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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
1 Kings 15

 

 

Verses 1-32

1 Kings 15:1-32. Abijam and Asa of Judah, and Nadab and Baasha of Israel.—Abijam, called Abijah (2 Chronicles 13:1), had a short and evil reign. It would appear, notwithstanding 1 Kings 15:8, that he was succeeded by his brother Asa, as both are said to have had the same mother, Maacah, the daughter of Abishalom. Josephus says the granddaughter of Absalom; see 2 Chronicles 11:20). Except that Asa could not remove the high places he is said to have done right during his long reign of forty-one years. Asa deposed Maacah from the position of queen-mother for her idolatry. She had made (1 Kings 15:13) an abominable image (Heb. a horror of an image) for an Asherah. The AV renders "an idol in a grove." The Heb. word Asherah (p. 100) is translated in the LXX by the word Halsos, a grove. It was a sacred pole set up by an altar (Deuteronomy 16:21), probably to represent a tree. Two roots are suggested for this word: (a) one meaning happy, (b) upright. (a) would mean "the happy woman," i.e. Ashtoreth, (b) upright. In the latter case it may have been an unseemly emblem almost universal in idolatrous worship. Asa also purified the Temple by putting away the dedicated men who under the name of religion encouraged vice. The high places continued till the end of the seventh century B.C.

Three kinds of false worship are mentioned in Kings: (a) The schismatical worship of N. Israel, which was, however, condemned only after the days of the Deuteronomic revival in the time of Josiah. (b) The high places, Asherim (groves), pillars (maeboth), and sacrifices under trees. These were used, with the exception, perhaps, of the "groves," in patriarchal times, but by the prophetic era (eighth century) they had come to be regarded as idolatrous by the more religious spirits in the nation. In both these cases Yahweh was professedly worshipped. (c) Apostasy, forsaking Yahweh for the gods of other nations, e.g. the Baal of Tyre.

1 Kings 15:16-21. The Syrians of Damascus now made their appearance as the chief enemies of Israel (pp. 68f.). Owing to the pressure exercised on Asa by his rival Baasha in Israel, the king of Judah called in the aid of Ben-hadad, son of Tabrimmon. son of Hezion (1 Kings 11:23*). Ben-hadad ravaged northern Israel down to the Sea of Galilee or Chinneroth (1 Kings 15:20). Asa is said by the Chronicler to have been delivered from Zerah the Ethiopian (2 Chronicles 14:9-15), and to have been rebuked by the seer Hanani for his unpatriotic action in calling in the help of Ben-hadad (2 Chronicles 16:7).

1 Kings 15:25-32; Nadab, the son of Jeroboam, was killed by Baasha in accordance with Ahijah's prophecy. The complete extirpation of the king's family happened at every change of dynasty in Israel. The males of the houses of Jeroboam, Baasha, Ahab, were all of them put to the sword.


Verse 33-34

1 Kings 15:33 to 1 Kings 16:34. Baasha's Dynasty. Rise of the House of Omri.—Nothing is told us of Baasha except the usual annalistic details, and, that a prophet named Jehu foretold the destruction of his whole house. His son Elah was at war with the Philistines (1 Kings 16:15), but remained at Tirzah (p. 30), which at this time was the chief residence of the kings of Israel. Zimri slew him and reigned but seven days, and was then attacked by the army under Omri, and burned himself in his house. For four years, (cf. 1 Kings 16:15 with 1 Kings 16:23), there was civil war between Omri and Tibni. Finally (1 Kings 16:22) Omri prevailed. Omri is described as more wicked than any of his predecessors. The only thing recorded of him is that he built a city on a hill bought from a man named Shemer (1 Kings 16:24), and called it after his name Shomeron, more familiar to us as Samaria (p. 30), the Greek form, which is more akin to the Assyrian word found on the monuments, Sa-ma-ri-na. Omri was so important that on the Assyrian monuments Jehu, who destroyed his dynasty, is called "son of Omri," and in the eighth century the district of Samaria is the "Land of Humri" (Omri).

Ahab, according to the Heb., began to reign in the thirty-eighth year of Asa (1 Kings 16:29); but the LXX has "the second year of Jehoshaphat.' The Greek version makes the reign of Omri begin with the fall of Tibni (1 Kings 16:23), and not with the death of Zimri four years earlier (1 Kings 16:15). Ahab is singled out for especial condemnation. His personal religion was that of his people. That is, "he walked in the sins of Jeroboam" (1 Kings 16:31). Strangely enough, after him names compounded with Yahweh first became common both in Israel and Judah. His sons were Jehoram and Ahaziah, his daughter (or sister, 2 Kings 8:26), Athaliah, his trusted servant Obadiah. He may be said to have followed Solomon's policy in making a close alliance with the Zidonians. The god of his wife, Jezebel is called Baal (1 Kings 16:32). The word baal (p. 87) is ambiguous: it means (a) an owner, e.q. of an ox (Exodus 21:28), or in the case of a woman she is baalath of familiar spirits (1 Samuel 28:7); (b) a local god—so in Judges we have the plural Baalim; (c) applied to Yahweh, who is called the baal of Israel (Hosea 2:16); (d) as here a proper name, the Baal of Tyre, i.e. Melkarth. In the LXX the fem, article is generally prefixed to Baal since the Hebrews sometimes called him Shame (bosheth, a fem, noun, Numbers 32:38*, 1 Samuel 14:47-51*). In this narrative the masc, article is used. Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal (1 Kings 16:31). Josephus (Apion, i. 18) enumerates the kings of Tyre; the last are Ithobalus (Ethbaal) a priest of Astarte, Bedezor his son, Matgen and Pygmalion, the brother of Dido. Jezebel was thus an aunt of Dido. But as she lived in the ninth century B.C. she can hardly be fitted in with the scheme of chronology which makes Dido live at the time of the fall of Troy.

1 Kings 15:34. The rebuilding of Jericho by Hiel the Bethelite. Joshua pronounced a curse on the man who should rebuild Jericho (Joshua 6:26*), and it was fulfilled when Hiel built, i.e. fortified it. But it had been a place of some importance in the interval (2 Samuel 10:5), and soon after Hiel it was called a city (2 Kings 21:9). The plain meaning is that Hiel lost his firstborn son when he laid the foundations of the city, and his younger son when he set up the gates. It has even been suggested that he inaugurated and finished his work by a human sacrifice as was usual among the Canaanites—witness the excavation of human bones at Taanach and Gezer (pp. 83, 99, Exodus 13:2*).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 Kings 15:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/1-kings-15.html. 1919.

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Saturday, December 7th, 2019
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