2 Kings 10


‘Now there were in Samaria seventy sons of the house of Ahab. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria: to the officials of Jezreel, to the elders and to the guardians of Ahab’s children. He said, ‘You have your master’s sons with you and you have chariots and horses, a fortified city and weapons. Now as soon as this letter reaches you, choose the best and most worthy of your master’s sons and set him on his father’s throne. Then fight for your master’s house.’ But they were terrified and said, ‘If two kings could not resist him, how can we?’ So the palace administrator, the city governor, the elders and the guardians sent this message to Jehu: ‘We are your servants and we will do anything you say. We will not appoint anyone as king; you do whatever you think best.’ Then Jehu wrote them a second letter, saying, ‘If you are on my side and will obey me, take the heads of your master’s sons and come to me in Jezreel by this time tomorrow.’ Now the royal princes, seventy of them, were with the leading men of the city, who were rearing them. When the letter arrived, these men took the princes and slaughtered all seventy of them. They put their heads in baskets and sent them to Jehu in Jezreel. When the messenger arrived, he told Jehu, ‘They have brought the heads of the princes.’ Then Jehu ordered, ‘Put them in two piles at the entrance of the city gate until morning.’ The next morning Jehu went out. He stood before all the people and said, ‘You are innocent. It was I who conspired against my master and killed him, but who killed all these? Know, then, that not a word the LORD has spoken against the house of Ahab will fail. The LORD has done what he announced through his servant Elijah.’ So Jehu killed everyone in Jezreel who remained of the house of Ahab, as well as all his chief men, his close friends and his priests, leaving him no survivor.’ 2 Kings 10:1-11

Ahab’s Family Killed

After the killing of Jezebel, 2 Kings 9:30-37, Ahab still had some descendants who were still living, he had seventy sons. Jehu wanted to kill all of Ahab’s descendants, by doing this it would secure his reign as king and it would fulfil the judgment which God placed upon the household of Ahab because of his idolatry, 1 Kings 21:21-26.

It appears that Jehu will go to any lengths to accomplish his plans to kill the descendants of Ahab. Here he demands the loyalty of others by asking them to kill the seventy sons of Ahab. These are the same people who had obeyed to the letter the vicious orders of Jezebel to murder Naboth and his sons, 1 Kings 21:7-16.

These men were very much involved in Naboth’s murder, 1 Kings 21:11, and now they have the same attitude towards Jehu and they are more than willing to carry out Jehu’s order for them to kill Ahab’s seventy sons. After killing the seventy sons, they sent the seventy heads to Jehu in a basket.

Jehu had killed everyone who was related to Ahab, but we must remember that it wasn’t God who moved him to do all these evil things. God knew what Jehu was like before he made him king, God doesn’t create evil but He uses evil for His purposes. In this case, God used Jehu’s evil character to bring about the judgment upon the descendants of Ahab.

‘Jehu then set out and went toward Samaria. At Beth Eked of the Shepherds, he met some relatives of Ahaziah king of Judah and asked, ‘Who are you?’ They said, ‘We are relatives of Ahaziah, and we have come down to greet the families of the king and of the queen mother.’ ‘Take them alive!’ he ordered. So they took them alive and slaughtered them by the well of Beth Eked—forty-two of them. He left no survivor.’ 2 Kings 10:12-14

Since Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab, these relatives of Ahaziah would have been descendants of Ahab. Because Ahaziah had no brothers, in the usual sense of the word, these relatives were probably his nephews or cousins, 2 Chronicles 22:8. They were relatives of Judah who ministered to Ahaziah.

Jehu appears to be going over the top as his massacre of Ahab’s descendants continues. He murders forty-two men, probably just in case they were conspiring against him or just in case they continue in the idolatrous behaviour of Ahab and Jezebel.

‘After he left there, he came upon Jehonadab son of Rekab, who was on his way to meet him. Jehu greeted him and said, ‘Are you in accord with me, as I am with you?’ ‘I am,’ Jehonadab answered. ‘If so,’ said Jehu, ‘give me your hand.’ So he did, and Jehu helped him up into the chariot. Jehu said, ‘Come with me and see my zeal for the LORD.’ Then he had him ride along in his chariot. When Jehu came to Samaria, he killed all who were left there of Ahab’s family; he destroyed them, according to the word of the LORD spoken to Elijah.’ 2 Kings 10:15-17

Jehonadab commanded his sons to follow after the laws of God, to refrain from drinking wine, and to live in tents as the Israelites did during their wandering in the wilderness, Jeremiah 35:6-19. Jehonadab left a legacy of obedience to God in the lives of his sons.

