You shall give
The houses of Achzib
Shall be a deception
To the kings of Israel.
I will again bring
As a conqueror
Inhabitants of Mareshah.
The glory of Israel
Shall come to Adullam.”
Micah finished up with 4 other small towns including his own town of Moresheth-gath. They were to give parting gifts to his home town because they might not see her again. Moresheth was close to the Hebrew word for inheritance. The houses of Achzib were a deception to the kings of Israel, since that name meant disappointment or deception. Yahweh, via Micah, was going to bring a conqueror to the people of Mareshah, a place near Moresheth, the home of Micah. Finally, the glory of Israel would come to Adullam, the place were David and his men took refuge.
“King Asa had an army of three hundred thousand from Judah, armed with large shields and spears. He also had two hundred and eighty thousand troops from Benjamin, who carried shields and drew bows. All these were mighty warriors. Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots. He came as far as Mareshah. King Asa went out to meet him. They drew up their lines of battle in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.”
Despite all this tranquility in Judah, King Asa had an army of over half a million mighty warriors from Judah and Benjamin, 300,000 from Judah and 280,000 from Benjamin. Zerah, the Ethiopian had a million man army with 300 chariots that invaded the south of Judah at Mareshah. Wow! Did they have big armies? These numbers are mind boggling. This invasion is not found elsewhere in the biblical literature. However, there was a 9th century BCE ruler of Egypt called Osorkon I or II. He actually fought against Assyria and may have come through Judah. He might have been a Cushite or Ethiopian with a darker skin. King Rehoboam had fortified this city western Judah city of Mareshah. The battle was in the valley of Zephathah, which is only mentioned here and nowhere else in biblical literature.
“King Rehoboam resided in Jerusalem. He built cities for defense in Judah. He built up Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, Beth-zur, Soco, Adullam, Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron. There were fortified cities in Judah and in Benjamin. He made the fortresses strong. He put commanders in them. They had stores of food, oil, and wine. He also put large shields and spears in all the cities. He made them very strong. So he held Judah and Benjamin.”
There is no other source for this material here. Certainly some of these 15 cities already existed. This was a defensive gesture. He seems to have fortified them with shields, spears, food, commanders, and troops. These cities became strong fortresses against any enemy. Bethlehem was the birthplace of David, just 6 miles south of Jerusalem. Etam was about 2 miles southwest of Bethlehem. Tekoa was about 6 miles south of Bethlehem. Beth-zur was on the main road between Jerusalem and Hebron, about 4 miles north of Hebron, which was about 20 miles south of Jerusalem. Adullam was about 16 miles southwest of Jerusalem and about 10 miles west of Bethlehem. Gath was 1 of the 5 major cities of the Philistines that has been lost, but was on the west side of Judah. Mareshah was also in western Judah, while Ziph was in southern Judah. Adoraim only appears here but probably is a lost southwest town near the sea. Lachish was about 15 miles west of Hebron, probably close to Azekah. Zorah and Aijalon were western cities that were originally in the territory of Dan. About a half of these cities were within 20 miles of Jerusalem. Most of the fortified cities were in the south and west since the Dead Sea was on the east and Benjamin and northern Israel was to the north.
“The sons of Shelah son of Judah were Er the father of Lecah, Laadah the father of Mareshah, and the families of the house of linen workers at Beth-ashbea. Jokim was with the men of Cozeba, Joash, and Saraph, who married into Moab, but returned to Lehem. The records are ancient. These were the potters and inhabitants of Netaim and Gederah. They lived there with the king for his work.”
Shelah was the 3rd or youngest son of Judah as outlined in Genesis 38, before the episode with Tamar. However, at the beginning of this chapter he was not listed as a son of Judah. Er was the name of his brother in the Genesis story so it does not seem strange that he should name his son after his brother, who had died. This, however, is the only mention of Lecah or Laadah. Mareshah is definitely a town in Judah and may have been a person. This is the only mention of the linen workers of Beth-ashbea. Linen was a big deal for the holy of holies. This is the only mention of Jokim, Cozeba, and Saraph. Joash was of course the name of the king of Judah (835-796 BCE) and the name of the king of Israel (798-783 BCE). There were over 8 people in the biblical literature with this name. This is the only mention of Lehem, but it might refer to Bethlehem. Somehow this Saraph went to Moab and then returned to Lehem. The biblical author claims that this is based on a very old document, but does not say what it is. Apparently these people were the potters or artisans living in Netaim and Gederah. These towns might be near Gezer, in Judah since their names only appear here, but there is no definite identification. The king might have had access to them in these towns.
“The first born son of Caleb the brother of Jerahmeel was Mareshah, who was the father of Ziph. Another son of Mareshah was Hebron. The sons of Hebron were Korah, Tappuah, Rekem, and Shema. Shema was the father of Raham, who was the father of Jorkeam. Rekem became the father of Shammai. The son of Shammai was Maon, who became the father of Bethzur.”
Once again, we are back at Caleb, whom this biblical writer is very interested in. This is the 3rd time that we see descendents of (1) Caleb. He clearly was the brother of Jerahmeel called Chelubai, a very busy man. So far he had 3 sons by his 1st wife Azubah, Jesher, Shobab, and Ardon. Then he had 1 son with his 2nd wife Ephrath called Hur. Finally he had Ashhur by Abijah, his step mother. Here we have 10 generations of his children through (2) Mareshah, his first born, whose children were Ziph and (3) Hebron. There was a town in Judah named after Mareshah. Hebron was also the name of a town, but it is one of the most ancient cities existing today, nearly 4,000 years old, with a connection to Abraham, in Genesis, chapter 13. Ziph was also a town mentioned in Joshua, chapter 15. It also was a place that David visited. Hebron’s sons were Korah, Tappuah, Rekem, and (4) Shema. We do not hear about the children of his brother Ziph, Korah or Tappuah. Shema had a son named (5) Raham and his son was called (6) Jorkeam. (7) Rekem had a son named (8) Shammai who had a son named (9) Maon who had a son named (10) Bethzur. There were 4 people with the name of Korah, but the most famous is the Levite in Numbers, chapter 26, who used the wrong incense. There are a couple of towns with the name Tappuah. Besides this Rekem, that was the name of one of the 5 kings of Midian in Numbers, chapter 31. His son was Shammai, the same name as the son of Onam. Maon, his son, as well as Bethzur were also places in Judah. Finally Shema was also a name of a Benjamite and a Simeonite as well as a place in Judah. His son was Raham, and Raham’s son was Jorkeam, both of which only appear here in the biblical literature. This may have been a way to show how towns got their names.