April 23 Reading: II Kings 9-11 Commentary
Below is our II Kings 9-11 commentary from our Beginning to End Bible reading program. You can find an email link at the end of this page to share your thoughts or comments with us.
“Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in My heart, your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation” (II Kings 10:30)
II Kings 9 – A New King for Israel
Elisha received a word for the Lord that it was time for a new king in Israel. His name was Jehu son of Jehoshaphat. And Elisha instructed one of the sons of the prophets to go to Ramoth Gilead where Jehu was and anoint him with oil (vv. 1-3).
The prophet did as Elisha instructed. He found Jehu and delivered the special message. However, his statement about being anointed king carried with it some special instructions and insight. The prophet said to Jehu:
“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…The dogs shall eat Jezebel on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her.’ “ (vv. 6-10).
At this, the prophet fled for his life. When Jehu’s servants heard the words of the prophet from Jehu, the shouted “Jehu is king!” (v. 13).
Joram and Ahaziah Are Killed
Jehu wasted no time in carrying out Elisha’s directive and conspiring to claim the throne.
Joram king of Israel had been fighting against Hazael king of Syria and had been injured in battle. He had returned to Jezreel to recover from his wounds. Also, Ahaziah king of Judah had come to see him (vv. 14-16).
Jehu went to Jezreel and was spotted by a watchman in a tower. Joram told the watchman to send a horsemen to see if the company came in peace or not. When the horsemen arrived, Jehu told him to “turn around and follow me” (v. 18).
So the horsemen did not return to the king. A second horsemen is sent but the scene with Jehu is the same as the first (vv. 19). At that point the watchman realized it was Jehu coming because “he drives [his chariot] furiously!” (v. 20).
At that point, Joram and Ahaziah rode out in chariots to meet Jehu. Joram asked Jehu “Is it peace, Jehu?”, to which Jehu replied, “What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many?” (v. 22).
Joram realized it was a revolt. But it was too late for him to flee. 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” (v. 23). Ahaziah tried to escape as well. But Jehu and his men put an arrow threw Ahaziah also and he died (vv. 27-29).
Jehu is not done though. He has two more tasks to fulfill the word of the Lord through Elisha.
The Death of Jezebel
With the two kings murdered, Jehu proceeded to Jezreel. He has one target in mind – Jezebel.
By this point, she knew Jehu was coming and her time was up. She “put paint on her eyes and adorned her head” (v. 30). From an upper window, she looked out and said to Jehu as he approached, “Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of your master?” (v. 31). [Calling him a Zimri was an insult. The name references the traitor who killed Elah king of Israel to gain the throne. see I Kings 16:11-12]
To this Jehu shouted to those standing near Jezebel, “Who is on my side? Who?” (v. 32). At this, two eunuchs looked out at him. And Jehu said to them, “Throw her down” (v. 33).
Jezebel thus met a violent death. The eunuchs threw her down “…and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses; and he trampled her underfoot” (v. 33).
A little while later after they had ate and drank, they went to gather and dispose of her body. But they only found her skull, feet and the palm of her hands. This fulfilled “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’ “ (v. 36).
If there is one thing that can be said about prophecy from God is that it is always true and always come to pass.
II Kings 10 – Jehu’s Killing Spree
Fresh off seizing the throne and killing Joram and Ahaziah, Jehu set his sights on Ahab’s house. He wanted to rid himself of any rival. So he wrote a letter and sent it to Samaria, the rulers in Jezreel and to all the elders of Israel. Essentially, he wanted to know who posed the greatest risk to his throne (vv. 2-3).
All the leaders were fearful of Jehu, seeing that he’d recently defeated two aligned kings (II Kings 9). So their response revealed their submission to his rule (v. 5). To that Jehu replied, “If you are for me and will obey my voice, take the heads of the men, your master’s sons, and come to me at Jezreel by this time tomorrow” (v. 6). In other words, kill by beheading all Ahab’s sons and bring them to me at Jezreel.
They did exactly as Jehu demanded. They brought the heads of Ahab’s sons and laid them in two heaps at the city gates. And then Jehu pretended like he didn’t know what was going on and that this was simply God’s justice being fulfilled on the house of Ahab (which it was) (vv. 8-11). To wrap it up, he also killed all of Ahab’s supporters and his priests.
Jehu’s not done. Next, he killed 42 of Ahaziah’s brothers (vv. 12-14). These actions exceeded God’s word about judgment on Ahab as Jehu exercised his power for his own selfish gain.
And he’s still not done. When he came to Samaria he killed anyone else he could find who remained in Ahab’s house “till he had destroyed them, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke to Elijah” (v. 17).
Prophets and Worshippers of Ball Killed
And Jehu is still not done killing! Next he targeted Baal worship. He issued a statement saying, “Ahab served Baal a little, Jehu will serve him much” (v. 18). This was a deception so that he could get all the Baal prophets and priests together in one large assembly so that he could wipe them out (vv. 19-20).
Everyone came because they were all scared of Jehu if they didn’t. The prophets and priests of Baal did not suspect Jehu’s plot. They came from all Israel “so that there was not a man left who did not come” (v. 21).
To further the plot (and so that they could be identified), they gave the Baal worshippers distinctive clothing. They even went into the temple of Baal and performed some offerings. Additionally, Jehu had his men make sure no servants of the Lord had accidentally wandered into the gathering (vv. 22-24).
Why was that? Because when the offering was concluded, Jehu ordered his guard and captains to go in and slaughter all the Baal worshippers. They broke down all the sacred pillars and tore down the temple of Baal. “Thus Jehu destroyed Baal from all Israel” (vv. 25-28).
So was Jehu a good king? His legacy is complicated. On one had, he showed zeal for the Lord by ridding Israel of Baal worship. He even showed sensitivity to the Lord’s prophets.
God also rewarded him for his efforts. He reigned 28 years, the longest of any northern king so far (v. 36). And God said to him, “Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in My heart, your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation” (v. 30). His became the longest family dynasty in the northern kingdom.
Ultimately, his means of coming to power were brutal. He killed more people than necessary to gain the throne. And in the end, the Bible describes his reign this way:
“However Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that is, from the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan…Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin” (vv. 29, 31).
Jehu missed an amazing opportunity to cement himself as one of the greatest kings in the Bible. He could have given his whole heart to the Lord and turned the people back to Him. It certainly seems like people were willing to follow him.
Instead, the killing of Ahab’s house and the killing of the prophets of Baal turned out to be just a political move. Jehu had no interest in serving the Lord personally.
II Kings 11 – A Queen and a Young King
When Athaliah, mother of Ahaziah, saw that Jehu had killed her son, she proceeded to destroy all the royal heirs. This would ensure no one could challenge for the throne. Then who would have the throne of Judah? In complete violation of the precepts of the Davidic covenant, Athaliah installed herself as queen. Her reign lasted six years (vv. 1-3).
However, one heir escaped – Joash the son of Ahaziah. He was rescued by a woman named Jehosheba. She was the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah and wife to the current high priest Jehoiada. We don’t know how she escaped with Joash. But Athaliah was not aware and Jehosheba hid Joash for seven years (v. 4).
In the 7th year, Jehoiada realized the time was at hand to break the silence and crown Joash king. He made special preparations for this event, even including the royal guard (vv. 4-11)(see also II Chron. 23:1-11). The fact that he encountered no resistance from the royal guard is an indication of how bad a queen Athaliah was.
The crowning of the legitimate king occurred at the temple. Jehoiada “brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, and gave him the Testimony [that is the law]; they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, ‘Long live the king!’ “ (v. 12).
Athaliah heard the noise from the temple and saw the procession of people going there. She went herself. And when she saw all the people rejoicing and blowing trumpets at the crowing of the new king, “she tore her clothes and cried out, ‘Treason! Treason!’ “ (v. 14). How ironic those were the words that came from her mouth.
Jehoiada ordered her to be seized and executed. However, he did not want this to occur at the temple. So they took “by way of the horses’ entrance into the king’s house , and there she was killed” (v. 16).
More importantly than all this, Jehoiada knew the people needed a spiritual turn. He “made a covenant between the Lord, the king, and the people, that they should be the Lord’s people, and also between the king and the people” (v. 17). New godly leadership was needed and Joash could provide that, having spent his early childhood around the high priest and exposed to the things of the Lord.
The people responded to this covenant in a big way. They tore down the temple of Baal that had been built by Athaliah in Jerusalem (v. 18). They killed Mattan, the high priest of Baal. And then all the officers and people of the land took Joash and set him on the throne of kings (v. 19). And they all rejoiced that this had come to pass (v. 20).
“Joash was seven years old when he became king” (v. 21).
Questions to Consider:
God rewarded Jehu for ridding Israel of Baal worship. But Jehu never substituted Baal worship with worship of the Lord. So the nation continued in idolatry by worshipping other false gods. He could have been one of the greatest kings in the Bible if he had devoted more than lip-service to the Lord.
It’s never too early to start serving the Lord. Even a child can do it. Who do you know that started serving God at a young age?
How does seeing a young person serving God inspire you? Evidently, it started a revival in II Kings 11 when Josiah became king of Judah at the age of 7. Obviously he was guided until he was mature, but his heart was in the right place from the beginning and the people responded to his leadership.
What other points would you want to know about in our II Kings 9-11 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.