Came unto Mareshah This was one of the cities which Rehoboam had fortified, (2 Chronicles 11:8,) and which Shishak had probably captured. It lay, according to Robinson, (see note on Joshua 15:44,) on a hill a mile and a half south of Eleutheropolis, a spot admirably adapted for a fortress. Here the hill country of Judah borders on the great Philistine plain, and the vast Egyptian army might easily have advanced along the coast, and across the plain as far as Mareshah, without meeting much opposition.
10. The valley of Zephathah Dr. Robinson conjectures that this valley may have been the broad wady that runs northwesterly from Eleutheropolis towards Zell es-Safieh, which latter place may bear a trace of the ancient name Zephathah. But this valley seems to be too far away to be spoken of as at Mareshah. Probably some valley nearer the spot above indicated as Mareshah was the place of the battle.
11. Asa cried unto the Lord The vast hosts of the enemy made Asa feel that his help and hope lay not in numbers. His prayer and his faith made a deep impression on the minds of his people. 1 Chronicles 16:8.
12. The Lord smote the Ethiopians But not without the help of Asa and his Jewish and Benjamite forces. Jehovah inspired his people with faith and their enemies with terror, thus making the former doubly strong and the latter hopelessly weak and fearful.
“Egyptian monuments,” says R. Stuart Poole, “enable us to picture the general disposition of Zerah’s army. The chariots formed the first corps, in a single or double line; behind them, massed in phalanxes, were heavy armed troops; probably on the flanks stood archers and horsemen in lighter formations. Asa, marching down a valley, must have attacked in a heavy column, for none but the most highly disciplined troops can form line from column in the face of an enemy. His spearmen of Judah would compose this column; each bank of the valley would be occupied by the Benjamite archers, like those who came to David, ‘helpers of the war, armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow.’ 2 Chronicles 12:1-2. No doubt the Ethiopian, confident in his numbers, disdained to attack the Hebrews, or clear the heights, but waited in the broad valley or the plain. From the account of Abijah’s defeat of Jeroboam, we may suppose that the priests sounded their trumpets, and the men of Judah descended with a shout. 2 Chronicles 13:14-15. The hills and mountains were the favourite camping places of the Hebrews, who usually rushed down upon their more numerous or better disciplined enemies in the plains and valleys.” SMITH’S Bible Dictionary.
13. Pursued them unto Gerar A distance of twenty miles or more, on the way from Mareshah to Egypt. Gerar was an ancient Philistine town, the abode for a time of Abraham and of Isaac. Genesis 20:1; Genesis 26:1. It is probable that Mr. Williams discovered the site of this ancient city in the ruins el Gerar, some three hours south of Gaza, situated in a wady of the same name; but this identification has not yet been confirmed by more recent exploration. It was a nomadic region, and, lying on the borders of the desert, it would be likely to abound in cattle, sheep, and camels. 2 Chronicles 14:15.
14. They smote all the cities round about Gerar For probably the inhabitants of these cities were in league with Zerah, and had assisted in this war against Judah. With the much spoil of these cities, Asa was enabled to repair the serious losses his kingdom had sustained by the invasion of Shishak. 2 Chronicles 12:9.
“The defeat of the Egyptian army by Asa,” says Poole, “is without a parallel in the history of the Jews. On no other occasion did an Israelite army meet an army of one of the great powers and defeat it. Shishak was unopposed; Sennacherib was not met in the field; Necho was so met, but overthrew Josiah’s army; Nebuchadnezzar, like Shishak, was only delayed by fortifications. The defeat of Zerah thus is a solitary instance, more of the power of faith than of the bravery of the Hebrews a single witness that the God of Israel was still the same who had led his people through the Red Sea, and would give them the same aid if they trusted in him.”
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 14". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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