Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Then the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying,1 Kings 16:1. Then [R.V. and] the word of the Lord came] The conjunction is the simple copula, and this verse is in close connexion with the closing sentence of the previous chapter.
Jehu the son of Hanani] This prophet, named in this chapter and in 2 Chronicles 19:2; 2 Chronicles 20:34, was the son of that prophet Hanani who rebuked Asa (2 Chronicles 16:7-10) for his alliance with the Syrians against Baasha. Jehu seems to have lived in Jerusalem, though his prophetical ministry was mainly directed to the kingdom of Israel. He rebuked Jehoshaphat king of Judah for his alliance with Ahab, and must have outlived Jehoshaphat, as a history of that king’s reign is said (2 Chronicles 20:34) to be contained in this prophet’s writings. Jehu must therefore have begun his labours as a prophet at an early age.
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;2. I exalted thee out of the dust] This may signify that Baasha was of humble origin; but to be chosen of God and called to the position of a ruler of Israel was great exaltation out of any station.
prince over my people] Though Israel has offended, they are still God’s people. They have rejected His law, but He does not reject them. From the house of Baasha there was expected to come some amendment of the evil ways of Jeroboam.
to provoke me to anger with their sins] For the last three words the LXX. gives ἐν τοῖς ματαίοις αὐτῶν, ‘with their vanities;’ a common form of expression in similar phrases. See below, 1 Kings 16:13.
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.3. I will take away the posterity of Baasha, and the posterity of his house] R.V. I will utterly sweep away Baasha and his house. Here we have precisely the same expression as in the closing words of 1 Kings 14:10, where the A.V. rendered ‘take away the remnant.’ See note there.
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?
So Baasha slept with his fathers, and was buried in Tirzah: and Elah his son reigned in his stead.6. So [R.V. And] Baasha slept with his fathers] He had reigned not quite twenty-four full years. Cf. 1 Kings 15:33 with 1 Kings 16:8. Tirzah was now sufficiently distinguished to be made a burial place by the kings of Israel.
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.7. And also [R.V. moreover] by the hand of the prophet Jehu] ‘Moreover’ connects the two prophetic messages more directly than the ‘also’ of A. V. The LXX. omits the words ‘the prophet.’
even for (R.V. both because of] all the evil] There are two reasons given for the divine message sent to Baasha. They are both prefaced by the same preposition in the original = because, and it makes the verse clearer if the same word be used in both clauses in the translation.
and because he killed [R.V. smote] him] The R.V. gives on the margin ‘it’ for ‘him.’ The reference must be to Jeroboam and his house. God had raised up Baasha, and sent him against Jeroboam, but it is clear from this verse that the manner in which punishment had been inflicted by Baasha was not such as God approved of. We may compare with this the language of Isaiah (Isaiah 47:6) where God by the mouth of His prophet declares His wrath against His people, and how He delivered them into the hand of the king of Babylon, but at the same time shews His anger with the conqueror for the way in which he had exercised cruelty; “Thou didst shew them no mercy.”
The R.V. has rendered the verb ‘smote’ because it is so rendered in 1 Kings 15:27; 1 Kings 15:29, about the destruction of Jeroboam and of his house.
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.8–14. Elah king of Israel (Not in Chronicles)
8. In the twenty and sixth year of Asa king of Judah began] These words, like most other chronological dates, are omitted by the LXX.
in Tirzah, two years] Here as in 1 Kings 15:33 the R.V. inserts in italics after ‘Tirzah’ the words and reigned, which makes the sense clearer.
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.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.
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.10. in the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah] Omitted as usual by the LXX. Here again if we refer to 1 Kings 16:8, it is plain that Elah’s two years cannot have been full years.
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.11. that he slew] R.V. smote. The verb is the same that is constantly so rendered in all these descriptions. Zimri made a complete end, he left not a single man child.
he left … house of Baasha] All this passage is left out by the LXX.
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.13. by which they sinned, and by which they made] R.V. which they sinned and wherewith they made, as in other places. The LXX. has nothing to represent ‘by which they sinned.’
vanities] This word is often employed in the Old Testament of false gods, and the worship paid to them. The idea is that such a deity is nothing, and such prayers can have no result.
