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Abijam (1 Kings 15:1-8; 2 Chronicles 13) January 13

Establishing the chronology of the kings of Israel and Judah is not a straightforward exercise, and Abijam's reign provides a simple example. He begins his reign in the 18th year of Jeroboam. His son Asa begins his reign in the 20th year. Yet Abijam (called Abijah in 2 Chronicles 13, and Abia in 1 Chronicles 3) is said to have reigned three years. This may be because he reigned during portions of three years. But more likely, there was some overlap or co-regency (shared rule) in their reigns. This was done with David and Solomon, and is a fairly common occurrence among the kings, albeit not always stated directly.

In 2 Chronicles 13, Abijah's mother is given as Michaiah, the daughter of Uriel. First Kings 5 says she was Maachah, which is probably a second name or variant, just as Abijam himself had different forms of his name. Maachah is also listed in some translations as the daughter of Abishalom, but granddaughter, as in the New King James Version, seems more likely. She can have only one father, and Abishalom is probably David's son Absalom, who had been killed many decades earlier. By way of explanation, ancient Hebrew was typically written with consonants only (no vowels), so spelling variations among names are fairly common.

While most of Abijam's story is recorded in Chronicles instead of Kings, the reference in 1 Kings 15:7 to the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah" is apparently to some other book, as our book of Chronicles appears to have been written long after the books of Kings. (In our next reading, we will see a reference in 1 Kings 14:19 to the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel"—yet another book.)

As is often the case, Chronicles relates a story that emphasizes the priesthood and the more positive aspects of the Davidic kings. Of course, putting together all the accounts in Scripture of a particular ruler's life yields a more complete picture. Abijam was not given a high rating in 1 Kings 15:3, yet Chronicles records an appeal to Jeroboam that illustrates how the proper temple worship (compare Ezekiel 44:15; 48:11) continued under most of the Jewish kings—often with the king's approval—even when the king saw no personal need to steer himself or the nation clear of idolatry. The victory over Jeroboam is attributed to Judah's reliance on God (verse 18).

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