C. Rehoboam, Abijah, and Asa Reign Over Judah (14:21–15:24)
After hearing of the events that had taken place in the northern kingdom, one would expect that things were considerably better in the South. However, the account of Rehoboam, Judah's first king, immediately sets such misconceptions aside. In fact, the editor suggests that Judah's wickedness, which included the establishment of religious high places, idols, and cult prostitution, equaled that of the Canaanites who had been driven out during the initial conquest of the land (14:22-24). That the nationality of Rehoboam's mother is specified suggests that such evil can once again be attributed to the Solomonic practice of marrying foreign wives (v. 31).
On the international scene, Jerusalem was attacked by Pharaoh Shishak during Rehoboam's reign (14:25), and Judah and Israel were continually at war with each other (v. 30). Concerning Shishak, Egyptian records suggest, perhaps in a glorified manner, that he captured some 150 cities in Israel and Judah during his reign (c. 940-915 b.c.). Though he gathered considerable booty (v. 26) and apparently collected tribute, his military campaign had no major lasting impact on the area.
Like his father Rehoboam, Abijah is also condemned as a religious failure (15:1-8). In a fashion that characterizes the editor, Abijah was unlike David (v. 3). As is typical throughout the book of Kings, the evil kings of the North are compared to Jeroboam, but the evil kings of the South are contrasted to David (see the introduction). Yet, in spite of Abijah's wickedness, God's favor to the Davidic line produced an heir rather than the termination of the dynasty (v. 4).
That heir bore the name Asa (vv. 9-24). Asa destroyed virtually all of the religious objects created by his predecessors, and that his heart was committed to Yahweh meant that he was like David (v. 11). Beyond this, Asa established a treaty with Syria in order to stave off Baasha, Israel's king at the time. As a result, the northern kingdom suffered considerable loss (v. 20). Although Scripture repeatedly views such treaties and alliances as a lack of trust, Asa receives no word of correction here. The chronicler, however, supplies it (2Ch 16:7-10).
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