Accession of Abijam and Asa & The House of Omri

You would think that after all You have done people would know not to mess with You.  Whatever You say You mean.

But even today people don’t believe.  I guess people are stupid, I was.  But I have the picture now, if we don’t have 2 faith in Jesus, we’ll spend 3 eternity in the Lake of Fire with the devil, his demons, as well as most politicians and people like Oprah. 

“Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abijam over Judah (1 Kgs 15:1).

Asa was the third king of the Kingdom of Judah and the fifth king of the House of David.

He was the son of Abijam, grandson of Rehoboam, and great-grandson of Solomon.

The Bible gives the period of his reign as 41 years.

His reign is dated between 913-910 B.C. to 873-869 B.C.

He was succeeded by his son by Azubah, Jehoshaphat.

According to Thiele’s chronology, when Asa became very ill, he made Jehoshaphat coregent.

Asa died two years into the coregency.

Asa was zealous in maintaining the traditional worship of God, and in rooting out idolatry, with its accompanying immoralities.

After concluding a battle with Zerah of Egypt in the 10th year of his reign, there was peace in Judah (2 Chr 14:1,9) until the 35th year of Asa’s reign (2 Chr 16:1). In his 36th year he was confronted by Baasha, king of Israel.

He formed an alliance with Ben-Hadad I, king of Aram Damascus, and using a monetary bribe, convinced him to break his peace treaty with Baasha and invade the Northern Kingdom (2 Chr 16:2-6).

It is also recorded of Asa that in his old age, when afflicted with a foot disease, he “sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians”.

He died greatly honored by his people, and was considered for the most part a righteous king.

However, his reign was said to have been marred by his reliance on Ben-Hadad.

Abijam was the second king of Judah, the son of Rehoboam, and the grandson of Absalom, who was David’s son that tried to take over the kingdom (2 Sam 15) and his mother, Maacah, was the daughter of Absalom. 

Abijam was evil, but even so, for David’s sake, God let him reign over Jerusalem.  If you remember, David had sinned here and there, such as committing adultery with Bath-sheba and having her husband, Uriah, killed. 

Yet, his heart was right (Act 13:22), it was not his desire to sin, but we are 4 born into sin and live in a sinful world with Satan always around to help us do so.  I, even without never being a devil worshiper or messing around with magic, have experience in this.

Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.

And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life.

Now the rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam” (1 Kgs 15:5-7).

Abijam had reigned for 41 years before he died and was buried in the city of David, and his son, Asa, reigned.

 “And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, as did David his father.

And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.

And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.

Abijam was, according to the Bible, the fourth king of the House of David and the second of the Kingdom of Judah.

He was the son of Rehoboam, the grandson of Solomon and the great-grandson of David.

The Chronicler refers to him as Abijah .

His mother’s name was Maacah, or Micaiah, the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah, and the granddaughter of the infamous Absalom (Abishalom).

Abijah married fourteen wives, and had 22 sons and 16 daughters.

But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect with theLord all his days.

And he brought in the things which his father had dedicated, and the things which himself had dedicated, into the house of the Lord, silver, and gold, and vessels.

And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.

And Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah, and built Ramah, that he might not suffer any to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.

Then Asa took all the silver and the gold that were left in the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants: and king Asa sent them to Benhadad, the son of Tabrimon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying,

There is a league between me and thee, and between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent unto thee a present of silver and gold; come and break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.

So Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of the hosts which he had against the cities of Israel, and smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelbethmaachah, and all Cinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali” (1 Kgs 15:11-20).

When Baash heard about this he left Ramah and went to Tirzah (the town where God killed Jeroboam’s child).

“Then king Asa made a proclamation throughout all Judah; none was exempted: and they took away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha had builded; and king Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah.

The rest of all the acts of Asa, and all his might, and all that he did, and the cities which he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? Nevertheless in the time of his old age he was diseased in his feet(1 Kgs 15:22-23).

Jehoshaphat was the fourth king of the Kingdom of Judah, and successor of his father Asa.

His children included Jehoram, who succeeded him as king.

His mother was Azubah. Historically, his name has sometimes been connected with the Valley of Jehosaphat, where, according to Joel 3:2, the God of Israel will gather all nations for judgment.

Asa was buried in the city of David and his son, Jehoshaphat, replaced him.  Nadab, Jeroboam’s son, reigned for two years over Israel in the second year that Asa was king of Judah. 

But he was evil in the sight of God and as he sinned he made Israel sin.  Baash, the son of Ahijah, conspired against him and killed him at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines at the time.  He then took over the throne.  During his reign he smote all of Jeroboam’s people.

1 “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Heb 6:18).

2 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:1 & 6).

The Valley of Josaphat (variants: Valley of Jehoshaphat and Valley of Yehoshephat) is a Biblical place mentioned by name in Joel 3:2 and Joel 3:12:

“I will gather together all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Josaphat: and I will plead with them there for my people, and for my inheritance Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations”;

“Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side”.

3 And he said unto me, It is done.  I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Rev 1:8).

“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev 21:6-8).

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20: 15 & 10).

4For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom 8:5-6).

Bust of Christ between Alpha and Omega, painting mid 4C on ceiling of Commodille cemetery, Rome. Photo by Andre Held.

Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the “Alpha and Omega” in Rev 1:8, 11; 21:6; and 22:13.

Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.

Among the Jewish rabbis, it was common to use the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet to denote the whole of anything, from beginning to end.

Jesus as the beginning and end of all things is a reference to no one but the true God.

This statement of eternality could apply only to God.

It is seen especially in Rev 22:13, where Jesus proclaims that He is “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

One of the meanings of Jesus being the “Alpha and Omega” is that He was at the beginning of all things and will be at the close.

It is equivalent to saying He always existed and always will exist.

It was Christ, as second Person of the Trinity, who brought about the creation:

“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (Jn 1:3).

And His Second Coming will be the beginning of the end of creation as we know it (2 Pet 3:10).

As God incarnate, He has no beginning, nor will He have any end with respect to time, being from everlasting to everlasting.

“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 

But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:17-21).

Don’t be confused with this, David committed adultery and murder, but it was not in his heart to do so.  He committed the sins against God because flesh is powerful and if we live by the flesh we are weak. 

To understand this better read what Paul says in Rom 7:15-25 & 8:1. 

The House of Omri

Jehu of the House of Omri, an Assyrian name.
The kingdom of Israel was known to the Assyrians after its founder as Bit-Humri, ‘House of Omri’. Together with the kingdoms of Hamat and Damascus, it dominated the political landscape of Syro-Palestine in the 9th and 8th centuries BC and, like them, it eventually fell victim to the Assyrian expansion to the Mediterranean.

By about 860 B.C., during the reigns of Omri and his son Ahab, Israel emerged as a leader among the small states of the Levant.

The Omride Dynasty brought political stability to the nation for four decades (ca. 876-842 B.C.) before coming to an end in the bloody coup led by Jehu in 842 B.C.

Omri and his successors pursued policies that brought material property, military strength, and international stature to the nation.  Assyrian records referred to Israel as the “House of Omri” even after the fall of the dynasty. 

The policies that produced the wealth and power also deeply divided Israelite society.  The new wealth benefited the privileged few, creating tensions between the court at Samaria and ordinary citizens. 

Ahab and Jezebel’s plot to seize Naboth’s vineyard that resulted in his murderillustratesthe of the aristocracy (1 Kgs 21). 

Moreover, Baalism reared its ugly head once again, this time under official patronage of Ahab’s wife, Jezebel.   

The Bible says remarkably little about Omri; we are dependent upon Assyria sources and archaeology to evaluate his reign.  Omri came to power in a military coup, occupying Tirzah as a temporary “capital for six years.

Later, he purchased a hill from Shemer and along with his son Ahab, built a magnificent new capital named Samaria from which he guided Israel’s fortune.

