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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 10

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 30-36

1. Jehu’s evil reign in Israel 9:30-10:36

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 reigned 88 years (841-753 B.C.). He himself reigned 28 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," p. 278.]

Verses 1-17

Jehu’s purges of the royal families 10:1-17

Jehu challenged the nobles of Samaria and Jezreel who were rearing Ahab’s 70 male descendants to select an heir and to battle Jehu. This would decide whether Ahab’s house or Jehu’s would rule Israel. Rather than fight a battle they were sure they would lose, they submitted to Jehu and slew Ahab’s sons. In the ancient Near East conquering kings sometimes piled the heads of their defeated foes at the city gate to show their power and to discourage future rebellion. [Note: Luckenbill, 1:213; Gray, p. 500.] Jehu then proceeded to execute the nobles who had killed Ahab’s sons. However, in this purge Jehu demonstrated too much zeal. God judged Jehu’s own dynasty later for these unlawful assassinations (cf. Hosea 1:4). Jehu was wise and obedient to kill Ahab’s sons (cf. 2 Samuel 1:14-15), but he overstepped his authority by killing the nobles.

"Jehu’s killings exceed reform and become atrocities, . . . a fact Hosea 1:4-5 makes clear. Eventually, Jehu becomes very much like those he replaces, which makes him more of a political opportunist than a catalyst for change." [Note: House, p. 287.]

Jehu also wiped out the members of Ahab’s family who were still alive in the Southern Kingdom, whom God evidently brought together to make Jehu’s job easier (2 Kings 10:12-14). [Note: See J. M. Miller, "The Fall of the House of Ahab," Vetus Testamentum 17 (1967):307-24.]

Jonadab also rejoiced in the destruction of Ahab’s line, though he may not have approved of all Jehu’s killing (2 Kings 10:15-17). Other Scripture describes Jonadab as a faithful follower of Yahweh who observed the Mosaic Law strictly (cf. Jeremiah 35:6-7).

Verses 18-28

Jehu’s purge of Baalism 10:18-28

This purge evidently took place in Samaria (1 Kings 16:32). Jehu’s true religious preferences had not yet become known publicly. The various Hebrew words translated "pillar" in 2 Kings 10:26-27 indicate that Jehu desecrated two or more kinds of objects, probably flammable wooden and non-flammable stone idols. Jehu also converted the temple of Baal into a public latrine, the greatest possible insult to Baal, the god of fertility. His act made Baal’s temple an unclean place as well. Jehu thus effectively eradicated the Baal worship that Ahab and Jezebel had officially established as Israel’s religion.

Verses 29-36

Jehu’s assessment 10:29-36

God blessed Jehu for eliminating the line of Ahab and Baalism. However, Jehu did not go far enough. He allowed the cult of Jeroboam to continue. Furthermore he was not careful to obey the Mosaic Law with all his heart (2 Kings 10:31). Consequently, God cut his line off eventually, and Israel lost much Transjordanian territory to Hazael, king of Aram.

"Despite his cometlike beginning, spiritually speaking, Jehu was a falling star, so his reign is largely passed over in silence." [Note: Patterson and Austel, p. 212.]

"Despite his attacks against Baalism, Jehu does not lead the nation into separatist Yahwism. He allows the worship instituted by Jeroboam to continue. In effect, then, he expels the foreign religion (Baalism) in favor of the long-standing Israelite state religion begun by Jeroboam. Apparently he believes reform beyond the elimination of Ahab’s children, Ahab’s wife, and Ahab’s religion, that is, what secures his power, does not concern him. Indeed he acts as the instrument of punishment against the corrupt Omride dynasty, but he does not operate out of Elijah-like motives. Rather, he is, like Syria, Assyria, and Babylon, an instrument that punishes but exhibits few personal moral strengths. Israel is now back to where it was before Ahab and Jezebel assumed leadership, but it has certainly not come back to the Lord." [Note: House, p. 295.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Kings 10". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/2-kings-10.html. 2012.
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