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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
2 Chronicles 13

 

 

Verses 1-14

b. Abijah.—Ch13

2 Chronicles 13:1 In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, Abijah became king over Judah 2 He reigned three years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Michaiah,[FN1] daughter of Uriel of Gibeah.

3And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. And Abijah began the war with an army of valiant warriors, four hundred thousand chosen men: and Jeroboam prepared war against him with eight hundred thousand chosen 4 men, valiant in might. And Abijah arose on Mount Zemaraim, which is in 5 Mount Ephraim, and said, Hear me, Jeroboam and all Israel. Do you not know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David 6 for ever, to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt? And Jeroboam son of Nebat, servant of Solomon son of David, arose and rebelled against his 7 master. And vain men, of no account, gathered unto him, and withstood Rehoboam son of Solomon; and Rehoboam was young and weak of heart, and held not out against them 8 And now ye are saying that ye will hold out against the kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David; and ye are a great multitude, and with you are golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods 9 Have ye not cast out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and made you priests like the nations of the lands? whosoever cometh to fill his hand with a young steer and seven rams is a 10 priest to them that are no gods. And we, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken Him; and the priests that minister to the Lord are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites in their business 11 And they burn unto the Lord burnt-offerings every morning and every evening, and incense of spices, and laying of bread on the pure table, and the candlestick of gold and its lamps to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the Lord our God; but ye 12 have forsaken Him. And behold, with us, at our head, are God and His priests, and the clanging trumpets to sound against you: sons of Israel, fight not against the Lord God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper.

13And Jeroboam led round an ambush to come behind them; and they were 14 before Judah, and the ambush was behind them. And Judah turned, and behold they had the battle before and behind; and they cried unto the Lord, 15and the priests sounded with the trumpets. And the men of Judah shouted; and when the men of Judah shouted, God smote Jeroboam and all Israel 16 before Abijah and Judah. And the sons of Israel fled before Judah; and God gave them into their hand 17 And Abijah and his people smote them with a great slaughter; and there fell slain of Israel five hundred thousand chosen 18 men. And the sons of Israel were humbled at that time; and the sons of Judah prevailed, because they trusted in the Lord God of their fathers 19 And Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him: Bethel and her daughters, and Jeshanah[FN2] and her daughters, and Ephron[FN3] and her 20 daughters. And Jeroboam had no more strength in the days of Abijah; and 21 the Lord smote him, and he died. And Abijah strengthened himself, and took to him fourteen wives, and begat twenty and two sons and sixteen daughters 22 And the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways, and his words, 23are written in the commentary of the prophet Iddo. And 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.

c. Asa. The Prophets Azariah Son of Oded and Hanani.—Ch14–16

α. Asa’s Theocratic Zeal and Care for the Defence of the Kingdom: 2 Chronicles 14:1-7

2 Chronicles 14:1.And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord 2 his God. And he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high 3 places, and brake the pillars, and cut down the Asherim. And commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to do the law and the 4 commandment. And he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the sun-statues: and the kingdom was quiet before him.

5And he built fenced cities in Judah; for the land had rest, and there was 6 no war with him in those days; for the Lord gave him rest. And he said to Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls and towers, gates and bars, and the land is yet before us; because we have sought the Lord our God, and He hath given us rest around: and they built and prospered 7 And Asa had an army, bearing shield and spear, out of Judah three hundred thousand, and out of Benjamin, bearing shield and drawing bow, two hundred and eighty thousand: all these were men of valour.

β. Asa’s Victory over Zerah the Ethiopian: 2 Chronicles 14:8-14

8And Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with a host of a thousand 9 thousand, and three hundred chariots; and he came to Mareshah. And Asa went out against him, and they joined battle in the valley of Zephathah at 10 Mareshah. And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, no one is nigh Thee to help with the mighty or with no might; help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on Thee, and in Thy name we go against this multitude: 11O Lord, Thou art our God; no man may hold out against Thee. And the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians 12 fled. And Asa, and the people that were with him, pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians fell, so that there was no recovery; for they were broken before the Lord, and before His host; and they carried off very great 13 spoil. And they smote all the cities round Gerar; for the terror of the Lord 14 was upon them. And they smote also the tents of cattle, and took sheep in abundance, and camels, and returned to Jerusalem.

γ. The Prophetic Warning of Azariah Son of Oded: 2 Chronicles 15:1-7

2 Chronicles 15:1-2.And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded. And he went forth before Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; the Lord is with you, while ye are with Him; and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you; and if ye forsake Him, He will forsake you 3 And many days will be to Israel without the true God, and without a teaching 4 priest, and without a law. And he shall return in his trouble unto the Lord God of Israel, and seek Him, and He shall be found of him 5 And in those times is no peace for him that goeth out or cometh in, but great vexations 6 on all the inhabitants of the lands. And nation shall be smitten[FN4] by 7 nation, and city by city; for God hath vexed them with all trouble. But be ye brave, and let not your hands be slack; for there is a reward for your labour.

δ. Asa’s Reform of Worship, and Renewal of Covenant with the Lord: 2 Chronicles 15:8-19

8And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded[FN5] the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominations out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from Mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the Lord, that was before the porch of the Lord 9 And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them, out of Ephraim and Prayer of Manasseh, and out of Simeon; for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the Lord his God was with him 10 And they gathered at Jerusalem, in the third month of the fifteenth year of 11 the reign of Asa. And they sacrificed to the Lord in that day, of the spoil they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep 12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their 13 heart, and with all their soul. And whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, small or great, man or woman 14 And they sware unto the Lord with a loud voice, and with clangour, and with trumpets and cornets 15 And all Judah was glad at the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought Him with their whole desire, and He was found of 16 them: and the Lord gave them rest round about. And also Maachah, the mother of Asa the king, he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol for Asherah: and Asa cut down her idol, and crushed it, and burnt it in the brook Kidron 17 But the high places were not taken away out of Israel; but the heart of Asa was perfect all his days 18 And he brought the things which his father and himself had consecrated into the house of God, silver and gold, and vessels 19 And there was no more war unto the thirty-fifth year of the reign of Asa.

ε. The War with Baasha of Israel: 2 Chronicles 16:1-6

2 Chronicles 16:1.In the thirty-sixth year[FN6] of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to let no one come out or go in to 2 Asa king of Judah. And Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the Lord, and of the king’s house, and sent to Benhadad king 3 of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus,[FN7] saying: A league is between me and thee, and between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me 4 And Benhadad hearkened unto King Asa, and sent the captains of his army against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Daniel, and Abelmaim, 5and all the stores of the cities of Naphtali. And when Baasha heard 6 it, he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease. And Asa the king took all Judah, and carried away the stones of Ramah, and its timber, with which Baasha had built, and built therewith Geba and Mizpah.

ζ. Hanani’s Prophetic Warning: Asa’s Transgression and End: 2 Chronicles 16:7-14

7And at that time came Hanani the seer to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and hast not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped from thy hand 8 Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubites a huge host, in chariots and horsemen very many? and when thou didst rely on the Lord, He gave them into thy hand 9 For the eyes of the Lord run throughout all the earth, to prove Himself strong for those whose heart relies wholly on Him: thou 10 hast done foolishly in this; for henceforth thou shalt have wars. And Asa was displeased with the seer, and put him in the prison; for he was in a rage with him because of this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at that time.

