Then the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying,
Verse 1. - Then the word of the Lord came to Jehu, the son of Hanani [Hanani is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 16:7-10 as having admonished Asa, and as having been thrown into prison for so doing. Both he and his son would seem to have belonged to the kingdom of Judah. We find the latter in 2 Chronicles 19:2 a resident in Jerusalem, and protesting against the alliance between Jehoshaphat, whose historian he became, and whom, consequently, he must have survived (2 Chronicles 20:34), and Ahab. He is mentioned in the verse last cited as "made to ascend on the book of the kings of Israel" (see Introduction, p. 13.) His prophetic career must have extended over at least half a century] against Baasha, saying,
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;
Verse 2. - Forasmuch as I exalted thee out of the dust [cf. 1 Kings 14:7; 2 Samuel 7:8; Psalm 78:70. These words assuredly point to a lowly origin. He may well have risen from the ranks], and made thee prince [The original word is used of leaders of various degrees, comprehending even the king: 1 Kings 1:35; 1 Samuel 9:16; 1 Samuel 10:1; cf. Daniel 9:25] over my people Israel [There is no approval implied here of the means by which Baasha had raised himself to the throne. All that is said is that he had been an instrument in God's hands, and owed his throne to God's sanction and ordering. Even his conspiracy and cruelties had been overruled to the furtherance of the Divine purpose], and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made my people Israel to sin, to provoke me to anger [better vex, one word] 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.
Verse 3. - Behold, I will take away [Heb. exterminate; same word as in 1 Kings 14:10 (where see note); 21:21; 22:47, etc.] the posterity of [Heb. after] Baasha, and the posterity of [after] his house, and will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. [Cf. 1 Kings 15:29; 1 Kings 21:22, etc.]
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.
Verse 4. - Him that dieth of [Heb. to; see note on 1 Kings 14:11] 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 may be these words, like those of the next two verses, were almost a formula, but if so, it is noticeable that precisely the same formula was used of Jeroboam a few years before, and Baasha knew well how it had been accomplished. "All the prophets in succession have the same message from God for the same sins" (Wordsworth).]
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?
Verse 5. - Now the rest of the acts of Baasha, and what he did, and his might [as to which see 1 Kings 15:17-21. He could hardly have given a stronger proof of his might thou by fortifying a post but five miles distant from Jerusalem. Keil, however, would interpret the word, both here and in 1 Kings 15:23, of his energy and strength in government. Better Bahr, tapfere Thaten. Ewald hence infers that Baasha was "a man of distinguished bravery"], 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.
Verse 6. - So Baasha slept with his fathers, and was buried in Tizrzah [cf. 1 Kings 15:21, 33. This place is twice mentioned as his residence], and Elah his son reigned in his stead. [It is perhaps more than a mere coincidence that this uncommon name, Elah ("terebinth," see note on 1 Kings 13:14), is also the name of the great valley (1 Samuel 17:2, 19; 1 Samuel 21:9) near to Gibbethon, where Baasha was proclaimed king.]
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.
Verse 7. - And also by the hand of the prophet Jehu, the son of Hanani, came the word of the Lord against Baasha [This does not refer, as some have thought, to a second prophecy on Jehu's part, but is rather explicative of ver. 2. Rawlinson thinks the object of the historian herein was to point out that Baasha was punished for the "murder of Jeroboam [?] and his family," as well as for the calf worship. Keil and Bahr hold that it is designed to guard against a perversion of ver. 2, "I made thee prince," etc., from which it might be inferred that he was commissioned of God to murder Nadab. But it is simpler to suppose that his primary idea was to convey, by this repetition, which no doubt is derived from a different source from the statement of ver. 2, that Baasha was visited by God for his various sins. It was no chance that happened to him. The excision of his house, like that of Jeroboam, was distinctly foretold], 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 [ver. 2; note the coincidence with 1 Kings 15:30, in connexion with the next words. Bahr explains "the works of his hands "as idols, Dii factitii, after Deuteronomy 4:28, but this appears somewhat far fetched], in being like the house of Jeroboam, and because he killed him [i.e., Nadab]. The Reign of Elah.
