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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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the son and successor of Abijam, king of Judah, began to reign in the year of the world 3049, and before Christ 955. He reigned forty-one years at Jerusalem, and did right in the sight of the Lord. He purged Jerusalem from the infamous practices attending the worship of idols; and he deprived his mother of her office and dignity of queen, because she erected an idol to Astarte, which he burnt in the valley of Hinnom, 1 Kings 15:8 , &c.

The Scripture reproaches Asa with not destroying the high places, which, perhaps, he thought it politic to tolerate, to avoid the greater evil of idolatry. He carried into the house of the Lord the gold and silver vessels which his father Abijam had vowed to consecrate. He fortified several cities, and repaired others, encouraging his people to this labour while the kingdom was at peace; and the Lord favoured them with his protection. After this he levied three hundred thousand men in Judah, armed with shields and pikes; and two hundred and eighty thousand men in Benjamin, armed with shields and bows, all men of courage and valour. About this time, Zerah, king of Ethiopia, or rather of Cush, which is part of Arabia, marched against Asa with a million of foot, and three hundred chariots of war, and advanced as far as Mareshah. This probably happened in the fifteenth year of Asa's reign, and in the year of the world 3064,

2 Chronicles 15:10 . Asa advanced to meet Zerah, and encamped in the plain of Zephathah, or rather Zephatah, near Mareshah, and having prayed to the Lord, God struck the forces of Zerah with such a panic that they began to flee. Asa and his army pursued them to Geran, and slew of them a great number. After this, Asa's army returned to Jerusalem, laden with booty.

The prophet Azariah met them, and said, "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.— Be ye strong, therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded," 2 Chronicles 15:2 ; 2 Chronicles 15:7 . After this exhortation, Asa, being animated with new courage, destroyed the idols of Judah, Benjamin, and Mount Ephraim; repaired the altar of burnt-offerings; and assembled Judah and Benjamin, with many from the tribes of Simeon, Ephraim, and Manasseh, and on the third day, in the fifteenth year of his reign, celebrated a solemn festival. Of the cattle taken from Zerah, they sacrificed seven hundred oxen, and seven thousand sheep; they renewed the covenant with the Lord; and, with cymbals and trumpets sounding, they swore to the covenant, and declared that whoever should forsake the true worship of God, should be put to death. The Lord gave them peace; and, according to the Chronicles, the kingdom of Judah had rest till the thirty-fifth year of Asa. Concerning this year, however, there are difficulties; and some think that we should read the twenty-fifth, instead of the thirty-fifth; since Baasha, who made war on Asa, lived no longer than the twenty-sixth year of Asa, 1 Kings 16:8 .

In this year Baasha, king of Israel, began to fortify Ramah, on the frontiers of the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel, that he might prevent the Israelites from resorting to the kingdom of Judah, and the temple of the Lord at Jerusalem. When Asa was informed of this, he sent to Benhadad, king of Damascus, all the gold and silver of his palace, and of the temple, to induce him to break his alliance with Baasha, and to assist him against the king of Israel. Benhadad accepted Asa's presents, and invaded Baasha's country, where he took several cities belonging to the tribe of Naphtali. This obliged Baasha to retire from Ramah, that he might defend his dominions nearer home. Asa immediately ordered his people to Ramah, carried off all the materials prepared by Baasha, and employed them in building Geba and Mizpah. This application to Benhadad for assistance was inexcusable. It implied, that Asa distrusted God's power and goodness, which he had so lately experienced. Therefore the Prophet Hanani was sent to reprove him for his conduct. Asa, however, was so exasperated at his rebukes that he put the Prophet in chains, and at the same time ordered the execution of several persons in Judah. Toward the latter part of his life, he was incommoded with swellings in his feet, which, gradually rising upwards, killed him. The Scripture reproaches him with having had recourse to physicians, rather than to the Lord. He was buried in the sepulchre which he had provided for himself in the city of David; and after his death they placed on the bed great quantities of perfumes and spices, with which his body was burned. His bones and ashes were then collected, and put into his grave.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Asa'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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