The Story of Ahab

by Sam Sloan

The Bible tells many stories. Some are told and retold. Little children are told these stories. We all know these stories. They inspire us all.

However, most of the stories in the Bible are told only once: In the Bible. We do not tell our children about these stories. We only hope that when they open the Bible, it does not fall open to those pages, so that they will not read them.

One of these is the Story of Ahab. Ahab was one of the greatest kings of Israel. We know this because he had 70 sons. In those days, the number of sons a man had was considered to be a sign of his greatness. However, as far as we know, none of the descendants of the sons of Ahab are alive today. The reason for this is that, after Ahab died, a later king of Israel ordered that all of the sons of Ahab have their heads chopped off. The heads of these 70 sons were all cut off and were put into two baskets and brought to King Jehu, a successor to King Ahab. Had this not happened, we might not be signing the Song of Solomon today. We might be singing the Song of Ahab instead.

The Story of King Ahab is told in three books of the Bible. These are 1 Kings, 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. These are books that your Sunday school teacher will not recommend that you read. Here is the story of what happened to the 70 sons of King Ahab, as told in 2 Kings 10:6-11:

"6 Then he [King Jehu] wrote a letter the second time to them saying, If ye be mine, and if ye will hearken unto my voice, take ye the heads of the men your master's sons, and come to me to Jezreel by tomorrow this time. Now, the king's sons, being seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, which brought them up.

"7 And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king's sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent him them to Jezreel.

"8 And there came a messenger, and he told him saying, They have brought the heads of the king's sons. And he said lay them in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning.

"9 And it came to pass in the morning that he went out, and stood, and said to all the people, Ye be righteous: Behold I conspired against my master and slew him, but who slew all these?

"10 Know now that there shall fall to the earth nothing but the word of the LORD, which the Lord spake concerning the house of Ahab: For the Lord hath done which he spake by his servant Elijah.

"11 So Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his kinfolk, and his priests, until he left him none remaining."

Inspiring, isn't it. Perhaps you should ask your Sunday school teacher to read this to the class next Sunday. See if she does. See if she even knows about this passage in the Bible. (Most Sunday school teachers have never read it.)

Ahab lived and ruled after the death of King Solomon who, everybody agrees, was the greatest king which Israel ever had. A united Israel only had three kings in its entire history. These were Saul, David and Solomon. You have all heard of these three kings. However, you have heard little of what came before them and almost nothing of what came after them.

At that time, the people we now call the Jews were living in the valley of the Jordan River. This land was then called Canaan. The Jordan River flows from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. The Jews lived on what we now call the East Bank and the West Bank of the Jordan River, but most of them lived on the West Bank.

The East Bank is now in what we call the Republic of Jordan. The West Bank is in an area which some politicians call Judea and Samaria, which are the Biblical names for those places. The Bible tells us that King Ahab lived in Samaria.

The Philistines, who we now call the Palestinians, lived on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Palestinians lived on the coast and the Jews lived in the Central Valley.

Since then, the situation has exactly reversed. Now, the Jews live on the coast and the Palestinians live in the Central Valley. This is the reason why the Jews are always trying to establish more of what they call "settlements" on the West Bank. They are trying to go back to what they consider to be their ancestral homeland, the place where they used to live but do not live any more.

However, after 50 years since 1947 of trying to establish these settlements, still today few Jews live on the West Bank. With those few exceptions, only Palestinians live there.

King Solomon, who was the son of King David by his wife Bathsheba, had 700 wives and 300 concubines. King Solomon loved many strange women, including the daughter of the Pharaoh, and women of the Moabites, Ammonites , Edomites, Zidonians and Hittites. (1 Kings 11:1-3) King Solomon also made love to the Queen of Sheba. (2 Chronicles 9:1-12). King Solomon had mines where he produced gold and other precious metals. They are still looking for King Solomon's mines. They have never been found.

When he died, King Solomon left many sons. The sons fought each other. Israel split into two parts: Judah and Israel. Since that time, for the past nearly three thousand years, those two parts have never really been reunited. Because the Jews could not reunite themselves, they eventually were conquered, defeated, lost their country, and became scattered all over the world.

Some people claim that most of the Jews of today are not even the descendants of those who lived in Jerusalem three thousand years ago. They say that those Jews then were mostly lost and their tribes disappeared.

The Bible tells us that the Jews were brought to the valley of the Jordan River by Moses and his successor, Joshua. The Jews are descendants of Abraham. However, at the time Abraham lived in that land, there were no Jews. They had not been born yet. Abraham himself was not from the land which we now call Israel or Palestine. Abraham was from the land of Ur, which we now call Iraq. Abraham was a sheep herder. He came to Israel following his sheep. Abraham was already 75 years old when he first arrived in Canaan. (Genesis 12:4). It is never too late to get a new start in life.

Abraham had two important sons. The eldest was Ismail or Ishmael, who was the son of Hagar the Egyptian. The other was Isaac, who was the son of Sarah. Ismail was 14 years older than Isaac. (Genesis 16:16 and 21:5). It is believed that Ismail is the father of all of the Arabs who live today and that Isaac is the father of all of the Jews that live today.

After Sarah died, Abraham took a third wife. Her name was Keturah. (Genesis 25:1-4) The Bible does not tell much about Keturah, except that she had six sons. The Afghans, the people of Afghanistan, believe that they are all descended from the sons of Ketura.

At the time of Abraham, neither the Jews nor the Philistines lived in the land we now call Israel. Other people lived there. Those people were all killed. Some were killed by the Philistines. Others were killed by the armies of Joshua.

Joshua ordered that all of the men and the women of that area be killed. (Joshua 8:25). Only the cattle were spared, except for Rahab the Harlot and her children. (Joshua 6:17). Rahab the Harlot became the mother of Boaz, who was the grandfather of King David. Rahab, who was a prostitute in the City of Jericho, was the great-great-grandmother of King Solomon and a direct ancestor 31 generations from Jesus. (Matthew 1:5).

At about the same time that the Hebrews under Moses were arriving from Egypt, the Philistines came down the coast and by sea from the North, passing through what we now call Lebanon. They possibly came from the Island of Cyprus. Lebanon is named after Laban who was the father of Leah and Rachel, the wives of Jacob. Laban was the brother of Rebecca, the wife of Isaac. Rebekah was the granddaughter of Nahor, the brother of Abraham. (Genesis 22:23 and 24:15). Laban lived in what we now call Lebanon.

After the death of King Solomon, the kingdom of Israel divided into two parts. These were called Judah and Israel. Judah was in the hill area, where Jerusalem is located. Isreal was mostly in tne valley. The first successor to Solomon was his son, Rehobo'am. Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines. Rehoboam had 28 sons and 60 daughters. (2 Chronicles 11:21). However, Israel revolted against King Rehoboam and made Jerobo'am their king instead. (1 Kings 12:18-20).

King Jeroboam was the son of Nebat, who had been merely a servant of Solomon. Thus, Israel came under the rule of a man who was not of the House of David. Never again was Israel ruled by the House of David. (1 Kings 12:20). Only the tribe of Judah remained under the rule of the House of David. (1 Kings 12:20). The Jews of today are named after the tribe of Judah, the only tribe which continued to follow the House of King David.

Jeroboam did not follow God. He even made two calves of gold (1 Kings 12:28) following the example of Aaron who made a golden calf in revolt against Moses. (Genesis 32:1-6). Jeroboam ruled for 22 years. Meanwhile, Rehoboam, the King of Judah, had died and his son, Abi'jah had become the king. Abijah, the King of Judah, fought a battle against Jeroboam, the King of Israel. Jeroboam was wounded in the battle. (2 Chronicles 13:15). After Jeroboam died, his son, Nadab, became the ruler of Israel. (1 Kings 14:20). Abijah ruled for only three years. Abijah had 14 wives, 22 sons and 16 daughters. (2 Chronicles 13:22). When Abijah died, Asa, his son, became the King of Judah.

Only three years after Jeroboam died and Nadab became the King of Israel, Nadab was killed by Ba'asha, who then became the king. Baasha killed all of the children and all of the family of Jeroboam. (1 Kings 15:28-29).

Baasha ruled for 24 years. (1 Kings 15:33). He died and his son Elah became the King of Israel. Elah ruled for only two years. He got drunk, and, while he was drinking, his servant, Zimri, killed him. Zimri became the king. Zimri, following the now familiar pattern, killed all of the children of the House of Baasha. (1 Kings 16:11-12).

However, Zimri ruled for only seven days. The people did not like his treason and the fact that he had killed their king. All of the people of Israel made Omri, the captain of the guard, the king. When Zimri heard about this, he set the king's palace on fire, with himself inside it, and killed himself. (1 Kings 16:18).

Perhaps, now you have begun to understand why the Books of Kings and the Books of Chronicles are not usually taught in the Sunday schools.

After that, the people of Israel divided into two more parts. Half followed Tibni, the son of Ginath; the other half followed Omri. (1 Kings 16:21). However, Tibni soon died, so Omri reigned.

Omri reigned for a total of 18 years. He bought a hill from a man named Shemer for two talents of silver. He named that hill Samaria, after the previous owner of the hill. (1 Kings 16:24). Omri died and was buried in Samaria. Ahab, his son, became the king. Ahab ruled over Israel in Samaria for 22 years. (1 Kings 16:29).

Ahab lived in a time of great men and great prophets. The prophets Eli'jah and Eli'sha lived in the time of Ahab. Asa, the great king of Judah, lived in the time of Ahab. King Jehoshaphat, the son of Asa, also lived in the time of Ahab. The wife of Ahab was Jezebel, another important person in the Bible. We all know these names: Elijah, Elisha, Asa, Jezebel and Jehoshaphat. Yet, we have hardly heard of the name Ahab, except as the name of an evil captain in a well known whale story.

