Jehu Slaughters Ahab’s Descendants
10 Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria, to the rulers of the city, to the elders, and to the guardians of the sons of Ahab, saying, “Now then, as soon as this letter comes to you, seeing your master’s sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, fortified cities also, and weapons, select the best and fittest of your master’s sons and set him on his father’s throne and fight for your master’s house.” But they were exceedingly afraid and said, “Behold, the two kings could not stand before him. How then can we stand?” So he who was over the palace, and he who was over the city, together with the elders and the guardians, sent to Jehu, saying, “We are your servants, and we will do all that you tell us. We will not make anyone king. Do whatever is good in your eyes.” Then he wrote to them a second letter, saying, “If you are on my side, and if you are ready to obey me, take the heads of your master’s sons and come to me at Jezreel tomorrow at this time.” Now the king’s sons, seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, who were bringing them up. And as soon as the letter came to them, they took the king’s sons and slaughtered them, seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets and sent them to him at Jezreel. When the messenger came and told him, “They have brought the heads of the king’s sons,” he said, “Lay them in two heaps at the entrance of the gate until the morning.” Then in the morning, when he went out, he stood and said to all the people, “You are innocent. It was I who conspired against my master and killed him, but who struck down all these? Know then that there shall fall to the earth nothing of the word of the LORD, which the LORD spoke concerning the house of Ahab, for the LORD has done what he said by his servant Elijah.” So Jehu struck down all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, all his great men and his close friends and his priests, until he left him none remaining.
Then he set out and went to Samaria. On the way, when he was at Beth-eked of the Shepherds, Jehu met the relatives of Ahaziah king of Judah, and he said, “Who are you?” And they answered, “We are the relatives of Ahaziah, and we came down to visit the royal princes and the sons of the queen mother.” He said, “Take them alive.” And they took them alive and slaughtered them at the pit of Beth-eked, forty-two persons, and he spared none of them.
And when he departed from there, he met Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him. And he greeted him and said to him, “Is your heart true to my heart as mine is to yours?” And Jehonadab answered, “It is.” Jehu said, “If it is, give me your hand.” So he gave him his hand. And Jehu took him up with him into the chariot. And he said, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD.” So he had him ride in his chariot. And when he came to Samaria, he struck down all who remained to Ahab in Samaria, till he had wiped them out, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke to Elijah.
Jehu Strikes Down the Prophets of Baal
Then Jehu assembled all the people and said to them, “Ahab served Baal a little, but Jehu will serve him much. Now therefore call to me all the prophets of Baal, all his worshipers and all his priests. Let none be missing, for I have a great sacrifice to offer to Baal. Whoever is missing shall not live.” But Jehu did it with cunning in order to destroy the worshipers of Baal. And Jehu ordered, “Sanctify a solemn assembly for Baal.” So they proclaimed it. And Jehu sent throughout all Israel, and all the worshipers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left who did not come. And they entered the house of Baal, and the house of Baal was filled from one end to the other. He said to him who was in charge of the wardrobe, “Bring out the vestments for all the worshipers of Baal.” So he brought out the vestments for them. Then Jehu went into the house of Baal with Jehonadab the son of Rechab, and he said to the worshipers of Baal, “Search, and see that there is no servant of the LORD here among you, but only the worshipers of Baal.” Then they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings.
Now Jehu had stationed eighty men outside and said, “The man who allows any of those whom I give into your hands to escape shall forfeit his life.” So as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, Jehu said to the guard and to the officers, “Go in and strike them down; let not a man escape.” So when they put them to the sword, the guard and the officers cast them out and went into the inner room of the house of Baal, and they brought out the pillar that was in the house of Baal and burned it. And they demolished the pillar of Baal, and demolished the house of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day.
Jehu Reigns in Israel
Thus Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel. But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin—that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan. And the LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin.
In those days the LORD began to cut off parts of Israel. Hazael defeated them throughout the territory of Israel: from the Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the Valley of the Arnon, that is, Gilead and Bashan. Now the rest of the acts of Jehu and all that he did, and all his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? So Jehu slept with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son reigned in his place. The time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty-eight years.
