Omri’s succession took place after the chariot commander Zimri assassinated the legitimate ruler, Elah, and proclaimed himself king. Omri, Elah’s general, was engaged in the siege of Gibbethon against the occupying Philistines when he heard of the regicide. Omri’s army immediately advanced to Tirzah and within a week Zimri had committed suicide by setting himself on fire. After defeating his rival, Tibni, at Tirzah, Omri ruled for twelve years from 885 BCE. Omri built a citadel in Samaria, which he established as his new capital, replacing Tirzah, for the final six years of his reign. Although there is little mention of Omri in the Bible, he was one of Israel’s most powerful rulers. The Moabite Mesha Stele narrates that Omri conquered Moab and made it part of Israel’s holdings until 840 BCE, when Israel and Judah formed an alliance under Jehoshaphat and Jehoram respectively, to subdue (unsuccessfully) the Moab uprising.
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