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The Shunammite, Now A Widow, Has Her Land Restored To Her By The King Of Israel (2 Kings 8:1-6 ).
The prophetic author has two purposes in this incident. Firstly to emphasis the miraculous powers of Elisha, and secondly to bring out that YHWH watches over those who are faithful to Him.
The incident involves the Shunnamite woman mentioned in 2 Kings 6:8-33. We are probably to see that her husband has since died, for he is not mentioned in the narrative. Thus the inheritance now belonged to the son. But Elisha foresaw a lengthy (‘seven year’ ) famine which was coming and advised her to take her household and seek refuge outside the land. Obediently she sought refuge in Philistia, and waited for the famine to be over. We have no information on what if any procedures would be followed in a case like this. It is possible that the house and land came under the protection of the crown. But no doubt those who took possession of it would not be desirous of returning it.
So on her return at the end of the period she presumably discovered that her son’s inheritance had been taken over by someone, who had also presumably occupied the house, and her intention was therefore to appeal to the king for her son’s rights to be restored. The author probably intends us to see that it was in the will of YHWH that this happened precisely at that time that the king was asking Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, to recount to him some of Elisha’s miracles, and Gehazi was telling him about the raising from the dead of the Shunnamite’s son. And when Gehazi saw the woman coming for an audience with the king he pointed her out as the Shunnamite whose son Elisha had healed. The king accordingly spoke with the woman and arranged for her house and lands to be restored to her, along with the produce of the land during the famine.
It is important to note that the king obtained his information about the miracles of Elisha directly from an eyewitness, and may well have had them recorded. There is absolutely no reason for doubting Gehazi’s accuracy, or for suggesting that he exaggerated. There is no evidence of it whatsoever. Any such idea is all in the mind of the doubters.
a Now Elisha had spoken to the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, “Arise, and go, you and your household, and sojourn wherever you can sojourn, for YHWH has called for a famine, and it will also come on the land seven years.” And the woman arose, and acted in accordance with the word of the man of God, and she went with her household, and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years (2 Kings 8:1-2).
b And it came about at the end of the seven years, that the woman returned out of the land of the Philistines, and she went forth to cry to the king for her house and for her land (2 Kings 8:3).
c Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me, I pray you, all the great things that Elisha has done” (2 Kings 8:4).
b And it came about, as he was telling the king how he had restored to life him who was dead, that, behold, the woman, whose son he had restored to life, cried to the king for her house and for her land (2 Kings 8:5 a).
a And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life.” And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed to her a certain officer, saying, “Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now” (2 Kings 8:5-6).
In ‘a’ ‘the woman whose son Elisha had restored to life’ took refuge in Philistia, leaving her land behind, and in the parallel ‘the woman whose son Elisha had restored to life’ received her land and produce back from the king. In ‘b’ the woman went to the king to cry for her house and land, and in the parallel she cried to the king for her house and land. Centrally in ‘c’ Gehazi recounted to the king some of the miracles performed by Elisha.
2 Kings 8:1
‘Now Elisha had spoken to the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, “Arise, and go, you and your household, and sojourn wherever you can sojourn, for YHWH has called for a famine, and it will also come on the land seven years.” ’
The reason why the Shunnamite woman had left her house and land was because Elisha had advised her to do so in view of a ‘seven year famine’ (a lengthy, drawn out famine) which ‘YHWH was calling for’ on the land, that is, a period when the rains would fail. Any such natural event would have been seen by the prophets as ‘called for by YHWH’, and no particular reason is given for it. We have no means of knowing how it connected with other famines mentioned earlier. Elisha’s advice was that she find a suitable place to ‘sojourn’ (be a short term resident alien). Being wealthy she would be able to afford to stay at a suitable place.
2 Kings 8:2
‘And the woman arose, and acted in accordance with the word of the man of God, and she went with her household, and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.’
In accordance with Elisha’s instructions as ‘a man of God’ she took her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines for the seven year period. The non-mention of her husband may suggest that he was dead.
2 Kings 8:3
‘And it came about at the end of the seven years, that the woman returned out of the land of the Philistines, and she went forth to cry to the king for her house and for her land.’
At the end of the lengthy period, no doubt having learned that the famine was over, the woman returned from Philistia, and went to put in her official request for her home and land to be restored to her. Land and property in the countryside belonged to its original Israelite owners in perpetuity. ‘To cry out --’ was probably a legal expression for putting forward an official claim.
2 Kings 8:4
‘Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me, I pray you, all the great things that Elisha has done.” ’
Meanwhile, not knowing about this (although we are intended to see that YHWH knew) the king had summoned Gehazi in order to receive an eyewitness account of what miracles Elisha had performed. It may well have been an official summons with the intention of recording them for the future. It indicates clearly that Elisha had an outstanding reputation for the miraculous. We do not know which king this was, but it indicates an official interest in the miracles..
The fact that Gehazi was allowed in the king’s presence indicates that the skin disease from which he suffered was not leprosy. Compare also how Naaman had been able to serve the king of Aram having the same disease. It would, however, prevent Gehazi from entering the court of the Sanctuary.
2 Kings 8:5
‘And it came about, as he was telling the king how he had restored to life him who was dead, that, behold, the woman, whose son he had restored to life, cried to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life.” ’
And even while Gehazi was in the middle of recounting details of how Elisha had raised the son of a Shunnamite from the dead the woman herself approached the king for an audience, in order to put forward her official appeal. It was one of those God-ordained coincidences. And Gehazi pointed out the woman was the one he was speaking about.
2 Kings 8:6
‘And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed to her a certain officer, saying, “Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now.” ’
The king asked the woman about the matter, and then he called on a ‘high official’ to ensure the restoring to the woman of her house and lands, together with all the produce grown over the seven years, which may well have gone to the crown. Due to the famine it would not be a very large amount, although the fields may have been extensive.
SECTION 8. The Wonder-working Ministry Of Elisha (2 Kings 4:1 to 2 Kings 8:15 )
It will be noted that from this point on, until 2 Kings 8:15, no king of Israel is mentioned by name, even though, for example, Naaman’s name is given in chapter 5, and Ben-hadad, the king of Aram, is mentioned in 2 Kings 6:24; 2 Kings 8:7. (The reign of Jehoram then recommences in 2 Kings 8:16). It is clear that the prophetic author was concerned at this point that our attention should be taken away from the kings to the wonder-working power of YHWH through His prophet Elisha. The kings (and the chronology) were not considered important. It was the events, and the advancement of God’s kingdom through Elisha that were seen as important in contrast with the failure of the kings.
a A prophet’s widow comes to Elisha in her destitution and Elisha multiplies oil for her (2 Kings 4:1-7).
b Elisha raises to life and restores to a Shunammite her only son (2 Kings 4:8-37).
c Elisha restores a stew for his followers and feeds a hundred men on twenty small cakes of bread (2 Kings 4:38-44).
d The skin of the skin-diseased Naaman of Aram, who comes seeking Elisha in peace, is made pure as a babe’s (2 Kings 5:1-27).
e The borrowed axe-head is made to float, a symbol of the need for Israel to have its sharp edge restored by Elisha (2 Kings 6:1-7).
d The Aramaeans, who came seeking Elisha in hostility, are blinded (2 Kings 6:8-23).
c Elisha restores food to the people at the siege of Samaria, and feeds a large number on Aramaean supplies (2 Kings 6:24 to 2 Kings 7:20).
b The king restores to the Shunammite her land (2 Kings 8:1-6).
a Benhadad of Aram sends to Elisha in his illness and is assured that he will not die of his illness, but Elisha declares that nevertheless he will die, as it turns out, through assassination by Hazael (2 Kings 8:7-15).
Note that in ‘a’ Elisha is approached by a prophet’s widow in her need and is provided for, and in the parallel Elisha is approached on behalf of the king of Aram in his need and is reassured, although then being assassinated. Once more we have the contrast between blessing and judgment. In ‘b’ the Shunammite receives her son back to life, and in the parallel she receives her land back. In ‘c’ the stew is restored as edible in the midst of famine and the bread is multiplied to feed the sons of the prophets, and in the parallel food is restored to the besieged in a time of famine, and is multiplied to them. In ‘d’ Naaman an Aramaean comes in peace and is restored to health, and in the parallel Aramaeans come in hostility and are blinded. Centrally in ‘e’ the borrowed axe-head, symbolic of Israel’s cutting edge, is restored to its possessor.
Benhadad Of Aram, Through His Servant Hazael, Seeks Elisha’s Assurance That His Illness Is Not Fatal, But Elisha Discerns Dark Deeds Ahead At The Hands Of Hazael (2 Kings 8:7-15 ).
This incident presumably occurred during a period of peace between Aram and Israel. On hearing that Elisha had paid a visit to Damascus, Benhadad, the king of Aram, who was in bed through illness, sent to find out from him whether he would live or die. Elisha’s reply was that the illness itself was not fatal. But as he looked at Hazael, the kings’ messenger, it was revealed to him that through Hazael’s hand the king would die, and that Hazael would become king of Aram and would be no friend to Israel. Hazael had as a young man been anointed by Elijah (1 Kings 19:15), although probably not knowing what it was for. That would not, however, make him a friend of Israel. The thought now planted in Hazael’s mind he assassinated the king and reigned in his place.
That is one version of events. The full details of what happened are, however, disputed, partly due to the ambiguity of the narrative, in which Elisha does not actually say that Hazael will assassinate the king. But in our view the implication is clearly there, and it ties in with what we learn of his character.
a And Elisha came to Damascus, and Benhadad the king of Aram was ill, and it was told him, saying, “The man of God has come here” (2 Kings 8:7).
b And the king said to Hazael, “Take a present in your hand, and go, meet the man of God, and enquire of YHWH by him, saying, “Will I recover from this illness?” (2 Kings 8:8).
c So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of every good thing of Damascus, forty camels’ burden, and came and stood before him, and said, “Your son Benhadad king of Aram has sent me to you, saying, “Will I recover from this illness?” (2 Kings 8:9).
d And Elisha said to him, “Go, say to him, You will surely recover. However YHWH has shown me that he will surely die” (2 Kings 8:10).
e And he set his face steadfastly on him, until he was ashamed, and the man of God wept (2 Kings 8:11).
d And Hazael said, “Why are you weeping my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel. Their strongholds will you set on fire, and their young men will you slay with the sword, and will dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their women with child” (2 Kings 8:12).
c And Hazael said, “But what is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?” And Elisha answered, “YHWH has shown me that you will be king over Aram” (2 Kings 8:13).
b Then he departed from Elisha, and came to his master, who said to him, “What did Elisha say to you?” And he answered, “He told me that you would surely recover” (2 Kings 8:14).
a And it came about on the morrow, that he took the coverlet, and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died, and Hazael reigned instead of him (2 Kings 8:15).
Note that in ‘a’ Benhadad the king of Aram was ill, and in the parallel he was dead and Hazael reigned instead of him. In ‘b’ Benhadad wanted to know whether his illness would prove fatal, and in the parallel he learned that it would not. In ‘c’ Hazael brings Elisha a splendid present from the king, and in the parallel he see himself as but a ‘dead dog’. In ‘d’ Elisha sees in his prophetic mind what Hazael will do to the king, and in the parallel he foresees what he will do to Israel. Centrally in ‘e’ he fixed his penetrating gaze on Hazael and wept because of what he foresaw.
2 Kings 8:7
‘And Elisha came to Damascus, and Benhadad the king of Aram was ill, and it was told him, saying, “The man of God has come here.” ’
When Elisha paid a visit to Damascus, presumably during a period of peace, ‘Benhadad the king of Aram was ill’. There is a problem here as to which king is meant. As this was before Hazael became king this could not be Benhadad III, who followed Hazael. On the other hand the Assyrian records seem to suggest that the king prior to Hazael was named Hadad-ezer. That may, however, simply be because the latter was his chosen name, with Ben-hadad being his throne name because all kings of Aram were seen as being ‘the son of Hadad’ (compare how in Egypt every Pharaoh was ‘Horus, the son of Osiris’, although not many took it as literally as Egypt), or it may be because Hadadezer was followed for a short while by another Benhadad who did not reign long enough to be mentioned in Assyrian records (see note below). This incident therefore almost certainly precedes some of those already described.
We do not know why Elisha came to Damascus. He may have been guided there by YHWH in view of Elijah’s previous anointing of Hazael when Hazael was a young man (1 Kings 19:15). It may indeed have been that anointing which was partly responsible for the plans that were seemingly buzzing in Hazael’s brain. Elisha may well have had a divine premonition that the time for its fulfilment was ripe, but if so it is not mentioned here. Had Elisha’s purpose in Damascus been in response to a plea from the king the present would have been sent previously. Thus his presence in Damascus at this time must have been, from a human point of view, a coincidence.
2 Kings 8:8
‘And the king said to Hazael, “Take a present in your hand, and go, meet the man of God, and enquire of YHWH by him, saying, “Will I recover from this illness?” ’
The king accordingly sent his courtier Hazael to Elisha with a rich present, in order to enquire of YHWH whether he would recover from his illness. He had good cause to know that Elisha was very much a recipient of the truth from YHWH. Perhaps his own prophets had failed to come up with an answer.
2 Kings 8:9
‘So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of every good thing of Damascus, forty camels’ burden, and came and stood before him, and said, “Your son Benhadad king of Aram has sent me to you, saying, “Will I recover from this illness?”
So Hazael went to meet Elisha taking a magnificent present from the king. We can compare the size of the present which had been intended for Elisha when he was asked to heal Naaman (2 Kings 5:5). There is no good reason for suggesting that it is exaggerated. It was recognised that outstanding ‘prophets’ did not come cheap and required large payments for their services (compare Balaam), especially when such important information was required, and the enquirer was a powerful king. The gods in general were seen as greedy. ‘Forty’ may have represented ‘a large number’. The camels would be loaded with goods received through trading, possibly obtained from the Damascus street markets. With the gift came the request to learn about whether the king would recover from his illness.
‘He stood before him’ as one in the presence of a superior. Great deference was due to such an acknowledged prophet of widespread fame. Note how even the king is described as ‘his son’, seeing the prophet as a father figure.
2 Kings 8:10
‘And Elisha said to him, “Go, say to him, You will surely live. However, YHWH has shown me that he will surely die.” ’
Elisha’s reply was twofold. Firstly it indicated that the illness was not life threatening, but secondly it indicated that nevertheless he would die in some other way, something which will shortly be explained. Elisha was replying to the king’s question as to whether his illness was a mortal illness, and his official reply was therefore ‘no’. We cannot fault him for leaving it with Hazael to decide whether to tell him that nevertheless he would die in another way.
There is a problem with the MT text here in that the original (the kethib) has ‘you will not live’ while the qere has ‘you will surely live’. The original text had no vowels and the original ‘l’ could signify ‘lo’ (not), but may in fact have been intended as ‘lu’ which would remove the negative. MT thus opts for either/or. What follows supports the qere in that his death was not due to his illness, although 2 Kings 8:14 may have been Hazael’s lie. Whichever is the correct translation of the text the fact is finally stated that he would die, even if not from his illness.
2 Kings 8:11
‘And he set his face steadfastly on him, until he was ashamed, and the man of God wept.’
As the conversation was proceeding Elisha was receiving fresh information from YHWH and he consequently began to stare at Hazael severely to such an extent that Hazael was ashamed (there is no good reason for seeing Elisha as being in a ‘prophetic trance’). This would tie in with the idea that Hazael already had his assassination plans in mind and was feeling guilty. Then Elisha burst into weeping.
2 Kings 8:12
‘And Hazael said, “Why are you weeping my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel. Their strongholds will you set on fire, and their young men will you slay with the sword, and will dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their women with child.” ’
Hazael was not sure what to make of all this and asked Elisha why he was weeping. Note the courteous ‘my lord’. Prophets had to be treated rightly. Elisha’s reply was to explain to Hazael what he had seen in his own heart. He had received knowledge from YHWH that in the future Hazael would become an enemy of Israel and would invade and oppress Israel in the cruellest way. The descriptions do not, however, make Hazael out to be particularly cruel. What is described were the normal methods of warfare. But see Amos 1:3-5.
2 Kings 8:13
‘And Hazael said, “But what is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?” And Elisha answered, “YHWH has shown me that you will be king over Aram.” ’
Hazael sought to convince Elisha that he had no such ideas in mind. He pointed out that he was only a humble servant (‘a dog’), not one who could do great exploits. He may, however, simply have been prevaricating, and may already have had such ideas in his heart. Elisha, however, bluntly declared to him that YHWH had shown him that Hazael would become king of Aram.
2 Kings 8:14
‘Then he departed from Elisha, and came to his master, who said to him, “What did Elisha say to you?” And he answered, “He told me that you would surely recover.” ’
On Hazael arriving back at court the king asked him what Elijah had said, and keeping his own counsel Hazael merely informed him that Elisha had said that his illness would not prove fatal, and that he would live and not die of his illness.
2 Kings 8:15
‘And it came about on the morrow, that he took the blanket, and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died, and Hazael reigned instead of him.’
But on the next day he carried into action the plans that he had in mind. Possibly he was moved to act so quickly because he was afraid that Elisha might reveal his plans to the king. So on the next day, while the king was sleeping, he dipped a blanket made of twisted cloth in water, making it breath-proof, and then held it over the king’s face until he died. The fact that he then became king instead of the dead king demonstrates that he had previously laid his plans carefully and had ensured that he would have general support. It was not a spur of the moment decision.
(Some have translated as ‘one (someone) took the blanket ---’ signifying person or persons unknown, and that is possible, but the general indication of the text is that the one who did so was Hazael who was probably one of the few who could enter the king’s bedchamber alone).
Note On The Identification Of Ben-hadad.
The Assyrian records (the annals of Shalmaneser) tell us that ‘Hadadezer --- met his fate’ and that ‘Hazael --- the son of a nobody (i.e. a commoner) took the throne.’ This indicates that this incident occurred between c. 845 and 841 BC. It does not, however, indicate that Hazael slew Hadadezer, thus it is quite possible that someone succeeded to Hadadezer, taking the name of Benhadad, and was himself shortly afterwards assassinated by Hazael, his reign not being long enough to figure in the Assyrian annals. The coming of a new king to the throne, which was a period when things were disrupted, often led to a coup attempt. Alternately as we have seen Benhadad may have been the throne name of Hadadezer.
Shalmaneser fought again with Hazael and Aram in c. 837 BC, forcing him to pay huge tribute, and there is no further mention of Hazael in the Assyrian records until Adad-nirari III cowed the now ageing Hazael into submission in c. 805-802 BC.
As Elisha foresaw Hazael was a constant aggressor against Israel ( 2Ki 8:28 ; 2 Kings 9:15; 2 Kings 10:32; 2Ki 13:3 ; 2 Kings 13:22; see also Amos 1:3-5), and also against Judah from whom at one stage he stripped all its treasures, being ‘bought off’ when he planned to besiege Jerusalem (2 Kings 12:18).
The Reign Of Jehoram, King of Judah (2 Kings 8:16-24 ). c. 848-841 BC Co-regent with Jehoshaphat from 853 BC.
During the time that Jehoram of Judah was on the throne of Judah, Jehoram of Israel (see 2 Kings 3:1) was on the throne of Israel, which can tend to result in confusion. It is true that in 2 Kings 8:16 Jehoram of Israel is called Joram, but it will be noted that in 2 Kings 8:21; 2 Kings 8:23 Jehoram of Judah is also called Joram. Thus when we see either name (Joram is merely a shortened form of Jehoram) we need to consider carefully which Jehoram/Joram is being referred to.
Jehoram of Judah married Athaliah, one of Ahab’s daughters, probably as a seal on the alliance between the two countries. But this would turn out to be a mistake, for Athaliah would lead him astray by introducing him to the worship of Baal, and the result was that, unlike his father Jehoshaphat, he was remembered for having ‘done evil in the sight of YHWH’. As so often, an unwise marriage had devastating consequences. For this reason his reign is therefore dealt with briefly and is revealed as having had unfortunate consequences for Judah. During it they lost their sovereignty over the land of Edom, and even over the border city, and previous Canaanite conclave, of Libnah, and as far as the prophetic author of Kings was concerned that summed up his reign. It was a reign of evil living and failure accompanied by judgment from God, and loss for Judah. But due to the mercy of God all was not lost, for the prophetic author assures us that YHWH did not forget His promise to David, and did therefore preserve the realm from final judgment, ensuring the survival of one of his sons, Jehoahaz. And that is the only good that he could say about Jehoram of Judah. (For fuller details of Jehoram’s reign see 2 Chronicles 21:1-20).
There is a significant break in the normal practise here. Following the author’s usual practise we would in fact have expected this description of Jehoram of Judah’s reign to follow a description of the cessation of Jehoram of Israel’s reign, but this order is not adhered to in this case because it will eventually be necessary to co-relate the death of Jehoram of Israel with that of Ahaziah, Jehoram of Judah’s son, as both died around the same time at the hands of Jehu. The record of the death of Jehoram of Israel is therefore reserved until then, and will be described later, although without the usual formula, at the same time as the death of Ahaziah of Judah who succeeded Jehoram of Judah.
a And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign. Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem (2 Kings 8:16-17).
b And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab, for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife, and he did what was evil in the sight of YHWH, however, YHWH would not destroy Judah, for David his servant’s sake, as he promised him to give to him a lamp for his children always (2 Kings 8:18-19).
c In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves (2 Kings 8:20).
d Then Joram passed over to Zair, and all his chariots with him, and he rose up by night, and smote the Edomites who surrounded him, and the captains of the chariots, and the people fled to their tents (2 Kings 8:21).
c So Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah to this day. Then did Libnah revolt at the same time. (2 Kings 8:22).
b And the rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? (2 Kings 8:23).
a And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Ahaziah his son reigned instead of him (2 Kings 8:24).
Note that in ‘a’ we have the details of the commencement of his reign, and in the parallel the details of its cessation. In ‘b’ we learn of the worst of the acts of Jehoram of Judah, and in the parallel we are referred elsewhere for details of his further acts. In ‘c’ Edom revolted against Judah, and the same in the parallel. Centrally in ‘d’ we have a vivid description of how the king managed to avoid death or capture and disgrace at the hands of the Edomites.
2 Kings 8:16
‘And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign.’
It is made clear here that Jehoram of Judah ‘became king’ while his father Jehoshaphat was still alive. He was thus for a period co-regent with his father. He commenced his sole reign in the fifth year of Joram (Jehoram) of Israel. Note the unusual fact that the name of his mother is not given. This may have been because she was already dead, and thus could not become ‘queen mother’.
2 Kings 8:17
‘He was thirty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.’
His sole reign began when he was thirty two years of age, and he reigned in Jerusalem (‘the city which YHWH (for David’s sake) chose out of all the tribes of Israel to put His name there’ (1 Kings 14:21)). He was, in other words, heir to the promises to David (compare 2 Kings 8:19).
2 Kings 8:18
‘And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife, and he did what was evil in the sight of YHWH.’
But his unfortunate marriage to Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab, resulted in his ‘walking in the ways of the kings of Israel’ by being coerced into the worship of Baal (compare 11,18), with the consequence that, like Solomon before him (1 Kings 11:6), he ‘did evil in the sight of YHWH’. His heart was consequently not right towards YHWH and he led many of the people of Judah astray (2 Chronicles 21:13). How important it is for us to marry the right person, one who will encourage us in the true worship of God.
2 Kings 8:19
‘However, YHWH would not destroy Judah, for David his servant’s sake, as he promised him to give to him a lamp for his children always.’
But YHWH in His goodness and faithfulness never forgot His promises to David, and thus in spite of Jehoram’s behaviour He did not destroy Judah, even though He did chasten it. He preserved it ‘for David His servant’s sake’. And this was because He had promised David ‘a lamp’ in Jerusalem for the sake of His children. In accordance with previous mentions of ‘the lamp’ this refers to the heir of David (compare 1 Kings 11:36; 1 Kings 15:4), the one who should have brought light to Judah through the covenant. God’s purposes will thus be brought about by His sovereign will.
