From Bible Encyclopedia
ā´sa (אסא, 'āṣā', “healer” or "physician"; Ἀσά, Asá):
(1) The third king of Judah, the third one after the separation of Judah and Israel. He was the son of Abijah and grandson of Rehoboam. Maacah, his mother, or rather grandmother, was daughter of Abishalom (Absalom) (1 Kings 15:1). He was zealous in maintaining the true worship of God, and in rooting all idolatry, with its accompanying immoralities, out of the land (1 Kings 15; 8-14). The Lord gave him and his land rest and prosperity. It is recorded of him, however, that in his old age, when afflicted, he “sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians” (compare Jeremiah 17:5). He died in the forty-first year of his reign, greatly honored by his people (2 Chronicles 16:1-13), and was succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat. The first ten years of his reign were prosperous and peaceful (2 Chronicles 14:1). He introduced many reforms, such as putting away the sodomites or male prostitutes, removing idols from holy places, breaking down altars, pillars and Asherim. He even deposed the “queen mother” because of her idolatrous practices, and of the image which she had made for Asherah (1 Kings 15:12; 2 Chronicles 14:3). Though the king himself, in the main, was a zealous reformer, his subjects did not always keep pace with him (1 Kings 15:17). With an army of 580,000 he repelled an attack of Zerah, the Ethiopian, and routed him completely at Mareshah in the lowlands of Judah (2 Chronicles 14:6). Directed and encouraged by Azariah the prophet, he carried on a great revival. Having restored the great altar of burnt offering in the temple, he assembled the people for a renewal of their covenant with Yahweh. On this occasion 700 oxen and 7,000 sheep were offered in sacrifice. For the next twenty years there was apparently great prosperity and peace throughout his kingdom, but in the thirty-sixth year of his reign, Judah was attacked by Baasha, king of Israel, at all times hostile to Judah (1 Kings 15:32). Baasha continued to encroach and finally fortified Ramah as a frontier fortress. Asa, faint-hearted, instead of putting his entire trust in Yahweh, made an alliance with Ben-Hadad, of Damascus. The Syrian king, in consideration of a large sum of money and much treasure from the temple at Jerusalem, consented to attack the northern portion of Baasha's territory. It was at this favorable moment that Asa captured Ramah, and with the vast building material collected there by Baasha, he built Geba of Benjamin and Mizpah (1 Kings 15:16-22). This lack of faith in Yahweh was severely criticized by Hanani the prophet. Asa, instead of listening patiently to this prophet of God, was greatly offended and enraged and Hanani was put in prison (2 Chronicles 16:1-10). Three years later, Asa was attacked by gout or some disease of the feet. Here again he is accused of lack of faith, for “he sought not to Yahweh, but to the physicians” (2 Chronicles 16:12). Having ruled forty-one years, he died and was buried with great pomp in a tomb erected by himself in the city of David, i.e. Jerusalem. On the whole his reign was very successful, but it is sad to chronicle that as the years rolled on he became less and less faithful to Yahweh and His law.