Matthew Poole's Commentary
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,Jehu by his letters causeth seventy of Ahab’s sons to be slain: the fact is excused by Elijah’s prophecy, 2 Kings 10:1-11. Also forty-two of king Ahaziah’s brethren, 2 Kings 10:12-14. By subtlety he slayeth all the priests and prophets of Ahab; breaketh down his images and temple, 2 Kings 10:18-28. He followeth the sin of Jeroboam, 2 Kings 10:29-31. Hazael oppresseth Israel: Jehoahaz suceeedeth Jehu, 2 Kings 10:32-36.
Ahab had seventy sons; either, first, properly sons by several wives; or rather, secondly, grandsons are comprehended, who are oft called sons, and grandfathers fathers, in Scripture. In Samaria; either because they were bred up there, that being the chief city of the kingdom; or because upon the tidings of Joram’s slaughter they fled thither, or were by their friends conveyed from several parts thither, as to the strongest place; in which it may seem by Jehu’s message they intended to defend themselves and Ahab’s children, and to set up one as king in Joram’s stead; or rather, because they were left there by Joram when he went to Ramoth-gilead, that if the Syrians had prevailed against him, they might have safety in that very strong and great city, and he by their means succour from it.
Unto the rulers of Jezreel, Heb. the princes of Jezreel, i.e. the great persons and officers of the court, which then was and had been for some time at Jezreel, who either had fled thither with Ahab’s sons, upon the news of Jehu’s actions and successes; or rather, had been sent by Joram with his sons to Samaria, to take care of them there.
To the elders; either by age, or rather by office; the rulers or senators of Samaria.
To them that brought up Ahab’s children; that had a more particular care of the several children under the inspection of the princes or rulers here mentioned.
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;No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Thus he speaks, either because he had some notice of their intentions thus to do; or to make trial of them, whether they would do so, or would be true to him and his designs; or to signify to them his intentions of fighting against them, if they did so, that by the terror hereof he might bring them to a compliance with him.
But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, Behold, two kings stood not before him: how then shall we stand?All their power and interest, either in Jezreel, or in the army before or in Ramoth-gilead, could not hinder him from executing his design from killing the two kings, and from invading one of their kingdoms. It is true, he surprised the kings, which a little weakens their argument; but fear and self love made them easily yield to it.
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.He that was over the house; the chief governor of the king’s palace or castle there.
He that was over the city; the chief magistrate or military governor.
We will do all that thou shalt bid us; they make no delays or conditions, but submit all to his mercy.
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.Then he wrote a letter: thus Jezebel is requited for her letter directed in like manner to the elders of Naboth’s city, whereby his life was wickedly taken away, 1 Kings 21:8. And it is probable that some of these elders were concerned in that very business, which makes the judgment of God more remarkable.
Take ye the heads of the men; which word seems to imply that some of them were grown up, who doubtless trod in their parents’ steps; and those that were younger were justly cut off for their parents’ sin; of which See Poole "Exodus 20:5"; See Poole "Deu 5:9".
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.Slew seventy persons: Jehu justly required this, because the sovereign and most righteous Lord of all men’s lives commanded it; but the Samaritans wickedly obeyed it, because they destroyed persons in a great measure innocent, merely out of slavish fear, and without any knowledge of or regard to God’s command.
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.At the entering in of the gate; the place of judicature, to signify that this was an act of justice, and of God’s righteous judgment; and the place of greatest concourse, where people went out of the city, and came into it, and whither they resorted for judgment and other occasions; that all men might behold this dreadful spectacle of Divine vengeance upon Ahab’s family, and thereby might justify Jehu’s cause and proceedings.
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?To all the people; either, first, To the promiscuous multitude met there to gaze upon this sad and strange spectacle. So the sense is, Be not ye troubled nor affrighted with these unusual and dismal occurrences: if any thing be amiss in these actions, I do here publicly and solemnly acquit you as righteous and innocent; do not you therefore fear any vengeance from God or men for it: if there be any guilt, it is in me, and in those who cut off these heads. Or, secondly, To those who cut off and brought the heads; for the same persons did both, and were here present, as Jehu commanded them, 2 Kings 10:6: to them he speaks in the audience of all the people; or by all the people may be meant all those who brought the heads, and were there waiting for Jehu, according to his order. So the speech is in part ironical, to this purpose,
You are righteous in your own eves, and you look upon me as a traitor, and rebel, and murderer, because I have risen against and slain my master, which I acknowledge I have done. But if I am guilty, you are not innocent, and therefore cannot accuse me; for I have killed one, but you a great number. This explication seems probable; only the Hebrew word ham being generally used of the common people, may seem not so fitly to agree to these rulers and great men, who had brought the heads; and that expression, to all the people, implies that Jehu did not direct his speech to some particular persons, but to the whole body of the people then present, whom he clears from all blame, and to whom he appeals as witnesses between him and these persons.
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.But the truth is, neither I nor they are to be blamed; nor you that assisted and encouraged me herein; for this is not man’s work, but God’s, and done by his command. He mentions
Elijah rather than Elisha; partly because Elijah was now dead, and therefore his name and memory was more sacred than Elisha’s, who was yet alive; this being the common humour and folly of mankind, to value and honour those that are dead, whom they contemned whilst they lived; and partly because Elijah’s prophecy was known, and public, and famous; when Elisha’s was delivered in a corner, and that not from his own mouth, but by one of the sons of the prophets.
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.All his great men; whom he had advanced and made great in wealth, for honour, and quality; who had been partners with him in his sins, and who were likely to be avenged of his death.
His priests; his domestic priests, which had waited upon Ahab and Jezebel in their idolatrous services, and were fed at the king’s table. Compare 1 Kings 18:19. Or, his chief officers of state, as that word is sometimes used; of which see 2 Samuel 8:18, compared with 1 Chronicles 18:17.
Object. These were included in
his great men mentioned before.
Answ. Yet may they well be mentioned apart, as a distinct and the most eminent sort of them.
He left him none remaining, to wit, in that place and kingdom; for he did leave some of the royal seed of Judah, 2 Kings 1:1,2.
And he arose and departed, and came to Samaria. And as he was at the shearing house in the way,Where they used to shear sheep, and then to feast, after their manner, 1 Samuel 25:36 2 Samuel 13:23. Or this may be the name of a place, Beth-hekel of the shepherds; or, Beth-heked-rohim.
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.The brethren; not strictly so, for they were killed before this, 2 Chronicles 21:17; but his brethren’s sons, as they are called, 2 Chronicles 22:8, or others of his near kinsmen, such being oft called brethren in Scripture; as Genesis 13:8.
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.They took them alive, and slew them; partly in compliance with God’s command, 2 Kings 9:8, for these were of the house of Ahab by the mother’s side, 2 Kings 8:18; and partly that they might neither claim the kingdom of Israel in right of their grandmother; as they might well have done, if God had not given it to Jehu; nor revenge the deaths of their near relations.
At the pit of the shearing-house, where he intended to bury them.
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.Jehonadab the son of Rechab; a Kenite, 1 Chronicles 2:55, and a man of singular prudence and piety; as appears from this history, and from Jeremiah 35:6.
Coming to meet him, to congratulate with him for the destruction of that wicked family, and to encourage and advise him to proceed in fulfilling the will of God revealed to him.
He saluted him; Jehu saluted Jehonadab.
Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? dost thou heartily approve of and affect me, and my present proceedings, as my heart doth as sincerely cleave to thee as thine own heart doth?
Give me thine hand, as a sign of friendship and consent. See Galatians 2:9. These may be the words, either,
1. Of Jehu; and so here is an ellipsis, If it be, for And Jehu said, If it be. Compare 1 Kings 20:34. Or,
2. Of Jehonadab, who having said, It is, adds, If it be, i.e. if thine heart be with mine, as thou sayest it is, give me thine hand. But this the ellipsis is larger than the former. And it seems not so decent and proper for Jehonadab, a stranger and subject, to speak thus to the king, as for the king to say so to him.
And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot.My zeal for the Lord, i.e. for the vindication of his honour and quarrel, and for the execution of his commands. Do not believe my words, but mine actions, which thine eyes shall behold.
They, i.e. Jehu’s servants, opened the door of his chariot, and lifted up Jehonadab into it.
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.All that remained unto Ahab; either all his household; or rather, all his kindred and relations, though more remote from him.
And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much.Jehu gathered all the people together; by their representatives, their elders or rulers, as was usual; to whom he imparts his mind; and they being generally corrupt, and timeservers, and such as had no sense of religion in them, durst not oppose his resolution, but seemed to comply with it.
Jehu shall serve him much: as if he had said, My quarrel is only with Ahab’s family, and not with Baal; which my actions shall manifest; which words being manifestly false, and spoken with a design to deceive, cannot be excused from sin, though they were uttered with a pious intention; this being an unmovable principle, that we must not do the least evil of sin, that the greatest good may come, Romans 3:8. And if Jehonadab did concur with Jehu herein, it was a human infirmity.
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.All his servants; either,
1. All his ministers; of whom there may seem to have been several sorts, whereof two are here distinctly mentioned, his prophets and priests; and the rest of the inferior sort may be comprehended under this general title of servants, because they were to attend upon the others in their sacred ministrations. And these being once destroyed, Jehu rightly concluded that the rest would fall of course. And this sense may seem to be favoured by 2 Kings 10:22, wherein vestments were brought forth
for all these worshippers of Baal; which were not commonly used by the people in the worship either of God or of Baal, but only by the priests or ministers. Or,
2. All his worshippers, as the same word is translated in the close of this verse.
Quest. How could all these be contained in one house of Baal?
Answ. Well enough, for the number of Baal’s worshippers had been vastly diminished by the ministry of Elijah and Elisha, and the rest of the prophets, and by Joram’s neglect and disuse of that worship. For the generality of the Israelites had too much knowledge to have any real and religious respect to such senseless idols; only they practised it in compliance with the humour of their king and queen, and for worldly or wicked ends; and therefore when the king deserted it, they generally forsook it, some few silly and besotted persons excepted, who are here gathered together. Besides, this house or temple of Baal might be very large and capacious, and probably was so, because it was the chief of that sort, as being in the king’s city, and nigh his palace, and for the use of the king and queen, and the while court, and for great and high solemnities. Moreover, as the name of the house or temple of God at Jerusalem oft signifies not only the principal building, but all the other buildings and courts belonging to it, in which all the worshippers stood when they worshipped; so it might be here; and so there was space sufficient for all the worshippers of Baal which can reasonably be thought to have been at this time in all Israel.
I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; I will offer to him a noble and acceptable sacrifice; not of sheep, or oxen, &c., as they understood it, but of his own beloved priests, and prophets, and servants, as he meant it.
In subtlety; with another design, that he might both certainly discover and utterly destroy them all, without any further trouble, or danger of sedition or tumult in his kingdom.
And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it.Proclaim, Heb. sanctify. Prepare yourselves and all things necessary for this solemn day, and sacrifice, and feast, which I intend to keep.
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.There was not a man left that came not; either,
1. Because they thought Jehu was serious and sincere in his professions; it being natural and usual for men too easily to believe what they wish to be true. And for the priests which Jehu destroyed before, 2 Kings 10:11, they might think that was done only because of their nearness and relation to Ahab and his family. Or,
2. For fear of their lives; for certain death was threatened to all that did not come, 2 Kings 10:19, which considering Jehu’s fierce and bloody temper, they knew would be executed; whereas, if they did come, there was more than a possibility of the sparing of their lives; for Jehu was known to be indifferent and unconcerned in matters of religion, one that had served Baal when his prince Ahab lived and did so and forsook it when the next prince Joram did; and therefore it was doubtful whether Jehu had not in good earnest returned to his first love, to that religion which he had formerly embraced, and only deserted in complacency to others. Or,
3. By God’s just providence, deceiving their minds and inclining their hearts to come to their own destruction.
Into the house, i.e. the temple.
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.Vestments; sacred garments; such as were used by the priests and others of the Lord’s ministry in God’s worship; and from thence the devil borrowed this custom in his worship.
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.The Baalites possibly did not know Jehonadab, and therefore suspected nothing; or if any of the more crafty sort suspected any thing, it was now too late to amend their error.
Look that there be here with you none of the servants of the Lord; because their presence will offend Baal, and deride or pollute his worship; whence profane persons have been oft excluded from solemn acts of worship, both by Jews and heathens. So this did not raise their suspicion.
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.When they went in; when some in the name of the rest went to the altar to offer sacrifice.
Jehu appointed fourscore men; far greater numbers being doubtless in readiness to assist then, in case of any opposition.
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.As soon as he, i.e. the chief priest of Baal: see 2 Chronicles 23:17.
Made an end of offering the burnt-offerings; so far he suffered them to proceed; either because till then they were not all come into the house; or because having been taken in the very act of gross idolatry, their destruction was more just and reasonable.
To the guard, and to the captains, i.e. to the fourscore men and their officers.
Cast them out, i.e. cast their carcasses out of the city. But that was not proper work for the guard; nor could they so soon have done it; nor would they stay to do it, when they were going in haste to other work; nor indeed was it necessary to be done, because they intended to pull down the house, and bury them in its ruins, and turn it into a draught house, as it follows. This word therefore is and may be joined with the next, and both rendered, they went hastily and eagerly; properly, they flung themselves out, (hiphil for hithpahel, which is not unusual in the Hebrew language,) and went. The like expression is used Esther 6:12, hasted, Heb. pushed himself on, or flung himself, i.e. went with great haste; and in the Greek text, Mark 14:72.
To the city of the house of Baal; either,
1. To some city near to Samaria, where another eminent temple of Baal was erected. But this seems not to agree with the context, there being but one house or temple of Baal mentioned, both in the foregoing and following verses. Or rather,
2. To some buildings belonging to this house of Baal, which may be here called the city, either for some particular reason now unknown, or because they were very numerous and capacious. For as there were divers chambers and rooms built without the temple, belonging to it, for the use of the priests and Levites, &c.; so it may properly be conceived that this famous temple of Baal had many such buildings, in some of which the priests of Baal, or of the groves, (whereof there were great numbers belonging to the king’s court, 1 Kings 18:19) peradventure might dwell; and others of them might be for divers uses belonging to the house and service of Baal. And into these buildings the guard might go, and that hastily, to surprise and kill those inferior ministers of Baal, who were there employed in preparing things for the sacrifices which were to be offered, or in other services belonging to that house, or that solemnity.
And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them.Heb. it, i.e. the collection of the images, or each of them.
And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day.The image of Baal; the chief image, which they worshipped more than the rest.
Brake down the house of Baal; and the like they did with the rest of the houses of Baal in Israel; as may be gathered both from the nature and reason of the thing, and from 2 Kings 10:28.
Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Jehu departed not from after them: herein he discovers his hypocrisy, that he follows God as far as his interest would permit; namely, in destroying the house of Ahab, and the worship of Baal, but no further; for he still resolves to keep up the worship of the calves; partly lest he should disoblige and irritate his own nobles and subjects, who had been long inured, and were heartily affected to it; and partly lest he should open a door for his people to return to their obedience to the house of David. And his sin and folly is the more inexcusable, both because he durst not trust that God with the keeping of his kingdom, of whose power, and faithfulness, and kindness to him he had such ample experience in his giving him the kingdom; and because he had so great and uncontrollable a power in the matters of religion; having first pretended, and seemed to set up, the worship of Baal with all his might, and then destroying it with no less vehemency, none daring to mutter against him in either case; and because the house of David, and kingdom of Judah, his competitor, now was, and was likely to be, in a feeble and declining condition, and much more likely to fall into his hands, than that his kingdom should come into theirs.
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.The Lord said unto Jehu; by some prophet, as above, 2 Kings 9:7.
Executing that which is right in mine eyes, i.e. in part, and so far as is here expressed, these actions were good and right, though his heart was not so.
Thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel; and so they did; namely, Jehoahaz, below, 2 Kings 10:35; Joash, 2 Kings 13:10 Jeroboam, 2 Kings 14:24; and Zachariah, 2 Kings 5:8.
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.With all his heart: His obedience wanted three necessary properties, care or heedfulness, universality, and sincerity.
He departed not from the sins of Jeroboam; his resolved continuance in one single course is justly alleged as an argument of his false-heartedness in all his other actions.
In those days the LORD began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel;In those days; in the time of Jehu’s life and reign, as may be gathered by comparing 2 Kings 10:31.
To cut Israel short; either to diminish the number of the people, by cutting them off; or to straiten their borders.
In all the coasts of Israel, i.e. in their borders, or the uttermost part of their land beyond Jordan, as it is explained, 2 Kings 10:33. And at this time possibly he executed those cruelties mentioned 2 Kings 8:12.
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.From Jordan eastward, to wit, from the land of Canaan.
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?No text from Poole on this verse.
And Jehu slept with his fathers: and they buried him in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son reigned in his stead.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty and eight years.No text from Poole on this verse.