Mysteries of the Bible

"Unanswered Questions of the Bible"

The Omride Dynasty

Posted by foryourfaith on February 16, 2012

 

Omri: His name evidently means “worshipper of Yahweh,” but he was, ironically, founder of the Israelite dynasty most notorious for its support of the pagan god Baal. The biblical text views him entirely through the lens of its religious indictment: “in the sight of the Lord” Omri “did more evil than all who were before him.” His governmental accomplishments, however, have caused some historians to consider him one of the greatest kings of Israel.

Omri may not have been an Israelite at all: the Bible never mentions his father or family. His rise to prominence was accomplished by his prowess as a commander in the royal army. He at last became king through the storm of a civil war that broke after King Elah was assassinated in 876 BC. After several years of anarchy, Omri reunited the kingdom of Israel under his rule.

Omri established his rule on strong international alliances and stability at home. He ended the nearly fifty years of war with the kingdom of Judah and regained Israel’s domination over Moab. He sealed an alliance with the powerful Phoenicians by marrying his son Ahab to Jezebel, the daughter of the king of Tyre. He founded the city of Samaria as his new capital and improved the economy through building and trade.

The Omride dynasty bore the stamp of its founder to the end. During the long and stable reign of Ahab the kingdom remained cosmopolitan. A tide of foreign culture flowed in through Jezebel, who as queen brought her way of life and her gods, especially Baal, with her to Samaria. Jezebel continued her power during the reigns of her sons Ahaziah and Jehoram. She even extended her reach southward when the king of Judah married her daughter Athaliah. Jezebel became the lightning rod for the stern reaction against Baalism led by the prophets Elijah and Elisha.

The dynasty ended in 842 BC when Jezebel an Jehoram were assassinated by an army officer named Jehu, who then assumed the throne. The outside world so associated the kingdom of Israel with the Omride dynasty that, long after Omri’s descendants had ceased to rule, Assyrian records still referred to Israel as “the land of the house of Omri.”

 

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