Baasha

1 Kings 15:27‑16:7; 2 Chronicles 16:1‑6  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 10
He who seeks, or lays waste
1 Kings 15:27-16:727And Baasha the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him; and Baasha smote him at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines; for Nadab and all Israel laid siege to Gibbethon. 28Even in the third year of Asa king of Judah did Baasha slay him, and reigned in his stead. 29And it came to pass, when he reigned, that he smote all the house of Jeroboam; he left not to Jeroboam any that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according unto the saying of the Lord, which he spake by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite: 30Because of the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned, and which he made Israel sin, by his provocation wherewith he provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger. 31Now the rest of the acts of Nadab, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 32And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days. 33In the third year of Asa king of Judah began Baasha the son of Ahijah to reign over all Israel in Tirzah, twenty and four years. 34And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin. 1Then the word of the Lord came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, 2Forasmuch as I exalted thee out of the dust, and made thee prince over my people Israel; and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made my people Israel to sin, to provoke me to anger with their sins; 3Behold, I will take away the posterity of Baasha, and the posterity of his house; and will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. 4Him that dieth of Baasha in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth of his in the fields shall the fowls of the air eat. 5Now the rest of the acts of Baasha, and what he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 6So Baasha slept with his fathers, and was buried in Tirzah: and Elah his son reigned in his stead. 7And also by the hand of the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani came the word of the Lord against Baasha, and against his house, even for all the evil that he did in the sight of the Lord, in provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam; and because he killed him. (1 Kings 15:27‑16:7); 2 Chron. 16:1-61In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. 2Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the Lord and of the king's house, and sent to Ben-hadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying, 3There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me. 4And Ben-hadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abel-maim, and all the store cities of Naphtali. 5And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease. 6Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah. (2 Chronicles 16:1‑6)
Contemporary Prophets: Jehu son of Hanani
The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Prov. 16:44The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. (Proverbs 16:4)
“In the third year of Asa king of Judah began Baasha the son of Ahijah to reign over all Israel in Tirzah, twenty and four years.” With the beginning of a new dynasty, and the sad history of that which had been before him, one might hope that Baasha would have taken a different course, and turned to Jehovah. Alas, we read: “And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 15:33-3433In the third year of Asa king of Judah began Baasha the son of Ahijah to reign over all Israel in Tirzah, twenty and four years. 34And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin. (1 Kings 15:33‑34)).
He was of Issachar, and had the tribal characteristic—an eye for what appeared pleasant (Gen. 49:1515And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute. (Genesis 49:15)). So he made beautiful Tirzah (which some derive from ratzah, “pleasant”; see Sol. 6:44Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners. (Song of Solomon 6:4)) the royal residence during his reign. Whatever he may have known of God’s purpose in the cutting off of Jeroboam’s house, his motive was not one of righteousness (like Jehu’s, later), for he was no better than those he murdered, and continued to walk in their sin.
Then the word of the Lord came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, Forasmuch as I exalted thee out of the dust, and made thee prince over my people Israel; and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made my people Israel to sin, to provoke me to anger with their sins; Behold, I will take away the posterity of Baasha, and the posterity of his house [a terrible thought to an Israelite!’ and will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Him that dieth of Baasha in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth of his in the fields shall the fowls of the air eat (1 Kings 16:1-41Then the word of the Lord came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, 2Forasmuch as I exalted thee out of the dust, and made thee prince over my people Israel; and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made my people Israel to sin, to provoke me to anger with their sins; 3Behold, I will take away the posterity of Baasha, and the posterity of his house; and will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. 4Him that dieth of Baasha in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth of his in the fields shall the fowls of the air eat. (1 Kings 16:1‑4)).
His doom, and that of all his house, is here solemnly pronounced. “Out of the dust” implies Baasha’s lowly origin. How often do revolutionists imagine that because the obnoxious ruler is of noble birth, or royal lineage, the remedy is to put in the place of power one of their own class and rank! And how soon are they made to learn that “a servant when he ruleth” is the very worst type of tyrant known (Prov. 30:21-2221For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear: 22For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat; (Proverbs 30:21‑22)). No, it is not a question of natural birth, whether high or low, but of new birth and ruling in the fear of God, which gives to any favored land such sovereigns as “Victoria the Good.” Baasha was of plebeian stock, yet his name, “he who lays waste,” tells only too accurately what kind of a ruler he proved himself to be.
There was war between Baasha and Asa king of Judah all their days. He made a league with Benhadad king of Syria, and built or fortified Ramah on his southern border to prevent, if possible, the migration of his subjects to Judah, where they were attracted by the prosperity enjoyed under Asa.
“Now the rest of the acts of Baasha, and what he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Baasha slept with his fathers, and was buried in Tirzah: and Elah his son reigned in his stead.” And then a supplementary verse is added to emphasize the fact that it was because of his idolatries and murder of the house of Jeroboam that God judged him and his family:
God, who looks on the heart, saw him but as an assassin for the accomplishment of his ambitious designs, slaying king Nadab and the entire house of Jeroboam.