Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 16

Omri’s new capital city: Samaria

1 Kings 16:23-24

Omri ruled northern and central Israel during the later years of Asa’s rule as king of Judah. Omri was king for 12 years. That period began in the 27th year of Asa’s rule (16:15) and it ended in the 38th year (16:28-29).

For the first 4 years, Omri was fighting against Tibni for control over Israel (16:21-22). In the 31st year of Asa’s rule, Omri gained absolute power over his country. At last, Omri could do what he wanted.

What Omri wanted to do, was to build a new and splendid capital city to rule northern and central Israel. He hoped that his family would be its kings for a very long time. He wanted the city to be very beautiful, but also for it to have strong defences.

Omri chose a hill in central Israel to be the place for his new city. It was about 10 miles (16 kilometres) west of the former capital, Tirzah. Omri both paid the owner of the city and he named the city in his honour. The owner was called Shemer, and Omri called the city by a similar name, Samaria.

To build such a great and vast city, Omri would need a great number of workers. Now that he controlled his nation completely, he could force the people to work for him.

So the task of construction began. It continued during the rule of Ahab, Omri’s son (22:39). Samaria remained the capital city for as long as kings ruled over northern and central Israel.

Next part: Omri's evil deeds (1 Kings 16:25-26)


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