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.
Verse 8. - In the twenty and sixth year of Asa, king of Judah, began Elah, son of Baasha, to reign over Israel, two years [cf. ch. 15. and see note on 1 Kings 15:28].
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.
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.]
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.
Verse 10. - And Zimri went in [cf. Judges 3:20; 2 Samuel 4:7] and smote him and killed him in the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his stead. [Cf. 1 Kings 15:28 and 2 Kings 15:23. It is curious how it happened three times in the history of Israel that "the only powerful prince in a new dynasty was its founder, and after his son and successor reigned two years, the power passed into other hands" (Ewald).] The Reign of Zimri.
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.
Verse 11. - And it came to pass when he began to reign, as soon as he sate on his throne, that he slew all the house of Baasha [see note on ch. 15:29. The LXX. Vat. omits the rest of this verse and the first clause of ver. 12]: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall [i.e., not a boy. See ch. 14:10 note], neither of [Heb. and] his kinsfolks [The לֺגּאֵל is strictly the person to whom
(1) the right of redemption (Leviticus 25:26; Ruth, passim) and
(2) the duty of avenging blood (Numbers 35:19) belonged.
And this being the next of kin (Ruth 2:12, 13), the word came to mean near relative, kinsman, as here; cf. Ruth 2:20. All the same, it discloses to us Zimri's object, which was to destroy the avenger of blood. And it shows (in connexion with ver. 16) that none of Baasha's children, if he had other children, had gone to the war], nor of his friends. [Zimri went a step farther than Baasha had gone. He was not content with extirpating the royal family, but put to death the partizans of the house, all who would be likely to sympathize with Elah or to resent his murder.]
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,
Verse 12. - Thus did Zimri destroy an the house of Baasha, according to the word of the Lord which he spake against Baasha, by [Heb. in the hand of] Jehu the prophet [Vers. 1, 7; cf. 1 Kings 15:29. The analogy is now complete],
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.
Verse 13. - For [אֶל corresponds with the עַל of ver. 7 = propter; cf. 1 Kings 14:5; 1 Kings 21:22] 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 [the formula of 1 Kings 15:30, etc.] with their vanities. [The calves, not idols, are referred to here. Cf. Deuteronomy 32:21; 1 Corinthians 8:4. The same idea is embodied in the word Bethaven; Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:8.]
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?
Verse 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?
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.
Verse 15. - In the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah did Zimri reign [The same word elsewhere translated in A.V. began to reign. It is really an aorist = succeeded to the throne] seven days in Tirzah. And the people were encamped [Heb. encamping] against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Phistines. [It has at first sight a suspicious look that two kings of Israel, within an interval of about twenty-five years, should have been slain by conspirators during a siege of this place. But when the narrative is examined, its probability and consistency become at once apparent. Stanley assumes that the siege lasted over the whole of this period, but it is more likely that when Baasha found himself king, he discovered that he had domestic matters enough upon his hands, without a foreign war, and so he raised the siege. It is very probable that he feared opposition such as Zimri and Omri subsequently experienced. And his wars with Asa and with Syria may well have prevented his renewing the undertaking. On the accession of Elah, however, with the usual ambition and impetuosity of youth, it was decided to recommence the siege and to win this city back for Israel. But the fate of Nadab, and the consequent ill omen attaching to the place would not be forgotten, and this, as well as his voluptuous habits, may have deterred the faineant Elah from besieging it in person, while the conspiracy which marked the former siege may at the same time have suggested to Zimri and others the thought of conspiring against Elah.]
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.
Verse 16. - And the people that were encamped heard say, Zimri hath conspired, and hath also slain the king: wherefore all Israel [obviously, all the army. Cf. 1 Kings 12:1, 16, 18] made Omri, the captain of the host, king over Israel that day in the camp. It was hardly likely they would submit to the usurpation of Zimri. Not only had he occupied a subordinate position, but his murder of all Elah's friends must have made him a host of enemies in the camp. It was the natural thing for them, therefore, to turn to Omri. He had the advantage of being in possession. The captain of the host stood next to the king (2 Kings 4:13; 2 Samuel 5:8; 2 Samuel 19:13; 2 Samuel 20:23), and twice stepped into his place (2 Kings 9:5). This history has many parallels in that of the Roman empire.]
And Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah.
Verse 17. - And Omri went up from Gibbethon ["The expression, 'went up,' accurately marks the ascent of the army from the Shephelah, where Gibbethon was situated, to the hill country of Israel, on the edge of which Tirzah stood" (Rawlinson)], and all Israel [see on ver. 16] with him, and they besieged Tirzah. [It is probable that they arrived before the city on the sixth or seventh day after the assassination of Elah. This period would just allow sufficient time for the news of the conspiracy to travel to Gibbethon and for the march of the army.]
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,
Verse 18. - And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken [the meaning is probably that which Josephus gives: "When he saw that the city had none to defend it," or possibly, "when he saw that a breach was made"], that he went into the palace [אַרְמון citadel, fortress, from תךעט סעתלא אָרַם. So Gesen., Keil, Bight, al. The palace, no doubt, consisted of a string of buildings (1 Kings 7:2-9) of which this was the highest and strongest part. Ewald thinks that the harem - a word which has almost the same radicals ? or women's apartment, is meant - the most secluded portion of the great palace (Josephus understands it to mean "the inmost part"), and hence infers, as also from 2 Kings 9:31, that the women of the palace had willingly submitted to the effeminate murderer of their lord, and that even the queen-mother had made advances towards him (vol. 4. p. 36). But, as Bight remarks there is nothing of this in the text, and Zimri's desperate act rather shows daring and contempt of death than effeminacy or sensuality. And 2 Kings 15:25 (cf. Psalm 122:7) seems to point to a stronghold rather than a seraglio] of the king's house, and burnt the king's house [probably the palace which Jereboam had built. Ewald thinks it was this structure gave Tirzah its reputation for beauty; Song of Solomon 6:4] over him with fire [According to the Syriac, the besiegers set fire to the palace. Similarly Jarchi. But the text is decisive. The parallel deed of Sardanapalus will occur to all readers. Rawlinson also refers to Herod. 1:176, and 7:107], and died. [This word is intimately connected with the verse following. But there is no need to rearrange the verses. The text, as it stands, conveys clearly enough that Zimri's tragical death was a retribution for his sins. Bahr remarks that of Elah and Zimri we learn nothing, apart from the fact that they held to the sin of Jeroboam, except how they died.]
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.
Verse 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. [It is quite clear that in his reign of one week Zimri cannot have done much to show his complicity in the schism of Jeroboam, and it is probable that the sacred writer means that his character and antecedents were such as to prove that all his sympathies were with the irreligious party. Bahr thinks that he had "formerly displayed much partiality for the calf worship." But it is quite as likely that the idea in the historian's mind was that all these events were the bitter fruits of Jeroboam's misguided and impious policy, into the spirit of which, Zimri, like his predecessors, had been baptized. It is interesting to remember here the aspect these repeated revolutions and assassinations would wear to the kingdom of Judah, then enjoying quietness and prosperity under Asa. We cannot doubt for a moment that they were regarded as so many manifestations of the righteous judgment of God, and as the outcomes of that spirit of insubordination and impiety which, in their eyes, had brought about both the division of the kingdom and the schism in the church.]
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?
Verse 20. - Now the rest of the acts of Zimri [We see here the tendency of the historian to express himself in formulae. He checks himself, however, and does not add "and all that he did," etc.], and his treason that he wrought [Heb. his conspiracy which he conspired. Though this was all there was to tell of him, yet no doubt it would be recorded at greater length by the historians of the day. We can hardly suppose that the "books of the words of the days" would dismiss so striking an event in a few sentences], are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? The Interregnum.
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.
Verse 21. - Then were the people of Israel divided into two parts: halt of the people followed [lit., was after. Same expression 2 Samuel 2:10; cf. 1 Kings 1:7] Tibni the son of Ginath [Who he was, or why he was set up in opposition to Omri, it is impossible to say. It has been supposed that the army was divided in its preferences, and that part of the soldiery wished to make Tibni king, and this is perhaps the most probable conjecture. It is to be considered that the entire army was not encamped before Gibbethon. Nor are vers. 16, 17 fatal to this view, as Bahr maintains, because "all Israel" there clearly means all the army under the command of Omri. It is hardly likely that Tibni was set up by the people of Tirzah, after the death of Zimri, to continue the struggle. The only thing that is certain is that,the hereditary principle being overthrown, the crown appeared to be the legitimate prize of the strongest; and Tibni, who may have occupied a position of importance, or have had, somehow, a considerable following, resolved that Omri should not wear it without a fierce contest], to make him king [Omri had been already made king, i.e., anointed, ver. 16]; and half renewed Omri.
But the people that followed Omri prevailed against the people that followed Tibni the son of Ginath: so Tibni died, and Omri reigned.
Verse 22. - But the people that followed Omri prevailed against the people that followed Tibni the son of Ginath [It appears, however, from the following verse that the struggle lasted four years]: so Tibni died [According to Jos., Ant. 8:12. § 5, he was slain by the conqueror. The LXX. has here a curious and probably genuine addition. "And Thabni died, and Joram his brother at that time], and Omri reigned. [The jingle of the Hebrew words is probably designed.] The Reign of Omri.
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.
Verse 23. - In the thirty and first year of Asa, king of Judah began Omri to reign over Israel, twelve years [As Omri was proclaimed king in the twenty-seventh and died in the thirty-eighth year of Asa (cf. vers. 15, 29), he cannot in any case have reigned twelve full years; whereas if his reign is to be dated, as it is here, from the thirty-first year of Asa, it is obvious that he would only have reigned seven, or, according to the Jewish mode of reckoning, eight years. Rawlinson proposes to get over the difficulty by rearranging the text. He would attach the first clause of this verse to ver. 22, and read, "And Omri reigned in the thirty-first," etc. But to this there are two serious objections. First, that ver. 23, as it now stands, only follows the usual formula with which a new reign is announced (cf. vers. 8, 15, 29); and, second, it is extremely doubtful whether any prose sentence in the Hebrew ever begins as ver. 23 would then do, "Reigned Omri over Israel twelve years." Such a sentence would certainly be quite alien to the usus loquendi of our author. We are therefore reduced to the conclusion either
(1) that the text here, as in some other instances (1 Kings 6:1; 2 Kings 1:17; cf. 3:1; 13:1, 10, etc.), has suffered at the hands of a reviser, or
(2) that the numbers have been corrupted in transcription; or
(3) that the historian expresses himself in a somewhat confused way. Of these suppositions perhaps
(1) is the most likely. Anyhow, it is clear that the twelve years of Omri's reign are to be counted not from the thirty-first, but from the twenty-seventh year of Asa, i.e., from the date of Zimri's death (see vers. 10, 15, 29). The confusion has arisen from the fact that it was not until Tibni was slain, after four years of conflict, that Omri became sole ruler]: 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.
Verse 24. ? And he bought [i.e., after the six years just mentioned. During the four years of anarchy Omri would seem to have retained possession of the capital which he had taken (ver. 18) on Zimri's death. But the palace being burnt and the defences perhaps weakened by the siege, he determined, rather than rebuild it, to found a capital elsewhere] the hill Samaria [Heb. Shomeron, called by Herod Sebaste, whence its modern name Sebustieh. In his selection of Samaria for the seat of government, Omri acted with singular judgment. It has been said that "Shechem is the natural capital of Palestine," and no doubt it enjoys a commanding position and great advantages, but Samaria has even superior recommendations. It is a site with which no traveller can fail to be deeply impressed. Even Van de Velde, who says, "I do not agree with Dr. Robinson and other writers who follow him that the mountain of Samaria presents so admirable a combination of strength, fertility, and beauty, that the like is hardly to be found in Palestine" (vol. 1. pp. 374, 375), nevertheless readily allows its superiority to Tirzah, and remarks on the strength of its position. "Many travellers have expressed a conviction that the spot was in most respects much preferable to the site of Jerusalem" (Kitto). It is a large oval or oblong mound, with a level surface, adapted for buildings, with steep sides to make its position impregnable, and surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills. "Samaria is in a position of great strength., and must before the invention of gunpowder have been almost impregnable. It stands some 400 feet above the valley, the sides of the hill being steep and terraced in every direction for cultivation, or perhaps for defensive purposes.. broad and open valleys stretch north and south, and the hill is thus almost isolated," Conder, p. 47, who adds, "Strategical reasons may be supposed to have dictated the choice of the capital of Omri, for on the north the hill commands the main road to Jezreel over a steep pass, on the west it dominates the road to the coast, and on the east that to the Jordan" (p. 49). Grove (Dict. Bib. 3:1099) speaks of "the singular beauty of the spot," and Stanley ("Jewish Church" it. p. 284) justly sees in the selection of this spot a proof of Omri's sagacity. But perhaps the best proof is that which the subsequent history supplies. Shechem and Tirzah had each been tried, and each in turn had been abandoned. But Samaria continued to be the capital so long as the kingdom lasted] of Shemer for two talents of silver [variously estimated at £500 and £800. This purchase, obviously of the freehold, i.e., in perpetuity, was in contravention of the law of Leviticus 25:23. David had bought the threshing floor of Ornan, but that was
(1) from a Jebusite, and
(2) for a high religious purpose (2 Samuel 24:24).
It has been suggested that this purchase may have inspired Ahab with the idea of buying the vineyard of Naboth], and built on [Heb. built] the hill and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill, Samaria. [It is not improbable that the vendor bargained that the land should retain his name (cf. Psalm 49:11). The reluctance of the Israelite to part with his patrimony, even to the king, is brought out very strikingly in ch. 21. Shemer, in selling his choice parcel of land for a capital, might well wish to connect his name with it. The fact that שֹׁמְרון means watch mountain (Gesen.), and that we should have expected a name formed from Shemer to take the form Shimron - Shomeron would strictly imply an original Shomer - is not by any means a proof that our historian is at fault in his derivation. For, in the first place, the names Shomer and Shemer are used of the same person in 1 Chronicles 7:32, 34. And secondly, nothing would be more in accordance with Jewish ideas than that Omri, in naming the hill after its owner, should give a turn to the word which would also express at the same time its characteristic feature. A pun, or play upon word, was the form which wit assumed amongst the Semitic races (as, indeed, is the case still, see Conder, p. 801), and the form Shomeron would at once perpetuate the memory of Shemer, and express the hope and purpose of Omri. It is a curious fact that the later Samaritans did play upon this very word, representing themselves as guardians (שֹּׁמְרִים) of the law (Ewald). The Greek form of the name, Σαμάρεια, would seem to have been derived through the Chaldee שִׁמְרָיִן as found in Ezra 4:10, 17.]
But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him.
Verse 25. - But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him. [It has been thought that Micah 6:16 ("the statutes of Omri, etc.") points to a fresh departure from the Jewish faith; to the organization of the calf worship into a regular formal system, or to "measures for more competely isolating the people of Israel from the services of the house of the Lord at Jerusalem" (Kitto).
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.
Verse 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.
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?
Verse 27. - Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, and his might that he showed [Not only in the war with Tibni, but certainly in the subjugation of the Moabites, of which mention is made in the recently discovered Moabite stone. He may well have had other wars, which, like this, have escaped notice in Scripture. If the king of Syria spoke truly (1 Kings 20:34), the war with that power had been extremely disastrous. Yet the Assyrian inscriptions prove that Omri's name was more widely and permanently known in the East than those of his predecessors or successors. Samaria, for example, down to the time of Tiglath-Pileser, appears as Beth Khumri, the "house of Omri;" Athaliah,the daughter of Ahab, is called a daughter of Omri; and Jehu appears in the Black Obelisk Inscription as "the son of Omri" (Rawlinson, "Hist. Illus. of O.T.," pp. 111-12). It is perhaps an evidence of "his might" that his dynasty retained the throne to the third generation], are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? [Vers. 26, 27 are an exact repetition, mutatis mutandis, of 1 Kings 13:14; cf. 15:80.]
So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria: and Ahab his son reigned in his stead.
Verse 28. - So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria [After the example of earlier kings, he found a grave in his capital city; cf. 1 Kings 2:10; 1 Kings 11:43; 1 Kings 14:31; 1 Kings 16:16]: and Ahab his son reigned In his stead.
CHAPTER 16:29-34. THE REIGN OF AHAB. - With the accession of Ahab a new main section of our history begins - the section which has its close in the destruction of the house of Omri by Jehu, as related in 2 Kings 10. And this reign is recorded at unusual length; in fact, it occupies nearly all the remaining portion of this volume, whereas the reigns of preceding kings have in several instances been dismissed in a few verses. It owes this distinction to the ministry of the great prophet Elijah by which it was marked, and, indeed, was profoundly influenced; but this ministry, it must be remembered, was necessitated by the critical circumstances of the time. It may be that "every age thinks itself a crisis," but no one can fail to see that this was one of the veritable turning points of Jewish history. One of the real "decisive battles of the world" - that between the Lord and Baal - was then fought out. No wonder that our historian felt constrained to chronicle at length the transactions of a reign so pregnant both with good and evil for the people of the Lord and for the faith with which they had been put in trust. Indeed, the same guiding principle which led him to devote so many of his pages to the reign of Solomon, when the theocratic kingdom was at its highest, impelled him to linger over the reign of Ahab when religion was at its lowest ebb. The secular historian, too often like the sundial which "counts no hours save those serene," draws a veil over the time of his country's decadence, or touches its misfortunes with a light hand. It is only in the inspired records that we have an impartial register both of the glory and shame of a common. wealth.
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.
Verse 29. - And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah [see notes on ver. 23] began Ahab ["Father's brother." The name is apposite. He was Omri's alter ego in impiety] the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years.
And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.
Verse 30. - And Ahab the son of Omri [The repetition is noticeable. It is possible that the preceding verse has been revised by a chronologer. The LXX. text is much more condensed] did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. [The same words are used of his father in ver. 25. It is not difficult to see in what way Ahab's rule was worse even than Omri's. The latter had gone beyond his predecessors in the matter of the calf worship. See note on ver. 25. But the calf worship, however it may have deteriorated in process of time - and it is the tendency of such systems to wax worse and worse - was nevertheless a cult, though a corrupt, and unauthorized, and illicit cultus, of the one true God. Under Ahab, however, positive idolatry was established and fostered the worship of foreign and shameful deities.]
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.
Verse 31. - And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him [Heb. as marg. was it a light thing? Ewald (362 a) explains this to mean "because it was." But it seems better to understand, "was it such a light thing... that he must needs also?" etc.] to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat [i.e., the sins of heresy and schism], that he took to wife Jezebel [ = "Without cohabitation," "chaste," Gesenius, who compares it with Agnes. It is hardly the original of Isabella] the daughter of Ethbaal [ = "With Baal." The Greek form Ἰθόβαλος or Αἰθώβαλος, found in Jos., Ant. 8:13.1; cf. Contr. Ap. 1:18, suggests as its original אִתּו בַּעַל i.e., "with him is Baal." In either case the name well became him, for, according to Menander (apud Jos. l.c.), he was the priest of Astarte, who gained for himself the throne of the Zidonians by the assassination of Pheles. He is further said to have reigned thirty-two years, and to have lived sixty-eight years. He would therefore be thirty-six years old at the time of his accession. It does not appear that (Keil) he was the brother of Pheles. Pheles, however, was certainly a fratricide. (Rawlinson reminds us that Jezebel was great-aunt to Pygmalion and Dido.) This statement helps to explain Jezebel's fierce and sanguinary character, and at the same time accounts for her great devotion to the gods of her country, and for her determined efforts to establish their impure rites in her husband's kingdom. It was only what one would expect from the child of such a parent] king of the Zidonians [This alliance, it is extremely probable, was made for purely political reasons, as a counterpoise against the active, ambitious, and encroaching power which had arisen in Damascene Syria. The army which had already humbled Omri (ch. 20:34) could not fail to be a source of danger to Tyre], and went and served Baal [Heb. the Baal, i.e., the lord or master; cf. ὁ κύριος. The name appears among the Babylonians as Bel (Isaiah 46:1) - Greek βῆλος. Reference has already been made to the frequent recurrence of the word in different compound names, and in different parts of Palestine, as showing how widespread must have been his worship at an earlier age. We are also familiar with the word in the names Hannibal, Hasdrubal, etc. Baal was the supreme male god of the Canaanitish races, as Ashtoreth was their great female divinity. The former was regarded, not only as the possessor, but as the generator, of all], worshipped him
And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.
Verse 32. - And he reared up an altar for Baal in [Heb. omits in; cf. 1 Kings 15:15, etc.] the house of Baal [A temple, we can hardly doubt, of considerable splendour. Jezebel would not be satisfied with less], which he had built in Samaria [According to 2 Kings 3:2; 2 Kings 10:27, he also raised a pillar (A.V. image) in the house of Baal. We learn from Dius and Menander that Hiram had raised a golden pillar to Baal in Tyre. Perhaps Ahab may have copied this. But it is probable that this image, which represented the generative powers of nature, was an essential part of the impure worship of Baal. The house and its contents alike were destroyed by Jehu (2 Kings 10:27).
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.
Verse 33. - And Ahab made a grove [Heb. an Asherah, i.e., image of Astarte, a female figure corresponding to the male effigy just described. See note on 1 Kings 14:23]; 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.
Verse 34. - In his days did Hiel the Bethelite [Observe the form בֵּית הָךאלִי, and see note on 1 Kings 2:8. It is noticeable that it was reserved for a man of Bethel to commit this act of impiety. It was to such results the worship of the calves contributed] build [i.e., rebuild, fortify, as in 1 Kings 12:25; cf. 1 Kings 9:17. It is clear from Judges 3:13 and 2 Samuel 10:5 that it had not been entirely uninhabited. But the Arab village was now converted into a town with gates and bars] Jericho [We learn from Joshua 18:21 that Jericho then belonged to Benjamin. It had evidently passed, however, at this date into the possession of Israel. It has been suggested that the transference took place in the reign of Baasha (Rawlinson). But it would seem that from the very first, parts of Benjamin (notably Bethel, Joshua 18:13) belonged to the northern kingdom. See Ewald, "Hist. Israel," 4:2, 3. It is not quite clear whether the rebuilding of Jericho is mentioned as a proof of the daring impiety of that age and of the utter contempt with which the warnings of the law were treated, or as showing the ignorance and consequent disregard of law which prevailed. But, on the whole, it seems to be implied that Hiel knew of the threatening of Joshua, and treated it with defiance. It has been suggested that the rebuilding had really been instigated by Ahab, and for his own purposes, hoping thereby to "secure to himself the passage across the Jordan" (Keil), but the text affords but slight warrant for this conjecture]: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn [i.e., at the cost of, in the life of, Abiram], and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord [Joshua 6:26], which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun. [The exact fulfilment of the prophecy is mentioned, as showing that even in those dark and troublous times God did not leave Himself without witness, and that law could never be violated with impunity.]
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