2Ki 9:16 So Jehu rode in a chariot,…. In great pomp and majesty as a king:
and went to Jezreel: set forward on a march thither with his captains, and part of his army at least, from Ramothgilead; which, according to Bunting (n), was twenty four miles:
for Jordan lay there; to be cured of his wounds, as before observed:
and Ahaziah king of Judah was come down to see Joram; see 2Ki_8:29.
(n) Travels, &c. p. 166.
Jehu – went to Jezreel; for Joram lay there – From the preceding verse we learn, that Joram had been wounded in his attack on Ramoth-gilead, and had gone to Jezreel to be cured; and neither he nor Ahaziah knew any thing of the conspiracy in Ramoth-gilead, because Jehu and his captains took care to prevent any person from leaving the city; so that the two kings at Jezreel knew nothing of what had taken place.
2Ki 9:21 And Joram said, make ready,…. The chariot, put to the horses; bind them, as the word signifies, to the chariot:
and his chariot was made ready; by his servants immediately:
and Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot; not both in the same chariot, but each in his own, for the sake of greater magnificence:
and they went out against Jehu; not in an hostile manner, for they had no notion of him as an enemy; though it is much they had no suspicion of him by his detaining the messengers; but Joram perhaps thought he was desirous of delivering his message himself; and in honour to him, and also being eager to know what it was, went out to meet him:
and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite; which had been his, and where, or near it, he was stoned, and his blood shed; a very inauspicious place to meet him in.
Make ready – literally, (as in margin) “Blind,” i. e., “Harness the horses to the chariot.” The king had no suspicion of Jehu’s treason. Probably he imagined that he was bringing him important news from the seat of war. Ahaziah’s accompanying him is significant of the close friendship which united the uncle and the nephew. They went out not “against” Jehu, but rather “to meet him.”
In the portion of Naboth – This is no longer called a “vineyard” 1 Kings 21:1-18; probably because it had been thrown into the palace garden, and applied to the purpose for which Ahab originally wanted it. The approach to the city on this side must have lain either through it, or close by it.
Keil and Delitzsch
As Jehu proceeded on his way, he met with Jehonadab the son of Rechab, and having saluted him, inquired, “Is they heart true as my heart towards thy heart?” and on his replying יֵשׁ, “it is (honourable or true),” he bade him come up into the chariot, saying וָיֵשׁ, “if it is (so), give me thy hand;” whereupon he said still further, “Come with me and see my zeal for Jehovah,” and then drove with him to Samaria, and there exterminated all that remained of Ahab’s family. Jehonadab the son of Rechab was the tribe-father of the Rechabites (Jer_35:6). The rule which the latter laid down for his sons and descendants for all time, was to lead a simple nomad life, namely, to dwell in tents, follow no agricultural pursuits, and abstain from wine; which rule they observed so sacredly, that the prophet Jeremiah held them up as models before his own contemporaries, who broke the law of God in the most shameless manner, and was able to announce to the Rechabites that they would be exempted from the Chaldaean judgment for their faithful observance of their father’s precept (Jer 35). Rechab, from whom the descendants of Jehonadab derived their tribe-name, was the son of Hammath, and belonged to the tribe of the Kenites (1Ch_2:55), to which Hobab the father-in-law of Moses also belonged (Num_10:29); so that the Rechabites were probably descendants of Hobab, since the Kenites the sons of Hobab had gone with the Israelites from the Arabian desert to Canaan, and had there carried on their nomad life (Jdg_1:16; Jdg_4:11; 1Sa_15:6; see Witsii Miscell. ss. ii. p. 223ff.). This Jehonadab was therefore a man distinguished for the strictness of his life, and Jehu appears to have received him in this friendly manner on account of the great distinction in which he was held, not only in his own tribe, but also in Israel generally, that he might exalt himself in the eyes of the people through his friendship.
(Note: According to C. a Lapide, Jehu took him up into his chariot “that he might establish his authority with the Samaritans, and secure a name for integrity by having Jehonadab as his ally, a man whom all held to be both an upright and holy man, that in this way he might the more easily carry out the slaughter of the Baalites, which he was planning, without any one daring to resist him.”)
– In אֶת־לְבָֽבְךָ הֲיֵשׁ, “is with regard to thy heart honourable or upright?” אֵת is used to subordinate the noun to the clause, in the sense of quoad (see Ewald, §277, a.). לְאַחְאָב כָּל־הַנִּשְׁאָרִים, “all that remained to Ahab,” i.e., all the remaining members of Ahab’s house.
