>Zimri, King of Israel

>Zimri was the fifth king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. According to the biblical text, Zimri ruled for only seven days. Zimri was the commander of half the chariots in the army of Elah son of Baasha, king of Judah.

Little is known about Zimri, but Robin Gallaher Branch, Crichton College has written an article that provides an excellent introduction on this little known king.

The following is Branch’s conclusion:

Zimri emerges with a discernible personality. He leaves a dominant impression and is a believable character.[29] Zimri, by force of his actions and personality, controls the textual space in which he appears. He emerges as a leader without followers, a usurper lacking administrative ability, and a slave/servant/official whose foolish actions lead to his own death. The text muzzles Zimri – probably because he’s long on brawn and short on brain! It appears he murdered Elah on the spur of the moment within the context of a drinking bout gone sour. While the text mentions Zimri plotted against Elah, it reveals no details about a plan. Consequently, the text shows Zimri lacks the quality of administration so necessary for an ongoing, successful kingship. Furthermore, his fellow Israelite soldiers refuse to acknowledge him, indicating that they recognize he lacks the qualities necessary to lead them in battle. Therefore, their refusal to follow him, the omission of any tribal affiliation associated with him, the silence regarding his patrimony, the rarity of suicide as a means of death in the biblical text, Jezebel’s mocking slur on his name that equates her assassin to him, and his designation as an ‘ebed and not a mesharet – all these make me believe that Zimri lived and died a slave.[30]

I highly recommend that you read this article. The article was published in the SBL Forum. Read the article by clicking here.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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