Ahab’s ivory palace. Archaeologists have discovered remains of Ahab’s palace (22:39) in Samaria. Beautifully carved ivory fragments with Egyptian and Phoenician designs were found where its main floors and courtyard would have been.
Confiscation of land. Israelite law did not allow the king to confiscate the land of an executed criminal. This was, however, a common practice outside of Israel. Perhaps Jezebel, who came from Tyre, based her plan to seize Naboth’s vineyard on this practice.
The word bazaar (20:34) meant “place of prices” in Persian. Bazaars were permanent places designated for merchants and traders to buy and sell goods. Either a part of one street or a whole district of a city would be used as a bazaar.
Broom trees (19:5) are a type of desert shrub common in Palestine, Arabia, and Egypt. Its long branches form a bush that grows to about 12 feet (3.7 m) high. Wood from broom trees makes excellent charcoal.
Why did the prophets of Baal cut themselves? According to one ancient Canaanite myth, the father of Baal slashes his chest, arms, and back upon learning of his son’s death. In the myth, Baal returns to life when the rains come. The prophets may have hoped that their actions would bring rain and end the drought.
Life for a widow was not easy in the ancient Near East. Widows had difficulty protecting themselves and their children economically, legally, or physically. If the widow was childless, it was even more difficult, since she would have no one to care for her in her old age (see 17:8–24).
Though the story of King Omri is told in just eight verses (16:21–28), politically speaking he was one of Israel’s most important kings. He built the capital city of Samaria in a place that gave Israel a strategic advantage over its enemies. After his time, the Assyrians referred to Israel as “the land of Omri.”