Jehonadab the son of Rechab – For particulars concerning this man, his ancestry, and posterity, see the notes on Jeremiah 35 (note).
Is thine heart right – With me, in the prosecution of a reform in Israel; as my heart is with thy heart in the true religion of Jehovah, and the destruction of Baal?
It is – I wish a reform in the religion of the country; I am his friend who shall endeavor to promote it.
Give me thine hand – This has been generally considered as exacting a promise from Jehonadab; but does it mean any more than his taking him by the hand, to help him to step into his chariot, in which Jehu was then sitting? Jehonadab was doubtless a very honorable man in Israel; and by carrying him about with him in his chariot, Jehu endeavored to acquire the public esteem. “Jehu must be acting right, for Jehonadab is with him, and approves his conduct.”
Jehonadab (compare the margin) belonged to the tribe of the Kenites, one of the most ancient in Palestine Gen_15:19. Their origin is unknown, but their habits were certainly those of Arahs. Owing to their connection with Moses (Num_24:21 note), they formed a friendship with the Israelites, accompanied them in their wanderings, and finally receivcd a location in the wilderness of Judah Jdg_1:16. The character of this chief, Jonadab, is best seen in the rule which he established for his descendants Jer_35:6-7 – a rule said to be still observed at the present day. It would seem that he sympathised strongly with Jehu’s proceedings, and desired to give the countenance of his authority, such as it was, to the new reign. According to the Hebrew text, Jehu “saluted” (or blessed) Jehonadab. According to the Septuagint and Josephus, Jehonadab “saluted” (or blessed) the king. Further, the Hebrew text runs – “And Jehonadab answered, It is, it is. Give (me) thy hand. And he gave (him) his hand, and took him up to him into the chariot.” Our translators appear to have preferred the Septuagint; but the Hebrew is more graphic. Jehu was no doubt glad to have the countenance of Jehonadab on his public entrance into Samaria. The ascetic had a reputation for sanctity, which could not fail to make his companionship an advantage to the but half-established monarch.
Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord – O thou ostentatious and murderous hypocrite! Thou have zeal for Jehovah and his pure religion! Witness thy calves at Dan and Bethel, and the general profligacy of thy conduct. He who can call another to witness his zeal for religion, or his works of charity, has as much of both as serves his own turn.
Compare 2Ki_10:11. Thus was finally completed the political revolution which transferred the throne from the house of Omri to that of Nimshi, the fifth of the royal families of Israel.
According to the saying of the Lord – This emphatic reiteration (compare 2Ki_10:10) marks, first, how in the mind of the writer all this history is viewed as deriving its special interest from its being so full and complete an accomplishment of Elijah’s prophecies; and, secondly, how at the time Jehu carefully put forward the plea that what he did had this object. It does not indicate that a single-minded wish to execute God’s will was Jehu’s predominate motive. Probably, even where he most strictly fulfilled the letter of prophecies, he was working for himself, not for God; and hence, vengeance was denounced upon his house even for the very “blood of Jezreel” Hos_1:4.
Jehu gathered all the people together; by their representatives, their elders or rulers, as was usual; to whom he imparts his mind; and they being generally corrupt, and timeservers, and such as had no sense of religion in them, durst not oppose his resolution, but seemed to comply with it.
Jehu shall serve him much: as if he had said, My quarrel is only with Ahab’s family, and not with Baal; which my actions shall manifest; which words being manifestly false, and spoken with a design to deceive, cannot be excused from sin, though they were uttered with a pious intention; this being an unmovable principle, that we must not do the least evil of sin, that the greatest good may come, Rom_3:8. And if Jehonadab did concur with Jehu herein, it was a human infirmity.
