Seventy sons - i. e., descendants; there were included among them children of Jehoram (2 Kings 10:2-3, etc.).
A fenced city - Or, “fenced cities.” If Samaria had refused to acknowledge Jehu, many other Israelite towns would have been sure to follow the example.
Jehu, placing his adversaries‘ advantages before them in the most favorable light, called upon them to decide what they would do. The unscrupulous soldier shows shrewdness as well as courage, a sharp wit as well as a bold heart.
Two kings - literally, “the two kings,” i. e., Jehoram and Ahaziah 2 Kings 9:21-28.
The officer who had the charge of the place (1 Kings 4:6 note) and the governor of the town (1 Kings 22:26 note) seem to correspond to the “rulers” of 2 Kings 10:1.
The heads of rivals, pretenders, and other obnoxious persons are commonly struck off in the East, and conveyed to the chief ruler, in order that he may be positively certified that his enemies have ceased to live. In the Assyrian sculptures we constantly see soldiers conveying heads from place to place, not, however, in baskets, but in their hands, holding the head by the hair.
Two heaps - Probably placed one on either side of the gateway, to strike terror into the partisans of the late dynasty as they passed in and out of the town.
Ye be righteous - i. e., “Ye are just, and can judge aright.” Jehu unfairly keeps back the fact that he had commanded the execution.
Shall fall to the earth - i. e., “Shall remain unfulfilled” (compare the marginal reference). Jehu and others were but executing the word of the Lord.
So Jehu slew - Rather, “And Jehu slew.” The reference is to fresh executions (compare 2 Kings 10:17). He proceeded on his bloody course, not merely destroying the remainder of the kindred of Ahab, but further putting to death all the most powerful of Ahab‘s partisans.
His priests - Not the Baal priests generally, whose persecution came afterward 2 Kings 10:19, but only such of them as were attached to the court.
The shearing-house - literally, as in margin. Perhaps already a proper name, Beth-eked, identical with the Beth-akad of Jerome, which is described as between Jezreel and Samaria; but not yet identified.
The brethren of Ahaziah - Not the actual brothers of Ahaziah, who had all been slain by the Arabs before his accession to the throne 2 Chronicles 21:17; 2 Chronicles 22:1; but his nephews, the sons of his brothers (marginal reference). It is remarkable that they should have penetrated so far into the kingdom of Israel without having heard of the revolution.
The children of the king - i. e.” the sons of Jehoram, and the children (sons and grandsons) of the queen-mother, Jezebel.” Some of both may well have been at Jezreel, though the younger branches of the royal family were at Samaria 2 Kings 10:1.
Jehonadab (compare the margin) belonged to the tribe of the Kenites, one of the most ancient in Palestine Genesis 15:19. Their origin is unknown, but their habits were certainly those of Arahs. Owing to their connection with Moses (Numbers 24:21 note), they formed a friendship with the Israelites, accompanied them in their wanderings, and finally receivcd a location in the wilderness of Judah Judges 1:16. The character of this chief, Jonadab, is best seen in the rule which he established for his descendants Jeremiah 35:6-7 - a rule said to be still observed at the present day. It would seem that he sympathised strongly with Jehu‘s proceedings, and desired to give the countenance of his authority, such as it was, to the new reign. According to the Hebrew text, Jehu “saluted” (or blessed) Jehonadab. According to the Septuagint and Josephus, Jehonadab “saluted” (or blessed) the king. Further, the Hebrew text runs - “And Jehonadab answered, It is, it is. Give (me) thy hand. And he gave (him) his hand, and took him up to him into the chariot.” Our translators appear to have preferred the Septuagint; but the Hebrew is more graphic. Jehu was no doubt glad to have the countenance of Jehonadab on his public entrance into Samaria. The ascetic had a reputation for sanctity, which could not fail to make his companionship an advantage to the but half-established monarch.
Compare 2 Kings 10:11. Thus was finally completed the political revolution which transferred the throne from the house of Omri to that of Nimshi, the fifth of the royal families of Israel.
According to the saying of the Lord - This emphatic reiteration (compare 2 Kings 10:10) marks, first, how in the mind of the writer all this history is viewed as deriving its special interest from its being so full and complete an accomplishment of Elijah‘s prophecies; and, secondly, how at the time Jehu carefully put forward the plea that what he did had this object. It does not indicate that a single-minded wish to execute God‘s will was Jehu‘s predominate motive. Probably, even where he most strictly fulfilled the letter of prophecies, he was working for himself, not for God; and hence, vengeance was denounced upon his house even for the very “blood of Jezreel” Hosea 1:4.
Though we cannot ascribe to Jehu a spirit of true piety (see 2 Kings 10:29), we can well enough understand how the soldier, trained in the Syrian wars, revolted against the unmanly and voluptuous worship of the Dea Syra, and wished to go back to the simple solemn service of Yahweh. These views and feelings it would have been dangerous to declare during the lifetime of Jezebel. Even after her death it was prudent to temporise, to wait until the party of Ahab was crushed politically, before broaching tbe religious question. Having now slain all the issue of Ahab in the kingdom of Israel, and all the influential men of the party 2 Kings 10:7, 2 Kings 10:11, 2 Kings 10:17, Jehu felt that he might begin his reformation of religion. But even now he uses “subtilty” rather than open violence. “Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much.”
It appears from this verse that the “prophets” and “priests” of Baal were not identical. The former would correspond to the dervishes, the latter to the mullahs, of Muslim countries. By the “servants” of Baal are meant the ordinary worshippers.
A solemn assembly - Jehu applies to his proposed gathering the sacred name assigned in the Law to the chiefest festivals of Yahweh (see Leviticus 23:36; Numbers 29:35; Deuteronomy 16:8).
In order to understand how such numbers could find room, we must remember that the ancient temples had vast courts around them, which could contain many thousands.
The vestry - The sacred robes of the Baal priests seem to have been of linen, and were probably white. The vestry here mentioned may, probably, be the robe-chamber of the royal palace, from which the king gave a festal garment to each worshipper.
The presence of persons belonging to another religion was usually regarded by the ancients as a profanation of the rites. In the case of the Greek mysteries such intrusion is said to have been punished by death. Consequently Jehu could give these injunctions without arousing any suspicion.
As soon as he had made an end of offering - The actual sacrificers were no doubt the priests of Baal; but Jehu is considered to have made the offering, since he furnished the victims. Compare 1 Kings 8:62-63.
The guard - literally, “the runners.” This name seems to have been given to the royal body-guard as early as the time of Saul (1 Samuel 22:17, margin). It was their duty to run by the side of the king‘s chariot as he moved from plaze to place.
Cast them out, and went - Rather, “the captains hasted and went,” or “went hastily;” which gives a satisfactory sense. That the soldiers should have troubled themselves to cast the bodies of the slain out of the temple enclosure is very unlikely.
The city of the house of Baal - i. e., the temple itself, as distinguished from the court in which it stood, is intended. The guard having slain all who were in the court, rushed on and entered the sanctuary, there no doubt completing the massacre, and further tearing down and bringing out the sacred objects mentioned in the next verse.
The images - Or “pillars” of wood. The Phoenician pillar idols were mere columns, obelisks, or posts, destitute of any shaping into the semblance of humanity (compare 1 Kings 14:23 note).
And they brake down the image of Baal - The other images, it appears, were not images of Baal, but of inferior deities. The image of Baal, which was “broken down,” and not burned, would seem to have been of stone, perhaps erected in front of the temple.
To abolish the calf-worship was a thought which had probably never occurred to Jehu. He had religious feeling enough, and patriotism enough, to detest the utterly debasing Astarte worship; but the pure worship of Yahweh was altogether beyond and above him.
And the Lord said unto Jehu - Probably by the mouth of Elisha. To a certain extent Jehu‘s measures were acts of obedience, for which God might see fit to assign him a temporal reward.
Thy children - This was accomplished in the persons of Jehoahaz, Joash, Jeroboam, and Zachariah, the son, grandson, great-grandson, and great-great-grandson of Jehu (compare the marginal references). No other family sat upon the throne of Israel so long. The house of Omri, which furnished four kings, held the crown for three generations only and for less than 50 years - that of Jehu reigned for five generations and for more than 100 years.
To cut Israel short - literally, “to cut off in Israel,” i. e., to take away from Israel portions of its territory (see the marginal reference).
The loss of the entire trans-Jordanic territory seems to be intended, or at any rate its complete ruin and devastation (compare marginal reference “y”). This was the home of the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and of the half tribe of Manasseh Joshua 22:1-9. It was more accessible from Damascus than the region west of the river.
Aroer - There were several places of this name. The one here mentioned is the most famous (compare Deuteronomy 2:36 note).
Even Gilead and Bashan - The writer had previously called the whole territory “Gilead;” now he distinguishes it, more accurately, into Gilead, the southern, and Bashan, the northern region 1 Kings 4:13, 1 Kings 4:19.
All his might - It is remarkable that this expression, which is not used by the author of Kings in connection with any other king of Israel, should be applied to Jehu, whose ill success in his struggle with Hazael has just been noted, and who submitted to the Assyrians and consented to become a tributary. Perhaps the word is used here in the sense of “personal courage” rather than of “power.”
In Samaria - The family of Ahab had made Jezreel a sort of second capital, and had reigned there, at least in part 2 Kings 13:1, 2 Kings 13:10; 2 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 15:8.
These files are public domain.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Kings 10". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany