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the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 16

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-20

After Jeroboam (15:25-16:20)

As predicted by Ahijah, Jeroboam’s dynasty soon came to an end. His son Nadab was murdered by Baasha, one of his army generals, who then declared himself king. Baasha quickly removed all possible rivals by destroying Jeroboam’s entire family (25-34; cf. 14:11-14). However, Baasha was no better than Jeroboam. Because he followed Jeroboam’s policies, he would suffer Jeroboam’s fate (16:1-4). Just as Baasha brought Jeroboam’s dynasty to an end by murdering Jeroboam’s son and wiping out the rest of his family, so Baasha’s own dynasty came to an end when another army general murdered his son and wiped out his family (5-14).
The new military dictator, Zimri, misjudged the support he would receive from the army, and lasted only a week. When he saw that the army preferred the commanding officer Omri, Zimri committed suicide (15-20).

Verses 21-28

The dynasty of Omri established (16:21-28)

Confusion followed Zimri’s death. Omri seized the throne but was challenged by Tibni. There was civil war for four years (see v. 15,23) before Omri was officially crowned king. Two years later he moved his capital from Tirzah to Samaria, which remained the capital till the end of the northern kingdom. It was an excellent site for a capital and enabled later kings to withstand fierce attacks and strong sieges (21-24).
During the remaining six years of his reign, Omri brought a measure of stability to Israel, though religiously he was worse than former kings (25-28). His strong rule produced a dynasty that lasted four generations. Only Jehu’s dynasty, which succeeded it, lasted longer.

Verses 29-34


Jezebel’s Baalism in Israel (16:29-17:24)

In a new political alliance, Ahab, the new king of Israel, married Jezebel, daughter of the king-priest of Phoenicia. Ahab not only accepted his wife’s Baalism, but also gave it official status in Israel by building a Baal temple in the capital (29-33). The Baalism imported by Jezebel was of a kind far more evil and far more dangerous to Israel’s religion than the common Canaanite Baalism practised at the high places. Jezebel’s Baalism (as we shall refer to it, to distinguish it from the common Baalism) was that of the great god Melqart, whose dwelling place was the Tyre-Sidon region of Phoenicia where Jezebel came from. Jezebel then set about making this the official religion of Israel.

The rebuilding of Jericho further demonstrated the spirit of rebellion against God that characterized Israel. The project was in direct opposition to God’s clear command (34; cf. Joshua 6:26).

Israel’s religious life was in such danger that God intervened with an unusually large number of miracles and judgments. First he sent the prophet Elijah to announce a three-year drought throughout the land (17:1). This showed the powerlessness of Baal, who was supposed to be the God of nature and fertility. At the same time it showed the power of Yahweh, who was still God of Israel. Elijah was no doubt unpopular because of the drought, so God directed him to hide near a stream in his home territory of Gilead, east of Jordan. No one knew where he was, and he did not even need to go out to look for food, because God provided it miraculously (2-6).

When Elijah’s water supply dried up (7), God sent him to Zarephath in Phoenicia. This was Baal’s home territory, but the drought there was just as severe. The miraculous feeding of Elijah, the widow and her household showed that God’s power was greater than Baal’s even in Baal’s home country; and, unlike Baal’s, it could work independently of nature. The events showed also that faith, not nationality, was the basis for God’s blessing (8-16; cf. Luke 4:25-26). The healing of the widow’s son confirmed her faith in God, and assured Elijah of God’s presence and power in the dangerous and lonely days ahead (17-24).

Bibliographical Information
Fleming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/1-kings-16.html. 2005.
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