Keil and Delitzsch
Extermination of the Prophets and Priests of Baal and of the Baal-Worship. – 2Ki_10:28. Under the pretence of wishing to serve Baal even more than Ahab had done, Jehu appointed a great sacrificial festival for this idol, and had all the worshippers of Baal throughout all the land summoned to attend it; he then placed eighty of his guards around the temple of Baal in which they were assembled, and after the sacrifice was offered, had the priests and worshippers of Baal cut down by them with the sword. Objectively considered, the slaying of the worshippers of Baal was in accordance with the law, and, according to the theocratical principle, was perfectly right; but the subjective motives which impelled Jehu, apart from the artifice, were thoroughly selfish, as Seb. Schmidt has correctly observed. For since the priests and prophets of Baal throughout the Israelitish kingdom were bound up with the dynasty of Ahab, with all their interests and with their whole existence, they might be very dangerous to Jehu, if on any political grounds he should happen not to promote their objects, whereas by their extermination he might hope to draw to his side the whole of the very numerous supporters of the Jehovah-worship, which had formerly been legally established in Israel, and thereby establish his throne more firmly. The very fact that Jehu allowed the calf-worship to continue, is a proof that he simply used religion as the means of securing his own ends (2Ki_10:29). עֲצָרָה קַדְּשׁוּ (2Ki_10:20), “sanctify a festal assembly,” i.e., proclaim in the land a festal assembly for Baal (compare Isa_1:13; and for עֲצָרָה = עֲצֶרֶת, see at Lev_23:36). וַיִּקְרָאוּ, and they proclaimed, sc. the festal meeting.
All his servants; either,
1. All his ministers; of whom there may seem to have been several sorts, whereof two are here distinctly mentioned, his prophets and priests; and the rest of the inferior sort may be comprehended under this general title of servants, because they were to attend upon the others in their sacred ministrations. And these being once destroyed, Jehu rightly concluded that the rest would fall of course. And this sense may seem to be favoured by 2Ki_10:22, wherein vestments were brought forth
for all these worshippers of Baal; which were not commonly used by the people in the worship either of God or of Baal, but only by the priests or ministers. Or,
2. All his worshippers, as the same word is translated in the close of this verse.
Quest. How could all these be contained in one house of Baal?
Answ. Well enough, for the number of Baal’s worshippers had been vastly diminished by the ministry of Elijah and Elisha, and the rest of the prophets, and by Joram’s neglect and disuse of that worship. For the generality of the Israelites had too much knowledge to have any real and religious respect to such senseless idols; only they practised it in compliance with the humour of their king and queen, and for worldly or wicked ends; and therefore when the king deserted it, they generally forsook it, some few silly and besotted persons excepted, who are here gathered together. Besides, this house or temple of Baal might be very large and capacious, and probably was so, because it was the chief of that sort, as being in the king’s city, and nigh his palace, and for the use of the king and queen, and the while court, and for great and high solemnities. Moreover, as the name of the house or temple of God at Jerusalem oft signifies not only the principal building, but all the other buildings and courts belonging to it, in which all the worshippers stood when they worshipped; so it might be here; and so there was space sufficient for all the worshippers of Baal which can reasonably be thought to have been at this time in all Israel.
I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; I will offer to him a noble and acceptable sacrifice; not of sheep, or oxen, &c., as they understood it, but of his own beloved priests, and prophets, and servants, as he meant it.
In subtlety; with another design, that he might both certainly discover and utterly destroy them all, without any further trouble, or danger of sedition or tumult in his kingdom.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
call unto me all the prophets of Baal — The votaries of Baal are here classified under the several titles of prophets, priests, and servants, or worshippers generally. They might be easily convened into one spacious temple, as their number had been greatly diminished both by the influential ministrations of Elijah and Elisha, and also from the late King Joram’s neglect and discontinuance of the worship. Jehu’s appointment of a solemn sacrifice in honor of Baal, and a summons to all his worshippers to join in its celebration, was a deep-laid plot, which he had resolved upon for their extinction, a measure in perfect harmony with the Mosaic law, and worthy of a constitutional king of Israel. It was done, however, not from religious, but purely political motives, because he believed that the existence and interests of the Baalites were inseparably bound up with the dynasty of Ahab and because he hoped that by their extermination he would secure the attachment of the far larger and more influential party who worshipped God in Israel. Jehonadab’s concurrence must have been given in the belief of his being actuated solely by the highest principles of piety and zeal.
2Ki 10:30 And the Lord said unto Jehu,…. By a prophet, he not being one himself; and this is generally supposed, by the Jews (w), to be Jonah the son of Amittai:
because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes: in rooting out the idolatry of Baal, which was right in the sight of God, and was materially a good work, though it might not be done from a good principle, nor every step taken in doing it justifiable:
and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart: that he had decreed within himself should be done, and had foretold by his prophets would be done, the doing of which was acceptable and well pleasing to him:
thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel; as they did, namely, Jehoahaz, Joash, Jeroboam, and Zachariah, though the last reigned but six months, just enough to fulfil this promise.
