Then king Asa made a proclamation throughout all Judah; none was exempted: and they took away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, with which Baasha had built; and king Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Throughout all Judah.—Asa was not content to destroy or occupy the hostile fortress, but pushed his own fortifications further on. Geba, named in Joshua 21:17 as a city of the priests, in the territory of Benjamin, the scene of Jonathan’s victory over a Philistine garrison in the days of Samuel (1Samuel 13:3)—identified with the modern Jeba—lies on the edge of a valley some distance to the north. It is noted in 2Kings 23:8 as still the northern outpost of the kingdom of Judah. The Mizpah here referred to—for there were many places so called—a city of Benjamin (Joshua 18:26), famous in the earlier history (see 1Samuel 7:5-13; 1Samuel 10:17-25), seems to have been situated at the place afterwards called Scopim (“the watch-tower”), on “the broad ridge which forms the continuation of the Mount of Olives to the north and east, from which the traveller gains his first view” of Jerusalem (Dict. of the Bible: MIZPAH).1 Kings 15:22. None were exempted — All sorts of persons were obliged to come, except those who were disabled by age, or infirmity, or absence, or by the public service of the king and kingdom in other places. Built Geba, &c. — Repaired and strengthened them, for they were built before; which he judged better than to perfect the fortifications of Ramah, which would have been a perpetual bone of contention (as we speak) between Judah and Israel.1 Samuel 14:5, is almost certainly "Jeba," which stands picturesquely on the top of its steep terraced hill on the very edge of the "Wady Suweinit." Its position was thus exceedingly strong; and, as it lay further north than Ramah, Asa may have considered that to fortify and garrison it would be a better protection to his northern frontier than fortifying Ramah.
For Mizpah see the marginal reference From Jeremiah 41:9 we learn that Asa, besides fortifying the place, sank a deep well there to secure his garrison from want of water if the town should be besieged.None was exempted; all sorts of persons were obliged to come, except those who were disenabled by age, or infirmity, or absence, or by the public service of the king and kingdom in other places.
Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah, i.e. repaired and strengthened them, for they were built before. See Jeremiah 41:9.
Quest. Why did he not rather perfect the fortifications of Ramah which Baasha had begun?
Answ. Because Baasha might have returned and recovered it afterwards; and he thought it most convenient that there should be no city nor fort in that place.
(none was exempted;) the Jews (z) say, not so much as a newly married man, whom the law excused from war the first year, nor the disciples of the wise men:
and they took away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha had builded; or fortified the place; these; the men of Judah, whom Asa summoned, carried off:
and King Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah; which were both in the tribe of Benjamin, and which he fortified, Joshua 18:24.Then king Asa made a proclamation throughout all Judah; none was exempted: and they took away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha had builded; and king Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)22. Asa made a proclamation throughout [R.V. unto] all Judah] Literally ‘caused all Judah to hear.’ The people, rather than the land, are spoken of, as is shewn by the next words ‘none was exempted.’ The whole labouring population was gathered on the king’s requisition that the work might be completed while the pressure of the Syrians on the north was being sharply felt.
and they took [R.V. carried] away the stones of Ramah] As in many previous instances R.V. takes the rendering from Chronicles, but only that the two may be made alike where the original is the same. The king of Israel had intended to make a great fortress out of Ramah. Hence there was prepared an immense quantity of stone and wood for his fortifications. This is what is meant by ‘building’ in this whole passage. Ramah was to have been ‘fortified’, and the materials sufficed to fortify Geba and Mizpah for Judah.
built with them] R.V. built therewith. As in Chronicles.
Geba of Benjamin] Geba (signifying ‘a hill’) was on the extreme north of the kingdom of Judah, which is described (2 Kings 23:8) as extending ‘from Geba to Beersheba.’ It is mentioned among the Benjamite towns (Joshua 21:17), and was one of those allotted to the priests.
