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with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Kings 15

Wicked reign of Abijam, king of Judah. (1-8) Good reign of Asa, king of Judah. (9-24) The evil reigns of Nadab and Baasha in Israel. (25-34)

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Wicked reign of Abijam, king of Judah

1 Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abijam over Judah.

2 Three years reigned he in Jerusalem. and his mother’s name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.

3 And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father.

4 Nevertheless for David’s sake did the LORD his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem:

5 Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.

6 And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life.

7 Now the rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam.

8 And Abijam slept with his fathers; and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead.

Good reign of Asa, king of Judah

9 And in the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel reigned Asa over Judah.

10 And forty and one years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.

11 And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father.

12 And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.

13 And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.

14 But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.

15 And he brought in the things which his father had dedicated, and the things which himself had dedicated, into the house of the LORD, silver, and gold, and vessels.

16 And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.

17 And Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah, and built Ramah, that he might not suffer any to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.

18 Then Asa took all the silver and the gold that were left in the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants: and king Asa sent them to Benhadad, the son of Tabrimon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying,

19 There is a league between me and thee, and between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent unto thee a present of silver and gold; come and break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.

20 So Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of the hosts which he had against the cities of Israel, and smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelbethmaachah, and all Cinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali.

21 And it came to pass, when Baasha heard thereof, that he left off building of Ramah, and dwelt in Tirzah.

22 Then king Asa made a proclamation throughout all Judah; none was exempted: and they took away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha had builded; and king Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah.

23 The rest of all the acts of Asa, and all his might, and all that he did, and the cities which he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? Nevertheless in the time of his old age he was diseased in his feet.

24 And Asa slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead.

The evil reigns of Nadab and Baasha in Israel

25 And Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned over Israel two years.

26 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.

27 And Baasha the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him; and Baasha smote him at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines; for Nadab and all Israel laid siege to Gibbethon.

28 Even in the third year of Asa king of Judah did Baasha slay him, and reigned in his stead.

29 And it came to pass, when he reigned, that he smote all the house of Jeroboam; he left not to Jeroboam any that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according unto the saying of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite:

30 Because of the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned, and which he made Israel sin, by his provocation wherewith he provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger.

31 Now the rest of the acts of Nadab, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

32 And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.

33 In the third year of Asa king of Judah began Baasha the son of Ahijah to reign over all Israel in Tirzah, twenty and four years.

34 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 2. Years, wanting some months. Maacha. She is called elsewhere, Michaia, daughter of Uriel; but is was a common thing, in those days, for a person to have two names. Ch. — Abessalom and Absalom, the son of David are the same. 2 Par. xi. 21. C. — S. Jerom (Trad.) is of a different opinion. M. — Josephus (viii. 10.) intimates that Maacha was the daughter of Thamar. The eldest daughter, in the kingdom of Gessur, seems to have been usually styled Maacha, v. 10. T.

Ver. 4. Lamp, son; (C. xi. 36.) though he deserved to have his family exterminated. C. — He is preserved for his father’s sake. W.

Ver. 5. Hethite. This could not be excused. But all his other imperfections might not appear criminal in the eyes of the world, as they had some pretext of virtue; so that God reserves the judgment of them to himself, and to David’s conscience, who confessed that he had sinned. 2 K. xxiv. 10. T. — Except David, Ezechias, and Josias, all the kings of Juda committed sin; (Eccli. xlix. 5. C.) and not one of those who ruled over Israel, gave an example of virtue. H. — David soon entered into himself, with respect to his other failings. But he continued for a long time involved in the guilt of adultery and murder. Sanchez.

Ver. 6. Roboam. This had been remarked, C. xiv. 30. H. — There was a domestic quarrel between the two families. C. — Some suspect that Roboam is placed to designate his successors, or that we ought to read, Abia. Sanchez. — Castalion rashly ventures to alter the text. C. — Abiam gained a decisive victory over Jeroboam, v. 7. 2 Par. xiii. 3.

Ver. 9. Year complete, when the 21st was running on. Usher. — Sept. “the 24th.” C. — But Grabe’s edition agrees with the Heb. H.

Ver. 10. His mother’s, &c. That is, his grandmother; unless we suppose, which is not improbable, that the Maacha here named is different from the Maacha mentioned v. 2. Ch. — She was probably another grand-daughter of David’s son, (C.) as such are frequently styled simply daughters. So David is called the father of Asa, (v. 11. H.) though he was really his great-grandfather. M.

Ver. 12. Effeminate. See C. xiv. 24. Yet his zeal could not entirely eradicate this evil. There was room for the exertions of his son Josaphat. C. xxii. 47. C. — The king punished with death such as he could discover. H.

Ver. 13. Priapus. He would not spare such abominations in his own family. M. He took from his mother the direction of the palace, (Vatab.) and her guards. Grot. — Heb. “even her he removed from being queen, because she had made a Miphlatstah.” H. — Sept. render this term a synod, “meeting,” or something shameful; also a cavern, or den; and in Par. the “idol” Astarte. S. Jerom also gives different meanings; so that the precise import is not well known. Most people translate, “a scarecrow;” (C.) terriculum. In the gardens of Greece and or Rome, the figure of Priapus was set up (D.) to frighten thieves and birds away.

Inde ego furum aviumque

Maxima formido. Hor. Sat. l. 8.

Others understand that Pan, another frightening idol, is here meant; (Castalion) or the abominations of Phallus and Ithyphallus, derived from the same Heb. word. Seldon. — As the goddess Astarte, or Asera, “the grove,” here the object of adoration, was the wife of Adonis, it is probable, that the same obscenities were carried in triumph, as Herodotus (ii. 28. and 49.) specifies in the description of the festival of Bacchus, celebrated by the Egyptians. — To him. Prot. “She had made an idol in the grove.” Heb. also, “to Asera; and Asa destroyed her idol, (miphlatstah) and burnt it.” H.

