The Word Made Fresh
1There were seventy sons of Ahab living in Samaria. Jehu wrote letters to the city officials and to the elders and guardians of Ahab’s sons. 2The letters said, “Ahab’s sons are with you, and you have horses and chariots, a fortified city and weapons. When you receive this letter, 3decide on which of your lord Ahab’s sons is the brightest and best. Put him on his father’s throne and fight for your lord’s family.”
4They were terrified. They said, “Not even two kings could overcome him! How can we hope to be successful against him?” 5So, the officer in charge of the palace, the mayor, the elders of the city and the guardians of Ahab’s family all signed a letter to be sent back to Jehu. It read, “We are your servants, and we will do whatever you say. We won’t make anyone king. Proceed as you wish.”
6Jehu responded with another letter: “If you are loyal to me and swear to be obedient to me, then take the heads of Ahab’s sons and bring them to me at Jezreel by this time tomorrow.”
Ahab’s seventy sons were in the care of city leaders who had been placed in charge of them. 7When they received the letter they killed all seventy of king Ahab’s sons. They sent the heads in baskets to Jehu at Jezreel.
8A messenger told Jehu, “They have brought the heads of the king’s sons.” Jehu said, “Gather them in two piles at the main gate and let them stay there until morning.” 9The next morning he went there to address the people. He told them, “You are innocent. I am the only one who plotted against king Joram and killed him. But who killed all these? 10Know this: nothing the LORD has said against Ahab’s family will fail to come to pass. The LORD has done exactly as the prophet Elijah told you.” 11Then Jehu had every member of Ahab’s family remaining in Jezreel put to death. Not one of his administrators, friends or priests remained.
12Jehu then traveled to Samaria. Beth-Eked of the Shepherds was on his route, 13and there he met the brothers of Judah’s king Ahaziah. “Who are you?” he demanded.
“We are Ahaziah’s family,” they said. “We have come to visit the king’s sons and the queen mother’s sons.”
14“Take them alive!” Jehu ordered his soldiers, and then had them executed at the well of Beth-Eked, all forty-two of them. Not one was left alive.
15As Jehu continued his journey, he saw Rechab’s son Jehonadab. He asked, “Are you and I of the same heart?”
“Yes!” Jehonadab answered.
“Then give me your hand,” and he pulled him up into the chariot with him. 16“Come with me and see how committed to the LORD I am,” he said, and they rode together. 17When he arrived in Samaria, he had everyone left who was connected to Ahab put to death. He killed them all, and so everything the LORD had spoken to Elijah came to pass.
18Then Jehu gathered all the people, and called out, “Ahab served Baal a little, but Jehu will serve him a lot! 19Bring me all the prophets of Baal, everyone who worships him and all his priests! Don’t let any of them be missing! I am going to offer a great sacrifice to Baal, and any of them who is missing will die!
They sent out the word. 21Indeed, Jehu had the word sent throughout Israel, and all the Baal worshipers came; none were missing. They filled the temple of Baal from wall to wall. 22Jehu told the man who was in charge of the vestments to bring them out for all the worshipers, and he did. 23Then Jehu entered the temple of Baal with Jehonadab son of Rechab. He called out to all the Baal worshipers, “Make certain there are no worshipers of the LORD here, but only those who worship Baal!” 24Then they began to offer sacrifices and other burnt offerings.
Jehu had stationed eighty soldiers outside, and told them, “Whoever lets a single one of them escape will be sentenced to death!” 25Then, as soon as he had finished presenting burnt offerings, he told the soldiers and their officers, “Come in, now, and kill them all! Don’t let a one of them get away!” The soldiers and officers began to kill them and throw their bodies out. 26Then they went into the central area of the temple, brought out the religious artifacts placed there, and burned them. 27Then they destroyed the statue of Baal, and they destroyed the temple. They made it a latrine, and that is what it is used for to this day.
28That is how Jehu ended the worship of Baal in Israel. 29However, he did not erase the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat by which he had corrupted Israel. He left the golden calves in Bethel and in Dan.
30The LORD said to Jehu, “You have done what I said should be done and have dealt with Ahab’s people as I said, and because of that your sons to the fourth generation shall sit on Israel’s throne.” 31But Jehu didn’t follow the LORD’s commandments with all his heart and did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam by which he had corrupted Israel.
32In those days the LORD began to cut off parts of Israel, and let King Hazael of Aram defeat them on a number of fronts: 33all of Gilead from the Jordan eastward; the territories of Gad and Reuben and Manasseh; the land from Aroer by the Arnon stream including Gilead and Bashan.
34The rest of Jehu’s deeds and accomplishments are written in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Israel. 35He died and joined his ancestors and was buried in Samaria. He was succeeded by his son, Jehoahaz. 36He had ruled Israel from Samaria for twenty-eight years.
1-11: In the ancient world, if you staged a successful coup the first thing you did was to get rid of all possible opposition in the form of authentic claims to the crown. So, Jehu moves immediately to eliminate members of the king’s family. It appears that King Ahab had seventy-two sons, Ahaziah and Joram plus the seventy others we read about here. When Ahab died he was succeeded by his son Ahaziah, and when Ahaziah died he was succeeded by his brother Joram. Apparently neither Ahaziah nor Joram have sons, so the likeliest successor to the throne is one of the seventy other sons of Ahab and Jezebel. Jehu wastes no time in taking care of that potential threat. He sends a message to the capital to those who are in charge of the 70 sons of Ahab. Pick one of them, he says, make him the king in place of Joram, and send him out to fight. They said, “not on your life!” and sent word back that they’re not putting anybody up for king. He sends back that if they want to be in his good graces, they should kill those seventy sons and send their heads to him at Jezreel next day. They do just that, believe it or not. Jehu has the 70 heads stacked up at the gates. Next morning, he stands before them, points at all the heads they have severed, and tells them that though they are innocent of the blood of Joram and Ahaziah, they certainly do have blood on their hands. He reminds them of God’s curse on Ahab. Then (thankfully we are spared the gory details for a change) he undertakes to kill everybody in Jezreel who has any connection to the house of Ahab.
12-14: Jehu heads for Samaria, the capital. On the way he comes across a caravan of 42 relatives of King Ahaziah of Judah who haven’t gotten the word of the coup. He has them put to death as well.
15-17: We have not met Jehonadab before, but he is apparently an acquaintance of Jehu, probably with military connections. He is never mentioned again. Jehu picks him up on the way to Samaria, and proceeds to execute everyone in the capital city who has any connection to Ahab.
18-23: Jehu claims to be big on Baal and orders an assembly of all the Baal worshipers in the country, and they come. Probably they come gladly, thinking this new king will support them just as the previous king has done. When they have all come together, Jehu orders them to make certain there are no worshipers of the LORD in there.
24-27: Assured of that, he opens the doors, and eighty soldiers help Jehu and Jehonadab put every one of the Baal worshipers to death. They demolish the pillar of Baal’s statue, then demolish the entire temple. Well, they didn’t exactly destroy it; they turned it into a bathroom for tourists. Or whoever needs one.
28-31: Jehu tries to put an end to Baal worship in Israel, but he still allows the worship of those golden calves that Jeroboam had made as a rival religion to the festivals in Jerusalem. So, history judges him to have been a bad, bad king.
32-36: Jehu reigns for 28 years, but his promising start fizzles and through the years the Syrians (Arameans) under Hazael chip away at his territory until he has nothing left east of the Jordan River. He dies and is succeeded by his son, Jehoahaz.
It is not enough to put aside and cast out most of the things we worship apart from God. We must turn away from all of them.