by Ray Stedman
Ray Stedman, Biography
2 Chronicles 14
So Abijah slept with his ancestors, and they buried him in the city of David. His son Asa succeeded him. In his days the land had rest for ten years. Asa did what was good and right in the sight of the Lord his God. He took away the foreign altars and the high places, broke down the pillars, hewed down the sacred poles, and commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to keep the law and the commandment. He also removed from all the cities of Judah the high places and the incense altars. And the kingdom had rest under him. He built fortified cities in Judah while the land had rest. He had no war in those years, for the Lord gave him peace. He said to Judah, ‘Let us build these cities, and surround them with walls and towers, gates and bars; the land is still ours because we have sought the Lord our God; we have sought him, and he has given us peace on every side.’ So they built and prospered. Asa had an army of three hundred thousand from Judah, armed with large shields and spears, and two hundred and eighty thousand troops from Benjamin who carried shields and drew bows; all these were mighty warriors.
Ethiopian Invasion Repulsed
Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up their lines of battle in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. Asa cried to the Lord his God, ‘O Lord, there is no difference for you between helping the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let no mortal prevail against you.’ So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. Asa and the army with him pursued them as far as Gerar, and the Ethiopians fell until no one remained alive; for they were broken before the Lord and his army. The people of Judah carried away a great quantity of booty. They defeated all the cities around Gerar, for the fear of the Lord was on them. They plundered all the cities; for there was much plunder in them. They also attacked the tents of those who had livestock, and carried away sheep and goats in abundance, and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 15
The spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded. He went out to meet Asa and said to him, ‘Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Lord is with you, while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will abandon you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law; but when in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them. In those times it was not safe for anyone to go or come, for great disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. They were broken in pieces, nation against nation and city against city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress. But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.’
When Asa heard these words, the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns that he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the vestibule of the house of the Lord. He gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and those from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who were residing as aliens with them, for great numbers had deserted to him from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. They were gathered at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa. They sacrificed to the Lord on that day, from the booty that they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep. They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and with all their soul. Whoever would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman. They took an oath to the Lord with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with horns. All Judah rejoiced over the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart, and had sought him with their whole desire, and he was found by them, and the Lord gave them rest all around.
King Asa even removed his mother Maacah from being queen mother because she had made an abominable image for Asherah. Asa cut down her image, crushed it, and burned it at the Wadi Kidron. But the high places were not taken out of Israel. Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was true all his days. He brought into the house of God the votive gifts of his father and his own votive gifts—silver, gold, and utensils. And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of the reign of Asa.
What do we expect God to do when we are overwhelmed by our circumstances, when we are outnumbered and outclassed? In our series of studies on prayer from the Old Testament, this morning we will learn how to use prayer in life's emergencies. For that we will look at the life of Asa, the third king of Judah, the grandson of Solomon.
When King Asa ascended the throne, the first thing he did was very encouraging. We are told in Verse 2 of the 14th chapter of Second Chronicles:
And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He took away the foreign altars and the high places, [that is, the altars erected up on the summits of the hills] and he broke down the pillars and hewed down the Asherim [the obscene idols erected for worship by the people], and commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment. He also took out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the incense altars. And the kingdom had rest under him. (2 Chronicles 14:2-5 RSV)
In other words, when King Asa ascended to the throne, the first thing he did was to lead the nation in a moral awakening. He did what many people today say is a wrong thing to do: He began to legislate righteousness.
To put this in present-day terms, what King Asa did was to clean out the adult bookstores, close the massage parlors, confiscate all the pornographic films, close the adult movie theaters, jail the drug pushers, and restore the reading of the Bible and public prayer in the schools and the courts of the land.
Now those people who say that righteousness cannot be legislated are perfectly right. Nevertheless, though King Asa did not accomplish that, it was a step in the right direction. According to the text here, the king's action produced a situation which is described, "the kingdom had rest under him." All the degrading, disturbing, defiling things were put away. But they were not eliminated. Legislation does not change people's hearts. It does, however, inhibit the manifestations of evil in crime, and public shame and disgrace. The kingdom, therefore, entered into a period of rest; a moral breathing spell was introduced by this legislation.
Then King Asa did something else which is remarkably relevant to our own day. As the account goes on to tell us, in a time of peace he greatly increased the defense budget. Verse 6:
He built fortified cities In Judah, for the land had rest. He had no war in those years, for the Lord gave him peace. And he said to Judah, "Let us build these cities, and surround them with walls and towers, gates and bars; the land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God; we have sought him, and he has given us peace on every side." So they built and prospered. And Asa had an army of three hundred thousand from Judah, armed with bucklers and spears, and two hundred and eighty thousand men from Benjamin, that carried shields and drew bows; and all these were mighty men of valor." (2 Chronicles 14:6-8 RSV)
This Southern Kingdom of Judah was made up of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Each tribe committed its young men to be trained for the army -- one tribe committed 300,000, and the other 280,000, for a total of 580,00 men. Now that is a rather remarkable number of men. This was a tiny country -- less than half the size of California -- yet its standing army in peacetime was almost as large as the army which the United States maintains in peacetime. (I called General Ray Miller of our congregation to check on that. He told me that our present standing army numbers around 700,000 men for this super power of our day.) Yet here is a tiny little country with 580,000 men under arms in a time of peace.
They would soon need them, however. Across the Red Sea, in Ethiopia, a murderous warlord named Zerah was beginning to move out on a conquest of the world, with an army of a million men. Verse 9:
Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. And Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up their lines of battle in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. (2 Chronicles 14:9-10 RSV)
This enormous army came out of Africa, up through the desert and across the Sinai Peninsula. They are now right at the doorstep of Jerusalem, and King Asa went down to meet them. (The place mentioned here is south and west of Jerusalem, where the hills meet the coastal plain, near the spot where David and Goliath had their famous encounter.) King Asa's army of 580,000 men must have seemed very impressive when they were first gathered together, but now he looks out on this plain, which is covered as far as the eye can see with the tents of the soldiers who have come against him. The scouts report the size of the army, and the fact that they had three hundred armed chariots (equal to armored tanks in our day). Asa knows now that he is outnumbered almost two to one, and totally outclassed by this maneuverable band of chariots. As he sees the tremendous host arrayed against him, he feels led to pray. Verse 11:
And Asa cried to the Lord his God, "O Lord, there is none like thee to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on thee, and in thy name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee." (2 Chronicles 14:11 RSV)
Have you ever felt like King Asa felt? The New Testament tells us the reason these stories are in the Old Testament is that they were "written down for our instruction upon whom the end of the ages has come," (1 Corinthians. 10:11(RSV). They reflect experiences that we are all called to face at times. Now it's true that we're not kings with great armies facing even greater armies, but in the kingdom of our own lives we often encounter this very thing. So our feelings must be very much like King Asa's. Have you ever thought you were secure, with plenty of money in the bank, with good health and a future that looked bright and rosy, and then suddenly, Wham! Bam! -- disaster looms? You realize you are outnumbered, outgunned and outclassed, up against a circumstance too big for you to handle. I'm sure there are some here this morning facing that very kind of thing.
Now the prayer recorded here is only one verse long, but I'm sure it does not represent everything King Asa said. (You pray longer than this when you are facing an army of a million men!) This is probably a very brief outline of the points he covered in his prayer, but they are very helpful. They are recorded, remember, for our instruction. When we are up against situations like this, this is the way to pray.
Notice that the very first thing Asa does is to recognize the unique ability of God to give help -- unique ability -- because nobody helps like God does: "O Lord, there is none like thee to help." The reason there is none like God to help, of course, is that God knows so much more about us than anyone else. And there are so many possibilities he can lay hold of to deliver us.
I don't know if all this went through Asa's mind, but he must have looked back in history and thought of the many different ways God employed to deliver his people in the past. God has more ways of delivering people than McDonald's has hamburgers! For instance, He could use a thunderstorm and giant hailstones, as he did once with Joshua. He could use the jawbone of an ass, as he did with Samson, to overcome a great army of Philistines. He could us torches hidden in jars, as he did with Gideon, when a great host of Midianites confronted a little band of three hundred men. He could use the mere rumor of another invading army, as he did in the case of King Hezekiah. On that occasion the Syrian armies under Rabshakeh surrounded Jerusalem, but a rumor spread that an Egyptian army was coming, and Rabshakeh folded his tents and disappeared overnight. He could use a sound in the tops of the mulberry trees, as happened once with David, when he was confronted with a Philistine host. When the Philistines heard a strange sound like marching feet, they too thought an army was coming and they took to their heels and ran. He could use a woman with a tent peg, as he did with Jael, who killed Sisera, the Syrian general, in the days of Deborah and Barak.
There are a thousand and one things God can do to set us free. He may have us fight the battle, but he may tell us, as he did with Asa's son, Jehoshaphat, the next king, "Go on out with your army, but there is not going to be any battle. I will deliver you without a single blow being struck." The point of this is that the very first thing King Asa recognizes is that there is none like God to help. God has a million and one resources to command. Who can tell which one he might employ.
King Asa recognizes also that part of the uniqueness of God is that it does not make any difference whether you are mighty or weak. This phrase, "between the mighty and the weak," is not a good translation. What this really means is, "whether you are mighty or weak." Human contribution to the victory is insignificant in God's eyes. He can use armies if he wants to, or he can use a single individual. I have always thrilled at that account of Jonathan, David's close friend, King Saul's son, who was out with his armor bearer one morning when the Philistines were attacking Israel. As these two came over the brow of a hill, they saw a band of about a hundred or more Philistines. Jonathan and his armor bearer began to discuss what to do, and Jonathan said, "It doesn't make any difference to God: he can deliver with many or with few. We could sneak away unnoticed, but why don't we attack them, since God is that kind of God?" They did attack, and the two of them routed the Philistines. There was a great victory in the camp of Israel, because Jonathan saw that it does not make any difference to God whether human beings have a lot to offer or nothing to offer.
Church history and the annals of missions are filled with stories of one man or one woman who went out to a tough situation trusting God. And God did mighty works through just a single person who was armed with confidence and faith in God's promises. We can think of Mother Teresa in Calcutta; of Lillian Dixon out on the island of Taiwan, with her myriad of ministries to the hurting, the poor, the blind and the weak; of Cameron Townsend, who single-handedly began translating the Bible into Indian tongues, thereby beginning the worldwide ministry of Wycliffe Bible Translators. It does not make any difference whether you yourself have anything or nothing at all. God can work. That is the point.