11And, behold, the acts of Asa, first and last, behold, they are written in 12 the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. And Asa, in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, was diseased in his feet, until his disease was very great: and in his disease also he sought not the Lord, but to the physicians 13 And Asa slept with his fathers; and he died in the forty-first year of his reign 14 And they buried him in his own tomb, which he had dug for himself in the city of David; and they laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours of divers kinds, compounded by art; and they made a very great burning for him.

EXEGETICAL

The histories of both reigns, that of Abijah and that of Asa, are presented here in a very extended form, when compared with the parallel accounts in 1 Kings 15:1-24; and in particular, there are several discourses of a prophetic nature in the history of Abijah, one addressed by this king himself on Mount Zemaraim to Jeroboam and the army of Israel (ch13:4–12), and in that of Asa, the warnings of the seers Azariah son of Oded and Hanani ( 2 Chronicles 15:2-7; 2 Chronicles 16:7-10), by the insertion of which the Chronist has considerably enlarged his account. But with respect to the history of war and worship, his representation is a far richer gain from the ancient sources than that preserved in 1 Kings15.

I. Abijah: 2 Chronicles 13; comp. 1 Kings 15:1-8.—In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam. This date of the beginning of Abijah’s reign is also given in 1 Kings, and also the three years’ duration of his reign (he Isaiah, moreover, always called אֲבִיָּם; see on 2 Chronicles 11:22).—And his mother’s name was Michaiah, daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. As Abijah’s mother is called Maachah, not merely 2 Chronicles 11:20 ff, but also 1 Kings 15:2, the present name מִיכָיָהוּ must be regarded as a mistake for the original מַ‍ֽעֲכָה. Her father, Uriel of Gibeah, is to be regarded as the husband of Tamer the daughter of Absalom, and herself, therefore, as the grand-daughter of the latter; see on 2 Chronicles 11:20. From the Maachah, further mentioned 2 Chronicles 15:16 (and 1 Kings 15:13), the mother of Asa, whom he removed from the dignity of a gebirah (mistress, Sultana Walide, queen-mother) for her idolatry, she is scarcely to be considered different; rather is her designation there as mother to be supposed = grandmother, and her continued regency under her grandson Asa is to be explained simply from the brief duration of Abijah’s reign, and the probable minority of Asa at his death (comp. Athaliah’s attempt to reign instead of her grandson Joash, 2 Chronicles 22). Against the assumption by Thenius and Bertheau of the diversity of the two Maachahs (of whom the mother of Abijah was the daughter of Absalom, but the mother of Asa in reality the one who is here falsely called “a daughter of Uriel of Gibeah”), see Keil, p261, Rem.

2 Chronicles 13:3 ff. Abijah’s War with Jeroboam.—And Abijah began the war with … 400,000 chosen men. Neither this number nor the double number of the warriors of Jeroboam should be taken strictly, as is abundantly clear from the substantial agreement of both numbers with the results of Joab’s enumeration under David (800,000 men-at-arms of Israel and500,000 of Judah; comp 1 Chronicles21). Less probable is the assumption of an error in transcription, resting on a change of the numeral letters, as the cause of these almost incredibly high numbers (Kennicott, Dissert. Gen. § 27; J. Pye-Smith, The Scripture Testimony to the Messiah, 6th edit. vol1. p29); for to explain the fact in this way, we must assume several such mistakes or corruptions in similar circumstances, which would be very strange. Comp. also on 2 Chronicles17, and Evangelical and Ethical Reflections, No3.

2 Chronicles 13:4. And Abijah arose on Mount Zemaraim, obviously a steep cliff or summit lying between the contending armies, from which the king addressed the foe in like manner as Jotham once addressed the Shechemites from Mount Gerizim, Judges 9:7. That every single warrior of the host of Israel, numbering several hundred thousands, could have heard his words is not said, and need not be assumed. The situation of Mount Zemarami is no longer to be ascertained. It was probably in the neighbourhood of Bethel, near which is a town, Joshua 18:22, named צְמָרַיִם (Zemaraim), the ruins of which may have been found in el Sumra, between Jerusalem and Jericho, near the valley of the Jordan. At all events, the locality should be sought east of Bethel (Robinson, Phys. Geogr. of the Holy Land, p38), and this el Sumra may lie too far in a south-easterly direction.

2 Chronicles 13:5. Do you not know, literally, “Is it not to you, concerns it not you, to know?” comp, for example, 1 Chronicles 13:4.—That the Lord … gave … to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt, by an irrevocable covenant; comp. Leviticus 2:13; Numbers 18:19. בְּרִית מֶלַח belongs to the whole sentence, as accusative of restriction (therefore: “in the manner of a covenant of salt”).

2 Chronicles 13:7. And vain men, of no account, gathered unto him, properly, “sons of worthlessness, children of Belial,” a phrase occurring not elsewhere in Chronicles, but again in 1 Kings 21:10; 1 Kings 21:13. On א׳ רֵקִים, “loose, fickle men,” comp. Judges 9:4; Judges 11:3.—And withstood Rehoboam, “showed themselves strong against him” (הִתְאַמִּיץ עַל); comp. the (הִתְחַזֵּק לִפְנֵי) resistance afterwards shown on the part of Rehoboam to this opposition.—Rehoboam was young and weak of heart, faint-hearted, unstable. The term נַעַר, young, used of Rehoboam when already king, appears not specially to favour the former statement ( 2 Chronicles 12:13) that he was then forty-one years old, and to require the change of this age into twenty-one years. Moreover, Abijah relates in this his speech the events in the revolt of the ten tribes from Rehoboam in a very inexact way (Rehoboam did not show himself “weak of heart” on that occasion, but rather hard and daring of heart, etc.); for he clearly wishes “to justify his father as far as possible, and roll all the blame of the revolt of the ten tribes on Jeroboam and his worthless followers” (Keil).

2 Chronicles 13:8. The kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David, the theocratic kingdom founded by David, and hereditary in his house (comp. 1 Chronicles 29:23 and the like).

2 Chronicles 13:9. Have ye not … made you priests like the nations of the lands, not divinely called, but only humanly chosen, priests, like those of heathendom; comp. 1 Kings 12:31.—Whosoever cometh to fill his hand, that Isaiah, institute and consecrate himself priest of the new worship; comp. Exodus 28:41; Exodus 29:9; Exodus 32:29; see 1 Kings 13:33. The following words: “with a young steer (literally, with a steer the son of the herd, and seven rams,” belong not so much to “fill” as to “cometh” (בּוֹא בְ, as Psalm 40:8). As according to Exodus 29 the offerings to be made on the consecration of a priest consisted of a young steer as a sin-offering, a ram as a burnt-offering, and a ram of consecration, and this presented on seven days in succession (thus in all seven steers and fourteen rams), the offering appears here to be imperfectly stated, not on account of an inaccurate report, but because Abijah might know that in fact there had been a considerable deviation from the strict requirements of the law, in order the more speedily to obtain a new priesthood. Indeed, it was a priesthood of non-gods or ungods (comp. Deuteronomy 32:21) which was so founded.

2 Chronicles 13:10. And the Levites in their business (“in the business,” במלאכת), performing their office in the legal way; comp. 1 Chronicles 23:28 ff.

2 Chronicles 13:11. Burn unto the Lord burntofferings, “fumigate, turn into smoke,” הִקְטִיר, which is then zeugmatically connected with the laying of the shew-bread and the lighting of the lamps, which are also parts of the priestly office. On these various priestly functions, that are then combined as a “keeping of the charge of the Lord” ( Leviticus 8:35), comp. Exodus 29:38 ff; Exodus 25:30 ff; Exodus 27:20 ff.; Leviticus 24:7 ff.

