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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Asa

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A´sa (healing or physician), son of Abijah, grandson of Rehoboam, and third king of Judah. He began to reign two years before the death of Jeroboam, in Israel, and he reigned forty-one years, from B.C. 955 to 914. As Asa was very young at his accession, the affairs of the government were administered by his mother, or, according to some (comp. 1 Kings 15:9-10), his grandmother Maachah, who is understood to have been a granddaughter of Absalom [MAACAH, 8]. She gave much encouragement to idolatry; but the young king, on assuming the reins of government, zealously rooted out the idolatrous practices which had grown up during his minority and under the preceding reigns; and only the altars in the 'high places' were suffered to remain (1 Kings 15:11-13; 2 Chronicles 14:2-5). He neglected no human means of putting his kingdom in the best possible military condition, for which ample opportunity was afforded by the peace which he enjoyed in the ten first years of his reign. And his resources were so well organized, and the population had so increased, that he was eventually in a condition to count on the military services of 580,000 men (2 Chronicles 14:6-8). In the eleventh year of his reign, relying upon the Divine aid, Asa attacked and defeated the numerous host of the Cushite king Zerah, who had penetrated through Arabia Petræa into the vale of Zephathah, with an immense host (2 Chronicles 14:9-15). As the triumphant Judahites were returning, laden with spoil, to Jerusalem, they were met by the prophet Azariah, who declared this splendid victory to be a consequence of Asa's confidence in Jehovah, and exhorted him to perseverance. Thus encouraged, the king exerted himself to extirpate the remnants of idolatry, and caused the people to renew their covenant with Jehovah (2 Chronicles 15:1-15). It was this clear knowledge of his dependent political position, as the vice-gerent of Jehovah, which won for Asa the highest praise that could be given to a Jewish king—that he walked in the steps of his ancestor David (1 Kings 15:11).

Nevertheless, the king failed towards the latter end of his reign to maintain the character he had thus acquired. When Baasha, king of Israel, had renewed the war between the two kingdoms, and had taken Ramah, which he was proceeding to fortify as a frontier barrier, Asa, the conqueror of Zerah, was so far wanting to his kingdom and his God as to employ the wealth of the Temple and of the royal treasures to induce the king of Syria (Damascus) to make a diversion in his favor by invading the dominions of Baasha. By this means he recovered Ramah, indeed; but his treasures were squandered, and he incurred the rebuke of the prophet Hanani, whom he cast into prison, being, as it seems, both alarmed and enraged at the effect his address was calculated to produce upon the people. Other persons (who had probably manifested their disapprobation) also suffered from his anger (1 Kings 15:16-22; 2 Chronicles 16:1-10). In the three last years of his life Asa was afflicted with a grievous 'disease in his feet;' and it is mentioned to his reproach that he placed too much confidence in his physicians. At his death, however, it appeared that his popularity had not been substantially impaired; for he was honored with a funeral of unusual cost and magnificence (2 Chronicles 16:11-14).

 

 

 

 


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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Asa'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/kbe/a/asa.html.

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