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Reference: Asa


The third king of Judah after Solomon, son and successor of Abijam, 1Ki 15:8. He began to reign B. C. 951, and reigned forty-one years at Jerusalem. The first part of his reign was comparatively peaceful and prosperous. He restored the pure worship of God; expelled those who, from sacrilegious superstition, prostituted themselves in honor of their false gods; purified Jerusalem from the infamous practices attending the worship of idols; and deprived his mother of her office and dignity of queen, because she erected an idol to Astarte. In the eleventh year of his reign, God gave him the victory over the vast army of the Cushite king Zerah; and the prophet Azariah encouraged him to go on in his work of reform. And yet, when Baasha king of Israel opposed this very work, he sought aid not from God, but from heathen Syria. In the latter part of his life, he became diseased in his feet; and Scripture reproaches him with having had recourse to the physicians, rather than to the Lord, 2Ch 16:12. Yet his reign was, on the whole, one of the happiest which Judah enjoyed, and the Bible repeatedly commends his piety as an example. 1Ki 22:43; 2Ch 20:32; 21:12. His funeral rites were celebrated with special magnificence. There was ill-will and strife between Asa and Baasha all their days, as between Rehoboam and Israel, 1Ki 15:6,16.

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physician, son of Abijah and grandson of Rehoboam, was the third king of Judah. He was zealous in maintaining the true worship of God, and in rooting all idolatry, with its accompanying immoralities, out of the land (1Ki 15:8-14). The Lord gave him and his land rest and prosperity. It is recorded of him, however, that in his old age, when afflicted, he "sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians" (comp. Jer 17:5). He died in the forty-first year of his reign, greatly honoured by his people (2Ch 16:1-13), and was succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat.

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("healing".) Son of Abijah; third king of Judah. Faithful to Jehovah; determined in rooting out idolatry and its attendant licentiousness (1Ki 15:9-15,2 Chronicles 14; 15; 16). He built fenced cities, the Lord giving him and his land rest and prosperity. No respecter of persons: so much so that he deposed Maachah, the queenmother (wife of Rehoboam and Asa's grandmother), because she made an idol (Hebrew "horror," some abominable and impure object of worship) in a grove; and he cut her idol down, stamped, and burnt it at the brook Kedron, as Moses had done to the golden calf (Ex 32:20). For "in a grove," translate" to Asherah" (Hebrew haasheerah), the Phoenician Venus (1Ki 15:14; 2Ch 15:16). The high places to idols he took away (2Ch 14:3). But those to Jehovah, being an irregularity of a secondary kind, he did not take away (2Ch 15:17; 1Ki 15:14).

Moreover, the gifts dedicated by his father Abijah, in the earlier and better part of his reign, silver, gold, and vessels, but afterward appropriated by the pagan priests for idolatry, he brought into the house of God (2Ch 15:18). Encouraged by the prophecy of Azariah, the son of Oded, "the Lord is with you while ye be with Him," he renewed the altar of Jehovah before the porch, after its desecration. The first ten years of his reign were occupied peacefully in such religious reforms. But in the eleventh year danger of war seems to have been anticipated, for "the land," it is said, "was quiet ten years" only (2Ch 14:1-2,8-15). Then follows Asa's preparation of an army with targets and spears, 300,000 of Judah and 280,000 of Benjamin, bearing shields and drawing bows. In the 14th year the threatened danger came. Zerah, the Cushite or Ethiopian, invaded Judah at Mareshah with 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots. (See ZERAH.)

The valley of Zephathah, at Mareshah (Marisse, S.W. of Judah, near the later Eleutheropolis), was the battle field. Like Judah, in his father Abijah's time, in the hour of imminent peril (2Ch 13:14-15), Asa cried unto Jehovah his God: "Lord, it is nothing with Thee to help, whether with many or with them that have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on Thee. ... Let not man prevail against Thee" (compare 1Sa 14:6). So Jehovah smote the Ethiopians before Asa (compare Isa 59:19.) At this very time a king called Azerch Amen, we know from recently deciphered monuments, reigned in Ethiopia (G. Rawlinson). Ewald and Hincks identify him with Osorkon I., king of Egypt, second of the 22nd dynasty. Zerah's army is composed of much the same elements (2Ch 16:8; 12:3), Ethiopians and Lubims (Libyans), as Shishak's (the Sukkiim being peculiar to the latter); mercenaries, we know, were much employed in the 22nd dynasty. Others fix on Osorkon II., son in law of his predecessor, and reigning in right of his wife. He was probably, if this view be true, an Ethiopian, ruling over both Egypt and Ethiopia.

Asa, having refused to pay the tribute imposed by Shishak on Rehoboam, was invaded. Asa on his return from the victory gathered all Judah and Benjamin and strangers out of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon, who joined his kingdom, seeing the Lord was with him, in the 15th year of his reign. At this feast of thanksgiving all "entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul." "The Lord gave them rest round about" for a time. But Baasha, king of Israel, jealous of the defections from his own kingdom and the growing prosperity of Judah, fortified Ramah on the road N. of Jerusalem, "that he might not suffer any to go out or come in to Asa" (compare 1Ki 12:27; 15:17.) This is said (in 2Ch 16:1,11) to be in the 36th year of Asa's reign; but Baasha was at that time long dead (1Ki 15:33), therefore this 36th year must be calculated from the separation of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. This calculation was probably drawn from "the book of the kings of Judah and Israel."

Baasha's act was probably in the 17th year of Asa's reign. Asa, instead of trusting in Jehovah, bought the help of the pagan world power, Benhadad I. king of Damascus, against Israel, with the treasures left in the temple and the palace from the tribute for Egypt, which he had ceased to pay. Benhadad smote Ijon, Dan, and Abelmaim, and the store cities of Naphtali. So Baasha had to cease fortifying Ramah, and Asa used the materials to fortify Geba (the hill) and Mizpeh (the watchtower) in Benjamin to guard against future invasion. The large cistern or pit made by Asa to obviate scarcity of water in the event of a siege by Baasha is mentioned long after in Jer 41:7,9. Hanani, the seer, reproved Asa, telling him that if he had not relied on the king of Syria, instead of on Jehovah, he should have had him as a vassal instead of being himself subordinate to Syria. Carnal policy brings on the very evil which it shuns, and which would have been completely averted by a policy of faith. So far from escaping wars by his unbelieving course, he must henceforth have them (1Ki 15:32; 2Ch 16:7-9).

Asa, instead of being humbled, was wroth, and put the seer in prison and oppressed some of the people, probably sympathizers with the man of God. It is true he succeeded in capturing cities of Ephraim (2Ch 17:2), but his end was under a spiritual cloud. Diseased in his feet, after a reign of 39 years, "he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians," i.e., his trust was less in Jehovah than in human remedies (compare Jer 17:5). That in the main, nevertheless, he served the Lord truly, appears from 1Ki 15:14; "Asa's heart was perfect with the Lord (sincere) all his days." The funeral, with its "sweet odorous and divers spices" and "very great burning for him," marks how highly he was esteemed. His whole reign lasted 41 years, 956 to 915 B.C. His later blemishes warn even believers; "let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (compare Ga 5:7).

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1. The third king of Judah after the disruption, succeeding Ahijah. Since his mother's name is given as the same with that of Abijah's mother, some have supposed the two kings to have been brothers. But there may be some mistake in the text. Asa is praised by the Biblical writer for his religious zeal, which led him to reform the worship, and even to depose his mother from her place of influence at court because of her idolatrous practices. Politically he took a mistaken course when he submitted to Benhadad of Damascus to secure his aid against Baasha of Israel, who had captured Ramah. The Temple treasures were sent to Benhadad, who thereupon invaded Israel, and Baasha was compelled to evacuate the threatening fortress (1Ki 15:9 ff.). The Chronicler (2Ch 14:9 ff.) credits Asa with a victory over an enormous force of Ethiopians. 2. A Levite (1Ch 9:16).

H. P. Smith.

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1. Great grandson of Solomon and king of Judah, B.C. 955-914. "Asa did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, as did David his father." He removed the idols his fathers had made, 1Ki 15:11, and he deposed Maachah, his mother, or perhaps grandmother, from being queen because she favoured idolatry. On the country being invaded by the Ethiopians with a million troops and 300 chariots, he cried to the Lord, who fought for him, and the enemy was smitten. He was counselled by Azariah not to forsake the Lord, which led to the spoil being offered to God, and to the king and his people entering into a covenant to seek the Lord.

