Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 16:31

It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Baal;   Ethbaal;   Jeroboam;   Jezebel;   Rulers;   Sidon;   Sin;   Thompson Chain Reference - Ahab;   False;   Idolatry;   Jezebel;   Queens;   Women;   Worship, False;   Worship, True and False;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Idolatry;   Sidonians, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Baal;   Jezebel;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ahab;   Baal;   Elijah;   Elisha;   Israel;   Jezebel;   Phoenicia;   Samaria, samaritans;   Sidon;   Treaty;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Gods and Goddesses, Pagan;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Baal;   Eth-Baal;   Jezebel;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Baal (1);   Ethbaal;   Jezebel;   Sidon;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ahab;   Baal;   Elijah;   Eth-Baal;   Fertility Cult;   Gods, Pagan;   Jeroboam;   Jezebel;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Queen;   Samaria, Samaritans;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ahab;   Alliance;   Baal (1);   Ethbaal;   Marriage;   Phoenicia, PhNicians;   Sin;   Tyre;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ethbaal ;   Jezebel ;   Zidonians, Sidonians ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Baal;   Jezebel;   Nimshi;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Baal;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ba'al,;   Ethba'al;   Jez'ebel;   Tyre;   Zi'don,;   Zido'nians,;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Jezebel;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Apostasy;   Elijah;   Ethbaal;   Israel, Kingdom of;   Jezebel;   Phoenicia;   Woman;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Baal;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

He took to wife Jezebel - This was the head and chief of his offending; he took to wife, not only a heathen, but one whose hostility to the true religion was well known, and carried to the utmost extent.

  1. She was the idolatrous daughter of an idolatrous king;
  • She practiced it openly;
  • She not only countenanced it in others, but protected it, and gave its partisans honors and rewards;
  • She used every means to persecute the true religion;
  • She was hideously cruel, and put to death the prophets and priests of God;
  • And all this she did with the most zealous perseverance and relentless cruelty.
  • Notwithstanding Ahab had built a temple, and made an altar for Baal, and set up the worship of Asherah, the Sidonian Venus, which we, 1 Kings 16:33, have transformed into a grove; yet so well known was the hostility of Jezebel to all good, that his marrying her was esteemed the highest pitch of vice, and an act the most provoking to God, and destructive to the prosperity of the kingdom.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16:31". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-kings-16.html. 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    As if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam - Idolatries are not exclusive. Ahab, while he detested the pure worship of Yahweh, and allowed Jezebel to put to death every “prophet of the Lord” whom she could find 1 Kings 18:4, readily tolerated the continued worship of the “calves,” which had no doubt tended more and more to lose its symbolic character, and to become a thoroughly idolatrous image-worship.

    Eth-baal - Identified with the Ithobalus of Menander, who reigned in Tyre, probably over all Phoenicia, within 50 years of the death of Hiram. This Ithobalus, whose name means “With him is Baal,” was originally priest of the great temple of Astarte, in Tyre. At the age of 36 he conspired against the Tyrian king, Pheles (a usurping fratricide), killed him, and seized the throne. His reign lasted 32 years, and he established a dynasty which continued on the throne at least 62 years longer. The family-tree of the house may be thus exhibited:

    d Lineage of Eth-Baal

    d

    d Eth-baal

    d

    d

    d

    d

    d

    d BadezorJezebel

    d

    d

    d

    d Matgen (Belus of Virgil)

    d

    d

    d

    d

    d

    d

    d PygmalionDido (founder of Carthage)

    d

    d

    Hence, Jezebel was great-aunt to Pygmalion and his sister Dido.

    Served Baal - The worship of Baal by the Phoenicians is illustrated by such names as IthoBAL, HanniBAL, etc. Abundant traces of it are found in the Phoenician monuments.

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    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16:31". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-kings-16.html. 1870.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sin of Jeroboam the son of Nebat,.... To worship the golden calves he set up:

    that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians; who is called Ithobalus and Itobalus king of the Tyrians, by Heathen historiansF8Menander apud Joseph. Antiqu. l. 8. c. 13. sect. 1, 2. & contr. Apion. l. 1. c. 21. Diodor. Sicul. apud Junium in loc. ; and, by Theophilus of AntiochF9Ad Autolye. l. 3. p. 132. , Juthobalus, priest of Astarte; for Tyre and Zidon were under one king. This woman was not only of another nation, and an idolater, but a very filthy woman, and is made the emblem of the whore of Rome, Revelation 2:20.

    and went and served Baal, and worshipped him that is, went to Zidon and Tyre, and worshipped his wife's gods, which were either Jupiter Thalassius, the god of the Zidoaians, or Hercules, whom the Tyrians worshipped.

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    The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
    A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
    Bibliographical Information
    Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16:31". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-16.html. 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    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 m to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.

