THE BOOK OF 2 KINGS
Lesson 4: Chapters 9-10
Part I: The Divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
Jehu: King of Israel and Instrument of Divine Judgment
We understand that Your divine judgments are meant to be redemptive. When our sins result in punishment, we know that, in Your Fatherly love, You have allowed us to be chastised to give us the opportunity to confess our sins, to make amends, and to return to fellowship with You. But there are those occasions for individuals and nations when evil abounds to the point of destroying the lives of the innocent. In those times, You will use other forces as the instrument of Your divine justice. It is spiritually healthy for us to remember, Lord, that You are merciful but You are also just. We pray that we experience Your mercy, but when we feel the blow of Your judgments for our sins, we also pray that we will not be like the stubborn and sinful kings in our study. We pray that we, like the great King David, will submit in humility to Your divine correction and redirect our lives on the path to holiness and salvation. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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God's judgment on the House of Omri/Ahab: "I shall now bring disaster down
on you; I shall sweep away your descendants and wipe out every manjack of the
House of Ahab, fettered or free in Israel. I shall treat your House as I
treated the House of Jeroboam son of Nebat and of Baasha son of Ahijah, for
provoking my anger and leading Israel into sin." Against Jezebel too Yahweh
spoke these words, "The dogs will eat Jezebel in the Field of Jezreel." Those
of Ahab's family who die in the city, the dogs will eat; and those who die in
the open country, the birds of the air will eat."
1 Kings 21:21-24
Yahweh's judgment on Ahab and Jezebel, but when Ahab repented his sins, Yahweh
altered His judgment on Ahab saying, "Since he has humbled himself before
me, I shall not bring the disaster in his days; I shall bring the disaster down
on his House in his son's days."
1 Kings 21:27-29
There are three reasons the lists of the kings of Israel and Judah and the histories of their reigns in the Books of Kings and Chronicles are recorded in Sacred Scripture:
Chapter 9: Jehu is Anointed King of Israel
Jezebel was the Queen of Israel but she was also the opponent of Yahweh, the God of her husband's people, and the enemy of His prophets. She became the patroness of the cult of Baal and the builder of Baal's temple in Samaria. Numbered among her many sins that include promoting idol worship in Israel and killing Yahweh's prophets, was the sin of framing innocent Naboth of cursing Yahweh and his king and orchestrating his death with the intention of seizing his ancestral property. King Ahab repented his sins and died in 853 BC, and now, thirteen years later, Jezebel reigned as the queen mother and Ahab's son, Jehoram, was king of Israel.
In the Southern Kingdom of Judah, King Jehoram of Israel's 22 year old nephew Ahaziah succeeded his father as king. He was a Davidic king, but he had been influenced by his mother Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and a follower of Baal: He too followed the example of the House of Ahab, for his mother being his adviser brought about his condemnation. He did what is displeasing to Yahweh as the House of Ahab did... (2 Chr 22:3). Under Athaliah's influence a temple to Baal was built in Jerusalem (2 Kng 11:18).(1)
King Jehoram of Israel was recuperating at the palace in Jezreel from wounds he suffered in battle against King Hazael of Aram-Damascus at Ramoth-Gilead, probably under the supervision of his mother, Queen Jezebel. His nephew Ahaziah, king of Judah, who had also been wounded, was visiting him (2 Kng 8:28-29; 2 Chr 6). It was during this time that Elisha arranged for an assistant to go to Ramoth-Gilead to anoint the army commander Jehu as the new king of Israel and the founder of a new dynasty. As Jehu was anointed, the prophet, speaking the words of Yahweh, pronounced a curse on the House of Omri/Ahab and on Jezebel that was first announced by the prophet Elijah (1 Kng 21:23-24). King Omri and his descendants (Ahab and Jehoram) held the throne of Israel for three generations covering 44 years (885 " 841 BC), but the abuses of the House of Omri were greater than all the other kings, and Yahweh's patience had come to an end. All the events in chapters 9-10 took place in the fateful year of c. 841 BC (see the handout for Lesson 3).(2)
2 Kings 9:1-10 ~ Jehu is anointed king of Israel at Yahweh's command
1 The prophet Elisha summoned a member of the prophetic brotherhood to him, "Hitch up your clothes, take this flask of oil, and go to Ramoth in Gilead. 2 When you arrive there, look for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi. Then, when you find him, tell him to get up and leave his companions, and take him into an inner room. 3 Take the flask of oil then and pour it over his head, and say, Yahweh says this: 'I have anointed you king of Israel.' Then open the door and flee as fast as you can." 4 The young man left for Ramoth in Gilead 5 and when he arrived, found the senior officers of the army sitting together. "I have a message for you, commander," he said. "For which of us?" asked Jehu. "For you, commander," he answered. 6 Jehu then got up and went into the house. And the young man poured the oil on his head, saying, "Yahweh, God of Israel, says this, 'I have anointed you king of Yahweh's people, of Israel. 7 You will strike down the family of Ahab your master, and I shall avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and all of Yahweh's servants, on Jezebel 8 and on the whole family of Ahab. I shall destroy every manjack of Ahab's family, fettered or free in Israel. 9 I shall make the House of Ahab like the House of Jeroboam son of Nebat and of Baasha son of Ahijah. 10 As for Jezebel, the dogs will eat her in the field of Jezreel; no one will bury her.'" With this, he opened the door and made his escape.
The plan God outlined for Elijah at Mt. Sinai in 1 Kings 19:15-18 will
now be completed.
Question: What were the individual elements of that plan, and what parts have already been completed? See 1 Kng 19:15-21 and 2 Kng 8:7-13.
Answer: There were three parts to the plan.
