After Jeroboam and then Baasha reigned over the northern kingdom of Israel, there was a steady decline in the moral character of the nation’s kings. Beginning with Omri and then later his son Ahab, established Samaria as an alternate royal city or capital of Israel. Ahab had a foreign wife named Jezebel who influenced him to worship and serve the god Baal. It says in 1 Kings 16:32-33 that Ahab “reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.”
The primary offense of Ahab was that he established a house of worship for Baal, aka Satan. Even though the gods of the Canaanites were never linked to Satan, the Israelites knew that rebellion against God meant cooperation with his enemy, the devil. I think it is safe to assume that Ahab was under the influence of Satan and his marriage to Jezebel opened the door for him to become an instrument of destruction against God’s kingdom both in the physical and spiritual realms. Ahab’s evil actions were intentional. He knew what he was doing was wrong and he did it anyway.
In light of Ahab’s wicked behavior, it seems surprising that his son’s names reflected a relationship with God. Ahab’s oldest son’s name, Ahaziah meant “The LORD grasps” and the younger son’s name, Jehoram meant “The LORD is exalted.” The reason Ahab gave his sons these names is unknown, but it could be an indication that Ahab was leading a double life. Although he openly worshipped Baal, Ahab’s heart may have belonged to God. That could explain why he remained in power for 20 years in spite of his evil practices.
Ahab did not choose to marry Jezebel. The marriage was arranged by his father Omri in order to seal an alliance with Ethbaal, the ruler of Tyre and Sidon. It is likely Ahab agreed to the marriage to please his father and he probably built the house of worship for Baal to honor his father’s intentions in the alliance with Ethbaal. As much as Ahab was responsible for his evil actions, he was also following in the footsteps of his father as Solomon had done with his father David. Ahab was surrounded by wicked men that had been rebelling against God for decades. Ahab’s greatest crime may have been that he wanted to have it both ways, to worship God and Satan, so that all his bases would be covered.