Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "OLD TESTAMENT
The History of Israel: Part 6c
THE DIVIDED KINGDOM:
THE DYNASTY OF OMRI IN ISRAEL (Period 2, Northern), and
JUDAH DURING THE TIME OF THE DYNASTY OF OMRI
(End of Period 1; beginning of Period 2, Southern)
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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
- DIVIDED KINGDOM (II)
- THE DYNASTY OF OMRI IN ISRAEL (Period 2, Northern)
- Omri (12 years)
While little is said of Omri in the Bible, he is
of great importance. For 100 years after his time, the Assyrians called
the reigning king of Israel ben Omri (son of Omri), even though many of
these kings were not of Omri’s dynasty. The reason for this is Omri’s
strengthening of Israelite political power. Until his time Israel was
hardly important enough to be noticed by the great powers. Omri changed
that. After a bitter struggle for the throne, he built the city of Samaria
and made it his capital. The situation of Samaria made it ideal for the
Israelite capital. There was no good water supply, but Omri built cisterns
to catch the rain of the winter season, -and so successful was this
arrangement that (much later) the Assyrians had to besiege Samaria three
years before they could capture it.
- Ahab (22 years)
In Ahab’s reign occurs one of the greatest
struggles recorded in the Bible. It began when Ahab married Jezebel, the
daughter of the Phoenician king. The sophisticated Jezebel came from a
wealthy land. Her home town could almost be called the commercial capital
of the world. Her presence in the country-fied court of Samaria must have
caused great changes—all for the worse—for she brought with her the
worship of the Tyrian . baal Hadad, and of lady Asherah (translated
“groves, “ 1 Ki. 18), the mistress of the gods. This was the same old
Canaanite worship which Moses and Joshua commanded to be destroyed
Ahab was an altogether weak character, continually dominated by his wife.
Note her strong character whenever she enters the picture. Ahab now
promotes the worship of baal throughout Israel, thus precipitating Israel
into a grave spiritual crisis which leads to the work of Elijah and the
contest of Mt. Carmel (1 Ki. 17-19).
Elijah was undoubtedly one of the greatest Hebrew prophets and the study
of his life is very rewarding. He seems to have stopped the greater part
of the baal movement and to have brought real revival to Israel. His
ministry was that of a flaming evangelist.
Ahab fought a number of campaigns against Syria. In one of them (1 Ki. 22)
he persuaded Jehoshaphat to join him. Jehoshaphat also joined Ahab’s son
Jehoram in a campaign against Moab. It would seem that Jehoshaphat might
better have refused such alliances. They brought him nothing but trouble.
The affair of Naboth’s vineyard shows well Ahab’s and Jezebel’s characters
and indicates also that kingship among the Hebrews was not absolute, but
was always subject to the law of God. It is only when Naboth is condemned
by legal means (!) that he can be put out of the way.
Ahab fought a battle not mentioned in the Bible. In 852 B.C., two years
before Ahab’s death at Ramoth Gilead, Syria and Israel united against a
common enemy. Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, the rising empire of that
time, attacked the Westlands, and Israel and Syria were forced to unite to
stop him. Assyrian inscriptions mention Ahab, saying that he furnished
2000 chariots, 10, 000 infantry. At Karkar, on the Orontes River in Syria,
the allies brought Shalmaneser to a standstill, thus postponing Assyrian
interference in the West.
- Ahaziah ben Ahab (2 years)
An unimportant king. Distinguish the following
kings with the same name:
Ahab king of Israel succeeded by Ahaziah ben Ahab, succeeded by Jehoram
ben Ahab (brother of Ahaziah).
Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, succeeded by Jehoram ben Jehoshaphat,
succeeded by Ahaziah ben Jehoram.
Joram is another spelling of Jehoram.
Note: These kings were contemporaneous.
Note: The marriage of Jehoram of Judah to Athaliah of Israel made Ahaziah
and Jehoram of Israel brothers-in-law to Jehoram of Judah and
uncles to Ahaziah of Judah!
- Jehoram ben Ahab (12 years)
During his reign Elisha succeeded Elijah,
Archaeology has thrown interesting light on Moab’s rebellion against
Israel. A stone monument has been found, set up in Mesha in Moab,
celebrating his rebellion and mentioning Omri and his son. He claims to
have utterly vanquished Israel. No doubt at the time he set up his stele
it looked as though he had. There is some uncertainty whether he inscribed
it before or after the battle referred to in 2 Kings 3, but it is
certainly the same Mesha mentioned there. The Moabite language is quite
like Hebrew—a sister tongue—showing that Israel had much in common with
her neighbors. (You may read about the Moabite Stone in WBD, pp.393,
403-404; “Moabite Stone,” ISBE, pp. 2071-2072.)
Note in Jehoram’s reign a renewal of the Syrian wars and
Elisha’s part in them. Jehu’s revolt brings to an end Jehoram’s life and
- JUDAH DURING THE TIME OF THE DYNASTY OF OMRI (End of
Period 1; beginning of Period 2, Southern)
Jehoshaphat continued on the throne of Judah
during much of this period. His compromising attitude shown in his alliances
with Ahab and Ahaziah has been noted; his successors suffered for it.
- Jehoram ben Jehoshaphat (8 years)
An evil king, he married Ahab’s daughter
Athaliah. During his reign baalism was introduced into Judah.
- Ahaziah ben Jehoram (1 year)
A wicked king who worshiped Baal. After reigning
one year, Ahaziah goes to Jezreel to visit his uncle Jehoram of Israel,
who had been wounded in battle with Syria. At that moment Jehu, an
Israelite general, revolted and slew both kings. Thus God judged both
wicked, baal -worshiping dynasties.
When Athaliah, the queen mother in Judah heard that her son Ahaziah was
killed she seized rule and sought to kill all the royal Judean line. Her
plan no doubt, was to do away with the Davidic line and make Israelite
-baal influence dominant in Judah. For six or seven years she rules
undisputedly. “Athaliah possessed the masculine courage of her mother
Jezebel and was equally unscrupulous in shedding blood.”
However, Jehosheba (daughter of king Jehoram of Judah and sister of the
now deceased Ahaziah) the wife of the good priest Jehoiada, hid Joash, her
nephew (a son of Ahaziah) in the temple, thus saving his life. Joash was
the only one of “seed royal” saved alive.
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