Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:XV.
ASA’S REFORMATION OF RELIGION.
(a) ADDRESS OF THE PROPHET AZARIAH BEN ODED (2Chronicles 15:1-7).
This section also is peculiar to the Chronicle.
(1) And the Spirit of God.—Literally, And Azariah son of Oded, there fell upon him spirit of God (i.e., a holy inspiration). The prophet is unknown, except from this chapter. The name Oded comprises the same radical letters as Iddo (2Chronicles 9:29; 2Chronicles 12:15); but whether the same prophet or another be meant, is beyond decision.
And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, 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.(2) And he went out to meet.—Literally, before. (1Chronicles 12:17; 2Chronicles 14:9.) Azariah met the king on his return from battle.
Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah.—(Comp. Abijah’s speech, 2Chronicles 13:4 : “Hear ye me, Jeroboam, and all Israel!”)
The Lord is with you, while ye be with him.—Or, Jehovah was with you (in the battle), because ye were with him (i.e., clung to him for help; see 2Chronicles 14:11).
And if ye seek him . . . forsake you.—This generalises the preceding statement. It is a favourite formula with the chronicler. (See 1Chronicles 28:9; and for the last clause, 2Chronicles 12:5; 2Chronicles 24:20; comp. also Jeremiah 29:13-14.)
He will be found.—Or, is found.
He will forsake.—Or, heforsaketh.
Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.(3) Now for a long season Israel hath been.—Literally, And many days to Israel, without true God, and without teaching priest, and without teaching. This is clearly an illustration of the general truth asserted in last verse. “Many a time hath Israel been without true God,” etc. Periods of religious decline, such as those recorded in the Book of Judges, as well as those of later times, especially since the division of the kingdom, are adduced as historical proof of the statement that the Lord was with Israel while they were with him. (Comp. Judges 2:11-19; Judges 3:7-10; also Hosea 3:4-5.)
Without.—Lĕlō’, only here in this sense.
The true God.—Jeremiah 10:9 : “Jehovah is true God” (’elohîm ’emeth).
Teaching priest.—Kôhēn môreh. (See Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy 17:9; Deuteronomy 33:10; Deuteronomy 24:8; Ezekiel 44:23; Jeremiah 18:18; Malachi 2:6-7.) The priests instructed the people in the Torah, or divine Law (literally, teaching).
But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.(4) But when they in their trouble did turn.—Literally, and he returned in his straits (Deuteronomy 4:30) unto Jehovah, the God of Israel; they sought him, and, etc. (See Judges 3:9; Judges 3:15; Judges 4:3; Judges 4:15; Judges 6:6, sqq.; Psalm 106:44; Psalm 107:6.)
And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.(5) And in those times.—The “many days” cf. 2Chronicles 15:3; the times of national unfaithfulness.
But great vexations.—For great confusions (mehûmôth). (See Deuteronomy 28:20, where mehûmah, “confusion” or “discomfiture,” is foretold as a punishment of apostacy. Here the meaning seems to be tumults, as in Amos 3:9. “The countries” are the territories or provinces of Israel, as in 2Chronicles 34:33.
And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity.(6) And nation was destroyed of nation.—And they were crushed, nation by nation and city by city. The verb khathath occurs Isaiah 2:4 (“to beat”); but in its (intensive) passive form only here. Some MSS. have the (intensive) active form, which is found elsewhere. So LXX. and Vulg.: “And nation shall fight against nation.” Nation is gôy, i.e., a community of kindred, such as a tribe or clan, rather than a merely political aggregate. The allusion is to the old feuds and contentions between rival tribes, e.g., between Ephraim and Gilead (Manasseh) (Judges 12), or between Benjamin and the other tribes (Judges 20). The verse vividly pourtrays an internecine strife, like that described in Isaiah 19:2 : “And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians, and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, kingdom against kingdom;” or like that depicted by the same prophet (Isaiah 9:18-21): “No man shall spare his brother . . . they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm [i.e., of his natural ally]: Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh; and they together shall be against Judah.”
Did vex them with all adversity.—Had confounded (or, discomfited) them with every kind of distress. (Comp. Zechariah 14:13 : “A great confusion from the Lord.”)
Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.(7) Be ye strong therefore.—Rather, But ye, be ye strong.
