King Ahab of Israel
King Ahab is best remembered as the husband of Queen Jezebel. 1 Kings 16 (Mechon-Mamre - Hebrew/English)
31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. 32 And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made the Asherah; and Ahab did yet more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, than all the kings of Israel that were before him.
It was during his reign that Elijah the prophet was quite busy slaying false prophets and running from Queen Jezebel. 1 Kings Chapter 18 tells the story of how Elijah confronted the 850 false prophets on Mt. Carmel; of how his sacrifice was accepted by the Almighty in burning fire; and how he slew the prophets of Baal. 1 Kings 21:23 records Elijah's prophecy concerning Jezebel's death saying: "The dogs shall eat Jezebel in the moat of Jezreel."
Despite our general disdain for King Ahab, the Encyclopaedia Judaica1 , provides an interesting summary of Ahab's Reign, that provides a far better picture of him as a king, than does the biblical narrative.
While the Biblical Narratives paint Israel as a pagan nation, it nevertheless makes it clear that Ahab believed in the Israelite Prophets and their power. "Bright" argues that the two 'capitals' reflects a dual role of the "Omrides" as Kings of the Canaanite and Israelite elements of the population, and that this was balanced by a cultic dualism. From this perspective then Ahab might be seen as a reasonably pragmatic leader. See: Bright. J. (1981) 2
The Judah, Israel and Tyre alliance in which Ahab took part, provided economic benefits for all, particularly for Israel. The threat posed by Syria was weakened when Ahab defeated Ben-Hadad at Aphek in 867 BCE. Ahab completed building Samaria and fortified various cities. The economic prosperity that arose during his reign however was not evenly reflected throughout the nation, and there did arise a gulf between the rich and the poor.
By the standard of the 'King's Calendar' (which uses an computer generated artificial calendar) King Ahab of Israel /Samaria commenced his first (artificial) regnal year in December of 883 BCE. He ascended the throne during his father's (Omri) last year, which commenced in January of 883 BCE. This was the 38th Regnal year of King Asa of Judah (1 Kings 16:29).
Ahab's first regnal year is therefore, Asa's 39th year.
In Ahab's 4th year, King Jehoshaphat commenced to reign in Judah. (1 Kings 22:41)
Since Ahab reigned 22 years, he died during Jehoshaphat's 19th year in 863 BCE.
This date for Ahab's death is problematical, for currently held opinions which claim legitimacy by relying on one piece of archaeological evidence, place Ahab at the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BCE. This however is a fallacious claim which flies in the face of two other pieces of non-biblical archaeological evidence.
There are also other problems related to the Biblical Chronology for his reign, and these have to do with the chronological placement of the reigns of his sons, Ahaziah and Jehoram. This was mentioned briefly in the Magic City articles Queen Athaliah of Judah Killing her Children and Hazael of Damascus and Jehu of Israel.
According to the King's Calendar reconstruction of Israelite History (check this chart) the major events in Ahab's reign are:
Ahab came to power in 883 BCE, in the 38th year of Asa (1 Kings 16:29)
Ben-Hadad's siege of and defeat in Samaria in 868 BCE (1 Kings 20:20)
Ben-Hadad's defeat at Aphek in the Spring of 867 BCE. (1 Kings 20:26)
The Three Year Peace with Syria. 866 BCE, 865 BCE, 864 BCE - 1 Kings 22:1
Ahab and Jehoshaphat meet (1 Kings 22:2) during 864 BCE to plan their new attack
Ahab slain in Battle at Ramoth Gilead 863 BCE. (1 Kings 22:34-37)
1 Encyclopaedia Judaica Jerusalem (1972) MacMillan Publishing Vol 2 pages 437/438
2 Bright. J. (1981) A History of Israel. 3rd Ed. Philadelphia. Westminster Press Page 244 Footnote 47 citing A. Alt (Der Stadstaat Samaria [1954; cf. KS, III, pp. 258-302]
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R.P.BenDedek (pseudonym) is the Author of 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran' (http://www.kingscalendar.com ), and is a guest columnist and stand-in Editor at Magic City Morning Star News. He is also the Editor of the 'Writers Journal' at Kingscalendar.com. An Australian, he has been teaching Conversational English in China since 2003.
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"The King's Calendar" is a chronological study of the historical books of the Bible (Kings and Chronicles), Josephus, Seder Olam Rabbah, and the (Essene) Damascus Document of The Dead Sea Scrolls.