The good King Asa in Judah (1 Kings 15:9-15:15)

“In the twentieth year of King Jeroboam of Israel, Asa began to reign over Judah. He reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom. Asa did what was right in the eyes of Yahweh, as his father David had done. He put away the male temple prostitutes out of the land. He removed all the idols that his ancestors had made. He also removed his mother Maacah from being queen mother, because she had an abominable image made for Asherah. Asa cut down her image. He burned it at the Wadi Kidron. However, the high places were not taken away. Nevertheless the heart of Asa was true to Yahweh all his days. He brought into the house of Yahweh the votive gifts of his father and his own votive gifts of silver, gold, and utensils.”

There is a difficulty right off the bat. Is Asa the grandson or son of Maacah? The Jerusalem Bible refers to her as ‘grandmother,’ but the Oxford text uses the term ‘mother.’ Although the biblical writer in the preceding verse said that Asa was the son of Abijam, he may have been his brother, because they might have the same mother. However, the usage of mother like that of father may be referring to a grandmother or grandfather, since David is called his father. It is interesting to note that the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 1, lists Asa as the son of Abijam and not his brother. More important, Asa walked in the ways of Yahweh with a heart true for Yahweh. On top of that he was king for a long time, 41 years, so that he had a huge influence that led to stability in Judah, while northern Israel went through a number of kings. He removed the male prostitutes in the temple worship places. There is no indication if there were female temple prostitutes. He removed all the idols of his ancestors. Queen Mother Maacah was removed from her place of prominence. He also burned her picture of the goddess Asherah. This might seem to indicate that she was the grandmother not mother of Asa. However, he did leave the high places of worship alone, although he made many votive gifts to the temple of gold and silver.

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