‘His children’ may refer to YHWH’s children, and thus His people, or it may refer to the people seen as David’s children, or it may refer to David’s household to whom the reigning king would be a ‘lamp’, shining out as the evidence of YHWH’s covenant with them
2 Kings 8:20
‘In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves.’
Nevertheless YHWH did chasten him for it was in Jehoram’s day that the Edomites finally broke loose from Judah on a permanent basis, establishing their own sole king (previously their king had been a deputy appointed by Judah (1 Kings 22:47), even though sometimes called ‘king’ - 2 Kings 3:9). This rebellion by Edom was probably connected with attacks on southern Judah by the Arabians (2 Chronicles 21:16) and had much to do with control of the southern trade routes. It may also have been encouraged by the Philistine attacks on Judah (2 Chronicles 21:16) and the continual threat posed to Judah by Aram and Assyria which kept Jehoram occupied elsewhere.
2 Kings 8:21
‘Then Joram passed over to Zair, and all his chariots with him, and he rose up by night, and smote the Edomites who surrounded him, and the captains of the chariots, and the people fled to their tents.’
Jehoram (now Joram, a shortened form of the same name) went south to quell the rebellion, but seemingly with insufficient forces, with the result that he was outmanoeuvred and surrounded by what was probably a much larger force of Edomites. Rather than recording it as a defeat, however, his annalists ignored that idea (in typical Near Eastern fashion) and described the heroic way in which, in a surprise night foray, by means of his chariot force he broke through the ranks of the enemy who considerably outnumbered him, thus allowing many of his people to escape with him. But the truth comes out in that these then ‘fled to their tents (homes)’, always a sign of defeat. In other words his defeated army dispersed. ‘Fled to their tents’ was a technical phrase brought forward from wilderness days.
Zair was probably Zior (Joshua 15:54), eight kilometres (five miles) north east of Hebron, which was probably where he mustered his forces preparatory to his advance, rather than being the actual site of the battle. Alternately it may be an unidentified city in Edom.
2 Kings 8:22
‘ So Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah to this day. Then did Libnah revolt at the same time.’
As a result of this defeat Edom had gained its independence ‘until this day’. This latter phrase may be the comment of the original annalist, or of the final author in whose day Edom was certainly independent. Not that further attempts were not made on Edom by Judah. Indeed under Uzziah of Judah they were probably at least partly subjugated, for Uzziah controlled Elath, and thus the trade routes through the Negeb and to the Red Sea (2 Kings 14:22). But that situation was not permanent.
The city of Libnah revolted at the same time. This demonstrates that Libnah, in the Shephelah and not far from Lachish, saw themselves at this stage as independent of Judah. Libnah was on the Philistine border, and this rebellion was presumably connected with the Philistine incursions (2 Chronicles 21:16).
2 Kings 8:23
‘And the rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?’
As regularly the author was not interested in the king’s general history and refers the reader/hearer to the official annals of Judah. He considered that he had said enough to demonstrate how YHWH had chastened Judah under Jehoram. And that had been his aim.
2 Kings 8:24
‘And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Ahaziah his son reigned instead of him.’
Jehoram died peacefully, and was buried ‘with his fathers in the city of David’, a testimony to his part in the continuing line. We learn, however, from the Chronicler that he was not buried in the sepulchres of the kings, possibly because he had been a worshipper of Baal.
The main lesson that comes out of this passage is similar to that which comes out with regard to the majority of the kings, and that is that if we walk faithfully with God and are obedient to His will and covenant, we can be sure that He will bless us in our lives in the long term, but that if we turn from Him and disobey His laws and covenant He will finally bring chastisement and judgment on us. This is indeed the author’s continual emphasis.
An Initial Summary Of The Reign Of Ahaziah King of Judah (2 Kings 8:25-27 ). c. 841 BC.
Ahaziah, the son of Jehoram of Judah, would only reign for a few months before he was killed by Jehu during the latter’s rebellion against Jehoram of Israel. Nevertheless during that short reign he continued in his father’s sins and in the sins of the house of Ahab, and failed to make any attempt to bolster up the true worship of YHWH. Thus he also was stigmatised as ‘doing what was evil in the sight of YHWH’. And this owed much to the fact that his father had married Ahab’s daughter who had brought her zeal for Baal with her. Just as Solomon’s foreign wives had led him astray, the Israelite royal family were now leading the kings of Judah astray.
a In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah begin to reign (2 Kings 8:25).
b Ahaziah was two and twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah the daughter of Omri king of Israel (2 Kings 8:26).
a And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did what was evil in the sight of YHWH, as did the house of Ahab, for he was the son-in-law of the house of Ahab (2 Kings 8:27).
Note that in ‘a’ Ahaziah began to reign, and in the parallel in his reign did what was evil in the eyes of YHWH. Centrally in ‘b’ we have the main details about his reign.
2 Kings 8:25
‘In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign.’
As usual the author gives us the date of Ahaziah’s reign in terms of the parallel king of Israel. In those days there was no general method of dating, and thus things had to be dated in terms of some well known event, such as, in this case, the reign of another king. It also in this case had the benefit that it synchronised the reigns of the kings of the two countries.
2 Kings 8:26
‘Ahaziah was two and twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah the daughter of Omri king of Israel.’
Ahaziah came to the throne at the age of twenty two, but his reign only lasted for a few months. This was partly because he unfortunately got caught up in Jehu’s rebellion against the king of Israel by ‘accident’, and partly because Jehu saw him as a Baalite, and therefore as fair game. But the prophetic author saw it as a just judgment on his sin.
As is usual for a king of Judah the queen mother’s name is given, but in this case it had added significance because she was of the house of Omri and Ahab, the Baalite kings of Israel. ‘Daughter of’ need only mean ‘descended from’, for she was in fact Ahab’s daughter (2 Kings 8:18). It may be that Omri is mentioned here because of his recognised status as founder of the dynasty. Even Assyria thought of Israel as ‘bit-Omri’, the house of Omri for centuries to come. Athaliah would shortly become even more notorious when she seized the throne on the death of her son and tried to destroy all Azariah’s heirs (2 Kings 11:1). She was no doubt filled with anguish at the death of her son and seemingly could not bear the thought of being thrust into the background by the new queen mother. It was also possibly partly because of her zeal for Baal, and her desire to make Judah a country which worshipped Baal. By being ‘unequally yoked with unbelievers’ the kings of Judah brought on Judah unimaginable consequences.