Elijah was only able to complete one part, the anointing of Elisha (1 Kng 19:19-21). The second part of the plan to elevate Hazael to kingship was fulfilled by Elisha (2 Kng 8:7-13). Therefore, two parts have been completed and only the last part, to anoint Jehu king of Israel, remained.
Instead o going himself, Elisha sent a young prophet who was a member of the prophetic brotherhood. The Israelites had been successful in regaining control of the Transjordan border town of Ramoth-Gilead, and Jehu was one of the commanders of the army Israel who was stationed there to protect the city. Notice that Jehu is identified not only by his father's name but also by his grandfather's name. This is unusual, but perhaps the reason is to avoid confusion in misidentifying Jehu as a Davidic descendant. Jehu's father's name was Jehoshaphat, the same name as King Jehoshaphat of Judah, son of King Asa. The grandfather's name, Nimshi, eliminates the likelihood of that confusion.
Question: What instruction did Elisha give to his prophet-messenger?
Question: What were the three divinely approved offices in which
God's agent was anointed in the Old Testament? See Ex 28:40-29:7;
1 Sam 9:16; 10:1; 15:1; 16:1, 12-13;
1 Kng 1:39; 19:16;
2 Kng 9:3.
Answer: The offices of priest, king, and prophet.
Question: How are Christians anointed into the royal
priesthood of believers? See CCC 1547.
Answer: In the Sacrament of Baptism.
6b And the young man
poured the oil on his head, saying, "Yahweh, God of Israel, says this, I have
anointed you king of Yahweh's people, of Israel. 7 You will strike down the family of Ahab
your master, and I shall avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and all
of Yahweh's servants, on Jezebel 8 and
on the whole family of Ahab. I shall destroy every manjack of Ahab's family,
fettered or free in Israel.
While anointing Jehu, the young prophet received a prophetic word from God that is a repeat of Elijah's prophecy in 1 Kings 21:21-24. The phrase, translated "every manjack ..." is literally "all those who urinate against the wall," and is an expression used previously. It must have been a common Semitism for total destruction of all the males in a family or clan (see 1 Sam 25:22, 34; 1 Kng 14:10; 16:11).
9 I shall make the House
of Ahab like the House of Jeroboam son of Nebat and of Baasha son of Ahijah.
Question: In the judgment statement of the oracle, two previous dynasties of Israel are named. What happened to those dynasties? See 1 Kng 14:7-11; 14:25-30 and 16:1-4, 8-13.
Answer: They were destroyed as a result of God's divine judgment for the sins committed by the ruling families, using the same language as the curse judgment against the House of Omri/Ahab. Baasha was the instrument of divine judgment who assassinated King Nadab, the last king of the House of Jeroboam, and all the heirs of that dynastic house. Then when Baasha continued in the same sins, Jehu the prophet delivered a prophecy of divine judgment that was fulfilled in the assassination of Baasha's son King Elah by a royal officer named Zimri.
The assassination of King Elah of the dynastic house of Baasha and Zimri's short reign that ended in his suicide, made way for the establishment of the House of Omri. Omri was the father of Ahab and grandfather of King Jeroboam of Israel. Remember the name of Zimri, the charioteer captain of King Elah who assassinated his master and came to a bad end. A reference will be made to Zimri later.
10 'As for Jezebel, the
dogs will eat her in the field of Jezreel; no one will bury her.'" With this,
he opened the door and made his escape.
Queen Jezebel is included in the young prophet's oracle. She was the Phoenician wife of King Ahab and mother of King Jehoram who introduced Baal worship into Israel and ordered the murder of God's prophets and servants. She was also singled out for destruction. The curse judgment against the House of Omri/Ahab and Jezebel was the same curse judgment delivered by Elijah in 1 Kings 21:21-24 that was delayed until after Ahab's death because of the repentance he demonstrated in 1 Kings 21:27-29. After completing his mission, the young prophet immediately fulfilled Elisha's final instruction and "made his escape"
2 Kings 9:11-13 ~ Jehu is proclaimed king by his military comrades
11 Jehu came out to his master's officers. "Is all well [shalom = peace]?" they asked him. "Why did this madman come to you?" You know the fellow and how he talks," he answered. 12 "Evasion!" they cried, "Come on, tell us." He replied, "He said this and that to me." He said, "Yahweh says this: 'I have anointed you king of Israel.'" 13 Whereupon they all took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps; they sounded the trumpet [shofar] and shouted, "Jehu is king!" [...] literal translation, IBHE, vol. II, page 997.
The key word in 2 Kings 9:11-31 is the Hebrew word for "peace" = "shalom." It is used nine times in verses 11, 17, 18 twice, 19 twice, 22 twice, and 31. Ironically, what is going to take place has nothing to do with "peace." In the symbolic use of numbers in Scripture, nine is the number of finality and also divine judgment. The shofar in verse 13 was a ram's horn trumpet that was used to call the Israelites to war, they were blown in processions, and to make announcements; silver trumpets were used to call the people to worship (Lev 25:9; Num 10:1-4; Josh 6:6-9, 20; Judg 7:20; 1 Kng 1:34, 39). Trumpets also signaled the coming judgment of God (Zeph 1:26; 1 Thes 4:16; Rev 8:1-9:21; 11:16-18).
In asking if there is "peace," Jehu's friends, who are also army commanders, suspect that something is afoot. Apparently the young prophet is known to them and they consider him a "madman" because of his prophetic utterances which may be like those of the prophets who came across Saul in 1 Samuel 10:5-6, 10. Their comment is insulting and contains an element of mockery. It probably reflects the attitude of the apostate people of the Northern Kingdom as a whole to the prophets of Yahweh (see a similar attitude reflected in Jer 29:26 and Hos 9:7). Jehu, who is uncomfortable revealing the reason the prophet took him aside, pretends to dismiss the prophet's actions as unimportant, probably because he is unsure of their reaction to his new status as an anointed king of Israel. But his friends insist on an answer, and he finally admits the anointing and the prophetic message.
