Ahab the Israelite -- By: Bryant G. Wood

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 09:4 (Autumn 1996)
Article: Ahab the Israelite
Author: Bryant G. Wood

Ahab the Israelite

Bryant G. Wood

The Sins of Ahab

Ahab, who ruled the northern kingdom for 22 years, ca. 874–853 BC, was perhaps the wickedest king of Israel. The Biblical record is anything but complimentary:

Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.... Ahab ... did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him (1 Kgs 16:30, 33).

The Old Testament devotes approximately four chapters to Ahab’s exploits (1 Kgs 18, 20–22), more than any other king of the northern kingdom of Israel. These chapters, however, are nothing more than a litany of his sins. Ahab married Jezebel, daughter of Ithbaal, king of Sidon, and began to worship Baal (1 Kgs 16:31–32). He was so taken up with this pagan deity that he built a temple in his honor in Samaria, which included an altar and Asherah pole (1 Kgs 16:32–33). Ahab’s sins were so great that God brought a drought upon the land for three years (1 Kgs 17:1; 18:1, 16–18).

It was during the reign of Ahab that Elijah had the encounter with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel (1 Kgs

18:16–40). Jezebel then sought his life, causing Elijah to flee to Mt. Horeb where the Lord appeared to him (1 Kgs 19:1–18). Israel was in conflict with the nation of Aram to the north in Ahab’s day. Ahab successfully defeated Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, twice in battle, but sinned by not taking his life (1 Kgs 20).

In addition to his capital in Samaria, Ahab maintained a palace at Jezreel, some 21 mi to the north. Adjacent to his palace in Jezreel was a fine vineyard owned by Naboth, which Ahab desired. Through Jezebel’s sche-ming, Naboth was killed and Ahab acquired the vineyard (1 Kgs 21:1–16). Ahab’s entire family was condemned to death by Elijah for this act (1 Kgs 21:17–29). Ahab met his end in a battle against the Arameans at Ramoth Gilead (1 Kgs 22:1–36). His body was taken to S...

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