Subsequently Asa was threatened by Baasha king of Israel who began to build Ramah, a fortified city only a few miles from Jerusalem. To stop this Asa paid a large sum of money to Benhadad king of Syria to invade Israel. This was for the time successful: the building of Ramah was stopped, and Asa carried away the stones thereof and built Geba and Mizpah.

This recourse for aid to the king of Syria, who was an idolater, was very displeasing to God, and the king was rebuked by Hanani the seer. While Asa trusted in the Lord he had deliverance, but having relied on the king of Syria, he should have war all his days. Asa, alas, did not humble himself, but put Hanani in prison, and oppressed some of the people. He was disciplined in his person, for he was diseased in his feet, and the disease increased exceedingly; yet he sought not the Lord, but to the physicians (perhaps these were healers by magic arts in connection with idolatry, on which God's blessing could not be asked) and he died after a reign of 41 years. 1 Kings 15.; 2Ch 14:1; 15:1; 16:1.; Mt 1:7-8.

2. A Levite, the father of Berechiah. 1Ch 9:16.

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(physician, or cure).

1. Son of Abijah and third king of Judah. (B.C. 956-916.) (His long reign of 41 years was peaceful in its earlier portion, and he undertook the reformation of all abuses, especially of idolatry. He burnt the symbol of his grandmother Maachah's religion and deposed her from the dignity of "king's mother,") and renewed the great altar which the idolatrous priests apparently had desecrated.

2Ch 15:8

Besides this he fortified cities on his frontiers, and raised an army, amounting, according to

2Ch 14:8

to 580,000 men, a number probably exaggerated by an error of the copyist. During Asa's reign, Zerah, at the head of an enormous host,

2Ch 14:9

attacked Mareshah. There he was utterly defeated, and driven back with immense loss to Gerar. The peace which followed this victory was broken by the attempt of Baasha of Israel to fortify Ramah. To stop this Asa purchased the help of Benhadad I. king of Damascus, by a large payment of treasure, forced Baasha to abandon his purpose, and destroyed the works which he had begun at Ramah. In his old age Asa suffered from gout, He died, greatly loved and honored, in the 41st year of his reign.

2. Ancestor of Berechiah a Levite who resided in one of the villages of the Netophathites after the return from Babylon.

1Ch 9:16

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ASA, the son and successor of Abijam, king of Judah, began to reign in the year of the world 3049, and before Christ 955. He reigned forty-one years at Jerusalem, and did right in the sight of the Lord. He purged Jerusalem from the infamous practices attending the worship of idols; and he deprived his mother of her office and dignity of queen, because she erected an idol to Astarte, which he burnt in the valley of Hinnom, 1Ki 15:8, &c.

The Scripture reproaches Asa with not destroying the high places, which, perhaps, he thought it politic to tolerate, to avoid the greater evil of idolatry. He carried into the house of the Lord the gold and silver vessels which his father Abijam had vowed to consecrate. He fortified several cities, and repaired others, encouraging his people to this labour while the kingdom was at peace; and the Lord favoured them with his protection. After this he levied three hundred thousand men in Judah, armed with shields and pikes; and two hundred and eighty thousand men in Benjamin, armed with shields and bows, all men of courage and valour. About this time, Zerah, king of Ethiopia, or rather of Cush, which is part of Arabia, marched against Asa with a million of foot, and three hundred chariots of war, and advanced as far as Mareshah. This probably happened in the fifteenth year of Asa's reign, and in the year of the world 3064, 2Ch 15:10. Asa advanced to meet Zerah, and encamped in the plain of Zephathah, or rather Zephatah, near Mareshah, and having prayed to the Lord, God struck the forces of Zerah with such a panic that they began to flee. Asa and his army pursued them to Geran, and slew of them a great number. After this, Asa's army returned to Jerusalem, laden with booty. The prophet Azariah met them, and said, "Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin, The Lord is with you while ye be with him, and if ye seek him he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.

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