2 Chronicles 16:1
In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XVI.

THE WAR WITH BAASHA—(2Chronicles 16:1-6).

Comp. 1Kings 15:17-22.

(1) In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up.—According to 1Kings 15:33; 1Kings 16:8, Baasha began to reign in the third year of Asa, reigned twenty-four years, and died in the twenty-sixth year of Asa. These statements are obviously irreconcilable with that of our verse. We must suppose either that the chronicler has accepted a different calculation from that of the Kings—a calculation which he may have found in one of his documents; or that the text here is unsound, and thirty-six has been substituted by an error of transcription for sixteen, or twenty-six; and that in 2Chronicles 15:19 by a similar mistake thirty-five has taken the place of fifteen or twenty-five. Upon the whole, the latter alternative appears preferable; and if we assume twenty-five and twenty-six to be the correct numerals, we get the following chronology for the reign :—First, ten years of peace (2Chronicles 14:1), during which Asa strengthened his defences (2Chronicles 14:6-8); then the invasion of Zerah, at what precise date is not clear, but at some time between the eleventh and the fifteenth year (2Chronicles 14:9; 2Chronicles 15:10); then the reformation of religion and renewal of the covenant in Asa’s fifteenth year (2Chronicles 15:10); and lastly, another ten years of peace, until the outbreak of the war with Baasha, in the twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth year.

The idea of the ancient commentators, that the phrase “five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa” might mean “five and thirtieth year of the kingdom of Judah,” is absurd. The phrase “bishnath . . . lemalkûth” always denotes the year of a king’s reign, not of the duration of his kingdom. (See 2Chronicles 16:12 infra.)

And built Ramah.Er-Râm, about five miles north of Jerusalem. Baasha had probably retaken the cities annexed by Abijah. (See on 2Chronicles 15:8.)

Built = fortified it. (See 1Kings 15:17 for the rest of the verse.)

2 Chronicles 16:1. In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa — This date disagrees so much with what is said 1 Kings 15:33, that there seems to be no other way of reconciling the two passages, but allowing that a trivial mistake has been made by the transcribers here, and that instead of the thirty-sixth, we ought to read here the twenty-sixth. This reading is approved by Houbigant, and is evidently adopted by Josephus, lib. 8, cap. 6. Baasha began his reign in the third year of Asa, and reigned no more than twenty-four years. He was, therefore, dead nine years, at least, before the thirty-sixth year of Asa. Baasha came up against Judah, and built Ramah — That is, made a wall about it, and fortified it. The late defection of so many of his subjects to the house of David was the occasion of his fortifying this place, designing hereby both to prevent others of them from revolting, and to hinder Asa’s subjects from coming into his dominions to seduce his people from their obedience to him.

16:1-14 Asa seeks the aid of the Syrians, His death. - A plain and faithful reproof was given to Asa by a prophet of the Lord, for making a league with Syria. God is displeased when he is distrusted, and when an arm of flesh is relied on, more than his power and goodness. It is foolish to lean on a broken reed, when we have the Rock of ages to rely upon. To convince Asa of his folly, the prophet shows that he, of all men, had no reason to distrust God, who had found him such a powerful Helper. The many experiences we have had of the goodness of God to us, aggravate our distrust of him. But see how deceitful our hearts are! we trust in God when we have nothing else to trust to, when need drives us to him; but when we have other things to stay on, we are apt to depend too much on them. Observe Asa's displeasure at this reproof. What is man, when God leaves him to himself! He that abused his power for persecuting God's prophet, was left to himself, to abuse it further for crushing his own subjects. Two years before he died, Asa was diseased in his feet. Making use of physicians was his duty; but trusting to them, and expecting that from them which was to be had from God only, were his sin and folly. In all conflicts and sufferings we need especially to look to our own hearts, that they may be perfect towards God, by faith, patience, and obedience.This passage runs parallel with Kings (see the marginal reference). CHAPTER 16

2Ch 16:1-14. Asa, by a League with the Syrians, Diverts Baasha from Building Ramah.

1-6. In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha … came up against Judah—Baasha had died several years before this date (1Ki 15:33), and the best biblical critics are agreed in considering this date to be calculated from the separation of the kingdoms, and coincident with the sixteenth year of Asa's reign. This mode of reckoning was, in all likelihood, generally followed in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel, the public annals of the time (2Ch 16:11), the source from which the inspired historian drew his account.

Baasha … built Ramah—that is, fortified it. The blessing of God which manifestly rested at this time on the kingdom of Judah, the signal victory of Asa, the freedom and purity of religious worship, and the fame of the late national covenant, were regarded with great interest throughout Israel, and attracted a constantly increasing number of emigrants to Judah. Baasha, alarmed at this movement, determined to stem the tide; and as the high road to and from Jerusalem passed by Ramah, he made that frontier town, about six miles north of Asa's capital, a military station, where the vigilance of his sentinels would effectually prevent all passage across the boundary of the kingdom (see on [439]1Ki 15:16-22; also Jer 41:9).Asa maketh a league with the Syrians against the king of Israel, 2 Chronicles 16:1-6; for which the prophet reproving him, he putteth him into prison, 2 Chronicles 16:7-10. He is sick, and seeketh to the physicians, and not to God: his death and burial, 2 Chronicles 16:11-14.

