Asa’s Religious Reforms
1Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, 2and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. “Listen to me, Asa!” he shouted. “Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. 3For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them. 4But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him.
5“During those dark times, it was not safe to travel. Problems troubled the people of every land. 6Nation fought against nation, and city against city, for God was troubling them with every kind of problem. 7But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.”
8When Asa heard this message from Azariah the prophet,# As in Syriac version and Latin Vulgate (see also 15:1); Hebrew reads from Oded the prophet. he took courage and removed all the detestable idols from the land of Judah and Benjamin and in the towns he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. And he repaired the altar of the Lord, which stood in front of the entry room of the Lord’s Temple.
9Then Asa called together all the people of Judah and Benjamin, along with the people of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had settled among them. For many from Israel had moved to Judah during Asa’s reign when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. 10The people gathered at Jerusalem in late spring,# Hebrew in the third month. This month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar usually occurs within the months of May and June. during the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign.
11On that day they sacrificed to the Lord 700 cattle and 7,000 sheep and goats from the plunder they had taken in the battle. 12Then they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. 13They agreed that anyone who refused to seek the Lord, the God of Israel, would be put to death—whether young or old, man or woman. 14They shouted out their oath of loyalty to the Lord with trumpets blaring and rams’ horns sounding. 15All in Judah were happy about this covenant, for they had entered into it with all their heart. They earnestly sought after God, and they found him. And the Lord gave them rest from their enemies on every side.
16King Asa even deposed his grandmother# Hebrew his mother. Maacah from her position as queen mother because she had made an obscene Asherah pole. He cut down her obscene pole, broke it up, and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 17Although the pagan shrines were not removed from Israel, Asa’s heart remained completely faithful throughout his life. 18He brought into the Temple of God the silver and gold and the various items that he and his father had dedicated.
19So there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.
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