1 Kings 16
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Jehu was a prophet and the son of a prophet. Of his father Hanani we read in 2 Chronicles 16:7-10, where it is recorded to his honour that he suffered imprisonment for the fidelity of his testimony against Asa. This son was worthy of such a father. His testimony before Baasha, a man of desperate resolution and unscrupulous irreligion, was admirably courageous. We hear of him again after an interval of forty years (see 2 Chronicles 19:2; 2 Chronicles 20:84). In his prophecy here


1. That he "walked in the way of Jeroboam." This implies

(1) that he was influenced by a like ambition. An ambition to be great in the eyes of men - to be a king. (See 1 Kings 11:37.)

(2) That to compass this he resorted to unscrupulous measures. He rebelled against his king. He rebelled against his God.

2. That he made the people of the Lord to sin.

(1) To make any people, or person, to sin is a great crime. And who can sin only to himself? Directly or indirectly sin must exert an influence beyond.

(2) To make God's covenanted people to sin is a higher crime. The oath upon them is violated. The salt of the earth, too, loses its savour, and the world is left to putrefy.

(3) To make God's people to sin, not as by accident, but of set purpose, is the highest crime. This Baasha did in upholding Jeroboam's calves - the "work" of men's "hands" (ver. 7). He did this fearing, as Jeroboam had feared, that if the people went to Jerusalem to worship they might repent of their rebellion against the house of David. For the same reason Baasha opposed the reformation under Asa, and to this end set about the building of Ramah (see 2 Chronicles 16:1).

3. That he thereby provoked the anger of the Lord against them.

(1) This expressed itself in the incessant wars by which they were shaken "as a reed is shaken in the water" (1 Kings 14:15).

(2) This is laid at He door of Baasha. His house is implicated with him. Jehu, therefore, had a message also to his house (ver. 7).

4. And because he killed Jeroboam.

(1) This, however, he did not, in person. Jeroboam died on his bed (1 Kings 14:20).

(2) But, in his house, he slew him (1 Kings 15:27-29). A man lives in his posterity; when his posterity are destroyed or exterminated, he is extinct.

(3) Perhaps the words "because he killed him might be fairly rendered because he killed it," viz., the house of Jeroboam. This any. how is the meaning (see 1 Kings 15:27, 29). The notion that he killed Jehu is inconsistent with the records of history, which bring Jehu upon the scene again in the days of Jehoshaphat.


1. The posterity of Baasha was to be taken away.

(1) His own. He was to have no male representative.

(2) That of his house. His female as well as male issue was to be destroyed. He was to be utterly rooted out.

2. History repeats itself.

(1) It does this because crime must provoke appropriate punishment. God recognizes the lex talionis - eye for eye, tooth for tooth.

(2) The house of Baasha being like to that of Jeroboam, the doom is.similar. As Baasha executed the judgment of the Lord upon the house of Jeroboam, another aspirant to royalty is to execute the judgment of the Lord upon the house of Baasha. Note

3. There are posthumous punishments.

(1) Baasha was as great a criminal as any of his house, yet he came to his grave in peace and honour. He died on his bed and was buried in state. Must there not be future reckoning and retribution?

(2) Baasha is punished in the extermination of his house. But this judgment came upon him after his decease. How could that affect Aim unless there be a future state?

(3) The same inference follows from the judgment upon the bodies of his posterity after their decease. What matter would it be to him or them to have their bodies eaten by dogs or by vultures when the life was gone, unless the spirits survived?

(4) How such things react Upon the disembodied spirit is a mystery. "There are many things in heaven and earth that do not enter into our philosophy." - J.A.M.

The character of Baasha is drawn in the paragraphs immediately preceding, which also contain an account of his end, which was better than he deserved, and suggests the reality of a future retribution. His family so fully followed in his steps that we have no mention of an Abijah amongst them, "in whom was found some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel" (see 1 Kings 14:18). The judgment of God upon this wicked house is written in the words before us. We have to reflect upon -


1. The prophecy of Jehu came to them as a warning.

(1) Such is the nature of this class of prophecies. The threatenings of God, like His promises, are conditional. So, had they repented, the judgments denounced would have been removed or moderated.