Seder Olam Rabba, c. 19.
And the Lord said unto Jehu – Probably by the mouth of Elisha. To a certain extent Jehu’s measures were acts of obedience, for which God might see fit to assign him a temporal reward.
Thy children … – This was accomplished in the persons of Jehoahaz, Joash, Jeroboam, and Zachariah, the son, grandson, great-grandson, and great-great-grandson of Jehu (compare the marginal references). No other family sat upon the throne of Israel so long. The house of Omri, which furnished four kings, held the crown for three generations only and for less than 50 years – that of Jehu reigned for five generations and for more than 100 years.
Keil and Delitzsch
Jehu exterminated the worship of Baal from Israel; but the sins of Jeroboam, the golden calves at Bethel and Dan, that is to say, the idolatrous worship of Jehovah, he allowed to remain. “The golden calves, etc.:” this is a supplementary and explanatory apposition to “the sins of Jeroboam.”
Keil and Delitzsch
Therefore (this link of connection follows from the actual fact, though it is not distinctly mentioned in the text) Hazael had now to inflict chastisement upon faithless Israel. In Jehu’s days Jehovah began “to cut off in Israel,” i.e., to rend away certain portions from the kingdom. “Hazael smote them (the Israelites) on the whole of the border of Israel,” i.e., of the kingdom, “from Jordan to the sun-rising (i.e., on the eastern side of the Jordan), the whole of the land of Gilead (כָּל־אֶרֶץ אֶת is dependent upon יַכֶּה which must be supplied from יַכֵּם), namely, the territory of the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and Half-Manasseh, from Aroer on the brook Arnon (now Araayr, a ruin on the northern border of the Mojeb (Arnon) valley; see at Num_32:34), the southern border of the Israelitish land to the east of the Jordan (Deu_2:36; Deu_3:12), both Gilead and Bashan,” the two countries into which Gilead in the broader sense was divided (see at Deu_3:8-17). – These conquests took place during the twenty-eight years’ reign of Jehu, since Hazael began to reign before Jehu, viz., while Joram was king, and had already fought successfully against the Israelites at Ramoth in Joram’s reign (2Ki_8:28-29), but not in the later part of Jehu’s reign, as Thenius supposes.
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
JORAM OR JEHORAM(852-841 BC)
1. Son of Ahab king of Israel, succeeded his older brother Ahaziah in the throne, B. C. 852, and reigned twelve years. He discontinued the worship of Baal, but followed the “sin of Jeroboam.” During his reign, the Moabites revolted. Joram secured the aid of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and after receiving for his allies’ sake a miraculous deliverance from drought, defeated the Moabites with great slaughter. Not long after he was involved in war with Ben-hadad king of Syria, and Hazael his successor; and in this time occurred the miraculous deliverance of Samaria from siege and famine, and also various miracles of Elisha, including the healing of Naaman. Joram was wounded in a battle with Hazael, and met his death, in the suburbs of Ramoth-gilead, by the hand of Jehu his general. His body was thrown into the field of Naboth at Jezreel, and with him perished the race of Ahab, 1Ki 21.18-29; 2Ki 1.17; 3.1; 6.9.
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
Jehoahaz, or Azariah(841 BC)
King of Judah, son of Jehoram and Athaliah; he succeeded his father B. C. 881, 2Ki 8:25 2Ch 22:2. He was twenty-two years of age when he ascended the throne, and reigned but one year at Jerusalem. He followed the house of Ahab, to which he was allied by his mother, and did evil. He met his death at the hand of Jehu, while in company with Joram, son of Ahab.
je´hu (יהוּא, yehu); meaning uncertain, perhaps “Yahweh is he”; 1Ki_19:16, 1Ki_19:17; 2 Ki 9; 10; Ειού, Eioú): Son of Jehoshaphat, and descendant of Nimshi, hence, commonly called “the son of Nimshi”; 10th king of Israel, and founder of its 4th Dynasty. Jehu reign for 28 years. His accession may be reckoned at circa 841 bc (some date a few years later).
