1 Kings 15:20
So Benhadad listened to king Asa, and sent the captains of the hosts which he had against the cities of Israel, and smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelbethmaachah, and all Cinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali.
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(20) Smote.—The portion smitten now, as hereafter in the Assyrian invasion (2Kings 15:29), is the mountain country near the source of the Jordan, which lay most exposed to the great approach to Israel from the north by “the entering in of Hamath,” through the wide valley between Lebanon and Ante-Lebanon, called by the Greeks Cœle-Syria.

Ijon is only mentioned in these two passages as belonging to the territory of Naphtali. It is supposed to have stood not far from Dan, close to the nearer, but fuller, source of the Jordan, in a position of great natural beauty and some strength, identified with the modern Tel-Dibbin.

Abel-beth-Maachah (see 2Samuel 20:14-15) (“the meadow of the house of Maachah”), or (2Chronicles 16:4) Abel-maim (“the meadow upon the waters”), lay probably in the marshy ground north of the water of Merom.

Cinneroth or Chinneroth, is the name afterwards corrupted into Gennesareth, signifying evidently a region in the neighbourhood of the lake.

1 Kings 15:20-21. And smote Ijon and Dan, &c. — He fell upon the northern part of the kingdom of Israel, which was nearest to Damascus; while Baasha was busy at Ramah, which was in the more southern part. And dwelt in Tirzah — Now the royal city of Israel. There he abode to defend his own kingdoms, and durst not return to oppose Asa, lest the Syrian king should make a second invasion. So Asa met with success in this ungodly course, as good men sometimes meet with disappointment in a good cause and course. So there is no judging of causes by events.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.Ijon is probably marked by the ruins called "Tel-Dibbin," which are situated a few miles northwest of the site of Dan, in a fertile and beautiful little plain which bears the name of "Merj' Ayun" or "meadow of fountains." On Abel-beth-maachah, or Abel-maim ("Abel-on-the waters") and Dan, see the marginal references

For Cinneroth or Genesareth see Joshua 11:2.

18-20. Then Asa took all the silver and the gold that were left in the … house of the Lord—Asa's religious character is now seen to decline. He trusted not in the Lord (2Ch 16:7). In this emergency Asa solicited the powerful aid of the king of Damascene-Syria; and to bribe him to break off his alliance with Baasha, he transmitted to him the treasure lying in the temple and palace. The Syrian mercenaries were gained. Instances are to be found, both in the ancient and modern history of the East, of the violation of treaties equally sudden and unscrupulous, through the presentation of some tempting bribe. Ben-hadad poured an army into the northern provinces of Israel, and having captured some cities in Galilee, on the borders of Syria, compelled Baasha to withdraw from Ramah back within his own territories.

Ben-hadad—(See on [315]1Ki 11:14).

The northern parts of Baasha’s kingdom, which were nearest to his own kingdom of Damascus, and most remote from those parts where Baasha was now employed, which were in the most southern parts of his dominions. So Benhadad hearkened unto King Asa, and sent the captains of the hosts which he had against the cities of Israel,.... He broke off his alliance with the king of Israel; and as he had a standing army, with proper officers, he sent them directly to take the cities of Israel:

and he smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelbethmaachah, and all Cinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali; places which lay on the northern part of Israel, the nearest to Syria. Ijon some place in the tribe of Naphtali, others in Asher; it seems to be on the extreme border of the land northward, as Dan also was; hence the phrase from Dan to Beersheba, i.e. from north to south. Abelbethmaachah is the same with Abelmaim, 2 Chronicles 16:4 which perhaps is the same with that Abela, placed by Jerome (x) between Damascus and Paneas, supposed to be the Enhydra of Pliny (y). Cinneroth is the same with Gennesaret, a fruitful country in Galilee, from which is a sea or lake of that name, mentioned in the New Testament, and was in the tribe of Naphtali, the land of which was seized upon at this time.

(x) De loc. Heb. fol. 83. K. (y) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 19.

So Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of the hosts which he had against the cities of Israel, and smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelbethmaachah, and all Cinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali.
20. So [R.V. And] Ben-hadad hearkened] The conjunction is the simple copulative, and is so rendered in the parallel place in Chronicles.

the captains of the hosts which he had] This is an attempt to represent the Hebrew construction. But it is not nearly so idiomatic as the translation in Chronicles which the R.V. has followed, that the same Hebrew might have in both places the same English rendering: the captains of his armies.

and smote Ijon] This town lay in the north of Palestine and belonged to the tribe of Naphtali. It was attacked and plundered again in later days by Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 15:29).

and Dan] This was the town formerly called Laish, which had been seized in the days of the Judges by some Danites from the south (Joshua 19:47; Jdg 18:29). It lay on the extreme north of the country, so that ‘from Dan to Beersheba’ became an expression to describe the whole country from north to south.

and Abel-beth-maachah] This city, like the rest, lay quite in the north, and was early a place of some importance. It is called ‘a city and a mother in Israel’ (2 Samuel 20:9). In the parallel passage in Chronicles the name is given as ‘Abel-maim,’ i.e. ‘Abel on the waters.’

all Cinneroth] R.V. Chinneroth. From the way in which it is here mentioned this appears to have been a district and not a town. It was probably named from the lake of Gennesareth, or sea of Tiberias, which was in that neighbourhood, and was anciently called ‘the sea of Chinnereth’ (Numbers 24:11; Joshua 13:27).

Naphtali] This tribe lay directly in the way of Syrian and Assyrian invaders.Verse 20. - So [Heb. and] Ben-hadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains [or princes; same word as in 1 Kings 22:31; cf. 20:24] of the hosts which he had against the cities of Israel, and smote Ijon [now represented by Tell Dibbin, a mound near the north end of the Merj 'Ayun (which probably preserves the name), a "meadow of fountains," a few miles northwest of Daniel This hill would offer a commanding site for a stronghold, and traces are found there of a large and ancient city (Robinson, 3 p. 375; Dict. Bib., 1. p. 863], and Dan, [near the northern extremity of Palestine (1 Kings 4:25; 1 Samuel 3:20, etc.) Now certainly identified with Tell el Kadi the "hill of the Judge" (which preserves the meaning of the name), near the main source of the Jordan. The Tell, apparently an extinct crater, is covered with ruins. Stanley, S. and P., p. 395-6. Thomson, "Land and Book," 1. p. 320. Van de Velde, if. p. 420. The situation is described as superb, and the country as extremely fertile. This is the last mention of the place in Scripture. Retribution has soon fallen on one of the centres of Jeroboam's schism], and Abel-beth-maachah [now known as Abil el Kamh (Robinson, 3. p. 372; but see Stanley, S. and P., p. 390, note 6; Thomson, 1. p. 324. Rawlinson argues from 2 Samuel 20:14 that there were originally two towns, but ver. 15 leads us to question the present text of ver. 14. Ver. 19 shows it to have been a place of considerable importance. In 2 Chronicles 16:4. it is called Abel Maim, "the meadow of the waters," not only, it is probable, because of the lake, but of the huge marsh, the Ard el Huleh, which drains into it (see Stanley, l.c.) All these towns are in the neighbourhood of Lake Huleh (Merom), and all being in the extreme north, bore the brunt of the invasion. The name Maachah is to be noticed in connection with ver. 2], and all Cinneroth [in Numbers 34:11; Deuteronomy 3:17, Cinnereth; in the New Testament, Gennesaret." "The expression 'all Cinneroth' is unusual, and may be compared with 'all Bithron,' probably like this, a district and not a town" (Grove, Dict. Bib., 1. p. 330). It is the district on the western shore of the lake of Galilee, north of Tiberias, which gave its name to the adjoining sheet of water. A city Chinnereth, perhaps the capital of the district is mentioned Joshua 19:35], with [עַל not uncommonly has this meaning. Cf. Genesis 32:12 (Hebr.) [Genesis 32:11], "the mother with the children;" Exodus 35:22, "men with women."] all the land of Naphtali [Not only were the fortresses of Naphtali just mentioned smitten by the Syrians, but they laid waste all the surrounding district.] As ruler Asa walked in the ways of his pious ancestor David: he banished the male prostitutes out of the land, abolished all the abominations of idolatry, which his fathers (Abijam and Rehoboam) had introduced, deposed his grandmother Maacah from the rank of a queen, because she had made herself an idol for the Ashera, and had the idol hewn in pieces and burned in the valley of the Kidron. גּלּלים is a contemptuous epithet applied to idols (Leviticus 26:30); it does not mean stercorei, however, as the Rabbins affirm, but logs, from גּלל, to roll, or masses of stone, after the Chaldee גּלל (Ezra 5:8; Ezra 6:4), generally connected with שׁקּצים. It is so in Deuteronomy 29:16. מפלצת, formido, from פּלץ, terrere, timere, hence an idol as an object of fear, and not pudendum, a shameful image, as Movers (Phniz. i. p. 571), who follows the Rabbins, explains it, understanding thereby a Phallus as a symbol of the generative and fructifying power of nature. With regard to the character of this idol, nothing further can be determined than that it was of wood, and possibly a wooden column like the אשׁרים (see at 1 Kings 14:23). "But the high places departed not," i.e., were not abolished. By the בּמות we are not to understand, according to 1 Kings 15:12, altars of high places dedicated to idols, but unlawful altars to Jehovah. It is so in the other passages in which this formula recurs (1 Kings 22:24; 2 Kings 12:4; 2 Kings 14:4; 2 Kings 15:4; and the parallel passages 2 Chronicles 15:17; 2 Chronicles 20:33). The apparent discrepancy between the last-mentioned passages and 2 Chronicles 14:2, 2 Chronicles 14:4, and 2 Chronicles 17:6, may be solved very simply on the supposition that the kings (Asa and Jehoshaphat) did indeed abolish the altars on the high places, but did not carry their reforms in the nation thoroughly out; and not by distinguishing between the bamoth dedicated to Jehovah and those dedicated to idols, as Thenius, Bertheau, and Caspari, with many of the earlier commentators, suppose. For although 2 Chronicles 14:2 is very favourable to this solution, since both בּמות and הגּכר dna בּמו מזבּחות are mentioned there, it does not accord with 2 Chronicles 17:6, where הבּמות cannot be merely idolatrous altars dedicated to the Canaanitish Baal, but unquestionably refer to the unlawful altars of Jehovah, or at any rate include them. Moreover, the next clause in the passage before us, "nevertheless Asa's heart was wholly given to the Lord," shows that the expression סרוּ לא סרוּ nois does not mean that the king allowed the unlawful Jehovah-bamoth to remain, but simply that, notwithstanding his fidelity to Jehovah, the bamoth did not depart, so that he was unable to carry the abolition of them thoroughly out.
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