|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
15:9-24 Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. That is right indeed which is so in God's eyes. Asa's times were times of reformation. He removed that which was evil; there reformation begins, and a great deal he found to do. When Asa found idolatry in the court, he rooted it out thence. Reformation must begin at home. Asa honours and respects his mother; he loves her well, but he loves God better. Those that have power are happy when thus they have hearts to use it well. We must not only cease to do evil, but learn to do well; not only cast away the idols of our iniquity, but dedicate ourselves and our all to God's honour and glory. Asa was cordially devoted to the service of God, his sins not arising from presumption. But his league with Benhadad arose from unbelief. Even true believers find it hard, in times of urgent danger, to trust in the Lord with all their heart. Unbelief makes way for carnal policy, and thus for one sin after another. Unbelief has often led Christians to call in the help of the Lord's enemies in their contests with their brethren; and some who once shone brightly, have thus been covered with a dark cloud towards the end of their days.
Verse 13. - And also Maachah his mother, oven her he removed from being queen [Rather, queen-mother. Gebiruh, as already pointed out on ch. 2:19, answers to the Sultana Valide. The Vulgate reads, Ne esset princeps in sacris Priapi. Wordsworth reminds us of the position which the queen-mother Atossa holds in the Persae (vers. 159-850). A queen consort is hardly possible in a polygamous household; see Kitto, 4:177] because [Heb. which, as in ver. 5] she had made all idol [מִפְלֶצֶת from פָלַץ terruit, signifies an object of fear, formido - not pudendum, a thing of shame, as the Rabbis and others have held, i.e., a phallic image (simulacrum obscoenum, Jerome), but horrendum. The devout Jew could not but regard such objects with horror] in a grove [Heb. for (i.e., to serve as) an Asherah. See note on 1 Kings 14:15, 23. Asherah is not the name of the goddess ( = Astarte), as Wordsworth thinks, but of the image], and Asa destroyed [Marg. cut off, Heb. simply cut, which here must mean cut down. The image was, no doubt, planted erect in the ground] her idol [horror, as above], and burnt it [this shows that it was made of wood] by the brook Kidron. [Cf. Exodus 32:20. Here, as in 1 Kings 17:3 (where see note), our translators have been unable to adhere strictly to the original "in the brook," etc., from not knowing that נַחַל, which primarily means "brook," also means" watercourse," wady. It is probable that the brook was at this time flowing, and that the ashes of the wooden Asherah were cast into it; but the burning also took place in the Wady, or valley. We read of another similar burning in 2 Kings 23:4, 6; but in this case the ashes were either carried to Bethel or cast upon the graves, to defile them. It is a fair inference that on this latter occasion the Kedron was dry. The valley, "the fields of the Kedron" (ver. 4 l.c.), is conveniently placed for such a purpose.]
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen,.... From the kingdom, as the Targum; from having any share in the government, as she might have had during his minority, his mother being dead, as some conjecture; and not only took away her power and authority, but all the ensigns of it, and perhaps forbid her the court: or he removed her from the queen, his own wife, that she might not be corrupted by her; or rather it was from presiding over the rites of the idol next mentioned, and the worshipping of it:
because she had made an idol in a grove; which had its name from horror and trembling; either because it was of a terrible aspect, or injected horror into its worshippers, or brought terrible calamities and judgments upon them: according to some Jewish writers (r), it was a Priapus, of an obscene figure; and so others (s), who suppose she presided over the sacred rites of this impure deity, the same with Baalpeor; and the Heathens used to place Priapus in their gardens (t), to fright away birds; see Gill on Jeremiah 49:16, others take it to be Pan, from whence the word "Panic", used for any great fright:
and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron: and cast the ashes of it into it, that none might have any profit by it, the gold and silver on it, and in indignation to it, see Exodus 32:20.
(r) T. Bab. Avodah Zarah, fol. 44. 1.((s) Vid. D. Herbert de Cherbury de Relig. Gent. c. 4. p. 34. Lyram in loc. (t) "----custos es pauperis horti", Virgil. Bucol. Ecclesiastes 7. ver. 34. & Georgic. l. 4. ver. 110. "----furum aviumque maxima formido", Horat. Sermon. l. 1. ode 8.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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 1Ki 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 1Ki 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.
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