King Omri - Biography

Chart of the Kings King Omri - Biography God's Judgment Regarding King Omri
Previous King: Zimri   Next King: Ahab

Omri's rise to power was full of turbulence. He had been an army captain under King Elah. When Elah was murdered by Zimri, another of Elah's military leaders, Omri took decisive action to foil Zimri's conspiracy. After only 7 days, Zimri's cause was so hopeless that he took his own life.

At that point, yet another military figure, Tibni, having the support of half the population, tried to make himself king, launching a civil war that apparently lasted 4 years.1 But he was defeated and killed by Omri, who then became king.

Omri's outstanding achievement was the founding of Samaria, Israel's long-time capital. Omri recognized the need for a new and well-fortified capital city. The weakness of the previous capital, Tirzah, became obvious from the ease with which Omri had defeated Zimri, who made his last stand there.

So Omri bought a tract of real estate in the center of the land west of the Jordan River, about five miles west of Tirzah. He named it Samaria after the seller, Shemer. There he built a city, protected by a state of the art stone wall, capable of repelling any invasion for three years. This remained the capital of the northern kingdom for the rest of its history.

Omri's 12-year reign is characterized in scripture as a continuation of King Jeroboam's evil. Because of this devotion to evil, he lacked the LORD's support, and so in the later part of his reign, was unable to defend his nation against significant encroachments by Syria on Israel's territory and sovereignty.2

Omri passed his commitment to sin on to his heirs. The founder of a brief but influential dynasty, Omri was father to King Ahab, and grandfather to King Ahaziah, King Jehoram, and Judah's Queen Athaliah, all unsurpassed in evil. Omri's influence for evil was so pervasive and long-lasting that over 150 years later, the prophet Micah spoke of it in the present tense.3

Where to read Omri's story: 1 Kings 16:16-28

  1 By comparing 1 Kings 16:15 with verse 23.
  2 1 Kings 20:34
  3 Micah 6:16
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