Omri, Captain of the Host

“Then the people of Israel were divided into two parts: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king, and half followed Omri. But the people who followed Omri prevailed over the people who followed Tibni the son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri reigned. In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king over Israel, and reigned twelve years. Six years he reigned in Tirzah.” (1Ki 16:21-23)

Omri was made king by the people upon discovery of Zimri's treason. He marched to the capital city of Tirzah and besieged it until Zimri committed suicide. Tibni, another claimant to the throne, resisted Omri for four years but was finally defeated. As founder, Omri fixed his, the third Israelite dynasty so firmly on the throne that it continued during four succeeding reigns.

Omri ruled from Tirzah, the first six of his twelve-year reign. A strategically located hill was then purchased for two talents of silver from a man named Shemer, and Omri built his new capital upon it — the city of Samaria.

Omri not only walked in the ways of Jeroboam, but Scripture adds a special note about his character: “Omri did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and dealt wickedly above all who were before him.” (1Ki 16:25). While the Biblical record is sparse on details, the aftereffects of Omri's vile legacy so negatively embossed Israel, that the prophet Micah is found denouncing the “statutes of Omri” some 140 years after his death! (Micah 6:16)

ARCHEOLOGICAL NOTE: Ancient Assyrian records refer to Samaria as “the house” or “city of Omri.” The stele of Mesha (the Moabite stone) erected in the land of Moab about 30 years after Omri's death contain the following inscriptions: “Omri, king of Israel, oppressed Moab many days, for Chemosh was angry with his land. His son succeeded him, and he also said, I will oppress Moab” (see 2 Kings 1:1; 3:4,5) -and- “Omri took the land of Medeba, and occupied it in his day and in the days of his son forty years.”