2 Chronicles 13:12. The clanging trumpets to sound are made prominent, because God had expressly designated them in the law as the pledges on account of which He would remember and help His people in war, Numbers 10:9.

2 Chronicles 13:13 ff. Judah’s Victory over the Superior Force of Israel.—To come behind them; comp. Joshua 8:2; Judges 20:29 ff.

2 Chronicles 13:15. And the men of Judah shouted. Keil rightly says: “In וַיִָּריעוּ and בְּהָרִיעַ the loud cry of the warriors and the clanging of the priests with the trumpets are combined, and הָרִיעַ is to be referred neither alone to the war-cry of the combatants assailing the enemy, nor, with Berth. (and Kamph.), to the blowing of the clanging trumpets;” comp. also Judges 7:19 ff. (Gideon in the conflict with the Midianites).

2 Chronicles 13:17. Smote them with a great slaughter; for the phrase, see Numbers 11:33; Joshua 10:30. For the number500,000, which appears inconceivably great as the number of those who fell in the one field at Zemaraim, comp. Evangelical and Ethical Reflections, No3.

2 Chronicles 13:18. The sons of Israel were humbled (comp. נבנע in 2 Chronicles 12:6 f.), or “weakened” by their enormous loss (comp. Judges 3:30; Judges 8:28; 1 Samuel 7:13).

2 Chronicles 13:19. Bethel and her daughters, her daughter towns; comp. Nehemiah 11:25. Besides this border city of south Israel, well known from Genesis 12:8; Genesis 28:19; Genesis 35:15, Joshua 7:12, etc. (the present Beitin), are named the otherwise unknown Jeshanah (or Jesyna; comp. Crit. Note), and an Ephron, as cities taken by Abijah from the conquered. The last has scarcely anything but the name common with Mount Ephron on the south border of Benjamin ( Joshua 15:9), but should probably be identified with Ophrah near Bethel ( Judges 6:11), or the town Ephraim situated there, mentioned Joshua 11:54 (comp. Josephus, B. J. iv99), especially if we are to read עֶפְרַיִן, with the Masorah; see Crit. Note.

2 Chronicles 13:20. And Jeroboam had no more strength; עצַר כֹּחַ, as 2 Chronicles 20:37; 1 Chronicles 29:14.—And the Lord smote him, and he died, not “snatched him away by a sudden death” (of which nothing is known from 1 Kings), but “smote him, visited him with misfortune (comp. נגף in 2 Chronicles 13:15 and 2 Chronicles 21:18) till his death,” referring probably to that which is related in 1 Kings 14:1-18.

2 Chronicles 13:21 ff. Family History of Abijah; his End.—And Abijah strengthened himself (התחזק, as 2 Chronicles 12:13), and took to him fourteen wives. Comp. the Evangelical and Ethical Reflections in the previous section, No3. Abijah must have had most of these fourteen wives before he ascended the throne, or at least before his war with Jeroboam. That he took them after the war follows only apparently from the position in the narrative, which has no chronologic import.

2 Chronicles 13:22. Are written in the commentary of the prophet Iddo. Comp. on this source of our author, Introd. § 5, II. p17.

2 Chronicles 13:23. And Asa . . . in his days the land was quiet ten years, in consequence of the great victory of his father over Jeroboam, and the weakening of the northern kingdom thereby occasioned; comp. 2 Chronicles 14:4-5; 2 Chronicles 15:19.

II. Asa: 1. His Theocratic Zeal and Care for the Defence of the Kingdom: 2 Chronicles 14:1-7; comp. 1 Kings 15:9-12; 1 Kings 15:14-15.—And Asa did that which was good and right; comp. 2 Chronicles 31:20.

2 Chronicles 14:2. Took away the altars of the strange gods, consecrated to strange gods, of the idolatrous foreign countries; comp. Genesis 35:2; Genesis 35:4. That only these, and not also “high places,” or illegal places of sacrifice consecrated to Jehovah, were removed by him, is clear from 2 Chronicles 15:17.—And brake the pillars, the memorial stones erected to Baal (מַצֵּבוֹת); comp. Exodus 34:13; Judges 3:7; 2 Kings 3:2. Likewise the “Asherim,” wooden posts and holy frees consecrated to Astarte; comp. 1 Kings 14:23, and Bähr on the passage.—On 2 Chronicles 14:3, comp. 2 Chronicles 15:12.

2 Chronicles 14:4. And he took away . . . the high places and the sun-statues; חַמָּנִים, the statues before the altars of Baal, consecrated to him as the sun-god; comp. 2 Chronicles 34:4; Leviticus 26:30; Movers, Die Phönizier, i 343 ff.—And the kingdom was quiet before him, that Isaiah, under him, under his eye (לְפָנָיו); comp. Numbers 8:22; Psalm 72:5; Proverbs 4:3.

2 Chronicles 14:5. Built fenced cities in Judah . . . in those days, during this quiet of ten years. Comp. Rehoboam’s fortifications, 2 Chronicles 11:5 ff.

2 Chronicles 14:6. Let us build these cities. What cities? It is not said; but certainly Geba and Mizpah, which were built after the war with Baasha ( 2 Chronicles 16:6). Asa assigns as the motive for these buildings: “the land is yet before us,” free, open to us, unoccupied by the foe; comp. Genesis 13:9.—And they built and prospered. Vulg. very free, yet in substance correct; nullumque in exstruendo impedimentum fuit.

2 Chronicles 14:7. Bearing shield and spear. The great or long shield (צִנָּה) is here meant, in opposition to the short or round shield (מָגֵן) then mentioned; the same difference as in 2 Chronicles 9:15-16. That the Jews had exclusively only long shields and spears, and the Benjamites only short shields and bows, as armour, need not be assumed; the representation is only relative, summary, and not to be pressed, as also the numbers (300,000 of the Jews and280,000 of the Benjamites) are obviously only round. They are, moreover, so far as the whole population fit to bear arms is concerned, by no means incredible. With respect to the comparatively high number of280,000 Benjamites, we are to consider not only their lighter armour (which might be borne by younger and weaker men), but also that Benjamin was an eminently warlike tribe, “a ravening wolf” according to Jacob’s prophetic word, Genesis 49:27, that must have taken the field with all possible force. Comp. also on 1 Chronicles 7:6-11, and the Evangelical and Ethical Reflections, No3.

2. Asa’s Victory over Zerah the Ethiopian: 2 Chronicles 14:8-14, a section wanting in Kings.—And Zerah the Ethiopian came out against him. This Zerah (Sept. Ζαρέ; Vulg. Zara) counts with most recent expositors, on account of the similarity of name, as the same with the Egyptian King Osorchon I, successor of Shishak-Sesonchis, and so the second king of the twenty-second or Bubastite Dynasty (comp. Unger, Manetho, p233; Thenius on 1 Kings 15:23); whereas Hitzig rather identifies him with the Sabakos of Herodotus (Gesch. des V. Isr. p165 f.; comp. Herod, II:137 ff, 152), but Brugsch takes him for an Ethiopian, not Egyptian, ruler, who, under the reign of Takeloth I. (about944 b.c.), invaded the southwest of Asia and Egypt as a conqueror. The last assumption certainly agrees best, as well with the Biblical chronology as with the designation of Zerah as a Kushite.—With a host of 1,000,000. On this number, as scarcely to be pressed, but rather depending on a rough and ideal estimate, see the Evangelical and Ethical Reflections, No3.—And he came to Mareshah, mentioned in 2 Chronicles 11:9, between Hebron and Ashdod.

