Son of Ahijah, of Issachar, first of the second dynasty of kings of the ten tribes' northern kingdom, which supplanted Jeroboam's dynasty (1 Kings 15:27). Gesenius explains the name means "wicked": others from baah, "he who seeks;" shaah, "he who lays waste." Though the instrument of God's vengeance on the seed of Jeroboam who both "sinned and made Israel to sin," "leaving not to Jeroboam any that breathed," he walked in the same sinful way. Therefore, the word of Jehovah came to Jehu son of Hanani: "Forasmuch as I exalted thee out of the dust (which implies that he was of low origin), and made thee prince over My people Israel; and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made My people Israel to sin ... Behold, I will take away the posterity of Baasha and his house ... him that dieth of Baasha in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth of his in the fields shall the fowls of the air eat" (1 Kings 16:1-4; 1 Kings 16:7-8; 1 Kings 16:14).
As he conspired against king Nadab, son of Jeroboam, who was besieging the Philistine town of Gibbethon, and slew all Jeroboam's seed, so Zimri, a servant, conspired against Baasha's son, Elah, and slew all Baasha's house, "leaving him not one of his kinsfolk or of his friends." Retribution in kind. God did not the less punish Baasha "because he killed Nadab," though in his killing Nadab he was unconsciously fulfilling God's purpose; the motive is what God looks to, and Baasha's motive was cruel selfish ambition, reckless of bloodshed if only it furthered his end. His chief act in his reign was "he built Ramah, that he might not suffer any to go out or come in to Asa, king of Judah (1 Kings 15:17).
It might seem strange that Judah, so much weaker numerically, should not have kept Ramah, as a fortress to guard against invasion by Israel, numerically the stronger state. Instead, the people of Judah took away the stones and timber of Ramah to build Geba of Benjamin and Mizpah. An incidental notice explains it (1 Kings 12:26): "Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David if this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of Jehovah at Jerusalem." Further, in 2 Chronicles 11:13-17 we read, "the priests and Levites in all Israel resorted to Rehoboam out of all their coasts. For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had east them off from executing the priest's office unto the Lord ... And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers. So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong."
Israel's king Baasha was naturally anxious to stop this continuous drain of the best out of the northern kingdom, and reared Ramah, which commanded the N. road from Jerusalem, into a fortress for the purpose. Judah's king was equally anxious to remove this obstacle put to the influx from Israel of those God fearing men, who would so materially strengthen his kingdom The happy dovetailing of the incidental Scripture notices just mentioned into this solution of the difficulty is a proof of the truth of the narrative. Baasha reigned 24 years, and had the beautiful city Tirzah for his capital (Song of Solomon 6:4).