Your work shall be rewarded.—Literally, there is indeed a reward for your work; words occurring in Jeremiah 31:16. We have here the moral of the prophet’s address. The ruinous results of not “seeking,” and “forsaking,” Jehovah (2Chronicles 15:2) have been briefly but powerfully sketched from the past history of the nation. The conclusion is, Do not ye fall away like your forefathers; but let your allegiance to Jehovah be decided and sincere.
Your work.—Of rooting out idolatry.
And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.(b) THE REFORM OF WORSHIP, AND PUBLIC RENEWAL OF THE COVENANT
(8) And the prophecy of Oded the prophet.—Heb., And the prophecy Oded the prophet; without any connection. This is suspicious, and suggests the idea that “Oded the prophet” is a marginal gloss, which has crept into the text; especially as, according to 2Chronicles 15:1, not Oded, but Azariah son of Oded, was the author of the prophecy. Possibly there is a lacuna, and the original text ran: “And the prophecy which Azariah son of Oded, the prophet, spake.” There is no variation in Heb. MSS., and the readings of the versions only show that the difficulty is ancient. (LXX., Vatic., “the prophecy of Adad the prophet; “but in 2Chronicles 15:1 : “Azarias son of Oded;” Alex., “Azarias son of Adad the prophet;” Syr., “Azariah son of Azur;” Vulg., “Azariah son of Oded the prophet.”) these words and the prophecy, i.e., these words, even (or, that is) the prophecy. Epexegetical use of the conjunction.
And put away.—Removed (1Kings 15:12).
The cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim.—The hill-country of Ephraim. In 2Chronicles 17:2 we read again: “the cities of Ephraim, which Asa had taken.” It is generally assumed that in both passages there is a somewhat inaccurate reference to the conquests of Abijah recorded in 2Chronicles 13:19; for hitherto Asa had had no wars with the northern kingdom (2Chronicles 14:1; 2Chronicles 14:6; 2Chronicles 15:19). But Asa may have annexed some of the towns on his northern border without resistance, after his victory over Zerah. (Comp. the voluntary immigration into Judah described in 2Chronicles 15:9.) Thenius, who fixes the date of Baasha’s attempt before the Cushite invasion, says that Asa seems to have assumed the offensive after Baasha’s retreat from Ramah.
And renewed the altar.—The context seems to imply that this “renewal” consisted in reconsecration, the altar having been defiled by an illegal cultus. So the LXX. and Vulg., ἐνκάινισε, dedicavit. The word, however, may only mean repaired, restored. The altar had now stood sixty years. (Comp. 2Chronicles 24:4.)
And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.(9) The strangers—i.e., the non-Judæans; members of the northern kingdom. A similar accession to the southern kingdom had taken place under Rehoboam (2Chronicles 11:16); and another yet is related in the reign of Hezekiah (2Chronicles 30:11; 2Chronicles 30:18).
And out of Simeon.—This tribe is again mentioned along with Ephraim and Manasseh in 2Chronicles 34:6, although its territory lay “within the inheritance of the children of Judah” (Joshua 19:1). Perhaps a portion of the tribe had migrated northward (comp. Judges 18), and some of these now settled again in Judah. Genesis 49:7 speaks of Simeon as “divided in Jacob, and scattered in Israel.”
Another solution is, that although politically one with Judah, the tribe of Simeon was religiously isolated by its illegal worship established at Beersheba, similar to that at Bethel and Dan (Amos 4:4; Amos 5:5; Amos 8:14). But this hardly agrees with the next clause: “They fell to him out of Israel.”
When they saw that the Lord.—They had heard of his great deliverance from Zerah.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.—This seems to indicate that the Cushite invasion took place not long before, perhaps in the spring of the same year (see Note on 1Chronicles 20:1).
And they offered unto the LORD the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.(11) The same time.—On that day; viz., the day appointed for the festival, in the third month, i.e., Sivan, corresponding to part of May and June.
Of the spoil which they had brought.—The spoil of Zerah, the cities round Gerar, and the nomadic tribes (2Chronicles 14:13-15).
And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;(12) And they entered into a (the) covenant.—Jeremiah 34:10. The phrase means that they bound themselves by an oath (2Chronicles 15:14). Comp. Nehemiah 10:30.
