Matthew Poole's Commentary
Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abijam over Judah.Abijam followeth his father’s sins; God however keepeth promise: he dieth, and Asa his son succeedeth him, 1 Kings 15:1-8. His good reign, 1 Kings 15:9-15. Baasha wareth against him: he maketh a league with Ben-hadad, 1 Kings 15:16-22. He dieth, and Jehoshaphat succeedeth him, 1 Kings 15:23,24. Nadab’s wicked reign: Baasha slayeth him; destroyeth his father’s house, and succeeds him: his wicked reign, 1 Kings 15:25-34.
Object. How can this be, when he reigned three years, 1 Kings 15:2, and Asa his successor began his reign in the twentieth year of Jeroboam, 1 Kings 15:9?
Answ. Parts of years are commonly called and accounted years, both in the Old and New Testament, and in profane writers. So his reign began with Jeroboam’s eighteenth year, and continued his whole nineteenth year, and ended within his twentieth year, in which also Asa’s reign began. And thus one and the same year may well be, as it frequently is, attributed to two several persons.
Three years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.Three years: See Poole "1 Kings 15:1".
Of Abishalom, or, of Absalom, as he is called, 2 Chronicles 11:21. And because he is here mentioned as a known person, without any addition of his kindred or quality, some conceive that this was Absalom’s daughter, called properly Tamar, 2 Samuel 14:27, and from her royal grandmother, 2 Samuel 3:3 Maachah; and that she is called Michaiah (which differs not much from Maachah) the daughter of Uriel, 2 Chronicles 13:2, because she was first married to Uriel, as Josephus affirms, Antiq. viii. 3, and afterwards to Rehoboam. Others think this was another person, and that both she and her father had each of them several names, which was not unusual among the Hebrews.
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.In all the sins of his father; which his father lived in; either, first, Before his humiliation. Or rather, secondly, After his deliverance from Shishak, when, though he did not openly renounce the worship of God, he seems to have relapsed into his former sins; which otherwise would not have been remembered against him; as David’s name and memory is never loaded with the shame of his sins, because he truly repented of them.
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:A lamp, i.e. a son and successor to perpetuate his name and memory, which otherwise had gone into obscurity. The same phrase is used above, 1 Kings 11:36 2 Kings 8:19 2 Chronicles 21:7.
To establish Jerusalem, i.e. that he might maintain that city, and temple, and worship, as a witness for God in the world against the Israelites and heathen world, who should have inquired after it, and embraced the true religion there established and set up, as a beacon upon a high hill, that all men might take notice of it.
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.Quest. How is this true, seeing David sinned in the matter of Nabal, 1Sa 25, and Achish, 1Sa 27, and Mephibosheth, and his indulgence to his children, Adonijah, Amnon, and Absalom, and in the numbering of the people? Answ. This and the like phrases are not to be understood as exclusive of every sinful action, but only of a sinful course or state, or of an habitual and continued apostacy from God, or from his ways, as the very phrase of turning aside from God, or from his commands, doth constantly imply, as appears from Exodus 32:8 Deu 9:12,16 1 Samuel 8:3 Psalm 78:57 Isaiah 44:20 1 Timothy 1:6 5:15, &c. And thus it is most true. For David’s other sins were either sudden and transient acts, proceeding from human infirmity, and extraordinary temptations, and soon repented of and blotted out, as in the cases of Nabal and Achish; or mistakes of his judgment, which was not fully convinced of the sinfulness of such actions, as in the other cases alleged; whereas that which concerned Uriah’s wife was a designed and studied sin, long continued in, defended with a succession of other sins, presumptuous, and scandalous to his government and to the true religion, which he so eminently professed.
And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life.Which was said 1 Kings 14:30, and may be here repeated, to signify the cause and original of the war between Abijam and Jeroboam, which is implied here, and particularly described 2Ch 13. Abijam continued the war which Rehoboam had begun, and pushed it on to a decisive battle. But the place may be thus rendered, Yet there was war, &c., i.e. although God was pleased to show so much respect to David, as for his sake to continue the succession to the kingdom in his posterity, yet he thought fit to manifest his displeasure against David’s successors for their sins, and to mix their honour and happiness with wars and troubles.
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.The chronicles of the kings of Judah; in their annals; whence they were long after this time translated into the sacred Book of Chronicles. See Poole "1 Kings 14:19".
And Abijam slept with his fathers; and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead.No text from Poole on this verse.
And in the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel reigned Asa over Judah.In or towards the end of the year. See Poole "1 Kings 15:1".