Of the reign of Asa; or, of the kingdom of Asa, i.e. of the kingdom of Judah, which was now Asa’s kingdom; or from the time of the division of the two kingdoms. Rehoboam reigned seventeen years, 2 Chronicles 12:13; Abijah three years, 2 Chronicles 13:2; Asa had now reigned fifteen years, 2 Chronicles 15:10; all which, put together, make up the thirty-five years mentioned 2 Chronicles 15:19. And in the next year Baasha wars against him; and the ground of war was the defection of many of his subjects to Asa, 2 Chronicles 15:9, whom Asa endeavours to engage, together with his own subjects, by an oath and a covenant, to be true and faithful to God, and consequently to himself; which was done in his fifteenth year, 2 Chronicles 15:9,10; and therefore in his sixteenth year, called here the thirty-sixth year of his kingdom, he commenceth an open war against him. If it be objected, That the reign or kingdom of Asa is otherwise understood of the time of Asa’s personal reign, (as I may call it,) 2 Chronicles 15:10; the answer is obvious, That there are many instances in Scripture (some of which have been formerly given, and others will be given in their proper places) where the same word or phrase is taken differently, and that in the very same chapter and history. And particularly this variety is elsewhere used, both by sacred and profane writers, in the computation of the years of princes, which are sometimes reckoned from the beginning of their reign, and sometimes from other remarkable times and occurrences. Titus Nebuchadnezzar’s years are sometimes computed from the beginning of his reign, as 2 Kings 25:8 Jeremiah 52:12,29,30, and sometimes from his complete conquest of Syria and Egypt, &c., as that passage, Daniel 2:1, In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar, is by the general stream of interpreters understood. Thus Ahaziah’s years, which doubtless were usually computed from the time of his birth, are computed from another head, 2 Chronicles 22:2, See Poole "2 Chronicles 22:2". And the like differences are observed in computing the years of some of the Syrian monarchs and Roman emperors; and particularly of Augustus, the years of whose reign are variously accounted by the Roman historians; sometimes from his first consulship, sometimes from the time of the triumvirate, and sometimes from that famous victory at Actium, where he utterly overthrew his competitor, and made himself sole and unquestionable emperor. And therefore it is not strange if it be so here. And that it must necessarily be thus understood, appears from hence, that it cannot be the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa in his own person, because Baasha began to reign in Asa’s third year, 1 Kings 15:28, and reigned only twenty-four years, and consequently died in Asa’s twenty-sixth or twenty-seventh year, as it is said he did, 1 Kings 15:8. That he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah; that he might keep his subjects from revolting to Asa, as he perceived they began to do, 2 Chronicles 15:9, and keep Asa’s subjects from coming into his dominions to seduce his people from their obedience to him.

In the thirty and sixth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah,.... How this is to be reconciled with the reign of Baasha, which was but twenty four years, and was begun in the third of Asa, and therefore must have been dead nearly ten years before this year of Asa's reign; see Gill on 1 Kings 15:17 where, and in the following verses, are the same things related as here, to the end of the sixth verse; the explanation of which the reader is referred to. In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa {a} Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built {b} Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.

(a) Who reigned after Nadab the son of Jeroboam.

(b) He fortified it with walls and ditches: it was a city in Benjamin near Gibeon.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. 2 Chronicles 16:1-6 (= 1 Kings 15:17-22). Asa asks help of Ben-hadad

1. the six and thirtieth year] According to 1 Kings 16:8 Baasha was succeeded by his son Elah in the six-and-twentieth year of Asa. The number thirty-six is probably therefore wrong. It should be noticed however that the thirty-sixth year of the separate kingdom of Judah corresponds with the sixteenth year of Asa, so that possibly two different reckonings are here confused, and so we should read, In the six-and-thirtieth year, that is, in the sixteenth year of Asa. So in 2 Chronicles 15:19 we should read, in the five-and-thirtieth, that is, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.

Ramah] The modern er-Râm, situated on a commanding hill about two hours north of Jerusalem. Bädeker, p. 212.

that he might let none go out] R.V. that he might not suffer any to go out (as in 1 Kin.).

