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2 Kings 9:1-10:36 – Jehu Purges Israel

Summary

The story of the reign of Jehu (843-816) is essentially the account of the end of the Omride Dynasty announced by the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 19:17; 21:21-24).

Analysis

We hear very little about Jehu's almost forty-year reign in Israel. The narrative's sole purpose is to describe graphically the complete and utter extermination of the house of Ahab. Jehu was a commander in the army when Elisha sent one of prophetic guild to anoint him as king in Ramoth-gilead in fulfillment of Elijah's charge in 1 Kings 19:16 (2 Kings 9:1-10). Jehu then began the palace intrigue that eventually led to his usurpation of Joram's throne and the methodical extermination of the house of Ahab and the elimination of Baal worship, again in fulfillment of Elijah's charge (vv. 8-10; see also 1 Kings 21:21-24). Those purged include J(eh)oram, king of Israel (9:14-26); Ahaziah, king of Judah (9:27-28); Jezebel (9:30-37); Ahab's seventy sons (10:1-11); members of the family of Ahaziah, king of Judah (10:12-14); any remaining relatives of Ahab in Samaria (10:17); and the remaining worshipers of Baal were lured to a solemn assembly in honor of Baal where they were slaughtered, their religious objects destroyed, and the temple turned into a latrine (10:18-27).

As a reward, God blessed Jehu with a lasting dynasty of four generations, about a century (10:30). Like all the kings of Israel, however, the editors condemn him for continuing in the sins of Jeroboam and bracket God's approval with their evaluation (vv. 29-31).

2 Kings 9:1-10:36

Anointing of Jehu

9Then the prophet Elisha called a member of the company of prophets* and said to him, ‘Gird up your loins; take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead. 2When you arrive, look there for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi; go in and get him to leave his companions, and take him into an inner chamber. 3Then take the flask of oil, pour it on his head, and say, “Thus says the Lord: I anoint you king over Israel.” Then open the door and flee; do not linger.’

4 So the young man, the young prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead. 5He arrived while the commanders of the army were in council, and he announced, ‘I have a message for you, commander.’ ‘For which one of us?’ asked Jehu. ‘For you, commander.’ 6So Jehu* got up and went inside; the young man poured the oil on his head, saying to him, ‘Thus says the Lord the God of Israel: I anoint you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel. 7You shall strike down the house of your master Ahab, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord. 8For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. 9I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. 10The dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and no one shall bury her.’ Then he opened the door and fled.

11 When Jehu came back to his master’s officers, they said to him, ‘Is everything all right? Why did that madman come to you?’ He answered them, ‘You know the sort and how they babble.’ 12They said, ‘Liar! Come on, tell us!’ So he said, ‘This is just what he said to me: “Thus says the Lord, I anoint you king over Israel.” 13Then hurriedly they all took their cloaks and spread them for him on the bare* steps; and they blew the trumpet, and proclaimed, ‘Jehu is king.’

Joram of Israel Killed

14 Thus Jehu son of Jehoshaphat son of Nimshi conspired against Joram. Joram with all Israel had been on guard at Ramoth-gilead against King Hazael of Aram; 15but King Joram had returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds that the Arameans had inflicted on him, when he fought against King Hazael of Aram. So Jehu said, ‘If this is your wish, then let no one slip out of the city to go and tell the news in Jezreel.’ 16Then Jehu mounted his chariot and went to Jezreel, where Joram was lying ill. King Ahaziah of Judah had come down to visit Joram.

17 In Jezreel, the sentinel standing on the tower spied the company of Jehu arriving, and said, ‘I see a company.’ Joram said, ‘Take a horseman; send him to meet them, and let him say, “Is it peace?” 18So the horseman went to meet him; he said, ‘Thus says the king, “Is it peace?” ’ Jehu responded, ‘What have you to do with peace? Fall in behind me.’ The sentinel reported, saying, ‘The messenger reached them, but he is not coming back.’ 19Then he sent out a second horseman, who came to them and said, ‘Thus says the king, “Is it peace?” ’ Jehu answered, ‘What have you to do with peace? Fall in behind me.’ 20Again the sentinel reported, ‘He reached them, but he is not coming back. It looks like the driving of Jehu son of Nimshi; for he drives like a maniac.’

21 Joram said, ‘Get ready.’ And they got his chariot ready. Then King Joram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah set out, each in his chariot, and went to meet Jehu; they met him at the property of Naboth the Jezreelite. 22When Joram saw Jehu, he said, ‘Is it peace, Jehu?’ He answered, ‘What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?’ 23Then Joram reined about and fled, saying to Ahaziah, ‘Treason, Ahaziah!’ 24Jehu drew his bow with all his strength, and shot Joram between the shoulders, so that the arrow pierced his heart; and he sank in his chariot. 25Jehu said to his aide Bidkar, ‘Lift him out, and throw him on the plot of ground belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite; for remember, when you and I rode side by side behind his father Ahab, how the Lord uttered this oracle against him: 26“For the blood of Naboth and for the blood of his children that I saw yesterday, says the Lord, I swear I will repay you on this very plot of ground.” Now therefore lift him out and throw him on the plot of ground, in accordance with the word of the Lord.’

Ahaziah of Judah Killed

27 When King Ahaziah of Judah saw this, he fled in the direction of Beth-haggan. Jehu pursued him, saying, ‘Shoot him also!’ And they shot him* in the chariot at the ascent to Gur, which is by Ibleam. Then he fled to Megiddo, and died there. 28His officers carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his tomb with his ancestors in the city of David.

29 In the eleventh year of Joram son of Ahab, Ahaziah began to reign over Judah.

Jezebel’s Violent Death

30 When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; she painted her eyes, and adorned her head, and looked out of the window. 31As Jehu entered the gate, she said, ‘Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of your master?’ 32He looked up to the window and said, ‘Who is on my side? Who?’ Two or three eunuchs looked out at him. 33He said, ‘Throw her down.’ So they threw her down; some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, which trampled on her. 34Then he went in and ate and drank; he said, ‘See to that cursed woman and bury her; for she is a king’s daughter.’ 35But when they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. 36When they came back and told him, he said, ‘This is the word of the Lord, which he spoke by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, “In the territory of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; 37the corpse of Jezebel shall be like dung on the field in the territory of Jezreel, so that no one can say, This is Jezebel.”

Massacre of Ahab’s Descendants

10Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria, to the rulers of Jezreel,* to the elders, and to the guardians of the sons of* Ahab, saying, 2‘Since your master’s sons are with you and you have at your disposal chariots and horses, a fortified city, and weapons, 3select the son of your master who is the best qualified, set him on his father’s throne, and fight for your master’s house.’ 4But they were utterly terrified and said, ‘Look, two kings could not withstand him; how then can we stand?’ 5So the steward of the palace, and the governor of the city, along with the elders and the guardians, sent word to Jehu: ‘We are your servants; we will do anything you say. We will not make anyone king; do whatever you think right.’ 6Then he wrote them a second letter, saying, ‘If you are on my side, and if you are ready to obey me, take the heads of your master’s sons and come to me at Jezreel tomorrow at this time.’ Now the king’s sons, seventy persons, were with the leaders of the city, who were charged with their upbringing. 7When the letter reached them, they took the king’s sons and killed them, seventy persons; they put their heads in baskets and sent them to him at Jezreel. 8When the messenger came and told him, ‘They have brought the heads of the king’s sons’, he said, ‘Lay them in two heaps at the entrance of the gate until the morning.’ 9Then in the morning when he went out, he stood and said to all the people, ‘You are innocent. It was I who conspired against my master and killed him; but who struck down all these? 10Know then that there shall fall to the earth nothing of the word of the Lord, which the Lord spoke concerning the house of Ahab; for the Lord has done what he said through his servant Elijah.’ 11So Jehu killed all who were left of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, all his leaders, close friends, and priests, until he left him no survivor.

12 Then he set out and went to Samaria. On the way, when he was at Beth-eked of the Shepherds, 13Jehu met relatives of King Ahaziah of Judah and said, ‘Who are you?’ They answered, ‘We are kin of Ahaziah; we have come down to visit the royal princes and the sons of the queen mother.’ 14He said, ‘Take them alive.’ They took them alive, and slaughtered them at the pit of Beth-eked, forty-two in all; he spared none of them.

15 When he left there, he met Jehonadab son of Rechab coming to meet him; he greeted him, and said to him, ‘Is your heart as true to mine as mine is to yours?’* Jehonadab answered, ‘It is.’ Jehu said,* ‘If it is, give me your hand.’ So he gave him his hand. Jehu took him up with him into the chariot. 16He said, ‘Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord.’ So he* had him ride in his chariot. 17When he came to Samaria, he killed all who were left to Ahab in Samaria, until he had wiped them out, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke to Elijah.

Slaughter of Worshippers of Baal

18 Then Jehu assembled all the people and said to them, ‘Ahab offered Baal small service; but Jehu will offer much more. 19Now therefore summon to me all the prophets of Baal, all his worshippers, and all his priests; let none be missing, for I have a great sacrifice to offer to Baal; whoever is missing shall not live.’ But Jehu was acting with cunning in order to destroy the worshippers of Baal. 20Jehu decreed, ‘Sanctify a solemn assembly for Baal.’ So they proclaimed it. 21Jehu sent word throughout all Israel; all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was no one left who did not come. They entered the temple of Baal, until the temple of Baal was filled from wall to wall. 22He said to the keeper of the wardrobe, ‘Bring out the vestments for all the worshippers of Baal.’ So he brought out the vestments for them. 23Then Jehu entered the temple of Baal with Jehonadab son of Rechab; he said to the worshippers of Baal, ‘Search and see that there is no worshipper of the Lord here among you, but only worshippers of Baal.’ 24Then they proceeded to offer sacrifices and burnt-offerings.

Now Jehu had stationed eighty men outside, saying, ‘Whoever allows any of those to escape whom I deliver into your hands shall forfeit his life.’ 25As soon as he had finished presenting the burnt-offering, Jehu said to the guards and to the officers, ‘Come in and kill them; let no one escape.’ So they put them to the sword. The guards and the officers threw them out, and then went into the citadel of the temple of Baal. 26They brought out the pillar* that was in the temple of Baal, and burned it. 27Then they demolished the pillar of Baal, and destroyed the temple of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day.

28 Thus Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel. 29But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to commit—the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan. 30The Lord said to Jehu, ‘Because you have done well in carrying out what I consider right, and in accordance with all that was in my heart have dealt with the house of Ahab, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.’ 31But Jehu was not careful to follow the law of the Lord the God of Israel with all his heart; he did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he caused Israel to commit.

Death of Jehu

32 In those days the Lord began to trim off parts of Israel. Hazael defeated them throughout the territory of Israel: 33from the Jordan eastwards, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the Wadi Arnon, that is, Gilead and Bashan. 34Now the rest of the acts of Jehu, all that he did, and all his power, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel? 35So Jehu slept with his ancestors, and they buried him in Samaria. His son Jehoahaz succeeded him. 36The time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty-eight years.

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10 February 2011

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