Online Encyclopedia

ASA

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 714 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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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. 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.) ASAFETIDA (asa, Lat. form of Persian aza = mastic, and fetidus, stinking, so called in distinction to asa dulcis, which was a drug highly esteemed among the ancients as laser cyrenaicum, and is supposed to have been a gummy exudation from Thapsis garganica), a gum-resin obtained principally from the root of Ferula fetida, and probably also from one or two other closely allied species of umbelliferous plants. It is produced in eastern Persia and Afghanistan, Herat and Kandahar being centres of the trade. Ferula fetida grows to a height of from 5 to 6 ft., and when the plant has attained the age of four years it is ready for yielding asafetida. The stems are cut down close to the root, and the juice flows out, at first of a milky appearance, but quickly setting into a solid resinous mass. Fresh incisions are made as long as the sap continues to flow, a period which varies according to the size and strength of the plant. A freshly-exposed surface of asafetida has a translucent, pearly-white appearance, but it soon darkens in the air, becoming first pink and finally reddish-brown. In taste it is acrid and bitter; but what peculiarly characterizes it is the strong alliaceous odour it emits, from which it has obtained the name asafetida, as well as its German name Teufelsdreck (devil's dung). Its odour is due to the presence of organic sulphur compounds. Asafetida is found in commerce in " lump " or in " tear," the latter being the purer form. Medicinally, asafetida is given in doses of 5 to 15 grains and acts as a stimulant to the intestinal and respiratory tracts and to the nervous system. An enema containing it is useful in relieving flatus. It is sometimes useful in hysteria, which is essentially a lack of inhibitory power, as its nasty properties induce sufficient inhibitory power to render its readministration superfluous. It may also be used in an effervescing draught in cases of malingering, the drug " repeating " in the mouth and making the malingering not worth while. The gum-resin is relished as a condiment in India and Persia, and is in demand in France for use in cookery. In the regions of its growth the whole plant is used as a fresh vegetable, the: inner portion of the full-grown stem being regarded as a luxury. ASAF-UD-DOWLAH, nawab wazir of Oudh from 1775 to 1797, was the son of Shuja-ud-Dowlah, his mother and grandmother being the begums of Oudh, whose spoliation formed one of the chief counts in the charges against Warren Hastings. When Shuja-ud-Dowlah died he left two million pounds sterling buried in the vaults of the zenana. The widow and mother of the deceased prince claimed the whole of this treasure under the terms of a will which was never produced. When Warren Hastings pressed the nawab for the payment of debt due to the Company, he obtained from his mother a loan of. 26 lakhs of rupees, for which he gave her a jagir of four times the value; he subsequently obtained 30 lakhs more in return for a full acquittal, and the recognition of her jagirs without interference for life by the Company. These jagirs were afterwards confiscated on the ground of the begum's complicity in the rising of Chai Singh, which was attested by documentary evidence. The evidence now available seems to show that Warren Hastings did his best throughout to rescue the nawab from his own incapacity, and was inclined to be lenient to the begums. See The Administration of Warren Hastings, 1772-1785, by G. W. Forrest (1892).
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