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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 10

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to them that brought up Ahab's children, saying,

Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. Since it appears (2 Kings 10:13) that grandsons are included, it is probable that this number comprehended the whole posterity of Ahab. Their being all assembled in that capital might arise from their being left there on the king's departure for Ramoth-gilead, or from their taking refuge in some of the strongholds of that city on the news of Jehu's conspiracy.

Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel. [The Septuagint has: pros tous archontas Samareias, which is probably the correct reading.] It may be inferred from the tenor of Jehu's letters that their first intention was to select the fittest of the royal family and set him up as king; or perhaps this challenge of Jehu was designed as a stroke of policy on his part to elicit their views, and try whether they were inclined to be pacific or hostile. The bold character of the man, and the rapid success of his conspiracy terrified the civic authorities of Samaria and Jezreel into submission.

Verses 2-4

Now as soon as this letter cometh to you, seeing your master's sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, a fenced city also, and armour;

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 5

And he that was over the house, and he that was over the city, the elders also, and the bringers up of the children, sent to Jehu, saying, We are thy servants, and will do all that thou shalt bid us; we will not make any king: do thou that which is good in thine eyes.

He that was over the house - the governor or chamberlain of the palace.

The bringers-up of the children. Anciently, and still, also, in many Eastern countries, the principal grandees were charged with the support and education of the royal princes. This involved a heavy expense, which they were forced to bear, but for which they endeavoured to find some compensation in the advantages of their connection with the court.

Verse 6

Then he wrote a letter the second time to them, saying, If ye be mine, and if ye will hearken unto my voice, take ye the heads of the men your master's sons, and come to me to Jezreel by to morrow this time. Now the king's sons, being seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, which brought them up.

Take ye the heads of the men your master's sons. The barbarous practice of a successful usurper slaughtering all who may have claim to the throne, has been frequently exemplified in the ancient and modern histories of the East.

Verse 7

And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king's sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent him them to Jezreel.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 8

And there came a messenger, and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king's sons. And he said, Lay ye them in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning.

Lay ye them in two heaps ... The exhibition of the heads of enemies in the East in ancient times always was considered a glorious trophy. Sometimes a pile of heads was erected at the gate of the palace, and a head of peculiarly striking appearance selected to grace the summit of the pyramid. On the sculptures at Khorsabad, Kouyunjik, and Nimroud, eunuchs are seen collecting the heads of the slain, and writing down the number ('Nineveh and its Remains,' 2:, p. 377). This mode of reckoning the loss of an enemy was long practiced in the East; but the Egyptians generally counted by hands, and Saul, at least in one instance, fixed upon another part of the body as a trophy (1 Samuel 18:25; 1 Samuel 18:27). The heads of Ahaziah's brethren are described as piled up in two heaps at the entrance gate of Samaria; and such trophies are still laid at the gates of Eastern cities. At the principal entrance to the Sultan's palace in Constantinople there are niches appropriated to this purpose; but when there is a large number of heads, two pyramids are formed of them at each side of the gate. The same practice prevails extensively throughout Asia, particularly in Persia. Oriental conquerors, ambitious of a permanent monument of glory, sometimes erect pillars, or triumphal arches, which are inlaid at the arches, or other conspicuous parts, with heads of the king or generals of the enemy. Several of these pillars exist in Turkey and Persia, particularly in the gateways of Bagdad, where such monuments were at a comparatively recent period raised with the heads of 200 Khezail Arabs, captured by the pasha. Such barbarous usages are revolting to humanity; but we need not wonder at their prevalence in the ancient and modern East, when we remember that almost down to the beginning of the present century, gibbeting the corpses of criminals was practiced in many parts of this country.

Verse 9

And it came to pass in the morning, that he went out, and stood, and said to all the people, Ye be righteous: behold, I conspired against my master, and slew him: but who slew all these?

Said to all the people, Ye be righteous ... A great concourse was assembled to gaze on this, novel and ghastly spectacle. The speech which Jehu addressed to the spectators was artfully framed to impress their minds with the idea that so wholesale a massacre, done without his order or connivance, was the secret result of the divine judgment denounced on the house of Ahab; and the effect of it was to prepare the public mind for hearing, without horror, of a similar revolting tragedy which was soon after perpetrated-namely, the extinction of all the influential friends and supporters of the dynasty of Ahab, including those of the royal house of Judah.

Verses 10-11

Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the LORD, which the LORD spake concerning the house of Ahab: for the LORD hath done that which he spake by his servant Elijah.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 12

And he arose and departed, and came to Samaria. And as he was at the shearing house in the way,

At the shearing house, [ Beeyt-`Eeqed (H1044) haaro`iym (H7462)] - house of shepherds binding (shearing) sheep; or it may be a proper name, Beth-heked-rohim.

Verse 13

Jehu met with the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah, and said, Who are ye? And they answered, We are the brethren of Ahaziah; and we go down to salute the children of the king and the children of the queen.

We are the brethren of Ahaziah - i:e., not full, but step-brothers, sons of Jehoram by various concubines. Ignorant of the revolution that had taken place, they were traveling to Samaria on a visit to their royal relatives of Israel, when they were seized and put to death from the apprehension that they might probably stimulate and strengthen the party that still remained faithful in their allegiance to Ahab's dynasty.

Children of the queen - i:e., of the queen-mother, or regent, Jezebel.

