In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa began his rule over Judah.
He ruled for forty-one years in Jerusalem. His grandmother's name was Maacah.
Asa conducted himself well before God, reviving the ways of his ancestor David.
He cleaned house: He got rid of the sacred prostitutes and threw out all the idols his predecessors had made.
Asa spared nothing and no one; he went so far as to remove Queen Maacah from her position because she had built a shockingly obscene memorial to the whore goddess Asherah. Asa tore it down and burned it up in the Kidron Valley.
Unfortunately, he didn't get rid of the local sex-and-religion shrines. But he was well-intentioned - his heart was in the right place, in tune with God.
All the gold and silver vessels and artifacts that he and his father had consecrated for holy use he installed in The Temple.
But through much of his reign there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel.
Baasha king of Israel started it by building a fort at Ramah and closing the border between Israel and Judah so no one could enter or leave Judah.
Asa took all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of The Temple of God and the royal palace, gave it to his servants, and sent them to Ben-Hadad son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus, with this message:
"Let's make a treaty like the one between our fathers. I'm showing my good faith with this gift of silver and gold. Break your deal with Baasha king of Israel so he'll quit fighting against me."
Ben-Hadad went along with King Asa and sent out his troops against the towns of Israel. He attacked Ijon, Dan, Abel Beth Maacah, and the entire region of Kinnereth, including Naphtali.
When Baasha got the report he quit fortifying Ramah and pulled back to Tirzah.
Then King Asa issued orders to everyone in Judah - no exemptions - to haul away the logs and stones Baasha had used in the fortification of Ramah and use them to fortify Geba in Benjamin and Mizpah.
A full account of Asa's life, all the great things he did and the fortifications he constructed, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. In his old age he developed severe gout.
Then Asa died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. His son Jehoshaphat became king after him.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)