1Abijah died and was buried in Jerusalem. His son Asa became king in his place, and there was peace in the country for ten years during Asa’s time.
Asa King of Judah
2Asa did what the Lord his God said was good and right. 3He removed the foreign altars and the places where gods were worshiped. He smashed the stone pillars that honored other gods, and he tore down the Asherah idols. 4Asa commanded the people of Judah to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his teachings and commandments. 5He also removed the places where gods were worshiped and the incense altars from every town in Judah. So the kingdom had peace while Asa was king. 6Asa built strong, walled cities in Judah during the time of peace. He had no war in these years, because the Lord gave him peace.
7Asa said to the people of Judah, “Let’s build up these towns and put walls around them. Let’s make towers, gates, and bars in the gates. This country is ours, because we have obeyed the Lord our God. We have followed him, and he has given us peace all around.” So they built and had success.
8Asa had an army of three hundred thousand men from Judah and two hundred eighty thousand men from Benjamin. The men from Judah carried large shields and spears. The men from Benjamin carried small shields and bows and arrows. All of them were brave fighting men.
9Then Zerah from Cush came out to fight them with an enormous army and three hundred chariots. They came as far as the town of Mareshah. 10So Asa went out to fight Zerah and prepared for battle in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.
11Asa called out to the Lord his God, saying, “Lord, only you can help weak people against the strong. Help us, Lord our God, because we depend on you. We fight against this enormous army in your name. Lord, you are our God. Don’t let anyone win against you.”
12So the Lord defeated the Cushites when Asa’s army from Judah attacked them, and the Cushites ran away. 13Asa’s army chased them as far as the town of Gerar. So many Cushites were killed that the army could not fight again; they were crushed by the Lord and his army. Asa and his army carried many valuable things away from the enemy. 14They destroyed all the towns near Gerar, because the people living in these towns were afraid of the Lord. Since these towns had many valuable things, Asa’s army took them away. 15Asa’s army also attacked the camps where the shepherds lived and took many sheep and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.
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