1 Kings Chapter 16
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Go to Bible: 1 Kings 16
“Jehu.” Not the Jehu who would become king of Israel. This is the prophet Jehu (1 Kings 16:7) the son of Hanani, who was also a prophet (2 Chron. 16:7).(top)
|1Ki 16:2||- (top)|
“I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam.” The house of Jeroboam was totally destroyed.(top)
“The dogs will eat anyone belonging to Baasha who dies in the city.” In a culture where family ties were strong and family tombs common, to not have anyone bury your dead body was considered a terrible curse. In fact, many people believed (falsely, but it was a very widely held belief) that a proper burial was important for a comfortable existence in the afterlife. Thus the threat of not being buried but having one’s dead body eaten by animals, birds, and vermin was a horrifying threat of unspeakable loneliness and rejection, both on this earth and in the afterlife (see commentary on Jer. 14:16).(top)
|1Ki 16:5||- (top)|
|1Ki 16:6||- (top)|
”because he struck it down.” Baasha not only murdered Nadab the son of Jeroboam to become king (1 King 15:27), he went on to murder all the house of Jeroboam (1 Kings 15:29). But then, after killing all the dynasty of Jeroboam, Baasha went on to sin in the same way Jeroboam and Nadab sinned.(top)
|1Ki 16:8||- (top)|
“Over the House.” “Over the House” was the title of the palace administrator (see commentary on 1 Kings 4:6).
“who was Over the House in Tirzah.” “The House” was the palace in the capital city of Tirzah, and so Arza had the title of palace manager; “Over the House.” Like the “Chief of Staff” (cp. 1 Kings 4:6).(top)
|1Ki 16:10||- (top)|
“he struck down all the house of Baasha.” In this context, “the house of Baasha” is the dynasty of Baasha. Zimri did not kill Baasha, he had died earlier. Zimri killed Elah, Baasha’s son, but Zimri did not want any rivals to arise from Baasha’s descendants, so he killed them all and thus destroyed the house of Baasha. The dynasty of Baasha was the second dynasty to arise in Israel. The first was the dynasty of Jeroboam I, the second was the dynasty of Baasha, and the third was the dynasty of Omri, which is sometimes referred to as the dynasty of Ahab, Omri’s son, due to Ahab’s prominence (see commentary on 2 Kings 9:9).
“who pisses against a wall.” A crass idiom and cultural way of referring to the men. 1 Kings 16:11 seems to indicate that Zimri killed all the men related to or close to Baasha, but left the women alive.
“kinsman-redeemers.” A kinsman-redeemer could avenge Baasha’s death, so Zimri had them all killed.(top)
|1Ki 16:12||- (top)|
|1Ki 16:13||- (top)|
|1Ki 16:14||- (top)|
“seven days.” Zimri had the shortest reign of any of the kings of Israel or Judah.(top)
|1Ki 16:16||- (top)|
|1Ki 16:17||- (top)|
|1Ki 16:18||- (top)|
|1Ki 16:19||- (top)|
|1Ki 16:20||- (top)|
|1Ki 16:21||- (top)|
|1Ki 16:22||- (top)|
|1Ki 16:23||- (top)|
“built on the hill.” Omri fortified the hill and built his capital city, Samaria, there. It was so well fortified that when it finally fell to the Assyrians, it took the Assyrian army three years to siege it. Samaria so dominated the region that it became the name of the region itself as well as the name of the city.
“lord of the hill.” Here, “lord” is used of the landowner, and Shemer was the owner of the hill. The word “lord” is a grammatical plural, “lords,” but it refers to Shemer the lord.(top)
“Omri.” Omri was politically astute. He aligned with Judah and Phoenicia because his main enemy was Syria (Aram). He was also a great military strategist. His purchase of the hill of Shemer, which became named Samaria, was a powerful military position.(top)
|1Ki 16:26||- (top)|
|1Ki 16:27||- (top)|
|1Ki 16:28||- (top)|
|1Ki 16:29||- (top)|
|1Ki 16:30||- (top)|
“worshiped.” The Hebrew verb is shachah (#07812 שָׁחָה), and it is the same Hebrew word as “bow down.” The common biblical way of bowing down before people or God was to fall to one’s knees and bow the upper body to the earth. Shachah is translated as both “bow down” and “worship;” traditionally “worship” if God is involved and “bow down” if people are involved, but the verb and action are the same, the act of bowing down is the worship.
[For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chron. 29:20.](top)
“temple.” The Hebrew is “house,” and the “house of Baal” is the temple of Baal. In the biblical culture, temples were commonly referred to as the “house” of the god (or God), and the Temple of God is often called the “house of God.” This was common knowledge in biblical times, but not well known today. Good evidence of that fact is reflected in Christian tradition, which teaches that the experience of the tongues of fire on the Day of Pentecost happened in the upper room of a “house,” because Acts 2:2 says the sound filled the “house.” Thankfully, modern scholars are beginning to realize the “house” in Acts 2 is the Temple (see commentary on Acts 2:2). Ordinarily the REV would leave the word “house” in the text and not translate it “temple,” but in this case, the sin of Ahab is so egregious that it is important that the English reader understands that Ahab actually built a temple for Baal in his capital city.(top)
“the Asherah.” The Hebrew has the definite article and the direct object marker, and “the Asherah” may then refer to the well-known one in Samaria.(top)
“he laid its foundation…he set up its gates.” After a miraculous victory and destroying the city of Jericho, Joshua spoke a curse over the destroyed city: “Cursed is the man before Yahweh, who rises up and builds this city Jericho. With his firstborn son will he lay its foundation, and with his youngest son will he set up its gates” (Josh. 6:26). That curse, which was also a prophecy, was fulfilled over 500 years later when Hiel the Bethelite rebuilt Jericho and offered his oldest and youngest sons as foundation sacrifices.
Hiel lived during the time of Ahab and Jezebel, the king and queen of Israel, so it is helpful to know about them, because that is the environment Hiel lived in. Ahab did more evil than all the kings before him (1 Kings 16:30). He worshiped the golden calves that Jeroboam had made (1 Kings 16:31). He married Jezebel, who was the daughter of the King of Phoenicia (1 Kings 16:31 says king of Sidon, but that seems to be a general term for Phoenicians), and worshiped her gods, Baal and the Asherah, even making a Temple for Baal in his capital city (1 Kings 16:32). Jezebel was an idolater, witch (2 Kings 9:22), and murderer. She supported hundreds of prophets of Baal and the Asherah, and killed the prophets of Yahweh (1 Kings 18:4, 19), and would kill innocent families just to get a piece of land she wanted (1 Kings 21:1-16; 2 Kings 9:26. It is not well known that Jezebel killed all of Naboth’s family, but she had to in order to get clear title to his land).
The god Baal was infamous for human sacrifice, especially child sacrifice, which is specifically mentioned in the Bible (Jer. 19:5), and in the reign of Jezebel and Ahab, Israel was permeated with the worship of Baal. Besides that, Hiel came from Bethel, which was one of the two centers of idol worship in Israel, a city where Jeroboam had set up his golden calves (1 Kings 12:29). So Hiel was almost certainly a worshiper of Baal, and the evidence is that he participated in child sacrifice.
We learn from archaeology and ancient texts that one of the most common types of human sacrifice was “foundation sacrifice,” where children or adults were executed and placed, sometimes in jars, under the walls and gates of cities. The British anthropologist and historian, Nigel Davies writes:
The way the Hebrew text is worded, that “in [or “with”] Abiram his firstborn he founded her [Jericho], and with Segub, his youngest, he set up her gates,” makes it quite clear that Hiel did not have two tragic accidents while building Jericho, but rather sacrificed his sons to appease the gods and to become protective demons for his newly rebuilt Jericho.
In contrast to our Heavenly Father, who is loving and protects the innocent, the god of this world and his followers, even those who follow him out of ignorance, are blinded by their false religion and participate in terrible acts of cruelty and injustice. Jesus made it clear that we shall know evil by its fruit.
Nigel Davies, Human Sacrifice in History and Today, 21,22,61.