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April 18, 2010
Happens When You Don’t Learn From History
The nation of Israel
was politically divided once again after the death of
Solomon. The southern division became known as Judah. The
northern division retained the name of Israel. Each was ruled by
a succession of kings. Why would anyone want to spend time
looking at kings of Israel? They lived so long ago; why does it
matter? Maybe you’re familiar with the statement attributed to
Edmund Burke (1729–1797), “Those who don’t know history
are destined to repeat it.” The kings of the northern
kingdom, Israel, weren’t fast learners — in fact it seems
they didn’t learn at all. Let’s look at the five kings who
Nadab was the son of Jeroboam I and reigned after him for two years as king of Israel (1Kings 14:20; 15:25). While Nadab was invading Gibbethon, a Philistine stronghold, Baasha, an officer in the army, conspired against him, killed him and seized the throne (1Kings 15:27-31). With the assassination of Nadab the dynasty of Jeroboam was ended, as foretold by the prophet Ahijah (1Kings 14). This event is typical of the entire history of the Northern Kingdom, characterized by revolutions and counter-revolutions.
Baasha, roughly translates,
“boldness.” He certainly was bold in usurping the throne of
Nadab, King of Israel. He wasn’t of the hereditary line of
Jeroboam’s family. He was the son of Ahijah, and of common
birth (1Kings 16:2). After exterminating the family of
his predecessor, he proceeded to carry on a long warfare with
Asa, the king of Judah (compare Jeremiah 41:9). He also
began to build Ramah, but was prevented from completing this
work by Ben-hadad, the king of Syria. He is told by the prophet
Jehu that because of his sinful reign the fate of his house
would be like that of Jeroboam. Baasha reigned 24 years. The
fate of his house is referred to in 1Kings 21:22; 2Kings 9:9.
He was the son and successor of
Baasha, King of Israel (1Kings 16:8-10). He was killed
while drunk by Zimri, one of the captains of his chariots, and
was the last king of the line of Baasha. See how this is the
fulfilled prophecy of Jehu (1Kings 16:6,7,11-14)?
Zimri murdered Elah at Tirzah, and
succeeded him on the throne of Israel (1Kings 16:8-10).
He reigned only seven days, then Omri, elected by the army as
king, laid siege to Tirzah. Zimri set fire to the King’s House
and died in its ruins (1Kings 16:11-20).
Omri was the sixth king of Israel.
The historical sources of his reign are contained in 1Kings
16:15-28, the Moabite Stone, Assyrian inscriptions, and in
the published accounts of excavations in Samaria. In spite of
his life, he was one of the most important of the military kings
Omri was an officer in the army of
Elah, which was engaged in the siege of Gibbethon. As noted,
while Omri was engaged, Zimri, another officer of Elah’s army,
conspired against the king, whom he assassinated. The conspiracy
evidently lacked the support of the people, for the report that
Zimri had usurped the throne no sooner reached the army at
Gibbethon, than Omri was proclaimed king over Israel. Omri
marched to Tirzah, which he besieged and captured, while Zimri
died in the flames of the palace. Omri succeeded to the throne
only after four years of fierce war with Tibni, another claimant
to the throne, the son of Ginath. He was supported in his claims
by his brother Joram (1Kings 16:22) and by a large number
of the people. Civil war-followed (compare 1Kings 16:15,
with 16:23,29) before Omri gained full control.
Omri’s military ability is seen from his choice of Samaria as the royal residence and capital of the Northern Kingdom. He purchased the hill Shomeron of Shemer for two talents of silver. The conical hill, which rose from the surrounding plain to the height of 400 ft., and on the top of which there was room for a large city, was capable of easy defense.
Concerning Omri’s foreign policy is
referred to in 1Kings 20:34. Here we learn that he had to
bow before the stronger power of Syria. Also, Omri was the first
king of Israel to pay tribute to the Assyrians under their king
Ashur-nasir-apal II, in 876 BC. From the days of Shalmaneser II
(858 BC) down to the time of Sargon (722 BC), Israel was known
to the Assyrians as “the land of the house of Omri.” Omri
entered into an alliance with the Phoenicians by the marriage of
his son Ahab to Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of the
Although Omri laid the foundation of
a strong kingdom, he failed in spiritual matters — he didn’t
serve Jehovah. The testimony of 1Kings 16:25,26, that he
“dealt wickedly above all that were before him,” coupled
with the reference to “the statutes of Omri” in Micah
6:16, indicates that he had a share in substituting foreign
religions for the worship of Jehovah. Upon his death, Omri was
succeeded by his son Ahab. He went beyond his father in making
the Phoenician influence of Baalism primary in Israel, leading
the nation ever more quickly to its downfall.
Lessons to Learn
The kings of Israel didn’t learn,
but we better. None of us would like to share their fate. As
individuals, we won’t share their fate in a political or
physical sense, but we certainly can fall prey to the same
God is in charge. These kings decided they had the power to establish their families on the
throne. By the time of Omri, they were in their third dynasty.
God’s plan was for one family lineage for the promised
Messiah. How many dynasties were in the kingdom of Judah? Even
though these northern kings weren’t from the family of David,
would God have used them for good and established their
families? Most certainly — just as He had promised Jeroboam.
If we wish to be successful, or plans must align with God’s,
no matter what or personal thoughts or opinions might be.
You reap what you sow. These men had completely ignored God’s instructions (How many of the 10
commandments did they break?). Do we think that we will get any
We can make bad matters worse when we
use our judgement rather than God’s wisdom. Omri thought he was doing a wise thing by making an alliance with the
Sidonians. He arranged for his son Ahab to marry Jezebel, the
Sidonian king’s daughter. He thought that this would aid him
in conflicts with Syria, but in reality moved the people and the
kingdom farther from God and hastened the downfall. The further
we remove ourselves from God, the worse our situation will
Let’s not repeat these mistakes of
history. Let us trust God and not ourselves. Let us obey God so
as to receive His eternal blessings.
— S. Scott Richardson