1 Kings 15
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abijam over Judah.
Ch. 1 Kings 15:1-8. Abijam, king of Judah (2 Chronicles 13:1-2)

1. reigned Abijam over Judah] Better, with R.V. began Abijam to reign. This is the sense of the verb here, though in the next verse it must be simply ‘reigned.’ The A.V. renders it ‘began to reign’ in 1 Kings 15:25 of this chapter, and elsewhere.

Abijam] The LXX. adds ‘son of Rehoboam.’ The name is Abijah in 2 Chron., and, comparing with other names of like formation, that appears the more correct.

Three years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.
2. Three years reigned he] If he began his reign in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam, and was succeeded by Asa (1 Kings 15:9) in the twentieth year of the same king, the three years cannot have been complete. But this must frequently be noted in the chronological records of the two kingdoms, and imports an element of uncertainty into them.

Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom] In 2 Chronicles 13:2 Abijah’s mother is called ‘Michaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah.’ But in 2 Chronicles 11:20 it is said that Rehoboam married ‘Maachah the daughter of Absalom, which bare him Abijah.’ Abishalom is only another form of Absalom and the person here meant may be the well-known son of David. ‘Daughter’ is sometimes used for ‘grand-daughter. Absalom had one daughter, called Tamar (2 Samuel 14:27) who may have married Uriel, and have had a daughter Maachah. The מיכיהו (Michaiah) of 2 Chronicles 13:2 must then be an error of the scribe for מעכה (Maachah), which is the name found in all other places.

And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father.
3. And he walked in all the sins of his father] The LXX. omits ‘all.’ For an account of the sins of Rehoboam see above 1 Kings 14:22-24.

as the heart of David his father] The LXX. omits ‘David.’ The word ‘perfect’ as here applied to David, does not mean that he did not offend, but that he aimed at keeping the law of God, and was deeply penitent for his sin when he fell into it. It was this prompt repentance, and return to what was right, which made David to differ from most of the kings who came after him.

Nevertheless for David's sake did the LORD his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem:
4. a lamp] Cf. above on 1 Kings 11:36. The LXX. gives κατάλειμμα here = a remnant, thus expressing the sense of the original, instead of translating. Similarly in 1 Kings 11:36 the rendering is θέσις = a position.

Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.
5. save only in the matter of Urijah the Hittite] See 2 Samuel 11:4; 2 Samuel 11:15. This clause is omitted in the LXX. Time would soften down the offence which David committed in numbering the people, so that the compiler of the narrative before us can pass it by in giving expression to the high estimate which was sure to be entertained of the great king David.

And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life.
6. And [R.V. Now] there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam &c.] The whole of this verse is omitted by the LXX. and it seems altogether out of place in a notice of the reign of Abijam, and has been already inserted [1 Kings 14:30] in the history of Rehoboam, while the parallel statement in reference to Abijam comes in the next verse.

Now the rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam.
7. Now [R.V. And] the rest of the acts of Abijam] Consisting no doubt principally of the great victory over Jeroboam near mount Zemaraim (2 Chronicles 13:17) which inflicted so much disaster and loss upon the northern kingdom, that Jeroboam did not recover strength again during Abijam’s reign. The source from which the Chronicler drew his additional information about Abijam is called ‘the commentary of the prophet Iddo.’ (2 Chronicles 13:22.)

war between Abijam and Jeroboam] Josephus (Ant. viii. 11. 2) says Jeroboam despised Abijam because of his youth.

And Abijam slept with his fathers; and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead.
8. And Abijam slept with his fathers] To this the LXX. adds ‘in the twenty-fourth year of Jeroboam.’ This statement does not quite agree with the chronology given in 1 Kings 15:1-2 of this chapter, and repeated in 2 Chronicles 13:1-2. If Abijam came to the throne in the 18th year of Jeroboam and reigned 3 years, his death would fall in the twenty-first year of Jeroboam, or if the three years of his reign were incomplete at the beginning and end it might occur, as is said immediately in 1 Kings 15:9, in the 20th year of Jeroboam.

And in the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel reigned Asa over Judah.
9–15. Asa king of Judah. His reforms (2 Chronicles 14:1-5; 2 Chronicles 15:16-19)

9. In the twentieth year] The LXX. in accordance with the addition in the previous verse says the ‘twenty-fourth.’

reigned Asa] R.V. began Asa to reign. See on 1 Kings 15:1 of this chapter.

And forty and one years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.
10. And his mother’s name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom] The most probable explanation of this clause, which is the same as in 1 Kings 15:2 above, is that the word ‘mother’ is here used for ‘grandmother,’ and that Asa’s own mother sank into small importance in comparison with her mother-in-law. Clearly Maachah was a leader of the idol worship in the land, which made it necessary for Asa to deprive her of her influence. On the power wielded in the East by a queen-mother, see 1 Kings 2:19 note. The LXX. (Vat.) gives ‘Ana’ as the name of Asa’s mother, and not ‘Maachah,’ but this is not supported by any other evidence.

And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father.
And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.
12. and he took (R.V. put) away] The same word is so rendered in 2 Chronicles 15:8, of these very reforms. Literally it means ‘caused to pass by.’

idols that his fathers had made] Not only those in Judah and Benjamin, but also those that were set up in the hill country of Ephraim, in the cities which Abijam had taken from Jeroboam.

And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.
13. And also Maachah] Here, as above, the LXX. has Ana.

his mother, even her he removed] The R.V. omits ‘even her’. The Hebrew has this construction, but it is Hebrew, not English, though like several other Hebrew idioms, it has become accepted, through the influence of the A. V.

from being queen] i.e. From the influential position of queen mother. The title is not the usual word for ‘queen’ but one which implies special authority and influence.

she had made an idol in a grove] R.V. ‘had made an abominable image for an Ashêrah.’ The word which the A.V. renders ‘idol’ is one of the numerous terms which the Hebrew language applied to the objects of idolatrous worship. It is cognate with words which signify ‘horror,’ ‘trembling,’ ‘fearfulness,’ and indicates an erection which was likely to excite such feelings. On ‘Ashêrah,’ which is used sometimes for the goddess, sometimes for the idol set up to represent her, see above on 1 Kings 14:15.

and Asa destroyed her idol] R.V. cut down her image. The verb indicates the manner of the destruction, and shews that the image was such that it could be cut down as you would cut down a tree. Hence most likely it was of wood, for in the next clause we find that it was burnt.

by the brook Kidron] This was rather a valley or torrent bed, which became a stream in the time of rain. It was close to Jerusalem, lying between the city and the mount of Olives. The name is connected with several events which mark it as a spot of evil fame. Beside the burning there of these idols, it was at this place that Athaliah was put to death (2 Kings 11:16), and hither in after times many impure objects of worship and abominations were brought to be destroyed (2 Kings 23:4; 2 Kings 23:6; 2 Kings 23:12; 2 Chronicles 29:16; 2 Chronicles 30:14).

But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa's heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.
14. But the high places were not removed] R.V. taken away. The change is made that this passage may be rendered in the same way as 2 Chronicles 15:17, with which it is identical. In Judah (we are told 2 Chronicles 14:5) Asa did take away the high places, but in Israel (2 Chronicles 15:17) they were not taken away. The mention of this as something which Asa might have been expected to effect shews that the conquests of his father and himself had given them much control (or influence) over the affairs of the northern kingdom. As the high places had been long tolerated, and the worship offered there had been accepted we can see how much more difficult it would be to put down this form of worship than any of the others. Hence, in spite of the continuance of the high places, Asa’s heart is said to have been ‘perfect with the Lord.’ The worship on the high places was long kept up. They are mentioned again 1 Kings 22:44; 2 Kings 12:3; 2 Kings 14:4; 2 Kings 15:4; 2 Kings 15:35.

And he brought in the things which his father had dedicated, and the things which himself had dedicated, into the house of the LORD, silver, and gold, and vessels.
15. And he brought in the things which [R.V. that] his father had dedicated, and the things which [R.V. that] himself had dedicated] These apparently trivial changes of the R.V. are made so that this passage may be in accord with the identical passage in 2 Chronicles 15:18.

Here a commencement was made to supply the place of all those treasures which Shishak had carried off in the reign of Rehoboam. The silver and gold and vessels were no doubt the booty which had been taken from some conquered enemies. That it was customary thus to dedicate the booty or tribute of conquered and subject peoples we see from 2 Samuel 8:11, where David dedicates silver and gold taken from all the nations he had subdued. And it was not a custom confined to the Hebrews, for we are told (Ezra 1:7) that Nebuchadnezzar put into ‘the house of his gods’ those vessels of the house of the Lord which he had brought away from Jerusalem.

into the house of the Lord] These words the R.V. places after ‘brought,’ for the same reason which dictated the other slight changes in the verse.

And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.
16–24. Asa’s war with Baasha. His death (2 Chronicles 16:1-6; 2 Chronicles 16:11-14)

16. between Asa and Baasha] Baasha obtained the throne of Israel in the third year of Asa’s reign (1 Kings 15:33) and reigned twenty-four years. So Asa was king all through Baasha’s reign. Hence ‘all their days’ implies the whole of Baasha’s reign.

And Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah, and built Ramah, that he might not suffer any to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.
17. went up against Judah and built Ramah] This act of Baasha’s shews us that Israel must by this time have recovered some of the power and territory which had been taken from them in Jeroboam’s reign (2 Chronicles 13:19). Ramah, though lying in the hill country of Ephraim, was among the places allotted to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:25), so that it must have been very near to Jerusalem, and to make a fortress of it, as Baasha was now doing, was like making a blockade of Jerusalem, a condition which is described in the words which immediately follow.

Then Asa took all the silver and the gold that were left in the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants: and king Asa sent them to Benhadad, the son of Tabrimon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying,
18. Ben-hadad, the son of Tabrimon [R.V. Tabrimmon] the son of Hezion, king of Syria] This is the earliest of the three kings of this name mentioned in the Old Testament. ‘Hezion’ is probably the same person as the ‘Rezon,’ king of Damascus mentioned in 1 Kings 11:23, and Ben-hadad 1. was apparently his grandson. We cannot always determine whether the names of these kings are merely significant titles, or true names. ‘Hadad’ was a Syrian god, perhaps the sun-god, and Ben-hadad, ‘son of Hadad’ may mean one devoted to Hadad’s worship. So ‘Tab-rimmon’ signifies ‘good is Rimmon’; Rimmon being another Syrian divinity (see 2 Kings 5:18). This is much more likely to be a personal name than Ben-hadad. The war which Ben-hadad now began against Israel appears to have been continued in the days of Ahab. See below 1 Kings 20:1. In the LXX. this king is called υἱὸς Ἄδερ.

There is a league between me and thee, and between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent unto thee a present of silver and gold; come and break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.
19. There is a league] There is, as the italics of A. V. shew, no verb expressed in the original. The LXX. supplies the imperative διάθου = make. This the R.V. represents on the margin by ‘Let there be.’ But the concluding words of the clause seem to point to the indicative as the more suitable insertion. What Asa desires to claim is a sort of hereditary alliance, which he would best do by treating the friendship as existing and of long standing. As there was no war between Asa and Ben-hadad, the one might very naturally write to the other in brotherly language, according to the custom of monarchs.

come [R.V. go] and break thy league with Baasha] The R.V. more strictly represents the Hebrew by omitting the italic ‘and,’ and brings the verse into agreement with 2 Chronicles 16:3 where the same words stand in the original. As Israel lay nearer to Damascus than did Judah, any places won from the northern kingdom would be easily included in the Syrian kingdom. Hence beside the costly presents, Benhadad might see other gain in forming an alliance with Asa against Israel.

that he may depart from me] As he would naturally do to repel an invasion on the northern frontier.

So Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of the hosts which he had against the cities of Israel, and smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelbethmaachah, and all Cinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali.
20. So [R.V. And] Ben-hadad hearkened] The conjunction is the simple copulative, and is so rendered in the parallel place in Chronicles.

the captains of the hosts which he had] This is an attempt to represent the Hebrew construction. But it is not nearly so idiomatic as the translation in Chronicles which the R.V. has followed, that the same Hebrew might have in both places the same English rendering: the captains of his armies.

and smote Ijon] This town lay in the north of Palestine and belonged to the tribe of Naphtali. It was attacked and plundered again in later days by Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 15:29).

and Dan] This was the town formerly called Laish, which had been seized in the days of the Judges by some Danites from the south (Joshua 19:47; Jdg 18:29). It lay on the extreme north of the country, so that ‘from Dan to Beersheba’ became an expression to describe the whole country from north to south.

and Abel-beth-maachah] This city, like the rest, lay quite in the north, and was early a place of some importance. It is called ‘a city and a mother in Israel’ (2 Samuel 20:9). In the parallel passage in Chronicles the name is given as ‘Abel-maim,’ i.e. ‘Abel on the waters.’

all Cinneroth] R.V. Chinneroth. From the way in which it is here mentioned this appears to have been a district and not a town. It was probably named from the lake of Gennesareth, or sea of Tiberias, which was in that neighbourhood, and was anciently called ‘the sea of Chinnereth’ (Numbers 24:11; Joshua 13:27).

Naphtali] This tribe lay directly in the way of Syrian and Assyrian invaders.

And it came to pass, when Baasha heard thereof, that he left off building of Ramah, and dwelt in Tirzah.
21. he left off building of Ramah] Thus releasing Jerusalem from its blockade, as Asa desired. In Chronicles it is said ‘he let his work cease.’

Tirzah] A royal residence before this time. See on 1 Kings 14:17.

Then king Asa made a proclamation throughout all Judah; none was exempted: and they took away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha had builded; and king Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah.
22. Asa made a proclamation throughout [R.V. unto] all Judah] Literally ‘caused all Judah to hear.’ The people, rather than the land, are spoken of, as is shewn by the next words ‘none was exempted.’ The whole labouring population was gathered on the king’s requisition that the work might be completed while the pressure of the Syrians on the north was being sharply felt.

and they took [R.V. carried] away the stones of Ramah] As in many previous instances R.V. takes the rendering from Chronicles, but only that the two may be made alike where the original is the same. The king of Israel had intended to make a great fortress out of Ramah. Hence there was prepared an immense quantity of stone and wood for his fortifications. This is what is meant by ‘building’ in this whole passage. Ramah was to have been ‘fortified’, and the materials sufficed to fortify Geba and Mizpah for Judah.

built with them] R.V. built therewith. As in Chronicles.

Geba of Benjamin] Geba (signifying ‘a hill’) was on the extreme north of the kingdom of Judah, which is described (2 Kings 23:8) as extending ‘from Geba to Beersheba.’ It is mentioned among the Benjamite towns (Joshua 21:17), and was one of those allotted to the priests.

Mizpah] The word signifies ‘a pillar’ and is the name given to several places in the Holy Land. The town spoken of in this verse is the ‘Mizpah of Benjamin,’ within a mile or two of Gibeah. The LXX. translates both Geba and Mizpah, giving πᾶν βουνὸν Βενιαμὶν καὶ τὴν σκοπιάν.

The rest of all the acts of Asa, and all his might, and all that he did, and the cities which he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? Nevertheless in the time of his old age he was diseased in his feet.
23. The rest of all the acts of Asa] There is a conjunction at the opening of the verse in the original. Hence R.V. Now the rest &c.

The reign of Asa is dealt with more fully in the book of Chronicles. Beside what is told in Kings, we learn there that he built fenced cities in Judah, because the land had rest and no war. His army is described as consisting of 300,000 men of Judah and 280,000 of Benjamin. He defeated Zerah the Ethiopian, who came against him in battle, and with the help of God drove him back as far as Gerar. A prophecy of Azariah the son of Oded encouraged the king to put down idolatry with a strong hand, and he bound his people by a solemn oath to cleave unto the Lord, and those who would not do so he put to death. Asa, we are told, was rebuked by Hanani the prophet after the withdrawal of Baasha, because he had relied on the help of the king of Syria, and he was told that from henceforth he should have wars. In anger Asa imprisoned the unwelcome prophet, and oppressed some of his people at the same time. The long reign of this king was manifestly an active time, both in the religious and political life of Judah.

the cities which he built] No doubt these are ‘the fenced cities’ spoken of in 2 Chronicles 14:6, as built during the days of peace.

Nevertheless] R.V. But. The A.V. would make it seem as though the successes described in the early part of the verse ought to have been enough to prevent the disease here mentioned.

diseased in his feet] In 2 Chronicles 16:12 it is added ‘until his disease was exceeding great’, and then as another token of his weakened trust in God the chronicler continues ‘yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians.’

And Asa slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead.
24. and was buried with his fathers] There is much more detail concerning the burial in 2 Chronicles 16:14, ‘They buried him in his own sepulchres, which he had made for himself in the city of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries’ art, and they made a very great burning for him.’ At the funerals of the great it was the custom to burn beds and clothes, spices and other things (see Jeremiah 24:5). In T. B. Abodah Zarah 11 a it is said: ‘when Rabban Gamaliel the elder died, Onkelos the proselyte burned in his honour the worth of 70 minæ of Tyrian money.’

And Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned over Israel two years.
25–30. Nadab king of Israel. Baasha slays him, and all that belong to Jeroboam (Not in Chronicles)

25. reigned over Israel two years] These must have been but portions of two years. Nadab’s reign began in the second year of Asa, and below (1 Kings 15:31) we find that his successor began to reign in the third year of Asa.

And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.
26. he did evil] R.V. (as always for this definite expression) he did that which was evil. Nadab followed the same worship of the calves which his father had introduced. This was a most insidious fashion of idolatry, for it did not disown Jehovah, only acted against His law in making a representation for purposes of worship.

And Baasha the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him; and Baasha smote him at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines; for Nadab and all Israel laid siege to Gibbethon.
27. of the house of Issachar] Jeroboam’s family was of the tribe of Ephraim (1 Kings 11:26), and it may have been some tribal jealousy which led a man of Issachar to exterminate the whole family of Jeroboam, and to found a new dynasty. From the message of the prophet Jehu to Baasha (1 Kings 14:1-2) it would appear as if Baasha’s attempt had been sanctioned by some divine message. But none the more did Baasha improve upon the conduct of the two kings of the previous house.

at Gibbethon, which belongeth [R.V. belonged] to the Philistines] Scrivener’s edition of 1611 reads belongeth. This was a town allotted originally to the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:44), and was given as a Levitical city to the Kohathites (Joshua 21:23), but it had been by this time taken by the Philistines, and Nadab was endeavouring to drive them out. The verb belongeth is only indicated by the preposition which is prefixed to the word Philistines, and we need not understand more by it than occupation such as conquerors take.

all Israel laid siege] R.V. were laying siege. The work was still in progress, and was not completed even in Baasha’s reign. Cf. 1 Kings 16:15.

Even in the third year of Asa king of Judah did Baasha slay him, and reigned in his stead.
And it came to pass, when he reigned, that he smote all the house of Jeroboam; he left not to Jeroboam any that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according unto the saying of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite:
29. when he reigned, that he smote] R.V. that as soon as he was king he smote. Being an usurper he would desire to make his power secure by removing at once everyone who might become a rival. This is expressed in the original, and the R.V. seems to bring it out fully. Thus God used the policy of Baasha to fulfil the prophecy against Jeroboam.

by his servant] The Hebrew says by the hand of his servant, and as this mode of expression is not uncommon in the Old Testament, the R.V. has given the full form. For the threat against Jeroboam and the reason, see 1 Kings 14:9-11.

Because of the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned, and which he made Israel sin, by his provocation wherewith he provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger.
30. because of [R.V. for] the sins] In 1 Kings 14:16, words very like this clause are found, but the preposition there is a strong compound word, and ‘because of’ was there left as the translation. Here the original gives another and lighter preposition. Hence the seemingly unnecessary change, by which however the English reader is made to notice a difference of the Hebrew.

by [R.V. because of] his provocation] Cf. Deuteronomy 32:19; 2 Kings 23:26.

Now the rest of the acts of Nadab, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.
1 Kings 15:32 to 1 Kings 16:7. Baasha king of Israel. God’s messages to him by the prophet Jehu (Not in Chronicles)

32. And there was war] The LXX. (Vat.) omits this verse entirely.

In the third year of Asa king of Judah began Baasha the son of Ahijah to reign over all Israel in Tirzah, twenty and four years.
33. in Tirzah, twenty and four years] To complete the sense the R.V. inserts in italics after ‘Tirzah’ the words ‘and reigned.’

Tirzah seems to have become by this time a more common royal residence than Shechem. Perhaps its extreme beauty attracted the kings and their families. Cf. Sol. Song of Solomon 6:4, ‘Thou art beautiful as Tirzah’.

And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.
34. evil] R.V. that which was evil. See above on 1 Kings 15:26, 1 Kings 16:1.

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