    (m) By whose influence he fell into wicked and strange idolatry and cruel persecution.
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    Bibliographical Information
    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16:31". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-kings-16.html. 1599-1645.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    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.

    A light thing — The Hebrew runs, was it a light thing, etc., that is, was this but a small sin, that therefore he needed to add more abominations? Where the question, as is usual among the Hebrews, implies a strong denial; and intimates, that this was no small sin, but a great crime; and might have satisfied his wicked mind, without any additions.

    Jezebel — A woman infamous for her idolatry, and cruelty, and sorcery, and filthiness.

    Eth-baal — Called Ithbalus, or Itobalus in heathen writers. So she was of an heathenish and idolatrous race. Such as the kings and people of Israel were expressly forbidden to marry.

    Baal — The idol which the Sidonians worshipped, which is thought to be Hercules. And this idolatry was much worse than that of the calves; because in the calves they worshipped the true God; but in these, false gods or devils.

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    These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
    Bibliographical Information
    Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16:31". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-kings-16.html. 1765.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    1 Kings 16:31 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.

    Ver. 31. He took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal.] Whom Diodorus Siculus calleth Jeobalus. The very name of this king and his daughter ending in Bel and Baal, show how greatly they were addicted to that idolatry.

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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16:31". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-kings-16.html. 1865-1868.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    As if it had been a light thing for him; as if that sin were not big enough to express his contempt of God; as if he thought it below his wit and dignity to content himself with such a vulgar fault. But the Hebrew runs thus, Was it a light thing, &c.? i.e. was this but a small sin, that therefore he needed to add more abominations? where the question, as is usual among the Hebrews, implies a strong denial; and intimates that this was no small sin, but a great crime, and might have satisfied his wicked mind without any additions. Jezebel; a woman infamous for her idolatry, and cruelty, and sorcery, and filthiness. See 1 Kings 18:4 21:8 2 Kings 9:22 Revelation 2:20.

    Ethbaal, called Ithobalus, or Itobalus, in heathen writers.

    King of the Zidonians; so she was of a heathenish and idolatrous race, and such whom the kings and people of Israel were expressly forbidden to marry.

    Baal, i.e. the idol which the Zidonians worshipped, which is thought to be Hercules, or false gods, for this name is common to all such. And this idolatry was much worse than that of the calves; because in the calves they worshipped the true God, but in these, false gods or devils, as is evident from 1 Kings 18:21.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 16:31". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-kings-16.html. 1685.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    31.As if’ a light thing’ to walk in the sins of Jeroboam — With him “it was nothing to break the second commandment by image-worship; he would set aside the first also by introducing other gods; his little finger should fall heavier upon God’s ordinances than Jeroboam’s loins.” — Henry.

    Jezebel — From which name comes the modern Isabella. This is the first recorded instance of an Israelitish king choosing his chief with from among the Canaanites, and her marriage with Ahab has well been called a turning point in the history of Israel. Her character, as portrayed in the following chapters, is an embodiment of all that is most awful and terrible in the Clytemnestra of the Greek tragedians, and in the Lady Macbeth of Shakspeare.

    Ethbaal — Probably identical with Eithobalus, priest of Astarte, of whom Menander, the Ephesian, speaks in Josephus, Apion 1 Kings 1:18. He assassinated Pheles, the reigning king, usurped the throne, and reigned thirty-two years. His position as priest of Astarte, whose worship was similar to that of Baal, may serve to explain the zeal which his daughter showed in introducing Phenician idolatry into the kingdom of Israel.

    Zidonians — This term seems to have been used among the Hebrews with as much latitude as was the term Phenicians among the Greeks. According to 1 Kings 5:6, Hiram, king of Tyre, controls the Zidonian workmen, and Josephus calls Ethbaal king of the Tyrians and Zidonians. It is probable that both Tyre and Zidon, with the adjacent towns, were often under one government.

    Served Baal — As Solomon’s heathen wives turned his heart after strange gods, (1 Kings 11:4,) so Ahab’s marriage with Jezebel leads him into Baal-worship. Baal was the chief male divinity among the Phenicians, as Ashtoreth was their female divinity. See on Judges 2:13.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16:31". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-kings-16.html. 1874-1909.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    Jezabel, whose name is become proverbial, to designate a proud, lewd, cruel, and impious woman, Apocalypse ii. 20. Grotius compares her with Tullia, Fulvia, and Eudoxia, the respective wives of Tarquin, Anthony, and Arcadius. She was the chief promoter of all the evils of Achab's reign. He did not insist that she should embrace the true religion, when he married her; as it is supposed former kings had done, when they espoused women who had been brought up in idolatry. (Calmet) --- He even introduced her country's idols, and thus enhanced upon the wickedness of his predecessors. (Haycock) --- Ethbaal. Menander (following Josephus, contra Apion i.) calls him Ithobaal, and remarks that his reign was memorable for a year's drought; probably that of three years, under Achaz, chap. xvii. 1. Ethbaal was king of Tyre, and ruled over the Sidonians likewise, chap. v. 6.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16:31". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-kings-16.html. 1859.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    Jezebel, daughter of a regicide and fratricide (Josephus c. Apion 1, 18, Antiquities viii. 3, 1), priest of the Phoenician goddess Astarte.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16:31". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-kings-16.html. 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    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.

