1 Kings 15:25-16:28 – Early Kings of Israel
SummaryThe 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.
AnalysisJudah, 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.