1. Officer of Ahab
A soldier of fortune, Jehu appears first as an officer in the body-guard of Ahab. To himself we owe the information that he was present at the judicial murder of Naboth, and that Naboth’s sons were put to death with their father (2Ki_9:26). He was in attendance when Ahab drove from Samaria to inspect his new possession in Jezreel, and was witness of the dramatic encounter at the vineyard between the king and the prophet Elijah (compare 1Ki_21:16). Years after, Jehu reminded Bidkar, his captain (literally, “thirdsman,” in chariot), of the doom they had there heard pronounced upon Ahab and his house (2Ki_9:25). It was in fulfillment of this doom that Jehu at that time ordered the body of the slain Jehoram to be thrown into the enclosure which had once been Naboth’s (2Ki_9:26). Ahab’s temporary repentance averted the punishment from himself for a few years (1Ki_21:27-29), but the blow fell at the battle of Ramoth-gilead, and Jehu would not be unmindful of the prophet’s words as he beheld the dogs licking Ahab’s blood as they washed his chariot “by the pool of Samaria” (1Ki_22:38).
2. Jehoram at Ramoth-Gilead and Jezreel
A different fate awaited Ahab’s two sons. The elder, Ahaziah, died, after a short reign, from the effects of an accident (2 Ki 1). He was succeeded by his brother Jehoram, who toward the close of his reign of 12 years (2Ki_3:1) determined on an attempt to recover Ramoth-gilead, where his father had been fatally stricken, from Hazael, of Syria. Ramoth-gilead was taken (2Ki_9:14), but in the attack the Israelite king was severely wounded, and was taken to Jezreel to be healed of his wounds (2Ki_9:15). The city meanwhile was left in charge of Jehu and his fellow-captains. At Jezreel he was visited by Ahaziah, of Judah, who had taken part with him in the war (2Ki_8:28, 2Ki_8:29; 2Ki_9:16).
3. The Anointing of Jehu
The time was now ripe for the execution of the predicted vengeance on the house of Ahab, and to Elisha the prophet, the successor of Elijah, it fell to take the decisive step which precipitated the crisis. Hazael and Jehu had already been named to Elijah as the persons who were to execute the Divine judgment, the one as king of Syria, the other as king of Israel (1Ki_19:15-17). Elijah was doubtless aware of this commission, which it was now his part, as respected Jehu, to fulfill. A messenger was hastily dispatched to Ramoth-gilead, with instructions to seek out Jehu, take him apart, anoint him king of Israel in Yahweh’s name, and charge him with the task of utterly destroying the house of Ahab in punishment for the righteous blood shed by Ahab and Jezebel. The messenger was then to flee. This was done, and Jehu, the sacred oil poured on his head, found himself alone with this appalling trust committed to him (2Ki_9:1-10).
4. The Revolution – Death of Jehoram
Events now moved rapidly. Jehu’s companions were naturally eager to know what had happened, and on learning that Jehu had been anointed king, they at once improvised a throne by throwing their garments on the top of some steps, blew the trumpet, and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.” Not a moment was lost. No one was permitted to leave the city to carry forth tidings, and Jehu himself, with characteristic impetuosity, set out, with a small body of horsemen, in his chariot to Jezreel. Bidkar was there as charioteer (2Ki_9:25). As they came within sight of the city, a watchman reported their advance, and messengers were sent to inquire as to their errand. These were ordered to fall into the rear. This conduct awakened suspicion, and Jehoram and Ahaziah – who was still with his invalided kinsman – ordered their chariots, and proceeded in person to meet Jehu. The companies met at the ill-omened field of Naboth, and there the first stroke of vengeance fell. The anxious query, “Is it peace?” was answered by a storm of denunciation from Jehu, and on Jehoram turning to flee, an arrow from Jehu’s powerful bow shot him through the heart, and he sank dead in his chariot. Ahaziah likewise was pursued, and smitten “at the ascent of Gur, which is by Ibleam.” He died at Megiddo, and was taken to Jerusalem for burial in the sepulcher of the kings (2 Ki 9:11-28). A somewhat variant account of Ahaziah’s death is given in 2Ch_22:9. It is possible that Jehu came to Megiddo or its neighborhood, and had to do with his end there.
5. Death of Jezebel
The slaughter of Jehoram was at once followed by that of the chief instigator of all the crimes for which the house of Ahab suffered – the queen-mother Jezebel. Hot from the pursuit of Ahaziah, Jehu pressed on Jezreel. Jezebel, now an aged woman, but still defiant, had painted and attired herself, and, looking from her window, met him as he drove into the palace court, with the insulting question, “Is it peace, thou Zimri, thy master’s murderer?” (compare 1Ki_16:9-12). Jehu’s answer was an appeal for aid from those within. Two or three eunuchs of the palace gave signs of their concurrence. These, at Jehu’s bidding, threw Jezebel down into the courtyard, where, lying in her blood, she was trodden under foot by the chariot horses. When, a little later, her remains were sought for burial, she was found to have been almost wholly devoured by the dogs – a lurid commentary on Elijah’s earlier threatening, which was now recalled (2Ki_9:30-37). Jehu was an intrepid minister of judgment, but the pitiless zeal, needless cruelty, and, afterward, deceit, with which he executed his mission, withdraw our sympathy from him, as it did that of a later prophet (Hos_1:4).