Why is that? Why do not we remember Ahab, whereas we remember all the others?

The reason seems to be that Ahab did not follow God. Instead, he followed Ba'al. Ahab built an alter for Baal in Samaria. (1 Kings 16:32). We do not know much about Baal today. We only know that Baal was popular before and during the time of Ahab. At the same time, Ahab was not entirely bad. He defeated the Syrians and married his daughter to Jehoram, the future King of Judah and the son of Jehoshaphat. (2 Kings 21:6).

Three books and many chapters of the Bible discuss the rule of King Ahab. Ahab defeated the Syrians and had many encounters with the prophets Elijah and Elisha. See 1 Kings 16 - 22, 2 Kings 1-10, 2 Chronicles 18.

Here is how Ahab died: Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, went down to meet with Ahab, the King of Israel. At that time, they were facing a war against the Syrians. They decided upon an alliance. They called 400 prophets before them to ask whether or not they should go up to battle against the Syrians. All 400 prophets said: "Yes. Go up against them. Because God will deliver the battle into your hands." (1 Kings 22:6, 2 Chronicles 18:6).

Jehoshaphat could see that these 400 men were not really prophets of God. Jehoshaphat said to Ahab, "Don't you have any prophets of God here in Israel."

"Yes", replied Ahab. "We have just one. But, I do not like to call him because he always predicts that bad things will happen to me."

The name of that prophet was Micaiah. Reluctantly, Ahab agreed to call him. But, before Micaiah went to Ahab, GOD spoke directly to Micaiah. God told Micaiah to lie to Ahab to get him to go into battle against the Syrians. (1 Kings 22:13, 2 Chronicles 18:21). Micaiah, who had foreseen that the Israelis would be scattered and defeated, promised God that he would lie to Ahab. Here is what Micaiah said:

"21 And he said, I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all the prophets. And the Lord said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so." 2 Chronicles 21.

So the Prophet Micaiah lied to Ahab and Ahab followed the words of the Prophet Micaiah. Ahab went into battle against the Syrians. Ahab was killed. King Ahab was buried in Samaria. (1 Kings 22:37).

After Ahab was killed, he left behind his wife, Jezebel. Ahazi'ah, the son of Ahab, became the king. Ahazi'ah also followed Baal. (1 Kings 22:53). Ahaziah became sick. He inquired of a prophet of Baal whether he would recover or not. The Prophet Elijah asked why Ahaziah did not ask a prophet of God rather than a prophet of Baal. Elijah predicted that Ahaziah would die. Ahaziah died, as Elijah predicted. God came and took up the Prophet Elijah in a whirlwind to Heaven, in a chariot of fire. (2 Kings 2:11).

After that, two she bears came out of the woods and eat 42 children. (2 Kings 2:24). Eli'sha, the son of Eli'jah, became his father's successor.

Jehoram, the son of Ahab, became the ruler of Israel in Samaria. He ruled for 12 years. (2 Kings 3:1). Joram, the King of Israel, and Ahaziah, the King of Judah, when out to battle Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat. Jehu killed Joram. (2 Kings 9:24). Jehu had the body of Joram thrown in a field, rather than buried. (2 Kings 9:25).

When Ahaziah, the King of Israel, saw this, he ran away. However, Jehu chased after him, caught him and killed Ahaziah too. Ahaziah was buried in Jerusalem. (2 Kings 9:27-28).

There still remained Jezebel, the widow of Ahab. When Jehu entered the city of Jezreel, Jezebel said, "Was not even Zimri, the traitor who killed his king, entitled to be buried in a grave. Then, I am entitled to be buried in the ground, too."

But the Prophet Elijah had said, "Jezebel will not be buried in a grave. She will be fed to the dogs."

Jehu said, "Throw her down." Jezebel was thrown down. She was trodden under by a horse's foot. Her blood was sprinkled on the wall. Jehu said, "Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her, for she is a king's daughter."

But, when they went to bury Jezebel, they found that there was nothing left of her. They found no more than the skull, the feet and the palms of her hands. The rest of Jezebel was gone. (2 Kings 9:35). The Prophet Elijah had said, "In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs be eat the flesh of Jezebel. And the carcass of Jezebel shall be dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel." (2 Kings 9:37).

Jehu had all 70 of the sons of Ahab killed. Their heads were all cut off and put in baskets and thrown into two heaps at the gate of the city. (2 Kings 10:8).

Jehu announced that he was going to worship Baal even more than Ahab had. Jehu decreed a great celebration in the honor of Baal. He called all the prophets and all the worshipers of Baal together in a great meeting. He had 80 men surround the meeting. Those 80 men appointed by Jehu went in and killed all of the worshipers of Baal. (2 Kings 10:25). Then, Jehu had all of the images of the House of Baal destroyed.

Thus ended the worship of Baal. Thus also ended the House of Ahab.

Most people today do not remember the rule of King Ahab. They know the name of Ahab only as a character in the novel "Moby Dick".

Sam Sloan

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