2 Chronicles 13:19
And Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him, Bethel with the towns thereof, and Jeshanah with the towns thereof, and Ephrain with the towns thereof.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) Took cities from him.—The three cities and their districts were only temporarily annexed to Judah. According to 1Kings 15:17-21, Baasha, King of Israel, attempted in the next reign to fortify Ramah, which was only about five miles north of Jerusalem. He had probably recovered these towns before doing so (Bertheau).

Bethel.—Beitin. (Genesis 12:8; Joshua 7:2.)

Jeshanah.—Not mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament. Probably identical with Ἰσάνας of Josephus (Ant. xiv. 15, § 12); site unknown. Syriac, Shālā; Arabic, Sāiā.

Ephrain.—So the Heb. margin; Heb. text, Ephron; and so LXX., Vulg., Syriac, Arabic. Mount Ephron (Joshua 15:9) was situated too far to the south to be intended here. Perhaps Ophrah, near Bethel (Judges 6:11), or the town called Ephraim (John 6:54)—especially if Ephrain be the right reading—which also was near Bethel, according to Josephus (Bell. Jud. iv. 9, §9), is to be understood. Ophrah and Ephraim may be identical.

The Arabic adds: “And Zāghār with the towns thereof.”

2 Chronicles 13:19. Abijah took cities from him, Beth-el, &c. — Which, however, Jeroboam recovered afterward, as appears by the course of the history. What became of the golden calf at Beth-el, when that place came thus into the hands of the king of Judah, we are not told. Probably when Jeroboam’s host was discomfited, and he expected that Abijah would pursue his victory, he removed the golden calf from thence to some safer place. And Ephraim — A city so called, possibly the same which is mentioned John 11:54; or that which is called Ophra, Jdg 8:27.

13:1-22 Abijah overcomes Jeroboam. - Jeroboam and his people, by apostacy and idolatry, merited the severe punishment Abijah was permitted to execute upon them. It appears from the character of Abijah, 1Ki 15:3, that he was not himself truly religious, yet he encouraged himself from the religion of his people. It is common for those that deny the power of godliness, to boast of the form of it. Many that have little religion themselves, value it in others. But it was true that there were numbers of pious worshippers in Judah, and that theirs was the more righteous cause. In their distress, when danger was on every side, which way should they look for deliverance unless upward? It is an unspeakable comfort, that our way thither is always open. They cried unto the Lord. Earnest prayer is crying. To the cry of prayer they added the shout of faith, and became more than conquerors. Jeroboam escaped the sword of Abijah, but God struck him; there is no escaping his sword.Jeshanah is probably identical with the "Isanas" of Josephus, where a battle took place in the war between Antigonus and Herod; but its situation cannot be fixed. For Ephrain, see Joshua 18:23 note. 19. Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him—This sanguinary action widened the breach between the people of the two kingdoms. Abijah abandoned his original design of attempting the subjugation of the ten tribes, contenting himself with the recovery of a few border towns, which, though lying within Judah or Benjamin, had been alienated to the new or northern kingdom. Among these was Beth-el, which, with its sacred associations, he might be strongly desirous to wrest from profanation. Beth-el; which Jeroboam recovered afterwards, as appears by the course of the history, though it be not particularly mentioned, which is the case of many other considerable things. And in the mean time it is very probable, that when Jeroboam’s host was discomfited, and he expected that Abijah would pursue his victory, he removed the golden calf from Beth-el, which lay near Abijah’s kingdom, to some safer place.

Ephrain; a city so called, possibly the same which is mentioned John 11:54, or that which is called Ophrah, Judges 8:27.

And Abijah pursued after Jeroboam,.... As he and his army fled:

and took cities from him; the following ones:

Bethel with the towns thereof; the villages adjoining to it; here one of the calves was set up, which either Jeroboam took care to remove before this place fell into the hands of Abijah, or Abijah let it remain, and did not destroy it:

and Jeshanah with the towns thereof; which Reland (x) thinks is the same that is called by Jerom (y) Jethaba:

and Ephraim with the towns thereof; a city so called, thought to be the same that is mentioned in the passage; see Gill on John 11:54; it is here called, in the Targum, Ephron; so Jerom (z) calls it, and says it was Sichem.

(x) Palestin. Illustrat. p. 861. (y) De loc. Heb. fol. 92. L. (z) Trad. Heb. fol. 85. A.

And Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him, Bethel with the towns thereof, and Jeshanah with the towns thereof, and Ephraim with the towns thereof.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. Beth-el] Beth-el was apparently subsequently recovered by the Northern Kingdom; cp. 2 Kings 10:29. Nothing is said, be it noted, of the capture of the golden calf. It may have been removed for safety before the city was taken.

Jeshanah] Nothing is certainly known of this place, which is mentioned here only. It has been identified with Ain Sînia, a little to the north of Beth-el.

Ephrain] R.V. Ephron (following the C’thîb, whereas A.V. agrees with the K’rî). Ephrain is a later form of the name Ephron, as Shamrain (Ezra 4:10; Ezra 4:17) is of Shomron (Samaria). The place has been identified with eṭ-Ṭaiyebeh, a place S.E. of Ain Sînia and N.E. of Beitin (Beth-el). It was probably the city called Ephraim, to which our Lord retired after the raising of Lazarus (John 11:54).

Verse 19. - Bethel. Abijah was, perhaps, the rather permitted to take this city as the head-quarters of Jeroboam's irreligious worship. Jeshanah. A place not known elsewhere in Scripture by this name, which by derivation means "old." Grove (Dr. Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 1. p. 1035) quotes Josephus ('Ant.,' 14:15.§ 12) as speaking of a place so named, the scene of a battle between Herod and Antigonus's general, Pappus, but Josephus does not assign its site. Ephrain; or, according to Chethiv, Epron. Grove (Dr. Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 1. p. 569) says that conjecture has identified it with the Ephraim of 2 Samuel 13:23, with the Ophrah of Joshua 18:23, and with the Ephraim of John 11:54; possibly the modern El-Taiyibeh (Dr. Robinson, 1:44), about five miles from Bethel. 2 Chronicles 13:19The results of this victory. The Israelites were bowed down, their power weakened; the men of Judah became strong, mighty, because they relied upon Jahve their God. Following up his victory, Abijah took from Jeroboam several cities with their surrounding domains: Bethel, the present Beitin, see on Joshua 7:2; Jeshanah, occurring only here, and the position of which has not yet been ascertained; and Ephron (עפרון, Keth.; the Keri, on the contrary, עפרין). This city cannot well be identified with Mount Ephron, Joshua 15:9; for that mountain was situated on the southern frontier of Benjamin, not far from Jerusalem, while the city Ephron is to be sought much farther north, in the neighbourhood of Bethel. C. v. Raumer and others identify Ephron or Ephrain both with Ophrah of Benjamin, which, it is conjectured, was situated near or in Tayibeh, to the east of Bethel, and with the Ἐφραΐ́μ, John 11:54, whither Jesus withdrew into the wilderness, which, according to Josephus, Bell. Jud. iv. 9. 9, lay in the neighbourhood of Bethel. See on Joshua 18:23.

(Note: The account of this war, which is peculiar to the Chronicle, and which de Wette declared, on utterly insufficient grounds, to be an invention of the chronicler (cf. against him my apol. Vers. ber die Chron. S. 444ff.), is thus regarded by Ewald (Gesch. Isr. iii. S. 466, der 2:Aufl.): "The chronicler must certainly have found among his ancient authorities an account of this conclusion of the war, and we cannot but believe that we have here, in so far, authentic tradition;" and only the details of the description are the results of free expansion by the chronicler, but in the speech 2 Chronicles 13:4-13 every word and every thought is marked by the peculiar colouring of the Chronicle. But this last assertion is contradicted by Ewald's own remark, i. S. 203, that "in 2 Chronicles 13:4-7, 2 Chronicles 13:19-21, an antiquated manner of speech and representation appears, while in the other verses, on the contrary, those usual with the chronicler are found," - in support of which he adduces the words בליּעל בּני, 2 Chronicles 13:7, and מלח בּרית, 2 Chronicles 13:5. According to this view, Abijah's speech cannot have been freely draughted by the chronicler, but must have been derived, at least so far as the fundamental thoughts are concerned, from an ancient authority, doubtless the Midrash of the prophet Iddo, cited in 2 Chronicles 13:22. But Ewald's further remark (iii. S. 466), that the author of the Chronicle, because he regarded the heathenized Samaria of his time as the true representative of the old kingdom of the ten tribes, seized this opportunity to put into King Abijah's mouth a long denunciatory and didactic speech, addressed at the commencement of the battle to the enemy as rebels not merely against the house of David, but also against the true religion, is founded upon the unscriptural idea that the calf-worship of the Israelites was merely a somewhat sensuous form of the true Jahve-worship, and was fundamentally distinct from the heathen idolatry, and also from the idolatry of the later Samaritans. In the judgment of all the prophets, not only of Hosea and Amos, but also of the prophetic author of the book of Kings, the calf-worship was a defection from Jahve, the God of the fathers, - a forsaking of the commands of Jahve, and a serving of the Baals; cf. e.g., 1 Kings 13; 2 Kings 17:7-23. What Abijah says of the calf-worship of the Israelites, and of Judah's attitude to Jahve and His worship in the temple, is founded on the truth, and is also reconcilable with the statement in 1 Kings 15:3, that Abijah's heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord, like David's heart. Abijah had promoted the legal temple-worship even by consecratory gifts (1 Kings 15:15), and could consequently quite well bring forward the worship of God in Judah as the true worship, in contrast to the Israelitic calf-worship, for the discouragement of his enemies, and for the encouragement of his own army; and we may consequently regard the kernel, or the essential contents of the speech, as being historically well-founded. The account of the war, moreover, is also shown to be historical by the exact statement as to the conquered cities in 2 Chronicles 13:19, which evidently has been derived from ancient authorities. Only in the statements about the number of warriors, and of the slain Israelites, the numbers are not to be estimated according to the literal value of the figures; for they are, as has been already hinted in the commentary, only an expression in figures of the opinion of contemporaries of the war, that both kings had made a levy of all the men in their respective kingdoms capable of bearing arms, and that Jeroboam was defeated with such slaughter that he lost more than the half of his warriors.)

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