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Deeper Commentary

2Ch 13:1 In the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam began Abijah to reign over Judah-
Called Abijam in 1 Kings 15:1, which means "father of the sea", but 'father of' can mean 'worshipper of', as 'Abijah' means 'father / worshipper of Yah'. The sea god was worshipped, and so we conclude this was reflective of pagan devotions. He is called Abijah in 2 Chronicles, 'worshipper of Yah'. Having both a pagan and Yahwistic name was typical of the times, and Maacah / Michaiah his mother had a similar two names (see on :2). 2 Chron. 11:20-22 shows that Rehoboam had 28 sons. Abijam wasn't the firstborn, but rather the firstborn son of the favoured wife. Abijam had 38 children (2 Chron. 13:21), so he must have been a reasonable age when he came to the throne. 

2Ch 13:2 He reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Micaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam-
LXX gives Maacah for Micaiah, "the daughter of Absalom" (2 Chron. 11:20). "Daughter" may be grand daughter, as she was the daughter of Uriel. 2 Sam. 18:18 says that Absalom had no son, so presumably he had this daughter who married Uriel and became mother to Maacah. Michaiah, "Who is like Jehovah?", was known by her more pagan name Maachah, "oppression". The records of the kings so often mention their mothers, in reflection of the huge spiritual influence of a mother upon her children. The three years is a figure inclusive of parts of years, as he became king in the 18th year of Jeroboam's reign in Israel and died in his 20th year. "Three days / years" is often not a literal figure, and this must be recalled when considering the chronology of the Lord's three days in the tomb

 2Ch 13:3 Abijah joined battle with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men. Jeroboam set the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men, who were mighty men of valour-
We note that "hundred" and "thousand" are often used to denote military divisions, rather than literally 100 or 1000. This would indicate disobedience to the command to Rehoboam not to fight the ten tribes (1 Kings 12:24). The terrible sin and tragedy of fighting ones own brethren is noted twice (also in 1 Kings 14:30).  

2Ch 13:4 Abijah stood up on Mount Zemaraim, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, and said, Hear me, Jeroboam and all Israel-
Zemaraim was in the territory assigned to Benjamin (Josh. 18:22), but is located "in the hill country of Ephraim" in 2 Chron. 13:4. Clearly the inheritances were flexible in practice. Zemaraim was on the border of Benjamin and Ephraim, so this was an appropriate place for Israel and Judah to meet in battle.

2Ch 13:5 Ought you not to know that Yahweh, the God of Israel, gave the kingdom over Israel to David forever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?-
This was true only to an extent. The Davidic covenant was very clearly conditional upon obedience and faithfulness, and the wording clearly envisaged that the seed of David might not be that. And therefore Jeroboam himself had been offered the possibility of being the Messianic king, even though he was not of the line of David. Salt made a sacrifice meaningful (Lev. 2:13), and therefore a "covenant of salt" meant a sure covenant confirmed by sacrifice (Num. 18:19). David and Solomon had both dedicated the plans for the temple with abundant sacrifices, claiming that the covenant with David was fulfilled in Solomon and confirmed through the building of the temple. But that was on their initiative and suggestion, and in reality Solomon had broken that covenant.  

2Ch 13:6 Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up, and rebelled against his lord-
This again was true but only to an extent. The kingdom was rent away from the house of David for their apostacy, and Jeroboam had potentially been enabled to be a new Messianic king. He failed in that, but to blame the division solely upon Jeroboam merely being a rebellious servant was Abijah's biased narrative.

2Ch 13:7 There were gathered to him vain men, base fellows, who strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them-
Rehoboam was 41 when he became king, so again Abijah is spinning narrative according to his own bias.

2Ch 13:8 Now you think to withstand the kingdom of Yahweh in the hand of the sons of David. You are a great multitude, and there are with you the golden calves which Jeroboam made you for gods-
Abijah recognizes they are double his strength, but he seeks to touch their conscience about the golden calves, as if they are as it were pitting themselves against Yahweh. Even though his own wife was an idolater and he likely was too. He is leading up to the argument that they are fighting against God (:12). See on :21. He overlooks how God Himself withstood the line of David and had torn away the ten tribes and given them to Jeroboam, with the potential to make a Messianic kingdom out of them.

