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Deeper Commentary

2Ch 16:1 In the thirty sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah-
But Baasha died in the 26th year of Asa's rulership (1 Kings 16:8,10). The 35th year in 2 Chron. 15:19 refers to the point of division with Israel, when Judah became a separate entity. And this may be the same case here. However, the Hebrew characters used for 30 and 10 are very similar, and this may be an example of a coping error. If we read 15 and 16 in 2 Chron. 15:19 and 2 Chron. 16:1, then the chronological problem disappears.

And built Ramah, that he might not allow anyone to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah-
There was such a flow of Israelites to Judah that Baasha tried to stop it, by building Ramah as an effective border control point on the approach road to Jerusalem- only about six miles from city. Ramah was in Benjamin, and clearly Asa had failed to retain it within Judah.

2Ch 16:2 Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of Yahweh and of the king’s house, and sent to Ben Hadad king of Syria, who lived at Damascus saying-
Benhadad was the grandson of Hezion, a name which uses similar characters to Rezon who led the first attempted revival of Zobah and Damascus (1 Kings 11:23) after David's victories against them in 2 Sam. 8:3-8. 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).

2Ch 16:3 Let there be a covenant between me and you, as there was between my father and your father. Behold, I have sent you silver and gold. Go, break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me-
The intent of the treaty, however, was that Benhadad would attack Baasha (:4). Perhaps this was not stated specifically because Asa wanted to give lip service obedience to the command not to fight with his own brethren in (1 Kings 12:24. So the Lord's money was spent on effectively getting others to fight their own brethren; and in essence the same can happen today in church politics. We also see how fickle are relationships when not governed by Divine principle; Benhadad's treaty with Baasha was broken when money was received from a third party, and he not only trashed the treaty but attacked him. 

We must balance this lack of faith against the Divine assessment in 2 Chron. 15:17: "The high places were not taken away out of Israel. Nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days".

2Ch 16:4 Ben Hadad listened to king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they struck Ijon, and Dan, and Abel Maim, and all the storage cities of Naphtali-
These cities were in the far north of Israel. It was an invasion of the border area rather than of all Israel.

2Ch 16:5 It happened, when Baasha heard of it, that he left off building Ramah, and let his work cease-
Asa's plan appeared to have worked. Baasha stopped the attempted blockade of Jerusalem. Even though Asa did wrong in how he used the Lord's money / wealth, that isn't commented upon. It all seemed to work out. But we are left, naturally, with the question as to whether this was right or not.  

2Ch 16:6 Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and its timber, with which Baasha had built; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah-
We see here the value of stones and timber and the huge amount of labour needed to move them. This corroborates the way that Solomon's huge demand for these things led him into debt financially (see on 1 Kings 9:14) and into abusing his people for labour.

2Ch 16:7 At that time Hanani the seer of visions came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on Yahweh your God, therefore is the army of the king of Syria escaped out of your hand-
A lack of spiritual ambition is in fact a sin. When Asa was threatened by his enemies, he hired the Syrians to drive them away- and he was condemned for this, being told that he should instead have had the ambition to ask God to deliver the mighty Syrians into his hand, as well as his enemies (2 Chron. 16:7). He was reminded that the Angelic eyes of the Lord are running to and fro in our support (2 Chron. 16:9), as Asa would have theoretically acknowledged. But his sin of omission, his lack of an ambitious vision, incited the Father’s anger. We need to meditate carefully upon this, because it surely has many similarities with modern life, where money and ‘hiring’ worldly help is so easy…

2Ch 16:8 Weren’t the Ethiopians and the Lubim a huge army, with exceeding many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on Yahweh, He delivered them into your hand-
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.

Asa's faith was rewarded when he faced a massive Ethiopian army; but some years later, God repeated the situation. A huge Israelite army faced him; and instead of trusting in Yahweh, he gave the temple treasures to Syria so that they would come and fight the battle for him. And God wasn't slow to point out how circumstances had repeated, but this time Asa had failed the test: " Were not the Ethiopians and Lubims a huge host...? Yet because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand... herein you have done foolishly: therefore from henceforth you shall have wars" (2 Chron. 16:8.9). The "wars" God brought upon Asa weren't merely punishments; they were yet further opportunities for Asa to face the same situations, and overcome them with faith. And God likewise works in our lives.

2Ch 16:9 For the eyes of Yahweh run back and forth throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him-
The Biblical record seems to very frequently seek to deconstruct popular ideas about sin and evil. One of the most widespread notions was the "evil eye", whereby it was believed that some people had an "evil eye" which could bring distress into the eyes of those upon whom they looked in jealousy or anger. This concept is alive and well in many areas to this day. The idea entered Judaism very strongly after the Babylonian captivity; the Babylonian Talmud is full of references to it. The sage Rav attributed many illnesses to the evil eye, and the Talmud even claimed that 99 out of 100 people died prematurely from this (Bava Metzia 107b). The Biblical deconstruction of this is through stressing that God's eye is all powerful in the destiny of His people (Dt. 11:12; Ps. 33:18); and that "an evil eye" refers to an internal attitude of mean spiritedness within people- e.g. an "evil eye" is understood as an ungenerous spirit in Dt. 15:9; Mt. 6:23; 20:15; or pure selfishness in Dt. 28:54,56; Prov. 23:6; 28:22. We must remember that the people of Biblical times understood an "evil eye" as an external ability to look at someone and bring curses upon them. But the Bible redefines an "evil eye" as a purely internal attitude; and cosmic evil, even if it were to exist, need hold no fear for us- seeing the eyes of the only true God are running around the earth for us and not against us (2 Chron. 16:9).

Herein you have done foolishly; for from henceforth you shall have wars-
"Done foolishly" alludes to the failures of Saul (1 Sam. 13:13) and David (2 Sam. 24:10), both also connected with trust in human rather than Divine strength.

2Ch 16:10 Then Asa was angry with the seer of visions, and put him in the prison; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time-
If true guilt is not faced up to, there will be anger, the anger that comes from refusing to acknowledge subconscious guilt. Balaam’s angry striking of his donkey is an obvious Biblical example, and we are surrounded by so many others. Another classic example would be Asa’s “rage” with Hanani the prophet when he rebuked Asa for trusting in the Syrian army rather than in Yahweh. And Asa’s anger was then taken out upon the people- for “Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time” (2 Chron. 16:10).

The harsh treatment of the Ammonites, torturing them under harrows, is indication enough of David’s bad conscience before God being shown in his harsh treatment of others. Likewise Asa oppressed the people when he was guilty in his conscience (2 Chron. 16:10). And the wicked Kings of Israel usually died “without being desired” by their people, presumably because their broken relationship with God had led to a broken relationship between them and their brethren (e.g. 2 Chron. 21:20).

When Israel played traitor to their brethren, by doing so they broke their marriage covenant with God (Mal. 2:10); their attitude to their brethren was essentially their attitude to their Heavenly Father. Our God and our brethren simply can't be separated. Asa’s broken relationship with God resulted in him ‘crushing’ the people at the same time (2 Chron. 16:10 Avmg.).  

2Ch 16:11 Behold, the acts of Asa, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel-
This may not necessarily be the book of Kings as we know it.

2Ch 16:12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa was diseased in his feet. His disease was exceeding great; yet in his disease he didn’t turn to Yahweh, but to the physicians-
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. 1 Kings 15:11 says that "he did that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh, as did David his father". 2 Chron. 14:2 is likewise positive: "Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of Yahweh his God".
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. Yet we learn here that 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 16:13 Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the forty-first year of his reign-
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.

2Ch 16:14 They buried him in his own tombs, which he had dug out for himself in the city of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and various kinds of spices prepared by the perfumer’s art; and they made a very great burning for him
"The bed" may refer to that on which he laid at the end of his life (:12). It seems he was buried in his own bed, which recalls the style of burial for the Pharaohs and other Gentile kings. This would be another indication that Asa died spiritually weak, and yet as discussed on :12, he was still reckoned as righteous according to his core heart positions.