14 After Abijah joined his ancestors in death and was laid with his fathers in the city of David, Jerusalem, his son Asa ruled the Southern Kingdom in his place. During Asa’s reign, the country was quiet for 10 years as it had been during Solomon’s rule. 2 Asa obeyed the Eternal One, his True God, and led the nation in reformation[a]3-5 by removing remnants of idol worship in Judah: foreign altars and high places, incense altars, sacred pillars, and statues of Asherah. Asa commanded Judah to seek the Eternal One, the True God of their ancestors, and to obey His laws and commandments. The kingdom was peaceful during Asa’s reign.
Asa must have learned from his father Abijah’s battle against the Northern Kingdom. Asa knows how important God’s support is to the success of the Southern Kingdom, so as king he makes proper worship of God the first priority of his reign. Proper worship of God surely leads to national stability.
6 Asa utilized this peaceful time which the Eternal had given to build fortified cities in Judah since he was not preoccupied with wars.
Asa(to Judah):7 Because we have followed the Eternal One, our True God, He has allowed us to keep our land and has given our nation a time of peace. Let’s use this time to strengthen what He has so graciously given us. Let’s build strong cities, defend them with walls, guard them with towers, secure them with gates, and lock them with crossbars.
The Judahites agreed, so they built the cities and prospered. 8 Asa built an army of heroic men including 300,000 Judahites, who carried large shields and spears, and 280,000 Benjaminites, who carried shields and bows.
9 When Zerah from Cush[b] came to Mareshah in the Judean highlands to attack Judah with an army of one million men and 300 chariots, 10 Asa went to meet the challenge. The two armies faced each other in the valley of Zephathah[c] at Mareshah.
Asa(praying to the Lord):11 Eternal One, only You can help the powerless when they fight the powerful, so help us, Eternal One, our True God, because we trust You and we are facing this innumerable army for the honor of Your reputation. O Eternal One, You are our True God. Do not let mere mortals win in a battle against You.
12 Just as Asa requested, the Eternal defeated the Cushites on behalf of Judah, and the Cushites fled. 13-14 Asa and his men pursued the Cushites as far as Gerar in southwestern Judah. So many of the Cushite army died that they could not recover; they were decimated by the Eternal and His army. The Judahite army was able to crush all the cities around Gerar because the people of Gerar feared the Eternal, and the army plundered each city they destroyed. 15 In the villages and pastures, they crushed the herdsmen and seized large numbers of sheep and camels. Then the Judahite army returned to Jerusalem.
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