Easton's Bible Dictionary
servant of Jehovah. When Elah was murdered by Zimri at
Tirzah ( 1
Kings 16:15 - 27
), Omri, his captain, was made king (B.C. 931). For four years there was continued
opposition to his reign, Tibni, another claimant to the throne, leading the opposing
party; but at the close of that period all his rivals were defeated, and he became
king of Israel, "Tibni died and Omri reigned" (B.C. 927). By his vigour and power
he gained great eminence and consolidated the kingdom. He fixed his dynasty on
the throne so firmly that it continued during four succeeding reigns. Tirzah was
for six years the seat of his government. He then removed the capital to Samaria
(q.v.), where he died, and was succeeded by his son Ahab. "He wrought evil in
the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him."
Beth-omri, "the house" or "city of Omri," is the name usually found on Assyrian
inscriptions for Samaria. In the stele of Mesha (the "Moabite stone"), which was
erected in Moab about twenty or thirty years after Omri's death, it is recorded
that Omri oppressed Moab till Mesha delivered the land: "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" (Compare 2
Kings 1:1 ; 3:4
). The "Moabite stone" also records that "Omri took the land of Medeba, and occupied
it in his day and in the days of his son forty years."
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
sheaf of corn
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(pupil of Jehovah)
(1) Originally "captain of the host" to Elah, was afterward himself king of Israel,
and founder of the third dynasty. (B.C. 926.) Omri was engaged in the siege of
Gibbethon situated in the tribe of Dan, which had been occupied by the Philistines.
As soon as the army heard of Elahs death they proclaimed Omri king. Thereupon
he broke up the siege of Gibbethon and attacked Tirzah, where Zimri was holding
his court as king of Israel. The city was taken, and Zimri perished in the flames
of the palace, after a reign of seven days. Omri, however, was not allowed to
establish his dynasty without a struggle against Tibni, whom "half the people,"
Kings 16:21 ) desired to raise to the throne. The civil war lasted four years.
Comp. ( 1
Kings 16:15 ) with 1
Kings 16:23. After the defeat sad death of Tibni, Omri reigned for six years
in Tirzah. At Samaria Omri reigned for six years more. He seems to have been a
vigorous and unscrupulous ruler, anxious to strengthen his dynasty by intercourse
and alliances with foreign states.
(2) One of the sons of Becher the son of Benjamin. ( 1
Chronicles 7:8 )
(3) A descendant of Pharez the son of Judah, ( 1
Chronicles 9:4 )
(4) Son of Michael, and chief of the tribe of Issachar in the reign of David.
Chronicles 27:18 ) (B.C. 1030.)
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
om'-ri ('omri; Septuagint Ambri; Assyrian "Chumri" and
(1) The 6th king of Northern Israel,
and founder of the IIIrd Dynasty which reigned for nearly 50 years. Omri reigned
12 years, circa 887-876 BC. The historical sources of his reign are contained
in 1 Kings 16:15 - 28 ; 20:34 , the Moabite Stone, Assyrian inscriptions, and
in the published accounts of recent excavations in Samaria. In spite of the brief
passage given to Omri in the Old Testament, he was one of the most important of
the military kings of Northern Israel.
1. His Accession:
Omri is first mentioned as an officer in the army of Elah, which was engaged in
the siege of the Philistine town of Gibbethon. While Omri was thus engaged, Zimri,
another officer of Elah's army, conspired against the king, whom he assassinated
in a drunken debauch, exterminating at the same time the remnant of the house
of Baasha. The conspiracy evidently lacked the support of the people, for the
report that Zimri had usurped the throne no sooner reached the army at Gibbethon,
than the people proclaimed Omri, the more powerful military leader, king over
Israel. Omri lost not a moment, but leaving Gibbethon in the hands of the Philistines,
he marched to Tirzah, which he besieged and captured, while Zimri perished in
the flames of the palace to which he had set fire with his own hands (1 Kings
16:18). Omri, however, had still another opponent in Tibni the son of Ginath,
who laid claim to the throne and who was supported in his claims by his brother
Joram (1 Kings 16:22 Septuagint) and by a large number of the people. Civil war-followed
this rivalry for the throne, which seems to have lasted for a period of four years
(compare 1 Kings 16:15, with 16:23 and 29) before Omri gained full control.
Omri's military ability is seen from his choice of Samaria as the royal residence
and capital of the Northern Kingdom. This step may have been suggested to Omri
by his own easy conquest of Tirzah, the former capital. Accordingly, he purchased
the hill Shomeron of Shemer for two talents of silver, about ,352.00 in American
money. The conical hill, which rose from the surrounding plain to the height of
400 ft., and on the top of which there was room for a large city, was capable
of easy defense.
2. The Founding of Samaria:
The superior strategic importance of Samaria is evidenced by the sieges it endured
repeatedly by the Syrians and Assyrians. It was finally taken by Sargon in 722,
after the siege had lasted for 3 years. That the Northern Kingdom endured as long
as it did was due largely to the strength of its capital. With the fall of Samaria,
the nation fell.
Recent excavations in Samaria under the direction of Harvard University throw
new light upon the ancient capital of Israel. The first results were the uncovering
of massive foundation walls of a large building, including a stairway 80 ft. wide.
This building, which is Roman in architecture, is supposed to have been a temple,
the work of Herod. Under this Roman building was recovered a part of a massive
Hebrew structure, believed to be the palace of Omri and Ahab. During the year
1910 the explorations revealed a building covering 1 1/2 acres of ground. Four
periods of construction were recognized, which, on archaeological grounds, were
tentatively assigned to the reigns of Omri, Ahab, Jehu, and Jeroboam II. See SAMAIAS
and articles by David G. Lyon in Harvard Theological Review, IV, 1911; JBL, V,
xxx, Part I, 1911; PEFS, 1911, 79-83.
3. His Foreign Policy:
Concerning Omri's foreign policy the Old Testament is silent beyond a single hint
contained in 1 Kings 20:34. Here we learn that he had to bow before the stronger
power of Syria. It is probable that Ben-hadad I besieged Samaria shortly after
it was built, for he forced Omri to make "streets" in the city for the Syrians.
It is probable, too, that at this time Ramoth-gilead was lost to the Syrians.
Evidently Omri, was weakened in his foreign policy at the beginning of his reign
by the civil conflict engendered by his accession. However, he showed strength
of character in his dealings with foreign powers. At least he regained control
over the northern part of Moab, as we learn from the Moabite Stone. Lines 4-8
tell us that "Omri was king of Israel and afflicted Moab many days because Chemosh
was angry with his land. .... Omri obtained possession of the land of Medeba and
dwelt therein during his days and half the days of his son, forty years. "
Omri was the first king of Israel to pay tribute to the Assyrians under their
king Asurnacirpal III, in 876 BC. From the days of Shalmaneser II (860 BC) down
to the time of Sargon (722 BC), Northern Israel was known to the Assyrians as
"the land of the house of Omri." On Shalmaneser's black obelisk, Jehu, who overthrew
the dynasty of Omri, is called Ja'uaabal Chumri, "Jehu son of Omri."
Omri entered into an alliance with the Phoenicians by the marriage of his son
Ahab to Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. This may have been
done as protection against the powers from the East, and as such would have seemed
to be a wise political move, but it was one fraught with evil for Israel.
4. His Religious Influence and Death:
Although Omri laid the foundation of a strong kingdom, he failed to impart to
it the vitalizing and rejuvenating force of a healthy spiritual religion. The
testimony of 1 Kings 16:25 , 26, that he "dealt wickedly above all that were before
him," coupled with the reference to "the statutes of Omri" in Micah 6:16, indicates
that he may have had a share in substituting foreign religions for the worship
of Yahweh, and therefore the unfavorable light in which he is regarded is justified.
Upon his death, Omri was succeeded upon the throne by his son Ahab, to whom was
left the task of shaking off the Syrian yoke, and who went beyond his father in
making the Phoenician influence along with Baalism of prime importance in Israel,
thus leading the nation into the paths that hastened its downfall.
(2) A Benjamite, son of Becher (1 Chronicles 7:8).
(3) A Judahite, descendant of Perez, who lived at Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 9:4).
(4) A prince of Issachar in the time of David (1 Chronicles 27:18).
S. K. Mosiman
ambri, bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, captain of the host, chumri, chumria, founder of the third dynasty, king of israel (kingdom of), omri