2Ch 13:9 Haven’t you driven out the priests of Yahweh, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and made priests for yourselves after the ways of the peoples of other lands? So that whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams, the same may be a priest of those who are not gods-
Yahweh's priests were consecrated with a young bull and two rams (Ex. 29:1). Again we see how Jeroboam crafted a false religious system on the basis of the true one, and that is typical of all our apostacy. And whilst perhaps they did drive out Yahweh's Levitical priests, it's likely many left the apostacy of their own accord. Although they would've arrived in a Judah also given over to idolatry, with the queen Maacah an idolater; hence God's wrath with Judah through Shishak's invasion.

2Ch 13:10 But as for us, Yahweh is our God, and we have not forsaken Him. We have priests ministering to Yahweh, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites in their work-
This was untrue, they had forsaken Yahweh and been seriously punished for it by Shishak, and the queen was an idolater. Abijah, like many in the orthodox churches, reasoned that because he had a priesthood obeying Mosaic commands, therefore and thereby they had not forsaken Yahweh. He thought that religious structure alone defined his faith in and loyalty to Yahweh.

2Ch 13:11 and they burn to Yahweh every morning and every evening burnt offerings and sweet incense. They also set the showbread in order on the pure table; and the lampstand of gold with its lamps, to burn every evening. We keep the instruction of Yahweh our God; but you have forsaken Him-
Shishak's invasion had perhaps taken away the plural "gold tables" for the showbread, and forced them to return to the Godly, Mosaic pattern of just one table for the showbread.

The table of show bread was to be made of acacia wood (Ex. 25:23), but David planned to make it of pure gold, and even worked out the weight of gold required for it (1 Chron. 28:16). And Solomon indeed made it of gold (1 Kings 7:48), leading to it being known as "the pure table" (2 Chron. 13:11). Religion had overtaken spirituality, form had eclipsed content. Likewise the "tables of silver" David ordered to be made (1 Chron. 28:16) do not feature in the tabernacle. He was missing the point- that God wanted His holiest symbols made of common, weak things like acacia wood. For His strength and glory is made perfect in weakness. David claims these plans were from God (1 Chron. 28:19), although as discussed on 1 Chron. 28:12, they were in fact from his own mind. The way these things were taken into captivity, with no record of this golden table ever being returned, surely reflects God's judgment upon this kind of religious show. He prefers a humble house church in an inner city room, rather than a gold plated cathedral. The way some exclusive churches speak of 'maintaining a pure table' suggests they have made the same essential mistake as David did.

2Ch 13:12 Behold, God is with us at our head, and His priests with the trumpets of alarm to sound an alarm against you. Children of Israel-
We read here of Abijah's apparent devotion. The comment of 1 Kings 15:3 is that his heart wasn't perfect with Yahweh as David's was. David clearly sinned and seems to have suffered a decline in his ethics and spirituality as he got older. But he was judged on the overall dominant desire of his heart, to the point that having a heart perfect with Yahweh seems to effectively mean 'He was wholeheartedly devoted to Yahweh and never worshipped other gods'. Whereas Abijah, despite peaks of spirituality and an appearance of loyalty to Him, did not have that total devotion to Yahweh as the dominant position of his heart throughout his life. Whatever peaks of obedience and devotion we may attain at points in our lives, it is the overall core position of our heart which is judged. Men like David may sin terribly at some points, those like Abijah may achieve wonderful levels of devotion at some points. But those high or low points play no major part in the final, unknowable equilibrium of Divine judgment. We need to remember this, as we encounter our brethren and ponder what to make of them, in their pits of sin and heights of devotion. Those points on their graph ought not to unduly weight our overall position on them. 

The reference to trumpets alludes to Num. 10:9, and Abijah thought that by merely blowing trumpets he would have Yahweh's help. This is why he was driven to a desperate situation in the battle with Jeroboam, so that he really called to Yahweh with all his heart, and not through mere ritualism.

Don’t fight against Yahweh, the God of your fathers; for you shall not prosper-
Acts 5:39; 23:9 appear to allude to this. But as pointed out on :8, Abijah himself was associated with idolatry, and as with the context of the Acts allusions, this is a rather twisted argument. 'If you fight me you're fighting God' has been an oft deployed argument that often lacks full integrity. See on :21.

2Ch 13:13 But Jeroboam caused an ambush to come about behind them: so they were before Judah, and the ambush was behind them-
As discussed on :14, this was meant by God to put Judah into a hopeless situation. I have shown above that Judah were not much better than Israel and their claims to be faithful to Yahweh were hypocritical. But they were put into a situation which forced them to realize that, and to truly repent and cry to Yahweh from their hearts.

2Ch 13:14 When Judah looked back, behold, the battle was before and behind them; and they cried to Yahweh, and the priests sounded with the trumpets-
The reference to trumpets alludes to Num. 10:9, and Abijah thought that by merely blowing trumpets he would have Yahweh's help. This is why he was driven to a desperate situation in the battle with Jeroboam, so that he really called to Yahweh with all his heart, and not through mere ritualism. The "shout" of :15 was their cry from the heart to God, and He responded to that. We all tend to repeat the same words in prayer, until prayer becomes little more than ritualism, the blowing of trumpets which Abijah had practiced.  But then situations are brought into our lives when we "shout" to God from the heart, praying as we ought to- and then He responds.

2Ch 13:15 Then the men of Judah gave a shout; and as the men of Judah shouted, it happened, that God struck Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah-
As explained on :14, this "shout" was a cry from the heart to Yahweh, well beyond the mere ritualism of blowing trumpets. Judah were not much better than Israel, as demonstrated above. But they cried from the heart to Yahweh, whereas Israel didn't. And so God gave them victory, and used them to punish Jeroboam for his impenitent apostacy.

2Ch 13:16 The children of Israel fled before Judah; and God delivered them into their hand-
Judah weren't much better than Israel. But God so respects faith and repentance, even if in extremity, such as on a deathbed- that He responds. .

2Ch 13:17 Abijah and his people killed them with a great slaughter; so there fell down slain of Israel five hundred thousand chosen men-
"Thousand" is not to be read literally; the term often refers to a military division of some sort. And they didn't fall in the same day, as the fighting continued for some time (:19).

2Ch 13:18 Thus the children of Israel were overcome at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied on Yahweh, the God of their fathers-
They relied on Him at one point, and were rewarded for it. But not generally. This reflects God's extreme sensitivity to faith in Him, even if He knows the surrounding context of a man's life is not of faith in Him. "Relied" is the word used in 2 Chron. 14:11; 16:8 in a similar context. 

2Ch 13:19 Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him: Bethel with its suburbs, Jeshanah with its suburbs and Ephron with its suburbs-
These victories were short-lived, because Bethel soon returned to the northern kingdom, and the golden calf there was not destroyed by Judah as it should have been (2 Kings 10:29).

2Ch 13:20 Jeroboam didn’t recover strength again in the days of Abijah. Yahweh struck him, and he died-
This implies special judgment from God (1 Sam. 25:38; Acts 12:13).

2Ch 13:21 But Abijah grew mighty, and took to himself fourteen wives, and became the father of twenty-two sons, and sixteen daughters-
"Grew mighty" is the same word Abijah has twice used in :7,8, claiming in :8 that Jeroboam was withstanding or growing mighty against Yahweh. Perhaps the hint is that Abijah was really no better (see on :8,12), because he too withstood Yahweh in marrying so many wives, at least one of whom [the favourite] was an unashamed idolater. 

2Ch 13:22 The rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways and his sayings, are written in the commentary of the prophet Iddo
Neither the sayings of Abijah nor the book of Iddo have been preserved. There are many writings referenced within scripture which are not now available. The book of the prophet Iddo may well have been inspired by God, but was only useful for its time. The scriptures we have are therefore the result of careful Divine selection, and all of them are somehow relevant to us, even the Chronicles genealogies, in a way these other writings aren't.