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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 10

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Verses 1-11


In this chapter we see several sides of Jehu. We see how on the one hand he goes too far by killing people for whom God has not instructed him to kill them. On the other hand, he did not go far enough. He eradicated the Baal service, but not the golden calves, which he continues to serve. He often does the work of God, but pursues actually his own interests. It seems that he is more of an instrument than a servant. He knows how to handle the sword excellently when it comes to judging evil. What he has not learned, however, is to apply the sword, applied in a spiritual sense, to himself.

He is a useful instrument as long as God’s interests correspond to his own. If God’s interests are not in line with his interests, he goes his own way.

Ahab’s Offspring Killed

The events follow each other in quick succession. Jehu acts energetically. After Jezreel, he also wants Samaria at his side. Seventy sons of Ahab live in Samaria. This will mean all his male offspring which he has conceived with his many wives, and also his grandsons. All these sons are a danger to Jehu’s kingdom. They must therefore be eliminated. He devises a clever plan for this. He sends letters to Samaria, to the city council. The content of his letter is very challenging, there is bravura in it. It is the language of the confident man who knows his own power and also knows the weak spot of his opponent.

He speaks to them as people who still see their “lord” in Ahab. He also points out to them their military strength. As capital they have access to “the chariots and horses and a fortified city and the weapons”. His proposal is that they should only put the best of Ahab’s sons on the throne and under his leadership will fight with him. He tells them to appoint a kind of counter king and then, in a fight with him, decide who the real king is.

The fact that Jehu dares to say and present all this shows that he is certain of his case. He knows the sons of Ahab. They are weak guys, just like the leaders of the city. The leaders are men of the kind of elders and distinguished men of Jezreel who have danced to the tune of Jezebel and killed Naboth in response to her letter (1 Kings 21:8-2 Chronicles :).

The language of the letter is such that Jehu presents himself as the undisputed king and that whoever dares to dispute it should go ahead. As far as he is concerned, the results are fixed. The choice is up to the leaders of Samaria. Like Jehoram, they will know what kind of man Jehu is, who is known by all as a “furious” rider (2 Kings 9:20), a man who is afraid of nothing and nobody and who goes aside for nothing and nobody. It is possible that the messengers also told how Jehu raced in Jezreel and what fate Jehoram, Ahaziah and Jezebel underwent. In any case, they refer to it as acts that cause terror.

Would they dare to take the sword against such a man? Their mind says they shouldn’t do that. It is much wiser to join Jehu. That is what they do. They let him know that they join him. They do so in words that imply total submission to him. This is exactly what he wants. Now he can use them to exterminate the offspring of Ahab without getting dirty hands himself.

When Jehu has received news from the leaders of Samaria that they promise him their support, he writes them a second letter (2 Kings 10:6). He gives them a command that allows them to prove that they mean what they say. Jehu begins his letter with words similar to those he said to the officials of Jezebel: “If you are on my side” (cf. 2 Kings 9:32). He is only interested in who is for him. When they are for him, they will listen to his voice. Listening to the voice of the LORD is not an issue. He now makes these elders allies and instructs them to kill the sons of Ahab.

The question remains how his command in this second letter is to be understood. His writing may be ambiguous. That is, “the heads of the men, your master’s sons” does not mean the literal heads, but the most important sons, the most influential. They should then take the men from the city with them and arrive at Jehu tomorrow around the same time as today. The men of the city literally understand what the letter says and Jehu may have meant it that way. When the heads are cut off, they are sent to Jerusalem. The elders do not bring the heads themselves to offer them personally. They would like to remain at a distance.

Jehu gets a message that the heads are delivered. Then he orders the heads to be placed in two heaps near the city gate. When the people of the city go out of town to work, they see the heads. But Jehu is there to give the explanation of this sinister sight. In the words he uses, he is diplomatic and insincere. He is straightforward when it comes to the sword, but he is not straightforward in his language.

He declares the people innocent. As for himself, he denies any involvement in the murder of these men. Certainly, he killed Jehoram, but that is because he had to do so because the LORD ordered it, although he does not pronounce it here clearly. Who has been working in this case? No, he wouldn’t be able to say that. He plays the innocent, the ignorant. Although he is directly responsible for the murder, his question designates others as murderers. He says nothing about the instruction he has given.

To camouflage his innocence and ignorance even more, he gives a pious twist to his story (2 Kings 10:10). They should not be too concerned about who did this. It all falls under the administration of the LORD. After all, the LORD’s revenge has been carried out, hasn’t it? What he in fact does is to blame the LORD.

2 Kings 10:11 is a kind of conclusion. Jehu kills all who are left of the house of Ahab. But he also goes further. He also killed “all his great men and his acquaintances and his priests”. He was not commissioned to do so. We must never go further than the Lord tells us, no matter how justified certain things may seem. Jehu wants to confirm his kingship and clears away everything that could hinder him. What is the power of his actions? The flesh, he acts for himself. The power of the flesh can work in spiritual things, but then there is always done more than the Lord’s command.

Verses 12-14

The Brothers of Ahaziah Killed

Nor did Jehu receive a command from the LORD to kill the princes of Judah. Ahaziah is a son of the evil Jehoram and Athaliah and therefore a grandson of Ahab and rightly killed. The brothers of Ahaziah are not literal brothers, because Ahaziah did not have anymore (2 Chronicles 21:16-Esther :). They may be cousins of him. The fact that the men are killed is justified in God’s governmental ways, because they deserved to be killed. They were friends of the house of Ahab.

Verses 15-16


As Jehu continues, there is a sudden meeting with Jehonadab. In response to Jehu’s question about the rightness of his heart, Jehonadab answers that his heart is indeed right. He has a right heart, but not so much in relation to Jehu as in relation to God. What the rightness of Jehu’s heart is worth, shows his performance, especially in the way he will soon eradicate the worshippers of Baal.

Jehonadab is a remarkable man. He is of the family of Rechab, of the people of Kenites. So he is not from origin from God’s people, but descends from a Canaanite people (Genesis 15:18-Psalms :), so from those peoples God had said they should be eradicated. Now not all Kenites lived in Canaan and therefore not all Kenites fell under the judgement. Several of them lived among God’s people (Judges 1:16; Judges 4:17; 1 Samuel 15:6; 1 Chronicles 2:55).

In Jeremiah 35 we read extensively about Jehonadab and his descendants and God’s appreciation for him and his family. There it turns out that Jehonadab was a faithful servant of the LORD and that his faithfulness is rewarded by the LORD. We have seen before that the period of Jehu can be compared to the period of Sardis in Revelation 3 (Revelation 3:1-Joshua :). It is remarkable that we not only find Jehu, but also Jehonadab in Sardis.

In Sardis we recognize Jehu in those who say they have the name to live (Revelation 3:1). Jehu testifies of himself that he lives before the LORD when he says to Jehonadab “see my zeal for the LORD”. Israel is said to be “zealous for God, but not in accordance with knowledge” (Romans 10:2). That also applies to Jehu. It is not a language of faith to so point at himself in his zeal for the LORD, but pride.

It must therefore be said of Jehu that his deeds have not been found completed in the sight of God (Revelation 3:2). Jehu may be eradicating the Baal service, but the golden calves still exist. Jehu returns, so to speak, to Jeroboam and not to David. Thus, the period of Sardis is in a sense a relief after the period of Thyatira – although Sardis and Thyatira coexist in church history – but Sardis does not return to the word of the apostles and prophets. Sardis remains, so to speak, ‘hanging’ in Pergamus, that is to say, the time in which the church takes in the world.

Jehonadab we recognize in the “few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments” (Revelation 3:4). They receive a promise (Revelation 3:4), just as Jehonadab also receives a promise from the LORD (Jeremiah 35:18-Psalms :). Jehonadab is not in Judah, in Jerusalem, or near the temple, the dwelling-place of God; but he is one of the faithful among the ten apostate tribes. Jehu would also like to insure himself of his company. Jehonadab is an influential man because of his consistent attitude to life and lifestyle. This will appeal to the conservative subjects in his empire.

Jehu makes Jehonadab his friend because of the political advantage this gives him. He uses Jehonadab to strengthen his own position. When Jehu says “give your hand”, it means more than just that he can help him climb up his car. It is also symbolic for the call for his help in his acquisition of the kingship.

Jehonadab is standing by Jehu’s side; he climbs up into the chariot with him. Yet he takes a clear place of separation in the ten tribes. This is clear from Jeremiah 35. He does not drink wine, which indicates that he has no part in the joys of the apostate people. He doesn’t even plant a vineyard, because he doesn’t want to be tempted to drink wine either. He doesn’t even have a house or a field, but lives in tents. He does not want to be connected to the land in any way. For this whole behavior, this consistent attitude, which can also be seen in his descendants, he receives God’s appreciation and reward (Jeremiah 35:12-Psalms :).

