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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
2 Kings 9

 

 

Verses 1-13

God"s preparation of Jehu9:1-13

God had told Elijah that he would anoint Jehu ( 1 Kings 19:16). [Note: For more information on anointing with oil ( 2 Kings 9:3; 2 Kings 9:6), see my note on1Samuel16:13.] He did this through his successor Elisha who accomplished it by using one of his protgs ( 2 Kings 9:1). Jehu would wipe out Omri"s dynasty in Israel ( 2 Kings 9:7-10). Jehu"s father was a different Jehoshaphat from Judah"s king of the same name ( 2 Kings 9:2). Elijah had prophesied the end of Ahab"s line ( 1 Kings 21:21-22; 1 Kings 21:29) and Jezebel"s death ( 1 Kings 21:23). God had worked through prophets previously, especially Elijah and Elisha, and would continue to do so. However, Jehu was just as much an instrument in God"s hand as the prophets, though his methods were not always proper. This is the only place in Kings where the writer emphasized Yahweh as avenging (cf. Nahum 1:2-3). Jehu was His instrument.

"At times the behavior of the prophet was unusual or abnormal, but a careful consideration of each of these instances will reveal some divine purpose or spiritual significance." [Note: Hobart E. Freeman, An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets, p60.]

"Jehu is the only king of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) to have been anointed, perhaps to indicate that he should follow in the Davidic tradition, as Saul had been anointed by Samuel ( 1 Samuel 9:16; 1 Samuel 10:1); David by Samuel, to mark the Spirit of God endowing him for the task ( 1 Samuel 16:12-13); and Solomon by the high priest Zadok and Nathan the prophet ( 1 Kings 1:45). Such anointing was symbolic and probably confined to Hebrew practice (see also on 1 Kings 1:34)." [Note: Wiseman, pp218-19.]


Verses 14-26

Jehu"s assassination of Joram9:14-26

Israel had evidently retaken Ramoth-gilead after Ben-Hadad I had defeated Ahab there12years earlier. Israel was now defending it against the attacking Arameans ( 2 Kings 9:14). The horsemen and Joram who asked Jehu, "Is it peace?" were asking if Israel had successfully defended Ramoth-gilead ( 2 Kings 9:17; 2 Kings 9:19; 2 Kings 9:22). Jehu"s reply to the two horsemen, "What have you to do with peace?" ( 2 Kings 9:18-19) was somewhat enigmatic and meant, "Don"t worry." He did not answer their question. They probably concluded that he did not want to say anything until he saw the king. When Joram asked him about peace, Jehu replied that there could be no peace for Israel as long as Israel"s leaders allowed Jezebel"s sins to continue ( 2 Kings 9:22). Jezebel was a spiritual harlot, having pursued many idols. Her witchcraft (Heb. kesapim, lit. sorceries) involved seeking information from demonic forces (cf. Isaiah 47:9; Isaiah 47:12; Micah 5:12; Nahum 3:4). This was a capital offense under the Mosaic Law ( Exodus 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Joram realized Jehu"s words spelled treason, and he began to flee. He had evidently not worn his armor, and Jehu killed him easily with an arrow ( 2 Kings 9:24). Jehu desired to fulfill the prophecy of Ahab"s punishment ( 2 Kings 9:26; cf. 1 Kings 21:21-22). God had mitigated Ahab"s judgment because he had repented ( 1 Kings 21:29), but now his descendants were reaping the consequences, as God had promised. 2 Kings 9:26 adds that Jezebel had executed Naboth"s sons, too. The writer did not record this earlier. Perhaps she sought to preclude any claims that Naboth"s descendants could have made to his lands later. These additional murders also violated the Mosaic Law ( Leviticus 25:25; Numbers 36:7).


Verses 27-29

Jehu"s assassination of Ahaziah9:27-29

Jehu executed Ahaziah because he was a member of Ahab"s family. He died an ignominious death because of his wickedness, as did the kings of Israel in Omri"s dynasty. Nevertheless Ahaziah received an honorable burial ( 2 Kings 9:28).

The period of alliance that ran contemporaneously with Omri"s dynasty, beginning with Ahab, concluded when Joram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah died (in841 B.C.). Though Ahab and Jehoshaphat undoubtedly intended to bring strength to both kingdoms through this alliance, it had the opposite effect because of the wicked influence of Ahab"s house. The Lord had forbidden alliances with ungodly nations, so Judah suffered His discipline for entering into this one. Relying on human allies rather than Yahweh weakened both kingdoms. Jehu"s assassinations terminated not only two kings of Israel and Judah but the alliance of the two nations as well.


Verses 30-36

1. Jehu"s evil reign in Israel9:30-10:36

Since the writer did not record Jehu"s coronation, we should probably regard his reign as beginning when Joram died ( 2 Kings 9:24). Jehu began Israel"s fifth and longest royal dynasty. He and his descendants reigned88 years (841-753 B.C.). He himself reigned28 years (841-814 B.C.). His contemporaries in Judah were Queen Athaliah and King Joash.

"The usual formula to introduce a king is lacking in the case of Jehu because of the unique and violent nature of his rise to power." [Note: Merrill, " 2 Kings ," p278.]


Verses 30-37

Jehu"s execution of Jezebel9:30-37

Jezebel evidently painted her eyes and adorned her head ( 2 Kings 9:30) to receive Jehu. Unwittingly, or perhaps deliberately, [Note: Patterson and Austel, p209.] she prepared herself for her own death. At least one interpreter believed she was trying to seduce Jehu. [Note: S. Parker, "Jezebel"s Reception of Jehu," Maarav1 (1978):67-78.] Her greeting to Jehu may have been a sarcastic, derogatory threat ( 2 Kings 9:31). [Note: Gray, p551.] She asked, "Is it peace?" as the two horsemen and Joram had ( 2 Kings 9:17; 2 Kings 9:19; 2 Kings 9:22). However she meant, "Have you established peace (by assassinating the king)?" She implied he had not by calling him Zimri. Zimri was the rebel who, about44years earlier, had assassinated his king, Elah, only to die seven days later at the hand of Jezebel"s father-in-law, Omri ( 1 Kings 16:8-10; 1 Kings 16:17-19). Jezebel implied that Jehu would suffer a similar fate. This interpretation seems better than that Jezebel saw Jehu as a rebel but complemented him on being the one who pruned Omri"s dynasty. [Note: Saul Olyan, " 2 Kings 9:31-Jehu as Zimri," Harvard Theological Review78:1 (1985):203-7.] Wiseman believed Jezebel wanted to reach a peaceful agreement with Jehu. By calling him Zimri she was not referring to Jehu as a traitor but as a hero (Ugaritic dmr). [Note: Wiseman, p223.] This seems unlikely to me. "Zimri" may have become synonymous with "traitor" by this time. [Note: Giorgio Buccellali, Cities and Nations of Ancient Syria, p203.]

"On the surface Jezebel"s actions seem contradictory. On the one hand, she beautifies herself as if to seduce Jehu, but on the other hand, she insults and indirectly threatens him with this comparison to Zimri. Upon further reflection, however, her actions reveal a clear underlying motive. She wants to retain her power, not to mention her life. By beautifying herself, she appeals to Jehu"s sexual impulses; by threatening him, she reminds him that he is in the same precarious position as Zimri. But, if he makes Jezebel his queen, he can consolidate his power. In other words through her actions and words Jezebel is saying to Jehu, "You desire me, don"t you? And you need me!"" [Note: The NET Bible note on9:31.]

In response to Jehu"s question, "Who is on my side?" a few officers (Heb. saris), who acted as harem attendants, threw Jezebel out of her upper-story window. The way Jehu treated Jezebel"s body shows his complete lack of respect for her. Rather than mourning her death, he feasted. He fulfilled Elijah"s prophecy of how God would end her life ( 1 Kings 21:23). She who had ordered the murders of Naboth and his sons died on the very ground she had stolen from them. This was the same plot of ground where Jehu had thrown Joram"s corpse ( 2 Kings 9:24-26). Yahweh and the godly people of Israel shared Jehu"s lack of respect for the queen. Jezebel had been responsible for much of the apostasy, wickedness, and consequent divine discipline that had plagued Israel for over30 years. As always in Kings, the writer recorded the type of death a person died to document God"s faithfulness in blessing the obedient and cursing the disobedient. [Note: For interesting insights into the spirit of Jezebel and how to combat it, see Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, pp97-120.]

When Jehu occupied Jezreel, he had not yet established himself as Israel"s king. Jezreel was only a secondary residence of Ahab"s royal family, after Samaria. [Note: Siegfried Herrmann, A History of Israel in Old Testament Times, p221.]


Verses 30-41

C. The Second Period of Antagonism9:30-17:41

The kingdoms of Israel and Judah continued without an alliance between them for the rest of the time the Northern Kingdom existed. This period began with Jehu"s accession to the throne of Israel in841 B.C. and continued until the Assyrian captivity of the Northern Kingdom in722 B.C.

 


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Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Kings 9:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/2-kings-9.html. 2012.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, December 9th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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