Elah

1 Kings 16:8‑14  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 13
An oak
Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner. Prov. 11:3131Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner. (Proverbs 11:31)
“In the twenty and sixth year of Asa king of Judah began Elah the son of Baasha to reign over Israel in Tirzah, two years. And his servant Zimri, captain of half his chariots, conspired against him, as he was in Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, steward of his house in Tirzah. And Zimri went in and smote him, and killed him, in the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his stead.”
Of the house of Jeroboam God had said: “I will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam as a man taketh away dung, till it all be gone”-so would it be with Baasha who had removed the remnant of Jeroboam’s house by murder. “Drinking himself drunk” was Elah’s occupation at the time of his assassination. Dissipation does not appear to have been the special sin of the kings of Israel and Judah generally (nor has it ever been characteristic of the Jewish race), as was the case with so many of their Gentile neighbors-for example, Ben-hadad with his thirty-two confederate kings “drinking himself drunk in the pavilions” (1 Kings 20:1616And they went out at noon. But Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped him. (1 Kings 20:16)).
Josephus wrote that Elah was slain while his army was away at the siege of Gibbethon, begun in his father Baasha’s day (Antiquities 8.12.4). His murder was perpetrated in the house of his steward Arza (“earthliness”), who was probably as given to self-indulgence as his master (contrast Ahab’s steward Obadiah, 1 Kings 18:33And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly: (1 Kings 18:3)).
His murderer Zimri at once began to massacre all the house of Baasha, sparing none of his family or friends. It was complete extermination, even as God had ordained it should be.
Thus did Zimri destroy all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake against Baasha by Jehu the prophet, For all the sins of Baasha, and the sins of Elah his son, by which they...made Israel to sin, in provoking the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities [idolatries] (1 Kings 16:12-1312Thus did Zimri destroy all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake against Baasha by Jehu the prophet, 13For all the sins of Baasha, and the sins of Elah his son, by which they sinned, and by which they made Israel to sin, in provoking the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities. (1 Kings 16:12‑13)).
Thus the house of Baasha, like that of Jeroboam before him, became extinct-to Jewish minds, the greatest calamity that could overtake a man.
In less than fifty years the first two dynasties of Israel’s kings had come to an end and every member of their families been exterminated. God meant to make their doom an example to those who would follow their ungodly ways. They stand as beacons, in these records, to warn all rulers and subjects away from the rocks on which these kings were wrecked to their everlasting ruin. “Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein” (Hos. 14:99Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein. (Hosea 14:9)). The usual formula ends the record of Elah’s worthless life (1 Kings 16:1414Now the rest of the acts of Elah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? (1 Kings 16:14)).