1 Kings 16


‘Then the word of the LORD came to Jehu son of Hanani concerning Baasha: ‘I lifted you up from the dust and appointed you ruler over my people Israel, but you followed the ways of Jeroboam and caused my people Israel to sin and to arouse my anger by their sins. So I am about to wipe out Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat. Dogs will eat those belonging to Baasha who die in the city, and birds will feed on those who die in the country.’ As for the other events of Baasha’s reign, what he did and his achievements, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? Baasha rested with his ancestors and was buried in Tirzah. And Elah his son succeeded him as king. Moreover, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Jehu son of Hanani to Baasha and his house, because of all the evil he had done in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger by the things he did, becoming like the house of Jeroboam—and also because he destroyed it.’ 1 Kings 16:1-7

Jehu was a prophet and his father, Hanani was also a prophet, Jehu is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 20:34 as being the author of a history which are recorded in the book of the kings of Israel.

Later, Jehu moved to Jerusalem, 2 Chronicles 16:7-10, and prophesied under Jehoshaphat, whom he rebuked on one occasion. He lived to a good age and outlived Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 20:34.

Although the N.I.V tells us that God appointed Baasha ‘ruler’, other translations tell us that God made him a ‘prince’. This tells us that although God brought him to the throne, it was God Himself who was the one with the final authority because a prince didn’t have the final authority of any kingdom.

Baasha, like Asa before him, led people into idolatry and because of this God removed him from his throne. His household would suffer the same fate as Jeroboam’s because he didn’t turn the people back towards God. His family would be eaten by dogs, and the birds would feed off their bodies, 1 Kings 14:7-11.

Elah King Of Israel

‘In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah son of Baasha became king of Israel, and he reigned in Tirzah two years. Zimri, one of his officials, who had command of half his chariots, plotted against him. Elah was in Tirzah at the time, getting drunk in the home of Arza, the palace administrator at Tirzah. Zimri came in, struck him down and killed him in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah. Then he succeeded him as king. As soon as he began to reign and was seated on the throne, he killed off Baasha’s whole family. He did not spare a single male, whether relative or friend. So Zimri destroyed the whole family of Baasha, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken against Baasha through the prophet Jehu because of all the sins Baasha and his son Elah had committed and had caused Israel to commit, so that they aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, by their worthless idols. As for the other events of Elah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?’ 1 Kings 16:8-14

When we read these verses we begin to get a glimpse into just how morally corrupt Israel and their leadership have become. We must also remember that in and through all of this corruption God was going to bring about the Messiah, 1 Kings 19:18.

Elah’s reign was actually less than two years, but during this time Zimri plotted against him. What Zimri did to Baasha’s son was the same as what Baasha had done before him.

Elah is busy getting drunk, which wasn’t worthy behaviour of royalty, he should have been out on the battlefield fighting with his army.

He was getting drunk in the house of Arza, he was probably in charge of the palace of Tirzah and probably plotted again Elah along with Zimri.

Zimri killed every one of his predecessor’s heirs, leaving no living rival to the throne. Zimri was a professional soldier, perhaps not even an Israelite, since he isn’t identified with any tribe.

Zimri King Of Israel

‘In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned in Tirzah seven days. The army was encamped near Gibbethon, a Philistine town. When the Israelites in the camp heard that Zimri had plotted against the king and murdered him, they proclaimed Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that very day there in the camp. Then Omri and all the Israelites with him withdrew from Gibbethon and laid siege to Tirzah. When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the royal palace and set the palace on fire around him. So he died, because of the sins he had committed, doing evil in the eyes of the LORD and following the ways of Jeroboam and committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit. As for the other events of Zimri’s reign, and the rebellion he carried out, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?’ 1 Kings 16:15-20

Because of his plotting and scheming against Elah, Zimri was only able to stay in power for seven days, which is the shortest rule of any king in Israelite history. The Israelites rejected him as king and made Omri their king.

There were two reasons why the army of Israel didn’t accept Zimri as king, 1. He was a subordinate commander to Omri and 2. His murder of a host of Elah’s friends, along with Elah, and all of their sons must have made him a host of bitter enemies.

Its worth remembering that these kings of Israel were chosen by the people, not by God. God appears to be a distant memory at this point in time and this is displayed in Israel’s sinful behaviour and power struggle.

Zimri didn’t have the support of the people and so when Omri defeated Zimri’s weak army of men at Tirzah, he committed suicide by burning himself to death when he set the king’s house alight.

He is one of only four people mentioned in the Scriptures who committed suicide. The other three are Ahithophel, 2 Samuel 17:23, King Saul, 1 Samuel 31:5, Judas Iscariot, Matthew 27:5.

Zimri didn’t learn any lessons from Jeroboam’s sins, he made the same fatal mistake of leading Israel to commit idolatry.

Omri King Of Israel

‘Then the people of Israel were split into two factions; half supported Tibni son of Ginath for king, and the other half supported Omri. But Omri’s followers proved stronger than those of Tibni son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri became king. In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned twelve years, six of them in Tirzah. He bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver and built a city on the hill, calling it Samaria, after Shemer, the name of the former owner of the hill. But Omri did evil in the eyes of the LORD and sinned more than all those before him. He followed completely the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit, so that they aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, by their worthless idols. As for the other events of Omri’s reign, what he did and the things he achieved, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? Omri rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria. And Ahab his son succeeded him as king.’ 1 Kings 16:21-28

Omri reigned from 885-874 B.C., and he managed to bring together the kingship of the northern kingdom after a period of turmoil among evil kings and he had a lot of influence internationally.

In the British Museum, there is the Black Obelisk, a black limestone obelisk of Shalmaneser III, and it glorifies the achievements of the king and minister. On it are written inscriptions which show tribute coming from all directions.

There are tribute bearers in five rows, identified by captions. Each row has four panels, one on each side of the obelisk, 1. Gilzanu (North-West Iran) tribute includes horses. 2. House of Omri (Ancient Israel- tribute from Biblical King Jehu 841 B.C.). 3. Musri, or Egypt tribute or gift of elephant, ape and other exotic animals. 4. Suhi on the Euphrates, scene of animal hunting. 5. Patina in Southern Turkey.

Notice that Omri the king of Israel is mentioned, this tells us that at this point in time, when Omri had become king, the northern kingdom was divided between those who gave allegiance to Tibni and those who followed Omri. Omri triumphed in the conflict, and as a result of this, he brought some stability to the kingdom.

He moved the capital of Israel from Tizrah to Samaria and so, by doing this he established Samaria as the centre of government and faith in the northern kingdom.

Omri, just like those before him, led Israel into idolatry, he obviously was chosen by the people because he like many before him, wanted to please the people and allowed the people to influence him. He died and his son, Ahab now becomes king of Israel.

Ahab Becomes King Of Israel

‘In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him. In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken by Joshua son of Nun.’ 1 Kings 16:29-34

Ahab reigned from 874 to 853 B.C., and his reign shows us just how evil things have become in Israel. Up to this point, the focus has been on all the power struggles within Israel but here the focus is on how evil the kings were in their relationships with the people they reigned over.

We see just how much the people have rejected God as Baal worship is now the main form of worship in both the northern and southern kingdoms. There appear to be a few righteous people among all this Baal worship, but because of intimidation, their faith goes into hiding.

False Baal prophets were employed by the government to impose submission to Baal, which resulted in the true prophets of God also being intimidated. If there was ever a time for those of great faith in God, Elijah and Elisha to step up, it was now, the righteous people and the true prophets of God needed to be encouraged and reminded that amidst all this ungodliness and idolatry, God is still in control.

We read that this great apostasy to lead Israel into more idolatry was led by Ahab and Jezebel, the king and queen of the northern kingdom.

Notice that ‘the sins of Jeroboam’ had become mainstream, Ahab considered what he was doing as trivial, not a big deal. No wonder Israel is setting herself up to fail, no wonder God is eventually going to take them into captivity. They are just going from bad to worse which every king which comes to the throne.

Notice that Hiel built Jericho, Joshua had prophesied that this would happen in Joshua 6:26, around five hundred years before, but within his prophecy, he also warned if anyone did rebuild it, there would be consequences to pay.

Here we read about those consequences, it cost the lives of Hiel’s two sons, Abiram and Segub.

Go To 1 Kings 17


"And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."