1Abijah died and was buried in the City of David. His son Asa took over as king. For ten years of his reign the country was at peace.
2Asa did what was good and right in the Lord's sight.
3He took down the foreign altars and high places, smashed their sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles.
4He ordered Judah to worship the Lord, the God of their forefathers, and to observe the law and the commandments.
5He also took down the high places and the incense altars from all the towns of Judah. Under his rule the kingdom was at peace.
6Because the country was at peace he was able to rebuild the fortified towns of Judah. There were no wars during these years because the Lord had granted him peace.
7Asa told the people of Judah, “Let us build up these towns and surround them with walls and towers and barred gates. The land is still ours, because we continue to worship the Lord our God. We worship him, and he has given us peace from all our enemies.” So they began the building projects, and completed them successfully.
8Asa had an army made up of three hundred thousand men from Judah who carried large shields and spears, and two hundred eighty thousand men from Benjamin who carried regular shields and bows. All of them were brave warriors.
9Zerah the Ethiopian attacked them with an army of a thousand times a thousand men and three hundred chariots, advancing as far as Mareshah.
10Asa went out to confront him, lining up for battle in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.
11Asa called out for help to the Lord his God: “Lord, there is no one apart from you who can help the powerless against the powerful. Please help us, Lord our God, for we trust in you. We have come against this horde because we stand for you, Lord. You are our God. Do not let a mere human being beat you.”
12The Lord struck the Ethiopians in front of Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians ran away.
13Asa and his army chased them as far as Gerar. The Ethiopians were killed—there were none who survived, for they were caught between the Lord and his army. The men of Judah carried off a large amount of plunder.
14They also attacked all the towns around Gerar, because the inhabitants were terrified of the Lord. The men of Judah took a large amount of plunder from all the towns.
15Then they attacked the camps of the herdsmen and took many sheep and camels. Then they went back to Jerusalem.