And forty and one years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.i. e. His grandmother’s, as appears from 1 Kings 15:2, who is called his mother, as David is called Abijam’s father, 1 Kings 15:3, and this Asa’s father, 1 Kings 15:11. And so the names of father, and mother, and sons, and daughters are oft taken, both in sacred and profane authors, for grandparents and grandchildren. And his grandmother’s name may be here mentioned rather than his mother’s, because his mother was either an obscure person, or was long since dead, or indisposed or unwilling to take care of the education of her son, and so he was educated by the grandmother, who, though she did poison his father Abijam with her idolatrous principles, 1 Kings 15:12, yet could not infect Asa, nor withhold him from prosecuting his good purposes of reforming religion; which is here remembered to his praise.
And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father.That which was right in the eyes of the Lord; as to the government of his kingdom and life, and the reformation and establishment of God’s worship.
And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.The Sodomites, of whom see 1 Kings 14:24, not all of them, but those whom he could find out; but some escaped his observation and censure, as appears from 1 Kings 22:46.
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.Her he removed from being queen, i.e. he took from her either the name and authority of queen-regent, which she, having been Rehoboam’s wife, and Abijam’s mother, took to herself during Asa’s minority, and abused to the patronage of idolatry; or the dignity of the queen-mother, and those guards, or other ensigns of honour, or instruments of power, which, as such, she had enjoyed and misemployed. Otherwise,
he removed her from the queen, i.e. from his wife, that she might not be infected by her, and afterwards infect his children; which was a prudent and necessary care, for the prevention of so great and public a mischief.
An idol, Heb. a terror, or horror, i.e. a horrible idol; which it may be so called, either because all idols, though for a season they please, yet in the end will bring dreadful effects upon their worshippers; or because this was an idol of a more horrible or terrible shape, more abominable than ordinary, and not to be seen without horror; whether it was that filthy idol, called Priapus, which was commonly placed in groves or gardens; or Pan, or some other heathen god, to whose service she in a special manner devoted herself.
Burnt it by the brook Kidron; that when it was burnt to powder, it might be thrown into the water, and be unfit for any use. See Exodus 32:20 Deu 12:3.
But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa's heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.The high places were not removed.
Object. He did take these away, 2 Chronicles 14:3.
Answ. He took away those which were devoted to the worship of idols, as is there said, he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the highplaces, to wit, where they were worshipped: but as for those high places where the true God was worshipped, he did not take them away; partly, because he thought there was no great evil in them, because they had been used by David and Solomon, and other good and wise men; and because the true God was there worshipped, and that in the manner, though not in the place, which God had appointed; and partly, because he thought the removal of them might do much more hurt than their continuance, to wit, by occasioning the total neglect of God’s worship by many of the people, who either could not, or through want of competent faith and zeal would not, go up to Jerusalem to worship, now especially, when the Israelites, their near neighbours, formerly their friends, were become their enemies, and watched all opportunities to invade or molest them, which they concluded they would do when all their males were gone up to Jerusalem; and partly, because the people were so obstinately bent towards them, that it was, or at least seemed to him, impossible to remove them without great offence, or such commotions as were highly dangerous to that church and state.
Asa’s heart was perfect with the Lord, i.e. he did sincerely and constantly adhere to the worship and service of God. Though he could not hinder the people from using the high places, yet he did entirely devote himself to the worship of God in the manner and place prescribed by God.
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.Which his father had dedicated, Abijam, to wit, when he was in distress, and going to fight with Jeroboam, 2Ch 13 though afterwards he did not perform his vows, nor bring in what he had devoted; whether because he was prevented by death, or because he afterwards relapsed to idolatry, as may seem probable from the 12th verse of this chapter.
And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.So long as they two lived and reigned together; which is not so to be understood, as if there were a solemn and declared war continuing all that time, (for Asa was quiet in a great measure for his first ten years, 2 Chronicles 14:1, till the Israelites had recovered themselves from that dreadfull blow given them by Abijah, 2Ch 13, and Baasha began to reign in Asa’s third year,) but so that there were many private and particular hostilities practised among them; in which sense the same phrase is used 1 Kings 14:30.
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.Baasha went up against Judah; perceiving Asa’s great success, of which see 2Ch 14 2Ch 15, and the defection of many of his own subjects to him upon that occasion, 2 Chronicles 15:9, he began to bestir himself, and commenceth a war against him.
Built, i.e. repaired and fortified, Ramah, a city of Benjamin; which either belonged to the kingdom of Israel, from the division, (as some other places of that tribe are supposed to have done; of which See Poole "1 Kings 11:13",) or belonged to Judah, but was now invaded and taken by Baasha, and fortified.
That he might not suffer any to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah; therefore he chose this place, because it was in the way from his kingdom to Jerusalem, and, as some add, in or near the straits of the mountains, where they could easily discover and hinder all passengers that way.
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,All the silver and the gold that were left; these poor remainders, which either Shishak had left at that time, 1 Kings 14:26, or Abijam, or Asa, or others, both of Israel and Judah, had dedicated; which probably was not inconsiderable, because Asa had got great spoils from Zerah, 2Ch 14, and he and his numerous and prosperous people did at this time express a great zeal for the house and worship of God.
Asa sent them to Ben-hadad; wherein he committed three great faults, amongst many others. First, He alienated things consecrated to God without necessity. Secondly, He did this out of carnal fear and distrust of that God whose power and goodness he had lately experienced. Thirdly, He did this for an ill intent, to hire him to the breach of his league and covenant with Baasha, 1 Kings 15:19, and to take away part of that land which by right, and the special gift of God, belonged to the Israelites.
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.There is a league between me and thee, and between my father and thy father; whereby it appears, that albeit he was an adversary to Israel all Solomon’s days, 1 Kings 11:25, yet after the division of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah he was in league with both of them; either because his designs lay upon the enlargement of his empire other ways; or rather, because he thought it his wisdom and interest to leave them to themselves, to undo one another by their intestine wars, and so to prepare the way to his conquest of both; whereas his invading of either of them might have made up the breach, and forced them to unite against their common enemy. And therefore as soon as he was free from this fear, and one of them needed and earnestly desired his help against the other, he gladly embraced the opportunity.
That he may depart from me; that being called to defend himself, he may be forced to depart from my territories.
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.The northern parts of Baasha’s kingdom, which were nearest to his own kingdom of Damascus, and most remote from those parts where Baasha was now employed, which were in the most southern parts of his dominions.
And it came to pass, when Baasha heard thereof, that he left off building of Ramah, and dwelt in Tirzah.Now the royal city of Israel. See 1 Kings 14:17. There he abode to defend his own kingdoms, and durst not return to oppose Asa, lest the Syrian king should make a second and worse invasion. So Asa met with success in his ungodly course, as on the other side good men sometimes meet with disappointment in a good cause and course. So there is no judging of causes by events.
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.None was exempted; all sorts of persons were obliged to come, except those who were disenabled by age, or infirmity, or absence, or by the public service of the king and kingdom in other places.
Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah, i.e. repaired and strengthened them, for they were built before. See Jeremiah 41:9.
Quest. Why did he not rather perfect the fortifications of Ramah which Baasha had begun?
Answ. Because Baasha might have returned and recovered it afterwards; and he thought it most convenient that there should be no city nor fort in that place.
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.Nevertheless; notwithstanding the great things which he had done, and the glory and prosperity which he enjoyed, he felt the effects of human infirmity, and of his own sins; of which see 2 Chronicles 16:12,13.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Not complete, as appears from 1 Kings 15:28,33.
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.i.e. In the worship of the calves which his father had made.
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.Of the house of Issachar, i.e. of the tribe, which is oft called a house, as Judges 10:9 Psalm 135:20 Hosea 1:7. Which belonged to the Philistines; who, taking advantage of the division between Israel and Judah, had retaken this town, which belonged to the tribe of Dan, Joshua 19:44, and belonged to the Levites, Joshua 21:23; upon whose departure to Judah, 2 Chronicles 11:14, the kings of Israel seized their towns and lands to their own use, as was noted before; which made them so much concerned for this town, to besiege it both now and many years after this time, 1 Kings 16:15.
Even in the third year of Asa king of Judah did Baasha slay him, and reigned in his stead.In the third year of Asa: how this agrees with 2 Chronicles 16:1, see in the notes there.
Did Baasha slay him; which he did, not to fulfil God’s threatening, but only to advance himself; and therefore this is called murder, 1 Kings 16:7.
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:Any that breathed, i.e. any of the males of that family. See Deu 20:16 Joshua 10:40. According unto the saying of the Lord: so God overruled Baasha’s ambition and cruelty, to fulfil his own counsel and prediction.
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.Which he made Israel sin; so that same wicked policy which he used to establish the kingdom in his family proved his and their ruin; which is very frequently the event of ungodly counsels.
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?No text from Poole on this verse.
And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.