2 Chronicles 13


Abijah begins to reign over Judah, and has war with Jeroboam,


His speech from Mount Zemaraim to Jeroboam, before the

commencement of hostilities, 4-12.

While thus engaged, Jeroboam despatches some troops which come

on the rear of Abijah's army, 13.

Perceiving this, they cry unto the Lord, and the Israelites are

defeated with the loss of five hundred thousand men, 14-18.

Abijah retakes several cities from Jeroboam, who is smitten by

the Lord, and dies, 19, 20.

Abijah's marriages and issue, 21, 22.


Verse 2. His mother's name-was Michaiah] See on 2Ch 11:20.

Verse 3. Abijah set the battle in array] The numbers in this

verse and in the seventeenth seem almost incredible. Abijah's army

consisted of four hundred thousand effective men; that of Jeroboam

consisted of eight hundred thousand; and the slain of Jeroboam's

army were five hundred thousand. Now it is very possible that

there is a cipher too much in all these numbers, and that they

should stand thus: Abijah's army, forty thousand; Jeroboam's

eighty thousand; the slain, fifty thousand. Calmet, who defends

the common reading, allows that the Venice edition of the Vulgate,

in 1478; another, in 1489; that of Nuremberg, in 1521; that of

Basil, by Froben, in 1538; that of Robert Stevens, in 1546; and

many others, have the smaller numbers. Dr. Kennicott says: "On a

particular collation of the Vulgate version, it appears that the

number of chosen men here slain, which Pope Clement's edition in

1592 determines to be five hundred thousand, the edition of Pope

Sixtus, printed two years before, determined to be only fifty

thousand; and the two preceding numbers, in the edition of Sixtus,

are forty thousand and eighty thousand. As to different printed

editions, out of fifty-two, from the year 1462 to 1592, thirty-one

contain the less number. And out of fifty-one MSS. twenty-three in

the Bodleian library, four in that of Dean Aldrich, and two

in that of Exeter College, contain the less number, or else are

corrupted irregularly, varying only one or two numbers."

This examination was made by Dr. Kennicott before he had

finished his collation of Hebrew MSS., and before De Rossi had

published his Variae Lectiones Veteris Testamenti; but from these

works we find little help, as far as the Hebrew MSS. are

concerned. One Hebrew MS., instead of arba meoth

eleph, four hundred thousand, reads arba eser eleph,

fourteen thousand.

In all printed copies of the Hebrew, the numbers are as in the

common text, four hundred thousand, eight hundred thousand, and

five hundred thousand.

The versions are as follow:-The Targum, or Chaldee, the same

in each place as the Hebrew.

The Syriac in 2Ch 13:3 has

four hundred thousand young men for the army of Abijah, and

eight hundred thousand stout youth for that of Jeroboam. For the

slain Israelites, in 2Ch 13:17, it has [Syriac]

five hundred thousand, falsely translated in the Latin text

quinque milia, five thousand, both in the Paris and London

Polyglots: another proof among many that little dependence is to

be placed on the Latin translation of this version in either of

the above Polyglots.

The Arabic is the same in all these cases with the Syriac, from

which it has been translated.

The Septuagint, both as it is published in all the Polyglots,

and as far as I have seen in MSS.. is the same with the Hebrew

text. So also is Josephus.

The Vulgate or Latin version is that alone that exhibits any

important variations; we have had considerable proof of this in

the above-mentioned collations of Calmet and Kennicott. I shall

beg liberty to add others from my own collection.

In the Editio Princeps of the Latin Bible, though without date

or place, yet evidently printed long before that of Fust, in 1462,

the places stand thus: Ver. 3. Cumque inisset certamen, et haberet

bellicosissimos viros, et electorum QUADRAGINTA milia: Iheroboam

construxit e contra aciem OCTOGINTA milia virorum; "With him Abia

entered into battle; and he had of the most warlike and choice men

forty thousand; and Jeroboam raised an army against him of eighty

thousand men."

And in ver. 17: Et corruerunt vulnerati ex Israel, QUINQUAGINTA

milia virorum fortium; "And there fell down wounded fifty thousand

stout men of Israel."

In the Glossa Ordinaria, by Strabo Fuldensis, we have forty

thousand and eighty thousand in the two first instances, and five

hundred thousand in the last.-Bib. Sacr. vol. ii., Antv. 1634.

In six ancient MSS. of my own, marked A, B, C, D, E, F. the text

stands thus:-

A.-Cumque inisset Abia certamen, et haberet bellicosissimos

viros, et electorum XL. MIL. Jeroboam instruxit contra aciem LXXX.


