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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 16

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-34

1 Kings 16:2 . I exalted thee. Baasha was raised from the ranks to regal dignity.

1 Kings 16:7 . Jehu son of Hanani the prophet; the only case I think in which a Father and a son were so favoured.

1 Kings 16:8 . Elah reigned two years. Omri his Lieutenant-general, slew his young master while merry with wine the worst and foulest of crimes. A nation without order and government, liable to be overthrown and oppressed by any popular hero, is in a deplorable condition. Rome fell while her generals were aspiring at the purple. Oh happy England, to have a Senate of Lords and Commons to enact wise laws, and to bring the proudest culprit to the bar.

1 Kings 16:24 . Samaria. The fortifications being ovallar, gave it the appearance of a royal crown.

1 Kings 16:33 . Ahab made a grove; made an image, an Astarte, the Venus of the Sidonians. Our version always renders the Hebrew wrong, as Selden on the gods of Syria contends. See Joshua 23:7.

1 Kings 16:34 . In his days did Hiel build Jericho. It had lain in ruins under the execration of Joshua; yet the suburbs formed a new city. In our Saviour’s time Jericho had become the second city of the jews. Joshua 6:0.


The sacred history still proceeds with a succession of kings and conspirators, and with a succession of punishments correspondent to their crimes. Baasha had seen all the evils he had brought on the house of Jeroboam; yet he presumed to live in the same course of crimes, and never dreamed of the same punishment. He neither amended his life, nor reformed his country. How infatuated are all wicked men; and even men in their professional capacity, distinguished by a strong understanding, and the most brilliant actions. Their pride, spurning the humiliations of grace, hurries them on to the precipice of destruction.

Before heaven struck the blow at this destroyer of Jeroboam’s house, it gave him a fair warning by Jehu the prophet; and though no mercy was promised, yet as in the case of Nineveh, mercy was implied. And had Baasha repented, the Lord would have postponed the punishment, or wholly repented him of the evil. But this distinguished rebel, scorning instruction was presently cut off. And scarcely had Elah his son ascended the throne, before Zimri slew him when drunk at the feast. Men who have no care of their own salvation, think little of endangering the souls of others. Happy if a thousand admonitory cases might warn the men addicted to intoxication, lest they should repeat their folly once too often. He slew also every relative of the king. Thus the wicked mock the judgments and warnings of God, who makes them a dreadful scourge to one another, and mocks when their fear cometh, and when they cry for mercy.

Zimri having done all this tragic work, though from the worst of motives, is not to go without reward. Divine justice is sometimes in long arrears with the sinner, either because it awaits his repentance or has some other work for him to do; yet the reward in the end is sure. With Zimri it was otherwise. Vengeance slumbered only seven days. The army besieging Gibbethon, shocked with his atrocities, declared Omri king. They raised the siege, stormed Tirzah, and the desponding traitor burnt himself alive in the palace. But oh, when once political tempests rage, who can say when they will subside. Libni, thinking he had fairer claims to the crown than Omri, became his rival, and occasioned a civil war for four years. But Omri having triumphed over his rival, and built a palace and fortress in Samaria, was not suffered to enjoy it.

Ahab, following close on the steps of Omri his father, distinguished himself solely by excelling him in wickedness. His marriage with Jezebel a Tyrian princess, who seems to have been a priestess also, and trained from infancy to intrigue and crimes, was the total undoing of the good propensities he might have discovered in his youth. He built a temple for Baal in Samaria, the Jupiter of Tyre. He erected an altar, and consecrated four hundred and fifty priests, to whom were added four hundred prophets of the grove. The splendour of his devotion attracted the court and the crowd. The altars of Bethel and Dan were consequently much neglected; and it is easy for the court, which make pleasure and preferment its real divinity, to change its religion with the royal pleasure, for as St. Evremond politely said, it is counting his Majesty a heretic to differ from him in religion. A change of faith in Ahab’s courtiers was a small object. Had he set up his own image instead of Baal’s, it would no doubt have been adored as the idol in the plains of Dura. The knowledge and love of God were lost; vice everywhere prevailed, and real piety was driven to the dens and caves of the earth. In this gloomy and wicked reign we are the less surprised that Hiel, a rich and distinguished infidel of Bethel, should obtain a royal grant to rebuild Jericho. This man had long sneered at Joshua’s curse on this ancient seat of wickedness, and he longed to give his country a proof of his superior views in religion, to those found in the law; and he wished to build for himself and posterity a splendid mansion in the city. But alas, his firstborn and heir died as he laid the foundation; all his other children died as the work advanced; and when he came to set up the gate, Segub his youngest son gave up the ghost. So the curse of Jericho was transferred to Hiel, and Israel could not but see the requiting hand of God. And what shall we say of Thebes, of Nineveh, of Babylon, and Carthage, those most ancient seats of wickedness. Surely their ruins to this day declare to posterity, that the curse of heaven rests on places so deeply polluted. Surely it is fools, and fools alone, who make a mock of sin.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/1-kings-16.html. 1835.
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