Ahab and Jezebel part 1

by John Thomas Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Ahab and Jezebel
According to the Hebrew Bible, Ahab was the seventh king of Israel, the son and successor of King Omri, and the husband of Jezebel of Sidon. The Hebrew Bible presents Ahab as a wicked king.

Died 852 BC · Ramoth-Gilead, Syria
Father Omri
Reign 871 – 852 BC
Burial Samaria, Kingdom of Israel

The Evilest People in the Bible!
Who are the most corrupt and evil people in the Bible (not including Satan or any other demons)? While Scripture contains many individuals who have done their share of wrong, some became quite good at doing what was wrong.
King Ahab is arguably the evilest king of the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel. He was the first Israelite king to marry a heathen (non-Israel) woman, the beautiful but devilish Jezebel. Together they became one of the most sinful couples in Biblical history. Ahab built an altar, in the capital city of Samaria, to his wife's pagan God.
Ahab, aided by Jezebel, helped lead the people into idolatry and set the stage for the nation's later captivity. Elijah the Prophet confronted him several times for his bad behavior (see 1Kings 17 - 18).
Jezebel not only fed and cared for the more than 800 false prophets, but she also had the evil tenacity to vow she would have Elijah murdered (1Kings 18 - 19). She also arranged the cold-blooded murder of a vineyard owner named Naboth in order to seize his land (1Kings 21).

Ahab made an altar for Baal in the house of Baal that he had built in Samaria, and he also made a grove which was also a wicked thing to do.
Ahab was an able and energetic warrior. His victories over the Syrians pushed the borders of his kingdom to the border of Damascus. Success, however, made him greedy for still more.
Who was King Ahab in the Bible?
ANSWER: Ahab was one in a line of increasingly evil kings in Israel's history, starting with the reign of Jeroboam. King Ahab "did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him" (1 Kings 16:30). Among the events chronicled in Ahab's life that led to his downfall was his marriage to an evil woman named Jezebel, who had a particular hatred for God's people (1 Kings 18:4). Because of his marriage to a pagan woman, Ahab devoted himself to the worship of the false gods Baal and Asherah in Israel (1 Kings 16:31–33).
The evil of King Ahab was countered by the Prophet Elijah, who warned Ahab of coming judgment if he did not obey the Lord. Ahab blamed Elijah for bringing trouble to Israel (1 Kings 18:17), but Ahab's promotion of idolatry was the cause of the three-and-a-half-year famine (verse 18). In a dramatic confrontation between Elijah and Ahab's false prophets, God proved to Israel that He, not Baal, was the true God (1 Kings 18:16–39). All of Ahab's men of Baal were killed that day (verse 40).
King Ahab also disobeyed the Lord's direct command to destroy Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram. God set it up so Ahab would lead Israel to victory, but Ahab made a treaty with the king he was supposed to kill (1 Kings 20). "Therefore," God told Ahab through an unnamed prophet, "it is your life for his life, your people for his people" (verse 42).

The event that sealed Ahab's doom was his murder of an innocent man (1 Kings 21). Ahab coveted a vineyard belonging to a man named Naboth. The king offered to buy the vineyard, but Naboth refused because the Law forbade him to sell it (1 Kings 21:2–3; cf. Leviticus 25:23). While Ahab sulked about it in his palace, his wife arranged Naboth's murder. Once the vineyard's owner was out of the way, King Ahab took the vineyard for himself. Elijah came to Ahab and told him the Lord would deal with him by cutting off all his descendants. Also, Ahab himself would suffer a shameful fate: "In the place where dogs licked up Naboth's blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!" (1 Kings 21:19). Upon hearing this, Ahab "tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly" (verse 27). In response to Ahab's repentance, God mercifully postponed the destruction of Ahab's dynasty until after Ahab was dead (verse 29).

