Backstory of the Kings 9: Nadab and Baasha

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 17, 2023 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Nadab and Baasha are consecutive kings whose reigns in the Northern Kingdom of Israel began just two years apart. Nadab is the son of Jeroboam, and Baasha assassinated Nadab and all of Jeroboam’s family, taking the throne for himself. I am not seeing enough content in Scripture to justify giving Nadab a separate post because there is virtually nothing said about him. Here is what we know about the reigns, and then we’ll examine the backstory.

Nadab was Jeroboam’s son, and we do not know how old he was when he became king. This is the case for most of the kings of Israel, partly due to how many dynasties there were. There were 19 kings of Israel and 10 dynasties; some kings never had their own children on the throne and all but only two dynasties (Omri to Ahab to Ahaziah and Jehoram, and Jehu through Zechariah) lasted more than two generations where the son made it more than a couple years. Asa, who we covered last week, would rule long enough to overlap seven of Israel’s kings, from the end of Jeroboam’s reign to the start of Ahab’s reign. Nadab was one whose line ended violently due to his father Jeroboam’s sin and due to his own sin. A little fun fact: Nadab shares the same name as Aaron’s son who offered profane fire before the Lord and was killed on the spot for it.

Baasha was some kind of official or military officer. Scripture is not clear on his role, but he was high enough ranking to take over the throne after wiping out Jeroboam’s line just as Ahijah the prophet said he would do. The only things Baasha was known for were his assassination of Jeroboam’s line, his continuation in the idolatry of Jeroboam, and his wars with Asa and the nation of Judah. Because of Baasha’s sins, God sent a prophet named Jehu to give the same judgment upon him as Ahijah gave to Jeroboam, that his line would be wiped out violently. Those who died in the city would be eaten by the dogs, and those outside would be eaten by the birds of the fields. This would be fulfilled during Baasha’s son Elah’s lifetime. So, what set this up?

The backstory here is Jeroboam, and you can read about him in Katie Erickson’s post here. Jeroboam initiated the rebellion against Rehoboam and took the leadership of the ten northern tribes. Jeroboam set up two golden calves, calling them “Jehovah,” expelled the priests, and set up his own religious cult. Both Nadab and Baasha followed in Jeroboam’s footsteps and either engaged in the worship of these calves or did not hinder the worship thereof. For some kings of Israel, the king either did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam or walked in the sins of Jeroboam (with the exception of three of these 19 kings, mostly whose reigns were too short to be worth noting). We also see a comparison between the kings, either being equal or worse than the predecessors. Few were better. Neither Nadab nor Baasha are not given markers for being worse than Jeroboam, just for walking on the same path. They worshiped the golden calf idols but were not any worse. We’ll see next week that Omri, the father of Ahab, would be a worse king than all those before him.

Nadab had no known children identified during his short reign, which may mean he was a rather young man when he became king. I suspect he wasn’t still a child as Jeroboam had multiple children during his reign, but he either never married (unlikely due to political alliances and Jeroboam’s desire to keep his line going), he could not have kids, had not had any yet (possible), or they simply were not worth mentioning by name because Baasha wiped them all out anyway. I suspect the latter case. If so, Nadab would have been old enough to know and understand the political wars between Jeroboam and Rehoboam and Abijam. Nadab likely spent most of his life in the idolatrous practices of the golden calves, presumably not knowing any better. And when he became king, he only lasted about a year and a half before Baasha came and killed him and his entire family.

Baasha had to be a relatively young man when he assassinated Jeroboam’s family because he ruled for 24 years. He did die peacefully as opposed to violently, but there is no telling if it was a natural death, a disease, or something else. His son Elah was old enough to reign for just two years and be in a drunken stupor when he would be killed, so Baasha had to be at least in his early 20s and I suspect older. There is just no evidence given. Baasha is only known as being of the tribe of Issachar, and not an official or officer. He did have to be in a position to take the throne, so we can only presume his former position had enough clout to get the people behind him. Regardless of his age, he lived in a time of idolatry, whether it be Solomon’s or Jeroboam’s or both. Baasha wiped out all of Jeroboam’s line but did nothing to touch the idols Jeroboam set up. So Baasha was only interested in protecting his coup by removing all heirs to the throne, and he actively followed in Jeroboam’s idolatrous practices.

What can we learn from Nadab’s and Basha’s backstories? Honestly, there isn’t much to tell other than they continued the worship of the golden calves and any other idols that had been brought into the mix. Nadab was gone before he had much say in how things ran, and Baasha merely supplanted Jeroboam as king and continued his sins in idolatry and the wars against Asa and Judah. Baasha was allowed to take the throne, but because he followed the same idolatrous route that Jeroboam started, he ended up with the same curse on his line. We’ll see next week a series of four kings whose total reigns lasted less than 14 years.

If there is one thing we can learn from Nadab and Baasha, it is this: if our predecessors are cursed by God, we have a simple choice: keep with the curse and walk in that predecessor’s footsteps, or depart from them. And we see in the Northern Kingdom of Israel’s history that not one king actually departed from Jeroboam’s sin. Neither of these kings were responsible for setting up the golden calves, but they were responsible for seeing if anything was done about it. And they were not neutral in the matter; they were active participants in the idolatry. We will see over the next few kings that just maintaining the level of evil won’t stem the tide because the next generation will take the evil to the next level. Next week, we will look at what set up the reigns of Elah, Zimri, and the co-regencies of Tibini and Omri, all of whom set up the reign of the most infamous of the all the kings of either kingdom: Ahab.

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