(ay' suh) HEBREW: ASA
"he has given"

The son of Abijah (also known as Abijam), Asa succeeded his father as king of Judah and ruled for 41 years, from approximately 913 to 873 B.C. He was the fifth king in the line of David and the third over Judah after the kingdom was divided. His reign began during the rule of King Jeroboam of Israel and ended when Omri ruled the rival kingdom to the north.

Because of his program to eradicate the worship of idols from Judah, Asa is praised as one who "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as David his father had done" (1 Kg. 15:11). To this end he cast out the male prostitutes of the foreign gods, removed all the idols, and even removed his mother Maacah from her position as "queen mother (probably regent) because she had an abominable image made for Asherah" (1 Kg. 15:13; 2 Chr. 15:16). This effort, however, was only partly successful, since "the high places (pagan shrines) were not taken" (1 Kg. 15:14; 2 Chr. 15:17) from Israel.

On the political front, Asa was credited with winning a significant victory against King Baasha of Israel, who was encroaching on the territory of Judah. Asa shrewdly sought an alliance with King Ben-hadad of Syria, whom he bribed with "all the silver and the gold that were left in the treasures" (1 Kg. 15:18) of the temple and the royal palace. Ben-hadad then invaded Israel, causing the armies of Baasha to withdraw from Judah. Hanani the seer criticized the alliance with Syria, telling Asa that he had "done foolishly in this" (2 Chr. 16:9) and predicting continued warfare. Asa also scored a notable victory against Zerah the Ethiopian after crying to God, "we rely on thee, and in thy name we have come against this multitude" (2 Chr. 14:11).

In the 39th year of his reign, Asa developed a disease of the feet, perhaps gout or dropsy. Failing to call on the Lord, the king "sought help from physicians" (2 Chr. 16:12) and died two years later. He was buried in Jerusalem and was succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat.

{E2 Dictionary of Biblical People}