She had made an idol in a grove - The original word, מפלצת miphletseth, is variously understood. I shall give its different views in the versions: -
"Besides, he removed his mother Maacha from being chief in the sacred rites of Priapus, and in his grove which she had consecrated."
"And Ana, [other copies Maacha], he removed from being governess, because she had made an assembly in her grove."
"Moreover, he deprived Maacha, his mother, of her own magnificence, because she had celebrated a solemnity to her own worship."
"And even Maacha, his mother, he removed from the kingdom, because she had made an idol in a grove."
"Besides, he removed Maacha, his mother, from her kingdom, because she had made a high tree into an idol."
"Also he removed Maacha, his mother, from the kingdom, because she had made a horrible statue; and our rabbins say that it was called מפלצת miphletseth, because ליצנותא מפליא maphli leytsanutha, it produced wonderful ridicule; for she made it ad instar membri virilis, and she used it daily."
- Rabbi Solomon Jarchi.
From the whole, it is pretty evident that the image was a mere Priapus, or something of the same nature, and that Maachah had an assembly in the grove where this image was set up, and doubtless worshipped it with the most impure rites. What the Roman Priapus was I need not tell the learned reader; and as to the unlearned, it would not profit him to know. Maachah was most likely another Messalina; and Asa probably did for his mother what Claudius did for his wife.
Asa degraded Maachah from the rank and state of queen-mother.
The word translated “idol” both here and in the parallel passage (marginal reference), does not occur elsewhere in Scripture. It is derived from a root signifying “fear” or “trembling,” and may perhaps best be understood as “a fright, a horror.” Such a name would seem best to apply to a grotesque and hideous image like the Phthah of the Egyptians. She made it to serve in lieu of the ordinary “grove” - asherah, or idolatrous emblem of Astarte (Exodus 34:13 note). Asa cut it down, for like the usual “asherah,” Maachah‘s “horror” was fixed in the ground.
And burnt it at the brook Kidron - Similarly Josiah, when he removed Manasseh‘s “grove” - asherah - from the house of the Lord, brought it out to the brook Kidron, and burned it there. The object probably was to prevent the pollution of the holy city by even the ashes from the burning.
During the greater part of this time of apostasy in Israel, Asa was ruling in the kingdom of Judah. For many years “Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God: for he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves: and commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment. Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the sun [margin] images: and the kingdom was quiet before him.” 2 Chronicles 14:2-5. PK 110.1
The faith of Asa was put to a severe test when “Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots,” invaded his kingdom. Verse 9. In this crisis Asa did not put his trust in the “fenced cities in Judah” that he had built, with “walls, and towers, gates, and bars,” nor in the “mighty men of valor” in his carefully trained army. Verses 6-8. The king's trust was in Jehovah of hosts, in whose name marvelous deliverances had been wrought in behalf of Israel of old. Setting his forces in battle array, he sought the help of God. PK 110.2
The opposing armies now stood face to face. It was a time of test and trial to those who served the Lord. Had every sin been confessed? Had the men of Judah full confidence in God's power to deliver? Such thoughts as these were in the minds of the leaders. From every human viewpoint the vast host from Egypt would sweep everything before it. But in time of peace Asa had not been giving himself to amusement and pleasure; he had been preparing for any emergency. He had an army trained for conflict; he had endeavored to lead his people to make their peace with God. And now, although his forces were fewer in number than the enemy, his faith in the One whom he had made his trust did not weaken. PK 110.3Read in context »
Asa's long record of faithful service was marred by some mistakes, made at times when he failed to put his trust fully in God. When, on one occasion, the king of Israel entered the kingdom of Judah and seized Ramah, a fortified city only five miles from Jerusalem, Asa sought deliverance by forming an alliance with Benhadad, king of Syria. This failure to trust God alone in time of need was sternly rebuked by Hanani the prophet, who appeared before Asa with the message: PK 113.1
“Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the Lord, He delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.” 2 Chronicles 16:7-9. PK 113.2
Instead of humbling himself before God because of his mistake, “Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time.” Verse 10. PK 113.3Read in context »
Until called to the throne at the age of thirty-five, Jehoshaphat had before him the example of good King Asa, who in nearly every crisis had done “that which was right in the eyes of the Lord.” 1 Kings 15:11. During a prosperous reign of twenty-five years, Jehoshaphat sought to walk “in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside.” PK 190.1
In his efforts to rule wisely, Jehoshaphat endeavored to persuade his subjects to take a firm stand against idolatrous practices. Many of the people in his realm “offered and burnt incense yet in the high places.” 1 Kings 22:43. The king did not at once destroy these shrines; but from the beginning he tried to safeguard Judah from the sins characterizing the northern kingdom under the rule of Ahab, of whom he was a contemporary for many years. Jehoshaphat himself was loyal to God. He “sought not unto Baalim; but sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in His commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.” Because of his integrity, the Lord was with him, and “stablished the kingdom in his hand.” 2 Chronicles 17:3-5. PK 190.2Read in context »