Jehu Wipes Out Ahab’s Family

1 Ahab had seventy sons living in Samaria.1 So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria to the leading officials of Jezreel and to the guardians of Ahab’s dynasty. This is what the letters said,2 2 You have with you the sons of your master, chariots and horses, a fortified city, and weapons. So when this letter arrives,3 3 pick the best and most capable4 of your master’s sons, place him on his father’s throne, and defend5 your master’s dynasty.”

4 They were absolutely terrified6 and said, “Look, two kings could not stop him!7 How can we?8 5 So the palace supervisor,9 the city commissioner,10 the leaders,11 and the guardians sent this message to Jehu, “We are your subjects!12 Whatever you say, we will do. We will not make anyone king. Do what you consider proper.”13

6 He wrote them a second letter, saying, “If you are really on my side and are willing to obey me,14 then take the heads of your master’s sons and come to me in Jezreel at this time tomorrow.”15 Now the king had seventy sons, and the prominent16 men of the city were raising them. 7 When they received the letter, they seized the king’s sons and executed all seventy of them.17 They put their heads in baskets and sent them to him in Jezreel. 8 The messenger came and told Jehu,18 “They have brought the heads of the king’s sons.” Jehu19 said, “Stack them in two piles at the entrance of the city gate until morning.” 9 In the morning he went out and stood there. Then he said to all the people, “You are innocent. I conspired against my master and killed him. But who struck down all of these men? 10 Therefore take note that not one of the judgments the Lord announced against Ahab’s dynasty has failed to materialize. The Lord had done what he announced through his servant Elijah.”20 11 Then Jehu killed all who were left of Ahab’s family in Jezreel, and all his nobles, close friends, and priests. He left no survivors.

12 Jehu then left there and set out for Samaria.21 While he was traveling through Beth Eked of the Shepherds, 13 Jehu encountered22 the relatives23 of King Ahaziah of Judah. He asked, “Who are you?” They replied, “We are Ahaziah’s relatives. We have come down to see how24 the king’s sons and the queen mother’s sons are doing.” 14 He said, “Capture them alive!” So they captured them alive and then executed all forty-two of them in the cistern at Beth Eked. He left no survivors.

15 When he left there, he met25 Jehonadab, son of Rekab, who had been looking for him.26 Jehu greeted him and asked,27Are you as committed to me as I am to you?”28 Jehonadab answered, “I am!” Jehu replied, “If so, give me your hand.”29 So he offered his hand and Jehu30 pulled him up into the chariot. 16 Jehu31 said, “Come with me and see how zealous I am for the Lord’s cause.”32 So he33 took him along in his chariot. 17 He went to Samaria and exterminated all the members of Ahab’s family who were still alive in Samaria,34 just as the Lord had announced to Elijah.35

Jehu Executes the Prophets and Priests of Baal

18 Jehu assembled all the people and said to them, “Ahab worshiped36 Baal a little; Jehu will worship37 him with great devotion.38 19 So now, bring to me all the prophets of Baal, as well as all his servants and priests.39 None of them must be absent, for I am offering a great sacrifice to Baal. Any of them who fail to appear will lose their lives.” But Jehu was tricking them40 so he could destroy the servants of Baal. 20 Then Jehu ordered, “Make arrangements for41 a celebration for Baal.” So they announced it. 21 Jehu sent invitations throughout Israel, and all the servants of Baal came; not one was absent. They arrived at the temple of Baal and filled it up from end to end.42 22 Jehu ordered the one who was in charge of the wardrobe,43Bring out robes for all the servants of Baal.” So he brought out robes for them. 23 Then Jehu and Jehonadab son of Rekab went to the temple of Baal. Jehu44 said to the servants of Baal, “Make sure there are no servants of the Lord here with you; there must be only servants of Baal.”45 24 They went inside to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings. Now Jehu had stationed eighty men outside. He had told them, “If any of the men inside get away, you will pay with your lives!46

25 When he finished offering the burnt sacrifice, Jehu ordered the royal guard47 and officers, “Come in and strike them down! Don’t let any escape!” So the royal guard and officers struck them down with the sword and left their bodies lying there.48 Then they entered the inner sanctuary of the temple of Baal.49 26 They hauled out the sacred pillar of the temple of Baal and burned it. 27 They demolished50 the sacred pillar of Baal and51 the temple of Baal; it is used as52 a latrine53 to this very day. 28 So Jehu eradicated Baal worship54 from Israel.

A Summary of Jehu’s Reign

29 However, Jehu did not repudiate the sins which Jeroboam son of Nebat had encouraged Israel to commit; the golden calves remained in Bethel55 and Dan.56 30 The Lord said to Jehu, “You have done well. You have accomplished my will and carried out my wishes with regard to Ahab’s dynasty. Therefore four generations of your descendants will rule over Israel.”57 31 But Jehu did not carefully and wholeheartedly obey the law of the Lord God of Israel.58 He did not repudiate the sins which Jeroboam had encouraged Israel to commit.59

32 In those days the Lord began to reduce the size of Israel’s territory.60 Hazael attacked their eastern border.61 33 He conquered all the land of Gilead, including the territory of Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh, extending all the way from the Aroer in the Arnon Valley through Gilead to Bashan.62

34 The rest of the events of Jehu’s reign, including all his accomplishments and successes, are recorded in the scroll called the Annals of the Kings of Israel.63 35 Jehu passed away64 and was buried in Samaria.65 His son Jehoahaz replaced him as king. 36 Jehu reigned over Israel for twenty-eight years in Samaria.

110:1map For location see Map2-B1; Map4-D3; Map5-E2; Map6-A4; Map7-C1. 210:1tn Heb “to the officers of Jezreel, the elders, and to the guardians of Ahab, saying.” It is not certain why the officials of Jezreel would be in Samaria. They may have fled there after they heard what happened to Joram and before Jehu entered the city. They would have had time to flee while Jehu was pursuing Ahaziah. 310:2tn Heb “And now when this letter comes to you – with you are the sons of your master and with you are chariots and horses and a fortified city and weapons.” 410:3tn Hebrew יָשָׁר (yashar) does not have its normal moral/ethical nuance here (“upright”), but a more neutral sense of “proper, right, suitable.” For the gloss “capable,” see HALOT 450 s.v. יָשָׁר. 510:3tn Or “fight for.” 610:4tn Heb “they were very, very afraid.” The term מְאֹד (meod) “very,” is repeated for emphasis. 710:4tn Heb “did not stand before him.” 810:4tn Heb “How can we stand?” 910:5tn Heb “the one who was over the house.” 1010:5tn Heb “the one who was over the city.” 1110:5tn Or “elders.” 1210:5tn Heb “servants.” 1310:5tn Heb “Do what is good in your eyes.” 1410:6tn Heb “If you are mine and you are listening to my voice.” 1510:6sn Jehu’s command is intentionally vague. Does he mean that they should bring the guardians (those who are “heads” over Ahab’s sons) for a meeting, or does he mean that they should bring the literal heads of Ahab’s sons with them? (So LXX, Syriac Peshitta, and some mss of the Targum) The city leaders interpret his words in the literal sense, but Jehu’s command is so ambiguous he is able to deny complicity in the executions (see v. 9). 1610:6tn Heb “great,” probably in wealth, position, and prestige. 1710:7tn Heb “and when the letter came to them, they took the sons of the king and slaughtered seventy men.” 1810:8tn Heb “him”; the referent (Jehu) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 1910:8tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jehu) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 2010:10tn Heb “Know then that there has not fallen from the word of the Lord to the ground that which the Lord spoke against the house of Ahab. The Lord has done that which he spoke by the hand of his servant Elijah.” 2110:12tn Heb “and he arose and went and came to Samaria.” 2210:13tn Heb “found.” 2310:13tn Or “brothers.” 2410:13tn Heb “for the peace of.” 2510:15tn Heb “found.” 2610:15tn Heb “and he went from there and found Jehonadab son of Rekab [who was coming] to meet him.” 2710:15tn Heb “and he blessed him and said to him.” 2810:15tn Heb “Is there with your heart [what is] right, as my heart [is] with your heart?” 2910:15tc Heb “Jehonadab said, ‘There is and there is. Give your hand.’” If the text is allowed to stand, there are two possible ways to understand the syntax of וָיֵשׁ (vayesh), “and there is”: (1) The repetition of יֵשׁ (yesh, “there is and there is”) could be taken as emphatic, “indeed I am.” In this case, the entire statement could be taken as Jehonadab’s words or one could understand the words “give your hand” as Jehu’s. In the latter case the change in speakers is unmarked. (2) וָיֵשׁ begins Jehu’s response and has a conditional force, “if you are.” In this case, the transition in speakers is unmarked. However, it is possible that וַיֹּאמֶר (vayyo’mer), “and he said,” or וַיֹּאמֶר יֵהוּא (vayyo’mer yehu), “and Jehu said,” originally appeared between יֵשׁ and וָיֵשׁ and has accidentally dropped from the text by homoioarcton (note that both the proposed וַיֹּאמֶר and וָיֵשׁ begin with vav, ו). The present translation assumes such a textual reconstruction; it is supported by the LXX, Syriac Peshitta, and Vulgate. 3010:15tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jehu) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 3110:16tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jehu) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 3210:16tn Heb “and see my zeal for the Lord.” 3310:16tc The MT has a plural form, but this is most likely an error. The LXX, Syriac Peshitta, and Vulgate all have the singular. 3410:17tn Heb “and he struck down all the remaining ones to Ahab in Samaria until he destroyed him.” 3510:17tn Heb “according to the word of the Lord which he spoke to Elijah.” 3610:18tn Or “served. 3710:18tn Or “serve.” 3810:18tn Heb “much” or “greatly.” 3910:19tn Heb “and now, all the prophets of Baal, all his servants and all his priests summon to me.” 4010:19tn Heb “acted with deception [or, ‘trickery’].” 4110:20tn Heb “set apart”; or “observe as holy.” 4210:21tn Heb “and the house of Baal was filled mouth to mouth.” 4310:22tn Heb “and he said to the one who was over the wardrobe.” 4410:23tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jehu) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 4510:23tn Heb “Search carefully and observe so that there are not here with you any servants of the Lord, only the servants of Baal.” 4610:24tn Heb “The man who escapes from the men whom I am bringing into your hands, [it will be] his life in place of his life.” 4710:25tn Heb “runners.” 4810:25tn Heb “and they threw.” No object appears. According to M. Cogan and H. Tadmor (II Kings [AB], 116), this is an idiom for leaving a corpse unburied. 4910:25tn Heb “and they came to the city of the house of Baal.” It seems unlikely that a literal city is meant. Some emend עִיר (’ir), “city,” to דְּבִיר (dÿvir) “holy place,” or suggest that עִיר is due to dittography of the immediately preceding עַד (’ad) “to.” Perhaps עִיר is here a technical term meaning “fortress” or, more likely, “inner room.” 5010:27tn Or “pulled down.” 5110:27tn The verb “they demolished” is repeated in the Hebrew text. 5210:27tn Heb “and they made it into.” 5310:27tn The consonantal text (Kethib) has the hapax legomenon מַחֲרָאוֹת (makharaot), “places to defecate” or “dung houses” (note the related noun חרא (khr’)/חרי (khri), “dung,” HALOT 348-49 s.v. *חֲרָאִים). The marginal reading (Qere) glosses this, perhaps euphemistically, מוֹצָאוֹת (motsa’ot), “outhouses.” 5410:28tn Heb “destroyed Baal.” 5510:29map For location see Map4-G4; Map5-C1; Map6-E3; Map7-D1; Map8-G3. 5610:29tn Heb “Except the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat which he caused Israel to commit, Jehu did not turn aside from after them – the golden calves which [were in] Bethel and which [were] in Dan.” 5710:30tn Heb “Because you have done well by doing what is proper in my eyes – according to all which was in my heart you have done to the house of Ahab – sons of four generations will sit for you on the throne of Israel.” In the Hebrew text the Lord’s statement is one long sentence (with a parenthesis). The translation above divides it into shorter sentences for stylistic Jehu ruled over Israel from approximately 841-814 b.c. Four of his descendants (Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Jeroboam II, and Zechariah) ruled from approximately 814-753 b.c. The dynasty came to an end when Shallum assassinated Zechariah in 753 b.c. See 2 Kgs 15:8-12. 5810:31tn Heb “But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart.” 5910:31tn Heb “He did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam which he caused Israel to commit.” 6010:32tn Heb “began to cut off Israel.” 6110:32tn Heb “Hazael struck them down in all the territory of Israel, from the Jordan on the east.” In the Hebrew text the phrase “from the Jordan on the east” begins v. 33. 6210:33tn Heb “all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassehites, from Aroer which is near the Arnon Valley, and Gilead, and Bashan.” 6310:34tn Heb “As for the rest of the events of Jehu, and all which he did and all his strength, are they not written on the scroll of the events of the days of the kings of Israel?” 6410:35tn Heb “lay down with his fathers.” 6510:35map For location see Map2-B1; Map4-D3; Map5-E2; Map6-A4; Map7-C1.