Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.War with Baasha, and the weakness of Asa's faith. The end of his reign. - 2 Chronicles 16:1-6. Baasha's invasion of Judah, and Asa's prayer for help to the king of Syria. The statement, "In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha the king of Israel came up against Judah," is inaccurate, or rather cannot possibly be correct; for, according to 1 Kings 16:8, 1 Kings 16:10, Baasha died in the twenty-sixth year of Asa's reign, and his successor Elah was murdered by Zimri in the second year of his reign, i.e., in the twenty-seventh year of Asa. The older commentators, for the most part, accepted the conjecture that the thirty-fifth year (in 2 Chronicles 15:19) is to be reckoned from the commencement of the kingdom of Judah; and consequently, since Asa became king in the twentieth year of the kingdom of Judah, that Baasha's invasion occurred in the sixteenth year of his reign, and that the land had enjoyed peace till his fifteenth year; cf. Ramb. ad h. l.; des Vignoles, Chronol. i. p. 299. This is in substance correct; but the statement, "in the thirty-sixth year of Asa's kingship," cannot re reconciled with it. For even if we suppose that the author of the Chronicle derived his information from an authority which reckoned from the rise of the kingdom of Judah, yet it could not have been said on that authority, אסא למלכוּת. This only the author of the Chronicle can have written; but then he cannot also have taken over the statement, "in the thirty-sixth year," unaltered from his authority into his book. There remains therefore no alternative but to regard the text as erroneous - the letters ל (30) and י (10), which are somewhat similar in the ancient Hebrew characters, having been interchanged by a copyist; and hence the Numbers 35 and 36 have arisen out of the original 15 and 16. By this alteration all difficulties are removed, and all the statements of the Chronicle as to Asa's reign are harmonized. During the first ten years there was peace (2 Chronicles 14:1); thereafter, in the eleventh year, the inroad of the Cushites; and after the victory over them there was the continuation of the Cultus reform, and rest until the fifteenth year, in which the renewal of the covenant took place (2 Chronicles 15:19, cf. with 2 Chronicles 15:10); and in the sixteenth year the war with Baasha arose.
(Note: Movers, S. 255ff., and Then. on 1 Kings 15, launch out into arbitrary hypotheses, founded in both cases upon the erroneous presumption that the author of the Chronicle copied our canonical books of Kings - they being his authority-partly misunderstanding and partly altering them.)
The account of this war in 2 Chronicles 16:1-6 agrees with that in 1 Kings 15:17-22 almost literally, and has been commented upon in the remarks on 1 Kings 15. In 2 Chronicles 16:2 the author of the Chronicle has mentioned only the main things. Abel-maim, i.e., Abel in the Water (2 Chronicles 16:4), is only another name for Abel-Beth-Maachah (Kings); see on 2 Samuel 20:14. In the same verse נפתּלי ערי כּל־מסכּנות ואת is surprising, "and all magazines (or stores) of the cities of Naphtali," instead of נפתּלי כּל־ארץ על כּל־כּנּרות את, "all Kinneroth, together with all the land of Naphtali" (Kings). Then. and Berth. think ערי מסכנות has arisen out of ארץ and כנרות by a misconception of the reading; while Gesen., Dietr. in Lex. sub voce כּנּרות, conjecture that in 1 Kings 15:20 מסכּנות should be read instead of כּנּרות. Should the difference actually be the result only of a misconception, then the latter conjecture would have much more in its favour than the first. But it is a more probable solution of the difficulty that the text of the Chronicle is a translation of the unusual and, especially on account of the כּל־ארץ נ על, scarcely intelligible כּל־כּנּרות. כּנּרות is the designation of the very fertile district on the west side of the Sea of Kinnereth, i.e., Gennesaret, after which a city also was called כּנּרת (see on Joshua 19:35), and which, on account of its fertility, might be called the granary of the tribal domain of Naphtali. But the smiting of a district can only be a devastation of it, - a plundering and destruction of its produce, both in stores and elsewhere. With this idea the author of the Chronicle, instead of the district Kinnereth, the name of which had perhaps become obsolete in his time, speaks of the מסכּנות, the magazines or stores, of the cities of Naphtali. In 2 Chronicles 16:5, too, we cannot hold the addition את־מלאכתּו ויּשׁבּת, "he caused his work to rest," as Berth. does, for an interpretation of the original reading, בּתרצה ויּשׁב (Kings), it having become illegible: it is rather a free rendering of the thought that Baasha abandoned his attempt upon Judah.
Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the LORD and of the king's house, and sent to Benhadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying,
There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.
And Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelmaim, and all the store cities of Naphtali.
And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease.
Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah.In regard to the building of Mizpah, it is casually remarked in Jeremiah 41:9 that Asa had there built a cistern.
And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.The rebuke of the prophet Hanani, and Asa's crime. - 2 Chronicles 16:7. The prophet Hanani is met with only here. Jehu, the son of Hanani, who announced to Baasha the ruin of his house (1 Kings 16:1), and who reappears under Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 19:2), was without doubt his son. Hanani said to King Asa, "Because thou hast relied on the king of Aram, and not upon Jahve thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Aram escaped out of thy hand." Berth. has correctly given the meaning thus: "that Asa, if he had relied upon God, would have conquered not only the host of Baasha, but also the host of the king of Damascus, if he had, as was to be feared, in accordance with his league with Baasha (2 Chronicles 16:3), in common with Israel, made an attack upon the kingdom of Judah." To confirm this statement, the prophet points to the victory over the great army of the Cushites, which Asa had won by his trust in God the Lord. With the Cushites Hanani names also פּרשׁים, Libyans (cf. 2 Chronicles 12:3), and besides רכב, the war-chariots, also פּרשׁים osla ,sto, horsemen, in order to portray the enemy rhetorically, while in the historical narrative only the immense number of warriors and the multitude of the chariots is spoken of.
Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand.
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars."For Jahve, His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong with those whose heart is devoted to Him;" i.e., for Jahve, who looks forth over all the earth, uses every opportunity wonderfully to succour those who are piously devoted to Him. עם התחזק, to help mightily, as in 1 Chronicles 11:10. אליו שׁלם עם־לבבם is a relative sentence without the relative אשׁר with עם; cf. 1 Chronicles 15:12. "Thou hast done foolishly, therefore," scil. because thou hast set thy trust upon men instead of upon Jahve, "for from henceforth there shall be wars to thee" (thou shalt have war). In these words the prophet does not announce to Asa definite wars, but only expresses the general idea that Asa by his godless policy would bring only wars (מלחמות in indefinite universality), not peace, to the kingdom. History confirms the truth of this announcement, although we have no record of any other wars which broke out under Asa.
Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time.This sharp speech so angered the king, that he caused the seer to be set in the stock-house. המּהשפכת בּית, properly, house of stocks. מהפּכת, twisting, is an instrument of torture, a stock, by which the body was forced into an unnatural twisted position, the victim perhaps being bent double, with the hands and feet fastened together: cf. Jeremiah 20:2; Jeremiah 29:26; and Acts 16:24, ἔβαλεν εἰς τὴν φυλακὴ̀ν καὶ τοὺς πόδας ἠσφαλίσατο αὐτῶν εἰς τὸ ξύλον. "For in wrath against him (scil. he did it) because of this thing, and Asa crushed some of the people at this time." Clearly Hanani's speech, and still more Asa's harsh treatment of the seer, caused great discontent among the people, at least in the upper classes, so that the king felt himself compelled to use force against them. רצץ, to break or crush, is frequently used along with עשׁק (Deuteronomy 28:33; 1 Samuel 12:3, etc.), and signifies to suppress with violence. Asa had indeed well deserved the censure, Thou hast dealt foolishly. His folly consisted in this, that in order to get help against Baasha's attack, he had had recourse to a means which must become dangerous to him and to his kingdom; for it was not difficult to foresee that the Syrian king Benhadad would turn the superiority to Israel which he had gained against Judah itself. But in order to estimate rightly Asa's conduct, we must consider that it was perhaps an easier thing, in human estimation, to conquer the innumerable multitudes of the Ethiopian hordes than the united forces of the kings of Israel and Syria; and that, notwithstanding the victory over the Ethiopians, yet Asa's army may have been very considerably weakened by that war. But these circumstances are not sufficient to justify Asa. Since he had so manifestly had the help of the Lord in the war against the Cushites, it was at bottom mainly weakness of faith, or want of full trust in the omnipotence of the Lord, which caused him to seek the help of the enemy of God's people, the king of Syria, instead of that of the Almighty God, and to make flesh his arm; and for this he was justly censured by the prophet.
And, behold, the acts of Asa, first and last, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel.The end of Asa's reign; cf. 1 Kings 15:23-24. - On 2 Chronicles 16:11, cf. the Introduction.
And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet, and that in a high degree. The words חיו עד־למעלה are a circumstantial clause: to a high degree was his sickness. "And also in his sickness (as in the war against Baasha) he sought not Jahve, but turned to the physicians." דּרשׁ is primarily construed with the accus., as usually in connection with יהוה or אלהים, to seek God, to come before Him with prayer and supplication; then with בּ, as usually of an oracle, or seeking help of idols (cf. 1 Samuel 28:7; 2 Kings 1:2.; 1 Chronicles 10:14), and so here of superstitious trust in the physicians. Consequently it is not the mere inquiring of the physicians which is here censured, but only the godless manner in which Asa trusted in the physicians.
And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign.
And 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.The Chronicle gives a more exact account of Asa's burial than 1 Kings 15:24. He was buried in the city of David; not in the general tomb of the kings, however, but in a tomb which he had caused to be prepared for himself in that place. And they laid him upon the bed, which had been filled with spices (בּשׂמים, see Exodus 30:23), and those of various kinds, mixed for an anointing mixture, prepared. זנים from זן, kind, species; וּזנים, et varia quidem. מרקּח in Piel only here, properly spiced, from רקח, to spice, usually to compound an unguent of various spices. מרקחת, the compounding of ointment; so also 1 Chronicles 9:30, where it is usually translated by unguent. מעשׂה, work, manufacture, is a shortened terminus technicus for רוקח מעשׂה, manufacture of the ointment-compounder (cf. Exodus 30:25, Exodus 30:35), and the conjecture that רוקח has been dropped out of the text by mistake is unnecessary. "And they kindled for him a great, very great burning," cf. 2 Chronicles 21:19 and Jeremiah 34:5, whence we gather that the kindling of a burning, i.e., the burning of odorous spices, was customary at the burials of kings. Here it is only remarked that at Asa's funeral an extraordinary quantity of spices was burnt. A burning of the corpse, or of the bed or clothes of the dead, is not to be thought of here: the Israelites were in the habit of burying their dead, not of burning them. That occurred only in extraordinary circumstances-as, for example, in the case of the bodies of Saul and his sons; see on 1 Samuel 31:12. The kindling and burning of spices at the solemn funerals of persons of princely rank, on the other hand, occurred also among other nations, e.g., among the Romans; cf. Plinii hist. nat. xii. 18, and M. Geier, de luctu Hebr. c. 6.