Creating Shomron

Omri – I Kings 16:15-28

Position before becoming king:  Chief of army

Length of reign: 12 years, of which 6 are in Tirtzah

Reign starts in Asa’s (Judah) 31st year

Chief of army -– friend or foe?

Omri was the chief of the army under Ela, and possibly under his father Baasha.  Zimri, who killed Ela, did not have a chance to replace him (a 7 day reign doesn’t go far.)

Why is it not surprising that it is Omri that is appointed king by the people?  Who are those people?  (V.16)

The Omrite dynasty will feature 4 kings.  Its demise will come from the hands of a senior army officer named Jehu…  (II Kings 9.)

Is this conflict of trust and suspicion surrounding senior army officers reflected in world history?

How long did the civil war last?

The people’s support is split, creating a period of unrest.  (Try to put yourself in the place of people who lived through it: The king was assassinated, the usurper burnt the palace on himself, and now a civil war!)

How long did the uncertainty last?  Notice the synchronization with Judah in v.15 and v.23, it might solve the question.

While you are at it:  Look at the synchronization in v.29.  How did Omri count his 12 years on the throne?

Shomron (Samaria) – I Kings 23b-24

The capital of the northern kingdom was vague and uninteresting until now.

Compare Omri’s actions to create a capital with those of David.  Notice how the place is obtained and who creates it.

What was Omri trying to achieve?

David does buy one part of his city.  Which part is it?  Is there a comparable section in Omri’s Shomron?  Why?

Where is Omri buried?  Is there any parallel to the Davidic dynasty?

Ahab son of Omri   I Kings 16:15-28

Length of reign: 22 years

Prophet at the time:  Elijah

Reign starts in Asa’s (Judah) 38th year

Of interest:

Ahab’s reign is marked by 2 extreme and conflicting religious powers:  The queen Jezebel and Elijah the prophet.  We will take a closer look at these characters next week.

Ahab is known from non biblical sources, where he appears as A-ha-ab-bu.  He participated in a coalition against the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III in the battle of Qarqar in 853bce.  He is said to have contributed 2000 chariots and 10,000 soldiers.  These numbers may have included forces from nearby countries.  None the less, it gives us an idea of how highly he was regarded in the region.  The Israelite kingdom had power.

A great amount of ivory was found at the excavations at Samaria.  ( will give you some information.) Begrudgingly, even the narrator of the book of Kings has to give some credit to Ahab’s development of the Israelite state, and the grandeur of his capital, Shomron.  (I Kings 22:39)

Ahab seems to die a heroic death in battle, the details are given in I Kings 22:29-37.


The golden calves remain (“the transgressions of Jeroboam son of Nebat”) but something new has happened in the religious sphere.  What is it?

How is this different than the golden calves?

V.32 tells us about a building that Ahab built in Shomron.  What is it?

Ahab and Solomon were both the second generation that got a capital that could still be developed further.  Try to see the similarities, and the differences.

Rebuilding of Jericho: (I Kings 16:34)

Joshua placed a ban on the rebuilding of Jericho (Josh 6:26).  But here we discover that Hi’el of Bet El rebuilt the city, absorbing the full curse of Joshua.

Why did the narrator decided to include this detail in the story of Ahab?

Bellow are the views of Radaq (R. David Qimkhi) and Ralbag (R. Levi ben Gershom).  How would they have answered the above question?

רד”ק מלכים א פרק טז פסוק לד

(לד) חיאל בית האלי – …תחת ממשלתו של אחאב היה, ועשה דבר זה, ולא מיחה בידו אחאב, כל כך הרשיע לעשות! ועד ימיו לא היה אדם שעלה בלבו לבנות יריחו, מפני השבועה שהשביע יהושע: “ארור האיש… אשר יקום ובנה את העיר” וגו’ (יהושע ו כו)

Radaq I Kings 16:34

Hiel the Bethelite…it [the rebuilding of Jericho] took place under the government of Ahab, and he did  this, and Ahab did not protest, that is how wicked he was!  And until his days there was no person who thought of building Jericho, because of the oath that Joshua swore:  “Cursed… be the man who will rise and build the city…” (Joshua 6:26)

רלב”ג מלכים א פרק טז פסוק לד

(לד) בימיו בנה חיאל בית האלי את יריחה -… ונתאמת מה שקלל יהושע אשר יבנה את יריחו. כי כאשר יסדה מת אבירם בכורו, ומתו כל בניו, עד שמת צעירו כאשר הציב דלתיה. ואף על פי ששמע אחאב זה, לא התעורר לירא את ה’, אך שקד על חטאתיו:

Ralbag I Kings 16:34

In his days Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho -…and what Joshua cursed the one that will rebuild Jericho came true.  For when he laid the foundations Aviram his first born died. And all his children died, until his youngest died as he raised its doors.  And despite hearing this, Ahab did not waken to fear Hashem, but rather worked studiously on his sins.

Bringing it all together

Omri realized what David before him had recognized:  To have a strong kingdom, the king needs a capital, devoid of other associations, to centralize his reign and be its symbol.  Unlike David’s Jerusalem, we do not hear about plans for a central state shrine in the capital, uniting state and religion.  But it happens in the days of Ahab anyway.  Like David, it was the second generation that completes the job, including the religious aspects of it.  Solomon built an awe-inspiring temple to eliminate all other shrines.  Ahab brought in the Baal worship as the state religion.  Both introduced religious concepts that were somewhat foreign to the people and were not fully accepted.  And both advanced their state to levels only dreamt about before.

The Chaos before the Calm:

For Inquiring Minds…..

This section is intended to give you some background material.  Enjoy it or ignore it.

Looking at the information below, consider the following:

  • What seems to be a good stepping stone to becoming king?
  • How many of these kings brought about a real change from what was there before them?
  • When does the tribe of the king stop appearing?  What might be the reason?

A quick review of the kings in the northern kingdom from the split through Ahab:

A) Jeroboam son of Nebat of the tribe of Ephraim (22 years)

  • Before becoming king:  Was in charged of the labor of Ephraim, rebelled against Solomon and fled to Egypt.
  • Created the golden calves.

Nadav son of Jeroboam (2 years)

  • Inherited the kingdom from his father
  • Assasinated by Baasha while besieging a Gibton
  • Kept the golden calves

B) Baasha son of Ahiah of the tribe of Issachar (24 years)

  • Before becoming king: Unknown, but present at a military operation
  • Killed everyone in the previous dynasty.
  • Kept the golden calves.

Elah son of Baasha (2 years)

  • Inherited the kingdom from his father
  • Assasinated (while drunk) by Zimri
  • Kept the golden calves.

C) Zimri (7 days)

  • Before becoming king:  Commander of half the chariotry.
  • Killed everyone in the previous dynasty
  • Kept the golden calves.

D) Omri (12 years)

  • Before becoming king:  Chief of army
  • Had to fight a civil war (5 years?) to gain the throne
  • Kept the golden calves, and “did worse than all before him”
  • Bought and built Shomron.

Ahab son of Omri (22 years)

  • Inherited the kingdom from his father
  • Developed Shomron and the country
  • Introduced Baal worship, was worse than all who came before him.

Go to Next Class – Jezebel