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1 Kings 15:25-16:28 – Early Kings of Israel

Summary

The early kings of Israel: Nadab (901-900), Baasha (900-877), Elah (877), Zimri (876), and Omri (876-869) are evaluated very differently than those of Judah. Following in the pattern of Jeroboam, they flourish politically while growing in apostasy.

Analysis

Judah, the house of David, is evaluated very differently from Israel, the house of Jeroboam. With that pattern established in the reigns of Abijam and Asa, the narrative moves on to a consideration of the early kings of Israel where Ahijah's solemn announcement of disaster (14:15) is drawn out in the chaotic reigns of these monarchs:
•    Jeroboam's son Nadab was assassinated after a brief two years on the throne (15:25-31).
•    Baasha's initial act as king, following the assassination of Nadab, was to exterminate the house of Jeroboam in fulfillment of Ahijah's prophecy (14:10-11). Another prophet, Jehu, determined that Baasha was no better than Jeroboam and that his house would be eliminated as well (15:33-16:7).
•    Elah, Baasha's son, like Nadab the son of Jeroboam, reigns only two years before he is assassinated by Zimri, who lasted only a week before committing suicide (16:8-20).
With Omri (16:21-28) some stability was achieved, though not at first. It took several years before Omri defeated Tibni and established one of the most impressive reigns of all the rulers of Judah and Israel: his dynasty lasted for forty years; for years after his reign Assyria referred to Israel as "The House of Omri"; his defeat of Moab is recorded on the Mesha Stela (the so-called "Moabite Stone"); an able administrator, Omri also moved the capital from Tirzah to Samaria which dramatically increased Israel's trade relations.
Nevertheless, the reign of Omri is described as doing "more evil than all who were before him" (v. 25). The standard of judgment is that of cultic fidelity, not political or economic success.

1 Kings 15:25-16:28

Nadab Reigns over Israel

25 Nadab son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of King Asa of Judah; he reigned over Israel for two years. 26He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, walking in the way of his ancestor and in the sin that he caused Israel to commit.

27 Baasha son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him; and Baasha struck him down at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines; for Nadab and all Israel were laying siege to Gibbethon. 28So Baasha killed Nadab* in the third year of King Asa of Judah, and succeeded him. 29As soon as he was king, he killed all the house of Jeroboam; he left to the house of Jeroboam not one that breathed, until he had destroyed it, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite— 30because of the sins of Jeroboam that he committed and that he caused Israel to commit, and because of the anger to which he provoked the Lord, the God of Israel.

31 Now the rest of the acts of Nadab, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel? 32There was war between Asa and King Baasha of Israel all their days.

Second Dynasty: Baasha Reigns over Israel

33 In the third year of King Asa of Judah, Baasha son of Ahijah began to reign over all Israel at Tirzah; he reigned for twenty-four years. 34He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, walking in the way of Jeroboam and in the sin that he caused Israel to commit.

16The word of the Lord came to Jehu son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, 2‘Since I exalted you out of the dust and made you leader over my people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam, and have caused my people Israel to sin, provoking me to anger with their sins, 3therefore, I will consume Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat. 4Anyone belonging to Baasha who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and anyone of his who dies in the field the birds of the air shall eat.’

5 Now the rest of the acts of Baasha, what he did, and his power, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel? 6Baasha slept with his ancestors, and was buried at Tirzah; and his son Elah succeeded him. 7Moreover, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Jehu son of Hanani against Baasha and his house, both because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam, and also because he destroyed it.

Elah Reigns over Israel

8 In the twenty-sixth year of King Asa of Judah, Elah son of Baasha began to reign over Israel in Tirzah; he reigned for two years. 9But his servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against him. When he was at Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, who was in charge of the palace at Tirzah, 10Zimri came in and struck him down and killed him, in the twenty-seventh year of King Asa of Judah, and succeeded him.

11 When he began to reign, as soon as he had seated himself on his throne, he killed all the house of Baasha; he did not leave him a single male of his kindred or his friends. 12Thus Zimri destroyed all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke against Baasha by the prophet Jehu— 13because of all the sins of Baasha and the sins of his son Elah that they committed, and that they caused Israel to commit, provoking the Lord God of Israel to anger with their idols. 14Now the rest of the acts of Elah, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel?

Third Dynasty: Zimri Reigns over Israel

15 In the twenty-seventh year of King Asa of Judah, Zimri reigned for seven days in Tirzah. Now the troops were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines, 16and the troops who were encamped heard it said, ‘Zimri has conspired, and he has killed the king’; therefore all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day in the camp. 17So Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah. 18When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king’s house; he burned down the king’s house over himself with fire, and died— 19because of the sins that he committed, doing evil in the sight of the Lord, walking in the way of Jeroboam, and for the sin that he committed, causing Israel to sin. 20Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and the conspiracy that he made, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel?

Fourth Dynasty: Omri Reigns over Israel

21 Then the people of Israel were divided into two parts; half of the people followed Tibni son of Ginath, to make him king, and half followed Omri. 22But the people who followed Omri overcame the people who followed Tibni son of Ginath; so Tibni died, and Omri became king. 23In the thirty-first year of King Asa of Judah, Omri began to reign over Israel; he reigned for twelve years, six of them in Tirzah.

Samaria the New Capital

24 He bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver; he fortified the hill, and called the city that he built Samaria, after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill.

25 Omri did what was evil in the sight of the Lord; he did more evil than all who were before him. 26For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and in the sins that he caused Israel to commit, provoking the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger by their idols. 27Now the rest of the acts of Omri that he did, and the power that he showed, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel? 28Omri slept with his ancestors, and was buried in Samaria; his son Ahab succeeded him.

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10 February 2011

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