ASA, in the Bible, son (or, perhaps, rather brother) of Abijah, the son of Rehoboam and king of Judah (1 Kings xv. 9-24). Of his long reign, during which he was a contemporary of Baasha, Zimri and Omri of Israel, little is recorded with the exception of some religious reforms and conflicts with the first-named. Baasha succeeded in fortifying Ramah (er-Ram), 5 m. north of Jerusalem, and Asa was compelled to use the residue of the temple-funds (cf. 1 Kings xiv. 26) to bribe the king of Damascus to renounce his league with Baasha and attack Israel. Galilee was invaded and Baasha was forced to return; the building material which he had collected at Ramah being used by Asa to fortify Geba, and Mizpah to the immediate north of Jerusalem. The Book of Chronicles relates a story of a sensational defeat of Zerah the "Cushite," and a great religious revival in which Judah and Israel took part (2 Chron. xiv.-xv. 15) (see Chronicles). Asa was succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat.
"Cushite" may designate an Ethiopian or, more probably, an Arabian (Cush, the "father" of the Sabaeans, Gen. x. 7). "If by Zerah the Ethiopian or Sabaean prince be meant, the only real difficulty of the narrative is removed. No king Zerah of Ethiopia is known at this period, nor does there seem to be room for such a person." (W.E. Barnes, Cambridge Bible, Chronicles, p. xxxi.). The identification with Osorkon I. or II. is scarcely tenable considering Asa's weakness; but inroads by desert hordes frequently troubled Judah, and if the tradition be correct in locating the battle at Mareshah it is probable that the invaders were in league with the Philistine towns. Similar situations recur in the reigns of Ahaz and Jehoram.
See also Wellhausen, Prolegomena, 208; S.A. Cook, Expositor (June 1906), p. 540 sq.
(S. A. C.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)