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Abijah begins to reign over Judah, and has war with Jeroboam, 2 Chronicles 13:1-3. His speech from Mount Zemaraim to Jeroboam, before the commencement of hostilities, 2 Chronicles 13:4-12. While thus engaged, Jeroboam despatches some troops which come on the rear of Abijah‘s army, 2 Chronicles 13:13. Perceiving this, they cry unto the Lord, and the Israelites are defeated with the loss of five hundred thousand men, 2 Chronicles 13:14-18. Abijah retakes several cities from Jeroboam, who is smitten by the Lord, and dies, 2 Chronicles 13:19, 2 Chronicles 13:20. Abijah‘s marriages and issue, 2 Chronicles 13:21, 2 Chronicles 13:22.
His mother‘s name - was Michaiah - See on 2 Chronicles 11:20 (note).
Abijah set the battle in array - The numbers in this verse and in the seventeenth seem almost incredible. Abijah‘s army consisted of four hundred thousand effective men; that of Jeroboam consisted of eight hundred thousand; and the slain of Jeroboam‘s army were five hundred thousand. Now it is very possible that there is a cipher too much in all these numbers, and that they should stand thus: Abijah‘s army, forty thousand; Jeroboam‘s eighty thousand; the slain, fifty thousand. Calmet, who defends the common reading, allows that the Venice edition of the Vulgate, in 1478; another, in 1489; that of Nuremberg, in 1521; that of Basil, by Froben, in 1538; that of Robert Stevens, in 1546; and many others, have the smaller numbers. Dr. Kennicott says: “On a particular collation of the Vulgate version, it appears that the number of chosen men here slain, which Pope Clement‘s edition in 1592 determines to be five hundred thousand, the edition of Pope Sixtus, printed two years before, determined to be only fifty thousand; and the two preceding numbers, in the edition of Sixtus, are forty thousand and eighty thousand. As to different printed editions, out of fifty-two, from the year 1462 to 1592, thirty-one contain the less number. And out of fifty-one MSS. twenty-three in the Bodleian library, four in that of Dean Aldrich, and two in that of Exeter College, contain the less number, or else are corrupted irregularly, varying only one or two numbers.”
This examination was made by Dr. Kennicott before he had finished his collation of Hebrew MSS., and before De Rossi had published his Variae Lectiones Veteris Testamenti; but from these works we find little help, as far as the Hebrew MSS. are concerned. One Hebrew MS., instead of ארבע מאות אלף (arba meoth eleph), four hundred thousand, reads ארבע עשר אלף (arba eser eleph), fourteen thousand.
In all printed copies of the Hebrew, the numbers are as in the common text, four hundred thousand, eight hundred thousand, and five hundred thousand.
The versions are as follow: - The Targum, or Chaldee, the same in each place as the Hebrew.
The Syriac in 2 Chronicles 13:3 has four hundred thousand young men for the army of Abijah, and eight hundred thousand stout youth for that of Jeroboam. For the slain Israelites, in 2 Chronicles 13:17, it has five hundred thousand, falsely translated in the Latin text quinque milia, five thousand, both in the Paris and London Polyglots: another proof among many that little dependence is to be placed on the Latin translation of this version in either of the above Polyglots.
The Arabic is the same in all these cases with the Syriac, from which it has been translated.
The Septuagint, both as it is published in all the Polyglots, and as far as I have seen in MSS. is the same with the Hebrew text. So also is Josephus.
The Vulgate or Latin version is that alone that exhibits any important variations; we have had considerable proof of this in the above-mentioned collations of Calmet and Kennicott. I shall beg liberty to add others from my own collection.
In the Editio Princeps of the Latin Bible, though without date or place, yet evidently printed long before that of Fust, in 1462, the places stand thus: 2 Chronicles 13:3. Cumque inisset certamen, et haberet bellicosissimos viros, et electorum Quadraginta milia: Iheroboam construxit e contra aciem Octoginta milia virorum; “With him Abia entered into battle; and he had of the most warlike and choice men forty thousand; and Jeroboam raised an army against him of eighty thousand men.” And in 2 Chronicles 13:17: Et corruerunt vulnerati ex Israel, Quinquaginta milia virorum fortium; “And there fell down wounded fifty thousand stout men of Israel.” In the Glossa Ordinaria, by Strabo Fuldensis, we have forty thousand and eighty thousand in the two first instances, and five hundred thousand in the last. - Bib. Sacr. vol. ii., Antv. 1634.
In six ancient MSS. of my own, marked A, B, C, D, E, F. the text stands thus: -
A. - Cumque inisset Abia certamen, et haberet bellicosissimos viros, et electorum XL. MIL. Jeroboam instruxit contra aciem LXXX. MIL.
And in 2 Chronicles 13:17: Et corruerunt vulnerati ex Israel L. MIL. virorum fortium. Here we have forty thousand for the army of Abijah, and eighty thousand for that of Jeroboam, and Fifty thousand for the slain of the latter.
d Quadraginita miliaForty thousand
d Octoginta miliaEighty thousand
d Quinquiaginta miliaFifty thousand
The numbers being here expressed in words at full length, there can be no suspicion of mistake.
d CCCC milia400 thousand
d DCCC milibus800 thousand
d D milia500 thousand
This is the same as the Hebrew text, and very distinctly expressed.
d xl. m.40,000
d lxxx. m.80,000
d l. v. m.50 and 5000
This, in the two first numbers, is the same as the others above; but the last is confused, and appears to stand for fifty thousand and five thousand. A later hand has corrected the two first cccc numbers in this MS., placing over the first four CCCC, thus 40, thus changing forty into four hundred; and over the second thus, dccc lxxx., thus changing eighty into eight hundred. Over the latter number, which is evidently a mistake of the scribe, there is no correction.
d xl. m.40,000
d Octogintam.Eighty thousand
d l. m.50,000
d CCCC. m.400,000
d DCCC. m.800,000
d D. m.600,000
This also is the same as the Hebrew.
The reader has now the whole evidence which I have been able to collect before him, and may choose; the smaller numbers appear to be the most correct. Corruptions in the numbers in these historical books we have often had cause to suspect, and to complain of.
Stood up upon Mount Zemaraim - “Which was a mount of the tribe of the house of Ephraim.” - Targum. Jarchi thinks that Abijah went to the confines of the tribe of Ephraim to attack Jeroboam. It could not be Shomeron, the mount on which Samaria was built in the days of Omri king of Israel, 1 Kings 16:24.
By a covenant of salt? - For ever. “For as the waters of the sea never grow sweet, neither shall the dominion depart from the house of David.” - Targum. See my note on Numbers 18:19 (note).
When Rehoboam was young and tender-hearted - Therefore he could not be forty-one when he came to the throne; see the note on 2 Chronicles 13:3. Children of Belial here signifies men of the most abandoned principles and characters; or men without consideration, education, or brains.
A young bullock and seven rams - He who could provide these for his own consecration was received into the order of this spurious and wicked priesthood. Some think he who could give to Jeroboam a young bullock and seven rams, was thereby received into the priesthood; this being the price for which the priesthood was conferred. The former is most likely.
The Lord is our God - We have not abandoned the Lord; and we still serve him according to his own law.
God himself is with us - Ye have golden calves; we have the living and omnipotent Jehovah.
With - trumpets to cry alarm against you - This was appalling: When the priests sound their trumpets, it will be a proof that the vengeance of the Lord shall speedily descend upon you.
But Jeroboam caused an ambushment - While Abijah was thus employed in reproving them, Jeroboam divided his army privately, and sent a part to take Abijah in the rear; and this must have proved fatal to the Jews, had not the Lord interposed.
Slain - five hundred thousand chosen men - Query, fifty thousand? This was a great slaughter: see the note on 2 Chronicles 13:3, where all these numbers are supposed to be overcharged.
Judah prevailed, because - “They depended on the Word of the God of their fathers.” - T.
Beth-el - “Beth-lehem.” - Targum.
Jeshanah - We know not where these towns lay.
The Lord struck him, and he died - Who died? Abijah or Jeroboam? Some think it was Jeroboam; some, that it was Abijah. Both rabbins and Christians are divided on this point; nor is it yet settled. The prevailing opinion is that Jeroboam is meant, who was struck then with that disease of which he died about two years after; for he did not die till two years after Abijah: see 1 Kings 14:20; 1 Kings 15:9. It seems as if Jeroboam was meant, not Abijah.
Married fourteen wives - Probably he made alliances with the neighboring powers, by taking their daughters to him for wives.
Written in the story - במדרש (bemidrash), “in the commentary;” this, as far as I recollect, is the first place where a midrash or commentary is mentioned. The margin is right.
His ways, and his sayings - The commentary of the prophet Iddo is lost. What his sayings were we cannot tell; but from the specimen in this chapter, he appears to have been a very able speaker, and one who knew well how to make the best use of his argument.