I get awfully tired of some of the accounts I read today which say that until we raise a billion dollars we will never be able to do anything in world evangelism. Nonsense! God can work, with many or with few, with the mighty or with the weak. It does not make any difference to him.
The second thing King Asa did was to request specific aid for the present emergency. He prayed, "Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on thee, and in thy name we have come against this multitude."
When you are confronted with a situation like that, you do not have time to pray "around the world." I once heard of a man who was invited to pray for someone who was dying in a hospital. As he stood beside the bed, this man began his prayer, "Bless the missionaries in China and India and Africa," etc. He continued in that vein until someone stopped him and said, "I'm sorry. While you were in India the patient died." It is important to come to the point in our prayers, to deal with the specific situation, as King Asa did here: "Help us, O Lord." When you get into trouble like this, ask God for help.
Now, do not tell God what to do. That is the mistake so many of us make. We have our prayer all outlined, written down even. We say, "Lord, first do this. Then when that happens, do this." God's best and most frequent answer to such a prayer is to check the square that says, "None of the above." He has his own way of working. He will not give way to us. That is what makes us get so angry at God.
But King Asa leaves it up to God: "Help us," he says. Now Asa has an army there -- he intends to fight -- but he knows that God's way of helping could be any of a thousand and one ways, so he leaves it to him. Then, third, King Asa reminds God of a divinely established relationship: "O Lord, thou art our God." "We did not make you our God," he is saying, in effect. "You chose us. You created this relationship we have. We are your people, therefore, if this battle is lost, you lose." Asa says, "let not man prevail against thee."
That is exactly the ground we stand on in our prayers before God. "If God be for us who can be against us?" is Paul's cry in Romans 8(:31). The Book of Hebrews tells us we are not to love money or seek after those things, because, God says, "I have said I will never, never, ever, ever leave you nor forsake you," Hebrews13:5b). If we cry, "If God is our helper," what can man do unto us? This is what King Asa is crying. Any defeat would be God's defeat. Asa stands upon that relationship.
That relationship gives us boldness too. We are invited to come before God and ask for help because we are sons. Again, Hebrews tells us, "Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need," Hebrews 4:16). We are invited to come boldly because it is not only a possibility; God himself promises that we will obtain mercy and find grace. It is already ours to help in time of need, so we are exhorted to come boldly.
Now let us look at the result of this prayer. Verse 12:
So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. (2 Chronicles 14:12 RSV)
Everything is put in that one brief sentence, but what a battle that must have been. There was an immediate and overwhelming victory; a thorough and complete rout of the enemy. We are told (Verse 13):
Asa and the people with him pursued them as far as Gerar, and the Ethiopians fell until none remained alive; for they were broken before the Lord and his army. The men of Judah carried away very much booty. And they smote all the cities round about Gerar, for the fear of the Lord was upon them. They plundered all the cities, for there was much plunder in them. And they smote the tents of those who had cattle, and carried away sheep in abundance and camels. They returned to Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 14:13-15 RSV)
The Ethiopians were accompanied by great herds of animals, together with supplies, which Asa captured.
We might leave the story there were it not for a very fascinating sequel which is traced in Chapters 15 and 16 of Second Chronicles. In both of those chapters, King Asa is met by a prophet of God (a different prophet in each chapter), each of whom has a quite contrasting message for him: First, immediately following the battle with the Ethiopians, Asa is met by the prophet Azariah, who emphasizes the human responsibility in prayer and walking closely with God. Chapter 15:
The Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded, and he went out to meet Asa, and said to him, "Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Lord is with you, while you are with him. [A very important principle: The Lord is with you when you are with him.] If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you." (2 Chronicles 15:1-2 RSV)
That sounds like a contradiction of the very thing we just quoted from Hebrews "I will never, never, ever, ever leave you nor forsake you." But we have to understand that this is the language of experience here. The reality is that God never does forsake us, but he seems to. In our experience we sense that we are alone. We do not hear his voice; we do not feel any inner witness or response, so it looks like he has forsaken us. But this is God's way of reminding us that in some sense we have forsaken him. Therefore, the reminder is, "The Lord is with you when you are with him."
Now we must always remember that none of this is possible to us without God's gracious spirit at work in our own hearts. (We will not turn to him unless he is at work in us.) But the point is that the choice of whether we walk in the power of the Spirit available to us is ours. We can choose to be with him and seek his face, and when we do he promises that he will be found by us. On the other hand, if we do not do this he will leave us, apparently; we will feel abandoned and left alone. Now God has not delivered us over entirely, but it feels that way. This includes more than prayer. It also means meditating, seeking his face, confessing our sins, whatever. But this phrase, "If you seek him," clearly refers to prayer.
Here is a helpful quote on the ministry of prayer from the writings of Reginald E. O. White, which I would like to share with you:
Prayer lies at the heart of all experience of God. In prayer God is known and met and touched. In prayer all our knowledge about God kindles into life. Our understanding of the Scripture gains personal illumination and power. Our whole conduct and career passes consciously under the divine judgment. In prayer the soul is molded and attuned to fresh obedience and confronted with new duty. Our relationship to others is seen in a new perspective, and conscience grows tender again. In prayer vision is clarified, the horizons are broadened, the goal becomes better defined and the inner resources by which the soul lives are replenished from eternal springs of power, hopefulness and peace. Prayerless religion is mere theory.
Now look at the results of the prophecy of Azariah. Verse 8:
When Asa heard these words, the prophecy of Azariah the son of Oded, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim, and he repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the vestibule of the house of the Lord. (2 Chronicles 15:8 RSV)
The rest of the chapter outlines how Asa gathered the tribes together and they had a great time of cleansing and renewal before God, of the heart being changed as well as the outward behavior being adjusted. A period of some thirty years of peace was granted to them because they set their hearts to walk with God, to obey what he had said to do. God responded by leading them into this place of renewal and cleansing and blessing.
In Chapter 16 there is a different story, however. Some thirty years later, the Kingdom of Judah is now threatened by Baasha, the king of Israel (the northern tribes). Baasha comes down and begins to build up defenses in a border town, which make it obvious that he is going to attack the king of Judah. But this time Asa does not turn to the Lord.
Here is a picture of what happens when Asa relies on his own rationality. He began to play politics, and did a strange thing: He robbed the treasure of the temple of God and sent the money up to the king of Syria, on the northern side of Israel. Using the money from the temple, Asa suborned the king of Syria, that is, he bought his loyalty, and urged him to break the peace treaty between Syria and Israel and launch an attach upon Israel from the north. And it worked. The king of Syria came against the king of Israel and took some of his cities. Asa must have thought he was pretty clever. He had worked it all out himself. But now God sends another prophet to meet him. Verse 7:
At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said to him, "Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you." (2 Chronicles 16:7 RSV)
That is a remarkable revelation. It indicates that if Asa had walked with God in this circumstance (as he had when the Ethiopians came against him) God would not only have overcome the threat from Israel, but he would have delivered the king of Syria and his armies into his hands too. Because he chose to walk by his own cleverness and his own rationality, however, Asa lost this great opportunity. Furthermore, Hanani goes on (Verse 8),
"Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with exceedingly many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand." (2 Chronicles 16:8 RSV)
There follows a great verse, one I urge you to memorize:
"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show his might in behalf of those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this; for from now on you will have wars." (2 Chronicles 16:9 RSV)
There is one further reference to King Asa, in Verse 12:
In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe; yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but sought help from physicians. (2 Chronicles 16:12 RSV)
That disease led to his eventual death. God sent the prophet to point out to Asa that his reliance upon his own wisdom and cleverness was very destructive. It meant, first, a lost opportunity for a great victory he could have had. It meant, second, a very troubled future: "You are going to have wars from now on," he was told. It also meant a very personal, painful reminder in his own body that something had gone wrong with his walk -- his feet became diseased. God speaks in these symbolic terms to us all through the Scriptures. This was a symbol to Asa that something had gone with his walk.
When Jesus gathered with his disciples in the Upper Room, he took the basin but did not wash their whole bodies. (That had already been done, he said, when they believed in the word of the Lord.) He washed their feet. That was where they had gone wrong.
So these Scriptures remind us that this is the problem area. This is the subtle danger of resting on our own resources, not upon God to work and use those resources. Our ultimate trust must be in God himself.
The great question we face in our spiritual life is this: On whom or what do we count for success? Is it on man, or God, on money, or the Spirit of God, on the flesh, or the Spirit? That is how we can tell whether our solutions are God's solutions or not. What happens if it fails? Is God going to be put to the test and shamed, or are we and others whom we are counting on shamed?
Work according to God's promise. That is where the life of faith begins. (Prayers Resources, Ray Stedman)
"But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites—-from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not fully follow the Lord, as did his father David. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, on the hill that is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the people of Ammon. And he did likewise for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.
So the Lord became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the Lord had commanded." (1 Kings 11:1-10)
“Now when I had delivered the purchase deed to Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed to the LORD, saying:
‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. ‘You show lovingkindness to thousands, and repay the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them—the Great, the Mighty God, whose name is the LORD of hosts. ‘You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for Your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings. ‘You have set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, to this day, and in Israel and among other men; and You have made Yourself a name, as it is this day. ‘You have brought Your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and with great terror; ‘You have given them this land, of which You swore to their fathers to give them—“a land flowing with milk and honey.” ‘And they came in and took possession of it, but they have not obeyed Your voice or walked in Your law. They have done nothing of all that You commanded them to do; therefore You have caused all this calamity to come upon them.
‘Look, the siege mounds! They have come to the city to take it; and the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans who fight against it, because of the sword and famine and pestilence. What You have spoken has happened; there You see it! ‘And You have said to me, O Lord GOD, “Buy the field for money, and take witnesses”!—yet the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’ ”
God’s Assurance of the People’s Return
Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me? “Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it.‘And the Chaldeans who fight against this city shall come and set fire to this city and burn it, with the houses on whose roofs they have offered incense to Baal and poured out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke Me to anger; ‘because the children of Israel and the children of Judah have done only evil before Me from their youth. For the children of Israel have provoked Me only to anger with the work of their hands,’ says the LORD. ‘For this city has been to Me a provocation of My anger and My fury from the day that they built it, even to this day; so I will remove it from before My face ‘because of all the evil of the children of Israel and the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke Me to anger—they, their kings, their princes, their priests, their prophets, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. ‘And they have turned to Me the back, and not the face; though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not listened to receive instruction.
‘But they set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. ‘And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.’
“Now therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, ‘It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence’: ‘Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. ‘They shall be My people, and I will be their God; ‘then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. ‘And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. ‘Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.’
“For thus says the LORD: ‘Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them. ‘And fields will be bought in this land of which you say, “ It is desolate, without man or beast; it has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans.” ‘Men will buy fields for money, sign deeds and seal them, and take witnesses, in the land of Benjamin, in the places around Jerusalem, in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the lowland, and in the cities of the South; for I will cause their captives to return,’ says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 32:18-44)
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; he raised up altars for Baal, and made a wooden image, as Ahab king of Israel had done; and he worshiped all he host of heaven and served them. He also built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put My name.” And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. Also he made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. He even set a carved image of Asherah that he had made, in the house of which the Lord had said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever; and I will not make the feet of Israel wander anymore from the land which I gave their fathers—only if they are careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that My servant Moses commanded them.” But they paid no attention, and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord-had destroyed before the children of Israel. (2 Kings 21:1-9)
A motley lot those kings! Nineteen kings ruled in the Northern Tribes (all bad); 20 kings in Jerusalem, only 8 were "good."
The Indictment of Israel 722 BC
For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. Also the children of Israel secretly did against the Lord their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom the Lord had carried away before them; and they did wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger, for they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.”
Yet the Lord testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.” Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God. And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them that they should not do like them. So they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone.
Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight. For He tore Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them commit a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities. And it was so, at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they did not fear the Lord; therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them. So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, “The nations whom you have removed and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the rituals of the God of the land; therefore He has sent lions among them, and indeed, they are killing them because they do not know the rituals of the God of the land.” Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, “Send there one of the priests whom you brought from there; let him go and dwell there, and let him teach them the rituals of the God of the land.” Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord.
However every nation continued to make gods of its own, and put them in the shrines on the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities where they dwelt. The men of Babylon made Succoth Benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. So they feared the Lord, and from every class they appointed for themselves priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. They feared the Lord, yet served their own gods—according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away.
To this day they continue practicing the former rituals; they do not fear the Lord, nor do they follow their statutes or their ordinances, or the law and commandment which the Lord had commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel, with whom the Lord had made a covenant and charged them, saying: “You shall not fear other gods, nor bow down to them nor serve them nor sacrifice to them; but the Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, Him you shall worship, and to Him you shall offer sacrifice. And the statutes, the ordinances, the law, and the commandment which He wrote for you, you shall be careful to observe forever; you shall not fear other gods. And the covenant that I have made with you, you shall not forget, nor shall you fear other gods. But the Lord your God you shall fear; and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.” However they did not obey, but they followed their former rituals. So these nations feared the Lord, yet served their carved images; also their children and their children’s children have continued doing as their fathers did, even to this day. (2 Kings 17:7-41)
Only recently have scholars begun to unravel the complex religious rituals of Israel's Canaanite neighbors. Much of our knowledge of the origins and character of these fertility cults remains tentative and widely debated. What we do know reveals dark, seductive practices that continued to entice the people God had chosen to be his witnesses.
THE ORIGINS OF JUDAISM
The people of Israel developed their faith in the wilderness. Abraham lived in the Negev desert, where God made his covenant of blood with him and sealed it with circumcision. Moses met God in a burning bush in the desert, where he learned the greatness of God's name and received his commission to bring the Hebrews out of Egypt. God spoke to his people on Mount Sinai and reestablished his covenant with them in the Ten Commandments. Throughout the Israelites? 40-year journey in the wilderness, their Lord accompanied them, protected them, fed them, and guided them to the Promised Land. There was no doubt that Yahweh was God of the wilderness.YAHWEH OR BAAL?
When the Israelites entered Canaan, they found a land of farmers, not shepherds, as they had been in the wilderness. The land was fertile beyond anything the Hebrew nomads had ever seen. The Canaanites attributed this fertility to their god Baal,and that is where the Israelites problems began. Could the God who had led them out of Egypt and through the wilderness also provide fertile farms in the Promised Land? Or would the fertility god of Canaan have to be honored? Maybe, to be safe, they should worship both;Yahweh and Baal.
An intense battle began for the minds and hearts of God's people. The book of Judges records the ongoing struggle: the Israelites attraction to, and worship of, the Canaanite gods; God's disciplinary response; the people's repentance; and God's merciful forgiveness until the next time the Israelites reached for Baal instead of Yahweh.
Under the kings, this spiritual battle continued. By the time of Ahab and Jezebel, the fertility cults appeared to have the official sanction of Israel's leaders. Ahab, with his wife's encouragement, built a temple to Baal at his capital, Samaria. All the while, prophets like Elijah (which means ? Yahweh is God?), Hosea, Isaiah, and Jeremiah thundered that Yahweh alone deserved the people?s allegiance. It took the Assyrian destruction of Israel and the Babylonian Captivity of Judah to convince the Israelites that there is only one omnipotent God.
This struggle to be totally committed to God is of vital importance to us today as well. We don't think of ourselves as idol worshipers, yet we struggle to serve God alone in every part of our lives. It is easy (and seductive) to honor possessions, fun, relationships, fame, money, and a host of other potential "gods."
We need to learn from Israel's experience and respond to Jesus' command for total allegiance. One way we can accomplish this is to study the gods that attracted Yahweh's people 3,000 years ago.CANAAN'S GODS
The earliest deity recognized by the peoples of the ancient Near East was the creator god El. His mistress, the fertility goddess Asherah, gave birth to many gods, including a powerful god named Baal ("Lord"). There appears to have been only one Baal, who was manifested in lesser Baals at different places and times. Over the years, Baal became the dominant deity, and the worship of El faded.
Baal won his dominance by defeating the other deities, including the god of the sea, the god of storms (also of rain, thunder, and lightning), and the god of death. Baal's victory over death was thought to be repeated each year when he returned from the land of death (underworld), bringing rain to renew the earth's fertility. Hebrew culture viewed the sea as evil and destructive, so Baal?s promise to prevent storms and control the sea, as well as his ability to produce abundant harvests, made him attractive to the Israelites. It's hard to know why Yahweh's people failed to see that he alone had power over these things. Possibly, their desert origins led them to question God's sovereignty over fertile land. Or maybe it was simply the sinful pagan practices that attracted them to Baal.
Baal is portrayed as a man with the head and horns of a bull, an image similar to that in biblical accounts. His right hand (sometimes both hands) is raised, and he holds a lightning bolt, signifying both destruction and fertility. Baal has also been portrayed seated on a throne, possibly as the king or lord of the gods.Asherah
Asherah was honored as the fertility goddess in various forms and with varying names (Judges 3:7). The Bible does not actually describe the goddess, but archaeologists have discovered figurines believed to be representations of her. She is portrayed as a nude female, sometimes pregnant, with exaggerated breasts that she holds out, apparently as symbols of the fertility she promises her followers. The Bible indicates that she was worshiped near trees and poles, called Asherah poles (Deuteronomy 7:5, 12:2-3; 2 Kings 16:4, 17:10; Jeremiah 3:6,13; Ezekiel 6:13).CULTIC PRACTICES
Baal's worshipers appeased him by offering sacrifices, usually animals such as sheep or bulls (1 Kings 18:23). Some scholars believe that the Canaanites also sacrificed pigs and that God prohibited his people from eating pork in part to prevent this horrible cult from being established among them. (See Isa. 65:1-5 for an example of Israel's participating in the pagan practices of the Canaanites.) At times of crisis, Baal's followers sacrificed their children, apparently the firstborn of the community, to gain personal prosperity. The Bible called this practice "detestable" (Deuteronomy 12:31, 18:9-10). God specifically appointed the tribe of Levi as his special servants, in place of the firstborn of the Israelites, so they had no excuse for offering their children (Numbers 3:11-13). The Bible's repeated condemnation of child sacrifice shows God's hated of it, especially among his people.
Asherah was worshiped in various ways, including through ritual sex. Although she was believed to be Baal's mother, she was also his mistress. Pagans practiced "sympathetic magic", that is, they believed they could influence the gods' actions by performing the behavior they wished the gods to demonstrate. Believing the sexual union of Baal and Asherah produced fertility, their worshipers engaged in immoral sex to cause the gods to join together, ensuring good harvests. This practice became the basis for religious prostitution (1 Kings 14:23-24). The priest or a male member of the community represented Baal. The priestess or a female members of the community represented Asherah. In this way, God's incredible gift of sexuality was perverted to the most obscene public prostitution. No wonder God's anger burned against his people and their leaders.PAGAN RELIGIONS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Many, if not all, of the Old Testament gods had disappeared, at least in name, by the time of Jesus. Beelzebub, based on the Philistine god Baalzebul, had become a synonym for the prince of demons, Satan. Many of the ancient pagan deities lived on, however, now identified with the gods of the Greeks and Romans, the nations who controlled the people of Israel before and during New Testament times. It is not appropriate here to discuss all the gods and goddesses of the Greco-Roman pantheon; however, a few of them were significant in the first century, and some are even mentioned by name in the Bible.
The leader of the gods, Zeus (Jupiter to the Romans), took on the role of Baal, the god of weather or storms. Artemis, the goddess of childbirth and fertility, and Aphrodite, the goddess of love, continued the Asherah cults under a new name (Acts 19:35), but with worship practices that were as immoral as ever. It is said that in Corinth alone, there were more than 1,000 prostitutes in Aphrodite's temple. Hades, the Greek god of the underworld, became the namesake for the place of the dead and even for hell itself. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus referred to the gates of Hades, or the underworld, believed by some to be the grotto at Caesarea Philippi, from which one of the sources of the Jordan River came. The grotto itself was part of a temple complex used in the worship of the Greek god Pan.
Pan was depicted as an ugly man with the horns, legs, and ears of a goat. Most stories about him refer to sexual affairs. The worship practices of his followers were no different. Pan was associated with Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and orgies, whose worshipers continued many of the sexual rites of the Old Testament gods of the Baal cult. Dionysus was worshiped in the pagan Decapolis across the Sea of Galilee from the center of Jesus' ministry. Clearly, though the names of the gods had changed, the people?s worship practices had not. Only the child sacrifice of the Baal cult came to an end with the Greeks and Romans.MAGIC AND THE OCCULT
Many ancient peoples practiced magic. They foretold the future by examining animal entrails or by watching flights of birds. The Greeks had oracles, shrines where gods supposedly communicated the future to priests and priestesses. Demon possession was a topic of much fascination. Many sorcerers claimed to have the ability to cast out demons (Acts 8:9-24, 13:6-12), as did some Pharisees. Because the Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, recognized the reality of the demonic world and condemned all of its practices (Deuteronomy 18:10-12,20; Micah 5:2; 1 Cor. 10:20-21), we can be sure these practices continued and were a temptation to many.
Jesus provided the ultimate solution to resisting the seductiveness of pagan idol worship. He showed that he alone held power over the demons, sending them into the Abyss (Luke 8:31). He promised his disciples that his church would overcome all evil, even the gates of Hades itself.
CONCLUSION: Though today our gods--such as money, power, and possessions, are less "personalized" than in ancient times, the temptations for us are no less enticing. We would do well to remember the complete powerlessness of the pagan gods, from Baal, Canaan's bloodthirsty fertility god, to Hades, Greek god of the underworld, to prevail against the one true God and his Son, Jesus Christ. (That the World May Know, Ray Van Der Laan)
"Judah’s syncretistic worship was reflected in the practice of swearing by the Lord and, at the same time, by Milcom, who may be either the Ammonite deity of 1 Kings 11:5, 33 or Molech, the worship of whom included child sacrifice, astrology and temple prostitution (cf. Lev. 18:21; 2 Kin 17:16; Ezekiel 23:37; Amos 5:25, 26; Acts 7:40-43)."---The MacArthur Bible Commentary, John MacArthur, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005, p. 1038.
We know from the Bible and from experience that God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. The Bible tells us that again and again.
A question I’ve been asked is, “How could a good God command the Israelites to slaughter every man, woman, child, and even animal in the cities of the Canaanite nations? Isn't this the same God that listed ‘Thou shalt not kill?’ in the 10 Commandments?”
In Deuteronomy 20:16-17, God gives these instructions to Israel:
I think it’s important to be able to answer to this question for our neighbors. As most of you know, the sixth commandment is actually, “Thou shalt not murder” rather than “Thou shalt not kill.” There is a difference. God does not call all killing “murder”.
But what about infants and tiny babies? The command says to kill everything that breathes. This is a judgment on the people of Canaan, similar to the Flood or Sodom and Gomorrah. What was going on in Canaan that was so bad that God ordered even children killed? People who want reasons to reject the Bible often point to this as an immoral command. But we know God is perfectly righteous. How do you explain it?
First of all, we need to remember that God created us. He gave life and it is His right to take it back. He is not accountable to us for what He chooses to do. We are accountable to Him.
Second, recall that the Canaanites had seen Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed completely. This was a warning that God would judge wickedness. So many horrible things were happening in Sodom that the angel of the Lord said in Genesis 18:20-21,
Ancient stories give hints about the evil in Sodom. Strangers and travelers who came into the city would be robbed, stripped, and held captive within the city. They would wander the streets slowly starving to death, to the great amusement of the citizenry. One account relates that visitors to Sodom were offered a bed according to the Middle Eastern laws of hospitality, but it was a bed of torture. Short people were stretched. Tall people had their legs cut off. If a traveler had no money, he would be given bricks of gold and silver with his name on them! But nobody would sell him bread and water, even for all that gold and silver, so the traveler slowly died of starvation. The Sodomites gathered around the corpse and took back the gold and silver. The people in Sodom were not just evil, they were proud of being evil. Imagine being a child in a place like that!
These stories give us a hint of how bad things had gotten in Sodom. It was probably worse than our imaginations can conceive. The Canaanites knew about the destruction of Sodom. They knew that God would judge evil. They also knew about Melchizedek and Abraham. They had access to truth. They weren’t ignorant or innocent. Egypt and other nations, despite their great sin, were not completely destroyed, so the sin of the Canaanites must have been more serious. God restricted Israel from attacking Edom, Moab and Ammon, so despite their sins, they must not have deserved such a severe judgment.
Leviticus 18 and 20 list some of the detestable religious practices of the Canaanites and says that these acts caused the land to become defiled, so that its inhabitants were "vomited out." This comes with the warning that if the Israelites copy those practices, the land will also vomit them out. That is exactly what happened after the Israelites adopted the practices of Canaan.
Archeology gives some hints about what the Canaanites did. On one High Place, archaeologists found several stone pillars and great numbers of jars containing remains of newborn babies. When a new house was built, a child would be sacrificed and its body built into the wall to bring good luck to the rest of the family. Firstborn children were often sacrificed to Molech, a giant hollow bronze image in which a fire was built. Parents placed their children in its red hot hands and the babies would roll down into the fire. The sacrifice was invalid if a parent displayed grief. Mothers were supposed to dance and sing. The Israelites later copied this practice in a valley near Jerusalem called Gehenna. Hundreds of jars containing infant bones have been found there.
This seems horrible. But is our culture superior? I was shocked to learn that in the United States, there are more than 3600 abortions every day, day after day. The number of legal abortions every year far exceeds the number of U.S. soldiers killed in every war since the nation began!
There was a great deal of sexual sin among the Canaanites. They believed that cultic prostitution was important to encourage their gods, Baal and Ashtoreth to mate so that the land would be fertile and rain would come. VD may have been rampant. Many young people forced into prostitution were abused to the point of death. Even the surrounding pagan nations were appalled by Canaanite religious practices.
Yet God did not hurry to judge the Canaanites. In Genesis 15:16, God tells Abraham:
God gave the Canaanites 400 years while Israel was in Egypt. After Israel passed through the Red Sea, He waited 40 more years while Israel wandered in the wilderness. The people of Canaan knew Israel was coming, and that God had given the land to them, according to the Rahab, a Canaanite, in Joshua 2:9:
Jericho had six additional days to repent while Israel did laps around it. The day judgment finally came to Jericho, Israel marched around the city seven times. God judges swiftly when He finally acts, but He patiently warns and allows time for repentance.
Families who wished could have migrated out of the land and settled in nearby areas. God said repeatedly that he would drive out the inhabitants of the land before Israel. Those who wished to leave had time and opportunity. The point was to destroy the evil Canaanite culture rather than the individual Canaanite people. Only individuals who stubbornly refused to leave were destroyed with military force, along with their children, who could not have survived without parents. God gave no instructions to hunt down and kill Canaanites who left the land peacefully. Later in the Bible, Canaanite individuals like Uriah the Hittite show up as righteous characters. Rahab herself was a Canaanite harlot who repented before Jericho was destroyed. She is an ancestor of Jesus Himself. God’s judgment was not based on racism or favoritism.
God is never arbitrary or unjust, despite how some events appear at first glance. The same people who are angry because God doesn’t do anything about all the evil in the world are the first to cry foul when He exacts judgment. But those of us who know Him trust that His perfect justice. He knows all the aggravating and mitigating circumstances. We do not. His patience and forgiveness are immense. He waits for repentance. He gives people an opportunity to choose between salvation and judgment. He won't wait forever. Judgment, at some point, is certain.
Baal, Ashtoreth and Molech – God’s Old Testament rivals
Baal - Ancient Deity - Britannica
Ba'al Worship: Jewish Virtual Library
The Largest Ba'al Worship Service...is in America
Worshiping the god of Sex
Ba'al Worship Comes to America
Is Ba'al Worship Going on in the United States?
Asherah and Ashterim: Goddess or Cult Symbol?
Sodom and Gomorrah: Canaanite Cities which Abraham Visited
Jehoaphat Defeats the Porn Kings
Judah (and Benjamin)
Israel (Ten Northern Tribes)
|1. Rehoboam||931-913||17 years||Bad||Shemaiah||1. Jeroboam I||931-910||22 years||Bad||Ahijah|
|2. Abijah||913-911||3 years||Bad||2. Nadab||910-909||2 years||Bad|
|3. Asa||911-870||41 years||Good||3. Baasha||909-886||24 years||Bad|
|4. Elah||886-885||2 years||Bad|
|5. Zimri||885||7 days||Bad|
|6. Omri||885-874*||12 years||Bad||Elijah Micaiah|
|4. Jehoshaphat||870-848*||25 years||Good||7. Ahab||874-853||22 years||Bad|
|5. Jehoram||848-841*||8 years||Bad||8. Ahaziah||853-852||2 years||Bad|
|6. Ahaziah||841||1 years||Bad||9. Joram||852-841||12 years||Bad||Elisha|
|7. Athaliah||841-835||6 years||Bad||10. Jehu||841-814||28 years||Bad|
|8. Joash||835-796||40 years||Good||Joel||11. Jehoahaz||814-798||17 years||Bad||Jonah Amos Hosea|
|9. Amaziah||796-767||29 years||Good||12. Jehoash||798-782||16 years||Bad|
|10. Uzziah (Azariah)||767-740*||52 years||Good|| Isaiah
|13. Jeroboam II||782-753*||41 years||Bad|
|11. Jotham||740-732*||16 years||Good||14. Zechariah||753-752||6 mo||Bad|
|12. Ahaz||732-716||16 years||Bad||15. Shallum||752||1 mo||Bad|
|13. Hezekiah||716-687||29 years||Good||16. Menahem||752-742||10 years||Bad|
|14. Manasseh||687-642*||55 years||Bad/Repented|| Nahum
|17. Pekahiah||742-740||2 years||Bad|
|15. Amon||642-640||2 years||Bad||18. Pekah||740-732*||20 years||Bad|
|16. Josiah||640-608||31 years||Good||19. Hoshea||732-712||9 years||Bad|
|17. Jehoahaz||608||3 mo||Bad||722 BC Fall of Samaria to Assyria|
|18. Jehoiakim||608-597||11 years||Bad||
|19. Jehoiachin||597||3 mos||Bad|
|20. Zedekiah||597-586||11 years||Bad|
|Destruction of Jerusalem, 9th Av, 586 BC, Babylonian Captivity|
| 1. Josiah
Reigned 31 years (640-609 BC)
| 2. Jehoahaz (Shallum)
Reigned 3 months (609 BC)
Taken prisoner to Egypt by Pharaoh Neco
| 3. Jehoiakim (Eliakim)
Reigned 11 years (609-598 BC)
Died in Jerusalem
| 5. Zedekiah
Reigned 11 years (597--586 BC)
Taken prisoner to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar
| 4. Jehoichin (Jeconiah,
Reigned 3 months (December 9, 598 - March 16, 597 BC)
Taken prisoner to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar (with Ezekiel)