Abijah of Judah

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Abijam / Abijah
King of Judah
Reign c. 915 - 911 BC
Predecessor Rehoboam, his father
Successor Asa, his son
Born Jerusalem
Died 911 BC
possibly Jerusalem
Burial Jerusalem
Spouse 14 wives
Issue 22 sons and 16 daughters
Hebrew name אבים בן-רחבעם
’Aviyam ben Rehav’am
House House of David
Father Rehoboam
Mother Maacah, or Micaiah, daughter of Uriel of Gibeah, and granddaughter of Absalom (Abishalom)
Religion Jewish

Abijam (Hebrew: אֲבִיָּם, ʼĂḇiyyām; meaning "father of the sea" or "my father is the sea"; Greek: Αβιου; Latin: Abiam)[1] was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the fourth king of the House of David and the second of the Kingdom of Judah. He was the son of Rehoboam, the grandson of Solomon and the great-grandson of David. The Chronicler refers to him as Abijah (Hebrew: אֲבִיָּה, ʼĂḇiyyāh; "my father is Yah"; Greek: Αβια; Latin: Abia).[2]

His mother's name was Maacah, or Micaiah, the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah, and the granddaughter of the infamous Absalom (Abishalom). Abijah married fourteen wives, and had 22 sons and 16 daughters.[3]

Abijah in the Hebrew Bible[edit]

Reign of Abijah[edit]

Following the death of Rehoboam, his son Abijah succeeded the throne as King of Judah.[4] He began his three-year reign (2 Chr. 12:16; 13:1, 2) with a strenuous but unsuccessful effort to bring back the ten tribes of the northern Kingdom of Israel to their allegiance.[5]

With Abijah's ascension to the throne in the 18th year of King Jeroboam I of Israel, the hostilities between the northern and southern kingdoms resumed, and war ensued. Jeroboam’s 800,000 warriors were drawn up in battle formation against Abijah's army of 400,000. Undaunted by the 2:1 odds,[6] Abijah, marches north with the purpose of winning Israel back to the Davidic kingdom (2 Chr. 13:4-12).[4] Abijah then makes an impassioned speech, addressing himself to Jeroboam’s crowd. He condemns their idolatrous calf worship and reminds them that the covenant of Yahweh with King David was for an eternal kingdom,[7] and that their nation under Jeroboam was illegitimate.[4] “With us there is at the head the true God,” declared Abijah, therefore “do not fight against Jehovah... for you will not prove successful” (2 Chr. 12:16–13:12).[7]

Jeroboam ignores Abijah's appeal to return to David without further ado, and surrounds Abijah's army front and rear, engaging in the battle of Mount Zemaraim.[4] Jeroboam’s ambush was providentially thwarted and half a million of his men were annihilated,[8] thus undermining Jeroboam’s power both religiously and politically. Abijiah captured the Israelite cities of Jeshanah, Ephron (et-Taiyibeh), and even Bethel,[4] the city where one of the golden calves along with an apostate priesthood had been installed. Though Abijah had “leaned upon Jehovah” (2 Chr. 13:13-20), nevertheless, he went on walking in all the sins of his father Rehoboam.[7][5] Abijah allowed the high places, the sacred pillars, and even the male temple prostitutes to continue in the land. “His heart did not prove to be complete with Jehovah his God” (1 Kin. 14:22-24; 15:3).[7]


According to the Deuteronomist,[9] "God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising up a son to succeed him" (1 Kings 15:4). Thus the unconditional covenant blessing of Yahweh, guaranteed his promise to King David to stabilize the Kingdom of David despite its ruler. The Chronicler also emphasizes Yahweh's promise as seen by Abijah's success against every effort by Jeroboam to defeat him.[4] "Judah prevailed because they relied upon the Lord God of their fathers." (2 Chr. 13:18) God gave the Kingdom to David and his descendants (1 Chr. 17:14) by a covenant of salt, meaning, of permanence (cf. Lev. 2:13).[10]

Yahweh decreed that the entire apostate dynasty of King Jeroboam was to be executed. He also ordered that Abijah be given a decent burial because “Something good toward Jehovah the God of Israel has been found in him” (1 Kin. 14:1, 10-13). However small or insignificant Abijah's good may have been, it was worth noting in the Word of God and He showed an appropriate degree of mercy to that one member of an apostate household.[11]

Chronological discrepancies[edit]

According to 2 Chronicles 13:1-2, Abijah became king of Judah in the 18th year of the reign of Jeroboam, and reigned for three years.

William F. Albright has dated his reign to 915–913 BCE.

E. R. Thiele offers the dates 914/913 – 911/910 BCE.[12] As explained in the Rehoboam article, Thiele's chronology for the first kings of Judah contained an internal inconsistency that later scholars corrected by dating these kings one year earlier, so that Abijah's dates are taken as 915/914 to 912/911 BCE in the present article.

The calendars for reckoning the years of kings in Judah and Israel were offset by six months, that of Judah starting in Tishri (in the fall) and that of Israel in Nisan (in the spring). Cross-synchronizations between the two kingdoms therefore often allow narrowing of the beginning and/or ending dates of a king to within a six-month range. For Abijam, the Scriptural data allow the narrowing of his accession to some time between 1 Nisan 914 BCE and the day before 1 Tishri of that year. For calculation purposes, this should be taken as the Judean year beginning in Tishri of 915/914 BC, or more simply 915 BCE. His death occurred at some time between 1 Tishri 912 BCE and 1 Nisan 911 BCE, i.e. in 912 (912/911) BCE. These dates are one year earlier than those given in the third edition of Thiele's Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, thereby correcting an internal consistency that Thiele never resolved, as explained in the Rehoboam article.


  1. ^ http://mlbible.com/1_kings/15-1.htm
  2. ^ http://mlbible.com/2_chronicles/12-16.htm
  3. ^ 2 Chronicles 13:21
  4. ^ a b c d e f Merrill 2008, p. 347.
  5. ^ a b Easton 1894, p. 6, Abi’jah (5.).
  6. ^ Tyndale 2001, p. 5, ABIJAM.
  7. ^ a b c d Insight 1988, p. 23, ABIJAH #5.
  8. ^ Easton 1894, p. 6, Abi’jah (5.) "It was a very bloody battle, no fewer than 500,000 of the army of Israel having perished in the field.".
  9. ^ Eerdmans 2000, p. 6, ABIJAH 3..
  10. ^ Wycliffe 1962, p. 873.
  11. ^ Nothing Can “Separate Us From God’s Love” (2002), pp. 240-249, par. 11
  12. ^ Thiele 1951, p. 81, 82, 217.


Further reading[edit]

Abijah of Judah
Cadet branch of the Tribe of Judah
Contemporary King of Israel: Jeroboam I
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Judah
915 BC – 912 BC
Succeeded by