The Holy Prophet Azariah1 was son of Oded (or Addo) and lived during the reign of King Asa (910-870 B.C. See 2 Chronicles 15:1) who was the son and successor of Abijah in the kingdom of Judah. Azariah came from the land of Sembatha and urged the people not to worship false “gods,” but to remain faithful to the Covenant with the Lord.
Asa worshiped the one true God, and removed the altars of foreign “gods” from his land, tearing down the pillars and cutting down their sacred groves. He told the people to seek earnestly the God of their fathers, and to obey the Law and the Commandments. After removing the pagan altars and idols from all the cities of Judah he commanded his people to fortify their cities with walls and towers.
King Asa had 300,000 warriors in Judah, and 280,000 mighty warriors in the land of Benjamin. According to the narratives of 2 Chronicles chapters 14 and 15, Zerah the Ethiopian2 went out against Judah with a million men.
Asa prayed fervently to God, asking that he might prevail, even against such overwhelming odds. The Lord smote the Ethiopians and Asa’s army pursued them and crushed them. He destroyed their towns and pillaged their cities, and then he returned to Jerusalem.
After King Asa had won the victory, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Azariah. He went out to meet Asa and said, “Hear me, King Asa, and all the people of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The Lord will be with you as long as you are with Him, worshiping His name and observing His commandments. When you seek Him you will find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will also forsake you.” These words ought to be esteemed by every State and by all people.
The Prophet Azariah reposed in peace and was buried in his field. In iconography he is depicted as an old man with curly hair. The name Azariah means “whom God helps.”
1 It is said that Azariah was actually son of Ananias (Tobit 5:12); perhaps an error for Zachariah the son of Addo (1 Esdras 6:1).
2 Zerah is a Hebrew name, and is not Ethiopian or Egyptian, as some have said.