And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:
Verse 1. - The Spirit of God came. For "came," read the literal Hebrew "was," as also in our 2 Chronicles 20:14, where instead of "God" (אְלֶהִים), we find "the Lord" (יְהוָה). In our 2 Chronicles 24:20, we have again "God," with the verb "clothed" (לָבְשָׁה). The grand original of the expression is, of course, found in Genesis 1:2, where the name is "God." Compare Pharaoh's question in Genesis 41:38; Exodus 31:3; Exodus 35:31; Numbers 24:2; Judges 3:1; Judges 6:34 (the verb "clothed" is used in this last); five other times in Judges we have the Spirit of the Lord; in Samuel six times, and "the Spirit of God" another six times; in Kings, three times "the Spirit of the Lord." These passages exhibit incontestably the function, and the manifold function, of the Spirit! Azariah the son of Oded. The Vulgate and Alexandrian Septuagint read here simply Oded; and Movers (p. 261) has suggested that "Oded the son of Azariah" is the correct reading for what now stands in the text; these are contrivances to meet the difficulty which the eighth verse occasions, and they are not so simple certainly as the proposal of Keil and Bertheau (following the Arabic Version) to omit altogether from ver. 8 the repetition of the name of the prophet, under the plea that the words, "of Oded the prophet," may so conceivably be owing to a copyist's meddlesome marginal reminiscence of ver. 1. It would have been, perhaps, a yet simpler method of overcoming the difficulty to account that the words, "Azariah the son of," had through a copy error slipped out of the text, except that the previous word, "the prophecy," is not in the construct state, and this favours Keil and Bertheau's suggestion (see our 2 Chronicles 9:29), or rather the suggestion of the Arabic Version, which before them omits the words, "of Oded the prophet." The Vatican Septuagint has the readings in beth verses as Englished in the Authorized Version. Some think Oded may be one with Iddo of 2 Chronicles 9:29; 2 Chronicles 12:15; 2 Chronicles 13:22; pointing out that the Hebrew characters would permit it, if we suppose a vau added to the name Oded. This conjectural attempt to give this Prophet Azariah for son to Iddo seems to gain no great point. Of this Azariah nothing else is known; he is described as "son of Oded" probably to distinguish him from Azariah the high priest, son of Johanan (see Dr. Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 1:142, second column, 3). (For the rest on this subject, see note on ver. 8.)
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.
Verse 2. - He went out to meet him; literally, into his presence; but the Authorized Version rendering is very correct, as well as happy in expression (see 1 Chronicles 14:8; also see the remarkable and interesting verse, 2 Chronicles 28:9). The prophet was the leader, the teacher, the suggester of the right and opportune thing to the people, but to the prophet the Lord himself was Leader, Teacher, Prompter, and it was exactly so now. To the very moment, the quickened moment of new thought and for new deed, divinest instruction and suggestion are ministered. The Lord is with you... will forsake you. The original occasion of the beautiful language and word of covenant in the heart of this second part of the verse is enshrined in Deuteronomy 4:29 (see also 1 Chronicles 28:9; 2 Chronicles 24:20; Jeremiah 29:11-14). It is just conceivable that these words by themselves are what are designated "the prophecy" (and "the prophecy") in ver. 8. They may be in the first place regarded as ancient quotations. They are also characterized by a certain self-containedness and weightiness of matter as compared with the historic illustrations of the following four verses. No corroborative external evidence of this conjecture, however, is forthcoming.
Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.