The prophesied judgment against Ahab came true precisely as Elijah predicted. God used Ahab's false prophets to entice him into going to the battle at Ramoth-Gilead, where he was hit by a "random" arrow and slowly bled to death in his chariot. Later, "they washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria (where the prostitutes bathed), and the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the Lord had declared" (1 Kings 22:38). After Ahab's death, Jehu killed Jezebel (2 Kings 9) and all of Ahab's descendants (2 Kings 10).
God justly judged King Ahab because he disobeyed the Lord's direct commands, abused his responsibility as Israel's king, and led God's people right into idolatry. In the end, "there was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel, his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols" (1 Kings 21:25–26).
My Way— The Story of Ahab and Jezebel
King David had been absent from the scene of Hebrew history for about 135 years when this story opened. His great kingdom, enlarged and more richly endowed by his son Solomon, had been fractured into two weakened fragments. The southern kingdom of Judah was being ruled by his descendants, while the northern kingdom of Israel suffered under a succession of wicked men at the helm.
Ahab, who was perhaps the wickedest of them all, is introduced to the pages of Scripture with these shocking words: "And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him" (1 Kings. 16:30). He had the dubious distinction of being the most wicked king. The latter reigned over Israel up until his day. We expect almost anything from a man that degenerate. We are not surprised to read, "And it came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him" (1 Kings 16:31).
"Sidonians" was another name for the Phoenicians, seafaring people on the Mediterranean coast who occupied the great cities of Tyre and Sidon. With the ever-present menace of Syria and the growing threat of Assyria, Ahab decided that he needed an alliance with this neighboring nation, so he made a treaty with the king of Phoenicia and sealed it by marrying his daughter. That is how Jezebel happened to move to Samaria, the capital of Israel, and there is only one way to describe it — a whirlwind hit Israel.
The king of Phoenicia was not only the political leader of his people but also the high priest of their religion, as his name Ethbaal implies. Jezebel had grown steeped in the worship of Baal and his female consort, Astarte (or Ashtoreth). Baal was considered to be the God of the land. He owned it, they said, and he controlled its weather and the increase of its crops and cattle. Ashtoreth was considered to be the mother-goddess of fertility. So idols of both Baal and Ashtoreth stood side by side in their temples and were worshiped by priests and temple prostitutes with lewd dances and sacred orgies, with the hope that their God and goddess would follow their example and increase the productivity of their agriculture, their animals, and their children. In times of crisis such as famine, they slashed themselves and even sacrificed their children to appease the gods and implore their help.
Jezebel was fanatical about her religion. The worship of Jehovah must have seemed dull and commonplace by comparison, and she was determined to change it. She was a headstrong, self-willed, domineering woman, and with a moral weakling for a husband, she had little trouble getting her way. She got him to build a house for Baal beside the palace in Samaria, as well as an "Ashtoreth," an idol of the fertility goddess. Then she brought 450 prophets of Baal and 400 of Ashtoreth from Phoenicia, housed them in the palace, and fed them in royal style. Their duties would have been to promote the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth throughout the land.
Not satisfied with establishing her religion in Israel, Jezebel sought to stamp out every remnant of Jehovah's worship and to kill every true Prophet of God. She had to have things completely her way, and she almost succeeded. Some prophets survived by compromising their convictions and turning into "yes" men for Ahab. Another group of 100 were hidden in a cave and fed secretly by a godly servant of Ahab named Obadiah. However, Elijah was the only one courageous enough to stand up openly against Jezebel's wickedness. God gave him a great victory when he called down fire from heaven upon Mount Carmel. The prophets of Baal were slaughtered, and it looked like the nation would turn back to God. However, Jezebel was not finished with her sinister work. She swore in her rage that she would kill Elijah, and he ran for his life, collapsed in the wilderness under a juniper tree, and pleaded with God to let him die. It was the lowest point in the godly Prophet's remarkable career. Moreover, Baal worship lived on, dragging the nation to new depths of degradation. This stubborn, headstrong, self-willed wife of Ahab brought disruption and distress to Israel for years to come.

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