AHAZIAH, King of Israel:

Son and successor of Ahab, king of northern Israel. In his brief reign of less than two years (853-852 B.C.) he continued his father's military activity. He hoped also to increase the wealth of Israel by taking part, with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, in the Red Sea traffic with the land of Ophir. By his close relations with Phenicia he was in a position to furnish the king of Judah with better seamen than those that had suffered shipwreck at the head of the Elamitic gulf. Jehoshaphat declined the partnership, and the enterprise appears to have been given up (I Kings, xxii. 48, 49; Hebrew text, 49, 50). The early death of Ahaziah was due to a fall from a window of an upper room of his palace in Samaria. In his sickness he sought counsel of the oracle of Baal-zebub in Ekron. For this impious and disloyal act, as it appeared to Elijah, the prophet denounced him three times and predicted his death. His readiness to resort to an alien god and his persistence in foreign cults show the traits which marked the rulers of the house of Omri, and more than neutralized their energy and political patriotism.

J. F. McC.
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