Abijah

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a-bī´ja (אביּהוּ ר אביּה, 'ăbhīyāh or 'ăbhīyāhū (2 Chronicles 13:20, 2 Chronicles 13:21), “my father is YHWH,” or “YHWH is father”).

The name of six or more men and two women in the Tanakh:

(1) The seventh son of Becher the son of Benjamin (1 Chronicles 7:8). “Abiah” in King James Version.

(2) The wife of Judah's grandson Hezron, to whom was traced the origin of Tekoa (1 Chronicles 2:24).

(3) The second son of prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 8:2; 1 Chronicles 6:13; 1 Chronicles 6:28). His conduct, along with that of his brother, as a judge in Beer-Sheba, to which office his father had appointed him, led to popular discontent, and ultimately provoked the people to demand a royal form of government.

(4) A descendant of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, a chief of one of the twenty-four orders into which the priesthood was divided by David (1 Chronicles 24:10). The order of Abijah was one of those which did not return from the Captivity (Ezra 2:36-39; Nehemiah 7:39-42; Nehemiah 12:1).

A priest of Nehemiah's time, who sealed the covenant (Nehemiah 10:7). Conjecturally the same with the one mentioned in Nehemiah 12:4, Nehemiah 12:17.

(5) The son and successor of Rehoboam king of Judah (1 Chronicles 3:10; 2 Chronicles 11:20 through 14:1). He is also called Abijam (1 Kings 14:31; 1 Kings 15:1-8). As to the variant name Abijam (1 Kings 14:31; 1 Kings 15:1, 1 Kings 15:7, 1 Kings 15:8) see Abijam.

He began his three years' reign (2 Chronicles 12:16; 2 Chronicles 13:1, 2 Chronicles 13:2) with a strenuous but unsuccessful effort to bring back the ten tribes to their allegiance. His address to “Jeroboam and all Israel,” before encountering them in battle, is worthy of being specially noticed (2 Chronicles 13:5-12). It was a very bloody battle, no fewer than 500,000 of the army of Israel having perished on the field. He is described as having walked “in all the sins of his father” (1 Kings 15:3; 2 Chronicles 11:20-22). It is said in 1 Kings 15:2 that “his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom;” but in 2 Chronicles 13:2 we read, “his mother's name was Michaiah, the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah.” The explanation is that Maachah is just a variation of the name Michaiah, and that Abishalom is probably the same as Absalom, the son of David. It is probable that “Uriel of Gibeah” married Tamar, the daughter of Absalom (2 Samuel 14:27), and by her had Maachah. The word “daughter” in 1 Kings 15:2 will thus, as it frequently elsewhere does, mean grand-daughter.

The statements concerning Abijah's mother afford great opportunity for a person who is interested in finding discrepancies in the Bible narrative. She is said to have been Maacah the daughter of Absalom (1 Kings 15:2; 2 Chronicles 11:20, 2 Chronicles 11:21, 2 Chronicles 11:22). As more than 50 years elapsed between the adolescence of Absalom and the accession of Rehoboam, the suggestion at once emerges that she may have been Absalom's daughter in the sense of being his granddaughter. But Maacah the daughter of Absalom was the mother of Asa, Abijam's son and successor (1 Kings 15:10, 1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chronicles 15:16). Further we are explicitly told that Absalom had three sons and one daughter (2 Samuel 14:27). It is inferred that the three sons died young, inasmuch as Absalom before his death built him a monument because he had no son (2 Samuel 18:18). The daughter was distinguished for her beauty, but her name was Tamar, not Maacah. Finally, the narrative tells us that the name of Abijah's mother was “Micaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah” (2 Chronicles 13:2).

It is less difficult to combine all these statements into a consistent account than it would be to combine some pairs of them if taken by themselves. When all put together they make a luminous narrative, needing no help from conjectural theories of discrepant sources or textual errors. It is natural to understand that Tamar the daughter of Absalom married Uriel of Gibeah; that their daughter was Maacah, named for her great-grandmother (2 Samuel 3:3; 1 Chronicles 3:2); that Micaiah is a variant of Maacah, as Abijah is of Abijam. Maacah married Rehoboam, the parties being second cousins on the father's side; if they had been first cousins perhaps they would not have married. Very likely Solomon, through the marriage, hoped to conciliate an influential party in Israel which still held the name of Absalom in esteem; perhaps also he hoped to supplement the moderate abilities of Rehoboam by the great abilities of his wife. She was a brilliant woman, and Rehoboam's favorite (2 Chronicles 11:21). On Abijah's accession she held at court the influential position of king's mother; and she was so strong that she continued to hold it, when, after a brief reign, Abijah was succeeded by Asa; though it was a position from which Asa had the authority to depose her (1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chronicles 15:16).

The account in Chronicles deals mainly with a decisive victory which, it says, Abijah gained over northern Israel (2 Chronicles 13), he having 400,000 men and Jeroboam 800,000, of whom 500,000 were slain. It is clear that these numbers are artificial, and were so intended, whatever may be the key to their meaning. Abijah's speech before the battle presents the same view of the religious situation which is presented in Kings and Amos and Hosea, though with fuller priestly details. The orthodoxy of Abijah on this one occasion is not in conflict with the representation in Kings that he followed mainly the evil ways of his father Rehoboam. In Chronicles coarse luxury and the multiplying of wives are attributed to both father and son.

(6) A son of Jeroboam, the first king of Israel. The narrative describes his sickness and his mother's visit to the prophet Ahijah. He is spoken of as the one member of the house of Jeroboam in whom there was “found some good thing toward YHWH.” With his death the hope of the dynasty perished.

On account of his severe illness when a youth, his father sent his wife to consult the prophet Ahijah regarding his recovery. The prophet, though blind with old age, knew the wife of Jeroboam as soon as she approached, and under a divine impulse he announced to her that inasmuch as in Abijah alone of all the house of Jeroboam there was found “some good thing toward the Lord,” he only would come to his grave in peace. As his mother crossed the threshold of the door on her return, the youth died, and “all Israel mourned for him” (1 Kings 14:1-18).

(7) The daughter of Zechariah and the mother of King Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29:1; compare Isaiah 8:2), and afterwards the wife of Ahaz. She is also called Abi (2 Kings 18:2).

See Abi.

(8) The eighth among “the holy captains and captains of God” appointed by lot by David in connection with the priestly courses (1 Chronicles 24:10). Compare “Zacharias of the course of Abijah” (Luke 1:5).

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