6. Slaughter of Ahab’s Descendants
The next acts of Jehu reveal yet more clearly his thoroughness of purpose and promptitude of action, while they afford fresh exhibitions of his ruthlessness and unscrupulousness of spirit. Samaria was the capital of the kingdom, and headquarters of the Baal-worship introduced by Jezebel, though it is recorded of Jehoram that he had removed, at least temporarily, an obelisk of Baal which his father had set up (2Ki_3:2; compare 2Ki_10:26). The city was still held for the house of Ahab, and 70 of Ahab’s “son” – to be taken here in the large sense of male descendants – resided in it (2Ki_10:1, 2Ki_10:6). Jehu here adopted a bold and astute policy. He sent letters to Samaria challenging those in authority to set up one of their master’s sons as king, and fight for the city and the kingdom. The governors knew well that they could make no effective resistance to Jehu, and at once humbly tendered their submission. Jehu, in a second message, bade them prove their sincerity by delivering to him the heads of the 70 princes of Ahab’s house in baskets. This they did, by their act irrevocably committing themselves to Jehu’s cause (2Ki_10:9). The ghastly relics were piled up in two heaps at the gate of Jezreel – a horrible object lesson to any still inclined to hesitate in their allegiance. Friends and partisans of the royal house shared the fate of its members (2Ki_10:11).
7. Slaughter of Ahaziah’s Brethren
Apart from the faultiness in the agent’s motive, the deeds now recounted fell within the letter of Jehu’s commission. As much cannot be said of the deeds of blood that follow. Jehu had killed Ahaziah, king of Judah. Now, on his way to Samaria, he met a company of 42 persons, described as “brethren of Ahaziah” – evidently blood-relations of various degrees, as Ahaziah’s own brethren had been earlier slain by the Arabians (2Ch_21:17; 2Ch_22:1) – and, on learning who they were, and of their purpose to visit their kinsfolk at Jezreel, gave orders that they be slain on the spot, and their bodies ignominiously thrown into the pit (or “cistern”) of the shearing-house where he had encountered them. It was a cruel excess for which no sufficient justification can be pleaded (2Ki_10:12-14).
8. Massacre of the Worshippers of Baal
Still less can the craft and violence be condoned by which, when he reached Samaria, Jehu evinced his “zeal for Yahweh” (2Ki_10:16) in the extirpation of the worshippers of Baal. Jehu had secured on his side the support of a notable man – Jehonadab the son of Rechab (2Ki_10:15, 2Ki_10:16; compare Jer_35:6-19) – and his entrance into Samaria was signalized by further slaying of all adherents of Ahab. Then, doubtless to the amazement of many, Jehu proclaimed himself an enthusiastic follower of Baal. A great festival was organized, to which all prophets, worshippers, and priests of Baal were invited from every part of Israel. Jehu himself took the leading part in the sacrifice (2Ki_10:25). Vestments were distributed to distinguish the true worshippers of Baal from others. Then when all were safely gathered into “the house of Baal,” the gates were closed, and 80 soldiers were sent in to massacre the whole deluded company in cold blood. None escaped. The temple of Baal was broken up. Thus, indeed, “Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel” (2Ki_10:28), but at what a frightful cost of falsehood and treacherous dealing! (2Ki_10:18-28).
9. Wars with Hazael
The history of Jehu in the Bible is chiefly the history of his revolution as now narrated. His reign itself is summed up in a few verses, chiefly occupied with the attacks made by Hazael, king of Syria, on the trans-Jordanic territories of Israel (2Ki_10:32, 2Ki_10:33). These districts were overrun, and remained lost to Israel till the reign of Jehu’s great-grandson, Jeroboam II (2Ki_14:28).
