1 Kings 15:1-8 . ABIJAM'S WICKED REIGN OVER JUDAH.
1. Abijam--His name was at first Abijah ( 2 Chronicles 12:16 ); "Jah," the name of God, according to an ancient fashion, being conjoined with it. But afterwards, when he was found "walking in all the sins of his father" [ 1 Kings 15:3 ], that honorable addition was withdrawn, and his name in sacred history changed into Abijam [LIGHTFOOT].
2. Three years reigned he--(compare 1 Kings 15:1 with 1 Kings 15:9 ). Parts of years are often counted in Scripture as whole years. The reign began in Jeroboam's eighteenth year, continued till the nineteenth, and ended in the course of the twentieth.
his mother's name was Maachah--or Michaiah ( 2 Chronicles 13:2 ), probably altered from the one to the other on her becoming queen, as was very common under a change of circumstances. She is called the daughter of Abishalom, or Absalom ( 2 Chronicles 11:21 ), of Uriel ( 2 Chronicles 13:2 ). Hence, it has been thought probable that Tamar, the daughter of Absalom ( 2 Samuel 14:27 , 18:18 ), had been married to Uriel, and that Maachah was their daughter.
3. his heart was not perfect with the Lord . . . , as the heart of David his father--(Compare 1 Kings 11:4 , 14:22 ). He was not positively bad at first, for it appears that he had done something to restore the pillaged treasures of the temple ( 1 Kings 15:15 ). This phrase contains a comparative reference to David's heart. His doing that which was right in the eyes of the Lord ( 1 Kings 15:5 ) is frequently used in speaking of the kings of Judah, and means only that they did or did not do that which, in the general course and tendency of their government, was acceptable to God. It furnishes no evidence as to the lawfulness or piety of one specific act.
4. for David's sake did the Lord his God give him a lamp--"A lamp" in one's house is an Oriental phrase for continuance of family name and prosperity. Abijam was not rejected only in consequence of the divine promise to David
1 Kings 15:9-22 . ASA'S GOOD REIGN.
10-13. his mother's name was Maachah--She was properly his grandmother, and she is here called "the king's mother," from the post of dignity which at the beginning of his reign she possessed. Asa, as a constitutional monarch, acted like the pious David, laboring to abolish the traces and polluting practices of idolatry, and in pursuance of his impartial conduct, he did not spare delinquents even of the highest rank.
13. also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen--The sultana, or queen dowager, was not necessarily the king's natural mother (see 1 Kings 2:19 ), nor was Maachah. Her title, and the privileges connected with that honor and dignity which gave her precedency among the ladies of the royal family, and great influence in the kingdom, were taken away. She was degraded for her idolatry.
because she had made an idol in a grove--A very obscene figure, and the grove was devoted to the grossest licentiousness. His plans of religious reformation, however, were not completely carried through, "the high places were not removed" (see 1 Kings 3:2 ). The suppression of this private worship on natural or artificial hills, though a forbidden service after the temple had been declared the exclusive place of worship, the most pious king's laws were not able to accomplish.
15. he brought in the things which his father had dedicated--Probably the spoils which Abijam had taken from the vanquished army of Jeroboam (see 2 Chronicles 13:16 ).
and the things which himself had dedicated--after his own victory over the Cushites ( 2 Chronicles 14:12 ).
16, 17. there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days--Asa enjoyed a ten years' peace after Jeroboam's defeat by Abijam, and this interval was wisely and energetically spent in making internal reforms, as well as increasing the means of national defense ( 2 Chronicles 14:1-7 ). In the fifteenth year of his reign, however, the king of Israel commenced hostilities against him, and, invading his kingdom, erected a strong fortress at Ramah, which was near Gibeah, and only six Roman miles from Jerusalem. Afraid lest his subjects might quit his kingdom and return to the worship of their fathers, he wished to cut off all intercourse between the two nations. Ramah stood on an eminence overhanging a narrow ravine which separated Israel from Judah, and therefore he took up a hostile position in that place.
18-20. Then Asa took all the silver and the gold that were left in the . . . house of the Lord--Asa's religious character is now seen to decline. He trusted not in the Lord ( 2 Chronicles 16:7 ). In this emergency Asa solicited the powerful aid of the king of Damascene-Syria; and to bribe him to break off his alliance with Baasha, he transmitted to him the treasure lying in the temple and palace. The Syrian mercenaries were gained. Instances are to be found, both in the ancient and modern history of the East, of the violation of treaties equally sudden and unscrupulous, through the presentation of some tempting bribe. Ben-hadad poured an army into the northern provinces of Israel, and having captured some cities in Galilee, on the borders of Syria, compelled Baasha to withdraw from Ramah back within his own territories.
22. Then king Asa made a proclamation--The fortifications which Baasha had erected at Ramah were demolished, and with the materials were built other defenses, where Asa thought they were needed--at Geba (now Jeba) and Mizpeh (now Neby Samuil), about two hours' travelling north of Jerusalem.
23. in the time of his old age he was diseased in his where an additional proof is given of his religious degeneracy.)
1 Kings 15:25-34 . NADAB'S WICKED REIGN.
25. Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign--No record is given of him, except his close adherence to the bad policy of his father.
27. Baasha smote him at Gibbethon--This town, within the tribe of Dan, was given to the Levites ( Joshua 19:44 ). It lay on the Philistine borders, and having been seized by that people, Nadab laid siege to recover it.
29. when he reigned, he smote all the house of Jeroboam--It was according to a barbarous practice too common in the East, for a usurper to extirpate all rival candidates for the throne; but it was an accomplishment of Ahijah's prophecy concerning Jeroboam ( 1 Kings 14:10 1 Kings 14:11 ).