(2) Of this principle the Scriptures furnish many illustrations. Take, e.g., the argument of Abraham's prayer for Sodom and its success (Genesis 18:23-32). See the effect of. the contrition of Ahab (1 Kings 21:27-29). How the judgment of the Lord upon Nineveh was averted through their humiliation before God (Jonah 3:4.).

(3) This prophecy, therefore, came in mercy, as a respite, to give space for repentance. Else judgment might have fallen without remonstrance, as it did in the issue. By timely repentance and reformation let us seek to avert all threatened judgments.

2. But here was no repentance.

(1) Elah walked in the steps of his father. He followed the sin of Jeroboam. Their idolatries are called "vanities." The gods they worshipped could neither profit nor help them. "Happy is that people whose God is the Lord." Miserable, those whose gods are vanities!

(2) Moreover Elah abandoned himself to sensuality. See him in Tirzah, a palace beautifully situated (Song of Solomon 6:4), where he might have found innocent and rational enjoyment. But there he is in the apartments of Arza, his major domo, drunk! What a condition for a king!

(3) What a condition for a nation, to be ruled by such a king! The Ephrathites had reason to repent of their revolution. They did not improve upon the house of David. Revolutionists have generally found their dreams of a political Paradise illusory.

(4) The wisdom of Christians would be to make the best of the political system they may inherit, and pray for the speedy coming of the kingdom of Christ. This was the spirit of Paul's exhortations, even when such a monster as Nero ruled the kingdoms of the world (see Romans 13:1; 1 Timothy 2:1, 2; Titus 3:1; also 1 Peter 2:18, 17).


1. The wicked follow their own devices.

(1) Zimri had an ambition to reign. Such an ambition is not uncommon. Few can ascend the throne of a kingdom. But there are tyrants on the magisterial bench, in the factory, in the shop, in the mansion, in the college.

(2) Zimri had also a desperate resolution to bend circumstances to his object. His rank as a cavalry officer, commanding half the chariots of Elah, gave him access to the palace. There, finding his lord helplessly drunk, he sacrificed gratitude and duty, and struck the fatal blow. What a warning to drunkards! Death is especially terrible when it surprises the sinner in his sin (see Luke 21:34).

(3) With infernal promptitude Zimri proceeded to slaughter the whole of the seed royal. In the massacre he involved also the "kinsfolk and friends," so as to leave no rival to contest the throne.

(4) But how little did he dream, after wading through this sea of blood, that his reign should be limited to a single week! How disproportionate was the end to the means! If men could duly estimate the end, how it would lead them to hesitate over the employment of the means!

2. But the providence of God is over all.

(1) God foresaw everything. This is evident in the word of prophecy. And He so controlled the actors that the results answered the ends of justice. This also is evident in the same word.

(2) But this did not excuse the wickedness of the executioners. God allows the wicked to punish each other for Him. So makes He the wrath of man to praise Him (see 2 Kings 9:31).

(3) He has better work for His saints. To bless is more congenial to them than to destroy. The ambition of the spiritual is too noble to be satisfied with an earthly crown, or to pay its price. - J.A.M.


1. It was delayed in God's long suffering. Baasha had reigned nearly twenty-four years; Elah nearly two. The Lord is swift to bless but slow to strike. He has no delight in a sinner's death. Do we remember that God's long suffering today is not forgetfulness or indifference, but the restraining of infinite love?

2. It came upon him in his sin. The army was in the field, but he was not there. He was deaf to the calls of duty and honour. He had lost his self respect; he "was drinking himself drunk in the house" of his chamberlain. And now in a moment pleasure was swallowed up in terror, the misused life in death. The suddenness of God's judgments: "at such an hour as ye think not," etc.

3. Its extent. It was not less than was predicted. His kindred and his friends were cut off and their offspring (ver. 11). Every word was fulfilled. God's threatenings are not exaggerations meant to frighten us away from sin; they are descriptions. God's eye is resting on the woe which is hid from us, and His words are those of perfect truth and tenderest love.


1. Zimri was his servant. He had trusted and advanced him. Again we notice how ingratitude and rebellion against God are repaid in kind. If there be no love and truth toward God in us, let us not be surprised if we find these wanting in others toward us.

