1 KINGS CHAPTER 16.
The Reign of Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Ahab.
THE RULE OF BAASHA AND ELAH IN ISRAEL. — V. 1. Then, when it was evident that Baasha was guilty of the same wickedness as Jeroboam, the word of the Lord came to Jehu, the son of Hanani, against Baasha, saying, v. 2. Forasmuch as I exalted thee out of the dust, from a very low position among the people to that of commander in the army and finally to that of king, and made thee prince over My people Israel, for be could not have carried out his ambitious plans if they had been contrary to the purposes of Jehovah, and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made My people Israel to sin, by fostering idolatry in their midst, to provoke Me to anger with their sins, for the jealous God; being the only true God, cannot bear a rival beside Him, v. 3. behold, I will take away the posterity of Baasha and the posterity of his house, by cutting off and exterminating his family, and will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, of whose family not one member survived. V. 4. Him that dieth of Baasha in the city shall the dogs eat, and him that dieth of his in the fields shall the fowls of the air eat. It was the same terrible curse which had been pronounced upon Jeroboam, chap. 14, 11. V. 5. Now, the rest of the acts of Baasha, and what he did, and his might, the extent of his military resources, are they not written In the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? V. 6. So Baasha slept with his fathers and was buried in Tirzah, which he also had made his residence; and Elah, his son, reigned In his stead. V. 7. And also, a thought being added here to prevent a misunderstanding, by the hand of the prophet Jehu, the son of Hananl, came the word of the Lord against Baasha and against his house, even for all the evil that he did in the sight of the Lord, as noted above, v.2, in provoking Him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam, guilty of the same idolatrous practices, and because he killed him, for the extermination of Jeroboam’s family by Baasha had not been done by divine command or for the purpose of eradicating idolatry, but was an arbitrary, selfish act on the part of Baasha. V. 8. In the twenty and sixth year of Asa, king of Judah, began Elah, the son of Baasha, to reign over Israel in Tirzah, two years; he reigned one full year and a fraction of the second. V. 9. And his servant Zimri, captain of half his chariots, an important and mighty officer in his army, conspired against him as he was in Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, steward of his house in Tirzah, who probably was in the conspiracy and had purposely arranged this banquet and drinking-bout. V. 10. And Zimri went in and smote him, and killed him, in the twenty and seventh year of Asa, king of Judah, this being all the easier since the army apparently was in the field against the Philistines, and reigned in his stead, he proclaimed himself king. V. 11. And it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, for he lost no time in carrying out his wicked designs, that he slew all the house of Baasha, down to the very last man; he left him not one that pisseth against the wall, neither of his kinsfolks nor of his friends; in order to secure himself against any possible revengers of blood, no man was left alive. V. 12. Thus did Zimri destroy all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the Lord which He spake against Baasha by Jehu, the prophet, his act being done not by God’s command, but in accordance with His threat, which was thereby fulfilled, v. 13. for all the sins of Baasha and the sins of Elah, his son, by which they sinned, and by which they made Israel to sin, in provoking the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities, with their worship of the golden calves erected by Jeroboam. V. 14. Now, the rest of the acts of Elah, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? This story shows with what jealous seriousness God watches over His honor. All the threats which God has uttered against the godless, all the promises which He has spoken concerning His children, will surely be fulfilled.
THE RULE OF ZIMRI IN ISRAEL. — V. 15. In the twenty and seventh year of Asa, king of Judah, did Zimri reign seven days in Tirzah, so long he was in undisturbed possession of the throne. And the people, the army of Israel, were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines, and which Nadab had already tried to recover from the hands of the enemy. V. 16. And the people that were encamped heard say, the rumor or the report came to the army, Zimri hath conspired, and hath also slain the king; wherefore all Israel, as represented in the army, the military party, made Omri, the captain of the host, king over Israel that day in the camp, they proclaimed him ruler over the northern nation. V. 17. And Omri went up from Gibbethon and all Israel with him, he went on a campaign against the usurper of the throne, and they besieged Tirzah. V. 18. And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, it being impossible for him to hold out against the besieging force, that he went into the palace of the king’s house, the citadel, the highest and strongest of the buildings included in the royal palace, and burned the king’s house over him with fire and died, preferring this death to that at the hands of the victorious army, v. 19. for his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the Lord, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did to make Israel to sin; for even in these few days he had shown that he had no intention of doing away with the calf-worship introduced by Jeroboam. V. 20. Now, the rest of the acts of Zimri, and his treason that he wrought, the manner in which he planned the removal of Baasha, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? V. 21. Then were the people of Israel, the entire northern nation, divided into two parts, the faction represented by the army and the party of the people: half of the people, the nonmilitary party, followed Tibni, the son of Ginath, to make him king; and half, the military party, followed Omri. V. 22. But the people that followed Omri prevailed, his party gained the ascendancy, against the people that followed Tibni, the son of Ginath. So Tibni died, either by assassination or in battle, and Omri reigned, the opposition having no other man to take his place. All men who are blinded by sin act like the kings of Israel here described. They have warning examples in great number before their eyes, but they obstinately continue on their way to their own destruction.
THE RULE OF OMRI AND OF AHAB. — V. 23. In the thirty and first year of Asa, king of Judah, began Omri to reign over Israel, the intervening years having been spent in civil war, twelve years, during eight of which he was the sole ruler. Six years reigned he in Tirzah, so long he retained this city as his residence. V. 24. And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer, at that time its owner, for two talents of silver (between three and four thousand dollars), and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill, Samaria. This city was located east of Tirzah, northeast of Shechem, on a “beautiful round mountain, covered with splendid trees, and lying in a valley or basin enclosed with mountains, commanding a glorious prospect of the fruitful valley and the heights and villages surrounding it.” “The hill on which Samaria was situated rose some three hundred feet above the surrounding valley on all sides except the east, and when fortified, presented such an impregnable front that it took even an Assyrian army three years to capture it.” 2) V. 25. But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him, he went farther in the open practice of idolatry than all his predecessors. V. 26. For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities, the idolatry and the calf-worship being continued with increased vigor. V. 27. Now, the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, those which are not connected with his relation to the covenant of Jehovah, and his might that he showed, his military prowess, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? V. 28. So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria; and Ahab, his son, reigned in his stead. V. 29. And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa, king of Judah, began Ahab, the son of Omri, to reign over Israel. And Ahab, the son of Omri, reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years. His accession to the throne introduced a period of Israel’s history noted for its general wickedness. V. 30. And Ahab, the son of Omri, did evil In the sight of the Lord above all that were before him, exceeding even the wickedness of his father. V. 31. And it came to pass as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, the horror of the situation being brought out still more strongly by a parenthetical question in the Hebrew text, that he took to wife Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Zidonians, worthy daughter of a father who was a false priest and an assassin, and went and served Baal, and worshiped him. Baal was the chief male god of the Phoenicians and the Canaanites, considered the source of physical life and of all propagation in nature. V. 32. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, in a special temple erected to this idol, which he had built in Samaria. V. 33. And Ahab made a grove, he erected a pillar to the female idol of the Canaanites, Astarte, whose worship was connected with immoral practices; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him. V. 34. In his days, as an example of the utter disregard of God’s will which then prevailed, did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho, which was to have remained in ruins; he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram, his firstborn, who died when he began work, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son, Segub, who died at the completion of the work, according to the word of the Lord which he spake by Joshua, the son of Nun, Josh. 6, 26. False worship, false doctrine, will not be confined to just one point of wickedness, but will soon extend beyond all bounds and result in gross idolatry. If a person repudiates one point of Christian doctrine, the chances are that he will soon be led into unbelief and denial of God’s truth.