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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 13

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-2

See note on 1 Kings 15:1

Verses 3-12

2 Chronicles 13:3

(The 1st edition Hardbound version of the commentary includes the following comments under 1 Kings 15).

1 Kings 15:6 states that a state of war existed between Rehoboam and Jeroboam throughout their reigns. Though there was certainly belligerency God did not allow them to engage in open warfare. The first account of actual battle between Jeroboam and the southern kingdom occurred after the accession of Abijah, and is recorded only in Chronicles. It is in this incident that the characteristics of his grandfa­ther, Absalom, appear in the young king. He appears as proud, boastful, and arrogant, yet having a brilliant mind. He was also a very able orator.

The site of this battle was Mount Zemaraim, in the tribe of Ephraim, but archaeologists today are unable to locate it. Abijah was the appar­ent aggressor, for he had his army inside the bounds of the northern kingdom, and Jeroboam was thus on the defensive. Abijah was outnum­bered two to one, he having 400,000 chosen, valiant men in comparison to Jeroboam’s 800,000. Abijah’s army may have benefited from superi­or officers and training, due to the former prowess of David’s army which would have been passed on to them.

Abijah claimed a divine right to rule over all the tribes by the cove­nant of God with David. With his army situated on the mountain, from which his voice would carry well to the men of Israel in the valleys below, Abijah proceeded to deliver his oration to the men of Israel. His speech consisted of three major points: 1) the fact of God’s kingdom covenant with David; 2) rebuke of the northern tribes for their rebellion; 3) assur­ance that the Lord remained on the side of Judah.

Abah said the covenant of the Lord with David was a covenant of salt. Salt was considered a very important element to ancient men, and a covenant of salt. Salt was to be considered of vital force toward those who entered into it. This covenant had included David’ sons, and the tribes of Jeroboam’s kingdom ought to know this. Abijah ignored the ap­parent will of the Lord in allowing the separation of the tribes into two kingdoms.

The rebuke of Abijah was aimed basically at Jeroboam, to whom he referred as the rebellious servant of Solomon (which, of course, he had been). Those who had followed Jeroboam, of the tribes, Abijah char­acterized as vain men, worthless sons of Belial, who had taken advan­tage of a young and naive Rehoboam. Abijah possibly meant that his fa­ther was immature as a ruler and inexperienced in handling a crisis situ­ation. The men of the north had come to him, even before his corona­tion, with demands he had insufficient time to consider. So they had made good their rebellion against the house of David, and expect to maintain themselves by the vast army they have accumulated. This they do in spite of having rejected the true God of Israel for two golden calves. They have further rejected the true priests and the Levites and have responded by making every man who can supply a sacrifice for his consecration a priest of the calves.

In contrast, Abijah protests, the true worship fo the Lord is still being carried out in Judah and Jerusalem. The sons of Aaron continue to maintain the temple worship, and the Levites continue in their designated positions. Abijah claims that Judah has not neglected the Lord, but continues the offerings, sacrifices, incense, shewbread, and lamps as the Lord had prescribed for Israel in His law given Moses.

Furthermore, he claimed that the Lord was with him, and His priests to sound the war trumpet against Jeroboam’s forces. They thus cannot expect to prosper infighting against the Lord.

Verses 13-20

2 Chronicles 13:13

(The 1st edition Hardbound version of the commentary includes the following comments under 1 Kings 15).

End of Jeroboam, Verses 13-20

It appears that the men of Abijah were engrossed in his eloquent oration, so that they were unaware of what was happening among the men of Jeroboam. As their king closed his speech they suddenly realized that they had been ambushed. Jeroboam had taken the advantage of their enthrallment with their king’s great words and encircled them with his 800,000 men, and they were hemmed in on every side. God had allowed a situation which would prove the claims to divine allegiance made for them by King Abijah.

The men of Judah responded admirably. They immediately cried to the Lord for help when they realized their predicament. The priests bearing the trumpets also responded by sounding them in the name of the Lord. The men raised their voices in a mighty shout which reached up to God. As a result the Lord heard them and gave them victory over the mighty army of Jeroboam. In fact He is said to have smitten Jeroboam and all Israel Himself, before the eyes of Abijah and Judah. This indicates that the nature of the defeat of Israel was such that there was no denying the hand of God in the matter. They were wholly delivered into the hands of the men of Judah (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:14).

Israel suffered a very disastrous defeat at the hands of Abijah and Judah. Five hundred thousand of the 800,000 men perished in the battle. The northern kingdom was so severely beaten they did not re­cover for many years. Abijah carried the war further into the kingdom, capturing Bethel (where the calf temple was), Jeshanah (just south of Shiloh) and its environs, and Ephraim (or Ophrah, eastward from Bethel) and its towns. Nothing is said of Abijah’s treatment of the city of Bethel and its idolatrous temple. Had he been sincere in his flowery speech about his devotion to true worship he surely would have destroyed it. This he certainly must not have done, or the Lord would have recorded it in the Scriptures. He was not a sincere and truthful worshipper (John 4:23).

Notice has already been made in this commentary of the death of Jeroboam (see above). But it is well to emphasize again the nature of his death. This battle of Mount Zemaraim is his last notable act, though he lived about two years longer. The Scriptures say that the Lord struck him, and he died. This would accord with the prediction of the Prophet Ahijah, who said that Jeroboam and all his house would die violently and their bodies go unburied.

Verse 21

See note on 1 Kings 15:7

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 13". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-chronicles-13.html. 1985.
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