Israel gets another king but it takes four years before he officially takes the throne. It is Omri, the one who Zimri was terrified of and committed suicide to escape.
I had to pull out my timeline spreadsheet and look at the data again. I’m trying to correct my conflicts in it. One conflict I ran into is contained in verse 23 where we are told that Omri “reined for twelve years; six years he reigned in Tizrah.” When I first made my spreadsheet I didn’t have him reigning until he officially took the throne. There was a gap. Then when I looked at the numbers contained in our narrative I was confused by the statement of 12 years when there isn’t 12 years between Asa’s 31st year and his 38th year. Doing the math it makes seven, not 12.
Then I looked a little deeper. When Zimri died it was the 27th year of Asa’s rule. There are 11 years between these Zimri’s death and Omri’s son taking the throne. And I have noticed that with even a small overlap a full year is credited, thereby giving Omri 12 years credit for “reigning” in Israel. It feels good to have figured that out. The accountant in me was throwing a fit!
So let’s get on to looking at Omri’s time in power. There appears to have been a ‘civil war’ going on in the northern kingdom of Israel. We don’t know where the forces stood during the week that Zimri ruled but I would assume there were already divides beginning in the land. The graphic I picked for Zimri even listed him as co-ling with Tibni, Omri’s opponent. I don’t know if this is true but it would lend credence to Tibni’s bid for the throne.
Omri seized the throne the moment Zimri died but not all the people agreed with his tactics. “The people of Israel were divided into two parts. Half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king, and half followed Omri” (verse 21).
We are not told how Omri “overcame” the opposition of the people but I’m betting it had something to do with force. We do see that they are finally ready to commit to Omri after Tibni is dead. I wonder how he died. Was it in battle? Was he assassinated? Or was it perhaps natural causes? However he died, the rebellion ended with his death. There was no other choice but to unite.
Omri was the one who made the city of Samaria. When Jesus visits there and meets the woman by the well she tells Him that their leaders had set up places for them to worship there in Samaria. This was definitely ‘walking in the ways’ of Jeroboam. We aren’t told that Omri was the one to initiate this site as a place of worship but his son certainly contributed to that fact, if not initiated it. The simple fact that Omri didn’t turn the people away from Jeroboam’s idols is enough to perpetuate the idol worship that has so angered God. We are told that “he did even more evil than all those who were before him” (verse 25b).
I’m curious as to why Omri moved his throne from Tirzah. Zimri brought the king’s house down on himself but Omri still chose to reign in that city. Is it possible that he reigned in Tirzah until he was officially made king of Israel? The numbers seem to favor that assumption.
I went searching to see how far apart these two places are and stumbled on a possible answer for my last question. Bible.org tells me that the terrain of the hill Omri purchased makes it easier to defend. It is also richer in resources. That makes sense to me and explains the motive for moving. After all, Omri himself was able to take down the defenses when pursuing Zimri. He may have been military smart but he was spiritually dumb. I would rather live in a shack in Heaven than a mansion anywhere apart from God!
Father God, thank You for helping me fill in some of the pieces I missed. I like seeing how everything fits together. I’m looking forward to how You help me with the rest of the things I missed. I’m VERY GRATEFUL I’m not living under a king like Omri. YOU are my true King, no matter what the leaders of this world think. I will follow You wherever You lead.