2 Chronicles 16

CHAPTER XVI

Baasha, king of Israel, begins to build Ramah, to prevent his

subjects from having any intercourse with the Jews, 1.

Asa hires Ben-hadad, king of Syria, against him; and obliges

him to leave off building Ramah, 2-5.

Asa and his men carry the stones and timbers of Ramah away,

and build therewith Geba and Mizpah, 6.

Asa is reproved by Hanani, the seer, for his union with the

king of Syria: he is offended with the seer, and puts him in

prison, 7-10.

Of his acts, 11.

He is diseased in his feet, and seeks to physicians and not to

God, and dies, 12, 13.

His sumptuous funeral, 14.

NOTES ON CHAP. XVI

Verse 1. The six and thirtieth year] After the division of the

kingdoms of Israel and Judah; according to Usher. This opinion is

followed in our margin; See Clarke on 1Ki 15:16, where this

subject is farther considered.

Concerning Baasha's building of Ramah,

See Clarke on 1Ki 15:17.

Verse 3. There is a league] Let there be a treaty, offensive and

defensive, between me and thee: see on 1Ki 15:22.

Verse 6. Took all Judah] See on 1Ki 15:22.

Verse 7. Escaped out of thine hand.] It is difficult to know

what is here intended. Perhaps the Divine providence had intended

to give Asa a grand victory over the Syrians, who had always been

the inveterate enemies of the Jews; but by this unnecessary and

very improper alliance between Asa and Ben-hadad, this purpose of

the Divine providence was prevented, and thus the Syrians escaped

out of his hands.

Verse 9. Therefore-thou shalt have wars.] And so he had with

Israel during the rest of his reign, 1Ki 15:32.

Verse 10. Asa was wroth with the seer] Instead of humbling

himself, and deprecating the displeasure of the Lord, he

persecuted his messenger: and having thus laid his impious hands

upon the prophet, he appears to have got his heart hardened

through the deceitfulness of sin; and then he began to oppress the

people, either by unjust imprisonments, or excessive taxations.

Verse 12. Diseased in his feet] He had a strong and long fit of

the gout; this is most likely.

He sought not to the Lord] "He did not seek discipline from the

face of the Lord, but from the physicians."-Targum.

Are we not taught by this to make prayer and supplication to the

Lord in our afflictions, with the expectation that he will heal us

when he finds us duly humbled, i.e., when the end is answered for

which he sends the affliction?

Verse 14. And laid him in the bed] It is very likely that the

body of Asa was burnt; that the bed spoken of here was a funeral

pyre, on which much spices and odoriferous woods had been placed;

and then they set fire to the whole and consumed the body with the

aromatics. Some think the body was not burned, but the aromatics

only, in honour of the king.

How the ancients treated the bodies of the illustrious dead we

learn from Virgil, in the funeral rites paid to Misenus.

Nec minus interea Misenum in littore Teucri

Flebant, et cineri ingrato suprema ferebant.

Principio pinguem taedis et robore secto

Ingentem struxere pyram: cui frondibus atris

Intexunt latera, et ferales ante cupressas

Constituunt, decorantque super fulgentibus armis, &c.

AEN. vi. 214.

"Meanwhile the Trojan troops, with weeping eyes,

To dead Misenus pay their obsequies.

First from the ground a lofty pile they rear

Of pitch trees, oaks, and pines, and unctuous fir.

The fabric's front with cypress twigs they strew,

And stick the sides with boughs of baleful yew.

The topmost part his glittering arms adorn:

Warm waters, then, in brazen caldrons borne

Are poured to wash his body joint by joint,

And fragrant oils the stiffen'd limbs anoint.

With groans and cries Misenus they deplore:

Then on a bier, with purple cover'd o'er,

The breathless body thus bewail'd they lay,

And fire the pile (their faces turn'd away.)

Such reverend rites their fathers used to pay.

Pure oil and incense on the fire they throw,

And fat of victims which their friends bestow.

These gifts the greedy flames to dust devour,

Then on the living coals red wine they pour.

And last the relics by themselves dispose,

Which in a brazen urn the priests enclose.

Old Corineus compass'd thrice the crew,

And dipp'd an olive branch in holy dew;

Which thrice he sprinkled round, and thrice aloud

Invoked the dead, and then dismiss'd the crowd."

DRYDEN.

All these rites are of Asiatic extraction. Virgil borrows almost

every circumstance from Homer; (see Iliad, xxiii., ver. 164, &c.;)

and we well know that Homer ever describes Asiatic manners.

Sometimes, especially in war, several captives were sacrificed to

the manes of the departed hero. So, in the place above, the

mean-souled, ferocious demon, ACHILLES, is represented

sacrificing twelve Trojan captives to the ghost of his friend

Patroclus. Urns containing the ashes and half-calcined bones of

the dead occur frequently in barrows or tumuli in this country;

most of them, no doubt, the work of the Romans. But all ancient

nations, in funeral matters, have nearly the same rites.

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