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TEACHING THE TEACHER

A throne thus built on mere expediency could not endure. Jeroboam's son was murdered after a two years' reign. Nor did this usurper succeed in holding the throne for his house any longer than Jeroboam's house had lasted. At length Omri, commander of the army, succeeded in founding a dynasty that furnished four kings. Ahab, son of Omri, who held the throne the longest of these four, is the king with whom we become best acquainted of all the northern monarchs. This is partly because of the relations between Ahab and Elijah the prophet. Ahab's name is also linked with that of his queen, the notorious Jezebel, a princess of Tyre, who introduced the worship of the Tyrian Baal into Israel and even persecuted all who adhered to the national religion.

This alliance with Tyre, and the marriage of Ahab's daughter to a prince of Judah, secured Israel on the north and the south, and left Ahab free to pursue his father's strong policy toward the peoples to the east, Moab and Syria. Upon Ahab's death in battle against Syria, Moab revolted, and the two sons of Ahab, in spite of help from the house of David in Jerusalem, were unable to stave off the ruin that threatened the house of Omri. Jehu, supported by the army in which he was a popular leader, seized the throne, with the usual assassination of all akin to the royal family. His inspiration to revolt had been due to Jehovah's prophets, and his program was the overthrow of Baal worship in favor of the old national religion. Though Jehu thoroughly destroyed the followers of Jezebel's foreign gods, he and his sons after him continued to foster the idolatrous shrines at Bethel and Dan, so that the verdict of the sacred writer upon them is unfavorable: they "departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherewith he made Israel to sin."

Mesha, king of Moab, II Kings 3:4, lived long enough to see his oppressors, the kings of Omri's house, overthrown and the land of Israel reduced to great weakness. (See article "Moabite Stone" in any Bible dictionary.) Jehu's son, Jehoahaz, witnessed the deepest humiliation of Israel at the hands of Syria. But it was not many years after Mesha's boasting that affairs took a complete turn. Jehu's grandson, Jehoash, spurred by Elisha the prophet even on his deathbed, began the recovery which attained its zenith in the reign of Jeroboam II, fourth king of Jehu's line. Though little is told of this reign in the Book of Kings, it is clear that at no time since Solomon's reign had a king of Israel ruled over so large a territory. It was the last burst of glory before total extinction.