1. The sixth king of Israel, succeeded his father Omri B. C. 918, and reigned twenty-two years. His wife was Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal king of Tyre; an ambitious and passionate idolatress, through whose influence the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth was introduced in Israel. Ahab erected in Samaria a house of Baal, and set up images of Baal and Ashtoreth; idolatry and wickedness became fearfully prevalent, and the king "did more to provoke the Lord to anger than all the kings that were before him." In the midst of this great apostasy, God visited the land with three years of drought and famine; and then, at Mount Carmel, reproved idolatry by fire from heaven, and by the destruction of four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. About six years later, Ben-hadad, king of Syria, invaded Israel with a great army, but was ignominiously defeated; and still more disastrously the year after, when Ahab took him captive, but soon released him, and thus incurred the displeasure of God. In spite of the warnings and mercies of Providence, Ahab went on in sin; and at length, after the murder of Naboth, his crimes and abominable idolatries were such that God sent Elijah to denounce judgments upon him and his seed. These were in part deferred, however, by his apparent humiliation. Soon after, having gone with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, to regain Ramoth-gilead from the Syrians, and joined battle with them in defiance of Jehovah, he was slain, and dogs licked up his blood at the pool of Samaria, 1Ki 16:29-22:40.
2. A false prophet, who seduced the Israelites at Babylon, and was denounced by Jeremiah, Jer 29:21-22.
(1.) The son of Omri, whom he succeeded as the seventh king of Israel. His history is recorded in 1Ki 16-22. His wife was Jezebel (q.v.), who exercised a very evil influence over him. To the calf-worship introduced by Jeroboam he added the worship of Baal. He was severely admonished by Elijah (q.v.) for his wickedness. His anger was on this account kindled against the prophet, and he sought to kill him. He undertook three campaigns against Ben-hadad II., king of Damascus. In the first two, which were defensive, he gained a complete victory over Ben-hadad, who fell into his hands, and was afterwards released on the condition of his restoring all the cities of Israel he then held, and granting certain other concessions to Ahab. After three years of peace, for some cause Ahab renewed war (1Ki 22:3) with Ben-hadad by assaulting the city of Ramoth-gilead, although the prophet Micaiah warned him that he would not succeed, and that the 400 false prophets who encouraged him were only leading him to his ruin. Micaiah was imprisoned for thus venturing to dissuade Ahab from his purpose. Ahab went into the battle disguised, that he might if possible escape the notice of his enemies; but an arrow from a bow "drawn at a venture" pierced him, and though stayed up in his chariot for a time he died towards evening, and Elijah's prophecy (1Ki 21:19) was fulfilled. He reigned twenty-three years. Because of his idolatry, lust, and covetousness, Ahab is referred to as pre-eminently the type of a wicked king (2Ki 8:18; 2Ch 22:3; Mic 6:16).
(2.) A false prophet referred to by Jeremiah (Jer 29:21), of whom nothing further is known.
1. Son of Omri; seventh king of the northern kingdom of Israel, second of his dynasty; reigned 28 years, from 919 to 897 B.C. Having occasional good impulses (1Ki 21:27), but weak and misled by his bad wife Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of Zidon, i.e. Phoenicia in general. The Tyrian historians, Dius and Menander, mention Eithobalus as priest of Ashtoreth. Having murdered Pheles, he became king of Tyre. Menander mentions a drought in Phoenicia; compare 1 Kings 17. He makes him sixth king after Hiram of Tyre, the interval being 50 years, and Eithobalus' reign 32; thus he would be exactly contemporary with Ahab (Josephus c. Apion, 1:18.) Ahab, under Jezebel's influence, introduced the impure worship of the sun-god Baal, adding other gods besides Jehovah, a violation of the first commandment, an awful addition to Jeroboam's sin of the golden calves, which at Dan and Bethel (like Aaron's calves) were designed (for state policy) as images of the one true God, in violation of the second commandment; compare 2Ki 17:9; "the children of Israel did secretly things Hebrew covered words that were not right Hebrew so against the Lord," i.e., veiled their real idolatry with flimsy pretexts, as the church of Rome does in its image veneration.
The close relation of the northern kingdom with Tyre in David's and Solomon's time, and the temporal advantage of commercial intercourse with that great mart of the nations, led to an intimacy which, as too often happens in amalgamation between the church and the world, ended in Phoenicia seducing Israel to Baal and Astarte, instead of Israel drawing Phoenicia to Jehovah; compare 2Co 6:14-18. Ahab built an altar and temple to Baal in Samaria, and "made a grove," i.e. a sacred symbolic tree (asheerah), the symbol of Ashtoreth (the idol to whom his wife's father was priest), the moon-goddess, female of Baal; else Venus, the Assyrian Ishtar (our "star".) Jehovah worship was scarcely tolerated; but the public mind seems to have been in a halting state of indecision between the two, Jehovah and Baal, excepting 7000 alone who resolutely rejected the idol; or they thought to form a compromise by uniting the worship of Baal with that of Jehovah. Compare Ho 2:16; Am 5:25-27,1 Kings 18; 19. Jezebel cut off Jehovah's prophets, except 100 saved by Obadiah.
