Question:

Did Baasha, the king of Israel die in the 26th year of King Asa's reign (I Kings 15:33), or was he still alive in the 36th year (II Chronicles 16:1)?

Answer:

"In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha the son of Ahijah became king over all Israel at Tirzah, and reigned twenty-four years" (I Kings 15:33).

"In the thirty-sixth year of Asa's reign Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from going out or coming in to Asa king of Judah" (II Chronicles 16:1).

The problem is that if Baasha became king of Israel in Asa's third year, then he died in the 27th year of Asa's reign, according to I Kings. But II Chronicles has him battling Asa in Asa's 36th year.

  • The ancient Jewish historian, Josephus, decided that a mistake was made in the copying of the year in II Chronicles and that II Chronicles 16:1 should have said 26th year and that II Chronicles 15:19 should have said 25th year. The difficulty is that Asa wrongly enlists Ben-hadad's help and as a result suffers from a foot disease as a punishment from God. If Josephus was correct, then God waited thirteen years to punish Asa.
  • Similarly, others note that the letters for 16 and 36 are very similar and propose that II Chronicles 15:19 should be the 15th year and II Chronicles 16:1 should be the 16th year of Asa's reign. In addition to the difficulty of the delayed punishment, now being 23 years later, the statement in II Chronicles 15:19 loses meaning. Asa made reforms in his 15th year (II Chronicles 15:10) and then it says that he had no more war until his 15th year?
  • Another solution is to note that the counting of reigns doesn't always start with when a king takes the throne. II Chronicles 15:19 says there were no more wars until the 35th year of Asa's reign.
    • Rehoboam reigned 17 years (II Chronicles 12:13)
    • Abijah reigned 3 years (II Chronicles 13:2)
    • Asa reigned 15 years (II Chronicles 15:10)
    • Total: 35 years as stated in II Chronicles 15:19

    This basically makes the count in II Chronicles 15:19 and II Chronicles 16:1 dealing with the years Asa's kingdom (Judah) was in existence instead of Asa's actual years on the throne. The problem is that II Chronicles 15:10 is worded the same, but it would refer to the years Asa was on the throne. It also means that Asa's reforms that he did in his 15th year gained him no peace.

For now, Josephus' proposal seems to be the best, though it leaves unanswered questions.

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