2 Kings 9 – Jehu Takes the Throne of Israel
It is indeed a terrible chapter in which the truth of the divine government is written no longer in the gentle words of patient mercy, but in flames of fire. (Morgan)
A. Jehu is anointed and declared king.
1. (1-3) Elisha’s instructions to the young prophet.
And Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said to him, “Get yourself ready, take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth Gilead. Now when you arrive at that place, look there for Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, and go in and make him rise up from among his associates, and take him to an inner room. Then take the flask of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, ‘Thus says the LORD: “I have anointed you king over Israel.”’ Then open the door and flee, and do not delay.”
a. Called one of the sons of the prophets: This was a young man from the association for training prophets in Israel. We might imagine that Elisha gave him this duty as a class assignment.
i. “This unnamed young prophet is identified in Jewish tradition (Seder Olam) with Jonah (2 Kings 14:25).” (Wiseman)
b. I have anointed you king over Israel: At this time, Joram the son of Ahab was the king of Israel (also called Jehoram in 2 Kings 3). This was the dynasty of Omri, but this dynasty was about to come to an end. The next king would be Jehu, who would begin a new – albeit a brief – dynasty.
i. Though Israel had abandoned God, God had not abandoned Israel. He still had the right to interfere among them. He would appoint and allow kings as He chose, either to bless an obedient Israel or to curse a disobedient nation, according to the terms of His covenant with them at Mount Sinai.
ii. “Jehu is mentioned twice in the cuneiform inscriptions on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III…. The Shalmaneser inscriptions also give us an objective date for this period in Hebrew chronology, 841 b.c.” (Dilday)
2. (4-10) Jehu is anointed and commissioned.
So the young man, the servant of the prophet, went to Ramoth Gilead. And when he arrived, there were the captains of the army sitting; and he said, “I have a message for you, Commander.” Jehu said, “For which one of us?” And he said, “For you, Commander.” Then he arose and went into the house. And he poured the oil on his head, and said to him, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I have anointed you king over the people of the LORD, over Israel. You shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; and I will cut off from Ahab all the males in Israel, both bond and free. So I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah. The dogs shall eat Jezebel on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her.’ ” And he opened the door and fled.
a. There were the captains of the army sitting: Jehu was a commander in the army of Israel, under King Ahab and his son, King Joram. Jehu was previously anointed as a future king of Israel, who would overthrow the dynasty of Omri and Ahab (1 Kings 19:16-18). Yet that was a long time previous to this, and now he was anointed again to show that the time of fulfillment of the previous prophecy was now at hand.
b. And he poured the oil on his head: He was anointed, but was not to take the throne immediately. Both Saul and David were anointed as king over Israel before they actually possessed the throne.
i. “Elisha’s insistence that the anointing ceremony be secret would allow the new king to choose the right time to raise the standard of his revolt without alerting Jehoram. The surprise would prevent the king from making preparation to oppose it.” (Dilday)
ii. “Jehu is the only king of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) to have been anointed, perhaps to indicate that he should follow in the Davidic tradition, as Saul had been anointed by Samuel; David by Samuel, to mark the Spirit of God endowing him for the task.” (Wiseman)
iii. “The anointing of the king over Israel was not an established custom, or rule. It was done when the circumstances were out of the ordinary, or when there might be some question as to his title to the crown.” (Knapp)
c. That you may strike down the house of Ahab your master: This was more than we were told Elisha told this man from the school of prophets to say (2 Kings 9:1-3). Either Elisha told him to say this and it was not recorded previously, or he came under the inspiration of the Spirit when he did what Elisha told him to do, and spoke this in spontaneous prophecy to Jehu.
d. The whole house of Ahab shall perish; and I will cut off from Ahab all the males in Israel… dogs shall eat Jezebel: Clearly, God intended to use Jehu as a tool of judgment against the royal house of Ahab.
i. The King James Version translates this line from 2 Kings 9:8: And I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall. Dilday says of this translation, “The graphic and explicit language used by the King James Version in verse 8 is the literal translation of the Hebrew word for ‘male.’ ”
3. (11-13) Jehu is declared as the king over Israel.
Then Jehu came out to the servants of his master, and one said to him, “Is all well? Why did this madman come to you?” And he said to them, “You know the man and his babble.” And they said, “A lie! Tell us now.” So he said, “Thus and thus he spoke to me, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “I have anointed you king over Israel.”’” Then each man hastened to take his garment and put it under him on the top of the steps; and they blew trumpets, saying, “Jehu is king!”
a. Why did this madman come to you… You know the man and his babble: It was easy to dismiss this prophet as a crazed, babbling madman. It was easy for both Jehu and his associates to think of any God-honoring man as demented. Yet Jehu knew – and the others soon did also – that the man was a true prophet of God.
i. Yet when Jehu emerged from the tent with his head drenched with oil, it was easier to think that the man who did it was a madman. “So God’s prophets were ever counted and called by the mad world.” (Trapp)
b. Jehu is king: A moment before, these men regarded the prophet as a madman; now they took his word seriously and proclaimed the reluctant Jehu as the king of Israel. This shows the sense of dissatisfaction they had with Joram.
i. “The act of spreading out the garment was one of recognition, loyalty and promise of support.” (Wiseman)
B. Jehu brings God’s judgment to the house of Omri.
1. (14-20) Jehu’s approach to Jezreel, the city where Joram was recovering.
So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, conspired against Joram. (Now Joram had been defending Ramoth Gilead, he and all Israel, against Hazael king of Syria. But King Joram had returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds which the Syrians had inflicted on him when he fought with Hazael king of Syria.) And Jehu said, “If you are so minded, let no one leave or escape from the city to go and tell it in Jezreel.” So Jehu rode in a chariot and went to Jezreel, for Joram was laid up there; and Ahaziah king of Judah had come down to see Joram. Now a watchman stood on the tower in Jezreel, and he saw the company of Jehu as he came, and said, “I see a company of men.” And Joram said, “Get a horseman and send him to meet them, and let him say, ‘Is it peace?’ ” So the horseman went to meet him, and said, “Thus says the king: ‘Is it peace?’ ” And Jehu said, “What have you to do with peace? Turn around and follow me.” So the watchman reported, saying, “The messenger went to them, but is not coming back.” Then he sent out a second horseman who came to them, and said, “Thus says the king: ‘Is it peace?’ ” And Jehu answered, “What have you to do with peace? Turn around and follow me.” So the watchman reported, saying, “He went up to them and is not coming back; and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously!”
a. Is it peace: Upon seeing the company of Jehu approach, King Joram wanted to know if this mysterious group came in peace. As he waited to recover full strength in Jezreel, Joram was fundamentally insecure in his hold on the throne and easily suspected threats.
b. What have you to do with peace: Jehu meant that the soldier should not regard this as a time of peace, but a time of conflict – a time to violently overthrow the throne of Joram and the dynasty he came from.
i. When two messengers did not return but instead joined the company of Jehu, it showed that he enjoyed popular support among the troops of Israel, and King Joram did not.
c. The driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously: Jehu was such an intense man that his personality could be easily seen in the way he drove a chariot.
2. (21-24) Jehu kills King Joram.
Then Joram said, “Make ready.” And his chariot was made ready. Then Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot; and they went out to meet Jehu, and met him on the property of Naboth the Jezreelite. Now it happened, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, “Is it peace, Jehu?” So he answered, “What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many?” Then Joram turned around and fled, and said to Ahaziah, “Treachery, Ahaziah!” Now Jehu drew his bow with full strength and shot Jehoram between his arms; and the arrow came out at his heart, and he sank down in his chariot.
a. Met him on the property of Naboth the Jezreelite: This was the land that Ahab and Jezebel had so wickedly obtained by murdering the innocent owner of the land – Naboth. On this very land – which, as far as God was concerned, still belonged to Naboth – the dynasty of Omri would meet its judgment.
b. Is it peace, Jehu: The wicked, compromising Joram wanted peace with Jehu. None of the dynasty of Omri wanted peace with God; nor did Ahab and Jezebel want peace with Naboth.
i. Joram’s demeanor towards Jehu shows that he did not suspect his treachery. “These never dreamt of an enemy, though the messengers were detained, but thought, likely, that Jehu came with good news from the army, whereof himself would be the first messenger.” (Trapp)
c. What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many: This shows that Jehu took his previous anointing by Elijah (1 Kings 19:16-17) and his more recent anointing by one from the school of the prophets seriously. At this point, Jehu’s mind was not filled with thoughts of political gain and royal glory. He did this for the honor of God, as a conscious executor of divine judgment against the house of Ahab.
d. Shot Jehoram between his arms: Despite the confusing variation of the names Jehoram and Joram, it is clear that Jehu killed the king of Israel with a powerful shot through his back while he fled in his chariot.
i. Wiseman on drew his bow with full strength: “A technical archery term is used: ‘filled his hand with the bow,’ that is, stretched the bow ‘with his full strength.’ ”
ii. “Jehu was an excellent marksman; but it was God that guided his hand, strengthened his arm (Ezekiel 30:24), and ordered his arrow (Jeremiah 1:9).” (Trapp)
3. (25-26) Joram’s body is dumped in Naboth’s vineyard.
Then Jehu said to Bidkar his captain, “Pick him up, and throw him into the tract of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite; for remember, when you and I were riding together behind Ahab his father, that the LORD laid this burden upon him: ‘Surely I saw yesterday the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons,’ says the LORD, ‘and I will repay you in this plot,’ says the LORD. Now therefore, take and throw him on the plot of ground, according to the word of the LORD.”
a. Throw him on the plot of ground, according to the word of the LORD: This confirms that Jehu saw himself as a fulfiller of God’s will in bringing judgment on the house of Ahab.
4. (27-29) Jehu also kills Ahaziah, king of Judah.
But when Ahaziah king of Judah saw this, he fled by the road to Beth Haggan. So Jehu pursued him, and said, “Shoot him also in the chariot.” And they shot him at the Ascent of Gur, which is by Ibleam. Then he fled to Megiddo, and died there. And his servants carried him in the chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his tomb with his fathers in the City of David. In the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab, Ahaziah had become king over Judah.
a. So Jehu pursued him: Jehu had no direct command or commission from God to bring judgment upon the king of Judah, but he did anyway. Consciously or unconsciously, he was guided by God and he killed Ahaziah.
b. He fled to Megiddo, and died there: Ahaziah was happy to associate himself with the Northern Kingdom of Israel and their wicked kings. Therefore he died in the same judgment that came upon the king of Israel.
i. Ahaziah was also a blood relative of Ahab (Ahab was his grandfather), therefore making him liable under the judgment that came upon Ahab and his descendants.
ii. 2 Chronicles 22:1-9 also records the reign of Ahaziah and his inglorious end at the hands of Jehu. The reconciliation of the details of the death of Ahaziah between 2 Chronicles 22 and 2 Kings 9 is complicated, but definitely possible. Adam Clarke – among other commentators – carefully works out the details.
iii. When Ahaziah was killed in battle, they gave him a dignified burial – not for his own sake, but only because his ancestor Jehoshaphat was a godly man (2 Chronicles 22:9).
5. (30-37) Jezebel is killed in exact fulfillment of God’s promise.
Now when Jehu had come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she put paint on her eyes and adorned her head, and looked through a window. Then, as Jehu entered at the gate, she said, “Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of your master?” And he looked up at the window, and said, “Who is on my side? Who?” So two or three eunuchs looked out at him. Then he said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses; and he trampled her underfoot. And when he had gone in, he ate and drank. Then he said, “Go now, see to this accursed woman, and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.” So they went to bury her, but they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. Therefore they came back and told him. And he said, “This is the word of the LORD, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; and the corpse of Jezebel shall be as refuse on the surface of the field, in the plot at Jezreel, so that they shall not say, “Here lies Jezebel.”’”
a. Is it peace, Zimri: Jezebel called Jehu Zimri after the man who assassinated King Baasha of Israel (1 Kings 16:9-12), when Zimri was also the servant of Baasha, a commander in his army. It was her way of calling Jehu a despicable rebel.
i. It was also an implied threat, because the brief reign of Zimri was ended by Omri, who was the father of Ahab and the father-in-law of this same Jezebel. By implication Jezebel said, “The dynasty of Omri will defeat you just like it defeated Zimri.”
ii. “Doubtless Jezebel’s adornment was intended to create a queenly appearance in the face of impending death and served as a royal burial preparation.” (Patterson and Austel)
iii. “Her innate vanity manifested itself up till the last.” (Knapp)
b. So they threw her down: The eunuchs at the window probably worked for Jezebel, but they quickly responded to Jehu’s request for support. They probably had long despised this wicked, pagan queen.
i. Jehu emphatically answered her question about peace. “There cannot be true peace so long as we permit the infidelities and charms of some Jezebel of the soul-life to attract and affect us… Whatever its charms, it must be flung out the window before we can be at peace.” (Meyer)
c. He trampled her underfoot: In ancient near eastern cultures, this desecration of the dead body was a fate worse than death. Yet Jehu was completely untroubled at the ugly end of Jezebel; he ate and drank after trampling over her dead body and passing over the pavement splattered with her blood.
i. “Her brains, that devised mischief against the servants of God, are strewed upon the walls.” (Trapp)
d. This is the word of the LORD: God’s promise against Jezebel and the house of Ahab was exactly and righteously fulfilled (1 Kings 21:19, 21:23-25).
i. “Jehoram’s blood manureth that plat that was wrung from Naboth, and Jezebel shall add to this compost. Oh, garden of herbs dearly bought, royally dunged!” (Trapp)
ii. Yet as the house of Jehu became corrupt, it also would face judgment. Hosea 1:4 speaks of judgment to come upon the house of Jehu: I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, and bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission