2 Kings 10:1. Ahab had seventy sons — Grandsons are probably comprehended here under the name of sons, as is usual in the Scriptures: though, by several wives, he might have as many sons as Gideon had. These sons or grandsons were now in Samaria, either because they had been bred up there, that being the chief city of the kingdom; or because they had fled thither, upon receiving tidings of the slaughter of Joram; or had been conveyed thither, from different parts, by their friends, as to the strongest place. Here, as appears probable from Jehu’s message, they intended to defend themselves and Ahab’s children, and to set up one as king in Joram’s stead. Jehu wrote letters unto the rulers of Jezreel — Hebrew, the princes of Jezreel, that is, the great persons and officers of the court, which then was, and for some time had been, at Jezreel. These, it seems, had either fled to Samaria upon the news of Jehu’s actions and successes, or had been sent thither by Joram with his sons, to take care of them there. To the elders — Termed such from their age, or rather from their office, being the magistrates or senators of Samaria. And to them that brought up Ahab’s children — That had a more particular care of the several children under the inspection of the princes and elders here mentioned.
2 Kings 10:3. Fight ye for your master’s house — This he said, because, perhaps, he had received notice of their intentions to do so, and that they were consulting about a successor to Joram: or to try them, whether they would do so, or would be true to him and his designs: or, which is still more likely, he insults over them, and denounces war against them with scorn and derision, being secure of the event, and knowing that they were not able to oppose him.
2 Kings 10:4. Behold, two kings stood not before him — All the power and interest of two kings, either in Jezreel or in the army, could not prevent his executing his design, his killing them both, and invading the kingdom of one of them. It is true, he surprised these kings, which considerably weakens their argument; but fear and self-love made them easily yield to it.
2 Kings 10:5. He that was over the house — The chief governor of the king’s palace. He that was over the city — The chief magistrate, or military governor. We will do all that thou shalt bid us — They propose no conditions or delays, but submit all to his mercy.
2 Kings 10:6. He wrote a letter the second time — Thus Jezebel is requited for her letter, directed in like manner to the elders of Naboth’s city, whereby his life was wickedly taken away: and it is probable that some of these elders were concerned in that very business, which makes the judgment of God more remarkable. Take ye the heads of the men — This word, men, seems to imply that some of them, at least, were grown up, who doubtless trod in their parents’ steps: and those that were younger were justly cut off for their parents’ sins; of which see on Exodus 20:5. “Besides the accomplishment of the divine decree,” says Dr. Dodd, “Jehu had a further design in requesting this cruel service of the rulers, and elders, and great men of the nation, namely, hereby to involve them in the same crime and conspiracy with himself; for, by prevailing with them to murder Ahab’s kinsmen in this manner, he bound them so closely to his interest, that if any of the inferior people had been inclined to oppose his designs, they were, by this means, deprived of any man of distinction to head them; and not only so, but, by this expedient, Jehu thought that he might in a great measure lessen, if not entirely remove the odium of his own cruel and perfidious conduct.”
2 Kings 10:7. They took the king’s sons, and slew seventy persons — Having been wickedly obsequious to Jezebel’s order for the murder of Naboth, now, by the same base spirit, they are as pliable to Jehu, and as ready to obey his orders for the murder of Ahab’s sons. From this example, princes may learn two important lessons: 1st, Not to place any dependance on the attachment or fidelity of those who are not influenced by the fear of God, and the dictates of conscience: for who can reasonably expect him to be true to his prince who is false to his God? 2d, Not to aim at arbitrary power, lest they be found rolling a stone, which, some time or other, will return upon themselves. Princes that make their people slaves, take the readiest way to make them rebels; and by forcing men’s consciences, as Jezebel did, they lose their hold of them.
2 Kings 10:8. Lay them at the entering in of the gate — The place of judicature, to signify that this was an act of God’s righteous judgment: and this being the place of public concourse for justice and other business, and where people were continually passing and repassing, the laying them there was to expose them to public view, that all might know there was no one left of Ahab’s posterity to reign over them.
