1 Kings 16:29-22:40, Worship of Jehovah vs. pagan worship

Ahab, King of Israel (874-853 B.C.)

No king of Israel or of Judah is given so much space in the OT as Ahab.  This is due to the significant religious struggle that developed during his reign.

Jezebel, Ahab’s Phoenician wife, was not satisfied with the coexistence of pagan worship and worship of Jehovah that to a great extent marked the history of both Israel and Judah.  She introduced the Baal cult of her people (Baal-Melquart), and sought to have it completely replace the faith of Israel.  Like other Canaanite religions, this cult was morally degrading and included religious prostitution.

God sent the prophet Elijah to Israel, to confront the king and to stand against the new pagan religion.  While it is impossible to know the full impact of Elijah’s ministry, there is no doubt he did stem the tide of apostasy.

The biblical record focuses on the religious conflict.  But from OT hints and other historical sources, we can reconstruct elements of Ahab’s long rule.  In general, he was a capable leader.  He continued to build (cf. 1 Kings 22:39).  Twice he defeated the Arabian forces of Benhadad II.  He also joined a coalition of kings who temporarily stopped the advance of the Assyrians under Shalmaneser II at Qarqar in 853 B.C.  Ahab also made an alliance with Jehoshaphat of Judah, maintaining the peace that had existed between the two nations since the time of Omri.

The story told in the OT rightly focuses on the struggle between the two faiths in Israel, and on their representatives.

Ahab as King:  1 Kings 16:29-34.  The basic evaluation of Ahab is that “he did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him” (30).

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