1 Kings 16
Barnes' Notes
Then the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying,
Hanani, the father of Jehu, was seer to Asa in the kingdom of Judah 2 Chronicles 16:7-10. His son Jehu, who here discharges the same office in the kingdom of Israel, appears at a later date as an inhabitant of Jerusalem where he prophesied under Jehoshaphat, whom he rebuked on one occasion. He must have lived to a great age, for he outlived Jehoshaphat, and wrote his life (marginal references).

Forasmuch as I exalted thee out of the dust, and made thee prince over my people Israel; and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made my people Israel to sin, to provoke me to anger with their sins;
Behold, I will take away the posterity of Baasha, and the posterity of his house; and will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
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.
Now the rest of the acts of Baasha, and what he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
The "might" of Baasha is sufficiently indicated by those successes which drove Asa to call Ben-hadad to his aid. 1 Kings 15:17-21.

So Baasha slept with his fathers, and was buried in Tirzah: and Elah his son reigned in his stead.
And also by the hand of the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani 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, in provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam; and because he killed him.
The natural position of this verse would be after 1 Kings 16:4 and before 1 Kings 16:5. But it may be regarded as added by the writer, somewhat irregularly, as an afterthought; its special force being to point out that the sentence on Baasha was intended to punish, not only his calf-worship, but emphatically his murder of Jeroboam and his family. Though the destruction of Jeroboam had been foretold, and though Baasha may be rightly regarded as God's instrument to punish Jeroboam's sins, yet, as he received no command to execute God's wrath on the offender, and was instigated solely by ambition and self-interest, his guilt was just as great as if no prophecy had been uttered. Even Jehu's commission 2 Kings 9:5-10 was not held to justify, altogether, his murder of Jehoram and Jezebel.

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.
Two years - i. e., More than one year, or, at any rate, some portion of two distinct years (compare 1 Kings 16:10).

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.
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.

And Zimri went in and smote him, and killed him, in the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his stead.
And it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, that he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends.
Neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends - Zimri's measures were of much more than ordinary severity. Not only was the royal family extirpated, but the friends of the king, his councillors and favorite officers, were put to death. Omri, as having been in the confidence of the late monarch, would naturally fear for himself, and resolve to take the course which promised him at least a chance of safety.

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,
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.
Their vanities - The "calves." The Hebrews call an idol by terms signifying "emptiness," "vapor," or "nothingness." (Compare marginal references.)

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?
In the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah did Zimri reign seven days in Tirzah. And the people were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines.
And the people that were encamped heard say, Zimri hath conspired, and hath also slain the king: wherefore all Israel made Omri, the captain of the host, king over Israel that day in the camp.
All Israel made Omri, the captain of the host, king - This passage of history recalls the favorite practice of the Roman armies under the Empire, which, when they heard of the assassination of an emperor at Rome, were accustomed to invest their own commander with the purple.

And Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah.
Went up - The expression "went up" marks accurately the ascent of the army from the Shephelah, where Gibbethon was situated Joshua 19:44, to the hill country of Israel, on the edge of which Tirzah stood 1 Kings 14:17.

And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king's house, and burnt the king's house over him with fire, and died,
The palace of the king's house - The tower of the king's house. A particular part of the palace - either the "harem," or, more probably, the keep or citadel, a tower stronger and loftier than the rest of the palace.

Zimri's desperate act has been repeated more than once. That the last king of Assyria, the Sardanapalus of the Greeks, thus destroyed himself, is almost the only "fact" which we know concerning him.

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.
Zimri's death illustrates the general moral which the writer of Kings draws from the whole history of the Israelite monarchs. that a curse was upon them on account of their persistence in Jeroboam's sin, which, sooner or later, brought each royal house to a bloody end.

Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and his treason that he wrought, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
Then were the people of Israel divided into two parts: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king; and half followed Omri.
But the people that followed Omri prevailed against the people that followed Tibni the son of Ginath: so Tibni died, and Omri reigned.
From a comparison of the dates given in 1 Kings 16:15, 1 Kings 16:23, 1 Kings 16:29 it follows that the contest between the two pretenders lasted four years.

Tibni's death can scarcely be supposed to have been natural. Either he must have been slain in battle against Omri, or have fallen into his hands and been put to death.

There has probably been some derangement of the text here. The passage may have run thus: "So Tibni died, and Omri reigned in the thirty-first year of Asa, king of Judah. Omri reigned over Israel twelve years: six years reigned he in Tirzah." Omri's reign of 12 years began in Asa's 27th 1 Kings 16:15-16, and terminated in his 38th 1 Kings 16:29. The event belonging to Asa's 31st year was the death of Tibni, and the consequent extension of Omri's kingdom.

The six years in Tirzah are probably made up of the four years of contention with Tibni, and two years afterward, during which enough of Samaria was built for the king to transfer his residence there.

In the thirty and first year of Asa king of Judah began Omri to reign over Israel, twelve years: six years reigned he in Tirzah.
And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver, 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.
"Samaria" represents the Greek form of the name Σαμάρεια Samareia; the original is שׁמרון shômerôn (margin). The site is marked by the modern "Sebustiyeh," an Arabic corruption of Sebaste, the name given by Herod to Samaria when he rebuilt it. Sebustiyeh is situated on a very remarkable "hill." In the heart of the mountains of Israel occurs a deep basin-shaped depression, in the midst of which rises an oblong hill, with steep but not inaccessible sides, and a long flat top. This was the site which Omri chose for his new capital. Politically it was rather more central than Shechem, and probably than Tirzah. In a military point of view it was admirably calculated for defense. The country round it was especially productive. The hill itself possessed abundant springs of water. The result is that we find no further change. Shechem and Tirzah were each tried and abandoned; but through all the later alterations of dynasty Samaria continued uninterruptedly, to the very close of the independence, to be the capital of the northern kingdom.

Omri purchased the right of property in the hill, just as David purchased the threshing-floor (2 Samuel 24:24; compare 1 Kings 21:2). Two talents, or 6,000 shekels (Exodus 38:24 note) - about 500 British pounds (or perhaps 800 pounds) of our money - may well have been the full value of the ground. And while naming his city after Shemer, Omri may also have had in view the appropriateness of such a name to the situation of the place. Shomeron, to a Hebrew ear, would have necessarily conveyed the idea of a "watch-tower." This name, however, appears not to have been at first accepted by the surrounding nations. The earlier Assyrian kings knew the Israelite capital, not as Samaria, but as Beth-Khumri, i. e., "the city (house) of Omri." It is not until the time of Tiglath-pileser that they exchange this designation for that of "Sammirin."

But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him.
Omri outwent his idolatrous predecessors in his zeal, reducing the calf-worship to a regular formal system, which went down to posterity (compare the marginal reference).

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.
Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, and his might that he shewed, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
His might - Perhaps in the war between Israel and Syria of Damascus (1 Kings 20:1, etc.), during the reign of Omri. Its issue was very disadvantageous to him 1 Kings 20:34; 1 Kings 22:2.

So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria: and Ahab his son reigned in his stead.
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.
Twenty and two years - Rather, from a comparison between 1 Kings 15:10 and 1 Kings 22:51, not more than 21 years. Perhaps his reign did not much exceed 20 years.

And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.
See 1 Kings 16:33. The great sin of Ahab - that by which he differed from all his predecessors, and exceeded them in wickedness - was his introduction of the worship of Baal, consequent upon his marriage with Jezebel, and his formal establishment of this gross and palpable idolatry as the religion of the state.

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, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.
As if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam - Idolatries are not exclusive. Ahab, while he detested the pure worship of Yahweh, and allowed Jezebel to put to death every "prophet of the Lord" whom she could find 1 Kings 18:4, readily tolerated the continued worship of the "calves," which had no doubt tended more and more to lose its symbolic character, and to become a thoroughly idolatrous image-worship.

Eth-baal - Identified with the Ithobalus of Menander, who reigned in Tyre, probably over all Phoenicia, within 50 years of the death of Hiram. This Ithobalus, whose name means "With him is Baal," was originally priest of the great temple of Astarte, in Tyre. At the age of 36 he conspired against the Tyrian king, Pheles (a usurping fratricide), killed him, and seized the throne. His reign lasted 32 years, and he established a dynasty which continued on the throne at least 62 years longer. The family-tree of the house may be thus exhibited:

Lineage of Eth-Baal Eth-baal Badezor Jezebel Matgen (Belus of Virgil) Pygmalion Dido (founder of Carthage)

Hence, Jezebel was great-aunt to Pygmalion and his sister Dido.

Served Baal - The worship of Baal by the Phoenicians is illustrated by such names as IthoBAL, HanniBAL, etc. Abundant traces of it are found in the Phoenician monuments.

And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.
And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.
In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.
This seems to be adduced as a proof of the general impiety of Ahab's time. The curse of Joshua against the man who should rebuild Jericho had hitherto been believed and respected. But now faith in the old religion had so decayed, that Joshua's malediction had lost its power. Hiel, a Bethelite of wealth and station, undertook to restore the long-ruined fortress. But he suffered for his temerity. In exact accordance with the words of Joshua's curse, he lost his firstborn son when he began to lay anew the foundations of the walls, and his youngest when he completed his work by setting up the gates. We need not suppose that Jericho had been absolutely uninhabited up to this time. But it was a ruined and desolate place without the necessary protection of walls, and containing probably but few houses (Judges 3:13 note). Hiel re-established it as a city, and it soon became once more a place of some importance 2 Chronicles 28:15.

Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes [1834].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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