1 Kings 16 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 1 Kings 16)

Verse 1

[1] Then the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying,

Hanani — He was sent to Asa, king of Judah. But the son, who was young and more active, was sent on this longer and more dangerous expedition to Baasha, king of Israel.

Verse 2

[2] Forasmuch as I exalted thee out of the dust, and made thee prince over my people Israel; and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made my people Israel to sin, to provoke me to anger with their sins;

I made thee — Though that invading the kingdom was from himself, and his own wicked heart; yet the translation of the kingdom from Nadab to Baasha simply considered, was from God, who by his providence disposed of all occasions, and of the hearts of the soldiers and people, so that Baasha should have opportunity of executing God's judgment upon Nadab; nay, the very act of Baasha, the killing his master Nadab, was an act of divine justice. And if Baasha had done this in obedience to God's command, and with a single design, to execute God's vengeance threatened against him, it had been no more a sin, than Jehu's act in killing his master king Jehoram, upon the same account, 2 Kings 9:24. But Baasha did this, merely to gratify his own pride, or covetousness, or malice, verse 7.

Verse 7

[7] And also by the hand of the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani came the word of the LORD against Baasha, and against his house, even for all the evil that he did in the sight of the LORD, in provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam; and because he killed him.

Came, … — The meaning is, the message which came from the Lord to Jehu, verse 1, etc. was here delivered by the hand, the ministry of Jehu, unto Baasha. Jehu did what God commanded him in this matter, tho' it was not without apparent hazard to himself.

Verse 8

[8] In the twenty and sixth year of Asa king of Judah began Elah the son of Baasha to reign over Israel in Tirzah, two years.

Two years — One compleat, and part of the other, verse 10.

Verse 9

[9] And his servant Zimri, captain of half his chariots, conspired against him, as he was in Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza steward of his house in Tirzah.

Chariots — Of all his military chariots, and the men belonging to them: the chariots for carriage of necessary things, being put into meaner hands.

Tirzah — Whilst his forces were elsewhere employed, verse 15, which gave Zimri advantage to execute his design.

Verse 11

[11] And it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, that he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends.

Kinfolks — Heb. avengers; to whom it belonged to revenge his death.

Verse 13

[13] For all the sins of Baasha, and the sins of Elah his son, by which they sinned, and by which they made Israel to sin, in provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities.

Vanities — Idols called vanities; because they are but imaginary deities, and mere nothings; having no power to do either good or hurt.

Verse 15

[15] In the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah did Zimri reign seven days in Tirzah. And the people were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines.

Gibbethon — Which had been besieged before, but, it seems, was then relieved, or afterwards recovered by the Philistines; taking the advantage of the disorders and contentions which were among their enemies.

Verse 19

[19] For his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, to make Israel to sin.

For his sins — This befell him for his sins.

In walking, … — This he might do, either before his reign, in the whole course of his life, which is justly charged upon him, because of his impenitency: or during his short reign; in which, he had time enough to publish his intentions, about the worship of the calves; or to sacrifice to them, for his good success.

Verse 21

[21] Then were the people of Israel divided into two parts: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king; and half followed Omri.

Were divided — Fell into a civil war: yet neither this, nor any other of God's dreadful judgments could win them to repentance.

Verse 22

[22] But the people that followed Omri prevailed against the people that followed Tibni the son of Ginath: so Tibni died, and Omri reigned.

Prevailed — Partly, because they had the army on their side; and principally, by the appointment of God, giving up the Israelites to him who was much the worst, verse 25,26.

Died — A violent death, in the battle: but not till after a struggle of some years. But why in all these confusions of the kingdom of Israel, did they never think of returning to the house of David? Probably because the kings of Judah assumed a more absolute power than the kings of Israel. It was the heaviness of the yoke that they complained of, when they first revolted from the house of David. And it is not unlikely, the dread of that made them averse to it ever after.

Verse 23

[23] In the thirty and first year of Asa king of Judah began Omri to reign over Israel, twelve years: six years reigned he in Tirzah.

Twelve years — That is, and he reigned twelve years, not from this thirty-first year of Asa, for he died in his thirty-eighth year, verse 29, but from the beginning of his reign, which was in Asa's twenty-seventh year, verse 15,16. So he reigned four years in a state of war with Tibni, and eight years peaceably.

Verse 24

[24] And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver, and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill, Samaria.

Two talents — Two talents is something more than seven hundred pounds.

Verse 26

[26] For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities.

Did worse — Perhaps he made severer laws concerning the calf worship; whence we read of the statutes of Omri, Micah 6:16.

Verse 31

[31] And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.

A light thing — The Hebrew runs, was it a light thing, etc., that is, was this but a small sin, that therefore he needed to add more abominations? Where the question, as is usual among the Hebrews, implies a strong denial; and intimates, that this was no small sin, but a great crime; and might have satisfied his wicked mind, without any additions.

Jezebel — A woman infamous for her idolatry, and cruelty, and sorcery, and filthiness.

Eth-baal — Called Ithbalus, or Itobalus in heathen writers. So she was of an heathenish and idolatrous race. Such as the kings and people of Israel were expressly forbidden to marry.

Baal — The idol which the Sidonians worshipped, which is thought to be Hercules. And this idolatry was much worse than that of the calves; because in the calves they worshipped the true God; but in these, false gods or devils.

Verse 34

[34] In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.

In his days — This is added, 1. as an instance of the certainty of divine predictions, this being fulfilled eight hundred years after it was threatened; and withal, as a warning to the Israelites, not to think themselves innocent or safe, because the judgment threatened against them by Ahijah, chap. 14:15, was not yet executed. Or, 2. as an evidence of the horrible corruption of his times, and of that high contempt of God which then reigned.

The Bethelite — Who lived in Bethel, the seat and sink of idolatry, wherewith he was throughly leavened.

He laid, … — That is, in the beginning of his building, God took away his first-born, and others successively in the progress of the work, and the youngest when he finished it. And so he found by his own sad experience, the truth of God's word.