10. Assyrian Notices
It is in another direction, namely, to the annals of Assyria, we have to look for any further information we possess on the reign of Jehu In these annals, fortunately, some interesting notices are preserved. In 854 bc was fought the great battle of Ḳarḳar (a place between Aleppo and Hamath), when Shalmaneser II, king of Assyria, defeated a powerful combination formed against him (Damascus, Hamath, Philistia Ammon, etc.). Among the allies on this occasion is mentioned “Aḥabbu of Sir’ilâa,” who took the third place with 2,000 chariots and 10,000 footmen. There is a difficulty in supposing Ahab to have been still reigning as late as 854, and Wellhausen, Kamphausen and others have suggested that Ahab’s name has been confused with that of his successor Jehoram in the Assyrian annals. Kittel, in his History of the Hebrews (II, 233, English translation) is disposed to accept this view. G. Smith, in his Assyrian Eponym Canon (179), is of the opinion that the tribute lists were often carelessly compiled and in error as to names. The point of interest is that from this time Israel was evidently a tributary of Assyria.
11. Tribute of Jehu
With this accord the further notices of Israel in the inscriptions of Shalmaneser II, two in number. Both belong to the year 842 bc and relate to Jehu. On Shalmaneser’s Black Obelisk is a pictorial representation of “the tribute of Jehu, son of Omri.” An ambassador kneels before the conqueror, and presents his gifts. They include silver, gold, a gold cup, gold vessels, a golden ladle, lead, a staff for the king’s hand, scepters. An allusion to the same event occurs in the annals of Shalmaneser’s campaign against Hazael of Syria in this year. “At that time I received the tribute of the Tyrians, Sidonians, of Jehu, son of Omri.”
There are some indications that in his latter years, which were clouded with misfortune, Jehu associated with himself his son Jehoahaz in the government (compare 2Ki_13:1, 2Ki_13:10, where Jehoahaz comes to the throne in the 23rd, and dies in the 37th year of Jehoash of Judah – 14 years – yet has a total reign of 17 years). Jehu is not mentioned in Chronicles, except incidentally in connection with the death of Ahaziah (2Ch_22:9), and as the grandfather of Jehoash (2Ch_25:17).
The character of Jehu is apparent from the acts recorded of him. His energy, determination, promptitude, and zeal fitted him for the work he had to do. It was rough work, and was executed with relentless thoroughness. Probably gentler measures would have failed to eradicate Baal-worship from Israel. His impetuosity was evinced in his furious driving (2Ki_9:20). He was bold, daring, unscrupulous, and masterful and astute in his policy. But one seeks in vain in his character for any touch of magnanimity, or of the finer qualities of the ruler. His “zeal for Yahweh” was too largely a cloak for merely worldly ambition. The bloodshed in which his rule was rounded early provoked a reaction, and his closing years were dark with trouble. He is specially condemned for tolerating the worship of the golden calves (2Ki_10:29-31). Nevertheless the throne was secured to his dynasty for four generations (2Ki_10:30; compare 2Ki_15:12).
ha-za´el, ha´za-el, haz´a-el (חזאל, hăza’el and חזהאל, hăzah’el; Αζαήλ, Hazaél; Assyrian haza’ilu):
1. In Biblical History
Comes first into Biblical history as a high officer in the service of Ben-hadad II, king of Syria (2Ki_8:7; compare 1Ki_19:15). He had been sent by his sick sovereign to inquire of the prophet Elisha, who was then in Damascus, whether he should recover of his sickness or not. He took with him a present “even of every good thing of Damascus, forty camels’ burden,” and stood before the man of God with his master’s question of life or death. To it Elisha made the oracular response, “Go, say unto him, Thou shalt surely recover; howbeit Yahweh hath showed me that he shall surely die.” Elisha looked steadfastly at Hazael and wept, explaining to the incredulous officer that he was to be the perpetrator of horrible cruelties against the children of Israel: “Their strongholds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their women with child” (2Ki_8:12). Hazael protested against the very thought of such things, but Elisha assured him that Yahweh had shown him that he was to be king of Syria. No sooner had Hazael delivered to his master the answer of the man of God than the treacherous purpose took shape in his heart to hasten Ben-hadad’s end, and “He took the coverlet, and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead” (2Ki_8:15). The reign which opened under such sinister auspices proved long and successful, and brought the kingdom of Syria to the zenith of its power. Hazael soon found occasion to invade Israel. It was at Ramoth-gilead, which had already been the scene of a fierce conflict between Israel and Syria when Ahab met his death, that Hazael encountered Joram, the king of Israel, with whom his kinsman, Ahaziah, king of Judah, had joined forces to retain that important fortress which had been recovered from the Syrians (2Ki_9:14, 2Ki_9:15). The final issue of the battle is not recorded, but Joram received wounds which obliged him to return across the Jordan to Jezreel, leaving the forces of Israel in command of Jehu, whose anointing by Elisha’s deputy at Ramoth-gilead, usurpation of the throne of Israel, slaughter of Joram, Ahaziah and Jezebel, and vengeance upon the whole house of Ahab are told in rapid and tragic succession by the sacred historian (2 Ki 9; 10).
Whatever was the issue of this attack upon Ramoth-gilead, it was not long before Hazael laid waste the whole country east of the Jordan – “all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the valley of the Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan” (2Ki_10:33; compare Amo_1:3). Nor did Judah escape the heavy hand of the Syrian oppressor. Marching southward through the plain of Esdraelon, and following a route along the maritime plain taken by many conquerors before and since, Hazael fought against Gath and took it, and then “set his face to go up to Jerus” (2Ki_12:17). As other kings of Judah had to do with other conquerors, Jehoash, who was now on the throne, bought off the invader with the gold and the treasures of temple and palace, and Hazael withdrew his forces from Jerusalem.
Israel, however, still suffered at the hands of Hazael and Ben-hadad, his son, and the sacred historian mentions that Hazael oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu. So grievous was the oppression of the Syrians that Hazael “left not to Jehoahaz, of the people save fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; for the king of Syria destroyed them, and made them like the dust in threshing” (2Ki_13:1-7). Forty or fifty years later Amos, in the opening of his prophecy, recalled those Syrian campaigns against Israel when he predicted vengeance that was to come upon Damascus. “Thus saith Yahweh … I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, and it shall devour the palaces of Ben-hadad” (Amo_1:3, Amo_1:4).
2. In the Monuments
Already, however, the power of Syria had passed its meridian and had begun to decline. Events of which there is no express record in the Biblical narrative were proceeding which, ere long, made it possible for the son of Jehoahaz, Joash or Jehoash, to retrieve the honor of Israel and recover the cities that had been lost (2Ki_13:25). For the full record of these events we must turn to the Assyrian annals preserved in the monuments. We do read in the sacred history that Yahweh gave Israel “a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians” (2Ki_13:5). The annals of the Assyrian kings give us clearly and distinctly the interpretation of this enigmatic saying. The relief that came to Israel was due to the crippling of the power of Syria by the aggression of Assyria upon the lands of the West. From the Black Obelisk in the British Museum, on which Shalmaneser II (860-825 bc) has inscribed the story of the campaign he carried on during his long reign, there are instructive notices of this period of Israelite history. In the 18th year of his reign (842 bc), Shalmaneser made war against Hazael. On the Obelisk the record is short, but a longer account is given on one of the pavement slabs from Nimroud, the ancient Kalab. It is as follows: “In the 18th year of my reign for the 16th time I crossed the Euphrates. Hazael of Damascus trusted to the strength of his armies and mustered his troops in full force. Senir (Hermon), a mountain summit which is in front of Lebanon, he made his stronghold. I fought with him; his defeat I accomplished; 600 of his soldiers with weapons I laid low; 1, 121 of his chariots, 470 of his horses, with his camp I took from him. To save his life, he retreated; I pursued him; in Damascus, his royal city, I shut him up. His plantations I cut down. As far as the mountains of the Hauran I marched. Cities without number I wrecked, razed, and burnt with fire. Their spoil beyond count I carried away. As far as the mountains of Baal-Rosh, which is a headland of the sea (at the mouth of the Nahr el-Kelb, Dog River), I marched; my royal likeness I there set up. At that time I received the tribute of the Syrians and Sidonians and of Yahua (Jehu) the son of Khumri (Omri)” (Ball, Light from the East, 166; Schrader, COT, 200 f). From this inscription we gather that Shalmaneser did not succeed in the capture of Damascus. But it still remained an object of ambition to Assyria, and Ramman-nirari III, the grandson of Shalmaneser, succeeded in capturing it, and reduced it to subjection. It was this monarch who was “the saviour” whom God raised up to deliver Israel from the hand of Syria. Then it became possible for Israel under Jehoash to recover the cities he had lost, but by this time Hazael had died and Ben-hadad, his son, Ben-hadad III, called Mari on the monuments, had become king in his stead (2Ki_13:24, 2Ki_13:25).