Matthew Poole's Commentary
Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam began Abijah to reign over Judah.Abijah warreth against Jeroboam king of Israel. 2 Chronicles 2:1-3; declareth the right of his cause, 2 Chronicles 13:4-12; trusteth in God; overcometh Jeroboam, 2 Chronicles 13:13-20. His wives and children, 2 Chronicles 13:21,22.
No text from Poole on this verse.
He reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Michaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam.Michaiah the daughter of Uriel, called Maachah the daughter of Absalom, 1 Kings 15:2. She might be daughter to one, and granddaughter to the other; or the proper and natural daughter of the, one, and the other’s by adoption, of which there are instances in Scripture; or the same person might be called Uriel and Absalom: see 1 Kings 15:2.
And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men: Jeroboam also set the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men, being mighty men of valour.Abijah set the battle in array against Jeroboam. We need not scrupulously inquire into the lawfulness of this war, for this Abijah, though here he makes a fair flourish, and maintained the better cause, yet was indeed an ungodly man, 1 Kings 15:3, and therefore minded not the satisfaction of his conscience, but only the recovery of his parent’s ancient dominions.
And Abijah stood up upon mount Zemaraim, which is in mount Ephraim, and said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel;Upon Mount Zemaraim; some commodious place whence his voice might be heard by Jeroboam, and some of his host, who possibly were pitched in the valley. Or the two armies being pitched near to one another, Abijah might desire a parley, before they fight; whereupon Jeroboam, and some of his commanders and soldiers, might draw near to him, and stand below him at the bottom of the hill, where they might hear his speech; which Jeroboam was the more willing to do, that in the mean time he might cause an ambushment to come behind Abijah and his army, as he did, 2 Chronicles 13:13, whilst he was quietly standing before them, and seemed to hearken to any terms of accommodation which might be offered.
Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?i.e. By a perpetual covenant, which thy usurpation can not disannul. For the phrase, See Poole "Numbers 18:19".
Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, is risen up, and hath rebelled against his lord.No text from Poole on this verse.
And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them.The children of Belial; such as have cast off the yoke and obedience which they owed both to God and to their king.
When Rehoboam was young; not in age, for he was then forty-one years old, but in his kingdom, which he had but newly obtained, and in experience in politic, and especially in military, affairs, to which he was wholly a stranger, as having been born and bred up in a time of great peace and security.
Tender-hearted, i.e. cowardly and fearful, who durst not adventure to chastise the rebels as he should have done. But therein Abijah forgets his duty, both to his father, whom he falsely traduceth; and to God, by whose express command Rehoboam was restrained from the war against Israel, which otherwise he had both courage and resolution to prosecute, as appears from the history, 1 Kings 12:21.
And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with you golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods.The kingdom of the Lord in the land of the sons of David; that kingdom which was not set up by vain men in pursuance of their own ambition and discontent, as yours was, but ordained and established by God himself in the house of David.
And ye be a great multitude, or because (that Hebrew particle being oft so used) ye be, &c. This he mentions partly as the ground of their confidence, that they had more tribes and a greater host; and partly as a presage of their downfall, which trusting to the arm of flesh is.
And there are with you golden calves, or, but there are, &c. There is that among you which may damp your courage and confidence: you worship those images which God abhors and severely forbids.
For gods, or for God, as that plural word is most commonly used, i.e. instead of God, to give them the name of God, as Exodus 32:4, and that worship which is peculiar to him.
Have ye not cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams, the same may be a priest of them that are no gods.To consecrate himself, i. e. to make himself a priest. See Poole "Leviticus 7:37".
That are no gods; that have nothing of the nature or power, though you give them the name of gods.
But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests, which minister unto the LORD, are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business:The Lord, Heb. Jehovah, the only true and great God.
We have not forsaken him; we maintain his honour and worship, which you have ungratefully rejected.
And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him.The pure table; so called, because it was made of pure gold, Exodus 25:23,24.
The candlestick; he saith table and candlestick, though there were ten of each, 2 Chronicles 4:7,8; either,
1. Because Shishak had carried away all but one. Or,
2. The singular number is put for the plural, as 1 Kings 7:48, and oft elsewhere. Or,
3. Because ordinarily there was but one of each used at a time for those uses.
To burn every evening; and from evening to morning continually, Leviticus 24:2,3; for which end one candlestick was sufficient, and it is very improbable that all the candlesticks were used every night.
We keep the charge of the Lord our God: this he saith, though he was an ungodly king; either because he flattered himself and fancied that his keeping up the external worship of God would make full satisfaction for the errors of his life; or that he might hereby encourage his own soldiers, and convince or terrify his enemies.
And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper.With sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you; upon the sounding whereof God hath solemnly promised to assist his people, Numbers 10:9.
Fight ye not against the Lord God of your fathers; you have not only us for your enemies, but God, even the God whom your fathers honoured and served, to their own great comfort and benefit.
But Jeroboam caused an ambushment to come about behind them: so they were before Judah, and the ambushment was behind them.Whilst Abijah was discoursing, Jeroboam takes the advantage of it to lay an ambush.
And when Judah looked back, behold, the battle was before and behind: and they cried unto the LORD, and the priests sounded with the trumpets.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then the men of Judah gave a shout: and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass, that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.By strengthening the hearts and hands of the men of Judah, and taking away the spirits and power of their enemies; and, it may be, by some extraordinary assistance.
And the children of Israel fled before Judah: and God delivered them into their hand.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Abijah and his people slew them with a great slaughter: so there fell down slain of Israel five hundred thousand chosen men.A vast number: but it hath been oft observed and recorded by sacred and profane historians, that in those ancient times there were very numerous armies, and ofttimes very great slaughters; and if this slaughter was more than ordinary, there is nothing strange nor incredible, because the Almighty God fought against the Israelites.
Thus the children of Israel were brought under at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied upon the LORD God of their fathers.They put their trust in him, and confidently expected help from him; which is a disposition of heart that God prizeth and taketh kindly. See 2 Kings 18:5 2 Chronicles 20:20 Psalm 22:4 Daniel 3:28.
And Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him, Bethel with the towns thereof, and Jeshanah with the towns thereof, and Ephrain with the towns thereof.Beth-el; which Jeroboam recovered afterwards, as appears by the course of the history, though it be not particularly mentioned, which is the case of many other considerable things. And in the mean time it is very probable, that when Jeroboam’s host was discomfited, and he expected that Abijah would pursue his victory, he removed the golden calf from Beth-el, which lay near Abijah’s kingdom, to some safer place.
Ephrain; a city so called, possibly the same which is mentioned John 11:54, or that which is called Ophrah, Judges 8:27.
Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days of Abijah: and the LORD struck him, and he died.The Lord struck him, i.e. Jeroboam, as appears from the contrary condition of Abijah described in the next verse. Him God might strike, either with vexation and horror of mind; or with some painful and lingering, but incurable, disease, like that of Jehoram, which tormented him two years together, and at last killed him, 2 Chronicles 21:19.
He died; not presently, but a year or two after this time.
But Abijah waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives, and begat twenty and two sons, and sixteen daughters.Not now after this victory, for he died presently after it; but in the whole time of his life, before he was king and afterward.
And the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways, and his sayings, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo.No text from Poole on this verse.