2. Though his deed fulfilled God's word, it was not of God: "he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the Lord;" it was "treason that he wrought." That which punishes evil may itself be sin. God's shield was withdrawn from around the house of Baasha, and an ambitious, cruel heart was allowed to work its will upon them. It is no justification of our act that the nation or persons against whom it is clone were wicked and deserved their fate; the question remains, Were we righteous in inflicting it?

3. The scourge was soon broken and cast away. He reigned but seven days. In slaying the king he was but ending his own life; in entering the palace gained by blood, he was laying himself upon his funeral pyre. The cup we covet may be a cup of death. Take God's way, and bide God's time: He will give that which is good. - J.U.

Though "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men," yet is He not responsible for the principles by which such kingdoms are actuated. For these are in shaking contrast to those which shall obtain in the "kingdom of God." In the kingdom of men as represented in the specimen before us we encounter -


1. True religion is pure wisdom.

(1) It is the "wisdom of God" revealed - outwardly, in His word - inwardly, by being written by His Spirit in the heart.

(2) To encourage this is man's highest wisdom. Godliness has promise of this life - of that to come.

2. False religion is supreme folly.

(1) It is in some respects even worse than no religion. It is more than a negation in respect to truth; it is pertinacious antagonism to truth.

(2) It is folly in relation to the highest interests of man. It demoralizes in the proportion of its ascendancy. It forfeits the heaven it professes to seek. It aggravates the hell it professes to avoid.

(3) It expresses itself in vanity. What more vain than the idols of the heathen? The very forms of those idols evince the monstrosity of folly. Witness a monkey or an onion for a God; a fish with a man's head; a satyr; a griffin! (see Deuteronomy 32:21; Isaiah 41:29.)

3. Of such folly was the kingdom of Israel flagrantly guilty.

(1) The calves with which they so deeply sinned were introduced by the kingcraft of Jeroboam.

(2) They are maintained by the kingcraft of all his successors, of whatever dynasty. Even Zimri, who only reigned seven days, and in those days was occupied in exterminating the house of Baasha, yet found time to pronounce himself in their favour.

(3) What a substitute for the Lord God of Israel who brought them up out of the land of Egypt!


1. Witnessed in frequent dynastic changes.

(1) The house of Jeroboam lasted twenty-four years. This gave place to that of Baasha, which lasted twenty-six. Zimri wore the crown seven days. Then came a four years' struggle for it between Omri and Tibni. At length "Tibni died and Omri reigned."

2. These changes represented strong passions.

(1) There was the impatience of the rule of the house of David which resulted in the revolution in favour of Jeroboam. Yet so little did they benefit by the change, that when Baasha destroyed that house they accepted, without a murmur, the rule of the regicide.

(2) But when Zimri treated the house of Baasha as Baasha had treated that of Jeroboam, they did not accept the second regicide. They now evinced some sense of right and wrong; but it was a wayward sense. There was no inquiry after the will of God. The army set up Omri, their general; but the civilians, apparently, chose Tibni. Here was a confusion which lasted until the death of one competitor.

3. These commotions were sanguinary.

(1) The division of the nation into two kingdoms induced civil war.

(2) Civil war also attended the treason of Zimri. For the army was occupied with the siege of Gibbethon when the news of this treason reached them, which determined them to raise the siege and invest Tirzah instead. The capture of Tirzah was not unbloody. A desperate character like Zimri would not tamely yield, when, rather than fall into the hands of Omri, he burnt the palace over his head and perished in the flames.

(3) The competition for the crown between Omri and Tibni protracted the civil war four years. Omri is not said to have resigned until the "thirty-first year of Asa, whereas Zimri's treason occurred in the twenty-seventh year of Asa," upon which Omri was chosen by the army. (Compare vers. 15 and 23.) The difference here is about four years.


1. Foremost under this head is idolatry.

(1) We mentioned this under the head of "folly," but it is not thereby removed from the category of "crime." Idolatry is the grossest and most direct insult to the living God.

(2) Hence no crime is in Scripture more heavily denounced and more signally obnoxious to punishment.

2. Next comes the capital crime of murder.

(1) As idolatry is the highest affront to God, so is murder the greatest offence against man.

(2) The crown of Israel was deeply stained with the blood of murder - with that of the house of Jeroboam; with that of the house of Baasha.

(3) Suicide also disgraced these violent times. And the note is significant that in his suicide Zimri perished "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" (vers. 18, 19). Note: Men with their own hands may punish their sin. What a contrast is the kingdom of God! Its principles are peace, righteousness, and joy. Of this those have the earnest who in heart accept Jesus as their Melchisedec. - J.A.M.


1. His success against Zimri (vers. 15-25). The traitor fell before him almost without a struggle.

2. Against Tibni. Israel was equally divided, yet his life was preserved and the kingdom given to him. Men pass up to place and means and influence through a pathway which, if it is only looked back upon and considered, is full of power to touch the heart and bow it under the will of God. I) o we read the story of our past, and let it touch us with the tale of God's marvellous mercy?


1. His hardness of heart. Not only was he blind to God's mercy. He passed up unawed through the midst of the terriblest judgments and the most marked fulfilment of God's threatenings. Neither the goodness nor the severity of God was allowed to touch him.

2. He "did worse than all that were before him." He was a man of energy and worldly wisdom. Both were bent to strengthen his power. He went further than Jeroboam, who seduced Israel, for he seems to have compelled them (see the mention of Omri's statutes, Micah 6:16) to sacrifice before the calves. Great talents, if joined to a selfish, hardened heart, only carry men further away from God.

III. HIS SIN'S FRUIT (vers. 29-34).

1. In his son's character and reign.

(1) "He did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him."

(2) It was possible only to an Ahab to set Jezebel - the great enemy of God and His people - upon the throne of Israel

(3) It was not enough to worship the calves of Bethel and Daniel He must turn wholly away from the God of Israel and worship Baal.

2. In the people's contempt of Jehovah. Hiel's act was done in the face of Israel, yet it was not forbidden; its commission awakened no fear. The man was left childless, yet judgments so harrowing and fulfilments of prophecy so marked had no effect upon his own soul. The legislation that blots out God's ordinances delivers a people over to darkness and judgment. - J.U.

After a four years' contest with Tibni, the son of Ginath, for the crown of Israel, the followers of Omri prevailed over the adherents of his rival. The issue, then, was that "Tibni died and Omri reigned." Whether Tibni died in battle, or whether, when his followers were overcome, he was taken and put to death, is not written; but the record illustrates how in the revolutions of the wheel of fortune the fall of one makes way for the rise of another. Let us now view this new monarch -


1. "Six years reigned he in Tirzah."

(1) This was once a lovely palace. Beautiful for its situation like Jerusalem (Song of Solomon 6:4), and beautified during the reign in it of all the earlier kings of Israel. For it was the third and last palace built by Jeroboam, the first of these kings, to which he removed from his palace at Penuel.

(2) But it was now damaged by fire. When Zimri shut himself up in it as his defences were driven in by the forces of Omri in the siege of the city, he set it on fire and perished in the conflagration. Thus in a moment the labour of years was demolished. Destruction is easier than construction. This principle also holds in morals.

(3) Still for six years Omri held his court in this city. Whether he occupied a portion of the palace which escaped the flames, or resided temporarily elsewhere in the city, is not revealed. The omissions of Scripture are instructive. Things of minor importance must not be allowed to divert attention from momentous things.

2. Six years he reigned in Samaria.

(1) The origin of this new capital is here recorded (ver. 24). Seven hundred pounds of our money seems a small price for a hill considerable enough to be the site for the capital of a kingdom. (Compare 1 Chronicles 26:25: 600 shekels of gold = £1,095.) Perhaps Shemei was animated by public spirit when he disposed of his hill for so trifling a sum. Perhaps he did so to perpetuate his name. His motive is withheld from us. Herein also is instruction. We are not judges of the motives of our fellows. God surveys the motives of all hearts.

(2) Henceforth Samaria figures prominently in the history of Israel. It gives its name to the middle portion of Canaan. Tirzah, Penuel, Shechem, are henceforth little heard off Men give importance to places rather than places to men. The importance even of heaven will be rather that of its inhabitants than of its situation. Learn the paramount value of spiritual qualities,


1. "He walked in all the ways of Jeroboam."

(1) This means that he encouraged the worship of the calves, if not that he even appeared at the altar as high priest (see 1 Kings 12:33; 1 Kings 13:1).

(2) It means further that he was moved by the same state policy. He desired to keep his people from Jerusalem lest they should repent of their revolution from the house of David.

(3) Note: Satan has his opportunities. While the pride of Israel smarted under the insolence of Rehoboam, Jeroboam could impose his calves upon them. Had he missed that opportunity, it might have been impossible afterwards to have effected his purpose. Omri could not have done it. We should be wise as serpents, viz., in avoiding the snare of the devil, in availing ourselves of our opportunities for good.

2. He "did worse than all that were before him."

(1) He "made Israel to sin" as Jeroboam did, persuading them to halt at Bethel or visit Dan, for that Jerusalem was too far from them. Persuading them also that his calves were images of the true God (see 1 Kings 12:28).

(2) He bound them by statute to worship the calves (compare Micah 6:16). In this he went farther than Baasha, who had set about building Ramah to prevent the people from going to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 16:1).


1. He "was buried."

(1) He had a state funeral. Money might procure that. He left a son to succeed him on the throne who would pay this public respect to his remains.

(2) How variously is the same subject viewed by men in the flesh, and by the inhabitants of the spiritual world! The funeral of the corpse is the event upon earth; the destiny of the spirit is the event yonder.

2. He "slept with his fathers."

(1) This expression does not mean that he was buried with them in their sepulchre, for Omri was buried in Samaria, a city which had no existence in the days of his fathers. Of Baasha also it is said that he "slept with his fathers, and was buried in Tirzah" (ver. 6), though there is no evidence that any of his fathers were buried in Tirzah.

(2) It seems to import that he died upon his bed, as the generality of mankind finish their course. This expression does not appear to be used when any die by the hand of violence as a judgment of the Lord upon their sin.

(3) Yet a violent death was deserved by Omri, as it was also by Baasha and Jeroboam, who, like him, came peacefully to the grave. They laid up sin for their posterity (see Job 21:19). But are they thus to escape the punishment of their own iniquity 2 Surely there must be a "judgment to come!" - J.A.M.

The evil genius of the son of Omri appeared -


1. In this, probably, he encouraged his father.

(1) He appears to have been associated with Omri in the kingdom. Omri reigned twelve years - viz., six in Tirzah, and six in Samaria; but his reign commenced "in the thirty-first year of Asa" (ver. 23). This would bring the close of his reign to the second year of Jehoshaphat, whereas in the text we read that "in the thirty and eighth year of Asa, king of Judah, began Ahab, the son of Omri, to reign over Israel." Hence it is evident Ahah must have been four or five years associated with his father in the throne.

(2) The extreme wickedness with which Omri is charged was probably owing to Ahab's evil influence; for the "statutes of Omri" seem to have been inspired by the "counsels of Ahab" (see Micah 6:16). So the note that "he sinned above all that were before him" is alike applied to the father and son (see verses 25, 30). And the leading influence of Ahab may explain why we commonly read of the "house of Ahab" rather than of the house of Omri. Parents are often demoralized by wicked children.

2. He did not alter his course after his father's death.

(1) The sin of Jeroboam was perpetuated in Israel down to the time of their captivity. The captivity seemed necessary to break its power over them. Judgment is the last resource of mercy.

(2) The same reasons of state continued to influence the successive rulers of the nation. Reasons of state are too often more potent than reasons of piety and righteousness. Else we had been spared the discredit of wicked wars, wicked laws, wicked trading.


1. She was a pronounced idolater.

(1) She was a Zidonian, and for any Israelite to marry one of that nation were a violation of the law of God (Exodus 34:11-16; Deuteronomy 7:3; Joshua 23:11-13). For a king of Israel to do this was the more reprehensible. Office brings responsibilities.

(2) These people were worshippers of strange gods, and in particular of Baal. Hence the name of this queen (איזבל), which may be derived from איזה, where? and בל, a contraction of בעל, Baal, thus: Where is Baal? q.d., a seeker of Baal. Hence also her father's name (אתבעל), Ethbaal, which Gesenius construes to denote, "Living with Baal, i.e., enjoying the favour and help of Baal."

