2 Chronicles 16:1-14 . ASA, BY A LEAGUE WITH THE SYRIANS, DIVERTS BAASHA FROM BUILDING RAMAH.
1-6. In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha . . . came up against Judah--Baasha had died several years before this date ( 1 Kings 15:33 ), and the best biblical critics are agreed in considering this date to be calculated from the separation of the kingdoms, and coincident with the sixteenth year of Asa's reign. This mode of reckoning was, in all likelihood, generally followed in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel, the public annals of the time ( 2 Chronicles 16:11 ), the source from which the inspired historian drew his account.
Baasha . . . built Ramah--that is, fortified it. The blessing of God which manifestly rested at this time on the kingdom of Judah, the signal victory of Asa, the freedom and purity of religious worship, and the fame of the late national covenant, were regarded with great interest throughout Israel, and attracted a constantly increasing number of emigrants to Judah. Baasha, alarmed at this movement, determined to stem the tide; and as the high road to and from Jerusalem passed by Ramah, he made that frontier town, about six miles north of Asa's capital, a military station, where the vigilance of his sentinels would effectually prevent all passage across the boundary of the also Jeremiah 41:9 ).
4. Ben-hadad . . . sent the captains of his armies . . . and they smote . . . Abelmaim--"The meadow of waters," supposed to have been situated on the marshy plain near the uppermost lake of the Jordan. The other two towns were also in the northern district of Palestine. These unexpected hostilities of his Syrian ally interrupted Baasha's fortifications at Ramah, and his death, happening soon after, prevented his resuming them.
7-10. Hanani the seer came to Asa . . . and said--His object was to show the king his error in forming his recent league with Ben-hadad. The prophet represented the appropriation of the temple treasures to purchase the services of the Syrian mercenaries, as indicating a distrust in God most blameable with the king's experience. He added, that in consequence of this want of faith, Asa had lost the opportunity of gaining a victory over the united forces of Baasha and Ben-hadad, more splendid than that obtained over the Ethiopians. Such a victory, by destroying their armies, would have deprived them of all power to molest him in the future; whereas by his foolish and worldly policy, so unworthy of God's vicegerent, to misapply the temple treasures and corrupt the fidelity of an ally of the king of Israel, he had tempted the cupidity of the one, and increased the hostility of the other, and rendered himself liable to renewed troubles ( 1 Kings 15:32 ). This rebuke was pungent and, from its truth and justness, ought to have penetrated and afflicted the heart of such a man as Asa. But his pride was offended at the freedom taken by the honest reprover of royalty, and in a burst of passionate resentment, he ordered Hanani to be thrown into prison.
10. Asa oppressed some of the people the same time--The form or degree of this oppression is not recorded. The cause of his oppressing them was probably due to the same offense as that of Hanani--a strong expression of their dissatisfaction with his conduct in leaguing with Ben-hadad, or it may have been his maltreatment of the Lord's servant.
12. Asa . . . was diseased in his feet--probably the gout.
yet his disease was exceeding great--better, "moved upwards" in his body, which proves the violent and dangerous type of the malady.
yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians--most probably Egyptian physicians, who were anciently in high repute at foreign courts, and who pretended to expel diseases by charms, incantations, and mystic arts. Asa's fault consisted in his trusting to such physicians, while he neglected to supplicate the aid and blessing of God. The best and holiest men have been betrayed for a time into sins, but through repentance have risen again; and as Asa is pronounced a good man ( 2 Chronicles 15:17 ), it may be presumed that he also was restored to a better state of mind.
14. they buried him in his own sepulchres--The tombs in the neighborhood of Jerusalem were excavated in the side of a rock. One cave contained several tombs or sepulchres.
laid him in the bed . . . filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices--It is evident that a sumptuous public funeral was given him as a tribute of respect and gratitude for his pious character and patriotic government. But whether "the bed" means a state couch on which he lay exposed to public view, the odoriferous perfumes being designed to neutralize the offensive smell of the corpse, or whether it refers to an embalmment, in which aromatic spices were always used in great profusion, it is impossible to say.
they made a very great burning for him--according to some, for consuming the spices. According to others, it was a magnificent pile for the cremation of the corpse--a usage which was at that time, and long after, prevalent among the Hebrews, and the omission of which in the case of royal personages was reckoned a great indignity ( 2 Chronicles 21:19 , 1 Samuel 31:12 , Jeremiah 34:5 , Amos 6:10 ).