2 Chronicles 14:9 MEANING

2 Chronicles 14:9
(9) Against them.--Against the army described in last verse. Literally, unto them (Genesis 4:8; Judges 12:3).

Zerah the Ethiopian.--Heb., ha-K-shi. (See Note on 1 Chronicles 1:8 [Cush].) Zerah is identified with Osorchon II., hieroglyphic Uasarken, who succeeded Shishak as king of Egypt. The name of this king is curiously like that of Sargon, the great Assyrian conqueror of the eighth century. (See Note on 2 Chronicles 12:2.) The object of the expedition appears to have been to bring Judah again under the yoke of Egypt. Shishak had made Rehoboam tributary (2 Chronicles 12:8), after reducing his fortresses and plundering Jerusalem. But now Asa had restored the defences of his country, and apparently reorganised the fighting material; steps indicating a desire for national independence.

A thousand thousand.--This very large and symmetrical number would probably be best represented in English by an indefinite expression, like "myriads." It is otherwise out of all proportion to the three hundred chariots, which last seems a correct datum. Syriac and Arabic say "20,000 chariots."

Mareshah.--One of the fortresses of Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:8). It lay in the lowland of Judah, about twenty-six miles south-west of Jerusalem.

Verses 9-15. - The remaining seven verses of this chapter are occupied with the account of the invasion of Zerah the Ethiopian, and the successful defence and reprisals of Asa. Verse 9. - Zerah the Ethiopian; Hebrew, זֶרַח הַכּוּשִׁי, the "Ethiopian," Greek and Septuagint rendering for "Cushite." In its vaguest dimensions Ethiopia, or Cush, designated Africa south of Egypt, but more concisely it meant the lands we now call Nubia, Sennaar, Kordefan, and part of Abyssinia. And these, roughly speaking, were bounded north, south, east, and west respectively by Egypt and Syene, Abyssinia, Red Sea, and Libyan Desert. When, however, Ethiopia proper is spoken of, the name probably designates the kingdom of Meroe (Seba, Genesis 10:7; 1 Chronicles 1:9); and the Assyrian inscriptions make the Cushite name of the deified Nimrod one with Meroe), which was so closely associated at different times with Egypt, that sometimes an Egypt king swayed it (as e.g. some eighteen hundred years before Shishak, Sesostris fourth king of the twelfth dynasty), and sometimes vice versa (as e.g. the three Ethiopian kings of the twenty-fifth dynasty - Shabak (Sabakhou), Sethos (Sebechos), and Tarkos (Tirhakah), whose reigning dates as between Ethiopia and Egypt are not yet certified). The name thus confined covers an irregular circular bulk of country between "the modern Khartoum, where the Astapus joins the true Nile, and the influx of the Astaboras, into their united stream." From the language of Diodorus (1:23), harmonized conjecturally with Strabo (18:821), the region may be counted as 375 miles in circumference and 125 miles in the diameter of the erratic circle, its extreme south point being variously stated, distant from Syene, 873 miles (Pliny, 6:29. § 33); or, according to Mannert's book ('Geogr. d. Alt.,' 10:183), 600 miles by the assertion of Artemidorns, or 625 by that of Eratosthenes. Thence the "Cushite" extended probably to the Euphrates and the Tigris, and through Arabia, Babylonia, and Persia. Some, however, think that the Cushite now intended was the Ethiopian of Arabia, who had settlement near Gerar (Dr. Jamieson, in 'Comm.') as a nomadic horde. Dr. Jamieson quotes Bruce's 'Travels' to support this view, which seems a most improbable, not to say impossible, one nevertheless. The question as to the people intended will perhaps best be found in the solution of the question for whom the name of their king stands (see following note). Zerah. Hebrew as above. It is noteworthy that the four previous occurrences of this name - Genesis 36:13 and 1 Chronicles 1:37, son of Reuel, grandson of Esau; Genesis 38:30 and 1 Chronicles 2:6, son of Judah and Tumor; 1 Chronicles 4:24, son of Simeon; 1 Chronicles 5:6, 26, Hebrew text, son of Iddo, a Gershonite Levite - show it as the name of an Israelite, or descendant of Shem. Our present Zerah is a Cushite, or descendant of Ham. The Septuagint forms of the name are Ζαρέ Ζαρά Ζαρές, or Ζαραέ Ζααραι, or (Alexandrian) Ἀκαρίας. Although Professor Dr. Murphy says ('Handbook: Chronicles,' p. 116) that "it is plain that Zerah was a sovereign of Kush, who in the reign of Takeloth, about B.C. 944, invaded Egypt and penetrated into Asia," the balance of probability, both from the names themselves and the synchronisms of history, corroborated by the composition of Zerah's army (Cushim and Lubim, 2 Chronicles 16:8) and some other tributary considerations, is that our Zerah was Usarken II., the fourth king of the twenty-second dynasty (or possibly Usarken I., the second king of the dynasty). The invasion of the text was probably in Asa's fourteenth year, his reign thus far being dated B.C. 953-940 (or B.C. 933-920 if Manasseh's be taken at only thirty-five instead of fifty-five years). The alleged army of this Zerah was an Egyptian army, largely made of mercenaries (compare the description of Shishak's army, ch. 12:3). The present defeat of Zerah would go far to explain the known decline of the Egyptian power at just this date, i.e. some twenty-five to thirty years after Shishak. At the same time, it must be admitted that it is not possible to identify with certainty Zerah with either Usarken. Whether he is an unknown Arabian Cushite, or an unknown African Cushite of Ethiopia-above-Egypt, or one of the Usarkens, has yet to be pronounced. Mareshah (see our note, 2 Chronicles 11:8). It lay the "second mile" (Eusebius and Jerome) south of Eleutheropolis and between Hebron (1 Maccabees 5:36; 2 Maccabees 12:35) and Ashdod (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 12:08. § 6). The mention of the valley of Zephathah in the following verse will half identify its exact position. It is probable that Dr. Robinson ('Bibl. Res.,' 2:67) and Toblev in his interesting , Dritto Wand.' (pp. 129, 142), have reliably fixed the site one Roman mile south-west of the modern Beit-Jibrin. Mareshah is again mentioned in 2 Chronicles 20:37 and Micah 1:15, as quoted already, in references interesting to be consulted. A thousand thousand. Whether this number be correct or not, it may be noted that it is the largest alleged number of an army given in the Old Testament.