2. Such alliances have ever proved demoralizing.

(1) The giants (נפליס), monsters, viz., in wickedness, perhaps, rather than in stature, whose violence provoked the judgment of the deluge, were the issue of marriages between the "sons of God," or holy race of Seth, and the "daughters of men," or profane descendants of Cain (Genesis 6:1-4).

(2) Solomon's heathen wives and concubines made a fool of the wisest of men, and brought his house and nation into infinite trouble (1 Kings 11:1-13).

(3) The history of this alliance also was most disastrous.

3. For typical reasons also they were forbidden.

(1) The marriage union should represent the union between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:32). Therefore a husband, that he may justly represent Christ, is bound to be holy; and so is his wife, that she may suitably represent the Church.

(2) Should the reverse happen, then is the woman an emblem of an apostate Church, of which the husband represents the Antichristian head (see 1 Corinthians 6:15, 16). Jezebel, accordingly, is viewed in this light in the imagery of the Apocalypse (see Revelation 2:20).


1. To Baal.

(1) To this god he built a temple in Samaria. This was the more audacious since, being placed in his capital, it seemed to vie with the temple of the Lord in the capital of Judah.

(2) To Baal also he reared an altar there. This, of course, meant a service of priests and sacrifices.

(3) Furthermore he himself worshipped Baal. Thus he gave the influence of his position to the encouragement of this idolatry. That influence was therefore also given to discourage the pure worship of the God of Israel.

2. To Ashsere.

(1) This word is construed "grove" in the text as elsewhere. But a little reflection will teach us that groves do not spring up in a day. Beside, it is not here said that Ahab planted (נטע), but that he made (עשה) the Ashere.

(2) The Ashere was a Canaanitish idol, probably of the figure of a goat, in the worship of which there appear to have been very abominable rites. No wonder, then, the anger of the Lord should be provoked. If we would not provoke it we must avoid the spirit of idolatry. This spirit is shown in the love of illicit things. Also in excessive love of lawful things. - J.A.M.

1 Kings 16:29-33
1 Kings 16:29-33; ch. 1 Kings 17:1. Ahab represents the culminating point of the perversity of the kingdom of Israel. At once more able and more profane than his predecessors, he fostered to an unprecedented degree the corruption of morals, private and public injustice, and idolatrous practices. Ahab, prompted by Jezebel, became the more dangerous enemy of the cause of God. At this period of the national history arose the greatest of the prophets, Elijah, who well bore out his name - the strength of God - and who was the faithful type of John the Baptist, the immediate forerunner of Christ. In the coming of Elijah at such a crisis, we have an illustration of a general and permanent rule of God's kingdom. The excess of evil calls out the strongest manifestations of good. Never was the power of Satan more rampant than at the time when the Son of God appeared upon earth. So in the end of time, the day of Antichrist will be also the day in which Christ will intervene most directly in the great drama of history. Let us not, then, yield to a hopeless pessimism when the powers of darkness seem to be let loose, for the two following reasons:

I. THE LETTING LOOSE OF EVIL BRINGS ITS OWN CONDEMNATION. By showing its true nature it passes sentence on itself, and brings to maturity all the seeds of death latent within it. Ahab, casting off all restraints and rushing recklessly on his ruin, writes his own condemnation.

II. AN AHAB ALWAYS CALLS FORTH AN ELIJAH. Whenever the army of God seems on the verge of defeat, its Divine leader takes the direct command. Reflections like these may reinforce our courage in view of the giant evils of our own day. - E. de P.

This was the turning-point in the history of the kingdom of Israel. Till now the people had professedly worshipped Jehovah under the symbol of the calf. Now idolatry of a grosser kind was avowedly set up as the national religion, on a scale of great magnificence. The text, therefore, is worthy of our study as the record of an event of deep historic significance, but we propose to consider it as a suggestive example of the way in which a man of moral weakness may be betrayed into the worst depravity, to the undoing of himself and others. We learn the following lessons from Ahab's life, of which a summary is given here:

I. THAT A FOOLISH CHOICE MAY RESULT IN LASTING DISHONOUR. Ahab's marriage was the cause of his ruin. Jezebel, his wife, was the daughter of Ethbaal, who had Been the high priest of Astarte, but was led by his ambition and unscrupulousness to usurp his brother's throne. Her parentage and her surroundings would have been a sufficient warning to a prudent king. But besides these Ahab had the Divine law before him (Exodus 34:16), which distinctly forbade union with the Canaanites. Such a marriage was unprecedented in the kingdom of Israel, and was the more fatal because of the character of the queen, the Lady Macbeth of Scripture. She was reckless and licentious, fanatical and cruel, with a temper as vindictive as her will was resolute. Her husband became a mere tool in her hands. He could not foresee all the issues of his choice, but he knew the choice was sinful. Show from this - illustrating by example -

1. How one wrong step leads to another. This marriage to the establishment of idolatry. Indicate the nature of the false religion set up.

2. How companionship influences character. The stronger moulding the weaker. "A companion of fools shall be destroyed."

3. How personal fascination may cause men to swerve from rectitude. Jezebel's fascinating power was regarded as witchery and became proverbial (Revelation 2:20).

4. How young people should be warned against unholy alliances. Marriage makes or mars character, hope, and blessedness (2 Corinthians 6:14). "Be ye net unequally yoked together with unbelievers."

II. THAT EASY GOOD NATURE MAY PROVE THE SOURCE OF DEEP DEGRADATION. Ahab was not destitute of good feelings and right impulses. Had he been firm instead o! pliable, and resolutely refused to gratify the queen by the establishment of idolatry, he might, with God's help, have neutralized the effect of the false step he had taken. But he was of a yielding nature, while she was resolute; and so, like Samson, he lost his kingliness. Point out the special dangers of those who are kindly and genial. Their unwillingness to disoblige, their wish to be popular, their dread of derision, their love of ease and pleasure, etc., may have fatal issues.

III. THAT BRILLIANT TALENTS WILL NOT COMPENSATE FOR MORAL WEAKNESS. This king was gifted with military skill, with artistic taste, etc., but these could net help him in the hour of spiritual conflict. Give examples from history of the careers of clever but unprincipled men, their meteoric success, their future punishment, here or hereafter; e.g., Napoleon I. Many men of genius have been ruined by drunkenness, and often high education has served only to alter the form and increase the influence of the sin. The clever forger is worse than the common thief; the viciousness of a leader of society does more injury than the licentiousness of an ignorant peasant.

IV. THAT ARCHITECTURAL SPLENDOURS AND MILITARY VICTORIES ARE NOT PROOFS OF NATIONAL PROSPERITY. Describe Ahab's magnificent buildings, his ivory house, his daring restoration and fortification of Jericho, his palace and park in Jezreel, which became to Samaria what Versailles once was to Paris. Show how often in history such costly expenditure has been a sign of decay. Extravagance and luxuriousness are omens of ruin to a people. "The Decline and Fall" of the Roman Empire is an abiding illustration of this. Nor will successful wars give stability to a kingdom. Ahab's victories were great military achievements, but of what avail to him and to his house? "The throne must be established in righteousness."

V. THAT AMPLE POSSESSIONS DO NOT CONTENT AN UNQUIET HEART. In Jezreel, the perfection of taste, Ahab was wretched, because he wanted Naboth's vineyard. (Read that story.) It is not in the power of earthly things to satisfy a hungering soul. The richest man is not content if he has only his riches, nor will any addition to them give him satisfaction. "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15). "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." God "satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness."

VI. THAT PARTIAL REPENTANCE DOES NOT AVERT GOD'S PUNISHMENT OF SIN. Ahab "put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly," when he heard Elijah's final threat; but, though this first sign of penitence was graciously encouraged by a promise, the change went no further He dreaded punishment, but his heart did not turn from sin, and therefore, though he disguised himself in the battle, the arrow "shot at a venture" was winged by Divine retribution to his heart. God is our Judge, as well as our King. For the impenitent there will be no escape. In vain will they "call on mountains and rocks to fall on them, and hide them from the wrath of God." Now in this day of mercy, God calls on all to repent, and find pardon and hope in Him, who has come "to seek and to save that which was lost." - A.R.

