Further Reforms. 1The spirit of God came upon Azariah, son of Oded. 2He went forth to meet Asa and said to him: “Hear me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin! The LORD is with you when you are with him, and if you seek him he will be found; but if you abandon him, he will abandon you.a 3For a long time Israel was without a true God, without a priest-teacher, without instruction, 4but when in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them.b 5At that time there was no peace for anyone to go or come; rather, there were many terrors upon the inhabitants of the lands. 6Nation crushed nation and city crushed city,c for God overwhelmed them with every kind of distress. 7But as for you, be strong and do not slack off, for there shall be a reward for what you do.”d
8When Asa heard these words and the prophecy (Oded the prophet), he was encouraged to remove the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities he had taken in the highlands of Ephraim, and to restore the altar of the LORD which was before the vestibule of the LORD. 9Then he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, together with those of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who were resident with them; for many had defected to him from Israel when they saw that the LORD, his God, was with him. 10They gathered at Jerusalem in the third month* of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign, 11and sacrificed to the LORD on that day seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep from the spoils they had brought. 12e They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul; 13and everyone who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, from least to greatest, man or woman. 14They swore an oath to the LORD with a loud voice, with shouting and with trumpets and horns. 15All Judah rejoiced over the oath, for they had sworn it with their whole heart and sought him with complete desire. The LORD was found by them,f and gave them rest on every side.
16g He also deposed Maacah, the mother* of King Asa, from her position as queen mother because she had made an obscene object for Asherah; Asa cut down this object, smashed it, and burnt it in the Wadi Kidron. 17The high places did not disappear from Israel, yet Asa’s heart was undivided as long as he lived. 18He brought into the house of God his father’s and his own votive offerings: silver, gold, and vessels. 19There was no war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.
* [15:10–12] With this description of a covenant ceremony in “the third month” of a year beginning in the spring, the Chronicler provides a basis for the later understanding of the ancient Jewish spring feast of Weeks as a commemoration of the covenant on Mount Sinai; see Ex 19:1–3; Lv 23:16 and note on Lv 23:16–21. In the Greek period the feast came to be called Pentecost, from the Greek word for “fifty,” i.e., fifty days or seven weeks after Passover. The Chronicler’s presentation here has also influenced the celebration of Christian Pentecost as the “birthday of the Church”; cf. Acts 2.