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.15–20. Zimri king of Israel. Omri proclaimed king by the army (Not in Chronicles)
15. In the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah] The chronological note is omitted by the LXX.
And [R.V. Now] the people were encamped against Gibbethon] The LXX. explains ‘the people’ by ἡ παρεμβολὴ = the camp. It was, of course, only the army and camp-followers who were away in the land of the Philistines. Apparently the attempt to wrest Gibbethon from the Philistines had continued from the time of Nadab. But the vicissitudes of the northern kingdom had been many, and such as to hinder the prosecution of any campaign.
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.16. heard say] The distance was not great between Tirzah and Gibbethon, and it was to the army that such news would quickly be brought.
hath also slain] R.V. smitten. The change is made for consistency.
wherefore all Israel] The voice of the army being regarded as the voice of the nation. So ‘all Israel’ is used in the next verse.
Omri, the captain of the host] Omri was manifestly in chief command at Gibbethon, and though Zimri was also a military officer, yet he had not, it would seem, the popularity of Omri.
And Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah.17. and they besieged Tirzah] Which must therefore have been a fortified town, and not a mere pleasance of the kings of Israel.
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,18. the palace [R.V. castle] of the king’s house] The word is most frequently rendered ‘palace’ in A.V.; but here and in 2 Kings 15:25, the sense required is some strong and well barricaded part of the royal residence, where any one might retire and the enemy be unable to reach him. The root of the noun is probably a verb implying ‘height.’
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.19. in doing evil] See on 1 Kings 15:34. There must have been in Zimri’s conduct some very prominent acts to indicate adhesion to the worship of the calves; otherwise in a reign of seven days he would hardly have been coupled with Jeroboam as leading the people into sin. Perhaps he endeavoured to win popularity in this way, so as to have on his side the bulk of the nation before the action of the army in the field became known.
did make Israel sin] R.V. to sin. There can be no reason for varying a phrase so stereotyped as this.
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.21–28. Two parties in Israel. Omri’s followers prevail. Reign of Omri, and the building of Samaria (Not in Chronicles)
21. divided into two parts] Probably it was the civil population, which at first followed Zimri, and after his death, Tibni, while the military strength declared for their commander-in-chief Omri.
half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath] Of Tibni we have no information but what is to be gathered from this passage. Comparing the date of Omri’s accession in 1 Kings 16:23, viz. the 31st year of Asa, with that of Zimri’s death in the 27th year of the same king (see 1 Kings 16:15) we find that the struggle between the two parties was continued for four years.
But the people that followed Omri prevailed against the people that followed Tibni the son of Ginath: so Tibni died, and Omri reigned.22. so Tibni died] Here the LXX. says ‘and Thamni died and his brother Joram at that time, and Ambri reigned after Thamni.’ This is one of those additions which can hardly have arisen except from the existence of a different Hebrew text.
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.23. over Israel, twelve years] The R.V. inserts in italics ‘and reigned,’ after ‘Israel’ to make the sense clear. See on 1 Kings 15:33.
six years reigned he] The four years of the struggle for the throne are not counted either to Tibni or to Omri. For the commencement of Ahab’s reign is put (see 1 Kings 16:29) in the 38th year of Asa.
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.24. the hill Samaria] This is the first historic mention of the place which subsequently became famous, as the chief city in Israel, and gave name to a people and a district. Where the word occurs in 1 Kings 13:32, it is a later writer who is using, before its proper date, a name which to him and his readers was perfectly familiar. (See note there.) Samaria is the Greek form of the name, but the derivation from ‘Shemer,’ the former owner, becomes apparent if the word be written in its Hebrew form ‘Shomeron.’
The LXX. inserts ‘the owner of the hill’ after the first mention of Shemer in this verse, as well as after the second; also it reads ‘and he called the name of the mountain where he built’ instead of the exact rendering of the Hebrew as in A. V.
But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him.25. But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord] R.V. and Omri did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. Thus translating as in other passages.
and did worse than] R.V. and dealt wickedly above. Cf. 2 Kings 21:11.
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.26. in his sin [R.V. sins]. In the Hebrew text there is a various reading, the margin (Keri) having the singular, the text (Kethib) the plural, which the R.V. always translates where it can be done.
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?
So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria: and Ahab his son reigned in his stead.28. At the close of this verse the LXX. inserts words almost identical with chap. 1 Kings 22:41-50, about the accession and the acts of Jehoshaphat. The only variation worth noting is that it is said that Jehoshaphat began to reign in the eleventh year of Omri, whereas in 1 Kings 22:41, the date of his accession is given as the fourth year of Ahab. And this latter date the LXX. gives in 22, where, with this change, the passage is inserted once more.
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.29–33. Ahab king of Israel. His excess of wickedness (Not in Chronicles)
29. And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa] Here the LXX. gives ‘in the second year of Jehoshaphat.’ This is in harmony with the inserted passage just noticed, but of course disagrees with the date in 1 Kings 22:41 both in the LXX. itself and in the Hebrew text.
and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel] These words are omitted by the LXX.: as are the words ‘the son of Omri’ in the next verse.
And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.
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.31. as if it had been a light thing] i.e. He was unwarned by all the visitations which had befallen the kings before him for their worship of the calves. He went further than this and introduced the worship of a false god into the land.
he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians] It was perhaps the taste for building, which manifested itself both in Omri and in Ahab, that brought them into closer alliance with Zidon; but no doubt an intercourse had been kept up ever since the days of Solomon between the two nations. But this marriage of Ahab was most fatal both to Israel and Judah. The family of Jezebel were devoted to the worship of Baal and Astarte. Josephus (cont. Apion. i. 18) mentions Eithobalus (i.e. Ethbaal) as ‘the priest of Astarte’ as well as king, and Pygmalion and Dido as being contemporaries of Jezebel. There was therefore great vigour in the race, and when Jezebel became queen of Israel she ruled her husband and the nation, and established the worship to which her family was so devoted. After the death of her husband, as queen-mother, she maintained her influence in the court of her son, and through her daughter Athaliah, who was married to the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, she wrought much evil in the southern kingdom and all but exterminated the royal race. The doings of Jezebel form a great part of the history till her death, which is related in 2 Kings 9. The various scenes in which she appears and the evil influence which she exercised will be best noticed as the history goes on.
went and served Baal] This was very different from the sin of Solomon who out of indulgence to his foreign wives permitted temples for their gods to be set up in his land, but himself took no share in the idolatrous worship. Jezebel had a greater and worse influence over Ahab.
And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.32. in the house of Baal] The LXX. renders by ἐν οἴκῳ τῶν προσοχθισμάτων αὐτοῦ= in the house of his abominations. This is after the fashion of the Jews who preferred to use the word ‘bosheth’ = shame, rather than the name ‘Baal’ when the latter could be avoided. Cf. the names ‘Ishbosheth’ and ‘Mephibosheth’ which are instead of ‘Eshbaal’ and ‘Meribbaal.’
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.33. And Ahab made a grove] R.V. the Ashêrah. That is, the image which was to represent the female divinity, of which Baal was the male.
to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger] Here the LXX. adds ‘and that his soul should be destroyed.’
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.34. The rebuilding of Jericho (Not in Chronicles)
34. Hiel the Bethelite] We may perhaps trace the influence here of evil surroundings. Hiel had been living at one of the seats of Jeroboam’s calf-worship, and the neglect of one command had led to ignorance or disregard of another.
did … build Jericho] As the kings, Omri and Ahab, were great builders, so their wealthier subjects were led to imitate their grand works. For the command that Jericho should not be rebuilt, see Joshua 6:26. The importance of the place lay no doubt in its neighbourhood to the passage of the Jordan, and at a time when commerce was much fostered this advantage was likely to outweigh, with such men, the prohibition which had been given so many generations before, and would be now reckoned as obsolete.
in Abiram] R.V. with the loss of Abiram. The R.V. explains the literal rendering of A.V. The preposition is used to express the cost or price of anything, and so here the penalty which Hiel paid for his transgression. The same change is also made in the second clause of the verse. The meaning is that between the beginning and the end of the undertaking all Hiel’s children were cut off.
by Joshua] The Hebrew has ‘by the hand of Joshua,’ as in so many other places where a message is in question.