2 Chronicles 13


Reign of Abijah (13:1 –14:1)

      • ESV Study Bible writes, “The Chronicler’s account of Abijah’s reign is much longer than that given in 1 Kings 15:1-8 (where he is called Abijam). It is, in fact, mainly the development of the statement in 1 Kings 15:7 that ‘there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam’ through the detailed record of one incident, a battle between these kings in the hill country of Ephraim. In the estimation of 1 Kings 15:3, Abijah, like his father Rehoboam, ‘was not wholly true to the Lord.’ The Chronicler would probably agree (since it appears from 2 Chron 14:3-5; 15:8, 16 that idolatrous worship was practiced throughout Judah during Abijah’s reign), but he refrains from explicit comment on the king’s own piety to concentrate instead on what God has accomplished through his reign. The Chronicler notes that in contrast to Jeroboam’s kingdom and cult, the Davidic monarchy is the object of God’s enduring promise (13:5, 8); the Jerusalem priesthood is legitimate and faithful (13:10-11); and the men of Judah trust in God (13:13, 18). It is for these reasons that the southern kingdom enjoys God’s protection and blessing, even if Abijah himself (like his father) falls somewhat short of the ideal.”

    • Abijah became king over Judah in the 18th year of Israel’s King Jeroboam’s reign, and he ruled for 3 years in Jerusalem. His mother was Maakah, and her father was Uriel from Gibeah.

      • Here in 2 Chronicles, the Masoretic text says that Abijah’s mother was “Micaiah,” and the Masoretic version of the 1 Kings parallel (in which his mother is “Maakah”) says that her father was Absalom:

        • NET Bible notes, “The parallel text in 1 Kgs 15:2 identifies his mother as ‘Maacah, the daughter of Abishalom’ (=Absalom, 2 Chr 11:20). Although most English versions identify the mother’s father as Uriel of Gibeah, a number of English versions substitute the name ‘Maacah’ here for the mother (e.g., NIV, NCV, CEV, NLT).”

        • NIV Cultrural Backgrounds Study Bible footnotes say that “most Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac” read “Maakah.”

        • ESV Study Bible footnotes indicate that Micaiah is a variant spelling of Maakah.

      • However, Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers provides the following: “Kings reads for the names ‘Maachah the daughter of Abishalom’; and as the chronicler has himself already designated Abijah as son of Maachah, daughter of Absalom (2Chronicles 11:20-22), there can be no doubt that this is correct, and that ‘Michaiah,’ which is elsewhere a man’s name, is a corruption of Maachah. This is confirmed by the LXX., Syriac, and Arabic, which read Maachah. As we have already stated (2Chronicles 11:20), Maachah was granddaughter to Absalom, being a daughter of Tamar the only daughter of Absalom. Uriel of Gibeah, then, must have been the husband of Tamar. (See on 2Chronicles 15:16. Uriel of Gibeah is otherwise unknown.)”

    • There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. Judah, led by King Abijah, went into battle with an army of 400,000 select troops, while Jeroboam deployed 800,000 select troops from Israel against him.

      • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible writes, “The conflict that began between Jeroboam and Rehoboam (12:15) continued into the reign of Abijah, successor to Rehoboam in Judah. Even though Jeroboam’s army is described as being double that of Abijah’s, the battle highlighted in ch 13 implies that Abijah is on the offensive. His rhetoric suggests that it is his intention to reunite the north and south, by conquest if necessary. Abijah’s victory over Jeroboam gives Judah control of the two major north-south highways connecting the southern kingdom and northern kingdom and control over the coveted Benjamin plateau, as well as a portion of the Ephraimite hill country. The remark in v. 20 that ‘Jeroboam did not regain power’ may be related to Aramean pressure on the northern kingdom as facilitated by a treaty Abijah apparently made with Bed-Hadad of Aram (Syria).”

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible says, “Abijah might have been attempting to reunite north and south, as is suggested by his speech (13:5-12). The large numbers of soldiers on each side correspond approximately to David’s census (2 Sam 24:9); Israel’s double number of soldiers magnifies God’s intervention on behalf of Judah (2 Chron 13:14-19).”

    • Then Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, and said: “Jeroboam and all of Israel, listen to me! Don’t you realize that Yahweh God of Israel has given kingship over Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt? Yet Nebat’s son Jeroboam, who was a servant of David’s son Solomon, rose up and rebelled against his lord. And certain worthless men joined him to defy Solomon’s son Rehoboam when Rehoboam was an inexperienced young man, not strong enough to resist them. And now you are declaring that you will resist Yahweh’s kingdom which is led by a descendant of David. You are indeed a vast army, and you have brought with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made for you as gods. Didn’t you banish Yahweh’s priests, the descendants of Aaron and the Levites, and appoint your own priests like the peoples of other lands do? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull or 7 rams can become a priest of these fake gods! But as for us, Yahweh is our God, and we have not rejected Him. Aaron’s descendants serve as Yahweh’s priests, and the Levites assist them with the work. They offer burnt offerings and fragrant incense to Yahweh every morning and evening. The set out the rows of showbread on the ceremonially clean table, and light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. We are carrying out the requirements of Yahweh our God, but you have abandoned Him. Look, God is with us as our leader, and His priests are ready with their trumpets to sound the battle charge against you. O Israelites, don’t fight against Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, because you will not succeed!”

      • On Mount Zemaraim, the NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “The town of that name was on the northern border of Benjamin (see Josh 18:22), about five miles northeast of Bethel. Benjamin was a buffer and battleground between the northern and southern kingdoms.”

      • ESV Study Bible notes, “Abijah’s speech is one of several royal addresses in Chronicles that serve to convey the author’s concerns– in this case, his condemnation of the northern kingdom for its apostasy and continuing rebellion…Abijah condemns Jeroboam and the northerners for opposing God’s grant of perpetual kingship over Israel to David and his sons…Jeroboam’s kingship is dismissed as rebellion against his master, Solomon, while the Davidic kingdom is nothing less than the kingdom of the Lord (see 2 Chron 9:8). Abijah condemns the northerners for their religious unfaithfulness in making calf idols (see Hos 8:6) and driving out the Aaronic priests and Levites in favor of their own appointees. Judah, by contrast, has the legitimate priesthood and temple worship, so Israel should not fight against the Lord. For the Chronicler’s own audience, Abijah’s speech may have functioned as a sermonic appeal to the different tribes to be united around the temple, under the leadership of the Davidic family.”

      • Guzik adds, “Here King Abijah presents a rather selective view of history. It was true that Jeroboam rebelled, but it is also true that Rehoboam was a fool who provoked the northern tribes to rebellion.”

      • Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: “Salt was necessary for the efficacy of a sacrifice (Leviticus 2:13), so that Covenant of salt became a phrase for a sure covenant (Numbers 18:19). The sacredness of the bond which is acknowledged among the Arabs between two persons who have ‘eaten salt’ together as host and guest is common knowledge. It is not however necessary that salt should be taken; any food, e.g. milk, will serve (W. R. Smith, Religion of the Semites, p. 270).”

      • Benson Commentary: “A perpetual covenant. The reason of this mode of expression seems to arise from the preserving nature of salt; which, therefore, was made a symbol of friendship and fidelity. It is most likely, that in all solemn covenants which were confirmed by sacrifice, it was an ancient custom to offer salt with the sacrifice, to denote the faith and perpetuity of the covenant; so that, in this view, a covenant of salt will signify a covenant confirmed by sacrifice.”

    • Now Jeroboam had sent some men to ambush the Judahite army from behind. The main army was in front of Judah’s army, the ambushers were behind it. The men of Judah turned around and realized that they were being attacked from the front and the rear. So they cried out to Yahweh, the priests blew the trumpets, and the men of Judah raised the battle cry. As the men of Judah gave the battle cry, God defeated Jeroboam and all of Israel before Abijah and Judah. The Israelites fled from Judah, and God delivered them into their hands. Then Abijah and his army thoroughly defeated them- 500,000 of Israel’s select troops were killed. The Israelites were subdued that day, and the men of Judah succeeded because they relied on Yahweh, the God of their ancestors.

      • Guzik writes, “They added the shout of faith to their cry unto the LORD and Godstruck the army of Israel. We are not told howGod struck them, but God certainly defended His trusting people when they could not defend themselves…The Chronicler wanted the point to be clear. The reason why Judah defeated Israel even though they were surprised and outnumbered was because Judah relied on the LORD.”

    • Abijah pursued Jeroboam and took the following cities from him: Bethel, Jeshanah, and Ephron, each with their surrounding towns. Jeroboam didn’t regain power during Abijah’s reign. Ultimately, Yahweh struck him down and he died. But Abijah’s power grew. He acquired 14 wives and fathered 22 sons and 16 daughters. The rest of the events of Abijah’s reign, including what he did and said, are recorded in the writings of Iddo the prophet.

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “Abijah took the territories surrounding Bethel, Jeshanah, and Eprhon from Israel (13:19). Together with Zamaraim (13:4), these towns in the hill country on the northern border of Judah formed a geographical unit (see Josh 18:22-23). The subsequent history of this territorial gain is not known; by the time of Amos (about 760 BC), Bethel was a major pagan shrine in Israel. Jeroboam outlived Abijah (see 1 Kgs 15:9). The report on his death is included with his defeat, which was typical of vanquished warriors (see 2 Kgs 19:37).”

      • Guzik adds, “The profile of Abjiah in 1 Kings 15 is overwhelmingly negative. We read, he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. (1 Kings 15:3) Yet the Chronicler says nothing good or bad about the overall reign of Abjiah. This was because the Chronicler wanted to emphasize the good that happened under the reign of Abijah; namely, the great deliverance that came when Judah relied on God. The Chronicler assumes the reader knows the material about Abijah in 1 Kings; yet he wanted to show that even a bad man can be shown grace when he relies on the LORD. This would be a great encouragement to the returned exiles to whom the Chronicler first wrote. Yet from our more complete understanding of Abijah’s life, we can learn another lesson: that one great spiritual victory does not make an entire life before God. One should never trust in a past spiritual accomplishment or season of victory.”

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