2 Kings 10:9-10. He said to all the people, Ye be righteous — This is spoken ironically: as much as to say, You may look upon me as a very wicked man, for rebelling against my master and killing him: but look here; see, your chief men, the confidants and favourites of Joram, have slain seventy of his sons committed to their custody! Know now, &c. — As if he had said, The truth is, neither I nor they are to be blamed, nor you, that assisted and encouraged me herein; for this is not man’s work, but God’s, and done at his command. The Lord hath done that which he spake by his servant Elijah — Whom he mentions rather than Elisha; partly because Elijah was now dead, and therefore his name and memory were more sacred than Elisha’s, who was yet alive; it being the general practice and folly of mankind, to value and honour, after their death, those whom they contemned while they lived; and partly because Elijah’s prophecy was known and famous, while Elisha’s was delivered in a corner, and that not from his own mouth, but by one of the sons of the prophets.
2 Kings 10:11. So Jehu slew all his great men — Whom Ahab had advanced and made great in wealth, or honour and quality; who had been partners with him in his sins, and were likely to avenge Joram’s death. And his priests — Who had served him in his idolatrous worship, and confirmed him in it. Or, his chief officers of state, as the word rendered priests sometimes signifies, and is translated: see 2 Samuel 8:18; 1 Chronicles 18:17. Until he left him none remaining — To wit, in that place: but there were still some remaining in Samaria, (2 Kings 10:17,) whom he afterward destroyed, and some of the royal seed of Judah, descended from Ahab’s daughter.
2 Kings 10:12-14. And he arose, and came to Samaria — Having finished his work in Jezreel, he went to prosecute it in the chief city of his kingdom, which most needed reformation. Jehu met the brethren of Ahaziah — Not strictly such; for his brethren, properly speaking, had been carried captive, and, it seems, killed also, before this time, as we read 2 Chronicles 21:17. Therefore, by brethren here, we must understand his brother’s sons, as is explained 2 Chronicles 22:8, or others of his near kinsmen, such being often called brethren in Scripture. We go down to salute the children of the king, &c. — They undoubtedly had set out from Jerusalem for this purpose, before they knew any thing of Joram’s being killed, and Jehu’s having seized the kingdom: and it appears by their answer, that they did not yet know any thing of it. And he said, Take them alive, &c. — They were allied to the family of Ahab by the mother’s side, (2 Kings 8:18,) and therefore being afraid lest, if they were suffered to live, they might find means to be avenged of him for the death of Joram, Ahaziah, Jezebel, and their children, whom they were going to visit, he ordered them to be slain; perhaps under pretence of fulfilling Elijah’s prophecy, 1 Kings 21:21. It seems, however, evident, that prediction did not extend so far, but would have been amply fulfilled by cutting off all of his family and blood within the kingdom of the ten tribes.
2 Kings 10:15-16. He lighted on Jehonadab — A Kenite, (1 Chronicles 2:55,) and a man of singular prudence and piety, as appears from this history, and from Jeremiah 35:6; from him descended the race of the Rechabites. And he saluted him — That is, Jehu saluted Jehonadab. It is likely Jehonadab was in great favour with the people, on account of the strictness of his life and virtue, and that this, in part, induced Jehu to speak so kindly to him, and court his friendship. And said, Is thy heart right, &c. — Dost thou love me as sincerely and fervently as I love thee, and approve of my present proceedings, as I approve of thy institutions? If it be, give me thy hand — As a sign of friendship and fidelity. These seem to be the words of Jehu. And he said, Come, and see my zeal for the Lord — For the vindication of his honour, and the execution of his commands. Do not believe my words, but mine actions, which thine eyes shall behold. So they made him ride in his chariot — The servants opened the door of his chariot, and Jehu took him up into it. And while he thus put some honour upon Jehonadab, he received more honour from him. For all pious and sober people would think the better of Jehu when they saw Jehonadab in the chariot with him. “This is not the only time,” says Henry, “that the piety of some has been made to serve the policy of others; and that designing men have strengthened themselves by drawing good men into their interests.”
2 Kings 10:17. He slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria — Either all his household, or, rather, all his kindred and relations, though more remote from him. This he did, no doubt, under pretence of zeal for God, and to fulfil the prophecy of Elijah; but there is too much reason to apprehend, from several of his actions, and, indeed, his general conduct, that in this, as well as in several of the other slaughters which he made, his chief motive was to secure the kingdom to himself and his posterity.
