2 Chronicles 13


‘In the eighteenth year of the reign of Jeroboam, Abijah became king of Judah, and he reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother’s name was Maakah, a daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. Abijah went into battle with an army of four hundred thousand able fighting men, and Jeroboam drew up a battle line against him with eight hundred thousand able troops. Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim, in the hill country of Ephraim, and said, “Jeroboam and all Israel, listen to me! Don’t you know that the LORD, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt? Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, an official of Solomon son of David, rebelled against his master. Some worthless scoundrels gathered around him and opposed Rehoboam son of Solomon when he was young and indecisive and not strong enough to resist them. “And now you plan to resist the kingdom of the LORD, which is in the hands of David’s descendants. You are indeed a vast army and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made to be your gods. But didn’t you drive out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and make priests of your own as the peoples of other lands do? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams may become a priest of what are not gods. “As for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the LORD are sons of Aaron, and the Levites assist them. Every morning and evening they present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the LORD. They set out the bread on the ceremonially clean table and light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. We are observing the requirements of the LORD our God. But you have forsaken him. God is with us; he is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you. People of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed.” Now Jeroboam had sent troops around to the rear, so that while he was in front of Judah the ambush was behind them. Judah turned and saw that they were being attacked at both front and rear. Then they cried out to the LORD. The priests blew their trumpets and the men of Judah raised the battle cry. At the sound of their battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. The Israelites fled before Judah, and God delivered them into their hands. Abijah and his troops inflicted heavy losses on them, so that there were five hundred thousand casualties among Israel’s able men. The Israelites were subdued on that occasion, and the people of Judah were victorious because they relied on the LORD, the God of their ancestors. Abijah pursued Jeroboam and took from him the towns of Bethel, Jeshanah and Ephron, with their surrounding villages. Jeroboam did not regain power during the time of Abijah. And the LORD struck him down and he died. But Abijah grew in strength. He married fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters. The other events of Abijah’s reign, what he did and what he said, are written in the annotations of the prophet Iddo.’ 2 Chronicles 13:1-22

Abijah King Of Judah

Abijah reigned over Judah in the south from 913-911 B.C., 2 Chronicles 1:22-14 / 1 Kings 15:1-8. Some translations have his name as Abijam.

He just like Rehoboam, continued to lead God’s people in idolatry and it’s clear that he simply wanted to please the people around him because his heart wasn’t devoted to God.

For David’s sake, 1 Samuel 13:14 / Acts 13:22, Abijah’s son, Asa was given the right to rule as king in Jerusalem by God. God did this in order that the seed promise of the Messiah would be fulfilled, Genesis 12:3.

Once again we read about war, this war was between the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom, this is brother against brother.

The covenant of salt was a continuous covenant between God and Israel, Leviticus 2:13. As far as Abijah was concerned, he thought the northern tribes no longer honour this covenant, because of the division of Israel. He basically accused them of rejecting the covenant and hiring priests who weren’t Levites.

Jeroboam sets up an ambush to go around behind them, however, when the battle lines unexpectedly changed, knew that a surprise attack from an army twice as large as them left them in a very dangerous place.

The only thing they could do was cry out to God. They cried out to God and God struck the army of Israel and Judah won, simply because they relied on God.

Since Jeroboam had taken the northern tribes further away from God and since he became king over the northern tribes, God fought for Abijah. This resulted in the death of 500,000 Israelites and the defeat was so great that the north under the rule of Jeroboam was never able to regain military strength,1 Kings 14:20 / 1 Kings 15:9.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘It has been proposed to change the numbers, here and in 2 Chronicles 13:17, into 40,000, 80,000, and 50,000 respectively, partly because these smaller numbers are found in many early editions of the Vulgate, but mainly because the larger ones are thought to be incredible. The numbers accord well, however, with the census of the people taken in the reign of David 1 Chronicles 21:5, joined to the fact which the writer has related 2 Chronicles 11:13-17, of a considerable subsequent emigration from the northern kingdom into the southern one. The total adult male population at the time of the census was 1,570, 000. The total of the fighting men now is 1,200,000. This would allow for the aged and infirm 370, 000, or nearly a fourth of the whole. And in 2 Chronicles 13:17, our author may be understood to mean that this was the entire Israelite loss in the course of the war, which probably continued through the whole reign of Abijah.’

Jeroboam rebelled against his lord, that is, the house of David because God had given him the right to reign over the northern ten tribes. If anyone came with a bull and seven rams, he could be a priest, Exodus 29:1 / Leviticus 8:2. In other words, Jeroboam was selling the office of a priest.

Abijah speaks against the northern tribes and tells them they will not succeed because they have moved too far away from God’s will. Although God had given the ten northern tribes to Jeroboam, Jeroboam took them into idol worship.

Notice God struck Jeroboam down and killed him, in other words, God used the army of Judah to judge the northern tribes because they followed Jeroboam.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Jeroboam’s death was a judgment upon him for his sins. Chronologically speaking, his death is here out of place, for he outlived Abijah at least two years, compared to the marginal reference and 1 Kings 15:9, but the writer, not intending to recur to his history, is naturally led to carry it on to its termination.’

Abijah grew in strength, 1 Kings 15:3, and here again, we find a reference to the annotations of the prophet Iddo, which have a record of Abijah’s reign and everything he said and did, 1 Kings 15:7.

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