1 Kings 16:9
And his servant Zimri, captain of half his chariots, conspired against him, as he was in Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza steward of his house in Tirzah.
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(9) Drinking himself drunk.—There seems an emphasis of half-contemptuous condemnation in the description of Elah’s debauchery, evidently public, and in the house of a mere officer of his household, while war was raging at Gibbethon. On the other hand, Zimri—noted emphatically as “his servant”—was apparently the high officer left in special charge of the palace and the king’s person, while the mass of the army was in the field. Hence his name passed into a proverb for unusual treachery. (See 2Kings 9:31.)

16:1-14 This chapter relates wholly to the kingdom of Israel, and the revolutions of that kingdom. God calls Israel his people still, though wretchedly corrupted. Jehu foretells the same destruction to come upon Baasha's family, which that king had been employed to bring upon the family of Jeroboam. Those who resemble others in their sins, may expect to resemble them in the plagues they suffer, especially those who seem zealous against such sins in others as they allow in themselves. Baasha himself dies in peace, and is buried with honour. Herein plainly appears that there are punishments after death, which are most to be dreaded. Let Elah be a warning to drunkards, who know not but death may surprise them. Death easily comes upon men when they are drunk. Besides the diseases which men bring themselves into by drinking, when in that state, men are easily overcome by an enemy, and liable to bad accidents. Death comes terribly upon men in such a state, finding them in the act of sin, and unfitted for any act of devotion; that day comes upon them unawares. The word of God was fulfilled, and the sins of Baasha and Elah were reckoned for, with which they provoked God. Their idols are called their vanities, for idols cannot profit nor help; miserable are those whose gods are vanities.The conspiracy of Zimri - Elah's "servant" (i. e., "subject") - was favored by his position, which probably gave him military authority in the city, by the absence of a great part of the people and of the officers who might have checked him, at Gibbethon 1 Kings 16:15, and by the despicable character of Elah, who, instead of going up to the war, was continually reminding men of his low origin by conduct unworthy of royalty.

Steward - The office was evidently one of considerable importance. In Solomon's court it gave the rank of שׂר śar, prince. In Persia the "steward of the household" acted sometimes as a sort of regent during the king's absence.

1Ki 16:9-22. Zimri's Conspiracy.

9-12. Zimri … conspired against him—"Arza which was over his house." During a carousal in the house of his chamberlain, Zimri slew him, and having seized the sovereignty, endeavored to consolidate his throne by the massacre of all the royal race.

Captain of half his chariots, i.e. of all his military chariots, and the men belonging to them; the chariots for carriage of necessary things being put into other and meaner hands.

As he was in Tirzah; whilst his forces were elsewhere employed, 1 Kings 16:15, which gave Zimri advantage to execute his design.

And his servant Zimri, captain of half his chariots,.... His military chariots; there were two captains of them, and this was one of them; so the Targum,

"one of the two masters or captains of the chariots:''

conspired against him, as he was in Tirzah drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, steward of his house in Tirzah; who had the charge of his wine and other liquors, to which he was addicted beyond measure; and this was a fit opportunity for Zimri to fall upon him, and slay him, when he was drunk, and off his guard, and his army at the same time was besieging Gibbethon, 1 Kings 16:15 so that there was a very great likeness in what befell the family of Baasha, to that of the family of Jeroboam; for as the son of the one, and of the other, reigned but two years, so they were both slain by their servants, and both at a time when Gibbethon was besieged; the Targum takes this Arza to be the temple of an idol so called, near the royal palace.

And his servant Zimri, captain of half his chariots, conspired against him, as he was in Tirzah, {e} drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza steward of his house in Tirzah.

(e) The Chaldee text has this, Drinking till he was drunk in the temple of Arza the idol by his house in Tirzah.

9. And his servant Zimri] The LXX. omits ‘his servant.’ The expression is used of any officer who served under the king, and has no mean signification. Here ‘the servant’ was a chief commander of the royal troops.

as [now R.V.] he was in Tirzah] The strongest stop in the Hebrew occurs immediately before these words. It is therefore well to make them, in the English also, to begin a new clause.

Arza steward of his house] R.V. (see also A.V. margin): Arza which was over the household. Cf. for a similar officer over the household of Joseph, Genesis 43:16; Genesis 43:19. It would almost seem that this major domo was mixed up in the plot for the murder of his master. The opportunity of the absence of the troops at Gibbethon would seem very favourable for carrying out such a scheme.

Verse 9. - And his servant [Not only "subject," as Rawlinson, but officer. The same word is used of Jeroboam; 1 Kings 11:26, note. We may almost trace here a lex talionis. Baasha was Nadab's "servant," as Jeroboam was Solomon's] Zimri [From the occurrence of this name among those of the descendants of Jonathan (1 Chronicles 8:36), it has been supposed (Stanley) that this was a last effort of the house of Saul to regain the throne], captain of half his chariots [רֶכֶב as in 1 Kings 9:19; 1 Kings 10:26. The violation of the law of Deuteronomy 17:16 brings its own retribution], conspired against him [precisely as Elah's father had "conspired "(1 Kings 15:27) against Nadab], as he was in Tirzah drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, steward of [Heb. which was over; cf. 1 Kings 4:6; 1 Kings 18:3; 2 Kings 10:5; 2 Kings 18:37] his house in Tirzah. [Several points present themselves for notice here.

(1) the example of Jeroboam has clearly had its full influence on the nation. "The Lord's anointed "is no longer had in reverence, as in the days of David (1 Samuel 24:6, 10; 1 Samuel 26:9, 16; 2 Samuel 1:14), nor is it accounted a sin to grasp at the crown.

(2) Zimri only does what Baasha had done before him. That prince was "hoist with his own petard."

(3) Elah would seem to have been a dissolute and pusillanimous prince. His place was clearly with his army at Gibbethon (ver. 15; cf. Joshua 8:12. 4). And as clearly it was not in the house of one of his subjects, even the intendant of his palace. "An Oriental monarch... is precluded by etiquette from accepting the hospitality of his subjects" - Rawlinson, who further remarks that the low tastes which we here find Elah indulging" had probably been formed before his father was exalted out of the dust." As probably they were inherited direct from his father. Anyhow, they led to his destruction. It is clear that Elah's want of character, like Nadab's, suggested the conspiracy of Zimri.

(4) It is extremely probable, though not absolutely certain, as Bahr affirms, that Arza was one of the conspirators, and that the wretched prince had been decoyed to his house and made drunk, with a view to his murder there.] 1 Kings 16:9Zimri, the commander of the half of his war-chariots, conspired against him, and not only slew him, when he was intoxicated (שׁכּור שׁתה) at a drinking bout in the house of Arza, the prefect of his palace, but after ascending the throne exterminated the whole family of Baasha to the very last man. The prefect of the palace was no doubt a party to the conspiracy, and had probably arranged the drinking bout in his house for the purpose of carrying it out. "He did not leave him בּקיר משׁתּין (see at 1 Kings 14:10), either his avengers (גּאליו, blood-relations, who might have avenged his death) or his friends." These words simply serve to explain בּקיר משׁתּין, and show that this phrase is to be understood as relating to males only.
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