Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years.
2Ch 14:1-5. Asa Destroys Idolatry.
1. In his days the land was quiet ten years—This long interval of peace was the continued effect of the great battle of Zemaraim (compare 1Ki 15:11-14).
And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God:
2. Asa did that which was good and right—(compare 1Ki 15:14). Still his character and life were not free from faults (2Ch 16:7, 10, 12).
For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves:
3. brake down the images—of Baal (see on 2Ch 34:4; Le 26:30).
cut down the groves—rather, "Asherim."
And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment.
Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him.
5. he took away … the high places—that is, those devoted to idolatrous rites.
took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images—All public objects and relics of idolatry in Jerusalem and other cities through his kingdom were destroyed; but those high places where God was worshipped under the figure of an ox, as at Beth-el, were allowed to remain (1Ki 15:14); so far the reformation was incomplete.
And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the LORD had given him rest.
2Ch 14:6-8. Having Peace, He Strengthens His Kingdom with Forts and Armies.
6. he built fenced cities in Judah—(See on 1Ki 15:22).
Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us; because we have sought the LORD our God, we have sought him, and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered.
7. while the land is yet before us—that is, while we have free and undisputed progress everywhere; no foe is near; but, as this happy time of peace may not last always and the kingdom is but small and weak, let us prepare suitable defenses in case of need. He had also an army of five hundred eighty thousand men. Judah furnished the heavily armed soldiers, and Benjamin the archers. This large number does not mean a body of professional soldiers, but all capable of bearing arms and liable to be called into service.
And Asa had an army of men that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows, two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these were mighty men of valour.
And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah.
2Ch 14:9-15. He Overcomes Zerah, and Spoils the Ethiopians.
9. there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian—This could not have been from Ethiopia south of the cataracts of the Nile, for in the reign of Osorkon I, successor of Shishak, no foreign army would have been allowed a free passage through Egypt. Zerah must, therefore, have been chief of the Cushites, or Ethiopians of Arabia, as they were evidently a nomad horde who had a settlement of tents and cattle in the neighborhood of Gerar.
a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots—"Twenty camels employed to carry couriers upon them might have procured that number of men to meet in a short time. As Zerah was the aggressor, he had time to choose when he would summon these men and attack the enemy. Every one of these Cushite shepherds, carrying with them their own provisions of flour and water, as is their invariable custom, might have fought with Asa without eating a loaf of Zerah's bread or drinking a pint of his water" [Bruce, Travels].
Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.
10. Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array … at Mareshah—one of the towns which Rehoboam fortified (2Ch 11:8), near a great southern pass in the low country of Judah (Jos 15:44). The engagement between the armies took place in a plain near the town, called "the valley of Zephathah," supposed to be the broad way coming down Beit Jibrin towards Tell Es-Safren [Robinson].
And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.
11-13. Asa cried unto the Lord his God—Strong in the confidence that the power of God was able to give the victory equally with few as with many, the pious king marched with a comparatively small force to encounter the formidable host of marauders at his southern frontier. Committing his cause to God, he engaged in the conflict—completely routed the enemy, and succeeded in obtaining, as the reward of his victory, a rich booty in treasure and cattle from the tents of this pastoral horde.
So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.
And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.
And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the LORD came upon them: and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them.
They smote also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem.