The Word Made Fresh
1Elisha sent for a man from the prophetic guild and said to him, “Tuck in your gown and carry this flask of oil to Ramoth-gilead. 2When you arrive look for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat son of Nimshi. When you find him, take him away from his companions into another room, 3then pour the oil on his head and tell him, ‘This is from the LORD; I anoint you king of Israel.’ Then don’t hang around; get away from there as fast as you can.”
4The prophet, a young man, went to Ramoth-Gilead. 5When he arrived all the officers were in a meeting. He said, “I have a message for you, general.”
“For which one of us?” Jehu asked. And he said, “For you, general.” Then Jehu went inside with him to an empty room, and the young prophet poured the oil on his head, saying, “This is what the LORD God of Israel declares: ‘I anoint you king over the LORD’s people Israel. You will wipe out the family of your master Ahab and take vengeance on Jezebel for spilling the blood of my servants the prophets and others of my followers. 8The entire family of Ahab must die so that they will no longer have any authority over anyone in Israel, slave or free. 9The family of Ahab will disappear like the family of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and the family of Baasha son of Ahijah. 10The dogs will eat the remains of Jezebel at Jezreel, and no one will give her a burial.’”
Then the young prophet left the room and ran. 11When Jehu returned to the other officers they asked, “Is everything okay? Why did that idiot boy drag you away from us?”
“Oh,” he said, “you know the type, how they ramble on about things.”
12“You’re hiding something!” they said. “Tell us what he said!”
Jehu replied, “This is exactly what he told me: ‘The LORD says you are anointed king over Israel.’”
13At once they all removed their coats and spread them on the bare floor, then they had the trumpet blown and announced, “Jehu is king!” 14Then Jehu plotted to overthrow Joram. Joram had been with the army at Ramoth-Gilead preparing for King Hazael of Aram to attack, 15but had been wounded in the fight and had returned to Jezreel to recover.
Jehu told the other officers, “If you support me, then don’t let anyone leave from here to go to Jezreel and spread the word.” 16Then he mounted his chariot and drove it to Jezreel where king Joram was resting. King Ahaziah of Judah was also there, visiting Joram.
17The sentinel in the tower at Jezreel saw the people coming with Jehu and called out, “I see a crowd of people approaching.”
Joram said, “Send a chariot driver out to meet them and ask if they come in peace.” 18One was sent, and when the driver approached Jehu, he called out, “Do you come in peace?”
Jehu retorted, “What do you care about peace? Get behind us and follow me.”
The sentinel in the tower announced, “The messenger has met them, but he isn’t returning!” 19So the king sent a second messenger. When he came to Jehu and his entourage he said, “The king asks, ‘Do you come in peace?’”
Jehu retorted, “What do you care about peace? Get behind us and follow me.”
20The sentinel in the tower announced, “The messenger met them, but he isn’t returning. The one driving the lead chariot looks like Jehu son of Nimshi. He drives like a madman.”
21Joram ordered his chariot readied and he and king Ahaziah in their chariots went to meet Jehu. They met him in the field that had belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. 22When they met Jehu the king asked if they had come in peace.
Jehu said, “How can there be peace as long as your filthy mother Jezebel continues her wicked behavior?”
23Joram wheeled his chariot around to flee, and called out to Ahaziah, “It’s a trap!”
24Jehu took his bow and shot Joram in the back. The arrow pierced his heart, and he fell in the chariot. 25Jehu ordered his chariot driver, Bidkar, to take Joram’s body and throw it on the ground that had belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. “Remember,” he said to Bidkar, “how you and I were driving chariots behind his father Ahab when the LORD said, 26‘Yesterday I saw Naboth’s blood and his son’s blood, and I will repay you on this very plot of ground.’ That is what the LORD declared. So, take his body and throw him out there and fulfill the word of the LORD.”
27Judah’s king Ahaziah saw what was happening and fled down the road toward Beth-haggan. Jehu pursued him and ordered his men to shoot him. They shot him in his chariot on the way to Gur, near Ibleam. Ahaziah managed to flee to Megiddo and that is where he died. 28His attendants carried his body back to Jerusalem and he was buried in the tomb of his ancestors in the city of David. 29Ahaziah had become king of Judah in the eleventh year of Joram, son of Ahab.
30Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard he was coming, she applied her makeup and brushed her hair. She looked down from her window 31and saw Jehu coming through the gate. She called out, “Have you come in peace, Zimri, you murderer of your king?”
32Jehu looked up at her and called out, “Who is with me?” Two or three attendants looked down at him, 33and he yelled, “Throw her down!” They threw her out the window. Her blood splattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her body.
34Jehu then went into a house to have a meal. He said, “Go and pick up that wicked woman’s body and bury her. She was the daughter of a king, you know.” 35They went to bury her, but all they found of her was her head, her hands and her feet. 36They reported back to Jehu, and he said, “The LORD said through his servant Elijah from Tishbe that dogs would devour Jezebel’s body in Jezreel. 37Take what is left of her and let it be fertilizer in that field in Jezreel, so no one will ever be able to say, ‘Here lies Jezebel.’”
1-3: We finally come to the fulfillment of Elijah’s mission outlined in I Kings 19:15-16. He did appoint Elisha to take his place as head of the prophetic community in Israel, but then Elisha is the one who announced Hazael to be king over Aram (8:13), and now he also names Jehu king over Israel. Curiously, none of the three are actually anointed with oil by either Elijah or Elisha. Jehu is being anointed here, but by one of the other members of the prophetic guild sent by Elisha.
4-10: The young prophet goes to Ramoth-Gilead where the armies of Israel are trying to retake the territory from the Arameans (now under King Hazael). The army commanders are in council together, so he has to separate Jehu from them and meet with him privately in another room. They go inside and the young prophet pours the oil over his head and anoints him king of Israel. He tells him he is the one to carry out God’s will that Ahab’s house (now ruled by Jehoram/Joram)) must be destroyed and Jezebel killed. This is the first we’ve heard of Jezebel since Ahab died; she apparently still holds a great deal of authority in Israel. As soon as he has made the announcement to Jehu, he runs like crazy.
11-13: Jehu goes back to the other commanders. They ask what the young “madman” wanted – the prophets had quite a reputation, didn’t they? He is reluctant to tell them, but they persist, and he obviously has enough trust in his fellow soldiers to tell them that he has been anointed king over Israel. Their reaction is immediate and perhaps a bit surprising. They spread their cloaks on the steps for him to walk up and take a seat above them; it is a spontaneous act of submission. Jehu has their respect, while king Joram obviously does not.
14-16: Jehu tells his fellow officers to make sure no one alarms King Joram, then climbs into his chariot and dashes off to Jezreel with a cavalry unit. Jezreel is where Joram is recovering from his wounds, and where King Ahaziah of Judah is visiting (see 8:28-29).
17-20: We go to Joram’s enclave at Jezreel. A sentinel in the tower calls out that he has spotted a cohort of chariots approaching. First one messenger is sent and then another to find out if the approaching chariots are friend or foe. Both times Jehu tells the messenger to fall in behind him and continues driving madly toward Jezreel. The sentinel calls out that he thinks it is Jehu coming because he drives like a maniac.
21-26: Now Joram himself rides out to see why Jehu is coming. Ahaziah accompanies him. He probably assumes there is some news of the battle at Ramoth-Gilead because Jehu is, after all, his general. But when we read that they meet at the property of one Naboth, we know they are in trouble because Naboth is the one Jezebel had murdered so Ahab could take over his farm (see I Kings 21). Joram asks Jehu if it is peace; that is, is the battle over? Jehu replies with a slur against Joram’s mother Jezebel, and Joram knows it is not peace. He turns to run, but Jehu strings an arrow and sends it through Joram’s heart. He tells his men to throw his body out on the ground of what was once Naboth’s vineyard because when he had been Ahab’s bodyguard he had heard Elijah pronounce Jezebel’s fate (I Kings 21:19).
27-29: Ahaziah flees and he, too, is cut down. He manages to make it to where he receives a state funeral.
30-37: Jezebel hears of the death of her son, and it appears that she is dressing herself for her funeral. She knows her time is up. She taunts Jehu from her tower window, calling him Zimri, an army officer who had murdered King Elah of Israel and taken over the throne, but whose reign lasted but one week (see 1 Kings 16). Jehu orders some of the servants to throw her out of the tower and she falls to a bloody death. Jehu then goes inside the city and has dinner. He gives orders that Jezebel is to be buried, but they come back and tell him they can’t find enough of her to bury. Jehu notes that this, too, is in keeping with Elijah’s prophesy, although the way he describes it here is not exactly the way it was reported in I Kings 21.
No matter how powerful and wealthy the wicked become, their eternal fate is always the same.