Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
3 Kings (1 Kings) 16:1
Kg1 16:7 adds a supplementary remark concerning the words of Jehu (Kg1 16:2.), not to preclude an excuse that might be made, in which case וגם would have to be taken in the sense of nevertheless, or notwithstanding (Ewald, 354, a.), but to guard against a misinterpretation by adding a new feature, or rather to preclude an erroneous inference that might be drawn from the words, "I (Jehovah) have made thee prince" (Kg1 16:2), as through Baasha had exterminated Nadab and his house by divine command (Thenius). וגם simply means "and also," and is not to be connected specially with יהוּא בּיד, but to be taken as belonging to the whole sentence: "also the word of Jehovah had come to Baasha through Jehu, ... not only because of the evil, etc., but also (ועל...ועל) because he had slain him (Jeroboam)." With regard to this last reason, we must call to mind the remark made at Kg1 11:39, viz., that the prediction of the prophet to Baasha gave him no right to put himself forward arbitrarily as the fulfiller of the prophecy. The very fact that Baasha continued Jeroboam's sin and caused the illegal worship to be perpetuated, showed clearly enough that in exterminating the family of Jeroboam he did not act under divine direction, but simply pursued his own selfish ends.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 16:8
The Reign of Elah. - As Baasha reigned from the third to the twenty-sixth year of Asa, i.e., not quite twenty-four years, but only twenty-three years and a few months, so his son Elah reigned from the twenty-sixth to the twenty-seventh year of Asa, i.e., not quite two years.
Zimri, the commander of the half of his war-chariots, conspired against him, and not only slew him, when he was intoxicated (שׁכּור שׁתה) at a drinking bout in the house of Arza, the prefect of his palace, but after ascending the throne exterminated the whole family of Baasha to the very last man. The prefect of the palace was no doubt a party to the conspiracy, and had probably arranged the drinking bout in his house for the purpose of carrying it out. "He did not leave him בּקיר משׁתּין (see at Kg1 14:10), either his avengers (גּאליו, blood-relations, who might have avenged his death) or his friends." These words simply serve to explain בּקיר משׁתּין, and show that this phrase is to be understood as relating to males only.
"According to the word of the Lord;" see at Kg1 16:1. כּל־חטּאות אל, with regard to all, i.e., on account of all the sins (compare Kg1 16:7, where על is used). בּהבליהם, through their nothingnesses, i.e., their idols, by which the golden calves are meant.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 16:15
The Reign of Zimri lasted only seven days. As soon as the people of war (העם), who were besieging Gibbethon (see at Kg1 15:27), heard of his conspiracy, his usurpation of the throne, and his murderous deeds, they proclaimed Omri king in the camp of the military commanders, and he at once, with all Israel, i.e., all the army, raised the siege of Gibbethon, to lay siege to Thirza. Now when Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the castle of the royal palace and burned the king's house over his own head, as Sardanapalus did, according to Justin (Hist. i. 3). ארמון does not mean harem (Ewald), but the high castle (from ארם, to be high); here and in Kg2 15:25, the citadel of the royal palace, which consisted of several buildings.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 16:19
Kg1 16:19 is connected with ויּמת in Kg1 16:18 : "and so died for his sins," i.e., as a punishment for them.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 16:21
But Omri did not come into possession of an undisputed sovereignty immediately upon the death of Zimri. The nation divided itself into two halves; one half was behind Tibni, the son of Ginath (i.e., declared in favour of Tibni), to make him king, the other adhered to Omri. Nevertheless Omri's gained the upper hand over the party of Tibni, and the latter died, whereupon Omri became king after four years, as we may see from a comparison of Kg1 16:15, Kg1 16:16 with Kg1 16:23. The "people of Israel" (Kg1 16:21) are probably the fighting people, so that the succession to the throne was decided by the military. אהרי היה as in Sa2 2:10. הזק, with an accusative instead of with על, in the sense of to overpower, as in Jer 20:7. According to Josephus (Ant. viii. 12, 5), Tibni was slain by his opponent; but this is not contained in the words; on the contrary, all that is implied in the connection of ויּמת with וגו ויּחזק וגו/ is that he met with his death in the decisive engagement in which the opposing party triumphed.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 16:23
The Reign of Omri. - Kg1 16:23. Omri reigned twelve years, i.e., if we compare Kg1 16:15 and Kg1 16:23 with Kg1 16:29, reckoning from his rebellion against Zimri; so that he only possessed the sole government for eight years (or, more exactly, seven years and a few months), viz., from the 31st to the 38th years of Asa, and the conflict with Tibni for the possession of the throne lasted about four years. "At Thirza he reigned six years," i.e., during the four years of the conflict with Tibni, and after his death two years more.
As soon as he had obtained undisputed possession of the throne, he purchased the hill Shomron (Samaria) from Shemer (Semer) for two talents of silver, about 5200 thalers (780 - Tr.), built houses upon it, and named the town which he built after the former owner of the hill שׁמרון, rendered by the lxx Σεμηρών here, but everywhere else Σαμάρεια (Samaria), after the Chaldee form שׁמרין (Ezr 4:10, Ezr 4:17). This city he made his seat (Residenz, place of residence, or capital), in which he resided for the last six years of his reign, and where he was buried after his death (Kg1 16:28). Samaria continued to be the capital of the kingdom of the ten tribes from that time forward, and the residence of all succeeding kings of Israel until the destruction of this kingdom after its conquest by Salmanasar (Kg2 18:9-10). The city was two hours and a half to the north-west of Sichem, upon a mountain or hill in a mountain-hollow (Bergkessel, lit., mountain-caldron) or basin of about two hours in diameter, surrounded on all sides by still higher mountains. "The mountains and valleys round about are still for the most part arable, and are alive with numerous villages and diligent cultivation." The mountain itself upon which Samaria stood is still cultivated to the very top, and about the middle of the slope is surrounded by a narrow terrace of level ground resembling a girdle. And even higher up there are marks of smaller terraces, where streets of the ancient city may possibly have run. After the captivity Samaria was retaken and demolished by John Hyrcanus, and lay in ruins till Gabinius the Roman governor rebuilt it (Joseph. Ant. xiii. 19, 2, 3, and iv. 5, 3). Herod the Great afterwards decorated it in a marvellous manner, built a temple there to the emperor Augustus, and named the city after him Σεβαστή, i.e., Augusta, from which arose the present name Sebuste or Sebustieh, borne by a village which is still standing on the ancient site: "a pitiable hamlet consisting of a few squalid houses, inhabited by a band of plunderers, notorious as thieves even among their lawless fellow-countrymen" (V. de Velde, i. p. 378). - But by the side of this there are magnificent ruins of an ancient Johannite church, with the reputed grave of John the Baptist and remains of limestone columns at the foot of the mountain (cf., Robinson, Pal. iii. p. 136ff.; Van de Velde, Syria and Pal. i. p. 374ff.; and C. v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 159,160).
Omri also walked in the ways of Jeroboam, and acted worse than his predecessors upon the throne. - For Kg1 16:26 and Kg1 16:27, compare Kg1 16:13 and Kg1 16:14.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 16:29
The ascent of the throne of Israel by Ahab (Kg1 16:29) formed a turning-point for the worse, though, as a comparison of Kg1 16:30 with Kg1 16:25 clearly shows, the way had already been prepared by his father Omri.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 16:30
Whereas the former kings of Israel had only perpetuated the sin of Jeroboam, i.e., the calf-worship. or worship of Jehovah under the image of an ox, which he had introduced, Ahab was not satisfied with this. לכתּו הנקל ויהי, "it came to pass, was it too little?" i.e., because it was too little (cf. Ewald, 362, a.) to walk in the sins of Jeroboam, that he took as his wife Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal the king of the Sidonians, and served Baal, and worshipped him. ויּלך before ויּעבד, "he went and served," is a pictorial description of what took place, to give greater prominence to the new turn of affairs. אתבּעל .sri (i.e., with Baal) is the Εἰθώβαλος (בּעל אתּו or Ἰθόβαλος: Jos. Ant. viii. 13, 1) mentioned by Menander in Josephus, c. Ap. i. 18, who was king of Tyre and Sidon, and priest of Astarte, and who usurped the throne after the murder of his brother, king Pheles, and reigned thirty-two years. Jezebel (איזבל, i.e., probably without cohabitation, cf. Gen 30:20, = untouched, chaste; not a contraction of אביזבל, as Ewald, 273, b., supposes) was therefore, as tyrant and murderess of the prophets, a worthy daughter of her father, the idolatrous priest and regicide. Baal (always הבּעל with the article, the Baal, i.e., Lord κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν) was the principal male deity of the Phoenicians and Canaanites, and generally of the western Asiatics, called by the Babylonians בּל = בּעל (Isa 46:1), Βῆλος, and as the sun-god was worshipped as the supporter and first principle of psychical life and of the generative and reproductive power of nature (see at Jdg 2:13). Ahab erected an altar to this deity הבּעל בּית, in the house (temple) of Baal, which he had built at Samaria. The worship of Baal had its principal seat in Tyre, where Hiram, the contemporary of David and Solomon, had built for it a splendid temple and placed a golden pillar (χρυσοῦν κίονα) therein, according to Dius and Menander, in Joseph. Ant. viii. 5, 3, and c. Ap. i. 18. Ahab also erected a similar pillar (מצּבה) to Baal in his temple at Samaria (vid., Kg2 3:2; Kg2 10:27). For statues of images of Baal are not met with in the earlier times; and the בּעלים are not statues of Baal, but different modifications of that deity. It was only in the later temple of Baal or Hercules at Tyre that there was, as Cicero observes (Verr. iv. 43), ex aere simulacrum ipsius Herculis, quo non facile quidquam dixerim me vidisse pulcrius.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 16:33
"And Ahab made את־האשׁרה, i.e., the Asherah belonging to the temple of Baal" (see at Jdg 6:25 and Exo 34:13), an idol of Astarte (see at Kg1 14:23).
3 Kings (1 Kings) 16:34
In his time Hil the Bethelite (האלי בּית; compare Ges. 111. 1 with 86, 2. 5) built Jericho: "he laid the foundation of it with Abiram his first-born, and set up its gates with Segub his youngest, according to the word of Jehovah," etc. (for the explanation see the Comm. on Jos 6:26). The restoration of this city as a fortification, upon which Joshua had pronounced the curse, is mentioned as a proof how far ungodliness had progressed in Israel; whilst the fulfilment of the curse upon the builder shows how the Lord will not allow the word of His servants to be transgressed with impunity. Jericho, on the border of the tribe of Ephraim (Jos 16:7), which was allotted to the Benjaminites (Jos 18:21), had come into the possession of the kingdom of Israel on the falling away of the ten tribes from the royal house of David, and formed a border city of that kingdom, through the fortification of which Ahab hoped to secure to himself the passage across the Jordan.