I Kings – Chapter 15

Good King Asa, Bad King Baasa

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Aviyam succeeded Rechavam and was just as bad as his father had been. He was only tolerated by G-d because of the promise made to David. Yaravam was still king over Israel when Aviyam became king over Judah and Aviyam continued the animosity his father had shared with Yaravam. Aviyam only reigned three years; when he died, he was succeeded by Asa. (Yaravam was still ruling Israel.)

Unlike his father and grandfather, Asa was a righteous king. He chased the idolatry and immorality out of the kingdom of Judah. He even deposed the Queen Mother (his grandmother Maacah) because she had made an idol. He chopped up her idol and burned it. The one thing he didn’t do was abolish personal altars to G-d, which were prohibited from the time the Temple was built. But he did contribute large amounts of silver and gold to the Temple.

Yaravam’s son Nadav was succeeded by Baasa. (More about him at the end of the chapter.) There was war between Asa and Baasa. Baasa invaded Judah and built a fortress to seal Asa in. Asa took the gold and silver from the Temple and sent it to Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram. He reminded him of the pact between their countries and asked him to accept the gold and silver in order to drive away Baasa’s forces. Ben-Hadad agreed and Baasa was repelled. The people of Judah dismantled Baasa’s fortress. While his strategy worked, Asa is faulted for using the Temple treasury to hire a foreign army rather than turning to G-d.

When Asa died, he was succeeded by his son Yehoshaphat (Jehoshaphat).

Baasa was not a descendant of Yaravam and Nadav. He was from the Tribe of Issachar and he assassinated Nadav only two years into his reign. This eliminated the house of Yaravam, as G-d had said would happen. Baasa reigned 24 years and was as evil as his predecessors.

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