New European Commentary


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2Ch 14:1 So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David; and Asa his son reigned in his place. In his days the land was quiet ten years-
The description of death as sleeping with fathers is clear evidence that death is seen as a sleep, unconsciousness, and not as the start of an immortal soul going to heaven or 'hell'. Good and bad, David and Solomon, are gathered together in death. The division between them will only therefore come at the resurrection of the dead, and the granting of immortality at the judgment seat of the Lord Jesus.

The land itself was quiet but that didn't mean Judah were not at war. There was 20 years peace later on (2 Chron. 15:10, 19). The impression is given that Asa's [partial] faithfulness to Yahweh meant there was peace, and peace is a fruit of loyalty to Yahweh. Baasha became king of Israel in the third year of Asa (1 Kings 15:28,33) and “there was war between Asa and Baasha all their days” (1 Kings 15:32).

2Ch 14:2 Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of Yahweh his God-
This is the phrase specifically used in appeal to Israel as they approached the promised land; their inheritance of it was conditional upon this (Dt. 6:18; 12:28). This connects with the idea of the land being at peace whilst Asa was obedient (see on :1; 2 Chron. 15:19). One meaning of "Asa" is "physician", and he ended his days trusting physicians rather than Yahweh. Perhaps he trained as a physician and ended up therefore having more faith in science than in Yahweh. The statement therefore may refer to his initial state of loyalty to Yahweh. But this could refer to God's judgment upon his whole life, and 1 Kings 15:11 says that "he did that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh, as did David his father".
Asa is recorded as serving God just as well as David, when actually this wasn't the case; but God counted him as righteous. The incomplete faith of men like Baruch was counted as full faith by later inspiration (Jud. 4:8,9 cp. Heb. 11:32). Asa was not perfect, nor was David; but God's overall judgment was that he "did right", despite doing wrong at specific points in his life. Indeed as noted on 2 Chron. 16:12, Asa died at a low point for him spiritually. But the judgment overall was that he "did right" and that "nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect with Yahweh all his days" (1 Kings 15:14). We must learn therefore not to judge a person too harshly if they die at a weak spiritual point, e.g. through suicide.  

2Ch 14:3 He took away the foreign altars, and the high places, and broke down the pillars, and cut down the Asherim-
Chronicles typically seeks to sanitize the record and present the kings as positively as possible. The truth is that Asa didn't remove the high places (1 Kings 15:14), and soon afterwards, the worship of foreign gods revived. So Asa's reforms were not that thorough, and in any case, the people generally remained in idolatry.

2Ch 14:4 and commanded Judah to seek Yahweh, the God of their fathers, and to obey the law and the commandment-
Perfection is simply not achieved by God's people. Therefore the idiom of 'seeking Yahweh' is used, and is made parallel with obedience to His laws (2 Chron. 14:4) and not forsaking Him, just holding on to Him in faith, 'being with Him' (2 Chron. 15:2). 

2Ch 14:5 Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the sun images-
Asa and Jehoshaphat removed the high places, but in a sense they didn't (1 Kings 15:14 cp. 2 Chron. 14:5; 17:6 cp. 20:33). We read of how the land was purged of Baal, Sodomites etc.; but in a very short time, we read of another purge being necessary. Hezekiah, Manasseh and Josiah all made major purges within a space of 80 years. Jeremiah therefore condemns the Jews who lived at the time of Josiah's reformation for not knowing God in their hearts. Asa gathered the gold and silver vessels back into the temple- and then went and used them to make a political treaty. He apparently treated them as God's riches, but then in reality he used them as his own (1 Kings 15:18, 15). Many a Western Christian has this very same tendency. We too must ask ourselves whether our spirituality is really just a product of the crowd mentality; as the crowd shouted one day "Hosanna to the Son of David", a few days later they wanted Jesus to be delivered rather than Barabbas, but within minutes they were persuaded to cry for the crucifixion of the Son of God. Church life, Bible studies, the breaking of bread... inevitably, there is a crowd mentality developed here. There is a feeling of devotion which wells up within us as a community, as an audience, as we sit there, as we stand in praise and worship together. But the real spirituality is far deeper than this. We must seriously ask whether our spirituality, our feelings of devotion, our true repentance, are only stimulated by these meetings?

The kingdom was quiet before him-
See on :1; 2 Chron. 15:19.

2Ch 14:6 He built fortified cities in Judah; for the land was quiet, and he had no war in those years, because Yahweh had given him rest-
This seems a major theme in the record; see on :1; 2 Chron. 15:19. We note how circumstances repeated. Rehoboam had built fortified cities in Judah, especially on the approaches to Jerusalem. But they were all overwhelmed by Shishak, and he took Jerusalem. The lesson was that human strength alone would not save Judah. He was intended to learn from Rehoboam's history, as we are.   

2Ch 14:7 For he said to Judah, Let us build these cities, and make walls around them, with towers, gates, and bars. The land is yet before us, because we have sought Yahweh our God. We have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered-
It is unlikely that all Israel were solidly seeking Yahweh, as Asa himself had weak aspects, the high places weren't removed and the population revived the idolatry after his death. So this seems a rather self congratulatory attitude. See on :12. After the victory against the Ethiopians, Asa purges Judah of idols (2 Chron. 15:8); and there is ample evidence from what is said after the victory that Asa and Judah were not so totally devoted to Yahweh at the time of 2 Chron. 14 (see on 2 Chron. 15:1,3,5,8).

2Ch 14:8 Asa had an army that carried shields and spears: out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bore shields and drew bows, two hundred and eighty thousand. All these were mighty men of valour-
We note the relatively large number of Benjamites. "Little Benjamin" were far smaller than Judah but committed more soldiers in relative terms. The loyalty of Benjamin to Judah is a theme of the records, and yet we recall that relatively recently, they as the tribe of Saul had been the least loyal to Judah. Just as Philistines of Gath became David's most loyal followers, so Benjamin became solidly united with Judah. God has a way of turning people around completely.

There is a significant increase in numbers in his son's time, when the army was exactly double the size of that recorded in this section (2 Chron. 14:8 cp. 2 Chron. 17:14-18). The total here was 580,000; but there it is exactly double (1,160,000;  Judah 780,000, Benjamin 380,000). This suggests that again, numbers are not being used in the literal sense which modern readers are accustimed to.


2Ch 14:9 There came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an army of a million troops, and three hundred chariots; and he came to Mareshah-
The apparent problem of large numbers in the records are largely resolved by understanding the terms 'hundred' and 'thousand' not literally, but as referring to military subdivisions. A "Zerah" is mentioned as a descendant of Esau, and the name refers to at least four different people, all within the Abraham family. So this individual could have been a descendant of Esau who was exercising "the old hatred" against Jacob, although he was now located in "Ethiopia", a vague term applicable to anywhere around Egypt.

2Ch 14:10 Then Asa went out to meet him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah-
Zephathah is the Zephath of Jud. 1:17, where Judah won a great victory against the Canaanites, and was afterward renamed to Hormah, also a site of victory (Num. 21:3). Perhaps the usage of the old name is to draw attention to the victory won there historically. 

2Ch 14:11 Asa cried to Yahweh his God and said, Yahweh, there is none apart from You to help, between the mighty and him who has no strength. Help us, Yahweh our God; for we rely on You, and in Your name are we come against this multitude. Yahweh, You are our God. Don’t let man prevail against You-
This is a similar situation to that in 2 Chron. 13:18, where an otherwise unspiritual and idolatrous Judah "relied" on Yahweh in desperation. They relied on Him at that 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. 

Our faith will be strengthened by knowing that because we bear the Name, all that happens to us happens to our Lord and His Father. Thus Asa prayed: “Help us… in Your Name we go against this multitude…let not man prevail against You”. It is absurd that man should prevail against God; and yet Asa believed that because His people carried His Name, therefore it was just as impossible that man should prevail against them.

This is a feature of many spiritual prayers: not to crudely, directly ask for the obvious; but to simply inform the Almighty of the situation, in faith. Other examples include: Gen. 19:24;  Ps. 3:1-4; 142:1,2; Jn. 11:21,22; 1 Kings 19:10 cp. Rom. 11:2,3; Ps. 106:44 cp. Is. 64:3.

There is only one God, one source of help and power- and thus the oneness of God inspires our faith in Him. This motivated Asa to cry unto Yahweh in faith: "There is none beside You to help…". James 2:14-18 speaks of the connection between faith (believing) in the one God and works (doing). It is no co-incidence that James 2:19 then says in this context: "Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well" (RV). To have faith in the unity of God will lead to works, 'doing well'.


2Ch 14:12 So Yahweh struck the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled-
Enemies fleeing before God's people was the sign of obedience to the covenant. But as noted on :7, Judah generally were not particularly obedient. We continually marvel at God's grace toward His people, ever eager to impute righteousness, and to be impressed by any sign of faith and obedience. After the victory against the Ethiopians, Asa purges Judah of idols (2 Chron. 15:8); and there is ample evidence from what is said after the victory that Asa and Judah were not so totally devoted to Yahweh at the time of 2 Chron. 14 (see on 2 Chron. 15:1,3,5,8).

2Ch 14:13 Asa and the people who were with him pursued them to Gerar. There fell of the Ethiopians so many that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before Yahweh and before His army; and they carried away very much booty-
Yahweh's army is paralleled with that of Judah. Yahweh of hosts, of Angelic armies, is manifested in His people upon earth. David was taught this when he was told to advance his army only in accordance to the noise of the heavenly armies above him (see on 2 Sam. 5:24). We too are not alone; we are the manifestation of our guardian Angels above us, and collectively, the hosts of God's people reflect Yahweh of hosts above them.

2Ch 14:14 They struck all the cities around Gerar; for the fear of Yahweh came on them. They despoiled all the cities; for there was much spoil in them-
A similar situation repeated itself in 2 Chron. 17:10. The record constantly stresses that the victory was from God. The fear of Yahweh coming upon those cities was the promised reward for obedience (Dt. 11:25), and recalls the terror which fell upon the cities around Jacob at the time of Gen. 35:5. But that terror didn't come because Israel were righteous at that time; in fact the opposite. For they had just massacred Shechem. Likewise here, these blessings were by grace, for Judah were not so righteous at this time; and reflected Yahweh's extreme sensitivity to any faith and obedience toward Him. The Hebrew word here used for "spoil" is found only in Chronicles, Ezra, Esther, Nehemiah and Daniel- evidence that this part of Chronicles was Divinely rewritten in the captivity.

2Ch 14:15 They struck also the tents of the herdsmen, and carried away sheep in abundance, and camels, and returned to Jerusalem
This phrase in the LXX is used in Lk. 24:52 and Acts 1:12 of the disciples returning after a far greater victory. The Bible is continually seeing deeper meaning and application of all the wealth of history recorded in it. Although it is debatable whether such pillaging as recorded here was really God's will.