Bible Commentary: 1 Kings 15:1-8 and Related

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1 Kings 15:1-8 and Related

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Establishing the chronology of the kings of Israel and Judah is not a straightforward exercise, and Abijam’s reign provides a simple example. He begins his reign in the 18th year of Jeroboam. His son Asa begins his reign in the 20th year. Yet Abijam (called Abijah in 2 Chronicles 13, and Abia in 1 Chronicles 3) is said to have reigned three years. This may be because he reigned during portions of three years. But more likely, there was some overlap or co-regency (shared rule) in their reigns. This was done with David and Solomon, and is a fairly common occurrence among the kings, albeit not always stated directly.

In 2 Chronicles 13, Abijah’s mother is given as Michaiah, the daughter of Uriel. First Kings 5 says she was Maachah, which is probably a second name or variant, just as Abijam himself had different forms of his name. Maachah is also listed in some translations as the daughter of Abishalom, but granddaughter, as in the New King James Version, seems more likely. She can have only one father, and Abishalom is probably David’s son Absalom, who had been killed many decades earlier. By way of explanation, ancient Hebrew was typically written with consonants only (no vowels), so spelling variations among names are fairly common.

While most of Abijam’s story is recorded in Chronicles instead of Kings, the reference in 1 Kings 15:7 1 Kings 15:7Now the rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam.
American King James Version×
to the “book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah” is apparently to some other book, as our book of Chronicles appears to have been written long after the books of Kings. (In our next reading, we will see a reference in 1 Kings 14:19 1 Kings 14:19And the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred, and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
American King James Version×
to the “book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel”—yet another book.)

As is often the case, Chronicles relates a story that emphasizes the priesthood and the more positive aspects of the Davidic kings. Of course, putting together all the accounts in Scripture of a particular ruler’s life yields a more complete picture. Abijam was not given a high rating in 1 Kings 15:3 1 Kings 15:3And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father.
American King James Version×
, yet Chronicles records an appeal to Jeroboam that illustrates how the proper temple worship (compare Ezekiel 44:15 Ezekiel 44:15But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister to me, and they shall stand before me to offer to me the fat and the blood, said the Lord GOD:
American King James Version×
; Ezekiel 48:11 Ezekiel 48:11It shall be for the priests that are sanctified of the sons of Zadok; which have kept my charge, which went not astray when the children of Israel went astray, as the Levites went astray.
American King James Version×
) continued under most of the Jewish kings—often with the king’s approval—even when the king saw no personal need to steer himself or the nation clear of idolatry. The victory over Jeroboam is attributed to Judah’s reliance on God (verse 18).

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