Policies of Omri and Ahab

Naboth’s Vineyard
Naboth “the Jezreelite,” is the central figure of a story from the Old Testament.

According to the story, Naboth was the owner of a plot on the eastern slope of the hill of Jezreel.

Described as a small “plot of ground”, the vineyard seems to have been all he possessed and lay close to the palace of Ahab, who wished to acquire it to “have it for a garden of herbs” (probably as a ceremonial garden for Baal worship).

The king promised compensation, based upon the assumption that Naboth’s vineyard was owned in fee simple; Naboth, however, had inherited his land from his father, and, according to Jewish law, could not alienate it.

Accordingly, he refused to sell it to the king.

Three distinct policies pursued by Omri and his successors brought Israel to her zenith.  

First, Omri renewed a close alliance with the Phoenicians, sealed by the marriage of his son Ahab to Jezebel. Ahab was a weasel to Jezebel and she was one of the great heathens and the daughter of Ethbaal (Itto-baal), king of Tyre.

Second, he sought peace with Judah. 

Third, he exercised hand in the Transjordan.

Omri And The Phoenicians

Economic cooperation between Israel and Phoenicia can be traced from the time of David and Solomon.  During the United Monarchy.

Israel was a source for agricultural products and controlled the major trade routes that flowed through the southern Levant, both of which appealed to the Phoenicians.  

In addition, Solomon jointly sponsored with the Phoenicians a Red Sea fleet based at Ezion-geber.  The fleet plied both the Arabian and African coasts, bringing back exotic woods and other luxury goods, including gold from the land of Ophir (the Somalian Coast? southern Arabian Peninsula?).

Omri and Ahab continued this close economic cooperation with Phoenicia.  This alliance provided Israel with an outlet for her agricultural surplus and gave the Phoenicians access to key trade routes and, quite possibly the Red Sea trade initiated in the days of Solomon.  

However, the alliance introduced a militant Baalism promoted by Jezebel with her husband’s support.

Ahab and Jezebel, Samaria’s most famous residents.
Jezebel was a Phoenician princess, later the wife of King Ahab of Israel.

She became known for putting on makeup before her death and being a wicked woman.

Ahab was the seventh King of Israel. He reigned for 22 years (871-852 BC). He was the son of Omri. He married Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, the king of the Sidonians. Ahab, under Jezebel’s influence, built a pagan temple, and allowed idols into Samaria. Elijah the prophet warned Ahab that the country would suffer from drought if the cult of Baal was not removed from the land of Israel.

Omri And Judah

Omri sought peace with Judah, ending the border conflict that sapped the resources of both kingdoms.  Eventually, the two royal families of Israel and Judah were united in marriage.  

Athaliah, a daughter of Ahab, married Jehoram of Judah.  The alliance likely favored Israel as the stronger partner.  On two occasions Judean kings committed their troops to Israel, once to repulse an Aramean threat and again to quell a Moabite rebellion (1 Kgs 22:-2 Kgs 3:7).  

Yet, Judah surely benefited economically.  The godly of Judah sought peace with Israel and controlled the port of Ezion-geber.

This fact implies that the troublesome Edomites were temporarily held in check, although Jehoshaphat’s attempt to open the route to the gold mines of Ophir was thwarted (1 Kgs. 22:44-48; 2 Chr. 20:25-37).

However, the alliance injected Baalism into the court at Jerusalem, fostered by Athaliah and her husband.  Paganism, intrigue, and murder dogged both royal houses in this unhappy period.

Mesha Stele
King Mesha of Moab was a king of Moabites around the 9th century B.C., known most famous for writing the Mesha stele.

The books of Samuel record that Moab was conquered by David (floruit c.1000-970 B.C.) and retained in the territories of his son Solomon (d. 931 B.C.).

Later, King Omri of Israel reconquered Moab after Moab was lost subsequent to King Solomon’s reign.

