James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abijam over Judah.1 Kings 15:1-16:34
ASA TO AHAB
ABIJAM’S BRIEF REIGN IN JUDAH (1 Kings 15:1-8)
This commentary will permit but the briefest treatment of the less important reigns of Judah and Israel, that more attention may be given to the others.
“Abijam” is called “Abijah” in 2 Chronicles 12:16.
Verse 5, referring to David, is to be taken in the comparative sense spoken of in the lesson preceding.
Verse 6 is a mistake, as some copies of the text read “Abijam” for “Rehoboam.’
Since Abijam began to reign in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam (1 Kings 15:1), and was succeeded by Asa in the twentieth (1 Kings 15:9), how could it be that he reigned three years (1 Kings 15:2)? The answer is that parts of years among the Hebrews were counted as whole years.
ASA’S LONG REIGN (1 Kings 15:9-24)
It would appear by comparing 1 Kings 15:10 with 1 Kings 15:2 that “Maachah” was really the grandmother of this king who, for some reason, is named instead of his immediate ancestress. She seems to have been the queen dowager (1 Kings 15:13).
Asa’s character, good in the main (1 Kings 15:11-15), suffers a decline later as indicated in his alliance with Benhadad of Syria against Baasha of Israel (1 Kings 15:17-21). Why not trust God instead? Had the lessons of the past been lost upon him?
The student is reminded of the necessity of studying the history of these kings in the light of 2 Chronicles. Much interest is added to the story of Asa by the parallel places in chapters 14-16 of that book.
NADAB’S BRIEF REIGN (1 Kings 15:25-31)
There is little said of this king, but verses 27-30 should be noted as a fulfillment of the prediction of 1 Kings 14:10-11.
BAASHA’S LONG REIGN (1 Kings 15:32 to 1 Kings 16:6)
Note the name of the prophet here (1 Kings 16:1), who must not be confused with a king of the same name who appears subsequently. Note that God exalted Baasha over Israel (1 Kings 16:2), though from the human side he appeared to take the kingdom by his own force. Note that God still calls Israel His “people” (1 Kings 16:2), though they have dealt so wickedly towards Him. There were still faithful worshippers among them, and He is still sending prophets to them and working miracles on their behalf. Oh, the long-suffering of God! Note finally, that, although God had decreed the death of Jeroboam’s house, He had not authorized Baasha as His executive, and hence the latter is punished for murder (1 Kings 16:7).
ZIMRI THE SUICIDE (1 Kings 16:8-20)
of Elah, the immediate successor of Baasha, nothing need be said except that his death begins to fulfill the prediction of 1 Kings 16:3 which culminated as recorded in 1 Kings 16:12-13. It was a time of revelry and bloodshed; the army, as is usual in such periods, dictated its own terms (1 Kings 16:16).
OMRI AND THE NEW CAPITAL (1 Kings 16:21-28)
After four years of civil war Omri is established on the throne and, the royal residence at Tirzah having been destroyed by fire, he selects Samaria for a new capital (1 Kings 16:24). Observe why it was called by that name. Dean Stanley speaks of the admirable position of this city as paralleled nowhere in the country for “strength, beauty and fertility.” Locate it on the map.
THE WICKED AHAB (1 Kings 16:29-34)
Note the iniquitous distinction of this man (1 Kings 16:30). If Jeroboam broke the second commandment which forbade manmade images, Ahab went further and broke the rest by throwing off even the outward semblance of worshipping Jehovah (1 Kings 16:31).
The beginning of his gross offense was his marriage. Ethbaal, the father of Jezebel, was originally the priest of the heathen goddess Ashtaroth, or Astarte, whose worship was loathsome in its licentiousness. By murdering the king of the Zidonians (Tyre) he seized the throne and thus became a successor of the noted Hiram.
The worship of Baal and of Astarte were practically one and the same, Baal representing the male principle in the cult and Astarte the female.
In reading 1 Kings 16:31 refresh the mind by a reference to the curse against Jericho in Jdg 6:26. Jericho is referred to prior to this time, i.e., in David’s day (2 Samuel 10:5), as though it were inhabited, which makes these verses the more difficult to understand. But some think that the curse of Joshua referred not so much to dwelling in the city as to the rebuilding of its walls for defense.
1. How did the Hebrews sometimes count years?
2. What book should be read in connection with 2 Kings?
3. How does this lesson show God’s patience towards Israel?
4. What city had been the capital of Israel prior to Omri’s time?
5. How did Ahab’s wickedness exceed that of Jeroboam?
6. What was the relation between the worship of Baal and of Ashtaroth?
7. Tell the story of the cursing of Jericho by Joshua.