Verse 3. - Now for a long season. This translation is wrong; translate rather first, And many the days to Israel to not have true God, and to not have teaching priest, and to not have Law. So far no tense is limited, however naturally through the very drift of the passage it may seem that experience is being challenged, and so necessarily the past tense desiderated, not, however, in aorist shape, but in what some French grammarians call present perfect. For Azariah may well contemplate his illustration as good from long of old, to the very moment he was speaking. The unfortunate wealth of illustration to hand of his position may pardon the doubtfulness of commentators as to the source from which it may be supposed he would have drawn his most effective instances. It will not be the unlikeliest guide to follow the triple description of the alleged apostasy, misfortune, or iniquity "of Israel," e.g. (say) it happened to them to not have the true God; happened to them to not have teaching priest; happened to them to not have the Law (this meaning, to not have it authoritatively proclaimed, taught, ministered). When did these three things happen altogether most notoriously? They describe, not the transgressions of an individual king, but the state of the people and kingdom as a whole. If it were possible to conceive the description as a flagrant anachronism, a retrospective post-Captivity amplification, which the writer (in his glow of work and thought) was unconsciously and irresistibly betrayed into putting into the lips of the Prophet Azariah, all doubt would end; for the description would suit no state of things and no period better than that of the divided kingdoms, especially applying to the career of the separate kingdom of Israel. Our account, unfortunately, is unchecked just here by a parallel. It is, however, impossible to suppose this without any tittle of external authority for it, much less enough to proceed upon. Some so crave the illustration that they are prepared to suppose all the tenses of these verses present and future rather than past and "present perfect." But, in fact, no doubt the history of Israel since the death of Moses illustrated the language of Azariah passim to a degree beyond all "that is written" or that we know. And then we may certainly consider theft the expression chosen, "many days" (which some translate "many a day," "many a time "), even the word "years" not being employed, leaves it open to us to go to short episodes of an irreligious and disastrous character in the history of Israel. Lastly, the long stretch of fully three hundred years, extending throughout the Book of Judges (its last five chapters in right order or wrong)into the opening seven chapters of 1 Samuel, provides one running comment, superabundant almost to repetitiousness, for the illustration of our vers. 3-7; in many cases absolutely picking out the very colours to match (e.g. Judges 5:6; Judges 20:29, 31, compared with our ver. 5). To distinguish and separate the very numerous references that might be made is merely supererogatory, and spoils the unmatched mosaic work of the history (Judges 2:15, 18, 19; Judges 3:12-15; Judges 4:1-3; Judges 5:6, 19-21, 31: 6:1-5, 7-10; 9:32-37; 10:6-16; 11:19, 20; 12:5, 6; 17:5, 6, 13; 20:29, 31; 1 Samuel 2:30 -35; 1 Samuel 4:9-22; 1 Samuel 7:3, 8; 1 Samuel 13:19-22). It is a long-stretched-out history of a practically atheistic, priest-less, lawless life; divided into narratives of invasion, oppression, servitude (sevenfold, the Mesopotamian, Moabite, Canaanitish, Midianitish, Ammonitish, Philistine, and, it may be added, in order to comprehend all internal strife, Ishmaelitish larger and lesser, yet surprisingly general), smart, cry for help manifestly more the cry of pain and cowardice than of penitence and repentance, resolution and vow, and - for another trial and still another - of Divine pity, forbearance, and deliverance
But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.
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.
And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity.
Verse 6. - Among other patent instances, not the least remarkable are found in Judges 20:35-45; Judges 9:44-47; these forecast and heralded that final rupture of Rehoboam and Jeroboam, which showed the "house divided against itself," and the sure consequences thereof.
Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.
Verse 7. - Work... rewarded (so Jeremiah 31:16; Ecclesiastes 4:9; Proverbs 11:18; and compare with them the crown of all the rest, Genesis 15:1).
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.
Verse 8. - These words and the prophecy. In addition to what is said under ver. 1 on the question of the occurrence here of the name Oded, where we should have looked for the name Azariah, it may be noted that it is open to possibility that "these words" certainly referring to the language of Azariah, the "prophecy" may have in view some quotation more or less well known from Oded, satisfied by the latter part of ver. 2 or By ver. 7. This is not very likely; still, the conjunction "and" would thereby better account for itself. Nevertheless, it would still remain that the word "prophecy" is not in construct but absolute state, and we cannot count the difficulty removed, comparatively unimportant as it may be. He took courage, and put away, etc. These words may express either Asa's accomplishing of the reforms spoken of in the former chapter (vers. 3-5), or quite as probably his perseverance and renewed diligence and vigour in the same; the language, "he took courage," favours this latter view. The cities which he had taken from, etc. Some say that the reference here and in 2 Chronicles 17:2 also must be understood to be to Abijah's victory and spoils (2 Chronicles 13:19), and that these two places must accordingly be in slight error. If this passage had stood alone, this view might have been more easy to accept, but the words in 2 Chronicles 17:2 explicitly state that Asa had taken such cities, and the mere fact that the history does not record when, nor even show any very convenient gap into which Asa's taking of such cities after conflict with Israel might well fit in, can scarcely be allowed to override the direct assertion of 2 Chronicles 17:2 (comp. 2 Chronicles 16:11). At the same time, the work that would devolve on Asa in holding the cities his father Abijah had first taken, may easily account for all, and have been accounted Asa's taking, in the sense of taking to them, or retaking them. Renewed the altar. The altar, the place of which was before the porch, was the altar of burnt offering. The Hebrew for "renewed" is חִדֵּשׁ. The Vulgate translates insufficiently dedicavit. Bertheau thinks the renewal designs simply the purification of it from idolatrous defilements, although he admits that this is to assume that it had been defiled by idolatrous priests. Keil says the altar might well need genuine repair after the lapse of sixty years from the building of the temple. Of the nine occurrences of the word. five are metaphorical(as e.g. Psalm 51:10), but of the remaining four distinctly literal uses, including the present, three must mean just strictly "repair" (2 Chronicles 24:4, 12; Isaiah 61:4), and the probability may therefore be that such is the meaning now. Many, however, prefer the other view. The work of Ass, as described in 2 Chronicles 14:3-5, was one of taking away, breaking down, and cutting down; but this item shows it now, in his fifteenth year, become also one of renewing. and repairing. The porch of (so 2 Chronicles 29:17; 1 Kings 7:6, 7, 12; Ezekiel 40:7); איּלָם, though in construct state, the kametz impure.
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.
Verse 9. - He gathered. As the following verses go on to show, Ass wisely gathered all beneath his sway, with a view to sacrifice and to record anew hallowed resolve as a nation. The strangers. It is a significant comment on the estranging effect of religious schism (for the schism was religious even beyond what it was national) that so comparatively soon these of the tribes of Israel should have become called "strangers" by the side of Judah and Benjamin. They fell to him... in abundance. Another significant comment on the sameness of human nature in all time; the weak and the multitude will see, learn, do duty, less under pure conviction of right, than under the strong commanding influence of observation of where and with whom success goes, even if that success necessitate the owning of the Divine blessing as its cause (2 Chronicles 11:16 and 1 Chronicles 12:19). It should be noted, not for the sake of satire of human nature, but for the inculcation of the infinite importance of godly influence and example. Out of Simeon (see also 2 Chronicles 34:6). The "lines" of the Simeonites fell to them originally (Joshua 19:1) within Judah. The difficulty suggested by their being called, apparently, "strangers," and being certainly classed with the comers from "Ephraim and Manasseh," may be variously overcome, either by supposing that they had become more estranged from Judah in religious position than it was possible to them to have become in merely geographical; or that they had in some degree outgrown their own proper habitat, and had to some extent colonized a more northerly region (Genesis 49:7); or that, though, indeed, our compiler's composition undoubtedly places the Simeonites summoned, among the strangers, through mentioning them after Ephraim and Manasseh, yet this location of their name be held accidental, rather than due to special design.
So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.
Verse 10. - In the third month. The "Feast of Weeks" began about the sixth of this third month Sivan (June). In the fifteenth year. It has been conjectured from ch. 14:1 that Zerah the Ethiopian, or Cushite, invaded Judah in Asa's eleventh year. The present sacrificial festival, in his fifteenth year, evidently was held very shortly after the close of Asa's victory over Zerah This infers a rather longer duration of the war than is otherwise to be gathered from the face of the history. The interval, it is true, may be explained by supposing that Ass lingered long to restore the state of things where Zerah's vast host had unsettled it.
And they offered unto the LORD the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.
Verse 11. - These offerings were probably chiefly of the nature of peace offerings (Leviticus 7:11-21). In the mention of the "spoil" (2 Chronicles 14:13, 15) nothing is said of oxen. Seven hundred... seven thousand. The number seven is common when the sacrifices were in units (as e.g. Numbers 29:32; 1 Chronicles 15:26, etc.), but uncommon in hundreds and thousands, for see 1 Kings 8:63; 2 Chronicles 35:7-9, comparing, however, 2 Chronicles 30:24.
And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;
Verse 12. - They entered into a covenant. For the original, see Exodus 24:6-8; Deuteronomy 4:29; for two other solemn renewals of it, see 2 Kings 23:1-3; 2 Chronicles 34:29-33; where, however, the stringent engagement of the following verse, though sufficiently to be inferred, is not notified. To seek; Hebrew, לִדְרושׁ. (for similar use of לְ, with infinitive after, etc., see Nehemiah 10:30; Jeremiah 34:10).
That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.
Verse 13. - Whosoever would not... should be put to death (see Exodus 22:20; Deuteronomy 13:9; Deuteronomy 17:2-6).
And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.
Verse 14. - The loud voice, the shouting, and the trumpets, and cornets, spoke alike the determination, and the united joyful determination of the people (2 Chronicles 23:13; Nehemiah 12:27, 42, 43).
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.
Verse 15. - For the probable duration of the rest round about, spoken of in the last clause, see under ver. 19.
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.