So prevalent was idolatry that Baal had 450 prophets, and Asherah ("the groves") had 400, whom Jezebel entertained at her own table. God chastised Israel with drought and famine, in answer to Elijah's prayer which he offered in jealousy for the honor of God, and in desire for the repentance of his people (1 Kings 17; Jas 5:17-18). When softened by the visitation, the people were ripe for the issue to which Elijah put the conflicting claims to Jehovah and Baal at Carmel, and on the fire from heaven consuming the prophet's sacrifice, fell on their faces and exclaimed with one voice, "Jehovah, He is the God; Jehovah, He is the God." Baal's prophets were slain at the brook Kishon, and the national judgment, through Elijah's prayers, was withdrawn, upon the nation's repentance. Ahab reported all to Jezebel, and she threatened immediate death to Elijah. Ahab was pre-eminent for luxurious tastes; his elaborately ornamented ivory palace (1Ki 22:39; Am 3:15), the many cities he built or restored, as Jericho (then belonging to Israel, not Judah) in defiance of Joshua's curse (1Ki 16:34), his palace and park at Jezreel (now Zerin), in the plain of Esdraelon, his beautiful residence while Samaria was the capital, all show his magnificence.
But much would have more, and his coveting Naboth's vineyard to add to his gardens led to an awful display of Jezebel's unscrupulous wickedness and his selfish weakness. "Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? ... I will give thee the vineyard." By false witness suborned at her direction, Naboth and his sons (after he had refused to sell his inheritance to Ahab, Le 25:23) were stoned; and Ahab at Jezebel's bidding went down to take possession (1 Kings 21; 2Ki 9:26). This was the turning point whereat his doom was sealed. Elijah with awful majesty denounces his sentence, "in the place where dogs licked Naboth's blood, shall dogs lick thine" (fulfilled to the letter on Joram his offspring, 2 Kings 9, primarily also on Ahab himself, but not "in the place" where Naboth's blood was shed); while the king abjectly cowers before him with the cry, "Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" All his male posterity were to be cut off, as Jeroboam's and Baasha's, the two previous dynasties, successively had been (See ELIJAH). Execution was stayed owing to Ahab's partial and temporary repentance; for he seems to have been capable of serious impressions at times (1Ki 20:43); so exceedingly gracious is God at the first dawning of sorrow for sin.
Ahab fought three campaigns against Benhadad II., king of Damascus. The arrogance of the Syrian king, who besieged Samaria, not content with the claim to Ahab's silver, gold, wives, and children being conceded, but also threatening to send his servants to search the Israelite houses for every pleasant thing, brought on him God's wrath. A prophet told Ahab that Jehovah should deliver to him by the young men of the princes of the provinces (compare 1Co 1:27-29) the Syrian multitude of which Benhadad vaunted, "The gods do so to me and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me" (1 Kings 20). "Drinking himself drunk" with his 32 vassal princes, he and his force were utterly routed. Compare for the spiritual application 1Th 5:2-8. Again Benhadad, according to the prevalent idea of local gods, thinking Jehovah a god of the hills (His temple being on mount Zion and Samaria being on a hill) and not of the plains, ventured a battle on the plains at Aphek, E. of Jordan, with an army equal to his previous one.
He was defeated and taken prisoner, but released, on condition of restoring to Ahab all the cities of Israel which he held, and making streets for Ahab in Damascus, as his father had made in Samaria (i.e. of assigning an Israelites' quarter in Damascus, where their judges should have paramount authority, for the benefit of Israelites resident there for commerce and political objects). A prophet invested with the divine commission ("in the word of the Lord": Hag 1:13) requested his neighbor to smite him; refusing, he was slain by a lion. Another, at his request, smote and wounded him. By this symbolic act, and by a parable of his having suffered an enemy committed to him to escape, the prophet intimated that Ahab's life should pay the forfeit of his having suffered to escape with life one appointed by God to destruction. This disobedience, like Saul's in the case of Amalek, owing to his preferring his own will to God's, coupled with his treacherous and covetous murder of Naboth, brought on him his doom in his third campaign against Benhadad three years subsequently.
With Jehoshaphat, in spite of the prophet Micaiah's warning, and urged on by an evil spirit in the false prophets, he tried to recover Ramoth Gilead (1 Kings 22). Benhadad's chief aim was to slay Ahab, probably from personal hostility owing to the gratuitousness of the attack. Conscience made Ahab a coward, and selfishness made him reckless of his professed friendship to Jehoshaphat. Compare 2Ch 18:2; feasting and a display of hospitality often seduce the godly. So he disguised himself, and urged his friend to wear the royal robes. The same Benhadad whom duty to God ought to have led him to execute as a blasphemer, drunkard, and murderer, was in retribution made the instrument of his own destruction (1Ki 20:10,16,42). That false friendship which the godly king of Judah ought never to have formed (2Ch 19:2; 1Co 15:33) would have cost him his life but for God's interposition (2Ch 18:31) "moving them to depart from him." Ahab's treachery did not secure his escape, an arrow "at a venture" humanly speaking, but guided by God really, wounded him fatally; and the dogs licked up his blood, according to the Lord's word of which Joram's case in 2Ki 9:25 was a literal fulfillment (1Ki 21:19), on the very spot, while his chariot and armor were bein
1. Son of Omri, and the most noted member of his dynasty, king of Israel from about 875 to about 853 b.c. The account of him in our Book of Kings is drawn from two separate sources, one of which views him more favourably than the other. From the secular point of view he was an able and energetic prince; from the religious point of view he was a dangerous innovator, and a patron of foreign gods. His alliance with the Ph
1. Son and successor of Omri, king of Israel. He married Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and under her influence became an idolater, and led Israel into the worship of Baal. Of him it is said, there was none like him in very abominably following idols. It was chiefly in his reign that Elijah the Tishbite laboured, and he testified for Jehovah against the apostasy and corruption of the king. The trial of fire from heaven is an especial instance of this, which was followed by the death of 450 of the prophets of Baal, 1Ki 18:19-40, but there was no repentance in the king. Ahab made two attacks on Benhadad king of Syria and was helped by God so that he obtained the victory; on the second occasion instead of destroying Benhadad (whom the Lord had doomed to destruction) he made a treaty with him.
Ahab coveted the vineyard of Naboth, but on his refusal to part with the inheritance given by God to his fathers, Jezebel caused his death and bade Ahab take possession of the vineyard. Elijah met him there and declared that dogs should lick his blood where they had licked the blood of Naboth. The dogs should also eat Jezebel, and Ahab's house should be cut off. Ahab humbled himself before God, and the full end of his house was delayed till his son's days. After this Ahab made another attack upon Syria, and his 400 prophets foretold that he would be successful; and he, though warned of his danger by the prophet Micaiah, went into battle accompanied by Jehoshaphat king of Judah, his ally. He disguised himself, but an arrow, shot at a venture, smote him between the joints of his armour, and he was wounded to death, and the prediction of Elijah came literally to pass. 1Ki 21:1; 22:1. Grace had lingered over this poor idolater, for he was an Israelite; but he died impenitent, and his whole house was soon to perish. 2Ki 9:7-10. The judgement of God fell on the apostate king who had seized the inheritance of God's people.
2. A false prophet among the captives of Babylon who prophesied a lie, and was roasted in the fire by Nebuchadnezzar. Jer 29:21-22.
1. Son of Omri, seventh king of Israel, reigned B.C. 919-896. He married Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal king of Tyre; and in obedience to her wishes, caused temple to be built to Baal in Samaria itself; and an oracular grove to be consecrated to Astarte. See
One of Ahab's chief tastes was for splendid architecture which he showed by building an ivory house and several cities. Desiring to add to his pleasure-grounds at Jezreel the vineyard of his neighbor Naboth, he proposed to buy it or give land in exchange for it; and when this was refused by Naboth in accordance with the Levitical law,
a false accusation of blasphemy was brought against him, and he was murdered, and Ahab took possession of the coveted fields.
Thereupon Elijah declared that the entire extirpation of Ahab's house was the penalty appointed for his long course of wickedness. [ELIJAH] The execution, however, of the sentence was delayed in consequence of Ahab's deep repentance.
... Ahab undertook three campaigns against Ben-hadad II. king of Damascus, two defensive and one offensive. In the first Ben-hadad laid siege to Samaria, but was repulsed with great loss.
Next year Ben-hadad again invaded Israel by way of Aphek, on the east of Jordan; yet Ahab's victory was so complete that Ben-hadad himself fell into his hands, but was released contrary to God's will,
on condition of restoring the cities of Israel, and admitting Hebrew commissioners into Damascus. After this great success Ahab enjoyed peace for three years, when he attacked Ramoth in Gilead, on the east of Jordan, in conjunction with Jehoshaphat king of Judah, which town he claimed as belonging to Israel. Being told by the prophet Micaiah that he would fall, he disguised himself, but was slain by "a certain man who drew a bow at a venture." When buried in Samaria, the dogs licked up his blood as a servant was washing his chariot; a partial fulfillment of Elijah's prediction,
which was more literally accomplished in the case of his son.
2. A lying prophet, who deceived the captive Israelites in Babylon, and was burnt to death by Nebuchadnezzar.
AHAB, the son and successor of Omri. He began his reign over Israel, A.M. 3086, and reigned 22 years. In impiety he far exceeded all the kings of Israel. He married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Zidon, who introduced the whole abominations and idols of her country, Baal and Ashtaroth.
2. AHAB the son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, were two false prophets, who, about A.M. 3406, seduced the Jewish captives at Babylon with hopes of a speedy deliverance, and stirred them up against Jeremiah. The Lord threatened them with a public and ignominious death, before such as they had deceived; and that their names should become a curse; men wishing that their foes might be made like Ahab and Zedekiah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon roasted in the fire, Jer 29:21-22.