Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to them that brought up Ahab's children, saying,Ch. 2 Kings 10:1-11. Jehu destroys the whole family of Ahab (Not in Chronicles)
1. And [R.V. Now] Ahab had seventy sons] The conjunction is the usual copulative, but it is somewhat in the style of O.T. translation to commence a new section of the narrative with ‘Now’.
in Samaria] It would seem that the name here is for the whole district, as some of those slain appear to have been in Jezreel (see verse 11). But in verse 2 we have an allusion to a fenced city as though the city of Samaria were specially intended.
And Jehu wrote letters] Josephus (Ant. IX. 6. 5) says ‘two letters, one to the bringers up of the children, the other to the authorities of Samaria’.
sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel] There is a difficulty here. We cannot see why the rulers of Jezreel should be in Samaria, or why the great men in Israel should have been named ‘rulers of Jezreel’. Hence some have suggested that for ‘Jezreel’ we should read ‘Israel’. The LXX. says ‘unto the rulers of Samaria’, and with this agrees Josephus. But it is very clumsy to say ‘he sent to Samaria unto the rulers of Samaria’. Thenius suggests that the original was ‘he sent from Jezreel to the rulers of Samaria’ which seems much the easiest solution.
It was extremely politic of Jehu to send a letter to Samaria rather than to go there before he had gathered a force around him. He had come from Ramoth-gilead with a very small company, and the fame of what he had done at Jezreel would produce more effect than his presence in Samaria with a mere handful of men to support him.
to [R.V. even] the elders] As there is no preposition here in the original, and the preposition is expressed in the next clause, it seems more correct to take ‘the elders’ as in apposition to ‘the rulers of Jezreel’.
and to [R.V. unto] them that brought up Ahab’s children] [R.V. the sons of Ahab]. The change in the preposition is merely to indicate that it is the same word as that before ‘rulers’ in the previous clause. In the final words the Hebrew is somewhat irregular. ‘Them that brought up’ should properly be in construction with some noun, but as ‘children’ or ‘sons’ is not expressed, the word stands absolutely, and ‘Ahab’ is put without connection after it. No doubt the sense is expressed in the translation. Of course it was only for the ‘sons’ of the royal family that this provision of tutors was made, because out of them would come the successor to the throne.
Now as soon as this letter cometh to you, seeing your master's sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, a fenced city also, and armour;2. Now [R.V. And now] as soon as this letter cometh to you] Only an extract from the letter is here given, which the Hebrew correctly represents, and which R.V. has shewn by its translation. See a similar instance before, chap. 2 Kings 5:6.
a fenced city] This must refer to the city of Samaria, which probably was better fortified than Jezreel, and which had been especially cared for by the family of Omri by whom it was built.
Look even out the best and meetest of your master's sons, and set him on his father's throne, and fight for your master's house.3. look even [R.V. look ye] out the best] The insertion of ‘even’ gives a false emphasis, and the conjunction of the original is merely the mark of the apodosis, and is properly left unrendered in English. No doubt in the popular mind some prince had been marked out as heir to the throne, and some order of succession may have been indicated by Ahab himself, if his elder sons died without issue, but at such a juncture he would be chosen who would rally to him most assistance. Jehu sends his message like one perfectly confident in the effect it will produce.
But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, Behold, two kings stood not before him: how then shall we stand?4. Behold, two kings stood not before him] Jehu’s prompt action had prevented any details of what had been done from reaching Samaria. Perhaps had they known how the two kings had been taken by surprise and shot down as they were expecting to hear a message from the army, the elders of Samaria might have offered some resistance.
And he that was over the house, and he that was over the city, the elders also, and the bringers up of the children, sent to Jehu, saying, We are thy servants, and will do all that thou shalt bid us; we will not make any king: do thou that which is good in thine eyes.5. And he that was over the house] R.V. household. This was an official personage, the chief of the royal personal officers. So it appears from the enumeration in this verse that all the authorities yielded at once. The LXX. gives the phrase in the plural ‘they that were over the household &c.’ With the singular it is not necessary to think of one officer merely. ‘Every one of the king’s personal servants’ is implied.
the bringers up of [R.V. they that brought up] the children] Thus the word is translated in the same manner in both verses.
and will do all that thou shalt bid us] As the extermination of every person who might hereafter put forward a claim to the throne was the general rule in Eastern revolutions, we shall hardly be wrong in supposing that these men knew, when they tendered their service to Jehu, the sort of work he would wish them to undertake.
we will not make any king] R.V. any man king. The noun is expressed in the original, and makes the profession of submission somewhat more emphatic. There should be no opposition either on behalf of Ahab’s family or anybody else.
do thou that which is good] The LXX. has ‘we will do &c.’ But this they had already said.
Then he wrote a letter the second time to them, saying, If ye be mine, and if ye will hearken unto my voice, take ye the heads of the men your master's sons, and come to me to Jezreel by to morrow this time. Now the king's sons, being seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, which brought them up.6. a letter the second time] Before he presents himself to them, he will let their alarm involve them more deeply than he is involved in the destruction of the royal family.
take ye the heads] So Nicanor’s head (1Ma 7:47; 2Ma 15:30) was struck off and brought to Jerusalem, and David smote off the head of Goliath (1 Samuel 17:54) and brought it with him from the battle-field.
come to me to Jezreel] From what follows we should not discover that they obeyed this part of the order. But no doubt they did, and were ready at the gate, when Jehu came forth on the morrow, to hear what he would say of their prompt obedience. The distance between Jezreel and Samaria was only a journey of a few hours. The heads seem to have been delivered to their new master on the evening of the day on which they were asked for.
Now the king’s sons, &c.] This parenthetic sentence is inserted to show how easy it was, when they were all of one mind, for the tutors to slay the whole family at a blow.
And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king's sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent him them to Jezreel.7. and slew seventy persons] R.V. and slew them, even seventy persons. Though the pronoun is not expressed in the original, it is needed for the sense. The A.V. might signify any seventy persons.
in baskets] The word is that which is used (Jeremiah 24:2) for the baskets in which the figs were gathered.
sent him them to Jezreel] R.V. sent them unto him. Before they come themselves, they take care that the price, by which they expect to purchase Jehu’s favour, shall be paid down. The change in R.V. from the English idiom to a more close representation of the Hebrew seems altogether unnecessary.
And there came a messenger, and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king's sons. And he said, Lay ye them in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning.8. And there came a messenger, and told him] Josephus (Ant. IX. 6. 5) adds to the picture, and says that the message was received by Jehu, ‘While he was at a meal with his friends’.
Lay ye them in two heaps] Josephus here says ‘one on one side and the other on the other’. No doubt the place was chosen as one of most public resort, and where Jehu meant to come forth as their new king and take his seat next day. As the heads lay there, they would proclaim to the men of Jezreel, how completely Jehu’s conduct was accepted in Samaria. Thus without a further blow he secured the submission of the two chief cities.
until the morning] They had arrived in the evening of the day when they were cut off.
And it came to pass in the morning, that he went out, and stood, and said to all the people, Ye be righteous: behold, I conspired against my master, and slew him: but who slew all these?9. he went out, and stood] At the gate, the place of concourse, where the people usually gathered, and whither recent events would bring them in full number. Jehu in this way began to play the king.
Ye be righteous] He is about to make an appeal to the people. He therefore puts them first of all in a good frame of mind towards himself, by acknowledging them to be fit to be arbiters in the case which he is going to put before them. He admits at once that he is as Jezebel had called him ‘the murderer of his master’ (2 Kings 9:31), but before them they see the heads of the whole of Ahab’s sons, slain by the rulers of Samaria. ‘Who smote all these?’ he asks, feeling confident that his act will fade into insignificance before the enormity of their greater butchery. And he was not disappointed.
who slew [R.V. smote] all these?] The verb is not the same as in the previous clause, and the same change is needed in verses 11 and 17.
Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the LORD, which the LORD spake concerning the house of Ahab: for the LORD hath done that which he spake by his servant Elijah.10. Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the Lord] Thus Jehu constitutes himself, in the eyes of the people, the instrument by which the Lord is to avenge the evil doings of the house of Ahab. He also leads them to expect that there is more vengeance yet in store. On the phrase ‘to fall to the earth’ or ‘to the ground’ signifying ‘to be unfulfilled’ or ‘ineffective’, cf. 1 Samuel 3:19.
So Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his kinsfolks, and his priests, until he left him none remaining.11. and his kinsfolks] R.V. familiar friends. The word indicates those who were well known to him, [LXX. γνωστοὺς] and contains no notion of kinship. It is rendered, by A.V. ‘familiar friends’ in Job 19:14, and ‘acquaintance’ in Psalm 31:11 and in several other places. The final s in kinsfolks makes the form unusual in English.
and his priests] On this word, which is most frequently rendered ‘priests’, see note on 1 Kings 4:2, where it is pointed out that ‘chief ruler’ or ‘principal officer’ appears sometimes to be its meaning. That sense appears more appropriate here, where the family and the acquaintances of Ahab’s family are spoken of. The priests of Ahab, who would be the Baal-priests, would be included in the wholesale destruction of the Baal-worship described later on in this chapter.
And he arose and departed, and came to Samaria. And as he was at the shearing house in the way,12–17. On his way to Samaria Jehu slays the brethren of Ahaziah, king of Judah. He takes Jehonadab to be the witness of his zeal for Jehovah (Not in Chronicles)
12. And he arose and departed, and came [R.V. went] to Samaria] Beside being the more strictly correct rendering of the verb, the change in R.V. represents the order of events. Jehu is now starting for Samaria. On the way and before he came thither he met Jehonadab, and invited him to be his companion. The LXX. does not represent ‘and departed’.
the shearing house] R.V. the shearing house of the shepherds. The original is a more full expression here than in verse 14 below. So the additional words are needed. The phrase is explained as ‘the house of binding of the shepherds’ i.e. the place where the sheep were bound preparatory to being shorn. The R.V. margin has ‘house of gathering’, as the sheep were gathered together before the shearing began. There was probably close by some place suited for travellers to halt in, as it clearly lay along a high road. Thus we can understand how Jehu found the cavalcade of Ahab’s kindred stopping there.
Jehu met with the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah, and said, Who are ye? And they answered, We are the brethren of Ahaziah; and we go down to salute the children of the king and the children of the queen.13. the brethren of Ahaziah] And so part of Ahab’s kinsfolk, of whom Jehu was commissioned to leave none remaining.
the children of the king] i.e. Of Joram. They manifestly knew nothing of what had happened in the last few days in Jezreel.
the children of the queen] The original is the word employed elsewhere for the ‘queen-mother’. Cf. 1 Kings 15:13. So here the word must have reference to Jezebel, whose influence in Israel was very great. The LXX. notes the word by rendering it ἡ δυναστεύουσα.
And he said, Take them alive. And they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of the shearing house, even two and forty men; neither left he any of them.14. Take them alive] i.e. Make them prisoners. Perhaps for a moment he was uncertain what he should do with them, however being of Ahab’s lineage they must share the fate of the rest of that house.
And they took them alive] The LXX. has nothing to represent these words. The ‘pit’ (R.V. margin, cistern) was the great pond or pool in which the sheep were washed before shearing.
And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot.15. Jehonadab the son of Rechab] We are told (1 Chronicles 2:55) that the house of Rechab belonged to the Kenites. The marriage of Moses to a Kenite wife (Jdg 1:16) led to the Kenites going up with the children of Judah into the wilderness, and so they came to dwell among the people of Israel. We read of them several times in the history of Israel. Jael, who slew Sisera, was the wife of Heber the Kenite (Jdg 4:17), and Saul shewed kindness to the Kenites when he was sent to destroy Amalek (1 Samuel 15:6). Of Jehonadab (the name is also written Jonadab) we learn (Jeremiah 35:6-7) that he forbade his descendants to drink wine, or to live in cities, and follow settled occupations. They were always to lead a nomad life; we find too that this ordinance of Jonadab had been observed down to the days of Jeremiah. It is clear therefore that he, who was able to lay it down, and cause it to be kept, must have been a man of much influence, and one whose friendship and countenance might serve Jehu’s cause at the outset of his reign. We see also that Jonadab was thoroughly at one with Jehu in the destruction of Baal-worship. We may therefore count his kinsmen as among the more faithful portion of the people of Israel. With the double form, Jonadab and Jehonadab, compare Johanan and Jehohanan, Joiada and Jehoiada, Joram and Jehoram.
Josephus (Ant. IX. 6. 6) describes Jonadab as ‘a good man and a just, who had been long a friend of Jehu, and who greeted him and began to applaud all that he had done according to God’s will for the destruction of the house of Ahab’.
Is thine heart right] Here the LXX. adds ‘with my heart’, and later in the verse after Jonadab’s answer ‘It is’ there is inserted in the LXX. ‘And Jehu said’. These insertions make the dialogue more distinct, but there is no need to suppose that anything has fallen out from the Hebrew text in either place.
If it be] The Hebrew is literally ‘and it is’. But this form is often employed as equivalent to ‘if it is’. Cf. Jdg 6:13, where ‘if the Lord be with us’ is literally ‘and the Lord is with us’. See also Driver, Heb. Tenses, 149.
into the chariot] For a great personage to cause another to ride with him in his chariot was a mark of distinction. Cf. 1 Kings 20:33. It is noteworthy that Jehu appears to have attached much importance to Jonadab’s support and sympathy. He must therefore have considered that the people of Samaria would be influenced thereby, and if they were likely to be so influenced we may judge that many in Israel regarded a servant of Jehovah with a respect which even the Baal-worship and calf-worship had not been able to destroy.
And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot.16. see my zeal for the Lord] This was the boast of a man who did not know his own heart. He had some zeal and manifested it in the destruction of Baal, but stopped short at the suppression of the calves in Dan and Bethel. Josephus makes Jehu invite Jonadab to be witness ‘how he will spare no wicked man, but will destroy both the false prophets and the false priests and those who lead the multitude astray so that they leave the worship of the Most High, and adore strange gods: for it is a most honest and pleasing sight for a good and righteous man to see the wicked being punished’.
And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the LORD, which he spake to Elijah.17. all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria] i.e. Others more remotely connected with the royal family than the direct descendants. The great men in Samaria having slain the sons of Ahab, must be content to side with their new ruler in clearing off all that remained of his connexions, for otherwise vengeance might have awaked against themselves.
according to the saying [R.V. word] of the Lord] This is the more usual expression, but R.V. has left ‘saying of the Lord’ in 1 Kings 15:29.
And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much.18–31. Jehu by subtilty destroys the worshippers of Baal and the house of Baal. He walks in the ways of Jeroboam (Not in Chronicles)
18. Ahab served Baal a little] Hitherto Jehu’s action had been directed only against the family of Ahab, and the people had no reason to suppose that a religious reform was in the new king’s thoughts. We may judge from the ready acceptance of the announcement in this verse, that Jehu had been no different from the rest, and had gone in the way where Ahab and Jezebel led. Josephus represents him as saying that he would have twice as many gods as Ahab had.
Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtilty, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal.19. call unto me all the prophets of Baal] The LXX. represents Jehu’s words as an address to the prophets of Baal, ‘Now, O ye prophets of Baal, call ye unto me all his servants &c.’
all his servants] R.V. worshippers. As the same word is so translated at the close of this verse, and again in 21, 22, and 23, there can be no warrant for a change in this place. R.V. makes the whole consistent.
all his priests] These were not the same as the prophets. The latter gave oracles to enquirers and taught the mysteries of the worship, the priests attended on the numerous sacrifices.
Jehu did it in subtilty] The word in the original is one connected with the same root as the name Jacob, a name interpreted by Esau to signify ‘supplanter’. Such an action as his implies a certain degree of guile, and hence the sense in this verse.
And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it.20. Proclaim [R.V. Sanctify] a solemn assembly] The verb is not the same which is correctly rendered ‘they proclaimed’ in the next clause. It is constantly rendered ‘Sanctify’ elsewhere. Cf. Exodus 13:12; Joshua 7:13; Joel 1:14; Joel 2:15-16; and is the word used of making a holy war. See Jeremiah 6:4; Jeremiah 51:27-28, &c., where ‘prepare’ is the appropriate translation. ‘Proclaim’ is found as the equivalent nowhere but here.
a solemn assembly] The word (with a slightly different pointing) is used in Leviticus 23:36; Numbers 29:35; Deuteronomy 16:8; Nehemiah 8:18, of the solemn gatherings of God’s people for their sacred worship. Jehu by using such a term seems to be putting Baal entirely on a level with Jehovah, a proceeding that went, as he professed to do, beyond all Ahab’s practices.
And Jehu sent through all Israel: and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not. And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to another.21. And Jehu sent through all Israel] Here the LXX. adds the words of the notice; ‘saying, And now all ye worshippers, and all his priests and all his prophets, let no one be absent, for I am about to make a great sacrifice: whosoever shall be absent, he shall not live’. Similarly after ‘And all the worshippers of Baal came’ there is inserted ‘and all his priests and all his prophets’. These amplifications are no evidence that the Hebrew text ever had more than now stands in it. The LXX. often exhibits a desire to round off a narrative in a way very unlike Hebrew.
not a man left that came not] They had been largely encouraged in previous reigns, but now they were to be elevated above all others. Hence all that desired to be popular with the new king and could establish their claim to be counted Baalites, would reckon it a good chance, and come without fail.
the house of Baal] ‘House’ is the constant word for ‘temple’ in the Old Testament, and no doubt this building was as magnificent as the architectural skill of Tyrian workmen, and the zeal of the house of Ahab, with whom architecture seems to have been a passion, could make it. Hence it would be large enough to contain in its spacious courts an immense number of worshippers. For ‘house’ used of Solomon’s temple, see 1 Kings 8:13; 1 Kings 8:16-19, and constantly in the history of David and Solomon.
from one end to another] The Hebrew phrase is ‘mouth to mouth’ but there is no need to understand, with margin of A.V. ‘so full that they stood mouth to mouth’ which they only could have done in pairs. As in other languages, ‘mouth’ is used in Hebrew for any opening, as of a sack (Genesis 42:27), of a cave (Joshua 10:18; Joshua 10:22; Joshua 10:27), and so any doorway or entrance. Hence here ‘from one entrance to the other’. Almost the same phrase is used Ezra 9:11 (as will be seen from margin of A.V.), of a land filled ‘from one end to the other’.
And he said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal. And he brought them forth vestments.22. he said unto him that was over the vestry] The vestry must have belonged to the house of Baal; we cannot suppose that the king’s wardrobe-keeper had a stock of robes to supply such a multitude of worshippers. Probably because of the control which had been exercised there by the house of Ahab, Jehu could give orders in Baal’s temple and have them obeyed. It appears from the narrative that vestments were not used only by the priests, but by all the worshippers as well. Perhaps there was some distinction between the character and material of the robes.
And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the LORD, but the worshippers of Baal only.23. Search, and look, &c.] Not only did he manifest anxiety that all the Baal-worshippers should be present, but that none of the rest of the people should be included in the destruction. As the worshippers would be full of the thought that they were to become possessed of special privileges in the new reign, they were sure to be the best agents in excluding any who could not shew that he had belonged to Baal’s congregation before. Josephus strangely says ‘When he had come into the house with his friend Jonadab he gave commandment to search lest any alien or stranger should be among them. For he did not wish a foreigner to take part in their sacrifices’.
And when they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, Jehu appointed fourscore men without, and said, If any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escape, he that letteth him go, his life shall be for the life of him.24. And when they went in] R.V. omits ‘when’, and makes this clause an independent sentence. The LXX. has ‘and he went in’ (καἰ εἰσῆλθε).
Jehu appointed] In consequence of what has been done in the previous clause, R.V. renders ‘Now Jehu had appointed’. And as there is in the sentence a pronoun and preposition of which the A.V. takes no account, R.V. adds him = for himself, after ‘appointed’.
If any of the men whom I have brought] R.V. I bring. The sentence is very elliptical as will be seen from the italics of A.V. But the same words only are represented in LXX. For the phrase cf. 1 Kings 20:39; 1 Kings 20:42.
And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal.25. as soon as he had made an end of offering] That is, when the priests had completed the offering. We are not to suppose that Jehu himself acted as priest on the occasion, only as he had been the convoker of the solemn assembly, the whole ceremony is referred to him.
Jehu said to the guard] The ‘guard’ is that body of ‘runners’ which appears in the history as soon as a king was appointed, and which played a part in all state parade. Thus both Adonijah and Absalom provided them with ‘fifty men to run before them’ when they aspired to the throne (2 Samuel 15:1; 1 Kings 1:5). They are first spoken of in 1 Samuel 22:17, where the text of A.V. gives ‘footmen’ (R.V. guard) with ‘runners’ or ‘guard’ in the margin. Such men must necessarily be of great physical strength, and so well suited to do Jehu’s work on this occasion:
cast them out] There is no pronoun expressed in the Hebrew. And it is not easy to see why the dead bodies should have been cast out of a place which they wished to be thoroughly defiled. Hence it has been thought that the ‘casting’ here spoken of refers only to the throwing aside the dead to make their way through the courts towards the central portion of the building, where probably the more important sacrificing priests were stationed.
and went to the city of the house of Baal] The word rendered ‘city’ is applied to smaller enclosures than we usually understand by it now, and seems here to indicate some principal part of the temple edifice. In illustration of the use of this word for some small place, see Numbers 13:19, ‘What cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents or in strongholds’. So too the desolate daughter of Zion is compared (Isaiah 1:8) to ‘a cottage in a vineyard, a lodge in a garden of cucumbers’, and then, in parallelism with these figures, to ‘a besieged city’. In such passages also as Genesis 4:17 city can only signify some solid substantial dwelling-place in distinction to the tents of the nomad population.
For a similar change of sense we may compare our English word ‘town’, which in the earliest English tûn (and in Icelandic still) signifies an enclosure, generally a farm-stead with the necessary outbuildings surrounded by one fence.
And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them.26. And they brought forth the images] R.V. pillars. On this word see above, 2 Kings 3:2 note. The same change is also made by R.V. in the next verse. The LXX. has the singular in this verse (στήλην) and the plural in 27. As the worship of Astarte was combined with that of Baal, we can understand that in such a splendid temple as that which Ahab and Jezebel had erected, there would be more pillars (or sacred obelisks) than one, though one would be specially known as ‘the pillar of Baal’.
and burnt them] So that these more numerous pillars must have been of wood. Probably they were of less size than the chief obelisk.
And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day.27. they brake down the image of Baal] As the verb is the same as that used immediately afterwards for the breaking down of the house, we may be almost certain that this chief object of worship was of stone. The verb is constantly employed of pulling down buildings. The LXX. omits the next clause, ‘And brake down the house of Baal’.
a draught house] The word ‘draught’ is found again in Matthew 15:17; Mark 12:19. Cf. also Burton, Anatomy, p. 165, ‘Muck hills, draughts, sinks, where any carcasses or carrion lies’. For the idea cf. Ezra 6:11; Daniel 2:5; Daniel 3:29, ‘their houses shall be made a dunghill’.
unto this day] See above on 2 Kings 8:22. For the commands in the law to destroy the objects of heathen worship cf. Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 7:25; Deuteronomy 12:2-3, where a destruction like that described here is enjoined.
Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.28. Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel] The false worship had not taken such root in the land that it could ever revive again. Probably no buildings were reared to Baal except in the cities where the royal family dwelt. Hence when they were cut off, it would have no fosterers.
Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan.29. who [R.V. wherewith he] made Israel to sin] See above on 2 Kings 2:3. The same change is to be made in verse 31.
golden calves that were] From 1 Kings 12:28-29, we see that only one image was in each place.
And the LORD said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.30. Because thou hast done well] i.e. To a certain extent. When David strives to do God’s will perfectly with a true heart, the promise is that ‘he shall not be without a lamp before God for ever’. The partial obedience of Jehu obtains the gift of a succession for four generations.
thy children [R.V. sons] of the fourth generation] For the fulfilment see chap. 2 Kings 15:12. The son of Jehu was Jehoahaz who was succeeded by his son Joash, and he by Jeroboam II, with whose son Zechariah the fourth generation and the sovereignty of Jehu’s family terminated.
But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.31. with all his heart] He only went partially on the right way, and probably personal ambition had much to do with his zeal against Baal. With the calves it was another matter. They formed, as it were, the emblems of Israel’s independence, and so the king’s feeling would be enlisted on their side.
In those days the LORD began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel;32–36. Cutting short of Israel. Jehu’s death, his successor and the duration of his reign (Not in Chronicles)
32. to cut Israel short] Literally ‘to cut off in Israel’. The meaning is ‘to give over some parts of their land into the enemy’s hand’. This, it is said, should rather be expressed by ‘to cut off from Israel’. But, as it stands, the context makes all clear enough. What had been part of Israel’s possessions, was severed from it, and passed into the power of Hazael and the Syrians.
in all the coasts of Israel] In the days when the A.V. was made, ‘coast’ meant ‘any border land’ and had no necessary relation to the sea. The ‘coasts’ described in the next verse are all on the east of Jordan, and entirely away from the Mediterranean. Hazael must have thoroughly overrun and taken possession of the trans-Jordanic part of Israel.
From Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan.33. Gilead] This country lay between Bashan on the north, and Moab and Ammon on the south. It was of a mountainous character, and was chosen by the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh because it was so well adapted for the pasturage of their numerous flocks. These tribes were all included at this time in Hazael’s conquest, and so the phrase ‘cut Israel short’ was fully borne out, for one quarter of the whole ten tribes was thus taken from her.
Aroer] This city was on the south boundary of the tribe of Reuben, which was the southernmost of the three trans-Jordanic tribes. Thus it marks the extreme limit in that direction of the conquests here mentioned, while Bashan marks that on the north. Nothing was left to Israel, east of the Jordan, for Bashan was the northern part of the land assigned to the half tribe of Manasseh.
Arnon] This torrent bed, full of water in the rainy season, but dry in summer, after the character of all the clefts in the east of Jordan, is wrongly described by ‘river’ of A.V. In R.V. it is rendered valley of Arnon. It formed the border between Israel and Moab.
Bashan] This district, which like Gilead was mountainous, lay between Gilead and Mt Hermon. It was well wooded also. ‘The oaks of Bashan’ are frequently mentioned, and so are the cattle, the ‘fat bulls of Bashan’. The loss of such a district must have been very fatal to Israel. After this notice Bashan, which in the early days is often spoken of in connexion with Og, the king whom the Israelites vanquished on entering the land, disappears from the Bible history. Hazael’s conquest was never recovered.
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?34. the acts of Jehu] Jehu is one of the kings of whom we learn something from the cuneiform inscriptions. There we are told that he was the ally of Assyria. Hence he was the enemy of Hazael who was frequently at war with the Assyrians. To Assyria Jehu appears to have been a tributary ally, for his tribute is twice mentioned in the records of Salmanasar II. It is noteworthy that in both places he is spoken of as Jehu the son of Omri. The family of Omri, from their magnificence, and their alliance with Tyre and Sidon, must have exercised a great influence among the neighbouring powers, and their name would thus be employed to designate the family on the throne of Israel without regard to whether they were descendants of Omri or not. (See Schrader, Keilinschriften u. das A.T. p. 105 seqq., Engl. Translation, vol. 1: p. 199 seqq.)
and all his might] Though Jehu’s reign marks the commencement of the decay of Israel, and is specially noteworthy for the loss of territory, yet Jehu himself appears to have made his mark as a warrior. The LXX. expands the word ‘might’ and says ‘all his dynasty and the conspiracies which he formed’.
And Jehu slept with his fathers: and they buried him in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son reigned in his stead.35. Jehoahaz his son] We are told (chap. 2 Kings 13:1) that Jehu’s death, and the accession of Jehoahaz, was in the three and twentieth year of Joash, king of Judah. As Jehu reigned twenty-eight years he must have been on the throne about five or six years when Joash was made king. In chapter 2 Kings 12:1 the accession of Joash is placed in the seventh year of Jehu, but from the way in which the Jews reckoned the regnal years of their kings there need be no contradiction between these statements.
And the time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty and eight years.