To seek the Lord . . . with all their heart . . .—See the same phrase in Deuteronomy 4:29.
That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.(13) That.—And.
And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.(14) With shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.—See or 1Chronicles 15:28; 2Chronicles 23:13. The acclamations of the people, accompanied by the loud blasts upon trumpet and clarion, naturally enhanced the solemnity of the oath.
And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about.(15) All Judah.—The entire southern kingdom.
With their whole desire.—Or, assent; with perfect willingness. Vulg., “in tota voluntate.”
And he was found of them.—Or, was at hand to them; in accordance with the promise of Azariah the prophet (2Chronicles 15:2).
And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.(16) And also concerning Maachah.—2Chronicles 15:16-18 are a duplicate of 1Kings 15:13-15, with a few unimportant variations. See the commentary there.
The mother of Asa the king—i.e., his grandmother. (See 2Chronicles 13:2; and 1Kings 15:13). Others have supposed that Maachah the mother of Abijah, and Maachah the “mother” of Asa, were different persons, the former being the daughter of Absalom, the latter the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. There are really no grounds for this. Maachah, the mother of Abijah, enjoyed the rank of queen-mother not only during his short reign of three years, but also during that of her grandson Asa, until deposed by him on account of her idolatry.
Queen.—Gebîrah, lady, mistress; but always used of a queen. Compare the position of Athaliah (2Chronicles 22:2).
An idol.—Miphlètseth; a thing of fear; a horror; a term only found here and in 1Kings 15:13. (Not as Merx suggests, nor a phallus, as others think. Comp. the cognate words in Job 9:6; Job 21:6; Jeremiah 49:16.)
In a grove.—Rather, for Ashērah (2Kings 17:16).
But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.(17) But the high places were not taken away.—See on 2Chronicles 14:3; 2Chronicles 14:5. An explanation of the discrepancy has been suggested there; but a better one perhaps may be thus stated. The former passage relates what the good king had resolved and attempted to effect; the present records his want of success, owing to the obstinate attachment of his people to their old sanctuaries.
Out of Israel.—Not in Kings. The southern kingdom is meant.
The heart of Asa was perfect.—Kings adds, with Jehovah. The meaning is, that though he failed to get rid of the high places, Asa himself was always faithful to the lawful worship of the Temple. (Comp. 1Chronicles 28:9.)
And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.(18) And he brought into the house of God.—The verse is identical with 1Kings 15:15, substituting God for Jehovah. “The things that his father had dedicated” were, doubtless, taken from the spoils after Abijah’s great victory over Jeroboam (2Chronicles 13:16-19); and” the things that he himself had dedicated “were a portion of the Cushite booty (2Chronicles 14:13-15).
The brief reference contained in that single verse of Kings is thus an evident confirmation of the chronicler’s narrative concerning the victories of Abijah and Asa, which he alone records.
And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.(19) And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.—Literally, and war arose not until, etc. This statement appears to refer back to 2Chronicles 15:15 : “And the Lord gave them rest round about;” and so to assign the limit of that period of peace, which ensued after the defeat of Zeran.
The chronicler has evidently modified the older text, in order to assign a precise date to the outbreak of active hostilities between the two monarchs. (Both 1Kings 15:16 and the present 2Chronicles 15:19 begin with the same two Hebrew words, meaning “and war was,” but the chronicler inserts a not).
The verse of Kings need not imply more than that no amicable relations were ever established between the two sovereigns. They had inherited a state of war, although neither was in a condition to make an open attack upon the other for some years.
The five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.—This limit does not agree with the data of Kings (seo on 2Chronicles 16:1). Thenius suggests that the letter l, denoting 30, got into the text originally, through some transcriber, who inadvertently wrote the l with which the next Hebrew word begins twice over. Later on, some other copyist naturally corrected 2Chronicles 16:1, to agree with this. Assuming thus that the right readings here were originally the fifth and sixth years of the reign of Asa, Thenius concludes that in 2Chronicles 16:1 the letter v (i.e., 6) has been shortened into y (10); and that Baasha’s attempt preceded the invasion of Zerah. The false dates probably existed already in the source which the chronicler followed.