2 Kings 8:27
‘And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did what was evil in the sight of YHWH, as did the house of Ahab, for he was the son-in-law of the house of Ahab.’
As a result of the influence of his mother Ahaziah was also a worshipper of Baal, walking in the ways of the house of Ahab, and thus the verdict on his reign was that, like his father, he did what was evil in the eyes of YHWH, with his influence certainly affecting the court, and permeating through to those over whom he ruled. When the king was slack with regard to God’s covenant, it filtered through to the people. It was not a situation which YHWH would allow to continue.
Ahaziah Unwittingly Becomes Involved With The Problems Of Jehoram, King of Israel And The Rebellion Of Jehu ( 2Ki 8:28 ; 2 Kings 9:14-15 a).
Once he had come to the throne Ahaziah and Judah joined in an alliance with Jehoram and Israel against Aram, and it was during one of the battles that ensued that Jehoram of Israel was wounded and returned to Jezreel, where he hoped to recuperate. As a result Ahaziah then went down to pay him a visit, because of the illness which resulted from his injuries. His visit would, however, prove to be ill-timed for meanwhile YHWH had arranged for Elisha to have Jehu, a prominent Israelite commander, anointed as king of Israel so as to remove Jehoram from the throne.
Analysis (note the inclusion of 2 Kings 8:28-29 and 2 Kings 9:14-15 a).
a And he went with Joram the son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth-gilead, and the Aramaeans wounded Joram, and king Joram returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Aramaeans had given him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Aram. And Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was ill (2 Kings 8:28-29).
b And Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said to him, “Gird up your loins (free your limbs by tucking your robe in your belt), and take this vial of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead, and when you come there, seek out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and bear him to an inner chamber” (2 Kings 9:1-2).
c “Then take the vial of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, “Thus says YHWH, I have anointed you as king over Israel.” Then open the door, and flee, and do not linger” (2 Kings 9:3).
d So the young man, even the young man the prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead. And when he came, behold, the commanders of the host were sitting, and he said, “I have an errand to you, O commander.” And Jehu said, “To which out of us all?” And he said, “To you, O commander” (2 Kings 9:4-5).
e And he arose, and went into the house, and he poured the oil on his head, and said to him, “Thus says, YHWH, the God of Israel, I have anointed you as king over the people of YHWH, even over Israel. And you will smite the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of YHWH, at the hand of Jezebel” (2 Kings 9:6-7).
f “For the whole house of Ahab will perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every man-child, and him who is shut up and him who is left at large in Israel” (2 Kings 9:8).
e “And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, and the dogs will eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there will be none to bury her” (2 Kings 9:9-10 a).
d And he opened the door, and fled. Then Jehu came forth to the servants of his lord, and one said to him, “Is all well? Why did this mad fellow come to you?” And he said to them, “You know the man and what his talk was” (2 Kings 9:10-11).
c And they said, “It is false, tell us now.” And he said, “Thus and thus he spoke to me, saying, ‘Thus says YHWH, I have anointed you as king over Israel’ ” (2 Kings 9:12).
b Then they acted quickly, and took every man his robe, and put it under him on the top of the stairs, and blew the trumpet, saying, “Jehu is king.” So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi conspired against Joram (2 Kings 2:13-14 a).
a (Now Joram was keeping Ramoth-gilead, he and all Israel, because of Hazael king of Aram, but king Joram had returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Aramaeans had given him, when he fought with Hazael king of Aram) (2 Kings 9:14-15 a).
Note that in ‘a’ Jehoram of Israel was wounded fighting against Aram and returned to Jezreel in order to recover and in the parallel the same applies. In ‘b’ Elisha commanded a son of the prophets to seek out Jehu (with a view to anointing him as king over Israel), and in the parallel, as a result, Jehu was declared king. In ‘c’ the command was to anoint Jehu as king of Israel, and in the parallel he was anointed king of Israel. In ‘d’ the young man came to Jehu, and in the parallel he was asked why the young man came to him. In ‘e’ YHWH intended to revenge the behaviour of Jezebel and the house of Ahab through Jehu, and in the parallel we have an explanation of how this would be accomplished. Centrally in ‘f’ the whole of the house of Ahab was to be destroyed.
2 Kings 8:28
‘And he went with Joram the son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth-gilead, and the Aramaeans wounded Joram.’
Ahaziah of Judah, the son-in-law of Ahab, and Jehoram (Joram) the son of Ahab, formed an alliance against Hazael the king of Aram. We are not told who the initial aggressor was, although it may well have been Hazael. One reason for his invasion may have been the unwillingness of Israel to join in an alliance with Aram against the renewed threatening menace of Assyria. Such an alliance, along with others, had previously rebuffed Assyria under Shalmaneser III in the last days of Ahab. Now Shalmaneser and Assyria were once again undoubtedly threatening the area, for one of Jehu’s first acts on becoming king would be to submit to Shalmaneser and pay him tribute.
Ramoth-gilead was a border fortress in Transjordan, barring the way along which the Aramaeans would come to invade Israel.
In the course of the ensuing conflict Jehoram of Israel was wounded. Even though surrounded by a powerful bodyguard, and in a protected chariot with an experienced spear-man, it was always a possibility that this might happen when kings led their men into battle (compare 1 Kings 22:34).
2 Kings 8:29
‘And king Joram returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Aramaeans had given him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Aram. And Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was ill.’
In consequence Jehoram returned to his summer (winter) palace at Jezreel, rather than to Samaria, in order to recuperate and be healed of his wounds. And while he was there recuperating Ahaziah his brother-in-law went down to Jezreel to see him ‘because he was ill’. It was an ill-fated place at which to be found for it was concerning Jezreel that YHWH had made His pronouncement about the judgment that was to come on Ahab’s son there (1 Kings 21:19 with 29). As we are soon to learn, YHWH’s hand was at work in history inevitably bringing about His judgments (compare the seven-sealed scroll in Revelation 6:0).
2 Kings 9:1
‘And Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said to him, “Gird up your loins (free your limbs for fast walking by tucking your robe in your belt), and take this vial of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead.” ’
Meanwhile YHWH had directed Elisha the prophet to send one of the sons of the prophets to where the battle was still raging against Aram, at Ramoth-gilead, with a vial of olive oil in his hands.
2 Kings 9:2
“And when you come there, seek out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and bear him to an inner chamber.”
Once he was in Ramoth-gilead he had to seek out Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, more popularly known as Jehu, the son of Nimshi, Nimshi being his tribal ancestor (2 Kings 9:20; 1 Kings 19:16). Jehu was clearly a man of great importance in Israel, connected with one of the great aristocratic families. Then having found him he was to take him alone into an inner chamber to speak with him privately. The minute detail given throughout the passage brings out the importance of the event in YHWH’s eyes. Every act was seen as important. Jehu, whose name means ‘YHWH is’ and whose father’s name means ‘YHWH is judge’ was seemingly a fanatical Yahwist, and was probably constantly seething within himself at the policies of Ahab’s house. He was ripe for rebellion.
2 Kings 9:3
“Then take the vial of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, “Thus says YHWH, I have anointed you as king over Israel.” Then open the door, and flee, and do not linger.”
And once he was alone with Jehu in the inner chamber he was to pour the oil over his head and declare that, “Thus says YHWH, I have anointed you as king over Israel.” Then he was to open the door and leave the place as quickly as possible. He was not to linger. No further questions must be answered. Jehu was to be left to absorb the significance of what he had done, and act accordingly. The prophets were not to be seen as actively involved in rebellion. The act of anointing was an indication that Jehu was now directly committed to YHWH’s service, and had become His vassal.
As a very young man Jehu had been anointed by Elijah with a view to the kingship (1 Kings 19:16), something that he had no doubt often wondered about since, so that this would now be an indication to him that the time had arrived for his destiny to be fulfilled. (Some see this act of anointing as the fulfilment of what was required of Elijah, but 1 Kings 19:0 gives the definite impression that the three anointings mentioned there were to take place immediately, and it is common in Scripture for a command to be given with the assumption then being made that it was carried out without it actually being mentioned. Certainly Elisha is nowhere said to have anointed Hazael, and he did not anoint himself).
We are not told of the underlying currents in Israel at the time, the currents which made the anointing at this time especially significant, humanly speaking, but Elisha was presumably well aware that Israel as a whole were ripe for a coup. The country was seemingly seething with discontent. Ahab’s extensive building plans (like Solomon’s before him) would have brought grave disaffection among the thousands who were involved in the enforced levies, while his constant wars (such as those against Aram and Moab), failing more often than not, would have used up often unwilling manpower, keeping the people of the land from their agricultural pursuits, while his outright worship of a foreign version of Baal as a result of the influence of his hated wife Jezebel, something partially continued by his son, would have antagonised the ‘common people’ (see 2 Kings 8:22) who, while not truly faithful to YHWH themselves, nevertheless paid Him lip-service and hated the foreign influence involved in Jezebel’s version of Baalism. The house of Ahab was thus not popular, and Israel were seemingly ripe for revolt.
2 Kings 9:4
‘So the young man, even the young man the prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead.’
In obedience to the words of Elisha the young man, the prophet, went across the Jordan to Ramoth-gilead where the war with Aram was still progressing, and the host of Israel was accordingly gathered.
2 Kings 9:5
‘And when he came, behold, the commanders of the host were sitting, and he said, “I have an errand to you, O commander.” And Jehu said, “To which out of us all?” And he said, “To you, O commander.” ’
And when he arrived he found the army commanders in conference. But in Israel a prophet of YHWH could always gain entrance anywhere, and he approached Jehu, who may well have been in charge of the conference, and said, “I have an errand to you, O commander.” Recognising the precedence of a prophet of YHWH Jehu then asked him which commander he wished to speak with, and learned that it was himself.
2 Kings 9:6
‘And he arose, and went into the house, and he poured the oil on his head, and said to him, “Thus says, YHWH, the God of Israel, I have anointed you as king over the people of YHWH, even over Israel.” ’
So he accordingly rose and went with him into the house. And there the prophet poured oil on him and gave him a full explanation of its significance. He was being anointed by ‘YHWH the God of Israel’ as king over His people, even over Israel. Note the emphasis on YHWH as the God of Israel. It was because Ahab and his family were seeking to oust YHWH as the God of Israel that this judgment was coming on them. YHWH was, as it were, fighting back. The prophet then explained what Jehu now had to do.
2 Kings 9:7-10
“And you will smite the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of YHWH, at the hand of Jezebel. For the whole house of Ahab will perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every man-child, and him who is shut up and him who is left at large in Israel. And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah. And the dogs will eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there will be none to bury her.” And he opened the door, and fled.’
The time had now come for YHWH to be avenged on Ahab and his house for the blood that they had spilled of YHWH’s prophets, and YHWH’s true worshippers. Many of YHWH’s beloved people had been slain at the hands of the house of Ahab (including Naboth and the purge of the prophets of YHWH assumed in 1 Kings 18:4), and now it was to be the turn of the house of Ahab to be cut off. YHWH was using Jehu as His ‘avenger of blood’. Compare also Deuteronomy 32:43. Thus Jehu was to slaughter every male child of the house of Ahab, (‘every one who relieved himself against the wall’), whether they were in confinement (possibly under their tutors or nurses), or whether they were at large. Such slaughter was always necessary in a coup attempt, so as to prevent a member of the seed royal being able to arise later with royal authority and rally to him the people who were loyal to the royal house (compare 2 Kings 11:1).
Thus Ahab and his house were to suffer as Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, had suffered, and as Baasha the son of Ahijah had suffered, just as Elijah had prophesied (compare 1 Kings 14:10; 1Ki 15:29 ; 1 Kings 16:3-4; 1 Kings 16:12-13; 1 Kings 21:21. Note especially the similarity with the wording of 1 Kings 14:10; 1 Kings 21:21). All who rebelled against YHWH must suffer the same consequences. Furthermore Jezebel was to be eaten by dogs in the portion of Jezreel and would be unburied, something seen as a great indignity (compare 1 Kings 21:23; and see 2 Kings 9:34-35).
