The Word Made Fresh
1When King Jeroboam son of Nebat had ruled Israel for eighteen years, Abijam began his reign over Judah. 2He ruled for three years from Jerusalem. His mother was Maacah daughter of Abishalom. 3He was just as sinful as his father, for he was not devoted to the LORD his God as David had been. 4Still, for David’s sake, the LORD allowed him to rule in Jerusalem, and when he died his son rose to the throne. God continued to allow David’s descendants to rule from Jerusalem 5because David had been faithful to the LORD and did not disobey any command from the LORD all his life, except for what he did to Uriah the Hittite.
6There was war between Abijam and Jeroboam all during his reign. 7The other things Abijam did are recorded in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Judah. 8When he died they buried him in the city of David. His son Asa became king after him.
9Asa’s reign began in the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel. 10He ruled from Jerusalem for forty-one years. His mother was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. 11He was faithful to the LORD, as David had been. 12He banished the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of the idols his father and grandfather had installed. 13He also dismissed his mother Maacah as Queen Mother because she had made a filthy totem idol for the goddess Asherah. He had it taken down and burned at the Kidron brook. 14The hilltop shrines remained, but Asa’s heart was true to the LORD all his life. 15He returned his father’s sacred gifts of silver and gold vessels to the temple of the LORD and gave some of his own as well.
16There was constant war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel. 17Baasha built an outpost at Ramah to block merchants and others from visiting king Asa of Judah. 18Asa gathered all the silver and gold from the temple and palace treasuries and had his servants take them to the king of Syria in Damascus, Ben-Hadad son of Tabrimmon son of Hezion. 19He sent a message with them, saying, “Let there be a treaty between us like the one between my father and yours. I send you a gift of silver and gold and am asking you to end your agreement with Baasha king of Israel so that he will be forced to stop harassing me.”
20Ben-Hadad agreed, and attacked Israel. He took the towns of Ijon, Dan, Abel-Beth-Maacah and the Chinneroth area along with the territory of Naphtali. 21When Baasha learned of it, he left off building Ramah and returned to Tirzah. 22Then king Asa ordered all the men of Judah to carry away the stones and lumber that Baasha had used in building Ramah, and with them he built Geba of Benjamin and Mizpah. 23All the other things that Asa did, his military strength and the cities he built are recorded in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Judah.
When he was old Asa was stricken with infection in his feet. 24He died and was buried with his ancestors in the city of David. His son Jehoshaphat became king in his place.
25Nadab the son of Jeroboam began his reign over Israel in the second year of Asa’s reign. He ruled Israel for two years. 26He was a wicked man just like his father, and his sinfulness made Israel sinful.
27Then Baasha son of Ahijah of the tribe of Issachar plotted against him and killed him at the Philistine fortress of Gibbethon where Nadab and the Israelite army were laying a siege. 28This was in the third year of Asa’s rule in Jerusalem. 29Baasha became king of Israel and had everyone descended from Jeroboam put to death. He left none of them alive, and so fulfilled the prophecy the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite had received from the LORD. 30The LORD God of Israel did this because Jeroboam had sinned, and caused all Israel to sin, and provoked the LORD’s anger.
31The things Nadab did are recorded in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Israel. 32There was constant war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel.
33So, in the third year of Asa’s reign in Judah, Baasha son of Ahijah became king of Israel at Tirzah. He ruled for twenty-four years. 34He sinned against the LORD in all the ways Jeroboam had done.
1-8: Abijam rules for 3 years. The Queen Mother is again mentioned, but her nationality is not given, which leads me to think that by that time the Queen Mother was an acknowledged position in the kingdom. Perhaps Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, started that trend when she successfully promoted her son above his brothers to succeed David. Like his father, Abijam is at war with Jeroboam, but his rule is brief. He is succeeded by his son, Asa.
9-15: Asa reigns for 41 years, longer than either David or Solomon. He is judged to have been a good king. He banishes the male shrine prostitutes and idols. He replaces some of the wealth of the temple that his grandfather had lost to Shishak. The Queen Mother is once again (!) Maacah, daughter of Abishalom (though in 2 Chronicles another name is given). The most likely explanation is that she is the Queen Grandmother; Asa’s mother has probably died. It is highly unlikely that Asa and Abijam could be brothers given Abijam’s age when he began to rule. In any case Maacah is removed from her official position as Queen Mother by Asa because she is a pagan.
16-24: The sequence of events is hard to follow because the reigns of the various kings of Judah and Israel overlap. Asa becomes king of Judah in the last year of the reign of Jeroboam of Israel, but the narrative at this point ignores not only the last year of Jeroboam’s reign but also the entire reign of his son Nadab (who ruled for only 2 years – see verses 25-26). During Asa’s rule king Baasha of Israel (Jeroboam’s grandson) invades Judah and begins to build a fortress at Ramah. The location of Ramah is debated, but was apparently in Judah’s territory in a strategic location that would control traffic in and out of Jerusalem. Asa proves to be up to the challenge; although his own forces are apparently not strong enough to resist Baasha, he sends tribute to Ben-Hadad of Damascus and persuades him to invade Israel from the north. Ben-Hadad is successful in taking a fairly large territory in the northern part of Israel in the region of Lake Chinneroth. The invasion also succeeds in drawing Baasha away from his gains in Judah. He returns to Tirzah, and Asa has his fortress dismantled and the stones and timbers are then used to build his own fortress cities. Asa dies with diseased feet, an indication of poor circulation due to diabetes or atherosclerosis. He is succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat.
25-28: Meanwhile, we catch up on what has been happening in Israel. Jeroboam’s son Nadab succeeds him, but his reign is brief. Carrying on the warlike ways of his predecessors, he lays siege to a Philistine city. Baasha assassinates him and takes over as king of Israel.
29-30: Baasha secures his rule by putting to death every member of Jeroboam’s family as old blind Ahijah had prophesied.
31: We back up a minute to bury Nadab.
32: We look ahead to see what’s in store for Baasha.
33-34: Baasha rules for 24 years and is roundly condemned for carrying on the religious practices of Jeroboam.
The sequence of rulers in Israel and Judah is head-spinning, isn’t it?
Although the LORD is mentioned occasionally, it is becoming apparent that the people of both Israel and Judah are not very faithful. The worship of the LORD God has been corrupted in both territories, and although Asa and Jehoshaphat are judged to be “good” kings, both Israel and Judah are gradually slipping away from the faith. That happens to “God’s people” today when we devote too much of our time and attention to worldly things.