Question: How did his friends respond to the news of the
prophet's oracle? What did their actions demonstrate? See similar
demonstrations in Solomon's coronation in 1 Kings 1:39-40.
Answer: They immediately showed their approval of the oracle:
In each of these acts, Jehu's fellow officers showed their approval of Jehu's elevation to kingship and their submission to his authority. The shofar was also blown at Solomon's coronation.
2 Kings 9:14-21 ~ Jehu prepares to take the Kingdom of Israel by
14 Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi plotted against Jehoram. At that time, Jehoram, with all Israel, was holding Ramoth in Gilead against an attack by Hazael king of Aram, 15 but King Jehoram had gone back to Jezreel to recover from the wounds which he had received from the Aramaeans while he was fighting against Hazael king of Aram. "If you agree," Jehu said, "let no one leave the town to go and take the news to Jezreel." 16 Jehu then mounted his chariot and left for Jezreel; Jehoram had taken to his bed there, and Ahaziah king of Judah had gone down to visit him. 17 The lookout posted on the tower of Jezreel saw Jehu's troop approaching. "I can see a body of men," he shouted. Jehoram gave the order: "Have a horseman sent to meet them and ask, 'Is all well [shalom/ peace]?'" 18 The horseman went to meet Jehu and said, "The king says, 'Is all well [shalom/peace]?'" "What has it to do with you whether all is well [shalom/peace]?" Jehu replied. "Fall in behind me." The lookout reported, "The messenger has reached them and is not coming back." 19 The king sent a second horseman who reached them and said, "The king says, 'Is all well [shalom/peace]?' "What has it to do with you whether all is well [shalom/peace]?" Jehu replied. "Fall in behind me." 20 The lookout reported, "He has reached them and is not coming back. The manner of driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi: he drives like a madman." 21 "Harness!" Jehoram cried; and they harnessed his chariot. Then Jehoram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah, each in his chariot, set out to meet Jehu. They reached him in the field of Naboth of Jezreel. [..] = literal translation IBHE, vol. II, page 998. Note: King Jehoram is called both "Jehoram" and "Joram", a shortened form of his name, in the Book of 2 Kings, but to avoid confusion, the translators of the NJB have only rendered his name as "Jehoram."
King Jehoram was recovering from his wounds at his palace in the city of Jezreel, a royal city at the east end of the fertile Jezreel Valley (2 Kng 8:29; 2 Chr 22:5b-6). Archaeological excavations at a site identified as Jezreel indicate that it was a fortified city with an administrative center and a large palace.
15b "If you agree," Jehu
said, "let no one leave the town to go and take the news to Jezreel." 16 Jehu then mounted his chariot and left
Making sure that no one carried the message of the intended coup to the king at Jezreel, Jehu immediately took his men from Ramoth-Gilead and traveled across the Jordan River to Jezreel. A watchman on one of the city's towers near the city gate saw the approaching chariots (9:17).
17 The lookout posted on
the tower of Jezreel saw Jehu's troop approaching. "I can see a body of men,"
he shouted. Jehoram gave the order: "Have a horseman sent to meet them and
ask, 'Is all well [shalom/peace]?'" 18 The
horseman went to meet Jehu and said, "The king says, 'Is all well [shalom/peace]?'"
"What has it to do with you whether all is well [shalom/peace]?" Jehu replied.
"Fall in behind me." The lookout reported, "The messenger has reached them and
is not coming back." 19 The
king sent a second horseman who reached them and said, "The king says, Is all
well [shalom/peace]?' "What has it to do with you whether all is well [shalom/peace]?"
Jehu replied. "Fall in behind me." 20 The
lookout reported, "He has reached them and is not coming back.
Notice that the Hebrew word for "peace", "shalom," continues to be repeated like a discordant note since these events have nothing to do with peace. Since two different horsemen are sent out before Jehu's men reach the city wall, it appears that the troop of horsemen and chariots are traveling at an ominously slow pace, and perhaps Jehu, a master charioteer, is driving back and forth in front of his men and their chariots in a wild zig-zag manner. What is Jehu's strategy? Perhaps he is hoping that the king may assume that these are the survivors of a lost battle against the Aramaeans and Jehu is trying to urge the men not to give up despite their wounds and to continue try to make it to the city. But in actuality, it could be that Jehu is driving back and forth in front of the troop to keep them back and to continue to move forward in a slow pace. He cannot hope to achieve his plan if he has to enter the city with his small force. He needs the king to come out to him.
Question: A series of what three groups of men go out to meet Jehu?
Answer: King Jehoram sent two horsemen who fell in behind Jehu's men and then Jehoram and his nephew Ahaziah are the third group who go out to meet Jehu and his men.
In Scripture any grouping of three or the number three represents that which is solid, real, substantial, and something in its completeness. This number also usually indicates something of importance or significance in God's divine plan by identifying an important event in Salvation History. This number operates as a "sign-post" in Scripture study for the reader to "pay attention" to the significance of the next event, especially in how it pertains to God's divine plan. See the document "The Significance of Numbers in Scripture."
As each horseman arrives and delivers the king's message: "Is all shalom/peace," Jehu challenges the horsemen by saying "What has it to do with you whether all is well [shalom]?" and then gives the command to fall in among his men. That each messenger readily falls in instead of beating a hasty retreat may suggest they discern Jehu's intentions and chose to fall in with the coup, or they realize there is no possibility of escape.
