12 Sept. 1 Kings 16:1-22

12 September.  Omri becomes King of Israel

“Jehu son of Hanani spoke the word of the LORD against King Baasha [of Israel]. The LORD said, ‘You were nothing, but I took you and made you a leader over my people Israel. But you have followed the ways of Jeroboam and have led my people Israel to sin. Their sins have made me angry, so, Baasha, I will soon destroy you and your family…’”

“So Baasha died and was buried in Tirzah, and his son Elah became king in his place… Elah son of Baasha became king of Israel during Asa’s twenty-sixth year as king of Judah, and Elah ruled in Tirzah for two years.”

“Zimri, one of Elah’s officers, commanded half of Elah’s chariots. Zimri made plans against Elah while the king was in Tirzah, getting drunk at Arza’s home. (Arza was in charge of the palace at Tirzah.) Zimri went into Arza’s house and killed Elah during Asa’s twenty-seventh year as king of Judah. Then Zimri became king of Israel in Elah’s place.”

“As soon as Zimri became king, he killed all of Baasha’s family, not allowing any of Baasha’s family or friends to live. So Zimri destroyed all of Baasha’s family just as the LORD had said it would happen through the prophet Jehu…”

“The army of Israel was camped near Gibbethon, a Philistine town. The men in the camp heard that Zimri had made secret plans against King Elah and had killed him. So that day in the camp they made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel. So Omri and all the Israelite army left Gibbethon and attacked Tirzah.”

“When Zimri saw that the city had been captured, he went into the palace and set it on fire, burning the palace and himself with it. So Zimri died because he had sinned by doing what the LORD said was wrong…”

“The people of Israel were divided into two groups. Half of the people wanted Tibni son of Ginath to be king, while the other half wanted Omri. Omri’s followers were stronger than the followers of Tibni son of Ginath, so Tibni died and Omri became king.”

          (1 Kings 16:1-22)

 

 

Today’s reading charts the power struggles that broke out in Israel following the death of King Baasha in c.887BC. Baasha was succeeded by his son Elah as King of Israel.  But Elah was an unpopular king and reigned for less than two years.

Elah was assassinated in c.886BC (during the second year of his reign) by Zimri, one of his officials, who immediately killed all of Baasha’s descendants in accordance with the prophesy that Jehu had spoken to Baasha:  “You have followed the ways of Jeroboam and have led my people Israel to sin. Their sins have made me angry, so, Baasha, I will soon destroy you and your family.” (1 Kings 16:2-3)

On hearing about the coup d’etat in the capital, Tirzah, the Israelite army – who were on manoeuvres against the Philistines near the coastal city of Ashkelon – rose in revolt and installed Omri – the commander of the army – as King of Israel. The army marched on Tirzah, and, anticipating his defeat, Zimri committed suicide by setting fire to the royal palace.

At this point, civil war broke out in Israel as some Israelites supported Tibni’s claim to the throne, while others – including most of the army – supported Omri.  Eventually, three years later, Tibni was killed, and Omri became the undisputed king of Israel.

The photo (by Wikipod) shows modern-day Ashkelon, the former Philistine city near Gibbethon, where the Israelite army under Omri had camped. 

You can read more about Israel’s descent into civil war @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/32-the-divided-kingdom-amp-journey-into-exile/israel-descends-into-civil-war/


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