Ver. 14. The high places. There were excelsa, or high places, of two different kinds. Some were set up and dedicated to the worship of idols, or strange gods: and these Asa removed. 2 Par. xiv. 2. Others were only altars of the true God, but were erected contrary to the law, which allowed of no sacrifices but in the temple; and these were not removed by Asa. Ch. — They had been built before the temple, and tolerated by the prophets; (C.) and, though they were now improper for sacrifices, (H.) Asa thought it would be imprudent to molest them, (C.) as perhaps he could not take them away. D. — He left also the ruins of (H.) the temples built by Solomon, (W.) on Mount Olivet, (4 K. xxiii. M.) as no longer dangerous. Salien. — Lord. Asa had his faults; but never forsook the worship of the Lord. Ch. — In the same sense, David is so often praised as a just prince. Asa threw a prophet into prison, and placed his trust as much in physicians, &c. 2 Par. xvi. 10, 12. But he did penance, and deserves to be ranked (C.) among the few just kings of Juda. H.

Ver. 15. Vowed. Heb. “which he himself had dedicated,” or vowed. 2 Par. xv. 18. H. — Asa made liberal presents to the Lord, and gave what his father had promised, (M.) probably during the famous battle against Jeroboam. 2 Par. xiii. 5. Abulens. q. 17. — Abiam was a wicked prince, and had neglected this duty, though he reigned three years. Hence he was slain by God, ib. v. 20. It seems that heirs were bound to execute the vows of their parents, though Moses does not express it. C.

Ver. 16. Their days: not that they were always fighting. H. — Open war was declared only in the 35th year of Asa, (2 Par. xv. 19.) which must be dated from the schism, and not from the commencement of his reign; since his rival, Baasa, enjoyed the sovereignty only 24 years, and died in the 26th of Asa, which was the 36th from the division of the two kingdoms. Thus Hardouin observes that the years of Commodus, in some ancient Egyptians medals, are dated from the reign of M. Aurelius, chief of that family; so that the first of Commodus is inscribed the twenty-first of Aurelius. Asa defeated Zara in the fifteenth, and attacked Israel in the sixteen year of his reign. Usher. T. C. — Others would substitute 25 for 35, (Grot. Capel.) though contrary to the text, and to all the versions. C.

Ver. 17. Rama, fortifying it with a wall all round. 2 Paral. xvi. H. — Rama signifies, “a height.” This fort commanded a narrow pass, between the two kingdoms, (C.) and cut off all communication; which Baasa dreaded, lest his subjects should return to the service of the true God, and of Juda. H. — Josue (xviii. 25.) mentions Rama, near Gaboan, (C.) about five miles north of Jerusalem. S. Jerom. — There was another towards the south. M. — But there the king of Israel would have no power. H.

Ver. 18. House. Sesac had not carried off all the treasures, (C.) and the losses had been since in a great measure repaired, v. 15. H. — Asa thought himself justified in employing these treasures in such a pressing necessity, (C.) perhaps (H.) without reason, as the danger was not so great; and he might have gained the victory without having recourse to an infidel, if he had placed more confidence in God. 2 Par. xvi. 7, 9. M. — He had already discomfited Zara, king of Ethiopia, and had an army of 580,000 men. C. 2 Par. xiv. 8. — Tabremon, “Good Remmon,” idol of Damascus. H. — Hezion, the same with Razon. C. xi. 23. M.

Ver. 19. League. The infidel is ready to take part with the best bidder. H. — Benadad gains a double reward, as he plunders the conquered. M.

Ver. 20. Ahion, or Ain, remote in the north, whence Theglathphalasar took away captives, (4 K. xv. 29.) is perhaps the Enan of Ezec. xlviii. 1. Num. xxxiv. 9. — Maacha. In Paral. Abel-maim, “Abela of the waters.” 2 K. xx. 14. — Ceneroth, near the sea of Tiberias. Jos. xi. 2. Benadad kept possession of some of these places, and even built streets in Samaria. C. xx. 34.

Ver. 21. Returned. So the Sept. Heb. “dwelt.” C. — He returned to protect his own dominions, (M.) and shut himself up in his capital. C.

Ver. 22. Excused. “When the country is to be defended, all exemptions cease.” Leg. ult. C. — Sept. seem to preserve the terms of the original untranslated, “Asa called all….to Annacim.” Heb. en naki, (H.) means, “no one exempt.” C. — Rama belonged to the enemy; and, as it appears from this passage, was in the vicinity of Maspha. H. — Gabaa, the city of Saul, (M.) adding fresh fortifications, as this and Maspha were frontier towns, against the inroads of Israel. H.

Ver. 23. Strength. Sept. “dynasty,” or power, whether of his dominions or of his person. C. — Feet, with the gout, (M.) three years before his death. He did not confide in the Lord sufficiently. 2 Par. xvi. 12. His body was embalmed or burnt, unless aromatic spices evaporated with it was laid on a bed of state, before it was consigned to the tomb, which Asa had prepared for himself in the city of David. Ibid.

Ver. 25. Two years, incomplete; since he commenced his reign in the second, and died in the third year of Asa, v. 28. C. — Petau only allows him, “a few months;” and supposes, that he had been associated on the throne with Jeroboam. But this is unnecessary. Houbigant — Nadab was the first king of Israel, who fell a pray to the fury of his subjects. Salien, A.C. 971.

Ver. 27. Gebbethon, of the tribe of Dan, occupied by the Philistines. It was often attacked. C. xvi. 15. C. — The occasion of this war is not known. M.

Ver. 29. Jeroboam. The author of schism is punished in his posterity. W. — The body of Nadab was left unburied. C. xiv. 11. M.