|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 17. - And Baasha, king of Israel, went up against Judah [This statement probably refers to the reconquest of the three cities which Abijah had taken from Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 13:19), as Ramah could hardly have been rebuilt whilst Bethel remained in the hands of Judah], and built Ramah [Heb. the Ramah, i.e., "the elevation," or "high place." Now er Ram ( = the height), in Benjamin (Joshua 18:25; Judges 19:18, 14), five miles distant from Jerusalem, near the frontier of the two territories, and also then, as now, on the great north road. It was the key, consequently, to both kingdoms. Hence the struggles to possess it, vers, 21, 22; 2 Chronicles 16:1, etc.], that he might not suffer any to go out [Heb. not to give any going out, etc.] or come in to Asa, king of Judah. [The object of Baasha in fortifying this place is evident. It was not merely to have an advanced post as a menace to Jerusalem (Rawlinson), but primarily, by its command of the high road, to prevent his subjects from falling away to the kingdom of Judah, or even from going up to Jerusalem to worship; in fact, to isolate Judah and to blockade its capital. That there was a great defection to Ass at this time we know from 2 Chronicles 15:9. This was an exodus which Baasha felt must be checked. Blunt ("Coincidences," pp. 176-8) has happily shown from 2 Chronicles 16:6, etc., how the primary object must have been to "stop the alarming drainage of all that was virtuous out of their borders." Rawlinson sees in the fortification of this place "the first step towards a conquest of the southern kingdom." But as to this the text is silent, or rather it assigns an entirely different reason.]
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah,.... Which, in 2 Chronicles 16:1 is said to be in the thirty sixth year of Asa's reign, or rather of his kingdom; for it can never mean the year of his reign, for Baasha was dead many years before that, since his reign began in the third of Asa, and he reigned but twenty four years, and therefore must die in the twenty seventh of Asa; but it is to be understood of the kingdom of Judah, when it was divided from Israel; from that time to this were thirty six years, seventeen under Rehoboam, three under Abijam, so that this year must be the sixteenth of Asa; thus it is calculated in the Jewish chronology (u), and which is followed by many of the best of our chronologers:
and built Ramah; a city in the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 18:25, but taken by the king of Israel, which he rebuilt or fortified:
that he might not suffer any to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah; that his people might not go to and from Jerusalem, and worship at the temple there; this garrison lying on the borders of both kingdoms, he thought hereby to cut off all communication between them.
(u) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 16.
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