14:2 (14:1) Asa did what the Lord his God desired and approved. 14:3 He removed the pagan altars and the high places, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. 14:4 He ordered Judah to seek the Lord God of their ancestors and to observe his law and commands. 14:5 He removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah. The kingdom had rest under his rule.
14:6 He built fortified cities throughout Judah, for the land was at rest and there was no war during those years; the Lord gave him peace. 14:7 He said to the people of Judah: “Let’s build these cities and fortify them with walls, towers, and barred gates. The land remains ours because we have followed the Lord our God and he has made us secure on all sides.” So they built the cities and prospered.
14:8 Asa had an army of 300,000 men from Judah, equipped with large shields and spears. He also had 280,000 men from Benjamin who carried small shields and were adept archers; they were all skilled warriors. 14:9 Zerah the Cushite marched against them with an army of 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots. He arrived at Mareshah, 14:10 and Asa went out to oppose him. They deployed for battle in the Valley of Zephathah near Mareshah.
14:11 Asa prayed to the Lord his God: “O Lord, there is no one but you who can help the weak when they are vastly outnumbered. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you and have marched on your behalf against this huge army. O Lord our God, don’t let men prevail against you!” 14:12 The Lord struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah. The Cushites fled, 14:13 and Asa and his army chased them as far as Gerar. The Cushites were wiped out; they were shattered before the Lord and his army. The men of Judah carried off a huge amount of plunder. 14:14 They defeated all the cities surrounding Gerar, for the Lord caused them to panic. The men of Judah looted all the cities, for they contained a huge amount of goods. 14:15 They also attacked the tents of the herdsmen in charge of the livestock. They carried off many sheep and camels and then returned to Jerusalem.
15:1 God’s Spirit came upon Azariah son of Oded. 15:2 He met Asa and told him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin! The Lord is with you when you are loyal to him. If you seek him, he will respond to you, but if you reject him, he will reject you. 15:3 For a long time Israel had no true God, or priest to instruct them, or law. 15:4 Because of their distress, they turned back to the Lord God of Israel. They sought him and he responded to them. 15:5 In those days no one could travel safely, for total chaos had overtaken all the people of the surrounding lands. 15:6 One nation was crushed by another, and one city by another, for God caused them to be in great turmoil. 15:7 But as for you, be strong and don’t get discouraged, for your work will be rewarded.”
15:8 When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he was encouraged. He removed the detestable idols from the entire land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities he had seized in the Ephraimite hill country. He repaired the altar of the Lord in front of the porch of the Lord’s temple.
15:9 He assembled all Judah and Benjamin, as well as the settlers from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had come to live with them. Many people from Israel had come there to live when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. 15:10 They assembled in Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign. 15:11 At that time they sacrificed to the Lord some of the plunder they had brought back, including 700 head of cattle and 7,000 sheep. 15:12 They solemnly agreed to seek the Lord God of their ancestors with their whole heart and being. 15:13 Anyone who would not seek the Lord God of Israel would be executed, whether they were young or old, male or female. 15:14 They swore their allegiance to the Lord, shouting their approval loudly and sounding trumpets and horns. 15:15 All Judah was happy about the oath, because they made the vow with their whole heart. They willingly sought the Lord and he responded to them. He made them secure on every side.
15:16 King Asa also removed Maacah his grandmother from her position as queen mother because she had made a loathsome Asherah pole. Asa cut down her Asherah pole and crushed and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 15:17 The high places were not eliminated from Israel, yet Asa was wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord throughout his lifetime. 15:18 He brought the holy items that his father and he had made into God’s temple, including the silver, gold, and other articles.