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Scott Richardson



Malcolm Andrews

Owen Griggs



Tim Hamilton

Jackson Drive


April 18, 2010


What 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 followed Jeroboam.


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 of Israel.

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 Sidonians.

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 spiritual shortcomings.

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 different result?

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 become.

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

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