The Fall of the House of Ahab
influence that Jezebel had exercised from the first over Ahab continued
during the later years of his life and bore fruit in deeds of shame and
violence such as have seldom been equaled in sacred history. "There
was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the
sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up."
a covetous disposition, Ahab, strengthened and sustained in wrongdoing by
Jezebel, had followed the dictates of his evil heart until he was fully
controlled by the spirit of selfishness. He could brook no refusal of his
wishes; the things he desired he felt should by right be his.
trait in Ahab, which influenced so disastrously the fortunes of the
kingdom under his successors, is revealed in an incident which took place
while Elijah was still a prophet in Israel. Hard by the palace of the king
was a vineyard belonging to Naboth, a Jezreelite. Ahab set his
possessing this vineyard, and he proposed to buy it or else to give in
exchange for it another piece of land. "Give me thy vineyard,"
he said to Naboth, "that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because
it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard
than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in
his vineyard highly because it had belonged to his fathers, and he refused
to part with it. "The Lord forbid it me," he said to Ahab,
"that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee."
According to the Levitical code no land could be transferred permanently
by sale or exchange; every one of the children of Israel must "keep
himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers." Numbers
refusal made the selfish monarch ill. "Ahab came into his house heavy
and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken
to him. . . . And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face,
and would eat no bread."
learned the particulars, and, indignant that anyone should refuse the
request of the king, she assured Ahab that he need no longer be sad.
"Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel?" she said.
"Arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee
the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite."
not by what means his wife might accomplish the desired object, and
Jezebel immediately proceeded to carry out her wicked purpose. She wrote
letters in the name of the king, sealed them with his signet, and sent
them to the
elders and nobles of the city where Naboth dwelt, saying: "Proclaim a
fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: and set two men, sons of
Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst
blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he
was obeyed. "The men of his city, even the elders and the nobles, . .
. did as Jezebel had . . . written in the letters which she had sent unto
them." Then Jezebel went to the king and bade him arise and take the
vineyard. And Ahab, heedless of the consequences, blindly followed her
counsel and went down to take possession of the coveted property.
The king was
not allowed to enjoy unrebuked that which he had gained by fraud and
bloodshed. "The word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold,
he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.
And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou
killed, and also taken possession?" And the Lord further instructed
Elijah to pronounce upon Ahab a terrible judgment.
hastened to carry out the divine command. The guilty ruler, meeting the
stern messenger of Jehovah face to face in the vineyard, gave voice to his
startled fear in the words, "Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?"
hesitation the messenger of the Lord replied, "I have found thee:
because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord.
Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy
posterity." No mercy was to
be shown. The
house of Ahab was to be utterly destroyed, "like the house of
Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah,"
the Lord declared through His servant, "for the provocation wherewith
thou hast provoked Me to anger, and made Israel to sin."
Jezebel the Lord declared, "The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of
Jezreel. Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him
that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat."
When the king
heard this fearful message, "he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth
upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.
word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Seest thou how Ahab
humbleth himself before Me? because he humbleth himself before Me, I will
not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the
evil upon his house."
It was less
than three years later that King Ahab met his death at the hands of the
Syrians. Ahaziah, his successor, "did evil in the sight of the Lord,
and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in
the way of Jeroboam." "He served Baal, and worshiped him, and
provoked to anger the Lord God of Israel," as his father Ahab had
done. 1 Kings 22:52, 53. But judgments followed close upon the sins of the
rebellious king. A disastrous war with Moab, and then an accident by which
his own life was threatened, attested to God's wrath against him.
"through a lattice in his upper chamber," Ahaziah, seriously
injured, and fearful of the possible outcome, sent some of his servants to
make inquiry of
Baalzebub, the god of
Ekron, whether he should recover or not. The god of Ekron was supposed to
give information, through the medium of its priests, concerning future
events. Large numbers of people went to inquire of it; but the predictions
there uttered, and the information given, proceeded from the prince of
servants were met by a man of God, who directed them to return to the king
with the message: "Is it because there is no God in Israel, that ye
go to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus saith
Jehovah, Thou shalt not come down from the bed whither thou art gone up,
but shalt surely die." Having delivered his message, the prophet
astonished servants hastened back to the king, and repeated to him the
words of the man of God. The king inquired, "What manner of man was
he?" They answered, "He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle
of leather about his loins." "It is Elijah the Tishbite,"
Ahaziah exclaimed. He knew that if the stranger whom his messengers had
met was indeed Elijah, the words of doom pronounced would surely come to
pass. Anxious to avert, if possible, the threatened judgment, he
determined to send for the prophet.
sent a company of soldiers to intimidate the prophet, and twice the wrath
of God fell upon them in judgment. The third company of soldiers humbled
themselves before God; and their captain, as he approached the Lord's
messenger, "fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and
said unto him, O man of God, I pray
thee, let my
life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy
angel of Jehovah said unto Elijah, Go down with him: be not afraid of him.
And he arose, and went down with him unto the king. And he said unto him,
Thus saith Jehovah, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to inquire of
Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, is it because there is no God in Israel to
inquire of His word? therefore thou shalt not come down from the bed
whither thou art gone up, but shalt surely die."
father's reign, Ahaziah had witnessed the wondrous works of the Most High.
He had seen the terrible evidences that God had given apostate Israel of
the way in which He regards those who set aside the binding claims of His
law. Ahaziah had acted as if these awful realities were but idle tales.
Instead of humbling his heart before
the Lord, he
had followed after Baal, and at last he had ventured upon this, his most
daring act of impiety. Rebellious, and unwilling to repent, Ahaziah died,
"according to the word of the Lord which Elijah had spoken."
of King Ahaziah's sin and its punishment has in it a warning which none
can disregard with impunity. Men today may not pay homage to heathen gods,
yet thousands are worshiping at Satan's shrine as verily as did the king
of Israel. The spirit of idolatry is rife in the world today, although,
under the influence of science and education, it has assumed forms more
refined and attractive than in the days when Ahaziah sought to the god of
Ekron. Every day adds its sorrowful evidence that faith in the sure word
of prophecy is decreasing, and that in its stead superstition and satanic
witchery are captivating the minds of many.
mysteries of heathen worship are replaced by the secret association and
seances, the obscurities and wonders, of spiritistic mediums. The
disclosures of these mediums are eagerly received by thousands who refuse
to accept light from God's word or through His Spirit. Believers in
spiritism may speak with scorn of the magicians of old, but the great
deceiver laughs in triumph as they yield to his arts under a different
many who shrink with horror from the thought of consulting spirit mediums,
but who are attracted by more pleasing forms of spiritism. Others are led
astray by the teachings of Christian Science, and by the mysticism of
Theosophy and other Oriental religions.
of nearly all forms of spiritism claim to have power to heal. They
attribute this power to electricity, magnetism, the so-called
"sympathetic remedies," or to latent forces within the mind of
man. And there are not a few, even in this Christian age, who go to these
healers, instead of trusting in the power of the living God and the skill
of well-qualified physicians. The mother, watching by the sickbed of her
child, exclaims, "I can do no more. Is there no physician who has
power to restore my child?" She is told of the wonderful cures
performed by some clairvoyant or magnetic healer, and she trusts her dear
one to his charge, placing it as verily in the hand of Satan as if he were
standing by her side. In many instances the future life of the child is
controlled by a satanic power which it seems impossible to break.
God had cause
for displeasure at Ahaziah's impiety. What had He not done to win the
hearts of the people of Israel and to inspire them with confidence in
Himself? For ages He had been giving His people manifestations of
unexampled kindness and love. From the beginning He had shown that His
"delights were with the sons of men." Proverbs 8:31. He had been
a very present help to all who sought Him in sincerity. Yet now the king
of Israel, turning from God to ask help of the worst enemy of his people,
proclaimed to the heathen that he had more confidence in their idols than
in the God of heaven. In the same manner do men and women dishonor Him
when they turn from the Source of strength and wisdom to ask help or
counsel from the powers of darkness. If God's wrath was kindled by
act, how does
He regard those who, having still greater light, choose to follow a
give themselves up to the sorcery of Satan, may boast of great benefit
received; but does this prove their course to be wise or safe? What if
life should be prolonged? What if temporal gain should be secured? Will it
pay in the end to have disregarded the will of God? All such apparent gain
will prove at last an irrecoverable loss. We cannot with impunity break
down a single barrier which God has erected to guard His people from
had no son, he was succeeded by Jehoram, his brother, who reigned over the
ten tribes for twelve years. Throughout these years his mother, Jezebel,
was still living, and she continued to exercise her evil influence over
the affairs of the nation. Idolatrous customs were still practiced by many
of the people. Jehoram himself "wrought evil in the sight of the
Lord; but not like his father, and like his mother: for he put away the
image of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he cleaved unto the
sins of Jereboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed
not therefrom." 2 Kings 3:2, 3.
It was during
Jehoram's reign over Israel that Jehoshaphat died, and Jehoshaphat's son,
also named Jehoram, ascended the throne of the kingdom of Judah. By his
marriage with the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, Jehoram of Judah was
closely connected with the king of Israel; and in his reign he followed
after Baal, "like as did the house of Ahab." "Moreover he
made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of
fornication, and compelled Judah thereto." 2 Chronicles 21:6, 11.
The king of
Judah was not permitted to continue his terrible apostasy unreproved. The
prophet Elijah had not yet been translated, and he could not remain silent
while the kingdom of Judah was pursuing the same course that had brought
the northern kingdom to the verge of ruin. The prophet sent to Jehoram of
Judah a written communication, in which the wicked king read the awful
saith the Lord God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in
the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah,
but hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and
the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the
house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father's house,
which were better than thyself: behold, with a great plague will the Lord
smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: and
thou shalt have great sickness."
fulfillment of this prophecy "the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the
spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the
Ethiopians: and they came up into Judah, and brake into it, and carried
away all the substance that was found in the king's house, and his sons
also, and his wives; so that there was never a son left him, save Jehoahaz
[Ahaziah, Azariah], the youngest of his sons.
after all this the Lord smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease.
And it came to pass, that in process of time, after the end of two years,
. . . he died of sore
"And Ahaziah [Jehoahaz] his son reigned in his stead." Verses
12:19; 2 Kings 8:24.
son of Ahab was still reigning in the kingdom of Israel when his nephew,
Ahaziah, came to the throne of Judah. Ahaziah ruled only one year, and
during this time, influenced by his mother, Athaliah, "his counselor
to do wickedly," "he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and
did evil in the sight of the Lord." 2 Chronicles 22:3, 4; 2 Kings
8:27. Jezebel, his grandmother, was still living, and he allied himself
boldly with Jehoram of Israel, his uncle.
Judah soon met a tragic end. The surviving members of the house of Ahab
were indeed "his counselors after the death of his father to his
destruction." 2 Chronicles 22:3, 4. While Ahaziah was visiting his
uncle at Jezreel, the prophet Elisha was divinely directed to send one of
the sons of the prophets to Ramothgilead to anoint Jehu king of Israel.
The combined forces of Judah and Israel were at that time engaged in a
military campaign against the Syrians of Ramothgilead. Jehoram had been
wounded in battle, and had returned to Jezreel, leaving Jehu in charge of
the royal armies.
Jehu, the messenger of Elisha declared, "I have anointed thee king
over the people of the Lord, even over Israel." And then he solemnly
charged Jehu with a special commission from heaven. "Thou shalt smite
the house of Ahab thy master," the Lord declared through His
messenger, "that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets,
and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the
Jezebel. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish." 2 Kings 9:6-8.
After he had
been proclaimed king by the army, Jehu hastened to Jezreel, where he began
his work of execution on those who had deliberately chosen to continue in
sin and to lead others into sin. Jehoram of Israel, Ahaziah of Judah, and
Jezebel the queen mother, with "all that remained of the house of
Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his kinsfolks, and his
priests," were slain. "All the prophets of Baal, all his
servants, and all his priests" dwelling at the center of Baal worship
near Samaria, were put to the sword. The idolatrous images were broken
down and burned, and the temple of Baal was laid in ruins. "Thus Jehu
destroyed Baal out of Israel." 2 Kings 10:11, 19,28.
this general execution reached Athaliah, Jezebel's daughter, who still
occupied a commanding position in the kingdom of Judah. When she saw that
her son, the king of Judah, was dead, "she arose and destroyed all
the seed royal of the house of Judah." In this massacre all the
descendants of David who were eligible to the throne were destroyed, save
one, a babe named Joash, whom the wife of Jehoiada the high priest hid
within the precincts of the temple. For six years the child remained
hidden, while "Athaliah reigned over the land." 2 Chronicles
At the end of
this time, "the Levites and all Judah" (2 Chronicles 23:8)
united with Jehoiada the high priest in crowning and anointing the child
Joash and acclaiming him their king. "And they clapped their hands,
and said, God save the king." 2 Kings 11:12.
when Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and praising the king,
she came to the people into the house of the Lord." 2 Chronicles
23:12. "And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar, as
the manner was, and the princes and the trumpeters by the king, and all
the people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets."
rent her clothes, and cried, Treason, Treason." 2 Kings 11:14. But
Jehoiada commanded the officers to lay hold of Athaliah and all her
followers and lead them out of the temple to a place of execution, where
they were to be slain.
the last member of the house of Ahab. The terrible evil that had been
wrought through his alliance with Jezebel, continued till the last of his
descendants was destroyed. Even in the land of Judah, where the worship of
the true God had never been formally set aside, Athaliah had succeeded in
seducing many. Immediately after the execution of the impenitent queen
"all the people of the land went into the house of Baal, and brake it
down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly, and slew
Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars." Verse 18.
followed. Those who took part in acclaiming Joash king, had solemnly
covenanted "that they should be the Lord's people." And now that
the evil influence of the daughter of Jezebel had been removed from the
kingdom of Judah, and the priests of Baal had been slain and their temple
destroyed, "all the people of the land rejoiced: and the city was
quiet." 2 Chronicles 23:16, 21.