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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Abijah

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(Heb. Abiyah', אֲבַיָּה father [i.e. possessor or worshipper] of Jehovah; also in the equivalent protracted form Abiya'hu, אֲבַיָּהוּ, 2 Chronicles 13:20-21; Sept. and N.T. ‘Αβιά but ‘Αβία in 1 Kings 14:1; Nehemiah 10:7; ‘Αβίας in 1 Chronicles 24:10; Nehemiah 12:4; Nehemiah 12:17; ‘Αβιού v. r. ‘Αβιούδ, in 1 Chronicles 7:8; Josephus, ‘Αβίας, Ant. 7:10, 3; Auth. Vers. "Abiah" in 1 Samuel 8:2; 1 Chronicles 2:24; 1 Chronicles 6:28; 1 Chronicles 7:8; "Abia" in 1 Chronicles 3:10; Matthew 1:7; Luke 1:5), the name of six men and two women. 1. A son of Becher, one of the sons of Benjamin (1 Chronicles 7:8). B.C. post 1856.

2. The daughter of Machir, who bore to Hezron a posthumous son, Ashur (1 Chronicles 2:24). B.C. cir. 1612.

3. The second son of Samuel (1 Samuel 8:2; 1 Chronicles 6:28). Being appointed by his father a judge in Beersheba, in connection with his brother, their corrupt administration induced such popular discontent as to provoke the elders to demand a royal form of government for Israel, B.C. 1093. (See SAMUEL).

4. One of the descendants of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, and chief of one of the twenty-four courses or orders into which the whole body of the priesthood was divided by David (1 Chronicles 24:10), B.C. 1014. Of these the course of Abijah was the eighth. Only four of the courses returned from the captivity, of which that of Abijah was not one (Ezra 2:36-39; Nehemiah 7:39-42; Nehemiah 12:1). But the four were divided into the original number of twenty-four, with the original names; and it hence happens that Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, is described as belonging to the course of Abijah (Luke 1:5). (See PRIEST).

5. The second king of the separate kingdom of Judah, being the son of Rehoboam, and grandson of Solomon (1 Chronicles 3:10). He is also called (1 Kings 14:31; 1 Kings 15:1-8) ABIJAMI (See ABIJAMI) (q.v.). He began to reign B.C. 956, in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam, king of Israel, and he reigned three years (2 Chronicles 12:16; 2 Chronicles 13:1-2). At the commencement of his reign, looking on the well-founded separation of the ten tribes from the house of David as rebellion, Abijah made a vigorous attempt to bring them back to their allegiance (2 Chronicles 13:3-19). In this he failed; although a signal victory over Jeroboam, who had double his force and much greater experience, enabled him to take several cities which had been held by Israel (see J. F. Bahrdt, De bello Abice et Jerob. Lips. 1760). The speech which Abijah addressed to the opposing army before the battle has been much admired (C. Simeon, Works, 4:96). It was well suited to its object, and exhibits correct notions of the theocratical institutions (Keil, Apolog. d. Chron. p. 336). His view of the political position of the ten tribes with respect to the house of David is, however, obviously erroneous, although such as a king of Judah was likely to take. The numbers reputed to have been present in this action are 800,000 on the side of Jeroboam, 400,000 on the side of Abijah, and 500,000 left dead on the field. Hales and others regard these extraordinary numbers as corruptions, and propose to reduce them to 80,000, 40,000, and 50,000 respectively, as in the Latin Vulgate of Sixtus V, and many earlier editions, and in the old Latin translation of Josephus; and probably also in his original Greek text, as is collected by De Vignoles from Abarbanel's charge against the historian of having made Jeroboam's loss no more than 50,000 men, contrary to the Hebrew text (Kennicott's Dissertations, 1:533; 2:201 sq., 564). See NUMBER. The book of Chronicles mentions nothing concerning Abijah adverse to the impressions which we receive from his conduct on this occasion; but in Kings we are told that "he walked in all the sins of his father" (1 Kings 15:3). He had fourteen wives, by whom he left twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters (2 Chronicles 13:20-22). Asa succeeded him (2 Chronicles 14:1; Matthew 1:7). (See JUDAH).

There is a difficulty connected with the maternity of Abijah. In 1 Kings 15:2, we read, "His mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom" (comp. 2 Chronicles 11:20; 2 Chronicles 11:22); but in 2 Chronicles 13:2, "His mother's name was Michaiah, the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah." Maachah and Michaiah are variations of the same name; and Abishalom is in all likelihood Absalom, the son of David. The word (בִּת ) rendered "daughter" (q.v.), is applied in the Bible not only to a man's child, but to his niece, granddaughter, or great-granddaughter. It is therefore possible that Uriel of Gibeah married Tamar, the beautiful daughter of Absalom (2 Samuel 14:27), and by her had Maachah, who was thus the daughter of Uriel and granddaughter of Absalom. (See MAACHAH).

6. A son of Jeroboam 1, king of Israel. His severe and threatening illness induced Jeroboam to send his wife with a present [ (See GIFT) ] suited to the disguise in which she went, to consult the prophet Ahijah respecting his recovery. This prophet was the same who had, in the days of Solomon, foretold to Jeroboam his elevation to the throne of Israel. Though blind with age, he knew the disguised wife of Jeroboam, and was authorized, by the prophetic impulse that came upon him, to reveal to her that, because there was found in Abijah only, of all the house of Jeroboam, "some good thing toward the Lord," he only, of all that house, should come to his grave in peace, and be mourned in Israel (see S. C. Wilkes, Family Sermons, 12; C. Simeon, Works, 3, 385; T. Gataker, Sermons, pt. 2:291). Accordingly, when the mother returned home, the youth died as she crossed the threshold of the door. "And they buried him, and all Israel mourned for him" (1 Kings 14:1-18), B.C. cir. 782. (See JEROBOAM).

7. The daughter of Zechariah, and mother of King Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29:1), and, consequently, the wife of Ahaz, whom she survived, and whom, if we may judge from the piety of her son, she excelled in moral character. She is elsewhere called by the shorter form of the name, ABI (See ABI) (2 Kings 18:2). B.C. 726. Her father, may have been the same with the Zechariah, the son of Jeberechiah, whom Isaiah took as a witness of his marriage with "the prophetess" (Isaiah 8:2; comp. 2 Chronicles 26:5).

8. One of those (apparently priests) who affixed their signatures to the covenant made by Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10:7), B.C. 410. He is probably the same (notwithstanding the great age this implies) who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 12:4), B.C. 536, and who had a son named Zichri (Nehemiah 12:17).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Abijah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/a/abijah.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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