The Mesha Stele, erected by Mesha, indicates that it was Omri, king of the northern kingdom of Israel, who conquered his land.

The Mesha Stele records Mesha’s liberation of Moab c.850 B.C.

2 Kings 3:4 reports the same events from the point of view of the Israelites, stating that

“King Mesha of Moab … used to deliver to the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs, and the wool of one hundred thousand rams”, before rebelling against Jehoram (the Mesha Stele does not name the king against whom Mesha rebelled).

2 Kings and the Mesha Stele differ in their explanation for the success of the revolt: according to Mesha,

“Israel has been defeated”, but 2 Kings says the Israelites withdrew when Mesha sacrificed the eldest son of the Edomite king to his god Chemosh, causing Edom to withdraw from the coalition.

Aside from these attestations, references to Mesha are scanty, if extant.

The name “Mesha” is based on the Hebrew root meaning “to save”, but some scholars have suggested that it seems to have been etymologically equivalent to the Hebrew “Moshe” (Moses).

Omri And The Transjordan

The Omrides attempted to maintain a strong hand in the Transjordan.  We learned from the Mesha Stele that Omro conquered Moab, although Mesha regained Moabite independence shortly after the death of Ahab.

For at least part of the time Edom was held in check, possibly through Judean rule (1 Kgs 22:47), although later the Edomites rebelled (2 Chr 21:8-10).

The most serious threat came from the kings of Damascus, who, during the reign of Baasha, attacked Israel’s northern border at the request of Asa (1 Kgs 15:18-20). 

At stake was control of lucrative trade routes, principally the King’s Highway and subsidiary caravan routes.  Ahab fought several battles against Ben-hadad II (the Hadad-ezer of Assyrian records). 

Ahab repelled an Aramean invasion aimed at Samaria (1 Kgs 20:1-25) and engaged Aramean forces several times near the strategic Transjordan fortress Ramoth-gilead (1 Kgs 20:2-43; 22:1-40). 

Neither Ben-hadad nor Ahab could deliver a final blow, and the war between Israel and Damascus ebbed and flowed during the Omride era.

Samaria ruins of Iron Age Acropolis
Samaria was an ancient city in the Land of Israel.

It was the capital of the Kingdom of Israel in the 9th century B.C. and 8th century B.C.

The ruins of the city are located in the Samaria mountains and are under the jurisdiction of Israel National Park Authority.

The Omrides’ Building Achievements

Recent excavations now yield an impressive picture of the material culture crated by Omri and Ahab. 

These two kings of Israel engaged in massive building projects throughout the kingdom, improving defenses, creating royal administrative centers, and ornamenting buildings both public and private with luxury items.

Phoenician and older Canaanite craftsmanship can be detected in architectural and ornamental styles from this period.  The archaeological evidence suggests that the building program sponsored by Omri and Ahab surpassed that of Solomon.

Omri and his son Ahab built a new capital six miles northwest of Shechem on a hill purchased from Shemer (1 Kgs 16:23-24).  

Omri selected the site because it was easily defended and stood near a junction of roads that radiated out in all directions.

The new city, Samaria, stood on top of a hill 430 meters above sea level.  

Crowning the hill was a royal acropolis built by Omri and Ahab covering four acres, an area that was as large as an average village of that time.

Ruins of the walls of the ancient capital of Samaria,
Built by Omri and Ahab, husband of Jezebel

Samaria – the Ivory House

‘It was in the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah that Omri became king of Israel and he reigned twelve years, six of them in Tirzah.

He bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver and built a city on it which he named Samaria after Shemer the owner of the hill.’

With this purchase, the hill became the personal possession of the king, and was subject to his power and will.

Whatever its previous history, Samaria now belonged to the family of Omri and their successors.

For the stories of the two kings Omri and Ahab who built the ‘Ivory House’ at Samaria.

The acropolis consisted of a large rectangular platform (89 x 178 meters) defended by two types of walls; a palace, storage facilities, and administrative buildings stood inside the walls.

