Baasha, king of Israel, begins to build Ramah, to prevent his subjects from having any intercourse with the Jews, 2 Chronicles 16:1. Asa hires Ben-hadad, king of Syria, against him; and obliges him to leave off building Ramah, 2 Chronicles 16:2-5. Asa and his men carry the stones and timbers of Ramah away, and build therewith Geba and Mizpah, 2 Chronicles 16:6. Asa is reproved by Hanani, the seer, for his union with the king of Syria: he is offended with the seer, and puts him in prison, 2 Chronicles 16:7-10. Of his acts, 2 Chronicles 16:11. He is diseased in his feet, and seeks to physicians and not to God, and dies, 2 Chronicles 16:12, 2 Chronicles 16:13. His sumptuous funeral, 2 Chronicles 16:14.
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.The six and thirtieth year - After the division of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah; according to Usher. This opinion is followed in our margin; see the note on 1 Kings 15:16, where this subject is farther considered.
Concerning Baasha's building of Ramah, see the note on 1 Kings 15:17.
Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the LORD and of the king's house, and sent to Benhadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying,
There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.There is a league - Let there be a treaty, offensive and defensive, between me and thee: see on 1 Kings 15:22 (note).
And Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelmaim, and all the store cities of Naphtali.
And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease.
Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah.Took all Judah - See on 1 Kings 15:22 (note).
And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.Escaped out of thine hand - It is difficult to know what is here intended. Perhaps the Divine providence had intended to give Asa a grand victory over the Syrians, who had always been the inveterate enemies of the Jews; but by this unnecessary and very improper alliance between Asa and Ben-hadad, this purpose of the Divine providence was prevented, and thus the Syrians escaped out of his hands.
Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand.
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.Therefore - thou shalt have wars - And so he had with Israel during the rest of his reign, 1 Kings 15:32.
Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time.Asa was wroth with the seer - Instead of humbling himself, and deprecating the displeasure of the Lord, he persecuted his messenger: and having thus laid his impious hands upon the prophet, he appears to have got his heart hardened through the deceitfulness of sin; and then he began to oppress the people, either by unjust imprisonments, or excessive taxations.
And, behold, the acts of Asa, first and last, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel.
And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.Diseased in his feet - He had a strong and long fit of the gout; this is most likely.
He sought not to the Lord - "He did not seek discipline from the face of the Lord, but from the physicians." - Targum.
Are we not taught by this to make prayer and supplication to the Lord in our afflictions, with the expectation that he will heal us when he finds us duly humbled, i.e., when the end is answered for which he sends the affliction?
And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign.
And they buried him in his own sepulchres, which he had made for himself in the city of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries' art: and they made a very great burning for him.And laid him in the bed - It is very likely that the body of Asa was burnt; that the bed spoken of here was a funeral pyre, on which much spices and odoriferous woods had been placed; and then they set fire to the whole and consumed the body with the aromatics. Some think the body was not burned, but the aromatics only, in honor of the king.
How the ancients treated the bodies of the illustrious dead we learn from Virgil, in the funeral rites paid to Misenus.
Nec minus interea Misenum in littore Teucri
Flebant, et cineri ingrato suprema ferebant.
Principio pinguem taedis et robore secto
Ingentem struxere pyram: cui frondibus atris
Intexunt latera, et ferales ante cupressas
Constituunt, decorantque super fulgentibus armis, etc.
Aen. vi. 214.
"Meanwhile the Trojan troops, with weeping eyes,
To dead Misenus pay their obsequies.
First from the ground a lofty pile they rear
Of pitch trees, oaks, and pines, and unctuous fir.
The fabric's front with cypress twigs they strew,
And stick the sides with boughs of baleful yew.
The topmost part his glittering arms adorn:
Warm waters, then, in brazen caldrons borne
Are poured to wash his body joint by joint,
And fragrant oils the stiffen'd limbs anoint.
With groans and cries Misenus they deplore:
Then on a bier, with purple cover'd o'er,
The breathless body thus bewail'd they lay,
And fire the pile (their faces turn'd away).
Such reverend rites their fathers used to pay.
Pure oil and incense on the fire they throw,
And fat of victims which their friends bestow.
These gifts the greedy flames to dust devour,
Then on the living coals red wine they pour.
And last the relics by themselves dispose,
Which in a brazen urn the priests enclose.
Old Corineus compass'd thrice the crew,
And dipp'd an olive branch in holy dew;
Which thrice he sprinkled round, and thrice aloud
Invoked the dead, and then dismiss'd the crowd."
All these rites are of Asiatic extraction. Virgil borrows almost every circumstance from Homer; (see Iliad, xxiii., ver. 164, etc.); and we well know that Homer ever describes Asiatic manners. Sometimes, especially in war, several captives were sacrificed to the manes of the departed hero. So, in the place above, the mean-souled, ferocious demon, Achilles, is represented sacrificing twelve Trojan captives to the ghost of his friend Patroclus. Urns containing the ashes and half-calcined bones of the dead occur frequently in barrows or tumuli in this country; most of them, no doubt, the work of the Romans. But all ancient nations, in funeral matters, have nearly the same rites.