He must have told his descendants to live for God because of what he witnessed in the life of Jehu in his zeal to get rid of Baal worship from Israel. The pledge and the handshake signified a formal coalition between Jehu and the Rechabites.

Servants Of Baal Killed

‘Then Jehu brought all the people together and said to them, ‘Ahab served Baal a little; Jehu will serve him much. Now summon all the prophets of Baal, all his servants and all his priests. See that no one is missing, because I am going to hold a great sacrifice for Baal. Anyone who fails to come will no longer live.’ But Jehu was acting deceptively in order to destroy the servants of Baal. Jehu said, ‘Call an assembly in honour of Baal.’ So they proclaimed it. Then he sent word throughout Israel, and all the servants of Baal came; not one stayed away. They crowded into the temple of Baal until it was full from one end to the other. And Jehu said to the keeper of the wardrobe, ‘Bring robes for all the servants of Baal.’ So he brought out robes for them. Then Jehu and Jehonadab son of Rekab went into the temple of Baal. Jehu said to the servants of Baal, ‘Look around and see that no one who serves the LORD is here with you—only servants of Baal.’ So they went in to make sacrifices and burnt offerings. Now Jehu had posted eighty men outside with this warning: ‘If one of you lets any of the men I am placing in your hands escape, it will be your life for his life.’ As soon as Jehu had finished making the burnt offering, he ordered the guards and officers: ‘Go in and kill them; let no one escape.’ So they cut them down with the sword. The guards and officers threw the bodies out and then entered the inner shrine of the temple of Baal. They brought the sacred stone out of the temple of Baal and burned it. They demolished the sacred stone of Baal and tore down the temple of Baal, and people have used it for a latrine to this day. So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel.’ 2 Kings 10:18-28

Jehu calls for all the prophets of Baal to be brought to him. If he wanted to completely get rid of Baal worship, he needs to kill the religious leaders, Baal’s prophets from the land. Jehu comes up with a plan to get them all together in one place, and when they come together, he commands that they be killed.

We shouldn’t underestimate how popular Baal worship was, it totally ruled people’s lives, Hoses 1:1-9. Notice that he didn’t just kill the false prophets, he destroyed the temple of Baal, he totally destroyed it to such an extent that he left no trace of Baal worship in Palestine.

‘However, he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit—the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan. The LORD said to Jehu, ‘Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.’ Yet Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit.’ 2 Kings 10:29-31

After murdering all the descendants of Ahab and Jezebel, and after killing all the false prophets of Baal and destroying the temple, Jehu didn’t turn away from the sins of Jeroboam.

It’s here we get a glimpse into Jehu’s real motives for doing what he had earlier done. Yes, he was fulfilling God’s judgment upon Ahab and Jezebel, but he was also fulfilling his own evil desire to remove anyone who would threaten his reign as king.

Jehu didn’t turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, and he wasn’t careful to keep God’s laws. He continued in the sins of Jeroboam, that is, he left the golden calves at Bethel and Dan, 1 Kings 12:25-33.

These two altars came to symbolise the division between the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. As long as they remained in place the two kingdoms would never come together as one United Kingdom.

‘In those days the LORD began to reduce the size of Israel. Hazael overpowered the Israelites throughout their territory east of the Jordan in all the land of Gilead (the region of Gad, Reuben and Manasseh), from Aroer by the Arnon Gorge through Gilead to Bashan. As for the other events of Jehu’s reign, all he did, and all his achievements, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? Jehu rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son succeeded him as king. The time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty-eight years.’ 2 Kings 10:32-36

Notice it was during this time that the Lord began to reduce the size of Israel. While Jehu was busy securing his reign in central Palestine, Hazael, king of Aram, started to bring the northern portions of Israel under Aramean control.

God allowed this to happen simply because the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah wouldn’t come together as one to be ruled by God. God allowed them to come under the subjection of the Arameans and he allowed them to go into captivity.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘It was the loss of all the Trans-Jordanic kingdom of Israel, and also the cutting off of their dominion over Bashan in the land of Edom. The territory lost included that originally settled by the half-tribe of Manasseh and by the tribes of Gad and Reuben, Joshua 22:1-9. With the continued worship of their idols at Dan and Bethel and also Samaria, the total ruin of the Northern Israel became inevitable. Their doom, destruction and captivity, from which they would never return, loomed upon the horizon of the future and in 722 B.C., the fall of Samaria signalled the end of the sinful kingdom.’

Jehu reigned over Israel for twenty-eight years and when he died, his Jehoahaz takes over as king of Israel.

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