14:1-15 Asa's piety, He strengthens his kingdom. - Asa aimed at pleasing God, and studied to approve himself to him. Happy those that walk by this rule, not to do that which is right in their own eyes, or in the eye of the world, but which is so in God's sight. We find by experience that it is good to seek the Lord; it gives us rest; while we pursue the world, we meet with nothing but vexation. Asa consulted with his people how to make a good use of the peace they enjoyed; and concluded with them that they must not be idle, nor secure. A formidable army of Ethiopians invaded Asa's kingdom. This evil came upon them, that their faith in God might be tried. Asa's prayer is short, but it is the real language of faith and expectation from God. When we go forth in God's name, we cannot but prosper, and all things work together for the good of those whom he favours.And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian, with an host of thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots,.... According to Josephus (b), this army consisted of 900,000 foot, and 100,000 horsemen, and certain it is there were horsemen among them, 2 Chronicles 16:8 some say these were not the Ethiopians in Africa, beyond Egypt, being, as is said, too far off for such an army to travel, and it would be hard to say what should induce them to it; and besides it is urged, the king of Egypt would never have suffered them to pass through his dominions, as they must to come to Judea; but that they were the Cushite Arabs, that inhabited Midian, part of Arabia Petraea, and Arabia Felix, near Judaea; see Gill on Numbers 12:1, but since this great host consisted of Lubim or Libyans, inhabitants of Africa, as well as of Ethiopians, 2 Chronicles 16:8, these Ethiopians seem to be rather those in Africa, who were masters of Egypt and Libya, as well as Ethiopia, quickly after the death of Shishak, or Sesostris, see 2 Chronicles 12:2, which accounts for the size of this army, and their passage through Egypt: that there were two sorts of Ethiopians, the western and eastern ones, the one that dwelt in Africa, the other in Asia, appears clearly from Homer (c), Herodotus (d), and Heliodorus (e), the former of which seem here meant; nor need this army be thought incredible, especially since they were joined by the Lubim or Libyans, and assisted by the Philistines, as appears by what follows; besides, the two armies of Israel and Judah we read of in the preceding chapter, when put together, exceed this; see also 2 Chronicles 17:14, so the armies of Tamerlane and Bajazet, that of the former being 1,600,000, and that of the latter 1,400,000 (f):

and came unto Mareshah; a city in the tribe of Judah, on the borders of it, 2 Chronicles 11:8.

(b) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 12. sect. 1.((c) Odyss. 1. ver. 23, 24. (d) Polymnia, sive, l. 7. c. 69, 70. (e) Ethiopic. l. 9. c. 6. (f) Laonic. Chalcocond. de rebus Turc. l. 3. p. 98, 102.

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