The manner of driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi: he drives
like a madman." 21 "Harness!"
Jehoram cried; and they harnessed his chariot. Then Jehoram king of Israel and
Ahaziah king of Judah, each in his chariot, set out to meet Jehu. They reached
him in the field of Naboth of Jezreel.
Jehu must have been a well-known military commander. When the guard recognized Jehu by the wild way he drove his chariot, he sent word to King Jehoram (9:20). The king probably assumes that Jehu is bringing news from Ramoth-Gilead. He does not expect treason and is anxious to hear the news so he sets out in his chariot in the company of King Ahaziah of Judah (see 2 Chr 22:7-8).
21c They reached him in
the field of Naboth of Jezreel.
Question: Why is it significant that the king of Israel met Jehu in the field of Naboth? See 1 Kng 21:1-16, 19.
Answer: The field of Naboth was the land Jehoram's parents acquired by arranging the death of an innocent man. In Yahweh's judgment against Ahab and Jezebel, Elijah prophesied that divine judgment against the sins of the House of Ahab would be associated with the field of Naboth.
2 Kings 9:22-26 ~ The assassination of King Jehoram of Israel
22 As soon as Jehoram saw Jehu he asked, "Is all well [shalom], Jehu?" What a question [What shalom/peace]!" he replied, "when all the while the prostitutions and countless sorceries of your mother Jezebel go on." 23 At this, Jehoram wheeled and fled, saying to Ahaziah, "Treason, Ahaziah!" 24 But Jehu had drawn his bow; he struck Jehoram between the shoulder-blades, the arrow went through the king's heart, and he sank down in his chariot. 25 "Pick him up," Jehu said to Bidkar, his equerry, "and throw him into the field of Naboth of Jezreel. Remember how, when you and I manned a chariot together behind Ahab his father, Yahweh pronounced this sentence against him, 26 This I swear. Yesterday I saw the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons, Yahweh says this. 'And in this same field I shall requite you,' Yahweh says this. 'So pick him up, and throw him into the field, as Yahweh declared should happen!'"
When Jehoram rode out to meet Jehu, one of his commanders of the garrison at Ramoth-Gilead, accompanied by his nephew Amaziah, king of Judah, Jehu immediately challenged the wicked rule of his family. 22 As soon as Jehoram saw Jehu he asked, "Is all well [shalom], Jehu?" What a question [What shalom/peace]!" he replied, "when all the while the prostitutions and countless sorceries of your mother Jezebel go on." Jehu's reference to the "prostitutions" of Jezebel could be a reference to the introduction of Baal worship. Adultery, harlotry, and claims of prostitution are code words in Scripture for the people of the Old Covenant Church who are collectively the Bride of Yahweh" when they abandoned their One True Lord in the sin of idol worship (see Is 16:8; Ez 16:15). But it also possible that Jezebel was guilty of sexual promiscuity and that accusation along with the claim of sorcery could refer to pagan fertility rites involving the worship of Baal (see Num 25:1-3).
23 At this, Jehoram
wheeled and fled, saying to Ahaziah, "Treason, Ahaziah!" 24 But Jehu had drawn his bow; he struck
Jehoram between the shoulder-blades, the arrow went through the king's heart,
and he sank down in his chariot.
Jehoram realized Jehu was leading a coup. He shouted "Treason" in an attempt to warn Ahaziah, but when Jehoram attempted to flee, Jehu shot an arrow into his back that went straight through his heart.
Question: How is Jehoram's death similar to his father's death? See
1 Kng 22:34-35.
Answer: Jehoram died in his chariot like his father.
25 "Pick him up," Jehu
said to Bidkar, his equerry, "and throw him into the field of Naboth of
Jezreel. Remember how, when you and I manned a chariot together behind Ahab
his father, Yahweh pronounced this sentence against him, 26 This I swear. Yesterday I saw the
blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons, Yahweh says this. And in this same
field I shall requite you, Yahweh says this.' So pick him up, and throw him
into the field, as Yahweh declared should happen!"
We learn for the first time that Jehu and Bidkar had been with Ahab when he was confronted by Elijah at Naboth's vineyard in c. 856/55 BC. They heard the prophecy of Elijah concerning the judgment of Ahab for the unjust death of not only Naboth but also his sons who stood to inherit their father's property that was coveted by Ahab. Jehu understands that he is God's instrument of justice in fulfilling Elijah's prophecy.
Question: What does Jehu command his soldiers to do with Jehoram's body that fulfills Elijah's prophecy and brings justice to Naboth and his family? See 1 Kng 21:19.
2 Kings 9:27-29 ~ The assassination of Ahaziah
27 When Ahaziah king of Judah saw this, he fled along the Beth-ha-Gan road, but Jehu went in pursuit of him. "Strike him down too," he said. And they wounded him in his chariot at the slope of Gur, which is near Ibleam, and he took refuge in Megiddo, where he died. 28 His servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem and buried him in his tomb in the City of David. Ahaziah had become king of Judah in the eleventh year of Jehoram son of Ahab.
Ahaziah managed to escape in his chariot but was wounded and continued to bleed from his wound as he fled along the road to Megiddo, where he died. His men took his body back to Jerusalem where he was buried, having only ruled Judah less than a year (c. 841 BC).
Question: Was the assassination of the king of Judah part of the
mission God gave Jehu through the prophet sent by Elisha in 2 Kings 9:6-10?
What problem do you see in Jehu's action against the king of Judah?
Answer: No. He was only commanded to eliminate the family of Ahab. While it is true that Ahaziah was related to Jehoram and the House of Ahab through his mother, he was not technically included in the curse judgment. Ahaziah was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and it is an ominous sign that Jehu was going beyond his original mandate.
