Who was Omri in the Bible?

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    Omri was the King of Israel who the Bible described to be more evil than all his predecessors. He was the father of king Ahab who, by what was recorded about him, was also an evil king under whose reign idolatry.
    But Omri did evil in the eyes of the LORD and sinned more than all those before him. He walked in all the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat and in his sin, which he had caused Israel to commit, so that they provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger by their worthless idols.
    1 KINGS 16:25–26
    Perhaps more is known about Omri from outside scripture than from the Bible itself. In fact, Omri is regarded as the most politically and militarily important monarch to sit on the throne of the northern kingdom of Israel. That, however, was not enough to salvage his reputation in the eyes of God.
    With Omri’s rise to power, Israel enjoyed a time of relative stability after a brief but intense period of volatility. Omri’s dynasty endured for almost five decades no small accomplishment by Israelite standards.
    Omri’s predecessor, Zimri, reigned for a mere seven days. Having murdered the previous king, Zimri declared himself ruler of Israel. At the time, Omri was leading the Israelite army in a siege against a Philistine stronghold. The military rejected Zimri’s appointment as king, preferring
    their commander instead. So Omri marched on Israel’s capital, which he
    took easily. Before he could be killed by Omri, Zimri committed suicide, setting his palace on fire. After besting yet another contender for power, Omri secured his place on the throne, which he occupied for twelve years.
    As king, Omri made a number of strategic moves. Most importantly, he built the city of Samaria on a hill and made it his base of operations.
    The new Israelite capital was a much more defensible site than the one Omri had subdued. From the Bible we know that Omri lost territory to neighboring Syria (see 1 Kings 20:34), but extrabiblical sources reveal that he pressed his advantage against Moab, taking some of their lands.
    It is likely that Omri orchestrated a political arrangement with the Phoenicians, which led to his son Ahab’s marriage to Jezebel.
    For all his diplomatic and military success, the Bible judged Omri a failure. Not only did he persist in the idolatry of Israel’s kings, but the writer of 1 Kings concluded that Omri was even more sinful than any of his predecessors.
    It may seem surprising that the Bible did not include more details of Omri’s reign, particularly since his tenure was reasonably well documented in extrabiblical sources. Omri’s story is a useful reminder that God does not value success as the world defines it what truly shapes a person’s legacy is his or her faithfulness to the Lord.

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