131In the eighteenth year of the reign of King Jeroboam of Israel, Abijah became king of Judah, 2and he ruled for three years in Jerusalem. His mother was Micaiah daughter of Uriel, from the city of Gibeah.
War broke out between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3Abijah raised an army of 400,000 soldiers, and Jeroboam opposed him with an army of 800,000.
4The armies met in the hill country of Ephraim. King Abijah went up Mount Zemaraim and called out to Jeroboam and the Israelites: “Listen to me!” he said. 5“Don't you know that the LORD, the God of Israel, made an unbreakable covenant with David, giving him and his descendants kingship over Israel for ever? 6Jeroboam son of Nebat rebelled against Solomon, his king. 7Later he gathered together a group of worthless scoundrels, and they forced their will on Rehoboam son of Solomon, who was too young and inexperienced to resist them. 8Now you propose to fight against the royal authority that the LORD gave to David's descendants. You have a huge army and have with you the gold bull calves that Jeroboam made to be your gods. 9You drove out the LORD's priests, the descendants of Aaron, and you drove out the Levites. In their place you appointed priests in the same way that other nations do. Anybody who comes along with a bull or seven sheep can get himself consecrated as a priest of those so-called gods of yours.
10“But we still serve the LORD our God and have not abandoned him. Priests descended from Aaron perform their duties, and Levites assist them. 11Every morning and every evening they offer him incense and animal sacrifices burnt whole. They present the offerings of bread on a table that is ritually clean, and every evening they light the lamps on the gold lampstand. We do what the LORD has commanded, but you have abandoned him. 12God himself is our leader and his priests are here with trumpets, ready to blow them and call us to battle against you. People of Israel, don't fight against the LORD, the God of your ancestors! You can't win!”
13Meanwhile Jeroboam had sent some of his troops to ambush the Judean army from the rear, while the rest faced them from the front. 14The Judeans looked round and saw that they were surrounded. They cried to the LORD for help, and the priests blew the trumpets. 15The Judeans gave a loud shout, and led by Abijah, they attacked; God defeated Jeroboam and the Israelite army. 16The Israelites fled from the Judeans, and God let the Judeans overpower them. 17Abijah and his army dealt the Israelites a crushing defeat — half a million of Israel's best soldiers were killed. 18And so the people of Judah were victorious over Israel, because they relied on the LORD, the God of their ancestors.
19Abijah pursued Jeroboam's army and occupied some of his cities: Bethel, Jeshanah, and Ephron, and the villages near each of these cities. 20Jeroboam never regained his power during Abijah's reign. Finally the LORD struck him down, and he died.
21Abijah, however, grew more powerful. He had fourteen wives and fathered 22 sons and sixteen daughters. 22The rest of the history of Abijah, what he said and what he did, is written in The History of Iddo the Prophet.
141King Abijah died and was buried in the royal tombs in David's City. His son Asa succeeded him as king, and under Asa the land enjoyed peace for ten years. 2Asa pleased the LORD, his God, by doing what was right and good. 3He removed the foreign altars and the pagan places of worship, broke down the sacred stone columns, and cut down the symbols of the goddess Asherah. 4He commanded the people of Judah to do the will of the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his teachings and commands. 5Because he abolished the pagan places of worship and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah, the kingdom was at peace under his rule. 6He built fortifications for the cities of Judah during this time, and for several years there was no war, because the LORD gave him peace. 7He said to the people of Judah, “Let us fortify the cities by building walls and towers, and gates that can be shut and barred. We have control of the land because we have done the will of the LORD our God. He has protected us and given us security on every side.” And so they built and prospered. 8King Asa had an army of 300,000 men from Judah, armed with shields and spears, and 280,000 men from Benjamin, armed with shields and bows. All of them were brave, well-trained men.
9An Ethiopian14.9; 14.12; 14.13 Ethiopian(s): See Word List. named Zerah invaded Judah with an army of a million men and 300 chariots and advanced as far as Mareshah. 10Asa went out to fight him, and both sides took up their positions in the Valley of Zephathah near Mareshah. 11Asa prayed to the LORD his God, “O LORD, you can help a weak army as easily as a powerful one. Help us now, O LORD our God, because we are relying on you, and in your name we have come out to fight against this huge army. LORD, you are our God; no one can hope to defeat you.”
12The LORD defeated the Ethiopian14.12; 14.13; 14.9 Ethiopian(s): See Word List. army when Asa and the Judean army attacked them. They fled, 13and Asa and his troops pursued them as far as Gerar. So many of the Ethiopians14.13; 14.9; 14.12 Ethiopian(s): See Word List. were killed that the army was unable to rally and fight.14.13 So many of the Ethiopians… fight; or The Ethiopians were completely defeated; not one of them was left alive. They were overpowered by the LORD and his army, and the army took large amounts of loot. 14Then they were able to destroy the cities in the area around Gerar, because the people there were terrified of the LORD. The army plundered all those cities and captured large amounts of loot. 15They also attacked the camps of some shepherds, capturing large numbers of sheep and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.
151The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, 2and he went to meet King Asa. He called out, “Listen to me, King Asa, and all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The LORD is with you as long as you are with him. If you look for him, he will let you find him, but if you turn away, he will abandon you. 3For a long time Israel lived without the true God, without priests to teach them, and without a law. 4But when trouble came, they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel. They searched for him and found him. 5In those days no one could come and go in safety, because there was trouble and disorder in every land. 6One nation oppressed another nation, and one city oppressed another city, because God was bringing trouble and distress on them. 7But you must be strong and not be discouraged. The work that you do will be rewarded.”
8When Asa heard the prophecy that Azariah son of15.8 Some ancient translations Azariah son of; Hebrew does not have these words. Oded had spoken, he was encouraged. He did away with all the idols in the land of Judah and Benjamin and all the idols in the cities he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. He also repaired the altar of the LORD that stood in the temple courtyard.
9Many people had come over to Asa's side from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon, and were living in his kingdom, because they had seen that the LORD was with him. Asa summoned all of them and the people of Judah and Benjamin. 10They assembled in Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year that Asa was king. 11On that day they offered sacrifices to the LORD from the loot they had brought back: 700 head of cattle and 7,000 sheep. 12They made a covenant in which they agreed to worship the LORD, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. 13Anyone, young or old, male or female, who did not worship him was to be put to death. 14In a loud voice they took an oath in the LORD's name that they would keep the covenant, and then they shouted and blew trumpets. 15All the people of Judah were happy because they had made this covenant with all their heart. They took delight in worshipping the LORD, and he accepted them and gave them peace on every side.
16King Asa removed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made an obscene idol of the fertility goddess Asherah. Asa cut down the idol, chopped it up, and burnt the pieces in the valley of the Kidron. 17Even though Asa did not destroy all the pagan places of worship in the land, he remained faithful to the LORD all his life. 18He placed in the Temple all the objects his father Abijah had dedicated to God, as well as the gold and silver objects that he himself dedicated. 19There was no more war until the 35th year of his reign.