The construction techniques used at Samaria show Phoenician influence, not surprising given the close ties the House of Omri maintained with Phoenicia – Ahab’s wife Jezebel was a Phoenician princess.

The stonecutting and craftsmanship at Samaria were exceptional.  Walls were set in rock-cut trenches, with each stone dressed at the site to ensure a precise fit.  Little remains of the palace, but scattered fragments of Proto-Aeolic capitals preserve a glimpse of the royal splendor of Samaria.  

A hoard of ivories recovered from the citadel are the finest surviving examples of art from the Iron II era.

The ivories display Phoenician, Syrian, and Egyptian motifs and demonstrate both the cosmopolitan society and luxury of the royal court.  

The Bible mentions “the ivory house” built by Ahab (1 Kgs 22:39); Amos condemned the ivory beds of luxury-loving Israelite kings (Amos 6:4).  

Excavators also recovered from an administrative building 63 ostraca (inscribed broken potsherds) containing records of shipments of oil and wine. These shipments probably record taxes paid in kind to support the royal court.

The city of Samaria spread out below the royal acropolis, but little is known of this lower city during the Iron Age.  

The location of the temple of Baal and an altar of Asherah ascribed to Ahab are not known (1 Kgs 16:32-33; 2 Kgs 10:21), although Samaria certainly was the center of a militant Baalism in the time of Elijah.  

The Origin of the Sea Peoples
This presentation is based on the ideas expressed in my thesis “The Early Minoan Colonization of Spain” and discusses the evidence that directly associates the catastrophic fall of the Aegean El Argar culture in southeastern Iberia in about 1350 B.C. with the complex phenomenon known as the Sea Peoples that over the next 175 years would rain apocalyptic devastation on the entire eastern Mediterranean.

Almost every culture in the eastern Mediterranean including the Hittites in Anatolia would become engulfed in destruction by 1175 B.C.

Egypt would barely survive their repeated attacks but was so severely weakened it finally collapsed later during the reign of Ramesses VI (1145 – 1137 B.C.).

Only the Phoenicians in the Levant were apparently spared any destruction throughout this period.

The Sea Peoples’ raids and invasions from the land and sea would put an end to an era, but it was immediately followed by the “Age of the Phoenicians”.

A pool (10 x 5 meters), thought to be the one where Ahab’s bloody chariot was cleaned – at his death – has been located inside the casemate walls of the acropolis (1 Kgs 22:34-38).

Samaria’s most prosperous era came during the long rule of Jeroboam II when Israel reconquered Aramean territories to the north in the absence of any Assyrian threat (2 Kgs 14:25-27).

During these years Amos condemned the rich aristocratic bureaucrats and royal family members for their opulent lifestyle supported by oppressing the poor (Amos 4:1-3; 5:10-13).

An overview of the water system at Hazor.
The first settlement of Hazor, in the third millennium B.C. (Early Bronze Age), was confined to the upper city.

The lower city was founded in approximately the 18th century B.C. (Middle Bronze Age) and continued to be settled until the 13th century (the end of the Late Bronze Age) when both the upper and lower city were violently destroyed.

Canaanite Hazor is mentioned on several occasions in external records: it is first mentioned in the 19th century B.C. in the Egyptian Execration texts and is the only Canaanite site mentioned in the archive discovered in Mari (18th century B.C.).

The Mari documents clearly demonstrate the importance, wealth and far-reaching commercial ties of Hazor.

There are also several references to Hazor in records of the military campaigns conducted by the Egyptian Pharaohs, during the 15th – 14th centuries B.C.

Water System
Hazor contains one of the most elaborate water systems in ancient Israel.

Located at southeastern edge of the city,

Hazor’s water system is dated to the time of King Ahab in the 9th century B.C.

A huge shaft leads to wide stairway with 35 steps descending into a 25 meter long tunnel.

The width of the steps lead archaeologists to surmise that mules were used for the transport of transport of water by mules.

Though not as wide or large, the water systems at Megiddo and Gezer are very is similar in structure and design.

However, Samaria’s glory faded quickly when Assyria conquered the city in 722 B.C. and made it the district capital in a new Assyrian province.

Hazor and Megiddo underwent transformations during the Omride era.  The Omrides doubled the size of Hazor and strongly fortified the site. Fortifications and water supplies were a major concern as threats from Assyria and Damascus increased.

Solid walls, often with offsets and insets, replaced the older casemate walls built during Solomon’s reign.  The new wall ranged from two to seven meters thick and were composed stone foundations supporting a brick superstructure.

Strong gates with four or more chambers protected the cities.  Occasionally the gate complex included a second outer gate built at right angles to the inner gate, making an attack on this vulnerable spot even more difficult.

Megiddo provides examples of this fortification technique.  Water supplies always were of concern, especially as armies became more adept at siege warfare.  

Engineers devised ingenious means to protect the water supply of large cities.  At Megiddo, workmen constructed a tunnel from inside the city to a spring lying outside the city walls.

A vertical shaft lined with steps, dug inside the city, provided access to the tunnel.  Citizens of Hazor did not have to city to leave their city to get water.  Engineers cut a huge vertical shaft down to the water table inside the city walls.

Similar systems are from other sites – Gezer and Gibeon – in both Israel and Judah.

Substantial buildings inside the fortifications housed local governors and other governmental officials.  Some of these complexes were, in effect, well-defended small palaces. 

Numerous fragments of Proto-Aeolic capitals demonstrate that the craftsmanship found in the capital – Samaria – spilled over into other major administrative centers.

Open courtyards provides space for convocations and troop formations are characteristic of larger cities. The Dan temple, almost certainly the one built by Jeroboam I, was rebuilt on an enlarged scale, probably by Ahab after its destruction shortly after 900 B.C. 

To judge from the Israelite temple at Dan, major buildings also stood in large open spaces.

The Merciless Face of Ashurnasirpal II
King of Assyria (883-859 B.C.), whose name (Ashur-nasir-apli) means, ‘the god Ashur is the protector of the heir’, came to the Assyrian throne in 883 B.C.

He was one of a line of energetic kings whose campaigns brought Assyria great wealth and established it as one of the Near East’s major powers.

Ashurnasirpal mounted at least fourteen military campaigns, many them were to the north and east of Assyria.

Several pillared buildings found at many sites, including Megiddo and Hazor, have been variously interpreted as storage facilities or perhaps stables that housed chariots and horses. 

Undoubtedly, the cities served as collection and distribution points for the royal administration; many of these pillared structures served to store food surpluses and other materials. 

The possibility that some of these buildings were used to support the large chariot corps of Ahab’s army cannot be dismissed.

Omri and Assyria

A sinister menace threatened Israel around 850 B.C.  Under the energetic kings Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 B.C.) and Shalmaneser III (859-824 B.C.), Assyria awakened, casting her shadow westward from her homeland in annual tribute-collecting campaigns.

Ashurnasirpal II rebuilt Calah (Nimrud), making it the staging center for his ambitious military expeditions that would soon gain control of northwestern Mesopotamia and northern Syria.

His son and successor, Shalmaneser III, probed southward along the Mediterranean coast six times between 853 and 838 B.C.

Assyrian records inform us that the campaign of 853 B.C. encountered a coalition of Levantine kings led by Hadad-ezer of Damascus, Irhuleni of Hamath, and Ahab the Israelite of Qarqar.

The Assyrian threat forced the cessation of local squabbles, causing Israel and Damascus to join forces for mutual protection.  Though Shalmaneser III claimed a victory, the battle at Qarqar temporarily stalled the Assyrian advance.

Interestingly, Judah is not listed among the coalition members; perhaps Judean troops fought under the leadership of Ahab, whose forces included 2,000 chariots and 10,000 soldiers.  

The respite was temporary, though, and the kings of Israel and Judah would be forced to deal with Assyria.