Ahab reigned over the kingdom of Israel (the northern part of the divided Israelite state) from about 874 to 852 BC. Before coming to Israel’s throne, he had married Jezebel, daughter of the king-priest of Phoenicia, in a political alliance that had disastrous consequences for Israel. Besides accepting the Baal worship that Jezebel brought with her from Phoenicia, Ahab gave it official status in Israel by building a Baal temple in his capital city (1 Kings 16:29-33). Israel’s longestablished practice of mixing the worship of God (Yahweh) with the worship of Baal was bad enough, but Jezebel’s intention was far worse. She wanted to remove the worship of God from Israel entirely and replace it with the worship of Baal.

The Baalism promoted by Ahab and Jezebel was a threat to Israel’s existence as God’s people, and for this reason God sent the prophets Elijah and Elisha to oppose it. (For details of this aspect of Ahab’s reign see BAAL; ELIJAH.) God used Elijah to tell Ahab of a drought that he was about to send as punishment on the ungodly kingdom (1 Kings 17:1). Three years later he used Elijah to announce the end of the drought, but that end came in such a way as should have convinced Ahab that he could not serve both God and Baal (1 Kings 18:1-2,17-18,21,41-46).

Ahab, however, continued to try to serve two gods. He allowed the queen to try to kill the prophet who opposed her Baalism (1 Kings 19:1-2), but at the same time he looked to another of God’s prophets for directions that would bring him military victory against Syria (1 Kings 20:13-14,22). Ahab won a decisive victory (1 Kings 20:20-21), and the next year won another victory, again at the direction of one of God’s prophets (1 Kings 20:22). The victories should have convinced Ahab that God’s power was not, like Baal’s, limited to only certain places (1 Kings 20:28). When Ahab agreed to spare the enemy kings because of trade advantages he could win for himself, another of God’s prophets condemned his actions (1 Kings 20:34-43). Not only were Ahab’s religious, military and trade policies contrary to God’s purposes, but his administration in general was full of injustice. This was clearly shown in the way he gained Naboth’s vineyard for himself. People could be easily bribed, local officials were corrupt, and no one upheld the law on behalf of ordinary citizens (1 Kings 21:1-16). The prophet Elijah announced a horrible judgment on Ahab, and particularly on his murderous wife Jezebel (1 Kings 21:17-26).

God’s judgment fell on Ahab in another battle with Syria. Most of the court prophets were corrupt, and gave Ahab whatever advice they thought would please him. The prophet Micaiah, by contrast, had consistently told Ahab the truth. When he told Ahab that the coming war would bring defeat, Ahab threw him into prison (1 Kings 22:1-28). Ahab ignored the message from God, and as a result met the dreadful death that Elijah had earlier announced (1 Kings 22:29-38). Ahab’s sons continued the evil of their father’s reign (1 Kings 22:51-53; 2 Kings 3:1-3). The dynasty came to a bloody end through a revolution led by the ruthless Jehu (2 Kings 9:7-10; 10:1-11,17).

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