Asa’s Faith and Reforms
After 10 years of peace, Judah was challenged by an enormous Ethiopian army of a million men. Since Egypt was strong at this time—in the wake of Pharaoh Shishak’s reign, during which the Ethiopians fought for the Egyptians (2 Chronicles 12:3 2 Chronicles 12:3With twelve hundred chariots, and three score thousand horsemen: and the people were without number that came with him out of Egypt; the Lubims, the Sukkiims, and the Ethiopians.
American King James Version×)—it is likely that Zerah and his forces were mercenaries of Egypt.
This battle takes place about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem at Mareshah. Thanks to the intervention of God (2 Chronicles 14:12 2 Chronicles 14:12So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.
American King James Version×), Asa miraculously defeats the million-man army and pursues the fleeing remnants to Gerar, another 25 miles further to the southwest. Asa’s reliance on God and subsequent victory, his response to the encouragement of the prophet and his revival of temple worship encourage many in the northern kingdom to “defect” to him.
The King James Version refers to Maachah, daughter (granddaughter) of Absalom, as the “mother” of Asa (1 Kings 15:13 1 Kings 15:13And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.
American King James Version×)—and that is the literal Hebrew. Yet she is also listed as the mother of Asa’s father Abijam. The New King James Version therefore substitutes “grandmother” in verse 13. Apparently something happened to Asa’s real mother, and the fact that his grandmother is referred to as his mother could imply that he was actually reared by his grandmother. It is a tribute to Asa’s character that he recognized her idolatry and deposed her from the honored position of queen mother, which she continued to hold from Abijam’s reign.