(A·biʹjah) [My Father Is Jehovah].
In 2 Kings 18:2 Abi occurs as an abbreviation of this name. Abijam is another variant found in the Masoretic text at 1 Kings 14:31; 15:1, 7, 8. However, in 1 Kings 14:31 about 12 Hebrew manuscripts and the Bomberg edition of the Hebrew Bible of Jacob ben Chayyim (1524-1525) read “Abijah.”
1. A grandson of Benjamin, listed in seventh position among Becher’s nine sons.
2. According to the Masoretic text, the wife of Hezron, a grandson of Judah by his daughter-in-law Tamar. This Abijah may have been the mother of Ashhur the father of Tekoa.
3. The prophet Samuel’s second son, who, together with his elder brother Joel, was appointed by his aging father to be a judge of Israel at Beer-sheba. Because they perverted judgment, accepted bribes, and extorted unjust profits, the older men of Israel demanded that Samuel appoint a king to rule over them.
4. A priestly descendant of Aaron, who in King David’s day was recognized as head of one of the paternal houses of Israel. David divided the priesthood into 24 divisions, each to serve at the sanctuary for a one-week period every six months. The paternal house of Abijah was chosen by lot to head the eighth division and thereafter it was known as “the division of Abijah.” (1Ch 24:3-10; Lu 1:5) So it is said that priest Zechariah, the father of John the Baptizer, belonged to “the division of Abijah.”
5. One of Rehoboam’s 28 sons, also called Abijam, who became the second king of the two-tribe kingdom of Judah and reigned from 980 to 978 B.C.E. (1Ki 14:31–15:8) He was a regal descendant of David on both his father’s and his mother’s side, the 16th generation from Abraham in the royal lineage of Jesus Christ. (1Ch 3:10; Mt 1:7) Of Rehoboam’s 18 wives and 60 concubines, Maacah (called Micaiah in 2 Chronicles 13:2), the granddaughter of Absalom, was his most beloved and was favored above the others by having her son Abijah chosen as successor to the throne, although he was not Rehoboam’s firstborn son.
With the ascension of Abijah 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. Drawn up in battle formation against Judah’s chosen army of 400,000 mighty men of war were Jeroboam’s 800,000 warriors. Undaunted by such odds, Abijah, in an impassioned speech, addressed himself to Jeroboam’s crowd, condemning their idolatrous calf worship and reminding them that Jehovah’s covenant with David was for a never-ending kingdom. “With us there is at the head the true God,” declared Abijah, therefore “do not fight against Jehovah . . . for you will not prove successful.”
In the violent battle that ensued, Jeroboam’s ambush was providentially thwarted and half a million of his men were destroyed, thus breaking Jeroboam’s military power. Even the city of Bethel, where one of the detestable golden calves together with an apostate priesthood had been installed, was captured. And all of this, because Abijah had “leaned upon Jehovah.” (2Ch 13:13-20) Nevertheless, Abijah went on walking in the sins of his father Rehoboam by allowing the high places, 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.” (1Ki 14:22-24; 15:3) During his lifetime he had 14 wives and 38 children, and upon his death his son Asa succeeded him upon the throne.
6. The son of King Jeroboam I of Israel who died in his youth as a judgment from Jehovah. With Jeroboam’s apostasy, adversity began plaguing his house, including the desperate sickness of young Abijah. Thereupon Jeroboam disguised the identity of his queen and sent her to consult the aged and blind prophet Ahijah at Shiloh. But Jehovah cannot be deceived. Through his prophet Ahijah, Jehovah declared that He would exterminate the male heirs of Jeroboam “just as one clears away the dung until it is disposed of.” (1Ki 14:10; 15:25-30) Abijah, however, was the only descendant of Jeroboam who was honorably buried “for the reason that something good toward Jehovah” had been found in him.
8. One of the family heads of priests in the days of Zerubbabel and Jeshua following the Babylonian exile. Abijah is listed among more than 20 “heads of the priests and their brothers” who returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel. (Ne 12:1-7) Quite likely he was on hand at the laying of the temple foundation in the second year when the priestly services were reorganized. (Ezr 3:8-10) A generation later, in the days of Joiakim and Nehemiah, Abijah’s priestly family was represented by Zichri.
9. A priest, or the forefather of one, who, in the days of Nehemiah, participated in the sealing of the “trustworthy arrangement” or resolution to Jehovah. (Ne 9:38–10:8) If this was the same Abijah listed as No. 8, as suggested by some, then he would have been more than 100 years old.