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2 Chronicles 16


(LXX versing)
Asa Wars Against Baasha Asa's Treaty With Syria The War with Baasha; Asa's Apostasy, Punishment, and Death Troubles with Israel War with Israel
16:1-6 16:1-6 16:1-6 16:1-3 16:1-6
Asa Imprisons the Prophet Hanani's Message to Asa The Prophet Hanani
16:7-10 16:7-10 16:7-10 16:7-10 16:7-10
Illness and Death of Asa The End of Asa's Reign The End of the Reign of Asa
16:11-14 16:11-12 16:11-14 16:11-14 16:11-14

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.


1In the thirty-sixth year of Asa's reign Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from going out or coming in to Asa king of Judah. 2Then Asa brought out silver and gold from the treasuries of the house of the Lord and the king's house, and sent them to Ben-hadad king of Aram, who lived in Damascus, saying, 3"Let there be a treaty between you and me, as between my father and your father. Behold, I have sent you silver and gold; go, break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so that he will withdraw from me." 4So Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel, and they conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim and all the store cities of Naphtali. 5When Baasha heard of it, he ceased fortifying Ramah and stopped his work. 6Then King Asa brought all Judah, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber with which Baasha had been building, and with them he fortified Geba and Mizpah.

16:1 "In the thirty-sixth year" There is some confusion about this date. See notes at 2 Chr. 15:19 and Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, pp. 225-226.

"Ramah" There are several cities by this name (BDB 928 II), which means "height." The one mentioned here is in the ancient tribal allocation of Benjamin, about four miles north of Jerusalem on the main highway.

This would have been a strategic city (i.e., trade route). It was an obvious provocation by Israel (cf. 1 Kgs. 15:16-1).

Possibly Baasha wanted to stop Israelite pilgrims from attending the feasts in Jerusalem.

16:2 Asa's actions in seeking help from Syria (i.e., by payment of the temple treasures) instead of trusting YHWH causes YHWH to send a prophet to confront him (2 Chr. 16:7), but Asa hardened his heart (v. 10).

The alliance with Syria would have involved rituals using the names of Syrian's gods.

Several of Judah's kings sought foreign/pagan military alliances.

  1. Asa ‒ here (Syria)
  2. Jehoshaphat ‒ 2 Chr. 20:35-37 (Israel)
  3. Ahaziah ‒ 2 Chr. 22:1-9 (Israel)
  4. Ahaz ‒ 2 Chr. 28:16-21 (Assyria)

"Ben-hadad" This was a royal title for the kings of Syria. Literally, it is "son of Hadad" (BDB 122, a fertility deity). Scholars still debate how many kings went by this title.

"hadad" He is an ANE storm god who gave rain for fertility (BDB 212). He is analogous with Ba'al, the Canaanite storm god. He is known by several names (ABA, p. 11)

  1. Hadad ‒ Amorites, Arameans (Syria)
  2. Adad ‒ Mesopotamia
  3. Hadda/Ba'al ‒ Canaan (Ras Shamra texts)
  4. Ramman/Rimmon ‒ 2 Kgs. 5:18 also
    1. Syrian
    2. Zech. 12:11

    he was the war god of the Assyrians; his symbol was a young bull (like Ba'al)

16:3 Apparently Ben-hadad had a non-agression treaty with Baasha but gold and silver quickly caused him to change allegiance!

16:4 What Baasha did to Judah (i.e., loss of the trade route revenue) now Syria did to Israel.

16:6 Asa took the building materials of Baasha and used them to fortify two of his northern border cities (i.e., against further encroachment by Israel).

However, this shows that a military success is not always a good thing or a divine thing.

7At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, "Because you have relied on the king of Syria and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand. 8Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand. 9For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars." 10Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him for this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time.

16:7 "the seer" This is one of several terms used to denote a prophet. The Chronicler based his compilation on written prophetic sources.


"king of Syria" The second use of this phrase is surprising since the Syrians were purchased allies. There are some LXX MSS (i.e., Lucian) that have "the King of Israel" (cf. NEB, REB, TEV), which makes more contextual sense. The UBS Text Project, p. 462, gives "the army of the king of Aram" a "B" rating (some doubt).

16:8 The prophet reminds Asa of YHWH's marvelous deliverance from the army of Zerah, the Ethiopian in 2 Chr. 14:9-15.

16:9 "the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth" The "eyes" of the Lord is anthropomorphic imagery.

The phrase "move to and fro" (BDB 1001, KB 1439, Polel ACTIVE PARTICIPLE) is an idiom used several times in the OT.

  1. here, to denote YHWH actively seeking those who have sought Him with their whole heart
  2. of those who seek YHWH, Dan. 12:4; Amos 8:12
  3. for YHWH seeking one godly person in Jerusalem so as to spare it from judgment, Jer. 5:1
  4. in connection to YHWH restoring the temple under Zerubbabel, Zech. 4:10


"earth" This Hebrew word can mean "land," "country," or "earth," depending on the context. Here, it could refer to Canaan or if this has a monotheistic orientation, the whole earth.


"whose heart is completely His" This is an idiom for complete faith, obedience, and devotion. It was first used in various phrases in Deuteronomy (cf. Deut. 4:29; 6:5; 7:9; 10:12; 11:1,13,22; 19:9; 26:16; 30:2,6,10,16,20). It then was used in the historical books for occasions and actions of certain people.

  1. Solomon ‒ 1 Kgs. 8:23
  2. Josiah ‒ 2 Kgs. 23:3
  3. soldiers of David ‒ 1 Chr. 12:38
  4. David counsels Solomon ‒ 1 Chr. 28:9
  5. the people as they brought an offering for David's plans for the temple ‒ 1 Chr. 29:9
  6. YHWH's obedient servants ‒ 2 Chr. 6:14
  7. used of those who repent ‒ 2 Chr. 6:38

"You have acted foolishly in this" See SPECIAL TOPIC: FOOLISH PEOPLE.

"Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars" This is the opposite of YHWH's promised "rests" for His obedient covenant partners (i.e., Exod. 33:14; Deut. 3:20; 12:10; 25:19; Josh. 1:13,15; 21:44; 22:4; 23:1; 2 Sam. 7:1,11; 1 Kgs. 5:4; 1 Chr. 22:9,18; 23:25; 2 Chr. 14:6,7; 15:15; 20:30).

16:10 It is always dangerous to speak to power. But for Asa, who started so well (cf. 2 Chr. 14:2,17), like so many of the Israelite kings, his reign ended poorly.

This is the first recorded royal action against YHWH's spokesman. Other persecution of prophets followed.

  1. Micaiah, son of Imla ‒ 2 Chr. 18:4-27
  2. Zechariah, son of Jehoiada ‒ 2 Chr. 24:20-22
  3. characteristics of the covenant people ‒ Matt. 5:12
  4. John the Baptist by Herod ‒ Mark 6:14-29

Surprisingly, Kings omits the account. Usually most of the negative things about the kings of Judah are in Kings but omitted in Chronicles. This is just the reverse!

"Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time" These were probably those who supported Hanani as a true prophet of YHWH. The text does not define "oppressed" but if Asa's treatment of Hanani is the example (i.e., not just prison, but stocks), it was severe.

11Now, the acts of Asa from first to last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 12In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians. 13So Asa slept with his fathers, having died in the forty-first year of his reign. 14They buried him in his own tomb which he had cut out for himself in the city of David, and they laid him in the resting place which he had filled with spices of various kinds blended by the perfumers' art; and they made a very great fire for him.

16:11-14 This is the characteristic summary of Asa's life and reign.

16:11 "they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel" This is one of many written sources. See Introduction to Chronicles, IV. F.

16:12 "the physicians" This text does not condemn this practice (BDB 950) but just Asa's lack of trust in YHWH. See NIDOTTE, vol. 3, pp. 1168-1169. Biblically YHWH is the "healer" of sin and sickness.

Asa's rebellious spirit continued. He continued to trust humans, not YHWH.

  1. Ben-hadad of Syria ‒ 2 Chr. 16:1-4
  2. the royal physicians ‒ 2 Chr. 16:12

16:14 "spices of various kinds" See SPECIAL TOPIC: BURIAL SPICES.

"they made a great fire for him" There is no parallel in 1 Kgs. 15:23-24. This appears to be some kind of memorial (cf. 2 Chr. 21:19; Jer. 34:5) and not cremation. The use of "spices" strongly implies a burial.

For a good brief discussion see Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel, "Death and Funeral Rites," pp. 56-61.



This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. Why is there a number problem in 2 Chr. 16:1?
  2. Why was the capture of Ramah significant?
  3. Who is Hadad?
  4. Explain the imagery of
    1. "the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth"
    2. "whose heart is completely His"
  5. Does Chronicles condemn physicians?
  6. Was Asa cremated?

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