Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 16

The death of Zimri

1 Kings 16:18

It surprises us how quickly Omri gained control over Tirzah. Sometimes an army had to camp for several months round a city before they were able to overcome its defences. So, perhaps people inside the city assisted Omri. They had seen Zimri’s great cruelty; they realised that their country was in great danger. They were eager for Omri’s army to enter the city and to defeat Zimri. They did not consider Omri to be their enemy – rather, he had come to rescue them from Zimri.

So, Omri entered Tirzah with his army almost as soon as he arrived there. He quickly gained control over the city, while Zimri still controlled the palace. The palace had strong defences, like a castle, so Omri could not enter it immediately.

It seems likely that, like David’s palace in Jerusalem, the palace in Tirzah was wooden (2 Samuel 7:2). Zimri saw that he could not escape. He also realised that nobody would try to rescue him. So, he decided to kill himself and, at the same time, to destroy the palace. He burned it down, and he died in the fire. He had ruled as king for just 7 days.

It is not clear whether Zimri actually managed to destroy the palace at Tirzah completely. Omri ruled northern and central Israel from Tirzah for the next 6 years. However, as a great military leader, Omri perhaps did not believe that Tirzah was a strong enough city. So, after 6 years, he began to build a new capital city called Samaria (16:23-24).

Next part: Zimri's evil deeds (1 Kings 16:19-20)


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