In discussing this subject we have to consider -

I. "THE WORD OF THE LORD WHICH HE SPAKE BY JOSHUA. THE SON OF NUN." The record of this word is found in Joshua 6:26. And the questions now arise -

1. Why did God thus curse Jericho?

(1) That its desolate condition might be a standing testimony to His abhorrence of the wickedness of the place. So abandoned were that people to idolatry that Rahab the hostess alone was accounted worthy of being saved. And "all her kindred" - (כלאּמשפחותיה) - all her families - the word is plural; families, viz., on her father's and mother's side, both were given to her (Joshua 6:23). Note: The faith of an individual is not only a personal blessing, but also a blessing to his family, to his nation, to the world, in time, in eternity.

(2) That it might he a standing sign prophetic of judgments to come.

(a) Jericho was the first city which offered resistance to the people of God; and it was proper it should stand forth as a figure of the last city that shall offer resistance, viz., Great Babylon.

(b) As Jericho was compassed about six days before it fell, so is Great Babylon destined to last until the beginning of the seventh age of prophetic chronology.

(c) As Jericho fell at the seventh blast of the trumpet, so at the sounding of the seventh Apocalyptic thumper will Great Babylon come into remembrance before God.

(d) As Rahab, through the righteousness of faith, escaped the plagues of war and fire which destroyed the city, so are the people of God urged to come out of Babylon lest they partake her plagues also of war and fire.

2. Why did God thus curse the rebuilder of Jericho?

(1) Consider the import of the curse. His eldest son was to perish by a judgment of Heaven as soon as the work commenced; and if, notwithstanding the judgment, he persisted in the undertaking, he should see the death of his youngest son. lit is thought the intermediate members of his family would also perish as the work advanced. That the curse involved the penalty of death is evident, since the curse upon the city meant the death of its inhabitants (see Joshua 6:17). The law of God also expresses that devoted things must die (see Leviticus 27:29).

(2) The curse, then, came to keep up the testimony for God against sin; also to be a public sign of the judgment upon Babylon to come. Whoever would remove such a testimony must be a man of determined wickedness, and therefore deserving execration. Let us beware how we oppose or discredit any faithful testimony for Christ.


1. The historical fact is before us.

(1) He did build Jericho. Not only did he lay the foundation, but he also set up the gates. Resolution and persistency are fine qualities when they are concerned with truth and goodness. But it was otherwise here.

(2) He paid the penalty accordingly. When he laid the foundation his firstborn Abiram perished. This did not deter him. So when he set up the gates "his youngest son Segub" was smitten.

2. But what could have possessed him?

(1) The general answer to this question is, that the spirit of wickedness possessed him. No godly man could be so rashly defiant. Even reputable men of the world would shrink from such an audacious undertaking. The respect for sacred things manifested by such unconverted men encourages the hope that they may yet seek His grace and mercy. Hiel must have been a hardened sinner to have attempted this.

(2) A more particular answer is suggested.

(a) He was a "Bethelite." This expression may mean that he was born in Bethel, though this is not clear. It suggests rather that he was wedded to the sin of Jeroboam; for Bethel was the head-quarters of that apostasy. There Jeroboam placed one of his famous calves. There he built an altar. There also he built a temple. There his priests congregated, and there he, in person, officiated as high priest. The service of the calves would so harden the heart of Hiel as to prepare him to disregard the curse of Jehovah.

(b) Then, he lived in the days of Ahab. These were days of fearful degeneracy. For Ahab provoked the Lord by wickedness more than all that had been before him. Hiel might argue that if Ahab could thus outrage the law of the God of Israel and survive, so might his own children survive, though he should transgress the adjuration of Joshua. It is dangerous to do evil because others have done it, apparently, with impunity.

(c) The curse was denounced a long time ago. Since then five centuries and a half had passed away. Time weakens memory with men, and when man has a purpose to serve, he may argue that this also is the case with God. But He that remembers mercy forever also remembers justice and judgment. Let us not deceive ourselves. Let us pray God to bring our sins to our remembrance, that we may repent of them before Him, for with Him they are never forgotten till forgiven. - J.A.M.

The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database.
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