Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 16

King Elah – and Zimri, his official

1 Kings 16:8-9

Elah ruled northern and central Israel for less than two years. He was the son of the previous king, Baasha, who was a cruel and evil man. Although God’s judgment was against Baasha’s family because of Baasha’s evil deeds (16:1-4), Elah did not turn from those evil deeds. In the end, their punishment was for Elah’s evil deeds in addition to his father’s evil deeds (16:12-13).

25 years previously, King Nadab had died while he was leading Israel’s army against Gibbethon in Philistia. It was Elah’s father, Baasha, who killed him. It seems that Nadab’s death ended that attack. Israel’s army returned home and Philistia’s rulers still controlled Gibbethon (15:27).

In the second year of his rule, Elah decided that he wanted to gain control over Gibbethon. However, he did not want to put himself in danger there, as Nadab had done. Instead, Elah sent his army to fight there under the command of Omri, his chief army commander (16:15-17).

Elah himself remained in the luxury of his beautiful palace at Tirzah. While Omri’s men fought in the battle, Elah could enjoy a plentiful supply of wine with his friends.

Elah did not consider himself in danger there. There were many of his loyal soldiers to guard him. Zimri, who had important responsibilities in the army, was also there. He was responsible for half of the army’s chariots. These were simple vehicles that carried soldiers; horses pulled them. The men who used these, had special skills in this type of war; and Zimri led them. Chariots were most useful for battles in country areas. That was perhaps, the reason why Zimri was not with the men at Gibbethon. Omri would not need the chariots to attack a town.

Next part: Zimri kills Elah and appoints himself king (1 Kings 16:10-13)


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