2 Chronicles 14:9. And Asa went out against him, literally, “before him”; comp15:2; 1 Chronicles 19:14; 1 Chronicles 14:8.—In the valley of Zephathah, scarcely = Tell es Safieh (Robinson, Pal. ii625), but a place nearer Mareshah, perhaps that described by Robinson, II:613.

2 Chronicles 14:10. Lord, no one is nigh Thee to help, no one is able like Thee (literally, “with Thee”; comp. 2 Chronicles 20:6; Psalm 73:25) to help.—With the mighty, or with no might, “between the mighty and the impotent” (בֵּין with לְ following, as Genesis 1:13, etc.); the help of God is conceived as imparted either to the mighty or the weak, and therefore as between both. Some conceive the passage otherwise; Vulg, Ramb, S. Schmidt, etc.: Domine, non est apud te ulla distantia utrum in paucis auxilieris an in pluribus; Berth, Keil, etc.: “No other than Thou can help in an unequal combat, that Isaiah, help the weaker part;” Kamph. (writing conjecturally לָעְצֹר for לַעְזֹר): “It is impossible that anything could prevail (עָצַר כֹּחַ, as 2 Chronicles 13:20, etc.), whether the mighty or the weak.” Substantially correct, though inexact, Luther: “It is no difference with Thee to help among many, or where there is no power.”—In Thy name we go against this multitude, trusting to Thy help.—No man may hold out against Thee. For the omission of כֹּחַ with עצר, comp. 2 Chronicles 20:37 ( 1 Chronicles 29:14; 2 Chronicles 13:25). On the sentence, comp. (partly at least) Psalm 9:20 a.

2 Chronicles 14:12. And Asa . . . pursued them unto Gerar, the old Philistine city, now Khirbet el Gerar, three and a half hours south-east of Gaza.—And the Ethiopians fell, so that there was no recovery, not “so that there was none left living” (Berth, Kamph, etc), but so that they could not rally, ut eis vivificatio, i. e. copias restaurandi ratio non esset (J. H. Mich, Keil, etc.). לְאֵין stands for אֵין of the older style, in the sense of “so that not” (comp. Ew. § 315, c). מִחְיָה, preservation of life, revival, as Genesis 45:5; Ezra 9:8-9.—For they were broken (נִשְׁבַּר, as Ezekiel 30:8) before the Lord, and before His host; Asa’s army is here so called as the instrument of the divine justice against the haughty foe. To think of a host of angels that had contended invisibly on the side of the Jews (Starke and other older writers, with allusion to Genesis 32:2 f.) is without any warrant, as the term מַ‍ֽחֲנֶה, especially in the singular, stands for a single earthly army.

2 Chronicles 14:13. And they smote all the cities around Gerar, probably because, like the Philistines generally, they had made common cause with the Cushites, and joined them against the Jews.—For the terror of the Lord, a terror occasioned by the Lord, and therefore the more powerful; comp17:10, 20:29; 1 Samuel 11:7.

2 Chronicles 14:14. And they smote also the tents of cattle, the herds of the nomad tribes in the neighbourhood of Gerar (in the northern regions of the wilderness of Shur and Paran, the old country of the Amalekites).

3. Prophetic Warning of Azariah Son of Oded to Asa returning Home: 2 Chronicles 15:1-7 (likewise peculiar to Chronicles).—Upon Azariah son of Oded. The names of both father and son occur only here: the identification of Oded with Iddo ( 2 Chronicles 9:29; 2 Chronicles 12:15) is an idle fancy of some ancients.

2 Chronicles 15:2. Before Asa, to meet him; comp. on 2 Chronicles 14:9.—The Lord is with you, while you are with Him. Comp. James 4:8; and with respect to the following sentence, 1 Chronicles 28:9; 2 Chronicles 12:5; 2 Chronicles 24:20; Jeremiah 29:13.

2 Chronicles 15:3. And many days will be to Israel without the true God. The Sept. and Vulg, Luther, Clericus, and most moderns rightly refer these words to the future, and thus conceive them to be a prediction of that which was to happen with respect to the relation of God’s people to the Lord,—a prediction of like import with Hosea 3:4-5. For this view speaks, on the one hand, the generality of the term “Israel,” which appears to be used here in the same ideal sense as in 2 Chronicles 11:3; 2 Chronicles 12:1, and, on the other hand, the absence of any more precise date in וְיָמִים רַבִּים, by which that which is said is characterized as a general truth holding for all times; but the reference to any definite earlier time, with which, besides, the closing monition in 2 Chronicles 15:7 would ill agree, is absolutely excluded. Neither the time of the Judges, with its illegal conditions and its closing reformation by Samuel, is described by the prophet (against Vitr. and Ramb.), nor the last decennium of the southern kingdom before the reforms of Asa (as the Syr, Arab, Raschi, Berth, think), nor, finally, the circumstances of the northern kingdom since Jeroboam (Targ, Tremell, Grotius, etc.). The last opinion is certainly the most arbitrary of all; for what occasion had the prophet to greet the king of the southern kingdom, returning as a conqueror after deliverance from a great danger, with a reflection on the errors and calamities of the northern kingdom? But if we refer the words as a prophecy to the future, no unsuitable limitation must be introduced (as, for example, to the Babylonish exile, of which Kimchi, Mariana, S. Schmidt, have thought). It is the whole future of the people of God, of which the prophet asserts the law: “If ye turn away from God, He will turn away from you.” Comp. besides, Evangelical and Ethical Reflections, No1. On the “true God,” properly, “God of truth,” אֱלֹהֵי אֱמֶת, comp. Jeremiah 10:10 and Isaiah 65:16 (אֱל׳ אָמֵן). לְלֹא אל׳ א׳, properly, “to not a god of truth”; לְלֹא, not essentially different from לְאֵין, 1 Chronicles 22:4, 2 Chronicles 20:35, is distinguished from בְּלֹא only as לְ is distinguished from בְּ: the latter expresses the being in a state, the former the falling into it (Keil).—Without a teaching priest, without priests to perform the function of teaching ( Leviticus 10:10; Deuteronomy 33:10); the special reference to the high priest (Vitr. and others) has no ground in the context. To the defect in teaching priests corresponds the defect in a law; for where there is no מוֹרֶה, there is no תּוֹרָה!

2 Chronicles 15:5 f. The prophetic address returns after a passing brief promise of salvation ( 2 Chronicles 15:4 b) to the description of the lamentable effects of the future apostasy from God.—N peace for him that goeth out or cometh in, thus no free, peaceful intercourse; on “going out and in,” comp. 2 Chronicles 16:1; Zechariah 8:10; Joshua 6:1; on the following “great vexations” (מְהוּמוֹת), Deuteronomy 28:20; Amos 3:9. “All the inhabitants of the lands” are all the inhabitants of the provinces of Israel (or Judah); see 2 Chronicles 34:33. The view of the speaker here scarcely extends over the whole inhabited globe (Kamph.), although in the following verse he transcends the boundaries of Judah, and depicts its attraction into the confusion and conflict of the neighbouring nations.—And nation shall be smitten by nation. Kamphausen’s rendering: “they are pushed nation on nation,” is too farfetched, and by no means required by the meaning of כתת. The Jews had a striking fulfilment of this gloomy foreboding of a bellum omnium contra omnes in the times of Nebuchadnezzar; a second in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, with respect to which Christ also makes use of similar prophetic expressions, Luke 21:10; Luke 21:26, and the parallels.—For God hath vexed them with all trouble; comp. Judges 4:15; Zechariah 14:13.

2 Chronicles 15:7. But be ye brave, and let not pour hands be slack; comp. Zephaniah 3:16; Nehemiah 6:9; and “the hands becoming slack” as a figure of sinking courage, 2 Samuel 4:1; Isaiah 35:3; Hebrews 12:11. On the closing promise of reward, comp. Jeremiah 31:16; 1 Corinthians 3:8; 1 Corinthians 15:58.

4. Asa’s Reform of Worship and Renewal of Covenant with the Lord: 2 Chronicles 15:8-19.—And when Asa heard . . . this prophecy of Oded the prophet. The Hebrew text has not וְהַנְּבוּאַת, but וְהַנְּבוּאָה. This circumstance points to a corruption of the passage, as well as the absence of עֲזַרְיָהוּ בֶּן before עֹדֵד, which was to be expected according to 2 Chronicles 15:1. As the readings of the Sept. and Vulg. (see Crit. Note) may be only later attempts at emendation, and as the assumption of a double name of Prayer of Azariah, according to which he was at times called by the name of his father (Starke and other ancients), is certainly as questionable as the transposition of the corresponding names in 2 Chronicles 15:1 into “Oded son of Azariah” (Mov.), it appears most advisable to remove the words עֹדֵד הַנָּבִיא) from the text as an old gloss (Berth.), or (with Keil) to assume the omission of several words after וְהַנְּבוּאָה (say עֲזַרְיָהוּ בֶּן אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר).—He took courage (הִתְחַזַּק), according to Azariah’s exhortation: “be ye brave,” חִזְקוּ.—Put away the abominations, properly, “make to pass over (הֶ‍ֽעֱבִיר, as 1 Kings 15:12) the abominations,” the idols; comp. 2 Kings 23:13; 2 Kings 23:24; Ezekiel 30:7-8; Daniel 9:27.—Which he had taken from Mount Ephraim, לכד, as 2 Chronicles 13:19; 2 Chronicles 17:2. According to the former of these passages, it appears that these were the cities that Abijah, Asa’s father, had taken. In fact this assumption is necessary, because no war of Asa with the northern kingdom had taken place at this time. A co-operation of Asa as lieutenant or joint-commander with his father in that war seems a questionable assumption, on account of his then very great youth (perhaps his minority; comp. on 2 Chronicles 13:1).—And renewed the altar of the Lord, that was before the porch of the Lord, the altar of burnt-offering, that might have been in need of repair sixty years after its erection by Solomon ( 2 Chronicles 8:12). Yet חִדֵּשׁ, renovare (comp. 2 Chronicles 24:4), might possibly also be taken in the sense of “consecrate again,” after the previous defilement by idolatry (Vulg.: dedicavit; Berth, Kamph, etc.).

2 Chronicles 15:9 ff. The Great Festival on the Renewal of the Theocratic Covenant.—And the strangers with them, out of Ephraim. That by these strangers are meant not merely the theocratically- disposed immigrants into Judah under Rehoboam (11:16), but also a newer addition to them that had come under Asa himself, is expressly asserted in the following words (comp30:11, 18). The mention of Simeon with Ephraim and Prayer of Manasseh, and therefore as a district belonging to the northern kingdom, is scarcely to be explained by a migration of many Simeonites to North Palestine (Berth, Kamph.), but rather by th fact that the tribe of Simeon, though in a geographical situation it belonged to the kingdom of Judah, yet in the point of idolatry had made common cause with the northern kingdom by the erection of that impure worship of Jehovah at Beersheba, of which Amos 4:4; Amos 5:5; Amos 8:14 speaks along with Bethel and Gilgal (correctly Keil, Net, etc.).

2 Chronicles 15:10. In the third month of the fifteenth, year of the reign of Asa, in the spring of the year940 b.c.; comp. Hitzig, Gesch. p197.

2 Chronicles 15:11. And they sacrificed . . . of the spoil they had brought, in the war with the Ethiopians and their allies; for this war, though it broke out in the eleventh year of Asa (2Chronicles 13:23; 14:8), might have extended even to the present date, and therefore lasted for four years; the statement in 2 Chronicles 14:8-14 admits of this very well.

2 Chronicles 15:12. They entered into a covenant, a new covenant of peace with God; comp. בַבְּרִית בּוֹא, Jeremiah 34:10; Nehemiah 10:30.

2 Chronicles 15:13. And whosoever . . . should be put to death, according to the strict letter of the law, Deuteronomy 17:2-6; comp. 2 Chronicles 13:10; 2 Chronicles 13:17. Observe the present trace of a far higher age of the book of Deuteronomy than the time of Josiah, where modern criticism places its origin. Comp. Schröder, Deuteron. Einl. pp25, 32; Kleinert, Das Deuteron. und der Deutoronomiker, 1872, especially p136 ff.

2 Chronicles 15:14. And they sware unto the Lord with a loud voice. On the musical instruments accompanying this act of the solemn renewal of the covenant, comp23:13; Nehemiah 12:27 ff.

2 Chronicles 15:16-18. Comp. Bähr on the almost literally coinciding parallel 1 Kings 15:13-15.—And also Maachah, the mother of Asa the king, he removed. In 1 Kings stands simply אִמּוֹ, “his mother,” because there Maachah had been mentioned just before ( 2 Chronicles 15:10). For the rest, comp. on 2 Chronicles 13:1.—And Asa cut down her idol, and crushed it, and burnt it. The “crushing” (comp. Exodus 32:20; 2 Kings 23:15) is mentioned only by the Chronist; in 1 Kings וַיָּדֶק is wanting.

2 Chronicles 15:17. Out of Israel is wanting in 1 Kings. It naturally means the southern kingdom as the legitimate and normal people of Israel; comp. 2 Chronicles 15:3.—But the heart of Asa was perfect, entirely devoted to the Lord. The עִם יְהוָֹה expressly added 1 Kings is here omitted, because the שָׁלֵם, as predicate to לֵב, is plain enough of itself (comp. 2 Chronicles 16:9; 2 Chronicles 19:9); that Isaiah, Asa’s exclusive interest in the worship of Jehovah at Jerusalem, not in that (still tolerated) worship on the high places, is distinctly enough expressed.

2 Chronicles 15:19, introducing the following account of the war.—And there was no more war unto the thirty-fifth year of the reign of Asa. The contradiction to 1 Kings 15:16 : “And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days,” is in so far only apparent, as מִלְחָמָה there denotes only a state of hostility, here a formal war actually carried on in open field. It is not so easy to explain the difficulty involved in the date: “unto the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign;” see on16:1.

5. Asa’s War with Baasha: 2 Chronicles 16:1-6; comp. 1 Kings 15:17-23.—In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa. As, according to 1 Kings 16:8; 1 Kings 16:10, Baasha died in the twenty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, and his successor Elah was killed before two years more had elapsed, and therefore in the twenty-seventh or twenty-eighth year of this king, the misplacing of the war between Asa and Baasha in the thirty-sixth year of the latter involves an error, and a very old one, already noted by the Sept, and provided with an attempt at emendation (see Crit. Note). A mistake of the pen, that, as 2 Chronicles 10:19 shows, existed perhaps in the sources of the Chronist, is probably the ground of this error; and36 appears to have been miswritten for16 (and in accordance with this, in 2 Chronicles 15:19, 35 for15). From the similarity of the numeral ל (30) to י (1o) in the old Hebrew character, this change was very possible; and the circumstance that Asa’s reform of worship, 2 Chronicles 15:10, took place in the third month of his fifteenth year, agrees on the whole very well with this determination of time; there results an interval of a year or a year and a half between the reform and the new war. The solution preferred by most of the old expositors, that the thirty-sixth year of the kingdom of Asa, that Isaiah, the thirty-sixth year from the founding of the kingdom of Judah by Rehoboam, which coincides with the sixteenth year of the reign of Asa, is meant (des Vignoles, Ramb, Starke, Mich, and Hengstenberg, Gesch. des Reiches Gottes, iii169), is not consistent with the word לְמַלְכוּת, which in this connection always signifies “reign, sovereignty.” The attempts made by Movers (Chron. p255 ff.) and Thenius (on 1 Kings15) to explain this surprising mistake are too artificial, and arbitrary (see, on the contrary side, Berth. p325). On the following particulars, coinciding almost word for word with 1 Kings 15:17 ff, comp. Bähr’s exposition.

2 Chronicles 16:2. And sent to Benhadad. Instead of the form בֶּן־הֲדַד, presented here and generally in the Old Testament, the Assyrian monuments constantly exhibit this name in the form Binhidri (Schrader, Die Keilinschriften, p101 f.), thus agreeing with, the υἱὸς τοῦ ’́Αδερ of the Sept. ( = בֶּן־הֲדַר).

2 Chronicles 16:4. And they smote Abel-maim = Abel-beth-maachah of the parallel text in 1 Kings, as is clear from 2 Samuel 20:14.—And all the stores of the cities of Naphtali. For this 1 Kings has: “And all Cinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali.” That the one of the two readings has arisen from the other by misunderstanding or miswriting seems certain; perhaps the כִּנְּרוֹת in 1 Kings is corrupted from מִסְכְּנוֹת (Gesen-Dietrich im Lex.), though our עָרֵי נ׳ וְאֶת כַּל־מִסְכְּנוֹת might possibly also be an explanation of the וְאֶת כָּל־כִּנְּרוֹת עַל אֶרֶץ נ׳, 1 Kings 15, whereby the Chronist might have characterized the high fertility of the district of Cinneroth (or Cinnereth, Joshua 19:35) by the symbolic expression: “stores (corn-magazines) of the cities of Naphtali” (so Keil).

2 Chronicles 16:5. And let his work cease. Instead of this, 1 Kings 15:21 : “and dwelt in Tirzah.” In our וַיַּשְׁבֵּת אֶת־מְלַאכְתּוֹ, scarcely anything else is tο be seen but an attempt at interpretation, where the words וַיֵּשֶׁב בְּתִרְצָה had become illegible (Berth, Kamph.); for after the words: “he left off building of Ramah,” a second repetition of the thought, that Baasha gave up his undertaking against Judah, was obviously superfluous (against Keil).

2 Chronicles 16:6. And built therewith Geba and Mizpah, the former (Geba of Benjamin in 1 Kings) half an hour north-east, the latter an hour south-west, of Jerusalem. The historical character of this notice is confirmed by Jeremiah 41:9, where a pit made by Asa in Mizpah is mentioned.

6. Hanani’s Prophetic Warning: Asa’s Transgression and End: 2 Chronicles 16:7-14.—And at that time came Hanani. This prophet (חֲנָנִי) is otherwise unknown, though he appears to be identical with the father of the prophet Jehu ben Hanani, who about this time announced to Baasha the downfall of his house ( 1 Kings 16:1); comp19:2. That this Hanani was the author of the prophetic sentence (שֵׁמַע) quoted by Hosea 7:12, whereby Israel is warned against a league with foreign powers, or more definitely, that the present oracle of Hanani, without naming its author, is quoted in this passage of Hosea, is the quite untenable conjecture of some moderns, for example, Fürst (Gesch. der bibl. Lit. ii206, 293).—Therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped from thy hand, the occasion has escaped thee of smiting both at once, Baasha of Israel and his presumptive ally the Syrian king. Comp. the rebuke by Elisha of Joash of Israel, for smiting only three times with the arrows instead of five or six times ( 2 Kings 13:15 ff.).

2 Chronicles 16:8. Confirmatory reference to the victory of Asa over Zerah (14:8 ff.). For the Lubites, comp. on13:3f.

2 Chronicles 16:9. For the eyes of the Lord, etc, literally, for Jehovah, His eyes. On “to prove himself strong for any one,” that Isaiah, help him mightily, comp. 1 Chronicles 11:10. On “running” about, שׁוֹטֵט בְּ, comp. Jeremiah 5:1; Zechariah 4:10. Before עִס־לְבָבָם שָׁלֵם אֵלָיו the relative אֲשֶׁר is omitted; comp. 1 Chronicles 15:12.—For henceforth thou shall have wars, entanglements in unhappy worldly transactions, in the dangerous mazes of the policy of the great powers; a prediction of misfortune that was abundantly fulfilled, if not in Asa himself, yet in his successors until the exile.

2 Chronicles 16:10. Put him in the prison, properly, “house of the stocks”; מַהְפֶּכֶת “turning round,” is the well-known instrument of torture for locking round the culprit, in which Jeremiah also and Paul were forced to languish ( Jeremiah 20:2; Jeremiah 29:26; Acts 16:24). Comp. the equivalent סַד, Job 13:27; Job 33:11.—And Asa oppressed some of the people at that time, from anger at the deserved censure of the prophet (on the suitableness and importance of this address, see the Evangelical and Ethical Reflections). רָצַץ, properly, “shatter,” in Pi.: “oppress, misuse,” as Job 20:19.

2 Chronicles 16:11-14. Asa’s End. On 2 Chronicles 16:11, comp. Introd. § 5, II.

2 Chronicles 16:12. And Asa . . . was diseased in his feet, probably with gout; the following also: “his disease was very great” (literally, till it reached a great height, עַד לְמַעְלָה), Points to severe suffering of this kind.—And in his disease also he sought not the Lord, but to the physicians.דָּרַשׁ, first with the accusative of the object את־יהוה, as is usual elsewhere, then with בְּ, by which preposition is elsewhere designated, inquiring or seeking help from God or from idols ( 1 Chronicles 10:14; 1 Samuel 28:7; 2 Kings 1:2 ff.); thus here expressing a superstitious trust in the physicians, and accordingly not opposed to the right of making use of medical aid, especially in cases of sickness; so far from this, that inversely the not seeking of the Lord may be regarded as a not seeking of his priests who were in Israel, analogous to the Egyptian priests, the legitimate physicians (as is done by K. Ad. Menzel in his posthumous work, Religion und Stadtsidee, 1872, p29).

2 Chronicles 16:14. Asa’s solemn burial is related by the Chronist with surprising detail, probably on account of the heathenish pomp and luxury which it displayed, reminding us of the manner of the Egyptian Pharaohs.—And they buried him in his own tomb, literally, “in his own sepulchres;” comp. 2 Kings 22:20; Job 21:32. This preparation of a burial-place or mausoleum, different from the common tombs of the kings, reminds us of the customs of the Egyptian kings, or at all events (comp. our Remark on Job 3:14) indicates a haughty inclination to self-apotheosis incompatible with a genuine theocratic disposition; comp. Isaiah 22:16 ff.—Laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours of divers kinds. On זְנִים, “kinds,” comp. Psalm 165:13, Daniel 3:5; the term may well serve to describe more precisely the foregoing בְּשָׂמִים, “spices” ( Song of Solomon 4:10 ff.).—Compounded by art, properly, “compounded by compounding of work,” by the work of the artificer; comp. Exodus 30:25; Exodus 30:35, and 1 Chronicles 9:30. מַֽעֲשֶׂה is in this connection מַֽעֲשֵׂה רוֹקֵחַ; the assumption that the latter word is omitted is unnecessary.—And they made a very great burning for him, namely, of the sweet-smelling substances of the kind mentioned. Such burnings of incense were always made at the burial of the kings of Judah, as appears from Jeremiah 34:5. But what the Chronist notices as culpable is the exaggerated splendour and lavish excess with which the custom was observed in the burial of Asa, as if it were the burial of a Pharaoh of Egypt (comp. Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, etc, ii385 f.; Uhlemann, Egypt. Alterthumsk. ii325). Against the assumption of some, as Michaelis (De combustione et humatione mortuorum apud Hebrœos, in his Syntagma dissertatt. i225 sqq.), that the body of the king was burned among the spices, see Geier, De luctu Hebrœor. c. vi, who rightly maintains that such cases as the burning of Saul and his sons were exceptions to the general custom of Hebrew antiquity.

Evangelical and Ethical Reflections and Apologetic Remarks on 2 Chronicles13-16

1. To much that is original, and in a theological sense important, in the comparatively full account given by our author of the reigns of Abijah and Asa, belong especially the three speeches which it contains, of which the old parallel text presents neither a brief résumé nor even a passing trace. All three are in a high degree characteristic, and point to a primitive tradition, true in all essentials to word and deed as their source. The address of Abijah to the Ephraimites from Mount Zemaraim is strictly an oratio pro domo, a defence of a royal representative of the house of David maintaining the good cause of his theocratic inheritance. With no little skill, and with much diplomatic art as well as downright popular rhetoric, all is put forward that can be said for the legitimate kingdom and worship, and against the usurpation of Jeroboam. There is reference, on the one hand, to the unchangeableness of the covenant with Jehovah (13:5), to the divine origin of the Davidic dynasty (as “a kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David,” 2 Chronicles 16:8), to the beauty and established order of the service of God in the central sanctuary at Jerusalem, and to the hereditary legal chartered dignity of the theocratic priesthood ( 2 Chronicles 16:10-12); and, on the other hand, to the unworthy aims of the revolution party led by Jeroboam (the men of Belial who took advantage of the tender youth, inexperience, and weakness of Rehoboam, 2 Chronicles 16:7), to the folly of the worship of the golden calves, the illegal and heathenish character of its priesthood, the hopelessness of a contest with Jehovah, the God of their fathers ( 2 Chronicles 16:8-9; 2 Chronicles 16:12), in the tone now of fine irony, now of bitter scorn, and now of threatening earnest. The whole, inclusive of the partisan, one-sided, and somewhat distorted reference to the procedure in the separation of the kingdom ( 2 Chronicles 16:7), appears a masterpiece of political eloquence, the present form of which (taken, no doubt, from the Midrasch of the prophet Iddo quoted in 2 Chronicles16:22) may be ideally conceived; but the chief context and process of thought can scarcely be a pure invention. No less original and characteristic are the two prophetic speeches inserted in the history of Asa’s reign. The speech of Azariah son of Oded ( 2 Chronicles 15:2-7) unfolds at the moment a gloomy picture of the future godlessness of the people forsaking their God more and more, and of the troubles and judgments arising from their unfaithfulness, where the tone of jubilant gladness for the great victory secured, and the announcement of optimistic expectations, would have seemed most natural. Instead of a panegyristic flatterer courting princely favour, a deeply-earnest prophet of woe greets the king returning in triumph, who has certainly words of acknowledgment for that which has been performed by the conquerors, but clothes his praise in the form of an exhibition of necessary connection between devotion to God and the gracious reward of such devotion, and dwells with visible predilection on the times of apostasy, with its tragic consequences, that were coming notwithstanding all the admonitions of the prophets. The speech appears badly enough to suit the festive moment that forms its occasion; but it testifies to the unusually deep glance into the inmost heart of the people which the speaker filled with the terrible earnest of the coming destiny has long taken. And as such testimony, it fails not also of its effect, but rather proves, as the consequent energy of the king in purifying the form of worship shows, a true comfort and strengthening for good (παράκλησις, confortatio; comp. הִתְחַזַּק, Sept. κατίσχυσεν, 2 Chronicles 16:8), an impulse at least effectual for a time to return to the path of theocratic truth and righteousness, a model ( Hosea 3:4-5 f, 9:3, 4, where there seems to be an allusion to it) and primitive form held in esteem by later prophets of genuine prediction, the fundamental thought of which, as it recurs (mutatis mutandis) in the woe-foreboding addresses of an Isaiah to Hezekiah ( Isaiah 39; 2 Kings 20), and a Huldah to Josiah ( 2 Chronicles 34:22 ff.), stands forth not essentially different in the pictures of the future presented in the New Testament ( Matthew 24:5 ff.; 2 Thessalonians 2:3 ff.; 1 John 2:18 ff.; Luke 18:8, etc.). In severs rebuke of a temporary departure of the king from the path of theological strictness and conscientiousness marked out for him by the prophetic word of Prayer of Azariah, proceeds the second of the two prophetic speakers, Hanani ( 2 Chronicles 16:7-9). With a sharp lecture he treats the king, looking for nothing but praise for his victory over Baasha. That he made not Jehovah but the Syrian heathens his stay, he pronounces not only imprudent but directly “foolish” ( 2 Chronicles 16:9). His sagacity, not unexercised in political matters, lets him know immediately, under the influence of the illuminating Spirit of God, that the calling in the help of the Syrian power must draw to it the dependence, not merely of the conquered Israelites, but also of the Jews. Wherefore he not only blames the misled prince’s weakness of faith and fear of Prayer of Manasseh, and emphatically lays before him, that the eyes of the Lord are only strong for those who serve Him with entire devotion, but hurls upon, him a hard נִסְכַּלְתָּ, stulte egisti (unduly softened by the Sept. into a weak ἠγνόηκας ἐπὶ τούτῳ). He suffers for this boldness the same punishment which Jeremiah brought upon himself, when Hebrews, a no less zealous preacher of the truth that man should not make flesh his arm than Hanani, had spoken hard words against the obstinacy and folly of his contemporaries ( Jeremiah 20:2; comp. Jeremiah 17:5; Jeremiah 19:15).—Here again is nothing that is not in the highest degree original and powerful, breathing the stern prophetic spirit of Samuel and Nathan. Both speeches may show in their present form the elaborating hand of the Chronist, but in matter they appear with incontestable evidence as documents taken from the prophetic historical sources of the writer, of a time bordering upon and cognate with the spirit of Elijah and Elisha.

2. In a religious and moral respect, the two kings described in our section appear again somewhat better than Rehoboam, who trod in the paths of the degenerate Solomon. In particular, Asa receives due praise for his theocratic zeal, as he busied himself as a reformer of the worship of God, that had been in several ways disfigured by superstition. The Deuteronomic law, which threatens every partaker in such idolatry with death, he not only binds upon the people by an oath ( Deuteronomy 15:13-14 f.), but puts in practice the judicial rigour of this statute even against his own mother (grandmother), as he removes her from her dignity as queen-mother on account of her worship of Astarte, and so makes judgment begin at the royal house itself ( Deuteronomy 16:16). Inasmuch as he certainly does not set aside ( Deuteronomy 16:17) the worship on the high places, he does not rise to the height of theocratic rigour and purity which was attained in the subsequent reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah. The later time and the end of his reign also were tarnished by bursts of passion and acts of violence towards pious men of God, as the prophet Hanani; and a severe and painful disease is not able to bring him back to the early well-known simplicity of his devotion to Jehovah ( 2 Chronicles 16:12; comp15:17). He seeks not the Lord, but betakes himself to the physicians; the impure juggling method, mingled no doubt with superstition and idolatry, pursued by the medicine men or goetæ of his time, gave him more confidence than the helping hand of the God of truth, with whose witnesses he had also quarrelled. So it fared otherwise with him than with the pious Hezekiah, who without medical aid, by the miraculous help of God obtained through the prophet, was delivered from a dangerous sickness, and had fifteen years added to his life ( 2 Kings 20; 2 Chronicles 32:24). The word of the wise Sirach was verified in him: “He that sinneth before his Maker shall fall into the hand of the physician” ( Sirach 38:15). Like the woman having the issue of blood, he must become πολλὰ παθὼν ὑπὸ πολλῶν ἰατρῶν, Mark 5:26. In setting forth the impotence of these human helpers exclusively sought by him (comp. Sirach 10:11 : μακρὸν ἁῤῥώστημα σκώπτει ἰατρόν[FN8]), there is no absolute condemnation of medical art or science, but merely a gentle hint of the state of his heart, enslaved to worldly and idolatrous lusts, God-estranged and unbelieving, on account of which might justly be addressed to him the question of the prophet Jeremiah: “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why, then, is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” Jeremiah 8:22; or also that question of Elijah: “Is it not because there is not a God in Israel that ye go to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron?” 2 Kings 1:3. Comp. also, with respect to Asa’s religious and moral character, the weighty remark of Bengel (Beiträge zum Schriftverständniss, p 17 f.): “Asa was righteous (15:17), and yet he behaved so badly at the last (16:10, 12). How can this be? Answer.—He has not turned to idols all his life long; he has constantly held the Lord to be the right, true, and only God. But it was, as it were, an atheismus practicus, that he withdrew his confidence from Him. He thought, Shall I have been pious so long, and yet now receive a reprimand? If he had only received it like David: I have sinned, etc, all would have been right, etc.”

3. In an apologetic respect, we have to observe, in conjunction with the remarks made under No1, that weighty credentials of an internal kind support the two great wars as the Chronist relates them here, in completion of the very imperfect account in the books of Kings of these episodes in the history of the reigns of Abijah and Asa. That Abijah’s conflict with Jeroboam, after the total dissolution of the army of the latter, led to the annexation of the three towns Bethel, Jeshanah, and Ephron to the southern kingdom ( 2 Chronicles 13:19), is a notice so definite and concrete, that no scepticism of de Wette and Gramberg, with its assertion of the feigned character of the narrative in question, can be accepted, as, on the other hand, the attempt of Ewald, while admitting a kernel of historical fact, to stamp at least the speech of Abijah on Mount Zemaraim as a free composition of the Chronist, is wrecked on the highly original contents of this speech (see No1, and comp. Keil, Commentar, p264 f, Remarks). The passage 1 Kings 15:15 also, where the things dedicated by Abijah are mentioned, which his son Asa afterwards brought into the house of the Lord along with his own dedicated gifts, affords an indirect proof that both rulers had gained great victories and taken much spoil from their foes (comp. 2 Chronicles 14:12-13 f.), by which must be meant the victory of the former over Jeroboam, and that of the latter over Zerah (comp. Thenius on this passage, and Berth. on Chron. p324). The credibility of the account of this last great battle derives support also from what is related at its close of the conquest and spoliation of the cities around Gerar, and the cattle tents of the nomad tribes dwelling south of Palestine, a detail, again, that gives the lie altogether to the suspicion of pure notion.—Only the very high numbers in the account of the slaughter should be regarded as falling beyond the range of the historically exact. They “are perhaps not to be understood according to the nominal value of the numbers given, but only an expression conceived in figures of the contemporaries of these wars, which imports that the two kings (first Abijah and Jeroboam, then Asa and Zerah) had summoned to the field the whole military strength of their kingdoms” (Keil, p265). In the war of Abijah with Jeroboam, this is favoured by the approximative accordance of the Numbers 800,000,400,000 with results of the census by David, as well as the round ideal sum of500,000 as the number of those who fell on the side of Israel, a number that perhaps only indicates that Jeroboam had lost more than half his force. In the war with the Ethiopian king, the corresponding assumption is favoured by the round number1,000,000, as well as by the circumstance that exact accounts, resting on actual numbering, and not on a mere estimate, of the strength of the enemy, were not at the command of the observers and reporters on the Jewish side (comp. above on the passages in question). The necessity of a merely ideal and approximate conception of these numbers is evident, if we compare the statements, resting on actual numbering, of the strength of the men-at-arms in the several tribes in the genealogical summaries ( 1 Chronicles 5-7). The smallest of the numbers there named (for example, 44,760, 87,000, 22,034, 20,200, 17,200, 26,000) are round. It is the same with the numbers referring to the warriors from the several tribes at the elevation of David to the throne in 1 Chronicles12; comp. the remarks on this in p120 f.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - On the probable error of the pen here (מִיכָיָהוּ for מַֽעֲכָה), see Exeg. Expl.

FN#2 - For יְשָׁנָה the Sept. has ’Ιωσυνά (but Josephus, Antiq. viii113: ’Ισάνας).

FN#3 - For the Kethib עֶפְרוֹן, supported by the Sept. and Vulg, the Keri is עֶפְרַוִן.

FN#4 - For וְכֻתְּתוּ some mss. read וְכִתְּתוּ; but the pual is required by the context.

FN#5 - Sept. cod. Vat.: ’Αδὰδ (’Ωδὴδ) τοῦ προφήτου; on the contrary, c. Al, ed Ald, etc.: ’Αζαρίου τοῦ προφήτου Vulg.: Oded prophetæ. Perhaps the words עדד הנביא should be cancelled as an old gloss. See the Exeg. Expl.

FN#6 - So all the mss. and versions but the Sept, which has ἐν ἔτει ὀγδόω̣ καὶ τριακοστῷ, by a mistake of η for ς, or on the ground of some peculiar chronological reckoning.

FN#7 - Properly, “Darmascus;” see 1 Chronicles 18:5-6, and the Crit. Note thereon. For the υἱὸς τοῦ ’́Αδερ, given by the Sept. for בן הדד, comp. the Exeg. Expl.

FN#8 - ’Iατρόν, we believe, in the notorious corruption of the text (see Fritzcshe’s Libb. apocr. V. T. p409), with Hirzig (Der proph. Daniel, p142), should be read here instead of ἰατρός.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 13:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/2-chronicles-13.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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