2 Kings 10 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“Jehu follows God as far as his interest would permit… but no further.”Matthew Poole
It’s a bloodbath. Jehu takes the mission of eradicating the false worship of Baal and the lineage of Ahab from the land. It is downright gory as he slays the sons, the family, friends, and others associated with the previous evil king. Some question if he went too far. Even Hosea would write years later that punishment would come upon the house of Jehu for the slaughter.
Jehu boldly proclaimed to Jehonadab to step into his chariot and “See my zeal for the Lord” as he drove to destroy the Baal worshipers. But in the end, there are issues to contend with as we read the story. Jehu went on a killing spree that bordered on personal ambition, power, and cruelty – looking for God to bless his behavior. Yes, the prophecies had been spoken of Jehu specifically taking out Ahab’s family and ridding them from the face of the earth – but his statement of ‘my zeal’ shows how there was a mix of his own pride in the mix.
There is also the issue of not dealing with the other false worship going on in the land – that of the golden calves. Jehu may have wiped out Baal worship during his reign but these places in Dan and Bethel remained. This was more than likely a political move. If he had destroyed the calves, the people would have been forced to go and worship at the temple in Jerusalem, which was in the rival southern kingdom.
This was why these places were set up in the first place. Baal worship was established through Ahab and it was advantageous to remove them. The golden calves had a longer history of existence and were a bizarre representation of God Himself, although He had proclaimed it was idolatrous.
And herein lies the problem. Jehu obeyed God only to a certain point and no further. He chose to get rid of the things that were right but also that benefited him. He would not touch the things that could bring some political division. He also was filled with pride in his endeavor that brought about the literal overkill. Obviously, there is much that Jehu did right in the eyes of the Lord, but God still didn’t have his heart completely.
“But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart.”2 Kings 10:31
He failed to walk in the life of fellowship with God. This was his ultimate failure. As Morgan says, “It is possible to be an instrument in the hand of God and yet never be in fellowship with Him.” He became a man God used but never became God’s servant. There’s a difference there, a very large one.
We need heart checks like this story provides. We can be very active in our work for God and still not surrender our hearts in obedience to the desires He has for us.
2 Kings 10 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
When this chapter begins you get a sense that Jehu is going to be a ferocious warrior for the Lord. He eliminates Ahab’s family, doing everything the Lord has asked. He follows that by completely wiping out the prophets of Baal through deception and trickery. With the prophets of Baal trapped inside, the slaughter begins. But he isn’t done yet. He turns the temple of Baal into a latrine. Literally – a trash dump.
“A place for human excrement; so all the versions understand it. Nothing could be more degrading than this.”Adam Clarke
What these acts turned out to be, in actuality, were good deeds to benefit himself rather than God. We see this with the immense hypocrisy of allowing the golden calf worship to continue. Many believe Jehu was seeking personal glory and acting out of pride in his elimination of Ahab’s family (especially because he executed more people than required). In some ways, Jehu was a paradox. He annihilated Baal worship but was never totally sold out to God.
“How much easier it is to see and rebuke the sins of others, than to take heed to our own ways! It is comparatively easy to detect and destroy the sinner, without personally yielding to the claims of God ourselves.”F.B. Meyer
These are strong words. How many of us are in the same boat? How many of us are quick to point out the “greater sins” of others while we indulge ourselves with “common sins.” I do not want to be known as someone who only followed Jesus to a certain point. I don’t want to be known as a Christian who pointed out the speck in another’s eye before addressing the plank in my own.
Jehu did some good things. Some would even say they were great things. The truth is, he was not sensitive to the heart of God. He was only sensitive to God’s task list. When our relationship with God is built on trust and love, we change. When it’s built on following the rules and executing commands, we become lukewarm. In reality, Jehu probably suppressed the truth of his own idol worship because he had done enough “good” by ridding the nation of Baal.
I don’t want to be known for getting lots of tasks done for God. I want to be known for loving like Jesus.