Mizpah] The word signifies ‘a pillar’ and is the name given to several places in the Holy Land. The town spoken of in this verse is the ‘Mizpah of Benjamin,’ within a mile or two of Gibeah. The LXX. translates both Geba and Mizpah, giving πᾶν βουνὸν Βενιαμὶν καὶ τὴν σκοπιάν.Verse 22. - Then king Asa made a proclamation [Heb. made all to hear] throughout all Judah; none was exempted [Heb. none free], and they took away [Heb. took up] the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha [It is noticeable that it is generally "king Asa," but never "king Baasha"] had bullded; and king Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin [Sometimes "the Geba," i.e., height; in Joshua 18:24, Gaba; now Jeba, only 45' northeast of Ramah. This was the northern limit of the southern kingdom (2 Kings 23:8). It occupied a striking position, standing on a rocky knoll on the south side of the great gorge of Michmash (now known as the Wady Suweinit), a "great crack or fissure in the country, with vertical precipices some 800 feet high" (Conder, p. 254; cf. Dict. Bib., 1. p. 658 and Porter, 1. p. 214). As Geba would command the pass, it is easy to understand why Asa fortified it, the more so as this defile "appears to have been more than once the meeting place between the Jews and their enemies" (Conder)], and Mizpah. [Heb. the Mizpah, i.e., watch tower (Genesis 31:49). The name points to an eminence, but it is remarkable that while so many sites of minor importance have been recovered, this old gathering place of the tribes (Judges 21:1; 1 Samuel 7:5; 1 Samuel 10:17-25), and the seat of Gedaliah's government (Jeremiah 40:6), cannot be identified with certainty. It has been conjectured that it is now represented by the commanding eminence of Nebi Samwil (Robinson, 2 p. 328; Van de Velde, 2 p. 53),but Stanley (S. and P., 2. p. 213-4) and Grove (Dict. Bib., 2 p. 389) argue in favour of Seopus, and "the survey has done little to throw light on this question" (see Conder, pp. 257-9). It is to be hoped that the "pit," or well, which Asa made (Jeremiah 41:9), probably "to provide Mizpah with a plentiful supply of water in ease of a siege" (Ewald), may yet be brought to light. 2 Chronicles 14:1). Asa employed this time in exterminating idolatry, fortifying different cities, and equipping his army (2 Chronicles 14:1-7). Then the Cushite Zerah invaded the land of Judah with an innumerable army (in the eleventh year of Asa), but was totally defeated by the help of the Lord (2 Chronicles 14:8-14); whereupon Asa, encouraged by the prophet Azariah, the son of Oded, proceeded with fresh zeal to the extermination of such traces of idolatry as still remained in the kingdom, then renewed the altar of burnt-offering in front of the temple-hall, and in the fifteenth year of his reign held, with the whole nation, a great festival of thanksgiving and rejoicing to the Lord at Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 15:1-15). The next year, the sixteenth of his reign and the thirty-sixth from the division of the kingdom (2 Chronicles 16:1), Baasha commenced hostilities, by advancing against Judah, taking possession of Ramah, the present er Rm (see at Joshua 18:25), which was only two hours and a quarter from Jerusalem, and fortifying it. The occupation of Ramah is not expressly mentioned indeed, but it is implied in יהוּדה על ויּעל על יה, which affirms the hostile invasion of Judah. For Ramah, from its very situation in the heart of the tribe of Benjamin and the immediate neighbourhood of Jerusalem, can neither have been a border city nor have belonged to the kingdom of Israel. The intention of Baasha, therefore, in fortifying Ramah cannot have been merely to restrain his own subjects from passing over into the kingdom of Judah, but was evidently to cut off from the kingdom of Judah all free communication with the north. וגו תּת לבלתּי, "that they might not give one going out or one coming in to Asa;" i.e., to cut off from the others all connection with Asa, and at the same time to cut off from those with Asa all connection with this side. The main road from Jerusalem to the north passed by Ramah, so that by shutting up this road the line of communication of the kingdom of Judah was of necessity greatly disturbed. Moreover, the fortification of Ramah by Baasha presupposes the reconquest of the cities which Abijam had taken from the kingdom of Israel (2 Chronicles 13:19), and which, according to 2 Chronicles 13:19, were still in the possession of Asa.
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