And in ver. 17: Et corruerunt vulnerati ex Israel L. MIL.

virorum fortium. Here we have forty thousand for the army of

Abijah, and eighty thousand for that of Jeroboam, and FIFTY

thousand for the slain of the latter.


FORTY thousand. EIGHTY thousand.


FIFTY thousand.

The numbers being here expressed in words at full length, there

can be no suspicion of mistake.

C.-CCCC milia, DCCC milibus, D milia

400 thousand. 800 thousand. 500 thousand.

This is the same as the Hebrew text, and very distinctly


D.-xl. m. lxxx. m. l. v. m.

40,000. 80,000. 50 and 5000.

This, in the two first numbers, is the same as the others above;

but the last is confused, and appears to stand for fifty thousand

and five thousand. A later hand has corrected the two first

numbers in this MS., placing over the first four CCCC, thus

(cccc/xl.), thus changing forty into four hundred; and over the

second thus, (dccc/lxxx.), thus changing eighty into eight hundred.

Over the latter number, which is evidently a mistake of the scribe,

there is no correction.

E.-xl. m. OCTOGINTA m. l. m.

40,000 EIGHTY thousand. 50,000.

F.-CCCC. m. DCCC. m. D. m.

400,000. 800,000. 600,000.

This also is the same as the Hebrew.

The reader has now the whole evidence which I have been able to

collect before him, and may choose; the smaller numbers appear to

be the most correct. Corruptions in the numbers in these

historical books we have often had cause to suspect, and to

complain of.

Verse 4. Stood up upon Mount Zemaraim] "Which was a mount of the

tribe of the house of Ephraim."-Targum. Jarchi thinks that Abijah

went to the confines of the tribe of Ephraim to attack Jeroboam.

It could not be Shomeron, the mount on which Samaria was built in

the days of Omri king of Israel, 1Ki 16:24.

Verse 5. By a covenant of salt?] For ever. "For as the waters of

the sea never grow sweet, neither shall the dominion depart from

the house of David."-Targum. See Clarke on Nu 18:19.

Verse 7. When Rehoboam was young and tender-hearted] Therefore

he could not be forty-one when he came to the throne;

See Clarke on 2Ch 13:3.

Children of Belial here signifies men of the most abandoned

principles and characters; or men without consideration,

education, or brains.

Verse 9. A young bullock and seven rams] He who could provide

these for his own consecration was received into the order of this

spurious and wicked priesthood. Some think he who could give to

Jeroboam a young bullock and seven rams, was thereby received into

the priesthood; this being the price for which the priesthood was

conferred. The former is most likely.

Verse 10. The Lord is our God] We have not abandoned the Lord;

and we still serve him according to his own law.

Verse 12. God himself is with us] Ye have golden calves; we have

the living and omnipotent Jehovah.

With-trumpets to cry alarm against you.] This was appalling:

When the priests sound their trumpets, it will be a proof that the

vengeance of the Lord shall speedily descend upon you.

Verse 13. But Jeroboam caused an ambushment] While Abijah was

thus employed in reproving them, Jeroboam divided his army

privately, and sent a part to take Abijah in the rear; and this

must have proved fatal to the Jews, had not the Lord interposed.

Verse 17. Slain-five hundred thousand chosen men.] Query, fifty

thousand? This was a great slaughter:

See Clarke on 2Ch 13:3,

where all these numbers are supposed to be overcharged.

Verse 18. Judah prevailed, because] "They depended on the WORD

of the God of their fathers."-T.

Verse 19. Beth-el] "Beth-lehem."-Targum.

Jeshanah] We know not where these towns lay.

Verse 20. The Lord struck him, and he died.] Who died? Abijah or

Jeroboam? Some think it was Jeroboam; some, that it was Abijah.

Both rabbins and Christians are divided on this point; nor is it

yet settled. The prevailing opinion is that Jeroboam is meant, who

was struck then with that disease of which he died about two years

after; for he did not die till two years after Abijah: see

1Ki 14:20; 15:9. It seems as if

Jeroboam was meant, not Abijah.

Verse 21. Married fourteen wives] Probably he made alliances

with the neighbouring powers, by taking their daughters to him for


Verse 22. Written in the story] bemidrash, "in the

commentary;" this, as far as I recollect, is the first place where

a midrash or commentary is mentioned. The margin is right.

His ways, and his sayings] The commentary of the prophet Iddo is

lost. What his sayings were we cannot tell; but from the specimen

in this chapter, he appears to have been a very able speaker, and

one who knew well how to make the best use of his argument.

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