Abijah, King of Judah
Abijah became the new king of Judah. This was during the 18th year that Jeroboam son of Nebat ruled Israel. Abijah ruled in Jerusalem for three years. His mother’s name was Maacah. She was the daughter of Uriel, from the town of Gibeah. And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. Abijah’s army had 400,000 brave soldiers. Abijah led that army into battle. Jeroboam’s army had 800,000 brave soldiers. Jeroboam got ready to have a war with Abijah.
Then Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim in the hill country of Ephraim and said, “Jeroboam and all Israel, listen to me! You should know that the LORD, the God of Israel, gave David and his sons the right to be king over Israel forever. God gave this right to David with an agreement of salt.* But Jeroboam turned against his master. Jeroboam son of Nebat was one of the servants of David’s son Solomon. Then worthless, evil men became friends with Jeroboam. Then Jeroboam and the bad men turned against Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. Rehoboam was young and did not have experience. So he could not stop Jeroboam and his bad friends.
Now, you people have decided to defeat the LORD’S kingdomthe kingdom that is ruled by David’s sons. You have so many people with you and you have the golden calvesthe ‘gods’ that Jeroboam made for you. You threw out the LORD’S priests, the descendants of Aaron. And you threw out the Levites. Then you chose your own priests, as every other nation on earth does. And now, anyone who will bring a young bull and seven rams can become a priest to serve these ‘no-gods.’
10 But as for us, the LORD is our God. We people of Judah have not refused to obey God. We have not left him. The priests who serve the LORD are Aaron’s sons, and the Levites help the priests in their work. 11 They offer burnt offerings and burn incense of spices to the LORD every morning and every evening. They put the bread in rows on the special table in the Temple. And they take care of the lamps on the golden lampstand so that it shines bright each and every evening. We very carefully serve the LORD our God, but you people have abandoned him. 12 God himself is with us. He is our ruler, and his priests are with us. God’s priests blow his trumpets to wake you up and make you excited about coming to him. Men of Israel, don’t fight against the LORD, God of your ancestors, because you will not succeed!”
13 But Jeroboam sent a group of soldiers to sneak behind Abijah’s army. Jeroboam’s army was in front of Abijah’s army. The hidden soldiers from Jeroboam’s army were behind Abijah’s army. 14 When the soldiers in Abijah’s army from Judah looked around, they saw Jeroboam’s army attacking both in front and in back. The men of Judah shouted out to the LORD and the priests blew the trumpets. 15 Then the men in Abijah’s army shouted. When the men of Judah shouted, God defeated Jeroboam’s army. Jeroboam’s whole army from Israel was defeated by Abijah’s army from Judah. 16 The men of Israel ran away from the men of Judah. God let the army from Judah defeat the army from Israel. 17 Abijah’s army greatly defeated the army of Israel, and 500,000 of the best men of Israel were killed. 18 So at that time the Israelites were defeated, and the people of Judah won. The army from Judah won because they depended on the LORD, the God of their ancestors.
19 Abijah’s army chased Jeroboam’s army, and they captured the towns of Bethel, Jeshanah, and Ephron from Jeroboam. They captured the towns and the small villages near them.
20 Jeroboam never became strong again while Abijah lived. The LORD killed Jeroboam, 21 but Abijah became strong. He married 14 women and was the father of 22 sons and 16 daughters. 22 Everything else Abijah did is written in the books of the prophet Iddo.
* 13:5 agreement of salt When people ate salt together, it meant their agreement of friendship would never be broken. Abijah was saying here that God had made an agreement with David that would never be broken. 13:14 When the soldiers … in back The standard Hebrew text has “The battle was in front and in the back.”