”Now in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam the son of Nebat, Abijam began to reign over Judah. He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom.“ ‭‭ ”And he walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father. Nevertheless, for David's sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem, because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. And Abijam slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David. And Asa his son reigned in his place. In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa began to reign over Judah, and he reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. And Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as David his father had done.“ ‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭15‬:‭1‬-‭5‬, ‭8‬-‭11‬ ‭ESV

It sounds like their mother is the same person but the text makes it rather clear that Abijam and Asa are father and son, saying in 2 places “son” and also “gave him a lamp in Jerusalem” which I believe is terminology meaning leaving a descendant.

So did Abijam sleep with his mother to produce the next king of Judah or is there something I’m missing?

2 Answers 2


This is an old "chestnut' of a problem that many commentators have wrestled with. For example, Ellicott says this:

(1 Kings 15:10) His mother’s name was Maachah.—Maachah was (see 1Kings 15:2) the wife of Rehoboam, and, therefore, grandmother of Asa. She appears, however, still to have retained the place of “queen-mother,” to the exclusion of the real mother of the king.

Similarly, The Cambridge commentary suggests this:

  1. And his mother’s name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom The most probable explanation of this clause, which is the same as in 1 Kings 15:2 above, is that the word ‘mother’ is here used for ‘grandmother,’ and that Asa’s own mother sank into small importance in comparison with her mother-in-law.

The Pulpit commentary offers more detail:

Because the mother of the king, and not the grandmother, enjoyed the dignity and position of Gebirah (ver. 13; 2 Chronicles 15:16). Some would read for Abishalom, Uriel of Gibeah; others, strengthened by the Michaiah of 2 Chronicles 13:2, think the historian mistaken in mentioning the name of Abijam's mother (ver. 2; 2 Chronicles 11:21) as Maachah. The difficulty by no means admits of a ready solution, but perhaps the best explanation is that the grandmother, Maachah, Rehoboam's favourite wife, retained her position, possibly by force of character, or because Asa's mother was dead.

In brief, we do not have enough information to fully resolve this problem.


We need to remember that the Hebrew word for “mother”, can also mean: grandmother or even fore-mother - not necessarily a first-generation descendant. So in all likelihood, the Maacah of 15:10 is Asa’s grandmother. Many translations are now rendering 15:10 that way.

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