Verse 16. - Maachah the mother of Asa; i.e. the grandmother (2 Chronicles 11:20-22; 2 Chronicles 13:2; 1 Kings 15:2, 10, 13) of Asa; and the statement amounts to this, that Asa removed her from the dignity she had enjoyed, with all its influences of "queen-mother." An idol in a grove. This, probably, literally translated, says, an hideous fright for, i.e. in place of Asherah, i.e. Ashtoreth, or Astarte; but some translate to Asherah. The word we translate "an hideous fright" (מִפְלָצֶת) occurs only here and in the parallel (1 Kings 15:13), and its derivation root guides to this rendering; but some give it the idea of an object of reverent fear among idols. Asa cut down. So it was enjoined (Exodus 34:13-15). And stamped it; Hebrew, וַיָּדֶק; hiph. of דָקַק; the meaning being "stamped it" in the dust, from its upright position, finally burning it. The word is used in 2 Chronicles 34:4, 7; 2 Kings 23:6, 15; Exodus 30:36; Micah 4:13. The word used in the parallel is "cut off;" or "cut down; of course also preparatory to burning. At the brook Kidron. The Kidron was a torrent rather than a brook. It flowed between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, and finally emptied itself into the Dead Sea. The references to Kidron in the Old Testament are interesting, but all reinvested with heightened interest from those in the New Testament (John 18:1, compared with what the parallels infer; Mark 14:26; Luke 22:39). The first two references in the Old Testament are 2 Samuel 15:23; 1 Kings 2:37. Passing these, the present place, with its parallel, brings the Kidren valley next under notice as, the place of destruction for Maachah's obscene phallic abomination, and then (2 Kings 11:16) as the place where Athalish was destroyed. Its associations are similar when spoken of in 2 Kings 13:4, 6, 12; 2 Chronicles 29:16; 2 Chronicles 30:14, becoming the "regular receptacle for the impurities and abominations of the idol-worship, when removed from the temple and destroyed by the adherents of Jehovah." In the time of Josiah, this valley was the common burying-place of the city (2 Kings 23:6; Jeremiah 26:23; Jeremiah 31:40). (For Robinson's description of the modern state of the Kidron valley, see Dr. Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 2:14-16).
But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.
Verse 17. - The high places were not taken away out of Israel. It is possible, but scarcely tenable, that, by Israel, the northern kingdom may be here intended. But for the apparent discrepancy with those places which say that Asa did take away "the high places" (2 Chronicles 14:3, 5), see notes under them, and §7. 1, pp. 16, 17, of 'Introduction to 1 Chronicles.' "The high places" were hills on which sacrifices were illegitimately offered instead of at the chosen place - at Jerusalem. The heart of Asa was perfect all his days. The words, "with Jehovah," following after the word "perfect" in the parallel (1 Kings 15:17), makes the already plain plainer. The exact meaning is that Asa was consistently free from idolatry to the end.
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.
Verse 18. - Except for an unimportant difference of the Keri and Chethiv kind in one word, this verse is identical with the parallel (1 Kings 15:15). The silver, gold, and vessels were, of course, for the repair, restoration, and replacing of the revered fittings and ornaments of the temple. From what sources and after what victories the father of Asa and Asa himself had drawn these supplies is not given either here or in the parallel, but it is natural to suppose that Abijah's victory over Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 13:16) and Asa's over Zerah would have been the chief occasions to finnish them.
And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.
Verse 19. - There was no more war. The Hebrew text should be adhered to, which simply says, there was not war unto, etc The five and thirtieth year. There can be little doubt that the text originally said "twentieth," not "thirtieth" (see also 2 Chronicles 16-1). The parallel, after the identical words Of the previous verse already noted, goes on emphatically to speak of the fact that "there was war between Asa and Baasha all their days;" and the same statement is repeated in the thirty-second verse of the sa1 Kings 15:16, 32). The following verse (33) says that Baasha's twenty-four-year reign began in Asa's third year. Putting the various and apparently somewhat varying statements together, they must be held to say, first, that a state of war was, indeed, chronic between Asa and Baasha (which way of putting need not disturb the correctness of 2 Chronicles 14:5, 6, and of the fifteenth verse of our chapter), but that in the six and twentieth year of Asa, which would be the last or last but one of Baasha's life, latent war gave place to active hostilities, and Baasha (2 Chronicles 16:1) came up to Judah to invade it, and to build Ramah - a course of conduct which was the beginning of the end for him (comp. 1 Kings 16:8; our ver. 10; and 2 Chronicles 16:1, 9).