Asa succeeds his father Abijah, reigns piously, and has peace for ten years, 2 Chronicles 14:1. He makes a great reformation in Judah, and builds cities of defense, 2 Chronicles 14:2-7. His military strength, 2 Chronicles 14:8. He is attacked by Zerah the Ethiopian, with an immense army; Asa cries to the Lord, attacks the Ethiopians, and gives them a total overthrow, 2 Chronicles 14:9-12. He takes several of their cities, their cattle, etc., and returns to Jerusalem, laden with spoils, 2 Chronicles 14:13-15.
So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years.The land was quiet ten years - Calmet thinks these years should be counted from the fifth to the fifteenth of Asa's reign.
And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God:Did that which was good - He attended to what the law required relative to the worship of God. He was no idolater, though, morally speaking, he was not exempt from faults, 1 Kings 15:14. He suppressed idolatry universally, and encouraged the people to worship the true God: see 2 Chronicles 14:3-5.
For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves:
And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment.
Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him.
And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the LORD had given him rest.Fenced cities - To preserve his territories from invasion, and strengthen the frontiers of his kingdom, see 2 Chronicles 14:7.
Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us; because we have sought the LORD our God, we have sought him, and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered.
And Asa had an army of men that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows, two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these were mighty men of valour.Targets and spears - Probably targets with the dagger in the center, and javelins for distant fight.
Bare shields and drew bows - They were not only archers, but had shield and sword for close fight.
And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah.Zerah the Ethiopian - Probably of that Ethiopia which lay on the south of Egypt, near to Libya, and therefore the Libyans are joined with them, 2 Chronicles 16:8.
A thousand thousand - If this people had come from any great distance, they could not have had forage for such an immense army.
Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.
And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, 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, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.Whether with many - The same sentiment as that uttered by Jonathan, 1 Samuel 14:6, when he attacked the garrison of the Philistines.
O Lord our God - we rest on thee - "Help us, O Lord our God; because we depend on thy Word, and in the name of thy Word we come against this great host." - Targum.
So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.
And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.
And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the LORD came upon them: and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them.There was - much spoil in them - These cities being on the rear of this vast army, they had laid up much forage in them; and to get this the Jews overthrew the whole.
They smote also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem.Tents of cattle - Those which had carried the baggage of the great army, and which they had left in such places as abounded with pasture. Perhaps sheepfolds, enclosures for camels, mules, etc., may also be intended. The discomfiture was great, because God fought for the people; and the spoil was immense, because the multitude was prodigious, indeed almost incredible, a million of men in one place is almost too much for the mind to conceive, but there may be some mistake in the numerals: it is evident from the whole account that the number was vast and the spoil great.