Verse 14

And he said, Take them alive. And they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of the shearing house, even two and forty men; neither left he any of them.

Slew them at the pit of the shearing house, [ 'el (H413) bowr (H953)] - at the pit (Genesis 37:20) of Beth-heked-rohim.

Verse 15

And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot.

Jehonadab the son of Rechab - (see the notes at 1 Chronicles 2:55.) A person who, from his piety and simple primitive manner of life (Jeremiah 35:1-19), was highly esteemed, and possessed great influence in the country. Jehu saw in a moment the advantage that his cause would gain from the friendship and countenance of this venerable man in the eyes of the people, and accordingly paid him the distinguished attention of inviting him to a seat in his chariot.

Give me thine hand - not simply to aid him in getting up, but for a far more significant and important purpose, the giving, or rather joining hands, being the recognized mode of striking a league or covenant (cf. Proverbs 6:1; Proverbs 11:15), as well as of testifying fealty to a new sovereign; accordingly, it is said he (Jehonadab) gave him (Jehu) his hand.

Verse 16

And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot.

He said, Come ... and see my zeal for the Lord. It was Jehu's policy, by extirpating the Baal idolatry, to re-establish the calf-symbols; and he boasts of making him by such a course a zealot for the honour of Yahweh. This is a confirmation of what was said respecting Jeroboam's innovation (see the notes at 1 Kings 12:28-30), that 'the defection of Israel did not consist in rejecting Yahweh as a false god, or in renouncing the law of Moses as a false religion, but in joining foreign worship and idolatrous ceremonies, to the ritual of the true God' (Warburton, 'Divine Legation,' b. 5:, sec. 3).

Verses 17-18

And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the LORD, which he spake to Elijah.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 19

Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtilty, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal.

Call unto me the prophets of Baal. The votaries of Baal are here classified under the several titles of prophets, priests, and servants, or worshippers generally. They might be easily convened into one spacious temple, as their number had been greatly diminished both by the influential ministrations of Elijah and Elisha, and also from the late king Joram's neglect and discontinuance of the worship Jehu's appointment of a solemn sacrifice in honor of Baal, and a summons to all his worshippers to join in its celebration, was a deep-laid plot, which he had resolved upon for their extinction. It was done, however, not from religious, but purely political motives, because he believed that the existence and interests of the Baalites were inseparably bound up with the dynasty of Ahab, and because he hoped that by their extermination he would secure the attachment of the far larger and more influential party who worshipped God in Israel. Jehonadab's concurrence must have been given in the belief of his being actuated solely by the highest principles of piety and seal.

Verses 20-21

And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 22

And he said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal. And he brought them forth vestments.

Bring forth vestments. The priests of Baal were clad, probably, in robes of white byssus while they were engaged in the functions of their office, and these were kept under the care of an officer, in particular wardrobe of Baal's temple. This treacherous massacre, and the means taken to accomplish it, are paralleled by the slaughter of the Janissaries and other terrible tragedies in the modern history of the East.

Verses 23-28

And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the LORD, but the worshippers of Baal only.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 29

Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan. Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam. Jehu had no intention of carrying his zeal for the Lord beyond a certain point, and so be considered it impolitic to encourage big subjects to travel to Jerusalem, he re-established the symbolic worship of the calves. Had Jehu resolved on putting the law into execution against idolaters (Deuteronomy 17:2-5), instead of adopting the deceptive, cruel part he did, he would have acted the part of a constitutional king; and had he, in the integrity of his heart, prosecuted the work of religious reformation thus begun by demolishing images, and restoring the pure worship of Yahweh, it is probable that the national degeneracy might have been arrested, or at least retarded; but be deemed it expedient to follow the policy of Jeroboam in reviving the calf-symbols at Beth-el and Dan, and in so doing, he showed himself unequal to the demands of the time; he failed to realize the ends for which he had been anointed king.

Verses 30-31

And the LORD said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 32

In those days the LORD began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel;

In those days the Lord began to cut Israel short. The national calamities to which allusion is made were occasioned, it is supposed, by cause about to be mentioned. Jehu, shortly after his obtaining possession of the Israelite throne, thought to strengthen his interests by alliance with Assyria; and accordingly he sent presents to Divanubara, who, according to Sir H. Rawlinson, was at that time the reigning monarch. This movement of Jehu gave deep umbrage to his northern neighbour, Hazel, the king of Syria, who, jealous of the interference of the Assyrian rulers in his vicinity, declared war against Jehu; and by many successful attacks on the outlying provinces of Israel, made serious inroads on the territory of that kingdom (see the notes at 2 Kings 14:25). That the king of Assyria received tribute from Jehu is well known from the black obelisk where he is called 'son of Khumri' (Omri). Jehu might have been descended from Omri on the mother's side. But the subsequent discovery of a short inscription of Shalmaneser II, king of Assyria, proves that Jehu sent tribute to Assyria in the eighteenth year of his reign. But whether this was the first time or not is not said. The inscription on the Nimroud obelisk, which contains a representation of Israelites bringing tribute to Shalmaneser II, bears to be from Jehu, 'son of Omri' - i:e., descended from the founder of Samaria; and the tribute consisted of gold and silver specie, together with vases, rings, seals, and other articles of manufacture in the precious metals.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-kings-10.html. 1871-8.
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