The writer of 2 Chronicles records: Through this visit to Jehoram, God brought ruin on Ahaziah (2 Chr 22:7). Young Ahaziah was already under the influence of his kinsman King Jehoram who promoted Baal worship and apostasy from Yahweh. Dying young may have saved Ahaziah from the greater sins he might have committed in the future, bringing God's wrath on the people of the Southern Kingdom.
2 Kings 9:30-37 ~ The assassination of Jezebel
30 When Jehu went back to Jezreel, Jezebel was told. She made up her eyes with mascara [kohl], adorned her head and appeared at the window. 31 As Jehu came through the gateway she said, "How did Zimri get on [Was it shalom/peace to Zimri] after killing his master?" 32 Jehu looked up to the window and said, "Who is on my side? Who?" And two or three officials [eunuchs] looked down at him. 33 "Throw her down," he said. They threw her down and her blood spattered the walls and the horses; and Jehu rode over her. 34 He went in and ate and drank, then said, "See to this accursed woman, and give her burial; after all, she was a king's daughter." 35 But when they went to bury her, they found nothing but her skull, feet and hands. 36 They came back and told Jehu, who said, "The dogs will eat the flesh of Jezebel in the field of Jezreel; 37 the corpse of Jezebel will be like dung spread on the fields, so that no one will be able to say: 'This was Jezebel.'"
Jezebel prepared for her own death by painting her eyes with kohl and having her attendants dress her hair. Kohl was an ancient eye cosmetic traditionally made by grinding galena (lead sulfide) and other ingredients. It was used to contour the eye area, to darken the brows and eyelids, and as a mascara for the eyelashes.(3) In her pride, she intended to die like a queen. It is also possible she might have hoped to seduce Jehu, but she didn't get the opportunity. As Jehu entered the gate of Jezreel, Queen Jezebel, who was looking out of her window, called out defiantly to him, (Hebrew text) "Was it peace [shalom] to Zimri after killing his master?" This is the ninth and final use of the word "shalom."
Question: Who was Zimri and what historical reference was she
making? See 1 Kng 16:8-19.
Answer: She was referring the Zimri the servant of King Elah of the House of Baasha who murdered his master and usurped the throne of Israel in 885 BC. She is inferring that Jehu will meet the same fate as Zimri who was quickly deposed and committed suicide (1 Kng 16:8-19).
It was general Omri who led the counter revolt that led to Zimri's death and the beginning of the House of Omri as kings of Israel. Omri was the father of Ahab and he arranged his son's marriage to Jezebel, princess of Sidon.
Looking up at the Queen in the window, Jehu shouted out: "Who is on my side, who?" When two or three eunuchs looked out of a window, Jehu commanded: "Throw her down!" They threw Jezebel down from the window and her "blood spattered on the wall and on the horses." As a sign of his contempt, Jehu let his horses trample her body. Jehu proceeded to take possession of the palace and to have a meal. Remembering Jezebel, he ordered her burial since "she is a king's daughter."
35 But when they went to
bury her, they found nothing but her skull, feet and hands. 36 They came back and told Jehu, who
said, "The dogs will eat the flesh of Jezebel in the field of Jezreel; 37 the corpse of Jezebel will be like
dung spread on the fields, so that no one will be able to say: 'This was
However, his men discovered that her body has been eaten by dogs and there was nothing left to give a proper burial.
Question: Jehu recognized that what prophecy was fulfilled in
this discovery? See 1 Kng 21:21-24.
Answer: The condition of her body is just as the prophet Elijah had prophesied for Jezebel: The dogs will eat Jezebel in the Field of Jezreel. Those of Ahab's family who die in the city, the dogs will eat... The location of the city of Jezreel was in the "Field of Jezreel" that was the Valley of Jezreel. The prophecy also was fulfilled for her son who was left out in the open without a proper burial: and those who die in the open country, the birds of the air will eat.
The name "Jezebel" became a code word in Scripture for an evil woman who is an enemy of Yahweh and for a shameless and immoral woman. In the Book of Revelation a "prophetess" in the Christian church of Thyatira in Asia Minor beguiles the congregation "to practice immorality and to eat food scarified to idols" (Rev 2:20-23). Although she is a real person, it is doubtful that her real name was Jezebel. It had become a name that referred pejoratively to the "harlotries and sorceries" of the Old Testament queen and to any woman who did not follow in the footsteps of Christ but led the faithful astray in doctrine and in practice.
Chapter 10: The Reign of Jehu (841-814 BC)
2 Kings 10:1-5 ~ Jehu sends a challenge to the
officials of Samaria
1 There were seventy of Ahab's sons in Samaria. Jehu sent to Samaria, to the authorities of the city, to the elders, and to the guardians of Ahab's children. He said, 2 "Now, when this letter reaches you, you have your master's sons with you; you also have chariots and horses, a fortified city and weapons. 3 See which of your master's sons is the best and worthiest, put him on his father's throne and fight for your master's dynasty!" 4 They were utterly terrified. "We have seen how the two kings could not stand up to him," they said, "so how could we?" 5 Consequently the master of the palace, the governor of the city, the elders and the guardians sent word to Jehu, "We are your servants. We shall do whatever you order us. We shall not proclaim a king; act as you think best."
were seventy of Ahab's sons in Samaria. Seventy is probably not a literal
number but a symbolic number representing the totality of Ahab's sons and
grandchildren in the capital city.
Question: Jehu sent a letter to what three groups of people in Samaria?
Jehu cleverly challenged those who wished to oppose his claim to the throne and who remained loyal to the House of Ahab to set their choice of a descendant of Ahab on the throne and to go to battle against his forces for control of the kingdom. They are terrified. They are not military men and Jehu apparently has the loyalty of the army. They sent a return letter announcing their submission to Jehu.
2 Kings 10:6-11 ~ Jehu's offer and the massacres at
Samaria and Jezreel
6 Jehu then wrote them a second letter. He said, "If you are for me and if you are prepared to accept orders from me, take the heads of the men of your master's family and come to me at Jezreel by this time tomorrow." There were seventy of Ahab's sons being educated there by the leading men of the city. 7 When this letter reached them, they took the king's sons and butchered all seventy of them, put their heads in baskets and sent them to him at Jezreel. 8 The messenger came and told Jehu, "They have brought the heads of the king's sons." "Leave them in two heaps at the entrance to the gate until morning," he replied. 9 When morning came, he went out and, standing, said to all the people, "No guilt attaches to you! I did indeed plot against my master and have killed him; but what about all these? Who struck them? 10 Know, then, that nothing will fail to be fulfilled of the prophecy uttered by Yahweh against the House of Ahab; Yahweh has done what he said through his servant Elijah." 11 Jehu then killed every member of the House of Ahab surviving in Jezreel, all his leading men, his close friends, his priests; he did not leave a single one alive.
Question: What is the purpose of Jehu's second
letter? What demand does Jehu make?
Answer: It is a test of their loyalty to him. If they indeed accept him as their king, they must kill the remaining sons and grandsons of the House of Ahab who might one day become a threat to Jehu and bring their heads to Jezreel.
Question: Why are the officials of Samaria told to
leave the heads of the sons and grandsons of Ahab at the entrance to the gate
of the city of Jezreel?
Answer: Jehu wants everyone to have the opportunity to see that the royal officials of Samaria have accepted his authority over the nation and have demonstrated their acceptance by killing all the males of the royal family.
In verse 9, Jehu very cleverly absolved the murderers of
the male members of Ahab's family. If they cannot be charged with what they
have done, they can hardly hold the murder of King Jehoram against him.
Question: What justification does he offer for his actions?
Answer: He says he has fulfilled the prophecy of Elijah against the House of Ahab.
Then he killed every member of the House of Ahab surviving in Jezreel, all his leading men, his close friends, his priests; he did not leave a single one alive (verse 11). This massacre includes anyone who might remain loyal to the former royal family: the former king's personal servants, friends, members of the illicit priesthood of Baal who served the king as royal officials (as in 2 Sam 8:18; 20:26; 1 Kng 4:5), and royal officers who served at the palace in Jezreel.
2 Kings 10:12-14 ~ The massacre of the kinsmen of Ahaziah
12 Jehu then set out for Samaria. As he was on his way, at [the well of] Beth-Eked of the Shepherds, he met the brothers of Ahaziah king of Judah. "Who are you?" he asked. "We are Ahaziah's brothers," they replied, "and we are on our way to pay our respects to the king's sons and the Queen Mother's [Gebirah] sons." "Take them alive," he said. They took them alive, and he slaughtered them at the storage-well of Beth-Eked, forty-two of the; he did not spare a single one.
On the road between Jezreel and Samaria (10 miles), Jehu met a company of men who identified themselves as the "brothers" of Ahaziah of Judah. The "brothers" are not siblings of Ahaziah but "kinsmen" who were probably related to Ahaziah through his Israelite mother. We are not told where they were coming from, but they were on their way to Jerusalem to pay their respects to Ahaziah and his mother Athaliah, the Gebirah/Queen Mother. The reference could not be to Jezebel because queens of Israel did not bear the title "Gebirah." They were apparently unaware that Ahaziah was visiting his uncle in Jezreel and unaware of the recent coup in which both Jehoram and Ahaziah were killed. The writer of 2 Chronicles records that these men were officers of Judah and Ahaziah's nephews who were in attendance on Ahaziah (2 Chr 22:8). The sequence of events is told in a different order in 2 Chronicles and the confusion may have been because these events unfolded so quickly. 2 Chronicles also records that Ahaziah was wounded but made it back to Samaria where he was found by Jehu and killed (2 Chr 22:9).
2 Kings 10:15-17 ~ The massacre of the survivors of
Ahab's family in Samaria
15 Leaving there, he came on Jehonadab son of Rechab who was on his way to meet him. He greeted him and said, "Is your heart true to mine, as my heart is to yours?" Jehonadab replied, "Yes." "If so," Jehu said, "give me your hand." Jehonadab gave him his hand, and Jehu took him up beside him in his chariot. 16 "Come with me," he said, "and witness my zeal for Yahweh," and took him along in his chariot. 17 When he entered Samaria, he killed all the survivors of Ahab's family in Samaria; he destroyed it, as Yahweh had told Elijah it would happen.
Question: Who was Jehonadab son of Rechab? See
Jer 35:5-10 where he is called Jonadab.
Answer: He was the founder of the Rechab clan, a small but ultra-traditionalist group that observed a way of life similar to the Israelites of the Exodus generation. They abstained from wine, lived in tents and did not engage in agriculture but only herded animals.
Recognizing that this traditionalist Israelite could be an important ally, Jehu invited him to be a part of the judgment on the apostate people of Samaria. Their combined "zeal" for Yahweh (verse 16) is seen as their commitment to radical monotheism in belief in Yahweh as the one and only God (1 Kng 19:10, 14).
2 Kings 10:18-24a ~ Jehu's plan to deal with the
devotees of Baal
18 Then Jehu assembled all the people. "Ahab did Baal some small service," he said, "but Jehu will do him a great one. 19 Now call me all the prophets of Baal and all his priests. Not one is to be absent: I have a great sacrifice to offer to Baal. If anyone is absent, he will forfeit his life." This was a trick on Jehu's part to destroy the devotees of Baal. 20 "Summon a sacred assembly for Baal," he commanded; and they summoned it. 21 Jehu sent messengers throughout Israel, and all the devotees of Baal arrived, not a man was left who did not attend. They crowded into the temple of Baal until it was full from wall to wall. 22 Jehu then said to the keeper of the wardrobe, "Bring out vestments for all the devotees of Baal"; he brought out the vestments for them. 23 Jehu then went into the temple of Baal with Jehonadab son of Rechab and said to Baal's devotees, "Make quite sure that there are no devotees of Yahweh in here with you, but only devotees of Baal." 24 He then proceeded to present sacrifices and burnt offerings.
In Samaria, Jehu calls a "sacred assembly" for the worshipers of Baal. A sacred assembly is an event that requires the participation of every devotee of Baal. We are told it is a trick but the devotees and priests of Baal probably thought Jehu was going to seek their support and the support of Baal by offering special sacrifices. The vestments that are brought out are the special liturgical vestments the Baal priests wore in religious ceremonies (verse 22). Since the inspired writer has told the reader it is a trick, it is understood that Jehu's statement I have a great sacrifice to offer to Baal has a different meaning than what the devotees of Baal think he means.
2 Kings 10:24b-27 ~ The destruction of the temple of
Baal in Samaria
24b Now Jehu had stationed eighty of his men outside, having said, "Whoever lets one of the people go whom I am now putting within your clutches, will pay for it with his life." 25 When he had finished making the burnt offering, he gave the order to the guards and equerries, "Go in, strike them down! Let no one out!" The guards and equerries went in, putting everyone to the sword all the way to the sanctuary of Baal's temple. 26 They took the sacred pole out of Baal's temple and burned it. 27 They demolished Baal's image and demolished Baal's temple too, making it into a latrine, which it still is today.
Jehu positioned eighty of his men around the outside of the temple of Baal. The guards are ordinary soldiers and the equerries are member of the royal guard who attend the king. All the devotees of Baal were killed according to the Law in Deuteronomy 13:13-19. The Law prescribed the death penalty for Israelite prophets/priests of pagan divinities and apostate members of the covenant who lead others astray.
Question: The Law seems harsh to those of us on
this side of salvation history, but what was the intent of the Law and why was
> Answer: The Law was intended to safeguard the religious purity of the chosen people, because, for the sake of mankind, the people of God must survive to bring forth the promised Redeemer-Messiah and to recognize Him when He comes.
Question: When Jehu said: I have a great
sacrifice to offer to Baal, what was the "sacrifice"?
Answer: The execution of all the devotees of Baal.
took the sacred pole out of Baal's temple and burned it. 27 They demolished Baal's image and
demolished Baal's temple too, making it into a latrine, which it still is
Obedient to the command in Deuteronomy 12:3, Jehu and his men burned the "sacred pole" a cult object sacred to the goddess Asherah, destroyed the pagan image of Baal, and demolished the temple dedicated to Baal. They showed their disgust for the pagan worship site by turning it into a latrine.
2 Kings 10:28-36 ~ Summary of Jehu's Reign in Israel
28 Thus Jehu rid Israel of Baal. 29 Even so, Jehu did not give up the sins into which Jeroboam son of Nebat had led Israel, the golden calves of Bethel and Dan. 30 Yahweh said to Jehu, "Since you have done well in carrying out what pleases me, and have done everything I required be done to the House of Ahab, your sons will occupy the throne of Israel down to the fourth generation." 31 Jehu, however, did not faithfully and wholeheartedly follow the law of Yahweh, God of Israel; he did not give up the sins into which Jeroboam son of Nebat had led Israel. 32 At that time Yahweh began to whittle Israel down, and Hazael defeated the Israelites throughout the territory east of the Jordan: 33 the whole territory of Gilead, of the Gadites, the Reubenites and the Manassehites, from Aroer on the River Arnon: Gilead and Bashan. 34 The rest of the history of Jehu, his entire career, all his prowess, is this not recorded in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel? 35 Then he fell asleep with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria; his son Jehoahaz succeeded him. 36 Jehu's reign over Israel in Samaria lasted twenty-eight years.
Jehu's reign over Israel is verified in Assyrian records.(4) As with all the summaries of the kings of Israel, his reign is compared
to the first non-Davidic king of Israel, Jeroboam son of Nebat.
Question: What were the sins of King Jeroboam? See 1 Kng 12:26-33; 14:7-9.
Jehu destroyed Baal worship and its disgusting practice of child sacrifice in the Northern Kingdom, but like Jerobaom, he feared losing control of the kingdom if he let the people go to Jerusalem to worship in Yahweh's temple. He did not dismantle the illicit worship sites of the Golden Calf in the Northern Kingdom that Jeroboam had established in Bethel and Dan (1 Kng 12:26-29).
Question: However, since he had fulfilled his
mission in destroying Baal worship, in what way did God reward him?
Answer: Yahweh promised that his descendants would rule the Northern Kingdom for four generations.
The House of Jehu was the longest lasting of the nine dynasties that ruled the Northern Kingdom, with five kings ruling from 841-743 BC. See the handout of the Dynasties that Ruled the Northern Kingdom from Lesson 1. But he missed the opportunity for a lasting dynasty by failing to entirely submit himself to the covenant with Yahweh by renouncing all other forms of worship.
32 At that
time Yahweh began to whittle Israel down, and Hazael defeated the Israelites
throughout the territory east of the Jordan: 33 the whole territory of Gilead, of the Gadites, the
Reubenites and the Manassehites, from Aroer on the River Arnon: Gilead and
The Israelites lost all their Transjordan territories that had been the ancestral lands of the tribes of Gad, Reuben and Manasseh in Gilead and Bashan. It is the beginning of the "whittling down" of the nation of Israel.
rest of the history of Jehu, his entire career, all his prowess, is this not
recorded in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel? 35 Then he fell asleep with his ancestors
and was buried in Samaria; his son Jehoahaz succeeded him. 36 Jehu's reign over Israel in Samaria
lasted twenty-eight years.
The history of the reign of Jehu of Israel ends in a summary statement similar to the other kings of the Northern and Southern kingdoms. During his reign he made a radical departure from the religious and governmental principles of the Omride dynasty. He totally rejected Baal worship and the influence of Phoenician and Canaanite society, reasserting the dominance of the Israelites tribes and worship of Yahweh, and yet he continued to allow Golden Calf worship. In addition, most of the treaties of the Omride dynasty with neighboring states like Phoenicia and Judah collapsed during Jehu's reign. Jehu made a treaty with the Assyrians, making Israel a vassal state of the Assyrians. It was probably an attempt to protect Israel from the Aramaeans. Jehu is shown doing homage before Assyrian king Shalmaneser III in the "Back Obelisk" by prostrating himself on the ground. Other panels of the obelisk depict Israel's tribute, which is described in a superscription. He died in 814 BC and was succeeded by his son Jehoahaz who ruled from 814-798 BC. A brief summary of his reign is also found in 2 Chronicles 22:7-9.
For reflection or group discussion:
We are sometimes shocked by the carnage and suffering recorded in the stories of the Old Testament. But those were extremely violent times, and although God's divine judgments may seem harsh to us on this side of salvation history, we must remember that in the ages of the Old Testament there was no eternal punishment for mankind just as there was no possibility of eternal salvation (the gates of heaven were closed from the time of Adam's fall; CCC 536, 1026). All souls, both the righteous and the wicked, went to a place/state called in Hebrew, Sheol and in Greek, Hades. Sheol/Hades was the abode of the dead before the coming of Christ (CCC 632-633). The wicked suffered purification for their sins and the righteous waited in comfort for the coming of the promised Redeemer-Messiah (Gen 3:15). All the innocent who died in those violent times, especially children, were considered consecrated to God. It wasn't until the Advent of the Messiah that both divine blessings and divine judgments became eternal (Mt 25:31-46).
In the Old Covenant the faithful understood that in Sheol there was purification for sins for those who were in need of purification. The Book of Wisdom 3:1-7 describes purification in Sheol: To the unenlightened, they appeared to die, their departure was regarded as a disaster; their leaving us like an annihilation: but they are at peace. If, as it seemed to us, they suffered punishment, their hope was rich with immortality; slight was their correction, great will their blessing be. God was putting them to the test and has proved them worthy to be with him. He has tested them like gold in a furnace, and accepted them as a perfect burnt offering. At their time of visitation, they will shine out; as sparks run through the stubble, so will they. The "time of their visitation" may refer to the coming of the Messiah. After His death and burial, Jesus descended to the spirits imprisoned in Sheol/Hades and preached the Gospel of salvation after which He led the purified souls into Heaven (see 1 Peter 3:19-20; 4:6 and the Apostles' Creed).
Question: How does Jesus describe the purification of the
sinner in Sheol/Hades in the story of Lazarus and the Rich man in Luke 16:19-31?
In this parable of death and judgment, Sheol is divided into two parts: the
side of purification by fire and the part reserved for the righteous dead
guarded by Father Abraham that was called in Jesus' time "Abraham's Bosom."
Answer: The rich man, whose sin was ignoring the plight of the needy, was purified with fire in the part of Sheol designated for purification of sins. He was not in the Hell of the damned. No human was condemned to Hell before the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of a covenant which granted eternal blessings and eternal punishments. In the Hell of the Damned the dead are forever separated from God. God is love and therefore in the Hell of the damned there is no love. The rich man, suffering punishment for his sins, still had love for his brothers and therefore made the request to Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers to atone for their sins before it was too late.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church #633 addresses the condition of the dead in Sheol/Hades prior to the Advent of Christ: "Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down hell, Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek, because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the redeemer, which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into Abraham's Bosom. It is precisely theses holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham's bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell. Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him."
1. Some scholars place that fateful year in 482 BC.
2. Some scholars think Athaliah was a daughter of Ahab and sister of Jehoram while others believe that she was a very young child of Omri and a sister of Ahab. That she was a daughter of Ahab (mentioned three times in Scripture) and a granddaughter of Omri is the most widely accepted view. The sons/kinsmen of Athaliah in Judah do not necessarily mean blood-kin but can also means kinship by marriage.
3. Archaeological excavations of a palace in Samaria (1908-10 and 1931) found, in the strata dated to the time of Ahab and Jezebel, saucers and small bowls in which cosmetics were mixed and small stone boxes. The saucers had a number of small depressions for containing the various colors: kohl for black; malachite for green, turquoise or lapis lazuli for blue, ochre for red; and a central depression for mixing. Some of the cosmetic containers still had traces of red.
4. The Black Obelisk of Assyrian King Shalmaneser III (c. 859-824 BC) was discovered in 1846 in Calah, Iraq. The obelisk provides both a written and a pictorial record of the kings who paid tribute to Assyria. It has a relief depicting the king accepting tribute from king identified as Jehu of Israel who is on his hands and knees with his nose and chin toward the ground before Shalmaneser. On the other three sides of the obelisk are thirteen Israelite emissaries bearing Israel's tribute. Jehu is one of 53 different people mentioned in the Bible for which we have evidence from non-Biblical sources.
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