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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Kings 16

Verse 2

1 Kings 16:2. Forasmuch as I exalted thee It may be asked, how Baasha's exaltation to the kingdom of Israel can be ascribed to God, when it is manifest that he gained it by his own treachery and cruelty? To which it may be replied, that though the manner of invading the kingdom was from himself and his own wicked heart, yet the translation of the kingdom from Nadab to Baasha, simply considered, was from God, who by his decree and Providence ordered it, and so disposed of all occasions, and of the hearts of all the soldiers and the people, that Baasha should have opportunity to execute his judgments upon Nadab, and such success thereupon, as should procure him an immediate and quiet possession of the kingdom. So that his accession to the kingdom was from the divine decree, though the form and manner of his accession was from himself, from his own ambition and covetousness; and, as it was wicked and cruel, is therefore charged upon him, 1Ki 16:7 as a wilful murder.

Verse 3

1 Kings 16:3. Make thy house like the house of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat This threat was exactly verified; for as Nadab, the son of Jeroboam, reigned but two years, so Elah, the son of Baasha, reigned no more; and as Nadab was killed by the sword, so was Elah. Thus remarkable was the similitude between Jeroboam and Baasha in their lives and in their deaths, in their sons and in their families! See Bishop Patrick.

REFLECTIONS.—Let not Baasha expect peace in his sin, nor hope to secure to his posterity that kingdom of which his idolatry rendered him so unworthy.

1. God sends a prophet to reprove and threaten him. Greatly had God exalted him; for, though his ambition plotted the conspiracy, it was God's over-ruling providence that gave it success. He had been raised to reign over God's people, who were not yet utterly abandoned by him; but, instead of being warned by the judgments on his predecessors, he had made their images his own by his adherence to them; had, like them, led the people into idolatry, and stood chargeable with the blood of the house of Jeroboam, whose destruction, though just respecting God, did not exculpate him from the treason and murder. Therefore, the judgments of which he had been the executioner, should for the like sins return on his own house. Note; (1.) God warns before he strikes. (2.) Those who harden their hearts, bring their blood upon their own heads.

2. The sentence pronounced is executed; but not during Baasha's reign: like Jeroboam, though in continual wars, and unsuccessful too, yet he came to his grave by a natural death: but the iniquity is laid up for his children. His son Elah was scarcely settled on his throne, before one of his own officers, as Baasha had done, formed a conspiracy; and while the king was drunk, carousing at the house of Arza his steward, Zimri slew him; and, to pave the way to the throne, cut off not only all his family, but his friends, who might attempt to avenge his murder. Thus was the prophesy of Jehu fulfilled. Note; (1.) A drunkard lays himself open to the stroke of death by a thousand accidents; and how terrible must it be to be hurried drunk to the tribunal of God! (2.) God's word never falls to the ground; his threatenings are no bugbears.

Verse 18

1 Kings 16:18. And burned the king's house over him with fire Some interpreters would rather have it, that Omri set the royal palace on fire, in order to burn Zimri in it, who had retired thither. The Hebrew may, indeed, bear that construction, but the other seems the most likely interpretation; nor has prophane history neglected to preserve the memory of some princes who have chosen to die in this manner, rather than fall by the sword; whereof Sardanapalus is one of the most ancient and most notorious examples. Calmet.

Verse 24

1 Kings 16:24. He bought the hill Samaria of Shemer It is surprising, that when Omri bought this place of Shemer, whereon he intended to build a city, he did not call it by his own name; unless we may suppose, that when Shemer sold it, he let him have the greater bargain of it upon condition that it should be continued in its first owner's name. However this be, it is certain, that as Samaria was situated in the midst of the tribe of Ephraim, on a fruitful and pleasant hill, it soon became the regal and capital city of the kingdom of Israel; nor did its kings omit any thing to make it as strong, as fine, and as rich as possible. What fate it underwent by Ben-hadad king of Syria, by Salmanasar, &c. we shall see in a great measure in the course of this history. It is conjectured by Bochart, who traced the ruins of it, to have been once larger than Jerusalem; but now it comprises nothing but a few cottages and convents inhabited by some Greek monks. See Wells's Geogr. vol. 3:

REFLECTIONS.—We have here,

1. The fall of Zimri. Though seven days terminated his reign, yet in them he shewed his disposition to Jeroboam's sins. Unable to defend himself against the forces under Omri, he rather chose to perish in the flames of his palace, than fall with it into the hands of his envied rival. Note; (1.) The frequent end of ambitious projectors is, to perish in the flames that they have kindled. (2.) Envy and revenge, even in death, forsake not the wicked.

2. The civil war which ensued between Omri and Tibni. The people were divided between these competitors for the crown, and the struggle lasted four years, when Tibni seems to have fallen in battle, and Omri reigned without a rival. Note; Of all inflictions on a nation, none are more terrible than civil wars.

3. Omri, far from taking warning by his predecessor's sufferings, did worse than all who went before him; and, not satisfied with encouraging idolatry, compelled the people to it by penal statutes, Micah 6:16. At last, after a reign of twelve years, he died, and was buried; and left his crown to a son more abandoned to wickedness than his father. Thus, when a people forsake God, they go from worse to worse, till destruction comes upon them to the uttermost.

Verse 34

1 Kings 16:34. In his days did Hiel, &c.— The sentence which we here see executed was pronounced above four hundred and forty years before, and is a most striking proof of the divine prescience, as well as of the authority of those sacred writings which contain so remarkable a prediction. Hiel was probably a professed idolater; and therefore might undertake the rebuilding of Jericho, either at the instigation of the court, or in defiance of God, and to let the world see that whatever was denounced in his name was of no significance at all: but the event proved the contrary, and he met with his condign punishment.

REFLECTIONS.—Ahab, that monster of iniquity, succeeds his father Omri in the 38th year of Asa. We have,

1. A general account of his wicked reign, the particulars of which may be thus recapitulated: he out-did all the worst of his predecessors; even Jeroboam's sins were light compared to his. He began with marrying a Zidonian wife, worse, if possible, than himself, idolatrous, proud, imperious, lewd, malicious, the adviser and encourager of every abomination. Her gods pleased him better than his own; and he went, probably, at first to Tyre to worship; and then, that he might have his idol nearer home, he reared a magnificent temple in Samaria, set up an altar before the image of Baal, and planted a grove around it, to perform those shocking rites which the day blushed to behold. Note; (1.) Of all the earthly plagues that can light upon miserable man, there is not a greater than to be joined to a wicked and abandoned woman. (2.) The idolater grudges no expence to serve his abominations; and shall we be niggards at the altar of the true and only God? (3.) Deeds of lewdness shun the light; but what thick grove can exclude the piercing eye of God?

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.