Having delivered his message the young prophet then went to the door, opened it and disappeared as rapidly as he had come, just as Elisha had commanded him (2 Kings 8:3). The idea was that the young prophet should not to be directly involved in what followed. The prophets were to be seen as pronouncers of the word of YHWH, not as active rebels.
2 Kings 9:11
‘Then Jehu came forth to the servants of his lord, and one said to him, “Is all well? Why did this mad fellow come to you?” And he said to them, “You know the man and what his talk was.” ’
Jehu subsequently came out of the inner room, somewhat pensively, and his fellow commanders (notice the emphasis on the fact that, as ‘servants of his lord’, they owed feudal loyalty to the house of Ahab) who had seen the young prophet come out and speed away, then asked Jehu whether all was well and as to why this ‘mad-fellow’ had come to him. The term is typical of how one might expect a hardened soldier to refer contemptuously to a religious messenger. Jehu’s reply was noncommittal, seeking to make little of what had been said. This was either because he was trying to dismiss the incident as seemingly irrelevant (he could not be sure how they would react to it), reminding them that they had seen what the man was like for themselves, or, more likely, was because he was being deliberately vague and trying to avoid a come back.
‘Mad-fellow.’ This description was probably indicative of the contempt of the professional soldier for the mystic. The root behind the word may connect with an Arabic word for the ‘cooing of a pigeon’, or an Assyrian word for ‘howling or raging’, but may indicate here nothing more than the contempt of the soldier for the ‘pronouncer of the words of YHWH’ who was seen by them as a religious fanatic. Compare how even Jesus’ own family, viewing Him from afar off, would speak of Him as ‘beside himself’ because He was in conflict with the Doctors of the Law and was surrounded by enthusiastic crowds (Matthew 3:21). Undoubtedly some prophets did express themselves in ecstasy, which may have helped towards the idea, (there are always such people around, and if they lacked the real Spirit they had to try and demonstrate that some spirit was at work), and even moreso among foreign prophets where drugs were involved, who often became very extreme, but we must not over-exaggerate this fact with regard to prophets of Israel and Judah. We are given no real grounds anywhere for seeing the sons of the prophets as ‘ecstatics’. Even the ‘band of prophets’ under Samuel were only said to have ‘prophesied’ with musical accompaniment (1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Samuel 10:10-11; 1 Samuel 19:20), while it was only the ‘possessed’ Saul (1 Samuel 16:14) who behaved extravagantly (1 Samuel 19:24). No other description of them than as ‘prophesying’ is applied to the band of prophets, in total contrast with the description of the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:28. Even today unsympathetic people can describe those who become quite reasonably religiously enthusiastic (there is much to shout about) as ‘mad’ and ‘ecstatic’. Thus we must beware of reading into terms like this anything more than is justified in terms of how the common man sees the religiously enthusiastic (compare Hosea 9:7; Jeremiah 29:26). ‘Genuine’ prophets in Israel and Judah were very distinctive from, and their role very different from, prophets in other nations. Elisha, for example, expected on the whole to know what YHWH was thinking, without any openly ecstatic experience, except when it was deliberately hidden from him (2 Kings 4:27). And the independent prophets did not see themselves as servants of the king, but as servants of YHWH, whose purpose was to instruct the king in accordance with the word of YHWH.
2 Kings 9:12
‘And they said, “It is false, tell us now.” And he said, “Thus and thus he spoke to me, saying, ‘Thus says YHWH, I have anointed you as king over Israel.’ ”
His fellow officers, however, discerned from his manner that something momentous had been said and simply told him to stop deceiving them and tell them the truth. At this Jehu, who would have been very much aware of the consensus of opinion at the time, informed them of what had been said, and of how he had been anointed by the prophet as king over Israel.
2 Kings 9:13
‘Then they acted quickly, and took every man his robe, and put it under him on the top of the stairs, and blew the trumpet, saying, “Jehu is king.” ’
The speed at which they responded to this news emphasises the disaffection that they, at least, felt for the current regime. The house of Ahab was clearly not popular among them, while their regard for Jehu was equally obviously high, and we may probably assume that Jehu, as well as being a notable chariot commander, was connected with one of the ancient Israelite aristocratic houses. The king’s most fervent supporters and friends were presumably with the ailing king, while these who had been left behind would appear, at least nominally, to have been Yahwists. Thus a prophetic word coming from YHWH through one of Elisha’s young prophets, combined with the general disaffection that they felt, 1). towards the worship of a foreign Baal, and 2). as a result of the extravagances of the king, (which may have in themselves have brought about a period of suppression of disaffected Israelites), caused them to respond to the suggestion with fervour. It was the moment that they had been waiting for (as Elisha presumably knew). Thus they ‘acted quickly’. Each of them took off his robe and placed it either ‘at the top of the stairs’ or ‘on the bare steps’ (the use of their robes in this way was a sign of submission and acknowledgement of his authority, compare Elijah’s covering of Elisha with his robe, and the spreading of robes before Jesus on His entry into Jerusalem), and then as Jehu stood, or sat there on his provisional throne, they blew on a ram’s horn (compare 1 Kings 1:34) and cried out, ‘Jehu is king, Jehu is king’.
2 Kings 9:14
‘So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi conspired against Joram.’
And that was how the rebellion began and how Jehu rebelled against Jehoram. It was not initially of his doing, but was the result of prophetic activity and the acclamation and will of the people of the land, as represented by the commanders.
2 Kings 9:14
-15a (Now Joram was keeping Ramoth-gilead, he and all Israel, because of Hazael king of Aram, but king Joram had returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Aramaeans had given him, when he fought with Hazael king of Aram).
Meanwhile we are reminded that Ramoth-gilead was being guarded on behalf of Jehoram as a result of the aggressive activities of the king of Aram, while Jehoram himself was not present because he was recovering from his wounds in Jezreel, the wounds given to him by the Aramaeans, as he and all Israel fought against Hazael, king of Aram. All YHWH’s arrangements were now in place.
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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany