1 Kings 15

CHAPTER XV

Abijam's wicked reign, and death, 1-8.

Asa succeeds him in the kingdom of Judah, and rules well, 9-15.

He makes a league with the king of Syria against Baasha king of

Israel, who is obliged to desist in his attempts against Judah,

16-22.

He is diseased in his feet and dies, and is succeeded by his

son Jehoshaphat, 23-25.

Nadab, son of Jeroboam, reigns over Israel; but is slain by

Baasha, who reigns in ha stead, 26-28.

Baasha destroys all the house of Jeroboam, according to the

prediction of Ahijah, 29, 30.

Baasha continues the idolatry of Jeroboam, 31-34.

NOTES ON CHAP. XV

Verse 1. Reigned Abijam over Judah.] Of this son of Rehoboam, of

his brethren, and of Rehoboam's family in general, see 2 Chron.

12, where many particulars are added.

Verse 3. His heart was not perfect] He was an idolater, or did

not support the worship of the true God. This appears to be the

general meaning of the heart not being perfect with God.

Verse 4. The Lord-give him a lamp] That is, a son to succeed

him; see 1Ki 11:36.

Verse 5. Save only in the matter of Uriah] Properly speaking,

this is the only flagrant fault or crime in the life of David. It

was a horrible offense, or rather a whole system of offenses. See

the notes on 2 Sam. 11, and 12.

Verse 6. There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam] This was

mentioned in the preceding chapter, 1Ki 14:30, and it can mean no

more than this: there was a continual spirit of hostility kept up

between the two kingdoms, and no doubt frequent skirmishing

between bordering parties; but it never broke out into open war,

for this was particularly forbidden. See 1Ki 12:24. Hostility did

exist, and no doubt frequent skirmishes; but open war and pitched

battles there were none.

But why is this circumstance repeated, and the history of Abijam

interrupted by the repetition? There is some reason to believe

that Rehoboam is not the true reading, and that it should be

Abijam: "Now there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam all the

days of his life." And this is the reading of fourteen of

Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. The Syriac has Abia the son of

Rehoboam; the Arabic has Abijam. In the Septuagint the whole

verse is omitted in the London Polyglot, but it is extant in those

of Complutum and Antwerp. Some copies of the Targum have Abijam

also, and the Editio Princeps of the Vulgate has Abia. This is

doubtless the true reading, as we know there was a very memorable

war between Abia and Jeroboam; see it particularly described

2Ch 13:3, &c.

Verse 10. His mother's name] Our translators thought that

grandmother was likely to be the meaning, and therefore have put

it in the margin.

The daughter of Abishalom.] She is called, says Calmet, the

daughter of Absalom, according to the custom of the Scriptures,

which give the name of daughter indifferently to the niece, the

grand-daughter, and great grand-daughter.

Verse 12. The sodomites] hakkedeshim; literally, the

holy or consecrated ones. See on 1Ki 14:24.

Verse 13. She had made an idol in a grove] The original word,

miphletseth, is variously understood. I shall give its

different views in the versions:-

"Besides, he removed his mother Maacha from being chief in the

sacred rites of Priapus, and in his grove which she had

consecrated."-VULGATE.

"And Ana, [other copies Maacha,] he removed from being

governess, because she had made an assembly in her

grove."-SEPTUAGINT.

"Moreover, he deprived Maacha, his mother, of her own

magnificence, because she had celebrated a solemnity to her own

worship."-SYRIAC.

"And even Maacha, his mother, he removed from the kingdom,

because she had made an idol in a grove."-CHALDEE.

"Besides, he removed Maacha, his mother, from her kingdom,

because she had made a high tree into an idol."-ARABIC.

"Also he removed Maacha, his mother, from the kingdom, because

she had made a horrible statue; and our rabbins say that it was

called miphletseth, because maphli

leytsanutha, it produced wonderful ridicule; for she made it ad

instar membri virilis, and she used it daily."-RABBI SOLOMON

JARCHI.

From the whole, it is pretty evident that the image was a mere

Priapus, or something of the same nature, and that Maachah had

an assembly in the grove where this image was set up, and

doubtless worshipped it with the most impure rites. What the Roman

Priapus was I need not tell the learned reader; and as to the

unlearned, it would not profit him to know. Maachah was most

likely another Messalina; and Asa probably did for his mother what

Claudius did for his wife.

Verse 14. The high places were not removed] He was not able to

make a thorough reformation; this was reserved for his son

Jehoshaphat.

Asa's heart was perfect] He worshipped the true God, and

zealously promoted his service; see on 1Ki 15:3. And even the

high places which he did not remove were probably those where

the true God alone was worshipped; for that there were such high

places the preceding history amply proves, and Jarchi intimates

that these were places which individuals had erected for the

worship of Jehovah.

Verse 15. Which his father had dedicated] On what account he and

his father dedicated the things mentioned below, we know not; but

it appears that Asa thought himself bound by the vow of his

father.

Verse 16. There was war] That is, there was continual enmity;

see on 1Ki 15:6. But there was no open war till the

thirty-sixth year of Asa, when Baasha, king of Israel, began to

build Ramah, that he might prevent all communication between

Israel and Judah; see 2Ch 15:19; 16:1. But this does not agree

with what is said here, 1Ki 16:8, 9, that Elah, the son and

successor of Baasha, was killed by Zimri, in the twenty-sixth year

of the reign of Asa. Chronologers endeavour to reconcile this by

saying that the years should be reckoned, not from the beginning

of the reign of Asa, but from the separation of the kingdoms of

Israel and Judah. It is most certain that Baasha could not make

war upon Asa in the thirty-sixth year of his reign, when it is

evident from this chapter that he was dead in the twenty-sixth

year of that king. We must either adopt the mode of solution given

by chronologists, or grant that there is a mistake in some of the

numbers; most likely in the parallel places in Chronicles, but

which we have no direct means of correcting. But the reader may

compare 2Ch 14:1, with 2Ch 15:10, 19; 16:1.

Verse 17. And Baasha-built Ramah] As the word signifies a high

place, what is here termed Ramah was probably a hill, (commanding

a defile through which lay the principal road to Jerusalem,) which

Baasha fortified in order to prevent all intercourse with the

kingdom of Judah, lest his subjects should cleave to the house of

David. Ramah was about two leagues northward of Jerusalem.

Verse 18. Asa took all the silver] Shishak, king of Egypt, had

not taken the whole, or there had been some treasures brought in

since that time.

Ben-hadad] This was the grandson of Rezon, called here Hezion,

who founded the kingdom of Damascus. See 1Ki 11:23, 24; and

Calmet.

Verse 19. There is a league between me and thee] Or, Let there

be a league between me and thee; as there was between my father

and thy father. There was no reason why Asa should have emptied

his treasures at this time to procure the aid of the Syrian king;

as it does not appear that there was any danger which himself

could not have turned aside. He probably wished to destroy the

kingdom of Israel; and to effect this purpose, even robbed the

house of the Lord.

Verse 20. Ijon, and Dan, &c.] He appears to have attacked and

taken those towns which constituted the principal strength of the

kingdom of Israel.

Verse 21. Dwelt in Tirzah.] This seems to have been the royal

city; see 1Ki 15:33, and 1Ki 14:17; and in this Baasha was

probably obliged to shut himself up.

Verse 22. None was exempted] Every man was obliged to go and

help to dismantle the fortress at Ramah which Baasha had built.

This was a general levee en masse of the people: every one was

obliged to lend a helping hand, as the state was then supposed to

be in danger, and all exemptions necessarily ceased. This is a

maxim of civil policy, Ubi adversus hostem muniendi sent limites,

omnis immunitas cessat: "Where the boundaries are to be fortified

against an enemy, then all exemptions cease."

Verse 23. And the cities which he built] Such as Geba and

Mizpah, which he built out of the spoils of Ramah.

He was diseased in his feet.] Probably he had a strong rheumatic

affection, or the gout. This took place in the thirty-ninth year

of his reign, three years before his death; and it is said that he

sought to physicians rather than to the Lord, 2Ch 16:12, 13.

Verse 24. Asa slept with his fathers] Of his splendid and costly

funeral we read 1Ch 16:14.

Verse 25. Nadab-began to reign over Israel] He began his reign

in the second year of the reign of Asa, and reigned two years.

Verse 27. Smote him at Gabbethon] This was a city in the tribe

of Dan, and generally in the possession of the Philistines.

Verse 29. He smote all the house of Jeroboam] This was according

to Ahijah's prophetic declaration; see 1Ki 14:10, 14. Thus God

made use of one wicked man to destroy another.

Verse 32. There was war] See on 1Ki 15:16.

Verse 34. Walked in the way of Jeroboam] The entail of iniquity

cannot be cut off but by a thorough conversion of the soul to God;

and of this, these bad kings seem to have had no adequate notion.

The wicked followed the steps of the wicked, and became still more

wicked; sin gathers strength by exercise and age.

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