    No JFB commentary on this verse.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16:31". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-kings-16.html. 1871-8.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (31) Ethbaal, king of the Zidonians.—The mention of Ethbaal, clearly the Eithobalus of Menander (see Jos. against Apion i. 18), affords another comparison of Israelite with Tyrian history. He is said to have assassinated Pheles, king of Tyre, within fifty years after the death of Hiram, and to have founded a new dynasty. He was a priest of Astarte, and it is notable that he is called, not, like Hiram, “king of Tyre,” but “king of the Sidonians,” thus reviving the older name of “the great Zidon,” which had been superseded by Tyre. His priestly origin, and possibly also this revival of the old ideas and spirit of the Phœnician race, may account for the fanatic devotion to Baal visible in Jezebel and Athaliah, which stands in marked contrast with the religious attitude of Hiram (1 Kings 5:7; 2 Chronicles 2:12). The marriage of Ahab with Jezebel was evidently the fatal turning-point in the life of a man physically brave, and possibly able as a ruler, but morally weak, impressible in turn both by good and by evil. The history shows again and again the contrast of character (which it is obvious to compare with the contrast between Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Lady Macbeth), and the almost complete supremacy of the strong relentless nature of Jezebel.

    2. The Baal here referred to is, of course, the Zidonian god, worshipped as the productive principle in nature, in conjunction with Astarte, the female or receptive principle. The name itself only signifies “Lord” (in which sense, indeed, it is applied, in Hosea 2:16, to Jehovah Himself), and is marked as being a mere title, by the almost invariable prefix of the article. Being, therefore, in no sense distinctive, it may be, and is, applied to the supreme god of various mythologies. Thus we find that in Scripture the plural Baalim is first used, of “the gods many and lords many” of Canaanitish worship (see Judges 2:11; Judges 3:7; Judges 10:6; 1 Samuel 7:4); and we have traces of the same vague use in the Baal-peor of Numbers 25, the Baal-berith of Judges 8:33; Judges 9:4, the Baal-zebub of 2 Kings 1:2-3, and in the various geographical names having the prefix Baal. The worship of the Phœnician Baal—variously represented, sometimes as the Sun, sometimes as the planet Jupiter, sometimes half-humanised as the “Tyrian Hercules”—was now, however, introduced on a great scale, with profuse magnificence of worship, connected with the Asherah (“grove”), which in this case, no doubt, represented the Phœnician Astarte, and enforced by Jezebel with a high hand, not without persecution of the prophets of the Lord. The conflict between it and the spiritual worship of Jehovah became now a conflict of life and death.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16:31". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-kings-16.html. 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    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.
    as if it had been a light thing
    Heb. was it a light thing.
    Genesis 30:15; Numbers 16:9; Isaiah 7:13; Ezekiel 8:17; 16:20,47; 34:18
    took to wife
    Genesis 6:2; Deuteronomy 7:3,4; Joshua 23:12,13; Nehemiah 13:23-29
    Jezebel
    18:4,19; 19:1,2; 21:5-14,25; 2 Kings 9:30-37; Revelation 2:20
    the Zidonians
    11:1; Judges 10:12; 18:7
    and went
    11:4-8
    served Baal
    21:25,26; Judges 2:11; 3:7; 10:6; 2 Kings 10:18; 17:16
    Reciprocal: 1 Kings 11:2 - surely;  1 Kings 14:9 - hast done;  1 Kings 16:25 - did worse;  1 Kings 16:30 - above;  1 Kings 22:53 - he served Baal;  2 Kings 3:2 - Baal;  2 Kings 3:3 - which made;  2 Kings 3:18 - a light;  2 Kings 9:34 - she is a king's;  2 Kings 16:3 - he walked;  2 Kings 17:8 - walked;  2 Kings 21:3 - he reared;  2 Kings 23:4 - Baal;  2 Chronicles 17:4 - not after;  2 Chronicles 18:1 - joined affinity;  2 Chronicles 28:2 - For he walked;  Psalm 1:1 - walketh;  Proverbs 14:1 - the foolish;  Ezekiel 23:5 - Aholah;  Hosea 2:13 - the days;  Hosea 8:4 - of;  Hosea 8:14 - and buildeth;  Hosea 9:10 - separated;  Hosea 11:2 - they sacrificed;  Micah 1:13 - she;  Romans 11:4 - Baal

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    Bibliographical Information
    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16:31". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-kings-16.html.