Asa

A'sa (Heb. Asa', אָסָא, healing, or physician), the name of two men.

1. (Sept. Α᾿σά, Josephus, ῎Ασανος.) The son of Abijah, grandson of Rehoboam, and third king of the separate kingdom of Judah (1 Kings 15:2Ch 14-16; Mt 1:7-8). He began to reign two years before the death of Jeroboam, in Israel, and he reigned forty-one years (B.C. 953-912). As Asa was very young at his accession, the affairs of the government were administered by his mother, or, according to some (comp. 1Ki 15:1,10), his grandmother Maachah, who is understood to have been a granddaughter of Absalom. SEE MAACHAH. But the young kin,, on assuming the reins of government; was conspicuous for his earnestness in supporting the worship of God, and rooting out idolatry with its attendant immoralities, and for the vigor and wisdom with which he provided for the prosperity of his kingdom. In his zeal against heathenism he did not spare his grandmother Maachah, who occupied the special dignity of "King's Mother," to which great importance was attached in the Jewish court, as afterward in Persia, and to which parallels have been found in modern Eastern countries, as in the position of the Sultana Valide in Turkey (see 1 Kings ii, 19; 2Ki 24:12; Jer 29:2; also Calmet, Fragm. xvi; and Bruce's Travels, ii, 537, and 4:244). She had set up some impure worship in a grove (the word translated "idol," 1Ki 15:13, is מִפלֶצֶת, afright or horrible image, while in the Vule. we read ne esset [Maacha] princeps in sacris Priap' ); but Asa burnt the symbol of her religion, and threw its ashes into the brook Kidron, as Moses had done to the golden calf (Ex 32:20), and then deposed Maachah from her dignity. He also placed in the Temple certain gifts which his father had dedicated, probably in the earlier and better period of his reign, SEE ABIJAH,. and which the heathen priests must have used for their own worship, and renewed the great altar which they apparently had desecrated (2Ch 15:8) during his minority and under the preceding reigns, and only the altars in the "high-places" were suffered to remain (1Ki 15:11-13; 2Ch 14:2-5). He neglected no human means of putting his kingdom in the best possible military condition, for which ample opportunity was afforded by the peace which he enjoyed for ten years (B.C. 938-928) in the middle of his reign. His resources were so well organized, and the population had so increased, that he fortified cities on his frontiers, and raised an army amounting, according to 2Ch 14:8, to 580,000 men; but the uncertainty attaching to the numbers in our present text of Chronicles has been pointed out by Kennicott and by Davidson (Introduction to the 0. T. p. 686), who consider that the copyists were led into error by the different modes of marking them, and by confounding the different letters which denoted them, bearing as they do a great resemblance to each other. SEE NUMBER. Thus Asa's reign marks the return of Judah to a consciousness of the hiah destiny to which God had called her, and to the belief that the Divine power was truly at work within her. The good effects of this were visible in the 13th year of his reign, when, relying upon the Divine aid, Asa attacked and defeated the numerous host of the Cushite king Zerah (q.v.), who had penetrated through Arabia Petraea into the vale of Zephathah with an immense host, reckoned at a million of men (which Josephus distributes into 900.000 infantry and .100,000 cavalry, Ant. 8:12,'1) and 300 chariots (2Ch 14:9-15). As the triumphant Judahites were returning, laden with spoil, to Jerusalem, they were met by the prophet Azariah, who declared this splendid victory to be a consequence of Asa's confidence in Jehovah, and exhorted him to perseverance. Thus encouraged, the king exerted himself during the ten ensuing years of tranquillity to extirpate the remains of idolatry, and caused the people to renew their covenant with Jehovah (2Ch 15:1-15). It was this clear knowledge of his dependent political position, as the vicegerent of Jehovah, which won for Asa the highest praise that could be given to a Jewish king-that he walked in the steps of his ancestor David (1Ki 15:11). Nevertheless, toward the latter end of his reign (the numbers in 2Ch 15:19; 2Ch 16:1, should be 25th and 26th) the king failed to maintain the character he had thus acquired. When Baasha, king of Israel, had renewed the war between the two kingdoms, and had taken Ramah, which he was proceeding to fortify as a frontier barrier, Asa, the conqueror of Zerah, was so far wanting to his kingdom and his God as to employ the wealth of the Temple and of the royal treasury to induce the King of Syria (Damascus) to make a diversion in his favor by invading the dominions of Baasha (see Kitto's Daily Bible Illust. in loc.). By this means he recovered Ramah, indeed; but his treasures were squandered, and he incurred the rebuke of the prophet Hanani, whom he cast into prison, being, as it seems, both alarmed and enraged at the effect his address was calculated to produce upon the people. Other persons (who had probably manifested their disapprobation) also suffered from his anger (1Ki 15:16-22; 2Ch 16:1-10). The prophet threatened Asa with war, which appears to have been fulfilled by the continuance for some time of that with Baasha, as we infer from an allusion, in 2Ch 17:2, to the cities of Ephraim which he took, and which can hardly refer to any events prior to the destruction of Ramah. In the last three years of his life Asa was afflicted with a grievous "disease in his feet," probably the gout, SEE DISEASE; and it is mentioned to his reproach; that he placed too much confidence in his physicians (q.v.), i.e. he acted in an arrogant and independent spirit, and without seeking God's blessing on their remedies. At his death, however, it appeared that his popularity had not been substantially impaired, for he was honored with a funeral of unusual cost and magnificence (2Ch 16:11-14; with which 1Ki 15:24, does not conflict). He was succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat. SEE JUDAH, KINGDOM OF.

2. (Sept. Ο᾿σσά.) A Levite, son of Elkanah and father of Berechiah, which last was one of those who resided in the villages of the Netophathites on the return from Babylon (1Ch 9:16). B.C. ante 536.

Bible concordance for ASA.

Definition of asa

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 
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