Ahab, King of Israel

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Ahab was the seventh King of Israel. He reigned for 22 years (871-852 BC). He was the son of Omri. He married Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, the king of the Sidonians. Ahab, under Jezebel's influence, built a pagan temple, and allowed idols into Samaria. Elijah the prophet warned Ahab that the country would suffer from drought if the cult of Baal was not removed from the land of Israel.

After three years of drought, Elijah challenged Ahab and his pagan priests on Mount Carmel. God sent down fire to ignite a sacrifice, but the priests of Baal could not summon Baal to do the same. Then the people realized that God was the only true God. (1 Kings 18:18-39). Then, rains came and ended the drought.

Elijah denounced Ahab as a murderer because of the stoning of Naboth, which Jezebel, had instigated. Elijah told Ahab that dogs would lick his blood outside of the city, just as they had licked the blood of Naboth. He also told Ahab that none of his male heirs would survive and that Jezebel would be torn apart by the dogs of Jezreel (1 Kings 21:17-24).

After that, Ahab went into deep repentance, and the fulfillment of the prophecy was postponed. Ahab fought Ben-Hadad the King of Damascus in several wars, and then allied himself with Jehoshaphat, King of Judah to liberate Ramoth Gilead from the Arameans.

Ahab was warned by the prophet Micaiah that he would die in the battle. But Ahab went to battle anyway, disguised as a soldier, and was killed by a stray arrow. When the blood on his chariot was washed off at a pool in Samaria, the dogs licked up his blood as Elijah said. Jezebel, and eventually all of Ahab's male heirs died as the prophet said.

The Bible lists Ahab as the most evil of all the kings before him (1 Kings 16:30). Ahab's son Ahaziah became the new king. The story of Ahab is found in 1 Kings, chapters 16-22.

Archaeological note: Carved ivory plaques were found at the site of Ahab's palace in Samaria. Ahab was known to live in a ivory palace (1 Kings 22:39).

Next person in the Bible: Ahasuerus

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