Ahab’s Wars with Aram

Though righteousness often results in worldly blessings (see much of the book of Proverbs), the Bible’s judgment of Ahab as one of the most wicked kings in Israel’s history shows that worldly success cannot always be regarded as a measure of one’s favor before God, because Ahab was also one of the strongest kings in Israel’s history up to that time. Ahab became king after the death of his father Omri, who had usurped the throne and began to reassert Israel’s dominance in the region (1 Kings 16:8-28). Ahab married Jezebel, the daughter of the Sidonian king Ethbaal, and adopted her zealous worship of Baal, even building a temple to Baal in the new capital of Samaria (1 Kings 16:29-33). The Bible devotes three full chapters to recounting several other wicked acts by Ahab and his confrontations with the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17-19). The Bible also notes that Ahab rebuilt the city of Jericho at the cost of his firstborn son and his youngest son, just as Joshua prophesied (Joshua 6:26; 1 Kings 16:34). Yet the Bible also notes that Ahab engaged Ben-hadad II of Aram in multiple battles (1 Kings 20-22), and Assyrian records note that Ahab fought in a great battle that took place at the city of Qarqar north of Israel (853 B.C.). In that battle a coalition of about a dozen nations (including Israel) fought against the Assyrians and ultimately stopped them from advancing further south into the Levant for several years. Ahab may have also recovered land in northern Israel taken by Aram during Baasha’s reign (1 Kings 15:9-24; see 1 Kings 20:26-34). Archaeological evidence suggests that Ahab fortified Megiddo and Hazor during his reign as well. Soon after the battle at Qarqar Ahab was killed while fighting alongside King Jehoshaphat of Judah to recapture Ramoth-gilead from Aram (1 Kings 22).

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