Verse 1. - For the six and thirtieth year, read six and twentieth. Ramah belonged to Benjamin (Joshua 18:21, 25, 28), and lay between Bethel and Jerusalem, about five or six Roman miles from each; but Keil and Bertheau, by some error, call it thirty miles from Jerusalem, having very likely in their eye Ramah of Samuel, in Ephraim. The word signifies "lofty," and the present history speaks the importance of its position, and would infer also that Israel had regained Bethel, which, with other adjacent places, Abijah had wrested from Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 13:19). The reference of Isaiah 10:28, 29, 82 is exceedingly interesting, and bespeaks the fact that Ramah commanded another intersecting route from Ephraim. When it is said here that Baasha built (וַיִּבֶן) Ramah, the meaning is that he was beginning to strengthen it greatly, and fortify it. The object of Baasha, which no doubt needed no stating in the facts of the day, is now stated by history. 2 Chronicles 16:1War with Baasha, and the weakness of Asa's faith. The end of his reign. - 2 Chronicles 16:1-6. Baasha's invasion of Judah, and Asa's prayer for help to the king of Syria. The statement, "In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha the king of Israel came up against Judah," is inaccurate, or rather cannot possibly be correct; for, according to 1 Kings 16:8, 1 Kings 16:10, Baasha died in the twenty-sixth year of Asa's reign, and his successor Elah was murdered by Zimri in the second year of his reign, i.e., in the twenty-seventh year of Asa. The older commentators, for the most part, accepted the conjecture that the thirty-fifth year (in 2 Chronicles 15:19) is to be reckoned from the commencement of the kingdom of Judah; and consequently, since Asa became king in the twentieth year of the kingdom of Judah, that Baasha's invasion occurred in the sixteenth year of his reign, and that the land had enjoyed peace till his fifteenth year; cf. Ramb. ad h. l.; des Vignoles, Chronol. i. p. 299. This is in substance correct; but the statement, "in the thirty-sixth year of Asa's kingship," cannot re reconciled with it. For even if we suppose that the author of the Chronicle derived his information from an authority which reckoned from the rise of the kingdom of Judah, yet it could not have been said on that authority, אסא למלכוּת. This only the author of the Chronicle can have written; but then he cannot also have taken over the statement, "in the thirty-sixth year," unaltered from his authority into his book. There remains therefore no alternative but to regard the text as erroneous - the letters ל (30) and י (10), which are somewhat similar in the ancient Hebrew characters, having been interchanged by a copyist; and hence the Numbers 35 and 36 have arisen out of the original 15 and 16. By this alteration all difficulties are removed, and all the statements of the Chronicle as to Asa's reign are harmonized. During the first ten years there was peace (2 Chronicles 14:1); thereafter, in the eleventh year, the inroad of the Cushites; and after the victory over them there was the continuation of the Cultus reform, and rest until the fifteenth year, in which the renewal of the covenant took place (2 Chronicles 15:19, cf. with 2 Chronicles 15:10); and in the sixteenth year the war with Baasha arose.

(Note: Movers, S. 255ff., and Then. on 1 Kings 15, launch out into arbitrary hypotheses, founded in both cases upon the erroneous presumption that the author of the Chronicle copied our canonical books of Kings - they being his authority-partly misunderstanding and partly altering them.)

The account of this war in 2 Chronicles 16:1-6 agrees with that in 1 Kings 15:17-22 almost literally, and has been commented upon in the remarks on 1 Kings 15. In 2 Chronicles 16:2 the author of the Chronicle has mentioned only the main things. Abel-maim, i.e., Abel in the Water (2 Chronicles 16:4), is only another name for Abel-Beth-Maachah (Kings); see on 2 Samuel 20:14. In the same verse נפתּלי ערי כּל־מסכּנות ואת is surprising, "and all magazines (or stores) of the cities of Naphtali," instead of נפתּלי כּל־ארץ על כּל־כּנּרות את, "all Kinneroth, together with all the land of Naphtali" (Kings). Then. and Berth. think ערי מסכנות has arisen out of ארץ and כנרות by a misconception of the reading; while Gesen., Dietr. in Lex. sub voce כּנּרות, conjecture that in 1 Kings 15:20 מסכּנות should be read instead of כּנּרות. Should the difference actually be the result only of a misconception, then the latter conjecture would have much more in its favour than the first. But it is a more probable solution of the difficulty that the text of the Chronicle is a translation of the unusual and, especially on account of the כּל־ארץ נ על, scarcely intelligible כּל־כּנּרות. כּנּרות is the designation of the very fertile district on the west side of the Sea of Kinnereth, i.e., Gennesaret, after which a city also was called כּנּרת (see on Joshua 19:35), and which, on account of its fertility, might be called the granary of the tribal domain of Naphtali. But the smiting of a district can only be a devastation of it, - a plundering and destruction of its produce, both in stores and elsewhere. With this idea the author of the Chronicle, instead of the district Kinnereth, the name of which had perhaps become obsolete in his time, speaks of the מסכּנות, the magazines or stores, of the cities of Naphtali. In 2 Chronicles 16:5, too, we cannot hold the addition את־מלאכתּו ויּשׁבּת, "he caused his work to rest," as Berth. does, for an interpretation of the original reading, בּתרצה ויּשׁב (Kings), it having become illegible: it is rather a free rendering of the thought that Baasha abandoned his attempt upon Judah.

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