Baasha

(“He who seeks,” or “lays waste.”)

1 Kings 15:27—16:7; 2 Chron. 16:1-6

Contemporary Prophet: Jehu Son Of Hanani.

“The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”—Proverbs 16:4

“In the third year of Asa king of Judah began Baasha the son of Ahijah to reign over all Israel in Tirzah, twenty and four years.” With the beginning of a new dynasty, and the sad history of that which had been before him, one might hope that Baasha would have taken a different course, and turned to Jehovah. Alas, we read: “And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.”

He was of Issachar, and had the tribal characteristic—an eye for what appeared “pleasant” (Gen. 49:15). So he made beautiful Tirzah (which some derive from raizah, “pleasant”; see Song of Sol. 6:4) the royal residence during his reign. Whatever he may have known of God’s purpose in the cutting off of Jeroboam’s house, his motive was not one of righteousness (like Jehu’s, later), for he was no better than those he murdered, and continued to walk in their sin.

“Then the word of the Lord came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, Forasmuch as I exalted thee out of the dust, and made thee prince over My people Israel; and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made My people Israel to sin, to provoke Me to anger with their sins; behold, I will take away the posterity of Baasha, and the posterity of his house”—a terrible thought to an Israelite!—“and will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Him that dieth of Baasha in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth of his in the fields shall the fowls of the air eat.” His doom, and that of all his house, is here solemnly pronounced. “Out of the dust” implies his lowly origin. How often do revolutionists imagine that because the obnoxious ruler is of noble birth, or royal lineage, the remedy is to put in the place of power one of their own class and rank! And how soon are they made to learn that “a servant when he ruleth” is the very worst type of tyrant known! No, it is not a question of natural birth, whether high or low, but of new birth and “ruling in the fear of God” which gives to any favored land such sovereigns as “Victoria the Good.” Baasha was of plebeian stock, yet his name, he who lays waste, tells only too accurately what kind of a ruler he proved himself to be.

There was war between Baasha and Asa king of Judah all their days. He made a league with Ben-hadad king of Syria, and built, or fortified, Ramah on his southern border, to prevent, if possible, the influx of his subjects to Judah, whither they were attracted by the prosperity enjoyed under Asa. (See Asa.)

“Now the rest of the acts of Baasha, and what he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Baasha slept with his fathers, and was buried in Tirzah: and Elah his son reigned in his stead.” And then a supplementary verse is added, to emphasize the fact that it was because of his idolatries and murder of the house of Jeroboam that God judged him and his family: “And also by the hand of the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani came the word of the Lord against Baasha, and against his house, even for all the evil that he did in the sight of the Lord, in provoking Him to anger with the work of his hands [his idols], in being like the house of Jeroboam; and because he killed him.” God, who looks upon the heart, sees him but as an assassin for the accomplishment of his ambitious designs, slaying king Nadab and the entire house of Jeroboam.