And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:
Oded is by some identified with Iddo, the prophet and historian of the two preceding reigns. In the Hebrew the two names differ very slightly.
And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.
Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.
"Israel" here is used generally for the whole people of God; and the reference is especially to the many apostasies in the days of the Judges, which were followed by repentance and deliverance.
But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.
And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.
And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity.
Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.
And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.
Some versions have "the prophecy of Azariah the son of Oded," which is perhaps the true reading.
And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.
Strangers ... - i. e. "Israelites of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh." The separation of the two kingdoms had made their Israelite brethren "strangers," or "foreigners," to Judah.
So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.
In the third month - i. e. the month Sivan Esther 8:9, corresponding with our June.
And they offered unto the LORD the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.
The prevalence of the number "seven" in the religious system of the Jews has been noticed often. Seven bullocks and seven rams were a common offering Numbers 29:32; 1 Chronicles 15:26; 2 Chronicles 29:21; Job 42:8; Ezekiel 14:23. At the larger sacrifices, however, it is seldom that we find the number seven at all prominent (compare 2 Chronicles 30:24; 2 Chronicles 35:7-9; 1 Kings 8:63).
And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;
Solemn renewals of the original covenant which God made with their fathers in the wilderness Exodus 24:3-8 occur from time to time in the history of the Jews, following upon intervals of apostasy. This renewal in the reign of Asa is the first on record. The next falls 300 years later in the reign of Josiah. There is a third in the time of Nehemiah (see the marginal references). On such occasions, the people bound themselves by a solem oath to observe all the directions of the Law, and called down God's curse upon them if they forsook it.
That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.
And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.
And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about.
And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.
But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.
Comparing this verse with marginal references, it would seem that in 2 Chronicles 14:3, 2 Chronicles 14:5 the intention and endeavors of the monarch are in the writer's mind, while here he is speaking of the practice of the people. However earnestly the most pious monarchs sought to root out the high-place worship, they failed of complete success. Compare a similar discrepancy, to be similarly explained, in the history of Jehoshaphat 2 Chronicles 17:6; 2 Chronicles 20:33.
The heart of Asa was perfect all his days - Not that Asa was sinless (see 2 Chronicles 16:2-10, 2 Chronicles 16:12); but that he was free from the sin of idolatry, and continued faithful to Yahweh all his life.
And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.
And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.
The five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa - This cannot be reconciled with the chronqlogy of Kings 1 Kings 16:8 : and the suggestion in the marg. implies the adoption of a mode of marking time unknown either to himself or any other Scriptural writer. It is supposed that the figures here and in 2 Chronicles 16:1 are corrupt, and that in both verses "twentieth" should replace "thirtieth." The attack of Baasha would then have been made in the last year of Asa's reign; and ten years of peace would have followed Asa's victory over Zerah.