1. Structure and outline

1 Kings 16:34 as a climax in the narrative

1 Kings 16:34 (ESV)

34 In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.

This verse records a peak of sin and apostasy in Israel’s history. From Jeroboam onward, there is the repeated refrain that King So-and-So “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father, Jeroboam” (1 Kings 15:26, 1 Kings 15:34; 1 Kings 16:18–19, 1 Kings 16:25–26, 1 Kings 16:30–31). Yet there also emerges a progression of sin. 1 Kings 16:25 says about Omri that he “sinned more than all those before him.” Ahab follows, and he “did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those who were before him” (1 Kings 16:30). He led the people in serving and worshipping Baal. He considered the sins of his fathers to be trivial. Added to that, he married Jezebel, daughter of the king of the Sidonians. She had sworn her allegiance to Baal. And Ahab, the king of Israel, joined her in this idolatry in the house of Baal, which he himself built! Israel territory was now dedicated to Baal. And, to keep Baal company, Ahab set up an Asherah pole, in honour of the goddess Astarte, Baal’s wife. Thus, this verse records a critical point for God’s covenant people, one that called for divine intervention, that is, for the ministry of the prophets Elijah and Elisha.