2 Kings 8-10
(Jehu's Reign)
April 18th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Click here for a print- friendly version

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Elisha the prophet called one of the guild prophets and said to him: “Get ready for a journey. Take this flask of oil with you, and go to Ramoth-gilead.

When you get there, look for Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi. Enter and take him away from his companions and bring him into an inner chamber.

From the flask you have, pour oil on his head, and say, ‘Thus says the LORD: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and flee without delay.”

- 2 Kings 9:1-3 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

The central story of chapters 8-10 is the anointing of Jehu as king of Israel and the events and actions that lead to the realization of that anointment. There is a prelude in chapter 8 that contains two stories related to Elisha. One is a continuation of the story of the Shunammite woman from an earlier chapter and the second is an introduction to Hazael, the future king of Aram who will fight against Israel and Judah.

The next section of chapter 8 introduces Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, who succeeded his father as king of Judah (the southern kingdom). Jehoram continued the good relationship with the northern kingdom, and in fact strengthened those ties by marrying a woman from the family of Ahab.

This marriage was good for politics but bad for spiritual growth, as the woman dragged Jehoram and Judah further into idol worship. As a result, God allowed Edom and Libnah to revolt and separate from Judah, thereby shrinking the kingdom of the wayward king Jehoram. Jehoram was then succeeded by his son Ahaziah (not the same Ahaziah from the earlier chapters, but perhaps named after this relative from his mother’s side of the family). Ahaziah formed an alliance with Joram, king of the northern kingdom to fight against Hazael of Aram, but Joram was wounded so they both retreated to Joram’s palace at Jezreel, which would become their final place of refuge. In chapter 9, Elisha sends a man from the company of prophets to anoint Jehu as the next king of Israel and commands him to serve as an instrument of punishment against the family of Ahab and Jezebel. Jehu accepts the assignment and carries it out with great passion and determination.

Jehu attacked and killed Joram and then Ahaziah in the field of Naboth that had been stolen by Ahab and Jezebel, a crime recorded in 1 Kings 21:1-15. Jehu then incited Jezebel’s eunuchs to throw her to her death, as recorded in chapter 9. The gruesome death of Jezebel fulfilled the prophecy of Elijah from 1 Kings 21:23.

Then Jehu organized the slaughter of all the members of Ahab’s family and all the prophets of Baal, as described in chapter 10. Jehu’s men also destroyed the temple of Baal. First, Jehu called together all the followers of Baal by claiming that a great feast was about to be held. Then, Jehu's men ambushed the pagan worshippers:

    Jehu and Jehonadab the Recabite now entered the temple of Baal and said, "Double-check and make sure that there are no worshipers of God in here; only Baal-worshipers are allowed." Then they launched the worship, making the sacrifices and burnt offerings.

    Meanwhile, Jehu had stationed eighty men outside with orders: "Don't let a single person escape; if you do, it's your life for his life."

    When Jehu had finished with the sacrificial solemnities, he signaled to the officers and guards, "Enter and kill! No survivors!"

    And the bloody slaughter began. The officers and guards threw the corpses outside and cleared the way to enter the inner shrine of Baal. They hauled out the sacred phallic stone from the temple of Baal and pulverized it. They smashed the Baal altars and tore down the Baal temple. It's been a public toilet ever since.

    And that's the story of Jehu's wasting of Baal in Israel.

    - 2 Kings 10:22-28 (MSG)

Jehu was thorough in the complete cleansing described above, but Chapter 10 also notes that he did not eliminate the worship of golden calves and did not keep the law with all of his heart. He was succeeded by his son Jehoahaz.

Reflection and Application

Jehu's cleansing of the family of Ahab seems to be an extreme and uncontrolled reaction. However, the events in today's reading merit further analysis in the context of the broader story of Ahab and his family. Jehu was not acting out a personal vendetta but instead had been anointed to follow the LORD's command and fulfilled the events prophesized by Elijah in 1 Kings 21:

    (The LORD speaking to Elijah) You shall say to him, “Thus says the Lord: Have you killed, and also taken possession?” You shall say to him, “Thus says the Lord: In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, dogs will also lick up your blood.”

    Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel; and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin. Also concerning Jezebel the Lord said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel.’ Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat.”

    (Indeed, there was no one like Ahab, who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord, urged on by his wife Jezebel. He acted most abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord drove out before the Israelites.)

    - 1 Kings 21:19-26

The rhetorical question in verse 19 is reminiscent of the LORD's interrogation of the first murderer, Cain. Ahab tried to suggest this was an unjustified personal attack by referring to Elijah as his enemy, but Elijah corrects him, "I have found you." He then proceeds to declare the crime and the sentence, which will be carried out against the whole royal line. The original Hebrew of verse 21, which describes the consequence, was written in a vernacular manner that would be hard to follow when translated directly, but represented the slang of the times. Apparently, the King James Version provides a translation that is much closer to the original, but has been subject to criticism or perceived as folly by those who did not seek to understand the significance. The translation in The Message seeks to represent the original intent, but in modern colloquial terms: "I will most certainly bring doom upon you, make mincemeat of your descendants, kill off every sorry male wretch who’s even remotely connected with the name Ahab."

Regardless of the wording of the various translations, it is clear that Ahab was convicted of his role in the murder of Naboth, was equally guilty of pursuing idols (some versions say fetishes), as noted in verse 26, and his punishment would be inherited by his descendants and those loyal to him. The idol worship may have led to coveting, which led to murder, and possession of the murdered man's land, but murder was the tipping point that led to the LORD's intervention. The well-respected 12th century Torah scholar Maimonides explained why murder is so significant: It causes "the destruction of civilization, the disintegration of society, undermining its cohesion and trust (1)." As such, it deserves a punishment commensurate with the crime.

While Jehu may have fulfilled the LORD's command regarding Ahab's family and the worshippers of Baal, he did not go far enough to eliminate all idolatry and was not fully devoted to God. Unlike Jehu, we must give ourselves and our ambitions to God, discern his will for us, and then use our skills and energy to follow his commands explicitly – stopping where he wants us to stop and continuing to finish the jobs he wants us to finish.

As Christians, we accept the words in stories of scripture based on faith. However, it's re-assuring and helpful when there are independent sources that corroborate what we believe. For example, there is archeological evidence that corresponds with some of the events in this group of chapters. An artifact known as the Tel Dan Stela records the victory by Hazael over Joram and Ahaziah. Granted there are different interpretations over the meaning and significance of this artifact, but it does appear to describe the same battle we read about in chapter 8, and describes the two kings as descendants of the house of David.

A stele (or stela) is an inscribed stone tablet that is used to commemorate an event and decorate a structure. The Tel Dan Stele was discovered in 1993, and is considered to be the earliest find from the Israelite Kingdom. Part of the inscription is missing, but experts have been able to translate the surviving Aramaic text. An excerpt is shown below, with line breaks that correspond with the actual tablet and missing text encased in brackets (2):

    And Hadad went in front of me, [and] I departed from [the] seven [...-]

    s of my kingdom, and I slew [seve]nty kin[gs], who harnessed thou[sands of cha-]

    riots and thousands of horsemen. [I killed Jo]ram son of [Ahab]

    king of Israel, and [I] killed [Ahaz]iahu son of [Jehoram kin-]

    g of the House of David. And I set [their towns into ruins and turned]

    their land into [desolation ...]

    other [... and Jehu ru-]

    led over Is[rael ... and I laid]

    siege upon [...]

"Word of God Speak," performed by Mercy Me

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is the biggest clean-up project in which that you have been involved?
    2. How do we determine the skills that God wants us to use?
    3. How do we determine how God wants us to use those skills?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know you have given us all of the skills that we use. Please help us to understand how you want us to use them.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns


    (1) Israel, Alex, I Kings, Torn in Two, Maggid Books, Jerusalem, Israel and Milford, CT; 2013, pps 302-304, 308,309

    (2) Associates for Biblical Research, 'The Tel Dan Stela and the Kings of Aram and Israel'

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: 2 Kings 11-13 (Elisha's Final Acts)

    Comments and Questions

    If you have comments or questions, please add them to our Comments page, email to the author at ted@listeningforGod.org, or share your comments or questions via the Listening for God Twitter account

    Click to follow Listening for God(@listeningforgod)