We see something similar in Protestantism. New churches are formed there, which are separated from the evil in Sardis. They arise as a protest against the prevailing evil. We recognize that in our days, for example, in the restored reformed church. It is a place of separation, although within the boundaries of Sardis, of the ten tribes.

Verse 17

Jehu Completes His Commission

In this verse the historian tells us that Jehu arrives in Samaria and completes his commission there. There he kills all those who “remained to Ahab”. With this he fulfills “the word of the LORD which He spoke to Elijah” (cf. 1 Kings 21:21).

Verses 18-28

The Worshipers of Baal Exterminated

Jehu now focuses on the idolatrous worship of Baal. Here he does again what is good, according to the instruction of the LORD who has said that every idolatry must be cut off from the land (Deuteronomy 13:12-Job :). Only Jehu works in cunning. That is not the work of the LORD. It is a representation of the situation whereby it seems that the lie promotes God’s work (cf. Romans 3:8). God never uses man’s lie to maintain His truth as truth. What a contrast with Elijah who did everything in public (1 Kings 18:21-Jeremiah :; 1 Kings 18:30). Also in this part we see that Jehu acts more out of the ‘anti-Ahab’ thought than out of the ‘pro-LORD’ thought.

He frames the case in such a way that there is no reference to the will of the LORD. Imagine that the Name of the LORD would be mentioned. Then the idolaters would immediately smell danger and his plan would fall to pieces. His plan works. “All the worshipers of Baal came.” Possibly under the good influence of Jehonadab, who is present here, he ensures that no servant of the LORD can be found among the worshipers of Baal. Every worshiper of Baal must dress with the clothing of Baal. Thus every worshiper of Baal becomes known. Jehu lets an inspection be carried out to see if there is not inadvertently one of the servants of the LORD among the idolaters.

If all worshipers of Baal and only worshipers of Baal are in the house of Baal, all these worshipers offer “sacrifices and burnt offerings”. After they have made their sacrifices, Jehu sends the men he has prepared and instructed, inside, with the instruction to kill every worshiper of Baal. His language is also threatening. Anyone who lets someone escape will have to pay for it with their own lives.

The men of Jehu execute their task thoroughly. All those who are in the house of Baal are killed. The bodies are thrown out. Then everything devoted to Baal is destroyed. Baal’s house is demolished and turned into a latrine, the most despicable place in the city.

The result is impressive. It is a good result, but obtained by bad methods. In the ways of God, the end does not justify the means. The means must also be in accordance with His Word. We must fight lawfully (2 Timothy 2:5). Jehu is not committing murder here. What he does is to execute idolaters by the command of God. Only the method he uses is false. The Spirit will never urge anyone to bring people together under the pretext of making a sacrifice to the idols.

Verses 29-33

Reward and Punishment

As has already been mentioned, Jehu’s works have not been found complete before God. He eradicated the Baal’s service, but he left the golden calves untouched. It is even so that he persisted in the sins of Jeroboam in serving the golden calves in Bethel and Dan. In it he preceded the people on the way of sin.

When the balance of Jehu’s life is taken, we see in 2 Kings 10:30-Obadiah : the two sides of God’s judgment. Good is rewarded, this is first mentioned by God (2 Kings 10:30). The reward is that his offspring will be on the throne until the fourth generation. This also means that it will not be permanent, as it would have been if he had been faithful. The LORD appreciates what was good with Jehu. God does not only see the wrong.

Yet it must follow “but” because of the unfaithfulness of Jehu (2 Kings 10:31). As a result, the judgment comes in the following verses. For this the LORD uses Hazael as His rod of discipline. It is in reality, as it says here, the LORD Himself who punishes Israel. He began “to make Israel smaller”. All the tribes of Israel on the wilderness side of the Jordan fall into the hands of the Syrians. This is the result of this revival. Jehu has been a sham revival.

Verses 34-36

The Death of Jehu

These verses are the end of the description of Jehu’s life. He has accomplished much and has been mighty. What all this has been, has been recorded by others. What is important to us is described in the two chapters we have just considered. It concerns the extermination of the house of Ahab and the religion associated with that house. Then his time is over and he dies. He is buried in Samaria, the place he coveted for the exercise of his power. According to the promise of God, he is succeeded by his son Jehoahaz.

The duration of his government is given right at the very end of his life. Usually this happens already at the beginning of the reign of a king. This may have something to do with the fact that his accession to the throne is not clearly mentioned anywhere in his history.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Kings 10". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/2-kings-10.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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