We're making big changes. Please try out the beta site at beta.ccel.org and send us feedback. Thank you!
« Prev Chapter XXIX. Nadab; Baasha; Elah. Next »




1 Kings xv. 25-xvi. 10.

"Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the vultures be gathered together."—Matt. xxiv. 28.

Jeroboam slept with his fathers and went to his own place, leaving behind him his dreadful epitaph upon the sacred page. His son Nadab succeeded him. In his reign of twenty-two years the first king of Israel had outlived Rehoboam and his son Abijah. Asa, the great grandson of Solomon, was already on the throne of Judah. Of Nadab we are told next to nothing. The appreciation of the kings of Israel tends to drift into the meagre formula that they did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he caused Israel to sin. In the second year of his reign Nadab was engaged in a wearisome military expedition against Gibbethon in the Shephelah, which belonged to the Philistines. It was a Levitical city in the tribe of Dan, which had been assigned to the Kohathites, and its siege continued for twenty-seven years with no apparent result.507507   Josh. xix. 44, xxi. 23; 1 Kings xv. 27, xvi. 15. That the Philistines, who had been so utterly crushed by David and310 who were an insignificant power, should have thus been able to assert themselves once more, is a proof of the weakness to which Israel had been reduced. While Nadab was thus occupied, an obscure conspirator, Baasha, son of Ahijah, of the tribe of Issachar,508508   His father therefore could not have been Ahijah the prophet, who was an Ephraimite. He was the only ruler who came from slothful Issachar (Gen. xlix. 14, 15) except the unknown Tola (Judg. x. 1). actuated perhaps by tribal jealousy, or stirred up as Jeroboam had been before him and as Jehu was after him by some prophetic message, conspired against him, and slew him.509509   For any other records of Nadab the writer refers to "the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel." As soon as this military revolt had placed Baasha on the throne he fulfilled the frightful curse which Ahijah had uttered against the House of Jeroboam. He absolutely exterminated the family of Nebat, and left him neither kinsman nor friend to avenge his death. He seems to have been a powerful soldier, and he inflicted severe humiliation on the Southern Kingdom until Asa bribed Benhadad to invade his territory. He reigned at Tirzah for twenty-four years, of which nothing is recorded but the ordinary formula. Towards the close of his reign he received from the prophet Jehu, the son of Hanani, the message of his doom. Jehu must have been at this time a young prophet. According to the Chronicles his father Hanani rebuked Asa for the alliance which (as we shall see) he made with the Syrian against Baasha;510510   2 Chron. xvi. 7-10. and he himself rebuked Jehoshaphat for his alliance with Ahab, and lived to be his annalist.511511   2 Chron. xx. 34. Like Amos, he lived in Judah, but prophesied also against a king of Israel.311 He told Baasha that God, who had exalted him out of the dust to be king of Israel, should inflict on his family the same terrible extirpation which He had inflicted on the House of Jeroboam, whose sins he had, nevertheless, followed.

Baasha "slept with his fathers," and his son Elah succeeded him. Elah seems to have been an incapable drunkard, and reigned in Tirzah for less than two years. While he was drinking himself drunk, not even secretly in his own palace, but in the house of his chamberlain Arza—a shamelessness which was regarded as an aggravation of his offence512512   Comp. Hosea vii. 3-7.—he was murdered by Zimri, the captain of half of his chariots, and the revolting tragedy of massacre was enacted once again.513513   If Zimri was a descendant of the House of Saul, as is possible from the occurrence of the name in the number of Saul's descendants (1 Chron. viii. 36), we perhaps see an excuse for his ill-considered conspiracy. He acted, says Grotius, upon the principle, "Νήπιος ὃς πατέρα κτείνας υιοὺς καταλείπει." The fact that Baasha was a man of no distinction, but "exalted out of the dust" (1 Kings xvi. 2), probably added to the weakness of his dynasty.

From such meagre records of horror there is not much to learn beyond the general truth of the Nemesis which dogs the heels of crime; but there is one significant clause which throws great light on the judgment which we are asked to form of these events. The prophet Jehu rebukes Baasha for showing himself false to the destiny to which God had summoned him. He implies, therefore, that Baasha had some Divine sanction for the revolution which he headed; and certainly in his slaughter of the House of Jeroboam he was the instrument of a Divine decree. Yet we are expressly312 told that "he provoked the Lord to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the House of Jeroboam, and because he killed him," or, as it is rendered in the Revised Version margin, "because he smote it." This is not the only place where we find that a man may be in one sense commissioned to do a deed of blood, yet in another sense may be held guilty for fulfilment of the commission.514514   Comp. 2 Kings ix. 7 with Hosea i. 4. Thus Babylon is at once commissioned to punish, and condemned for ruthlessness: Isa. xlvii. 6. The prophecy of extirpation had been passed, but the cruel agent of its accomplishment was not thereby condoned. God's decrees are carried out as part of the vast scheme of Providence, and He may use guilty hands to fulfil His purposes. King Jehu is His minister of vengeance, but the tiger-like ferocity with which he carried out his work awoke God's anger and received God's punishment. The King of Babylon fulfils the purpose for which he had been appointed, but his ruthlessness receives its just recompense. The wrath of man may accomplish the decrees of God, but it worketh not His righteousness. Herod and Pontius Pilate, Jews and Gentiles, priests and Pharisees, rulers and the mob may rage against Christ, but all they can accomplish is "whatsoever God's hand and God's counsel determine before to be done."

« Prev Chapter XXIX. Nadab; Baasha; Elah. Next »

| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |