Ahab (āˈhăb) [key], d. c.853 B.C., king of Israel (c.874–c.853 B.C.), son and successor of Omri1. Ahab was one of the greatest kings of the northern kingdom. He consolidated the good foreign relations his father had fostered, and Israel was at peace during much of his reign. His marriage with Jezebel helped his friendship with Tyre, and his alliance with Jehoshaphat1, king of Judah, made Ahab sure of his less powerful neighbor to the south. Ahab's prestige is seen in Assyrian inscriptions mentioning his alliance against Shalmaneser III (see Shalmaneser I), who won an indecisive victory (c.854 B.C.) at Karkar on the Orontes. After this campaign Ahab and Benhadad2 of Damascus went to war over the country E of the Jordan. Ahab was killed in battle. The biblical account of Ahab's reign is most interesting in its religious aspects. To the devout, Ahab's foreign wife, with her Tyrian cults and behavior, represented evil. Besides, she was a willful woman and entertained exalted ideas of royal prerogative. She met her match in Elijah, the champion of Israel's God. He was an important factor in the discontent that began to develop in Israel at this period. Ahab was succeeded by his sons, first Ahaziah, then Jehoram. The ruins of his palace have been excavated at Samaria. The Ahab of Jer. 29.21,22 is a different person, a lying prophet.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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