Jehu, King of Israel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 19, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

We learned a little about Jehu, king of Israel, in last week’s post about King Ahaziah of Judah, but today we’re going to dig into Jehu’s story a bit more. We read about Jehu in 2 Kings 9-10, and his story intersects with King Ahaziah of Judah and King Joram of Israel.

The prophet Elisha was the one who initially singled out Jehu. He summoned a young man from his company of prophets and sent him to where the battle was taking place at Ramoth Gilead. That prophet was then supposed to locate Jehu son of Jehoshaphat and anoint him as king. Elisha told him, “Then take the flask and pour the oil on his head and declare, ‘This is what the LORD says: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and run; don’t delay!” (2 Kings 9:3). It was an anoint and run!

The prophet did exactly as Elisha told him. He gave the following prophecy to Jehu during the anointing: “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you king over the LORD’s people Israel. You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the LORD’s servants shed by Jezebel. The whole house of Ahab will perish. I will cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her” (2 Kings 9:6b-10a) And then he ran away, just as instructed.

All that was done inside a house, in secret from the rest of the officers at the battle. When Jehu emerged and the other officers were curious what that was all about, Jehu simply told them that he had been anointed king of Israel! The officers immediately honored Jehu as their new king. Jehu conveniently left out the part about being told to assassinate Joram, the current king of Israel at the time!

By that point, Joram had been injured and had gone to Jezreel to recover from the battle with the Arameans at Ramoth Gilead. Jehu told the other officers that if they wanted him to be king, they should keep it quiet that he was leaving and going to Jezreel. He didn’t want news of the conspiracy and assassination leaking out to thwart his plans.

When Jehu arrived at Jezreel, Joram’s lookout saw the person on horseback approaching, and a messenger was sent out to ask if he was coming in peace. Jehu commanded the messenger to fall in behind him. When that messenger didn’t return, they sent another out, and the same thing happened again. By that time, the lookout recognized Jehu based on his chariot driving style, which was “like a maniac”! (2 Kings 9:20).

Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah who was visiting both hitched up their chariots and went out to meet Jehu. Joram asks if Jehu comes in peace, and Jehu replies, “How can there be peace as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?” (2 Kings 9:22b). Jezebel was actually Joram’s and Ahaziah’s grandmother, but she still had great influence over these two kings and their wicked ways.

Joram tries to flee, warning Ahaziah of the treachery that Jehu was committing, and Jehu shot Joram between the shoulders, piercing his heart with the arrow. Jehu commanded his chariot officer to pick up the body and throw it on the field that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite, which he did. Ahaziah fled but Jehu chased him. Jehu’s men wounded Ahaziah but he escaped, though he didn’t get terribly far when he died from that injury.

Jehu wasn’t done with his murderous rampage just yet! Next, he went for Jezebel – his wicked grandmother. Hearing that he was coming, Jezebel puts her makeup on, fixes her hair, and waits for him by a window. When Jehu arrives, Jezebel asks if he comes in peace. A few of her eunuchs looked out the window at him, and Jehu commands them to throw Jezebel down out the window – which they do! And then Jehu trampled her with his horses to finish her murder.

Jehu went inside and got some food and drink, then he ordered some servants to bury Jezebel. But when they went out, all that was left was her skull, feet, and hands. This fulfilled the prophecy from 1 Kings 21:23: “And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’”

However, Ahab still had 70 sons who could try and take the throne from Jehu. So Jehu wrote them all letters to challenge them to a fight. But all of Ahab’s sons were terrified; if King Ahaziah and King Joram couldn’t stand up to Jehu, how could they? So the administrators in the palace gave in and told Jehu they would do whatever he wanted. Jehu asked for the heads of Ahab’s sons and to meet him in Jezreel. All 70 of them were beheaded, and their heads were brought to Jehu who asked for them to be put into two piles by the city gate at Jezreel.

The next morning, Jehu announced to all the people that the house of Ahab fell, according to the word of the Lord through Elijah. And then Jehu killed the entire rest of the house of Ahab who remained in Jezreel, including all his close friends, priests, leaders, etc. Jehu continued his murderous rampage of everyone in the house of Ahab in Samaria, and he left no survivors (2 Kings 10:17).

But wait – there’s more! Jehu summoned all the prophets of Baal under the guise of holding a great sacrifice to the false god. Once Jehu and his sidekick Jehonadab (who he picked up in Samaria) made sure that everyone there was a servant of Baal, all the prophets of Baal were murdered. Jehu and his men then demolished the temple and everything to do with Baal worship. That sounds like a great move, except Jehu did not stop all idolatry; he still worshiped the golden calves at Bethel and Dan that Jeroboam had set up.

What did God think of all of Jehu’s actions? “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 10:30-31).

Jehu is an example of a king who was “close but not quite” with following God. He followed God in some aspects – in spite of all the murder he committed – but he also did not make a great effort to be obedient to God. He still allowed some idolatry to happen, though he did get rid of a large part of it through destroying the temple of Baal and all his prophets.

In what ways in your life are you “close but not quite”? Are you following God with all that you are, or are you just being obedient to parts of what God asks you to do?

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