1 Kings 16
Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Then the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying,
1 Kings 16:7 adds a supplementary remark concerning the words of Jehu (1 Kings 16:2.), not to preclude an excuse that might be made, in which case וגם would have to be taken in the sense of nevertheless, or notwithstanding (Ewald, 354, a.), but to guard against a misinterpretation by adding a new feature, or rather to preclude an erroneous inference that might be drawn from the words, "I (Jehovah) have made thee prince" (1 Kings 16:2), as through Baasha had exterminated Nadab and his house by divine command (Thenius). וגם simply means "and also," and is not to be connected specially with יהוּא בּיד, but to be taken as belonging to the whole sentence: "also the word of Jehovah had come to Baasha through Jehu, ... not only because of the evil, etc., but also (ועל...ועל) because he had slain him (Jeroboam)." With regard to this last reason, we must call to mind the remark made at 1 Kings 11:39, viz., that the prediction of the prophet to Baasha gave him no right to put himself forward arbitrarily as the fulfiller of the prophecy. The very fact that Baasha continued Jeroboam's sin and caused the illegal worship to be perpetuated, showed clearly enough that in exterminating the family of Jeroboam he did not act under divine direction, but simply pursued his own selfish ends.

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;
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.
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.
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?
So Baasha slept with his fathers, and was buried in Tirzah: and Elah his son reigned in his stead.
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.
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.
The Reign of Elah. - As Baasha reigned from the third to the twenty-sixth year of Asa, i.e., not quite twenty-four years, but only twenty-three years and a few months, so his son Elah reigned from the twenty-sixth to the twenty-seventh year of Asa, i.e., not quite two years.

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.
Zimri, the commander of the half of his war-chariots, conspired against him, and not only slew him, when he was intoxicated (שׁכּור שׁתה) at a drinking bout in the house of Arza, the prefect of his palace, but after ascending the throne exterminated the whole family of Baasha to the very last man. The prefect of the palace was no doubt a party to the conspiracy, and had probably arranged the drinking bout in his house for the purpose of carrying it out. "He did not leave him בּקיר משׁתּין (see at 1 Kings 14:10), either his avengers (גּאליו, blood-relations, who might have avenged his death) or his friends." These words simply serve to explain בּקיר משׁתּין, and show that this phrase is to be understood as relating to males only.

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.
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.
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,
"According to the word of the Lord;" see at 1 Kings 16:1. כּל־חטּאות אל, with regard to all, i.e., on account of all the sins (compare 1 Kings 16:7, where על is used). בּהבליהם, through their nothingnesses, i.e., their idols, by which the golden calves are meant.

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.
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.
The Reign of Zimri lasted only seven days. As soon as the people of war (העם), who were besieging Gibbethon (see at 1 Kings 15:27), heard of his conspiracy, his usurpation of the throne, and his murderous deeds, they proclaimed Omri king in the camp of the military commanders, and he at once, with all Israel, i.e., all the army, raised the siege of Gibbethon, to lay siege to Thirza. Now when Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the castle of the royal palace and burned the king's house over his own head, as Sardanapalus did, according to Justin (Hist. i. 3). ארמון does not mean harem (Ewald), but the high castle (from ארם, to be high); here and in 2 Kings 15:25, the citadel of the royal palace, which consisted of several buildings.

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.
And Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah.
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,
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.
1 Kings 16:19 is connected with ויּמת in 1 Kings 16:18 : "and so died for his sins," i.e., as a punishment for them.

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?
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.
But Omri did not come into possession of an undisputed sovereignty immediately upon the death of Zimri. The nation divided itself into two halves; one half was behind Tibni, the son of Ginath (i.e., declared in favour of Tibni), to make him king, the other adhered to Omri. Nevertheless Omri's gained the upper hand over the party of Tibni, and the latter died, whereupon Omri became king after four years, as we may see from a comparison of 1 Kings 16:15, 1 Kings 16:16 with 1 Kings 16:23. The "people of Israel" (1 Kings 16:21) are probably the fighting people, so that the succession to the throne was decided by the military. אהרי היה as in 2 Samuel 2:10. הזק, with an accusative instead of with על, in the sense of to overpower, as in Jeremiah 20:7. According to Josephus (Ant. viii. 12, 5), Tibni was slain by his opponent; but this is not contained in the words; on the contrary, all that is implied in the connection of ויּמת with וגו ויּחזק וגו/ is that he met with his death in the decisive engagement in which the opposing party triumphed.

But the people that followed Omri prevailed against the people that followed Tibni the son of Ginath: so Tibni died, and Omri reigned.
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.
The Reign of Omri. - 1 Kings 16:23. Omri reigned twelve years, i.e., if we compare 1 Kings 16:15 and 1 Kings 16:23 with 1 Kings 16:29, reckoning from his rebellion against Zimri; so that he only possessed the sole government for eight years (or, more exactly, seven years and a few months), viz., from the 31st to the 38th years of Asa, and the conflict with Tibni for the possession of the throne lasted about four years. "At Thirza he reigned six years," i.e., during the four years of the conflict with Tibni, and after his death two years more.

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.
As soon as he had obtained undisputed possession of the throne, he purchased the hill Shomron (Samaria) from Shemer (Semer) for two talents of silver, about 5200 thalers (780 - Tr.), built houses upon it, and named the town which he built after the former owner of the hill שׁמרון, rendered by the lxx Σεμηρών here, but everywhere else Σαμάρεια (Samaria), after the Chaldee form שׁמרין (Ezra 4:10, Ezra 4:17). This city he made his seat (Residenz, place of residence, or capital), in which he resided for the last six years of his reign, and where he was buried after his death (1 Kings 16:28). Samaria continued to be the capital of the kingdom of the ten tribes from that time forward, and the residence of all succeeding kings of Israel until the destruction of this kingdom after its conquest by Salmanasar (2 Kings 18:9-10). The city was two hours and a half to the north-west of Sichem, upon a mountain or hill in a mountain-hollow (Bergkessel, lit., mountain-caldron) or basin of about two hours in diameter, surrounded on all sides by still higher mountains. "The mountains and valleys round about are still for the most part arable, and are alive with numerous villages and diligent cultivation." The mountain itself upon which Samaria stood is still cultivated to the very top, and about the middle of the slope is surrounded by a narrow terrace of level ground resembling a girdle. And even higher up there are marks of smaller terraces, where streets of the ancient city may possibly have run. After the captivity Samaria was retaken and demolished by John Hyrcanus, and lay in ruins till Gabinius the Roman governor rebuilt it (Joseph. Ant. xiii. 19, 2, 3, and iv. 5, 3). Herod the Great afterwards decorated it in a marvellous manner, built a temple there to the emperor Augustus, and named the city after him Σεβαστή, i.e., Augusta, from which arose the present name Sebuste or Sebustieh, borne by a village which is still standing on the ancient site: "a pitiable hamlet consisting of a few squalid houses, inhabited by a band of plunderers, notorious as thieves even among their lawless fellow-countrymen" (V. de Velde, i. p. 378). - But by the side of this there are magnificent ruins of an ancient Johannite church, with the reputed grave of John the Baptist and remains of limestone columns at the foot of the mountain (cf., Robinson, Pal. iii. p. 136ff.; Van de Velde, Syria and Pal. i. p. 374ff.; and C. v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 159,160).

But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him.
Omri also walked in the ways of Jeroboam, and acted worse than his predecessors upon the throne. - For 1 Kings 16:26 and 1 Kings 16:27, compare 1 Kings 16:13 and 1 Kings 16:14.

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?
So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria: and Ahab his son reigned in his stead.
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.
The ascent of the throne of Israel by Ahab (1 Kings 16:29) formed a turning-point for the worse, though, as a comparison of 1 Kings 16:30 with 1 Kings 16:25 clearly shows, the way had already been prepared by his father Omri.

And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.
Whereas the former kings of Israel had only perpetuated the sin of Jeroboam, i.e., the calf-worship. or worship of Jehovah under the image of an ox, which he had introduced, Ahab was not satisfied with this. לכתּו הנקל ויהי, "it came to pass, was it too little?" i.e., because it was too little (cf. Ewald, 362, a.) to walk in the sins of Jeroboam, that he took as his wife Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal the king of the Sidonians, and served Baal, and worshipped him. ויּלך before ויּעבד, "he went and served," is a pictorial description of what took place, to give greater prominence to the new turn of affairs. אתבּעל .sri (i.e., with Baal) is the Εἰθώβαλος (בּעל אתּו or Ἰθόβαλος: Jos. Ant. viii. 13, 1) mentioned by Menander in Josephus, c. Ap. i. 18, who was king of Tyre and Sidon, and priest of Astarte, and who usurped the throne after the murder of his brother, king Pheles, and reigned thirty-two years. Jezebel (איזבל, i.e., probably without cohabitation, cf. Genesis 30:20, equals untouched, chaste; not a contraction of אביזבל, as Ewald, 273, b., supposes) was therefore, as tyrant and murderess of the prophets, a worthy daughter of her father, the idolatrous priest and regicide. Baal (always הבּעל with the article, the Baal, i.e., Lord κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν) was the principal male deity of the Phoenicians and Canaanites, and generally of the western Asiatics, called by the Babylonians בּל equals בּעל (Isaiah 46:1), Βῆλος, and as the sun-god was worshipped as the supporter and first principle of psychical life and of the generative and reproductive power of nature (see at Judges 2:13). Ahab erected an altar to this deity הבּעל בּית, in the house (temple) of Baal, which he had built at Samaria. The worship of Baal had its principal seat in Tyre, where Hiram, the contemporary of David and Solomon, had built for it a splendid temple and placed a golden pillar (χρυσοῦν κίονα) therein, according to Dius and Menander, in Joseph. Ant. viii. 5, 3, and c. Ap. i. 18. Ahab also erected a similar pillar (מצּבה) to Baal in his temple at Samaria (vid., 2 Kings 3:2; 2 Kings 10:27). For statues of images of Baal are not met with in the earlier times; and the בּעלים are not statues of Baal, but different modifications of that deity. It was only in the later temple of Baal or Hercules at Tyre that there was, as Cicero observes (Verr. iv. 43), ex aere simulacrum ipsius Herculis, quo non facile quidquam dixerim me vidisse pulcrius.

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.
And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.
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.
"And Ahab made את־האשׁרה, i.e., the Asherah belonging to the temple of Baal" (see at Judges 6:25 and Exodus 34:13), an idol of Astarte (see at 1 Kings 14:23).

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.
In his time Hil the Bethelite (האלי בּית; compare Ges. 111. 1 with 86, 2. 5) built Jericho: "he laid the foundation of it with Abiram his first-born, and set up its gates with Segub his youngest, according to the word of Jehovah," etc. (for the explanation see the Comm. on Joshua 6:26). The restoration of this city as a fortification, upon which Joshua had pronounced the curse, is mentioned as a proof how far ungodliness had progressed in Israel; whilst the fulfilment of the curse upon the builder shows how the Lord will not allow the word of His servants to be transgressed with impunity. Jericho, on the border of the tribe of Ephraim (Joshua 16:7), which was allotted to the Benjaminites (Joshua 18:21), had come into the possession of the kingdom of Israel on the falling away of the ten tribes from the royal house of David, and formed a border city of that kingdom, through the fortification of which Ahab hoped to secure to himself the passage across the Jordan.

Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch [1857-78].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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