2 Kings 10:18. Jehu gathered all the people together — By their representatives, their elders, or rulers, as was usual, to whom he imparts his mind, and who, being generally corrupt, and mere time-servers, and such as had no sense of religion, made no opposition to his resolution, but seemed to comply with it. Ahab served Baal a little, but Jehu shall serve him much — As if he had said, My quarrel is only with Ahab’s family, and not with Baal, which my actions shall show: which words, being manifestly false, and spoken with a design to deceive, cannot be excused from sin; this being an immoveable principle, that we must not do the least evil, that the greatest good may come. Though it was lawful, and even commendable, to slay the worshippers of Baal, God’s law having enjoined that idolaters should be put to death, yet it was by no means lawful to use treachery, and to deceive them to their destruction, on the faith of false pretences. These were actions no way suitable or agreeable to the God of truth, and such as ought never to have been practised by any that desired to please him.
2 Kings 10:19. Call unto me all the prophets of Baal, and all his servants — Either, 1st, All his ministers, of whom it seems there were several sorts, of which two are here distinctly mentioned, his prophets and priests; and the rest, of the inferior sort, may be comprehended under the general title of servants, because they were to attend upon the others in their ministrations. Or, 2d, All his worshippers, as the word here rendered servants is translated in the close of this verse. If it be inquired how all these could be contained in one house of Baal, it may be answered, that the number of the worshippers of Baal had been greatly diminished by the ministry of Elijah and Elisha, and the rest of the prophets; and by Joram’s neglect and disuse of that worship. Besides, this house or temple of Baal was probably very large and capacious, being in the royal city, nigh the king’s palace, and intended for the use of the king, queen, and whole court, and for great and high solemnities, and therefore was the chief building of the sort in the kingdom. Moreover, as by the house or temple of God, at Jerusalem, we are frequently to understand, not only the principal building, but all the other buildings or courts belonging to it, in which the worshippers stood when they worshipped, so it might be here; and in that case there would be space sufficient for all the worshippers of Baal that can reasonably be thought to have been at that time in Israel.
2 Kings 10:20-21. Jehu said, Proclaim, &c. — Hebrew, sanctify. Prepare yourselves and all things necessary for this solemn day, and sacrifice, and feast, which I intend to keep. There was not a man left that came not — It may seem strange, after what Jehu had done in destroying the family of Ahab, that the worshippers of Baal could be induced to assemble together. But it should be observed, that as Jehu was a person of known indifference in matters of religion, who in this respect had always conformed to the humours of the court, and in the reign of King Ahab had been a strenuous worshipper of Baal; the people could not tell, when they read his proclamation for a great feast to Baal, but that he had returned, in good earnest, to the religion which he once embraced, and only deserted for a while, in complacency to others. But whether they deluded themselves into this persuasion or not, they knew by experience that Jehu was a man of a fierce and bloody temper, who would not fail to put his threats in execution; and, therefore, reading in the same proclamation, Whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live, (2 Kings 10:19,) they found themselves reduced to this sad dilemma, either to go or die. Hence they thought it the wisest method to run the hazard, and throw themselves upon his mercy; having this, at least, to plead for themselves, that they were not disobedient to his commands. See Poole and Dodd.
2 Kings 10:22. He said, Bring forth vestments — Sacred garments, such as were used by the priests, and others of God’s ministers in his service; whence idolaters borrowed the custom of using such garments in the worship of their false gods. For all the worshippers of Baal — It can hardly be supposed, that absolutely all the people that worshipped Baal, and were now assembled, are included here, and had vestments brought them; because the people in general wore no distinct garments in their worship, whether of Jehovah or Baal, but the priests and other ministers only.
2 Kings 10:23. And Jehonadab — Whom the Baalites, possibly, did not know, and therefore suspected nothing inimical to their worship: or, if any of the more sagacious began to suspect any thing, it was now too late to amend their error. Look that there be here with you none of the servants of the Lord — Intimating that their presence would offend Baal, and pollute his worship. Jehu’s real intention, however, was, that none but the worshippers of Baal should be slain, and therefore he caused this search to be made, lest any other Israelite, out of curiosity, or from any other motive, should have entered the temple.
2 Kings 10:24-25. When they went in to offer sacrifices — When some went to the altar to offer in the name of the rest. Jehu appointed fourscore men without — Far more being, doubtless, in readiness to assist them in case of any opposition. As he had made an end of offering — That is, as the chief priest of Baal had made an end. So far Jehu suffered them to proceed, either because till then they were not all come into the house; or because, being taken in the very act of gross idolatry, their punishment would appear to be more just and reasonable. Jehu said to the guard and the captains — To the fourscore men and their officers. The guard, &c., cast them out — Cast their carcasses out, of the house. And went to the city of the house of Baal — To some buildings belonging to that house; which may be here called the city, because they were very numerous and capacious. For as there were divers chambers and rooms built without the temple, belonging to it, for the use of the priests and Levites; so it may probably be conceived that this famous temple of Baal had many such buildings, in some of which the priests of Baal, or of the groves, (whereof there were numbers belonging to the king’s court, 1 Kings 18:19,) peradventure might dwell; and others of them might be for divers uses, belonging to the house and service of Baal: and to these buildings the guard might hastily go to surprise and put to death these inferior ministers of Baal, who were there employed in services belonging to that house, or that solemnity.
2 Kings 10:26-27. The images of the house of Baal — A collection of different images. The image of Baal — The chief image, which they worshipped more than the rest. And brake down the house of Baal — As, no doubt, they did the rest of the houses of Baal in Israel. And made it a draught-house — A sink or common shore; that the remembrance of it might be blotted out or made infamous. Thus was the worship of Baal quite destroyed, at least for the present, out of Israel, though it had once prevailed so far, that there were but seven thousand, of all the thousands of Israel, that had not bowed the knee to Baal. Thus will Jehovah, sooner or later, triumph over all the gods of the heathen.
2 Kings 10:29. Jehu departed not from them — He was partial in his reformation, and did not put away all the evil, because his heart was not right with God. He departed from the sins of Ahab, but not from the sins of Jeroboam: discarded Baal, but adhered to the calves. The worship of Baal was indeed the greater evil, and more heinous in the sight of God, but the worship of the calves was a great evil; and true religion not only implies conversion from gross sin, but from all sin, and not only from false gods, but from false modes of worshipping the true God. The worship of Baal, being upheld by the house of Ahab, also contributed to uphold that house, the numerous ministers of that idolatry being, of course, engaged to support the family which supported them, and with which they must stand or fall; hence Jehu could easily part with that worship, and labour to destroy it; but the worship of the calves was a politic idolatry, begun and kept up for reasons of state, to prevent the return of the ten tribes to the house of David, and therefore Jehu clave to it. But true religion is not only a conversion from those sins which are hostile to our secular interests, but from those that appear to be friendly to them; in forsaking which is the great trial, whether we can deny ourselves For God, and trust in him.
2 Kings 10:30. The Lord said unto Jehu — By some prophet. Because thou hast done well, &c. — That is, in part. The extirpating of idolaters and idolatry was a thing so far right in God’s eyes, idolatry being an iniquity which he visits as surely and severely as any other, and which is a source of a variety of other abominations. Thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne — Which they did, namely, Jehoahaz, Joash, Jeroboam, and Zachariah. This was more than took place in any of the other royal families of that kingdom. Of the house of Ahab, indeed, there were four kings, but the last two, namely, Ahaziah and Joram, were brothers, so that its reign reached only to the third generation, and that whole family continued but about forty-five years in all: whereas Jehu’s house continued in power for four generations after himself, and in all about a hundred and twenty years: for no services done for God shall go unrewarded.
2 Kings 10:31. But Jehu took no care to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel — He abolished the worship of Baal, but did not keep up the worship of God, nor walk in his law. He showed great zeal and care for the rooting out of a false religion; but in the true religion he showed no care, took no heed: was not solicitous to please God and do his duty. With all his heart — His heart, his whole heart, was not engaged in, nor influenced by religion; nor was he truly zealous for the glory of God, and the advancement of true and genuine piety in himself and others. It is evident his own religion was very superficial, and yet God made use of him as an instrument of effecting some reformation in Israel. It is a pity that those who do good to others, are not always good themselves.
2 Kings 10:32. In those days — In the time of Jehu’s life and reign, 2 Kings 10:34. The Lord began to cut Israel short — Either to diminish the number of the people by cutting them off, or to straiten their borders. Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel — In their borders, or the outermost part of their land, beyond Jordan, as it is explained 2 Kings 10:33; and at this time, probably, he executed the cruelties predicted by Elisha, 2 Kings 8:12.
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 10". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Lent