Zimri was a king in Israel. Zimri had the unenviable distinction of being the shortest-reigning monarch in Jewish history—from either the northern or southern kingdoms.
Ironically, Zimri also managed to serve as an instrument in bringing God’s judgment on his predecessors—not that he was conscious of his divinely ordained role. Zimri was neither the first nor the last ungodly ruler that the Lord used to achieve His sovereign purposes.
In Zimri’s case, that purpose was to bring the dynasty of Baasha to its knees. Baasha had ruled the northern kingdom of Israel for twenty-four miserable years. He was so evil that God anointed the prophet Jehu to announce his family’s doom. Baasha seems to have died peacefully, but the same cannot be said for his son Elah. Two years into his reign, Zimri assassinated Elah while the latter was drunk.
However, Zimri did not stop there. Once he had installed himself on Israel’s throne, Zimri waged a campaign of annihilation against Baasha’s family. None—not even Baasha’s own friends—survived. According to the writer of 1 Kings, Zimri’s actions were divine punishment for Baasha’s wickedness. Unfortunately, Zimri was no improvement on Baasha and Elah, so God orchestrated his downfall as well.
Zimri had managed to exterminate Baasha’s family, but he had not rid the nation of all of Baasha’s supporters. One of those supporters was the military commander Omri, whose troops proclaimed him king instead.
With that, Omri stormed the palace. Zimri, knowing he was defeated, committed suicide—just seven days into his reign.
Shortly before her death, Jezebel, the widow of Ahab, tried to turn Zimri’s name into an insult. When Jehu came for her, she called down from a window,
“Have you come in peace, Zimri, you murderer of your master?” (2 Kings 9:31).
She was referring to Zimri’s extermination of his predecessor’s household.