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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 9

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3120. B.C. 884.

Elisha sends a young prophet to Ramoth-gilead, with instructions to anoint Jehu king over Israel, whom he charges to destroy the house of Ahab, and fleeth, 2 Kings 9:1-10 . Jehu, being made king, kills Joram in the field of Naboth, 2 Kings 9:11-26 . He kills also Ahaziah, king of Judah, 2 Kings 9:26-29 . Causes Jezebel to be thrown out of a window, who is devoured by dogs, 2 Kings 9:30-37 .

Verse 1

2 Kings 9:1. And Elisha the prophet called, &c. The Prophet Elijah was commanded to anoint Jehu about twelve years before this time; but, because of Ahab’s humiliation, the execution of the judgment pronounced upon him and his family was deferred. The office of anointing Jehu therefore, it seems, was left to be performed by Elisha; who did not go himself, either because he was grown old and unfit for such a journey, or because he was a person too well known to be employed in an affair that required secrecy. Go to Ramoth-gilead The kings of Israel and Judah were both absent, and Jehu, it is probable, was left commander-in-chief of the king’s army which lay there.

Verses 2-3

2 Kings 9:2-3. Make him arise up from among his brethren From the other officers of the army, 2 Kings 9:5. Carry him to an inner chamber This he orders, partly that the work might not be hindered, and partly for the security of the young prophet’s own person. And say, Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed &c. This was not the whole message he was to deliver: but the rest of it is particularly declared 2 Kings 9:7-10, and is to be understood here. “According to the Jews, none of the kings of Israel were anointed but those of the house of David, and these only when there was a question about their succession; as Solomon, they say, needed not have been anointed, had it not been for the faction of Adonijah. But in the case of Jehu, in whom the succession of the kingdom of Israel was to be translated out of the right line of the family of Ahab into another family, which had no right to the kingdom, but merely the appointment of God, there was a necessity for his unction, in order both to convey to him a title, and to invest him in the actual possession of the kingdom.” Dodd.

Verse 4

2 Kings 9:4 . So the young man went to Ramoth-gilead It argued great faith in this young prophet that he undertook so readily the execution of this command. For there was no small danger in anointing a new king, as Elisha himself plainly intimated, when he ordered him to flee away as fast as he could, as soon as he had performed his office.

Verse 5

2 Kings 9:5. Jehu said, Unto which of us all? It does not appear that Jehu aimed at the government, or that he ever thought of it, but the commission given him was a perfect surprise to him. Some indeed think he had been anointed before by Elijah, but privately, and with an intimation that he must not act till he received further orders, as Samuel anointed David long before he was to come to the throne. But this is not at all probable.

Verse 6

2 Kings 9:6. He arose and went into the house That is, into an inner chamber in the house. And he poured the oil on his head Thereby giving him, in God’s name both a right to the kingdom and the actual possession of it. The Israelites, it must be observed, were still by right and profession the people of God, though they worshipped other gods with him. And it belonged to him to appoint what ruler he pleased over them; which he now did by his prophet. Without this authority, if Jehu had taken the government upon him, he had been a usurper.

Verse 7

2 Kings 9:7. And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab Thou shalt execute my judgment upon them, pronounced long ago. That I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, &c. That they were idolaters was bad enough, and merited all that was brought upon them; yet this is not mentioned here; but the controversy God has with them is for their being persecutors. Nothing fills up the measure of the iniquity of any prince or people so much as this doth; nor brings a surer or sorer ruin. This was the sin which principally brought on Jerusalem both its first and its final destruction, 2 Chronicles 36:16, and Matthew 23:37-38. Jezebel’s whoredoms and witchcrafts were not so provoking to God as her persecuting the prophets and other faithful worshippers of God, killing some, and driving the rest into corners and caves, 1 Kings 18:4.

Verse 8

2 Kings 9:8. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish That is, all his posterity and all his kindred. Jehu, therefore, having received such a charge, is to be considered, in what he afterward did to the house of Ahab, as acting not out of a spirit of revenge, for he had no quarrel with the house of Ahab; but, as the minister of God, who, by his prophet, authorized and enjoined him to do what follows.

Verse 10

2 Kings 9:10 . In the portion of Jezreel In that portion of land, in or near the city, which belonged to Naboth. There shall be none to bury her That is, none shall bury her, or she shall not be buried; for it appears from 2 Kings 9:34, that Jehu gave orders to have her buried, sending out persons for that purpose, but they could only find some small remains of her carcass, the dogs having eaten the rest.

Verses 11-12

2 Kings 9:11-12. Wherefore came this mad fellow to thee? What business has he with thee? And why wouldst thou gratify him so far as to retire to converse with him? They perceived him to be a prophet by his air, habit, and manner of speech, as well as by his accosting Jehu so boldly, and so suddenly vanishing when he had done his business. And these profane soldiers accounted the Lord’s prophets madmen, judging their neglect of themselves, and their contempt of temporal wealth and honours, which the wise men of this world so eagerly seek, with their rigid and obscure course of life, to be a kind of infatuation: and considering the holy exercises to which they devoted themselves as the effects of a religious phrensy. Indeed; those that have no religion commonly speak of those that are religious with disdain, and look upon them as crack-brained. They said of our Lord, He is beside himself, and of St. Paul, that much learning had made him mad. The highest wisdom is thus represented as folly, and they that best understand themselves, as persons beside themselves. He said, You know the man, and his communication You know him to be a prophet: why then do you call him a mad fellow? And, being a prophet, you may guess what his business is with me; that it is to teach me my duty. Thus he thought to have put them off; but they said, It is false We do not know, and cannot conjecture, what was his errand: but that there is something extraordinary and of great importance in it we plainly perceive, by his calling thee into an inner chamber, by his great expedition, and by his gesture and carriage. Tell us now His concealing the matter made them the more eager to know it.

Verse 13

2 Kings 9:13. Then they hasted Being well pleased with the thing; partly from the advantage which hereby they expected; partly from that desire of change which is in the nature of most men; and principally by God’s providence inclining their hearts to Jehu. And took every man his garment, and put it under him In token of great reverence for his person, that they would not have his feet to touch the ground, and that they put themselves and their concerns under his feet and into his disposal. It was a ceremony used in the eastern countries toward superiors: see Matthew 21:7. On the top of the stairs In some high and eminent place, whence he might be seen and owned by all the soldiers, who were called together on this great occasion. Saying, Jehu is king They proclaimed him by sound of trumpet to be appointed by God to the kingdom of Israel.

Verses 14-15

2 Kings 9:14-15. So Jehu conspired against Joram Contrived with the rest of the captains how to destroy Joram: for which they had the fairer opportunity, because he was gone from the army to Jezreel. Now Joram had kept Ramoth-gilead That is, kept a strong garrison there, upon the frontiers of his kingdom, it having been taken by him before this time, although the taking of it be not mentioned. He and all Israel, because of Hazael, &c. He left an army also there, or in the neighbouring parts, to watch Hazael’s motions; so that Jehu had the army with him which Joram had left, being gone home to Jezreel, ill wounded. Jehu said, Let none go forth out of the city Or, from the city: that is, from within it, or from before it; from the siege or army; to go tell it in Jezreel For he knew how necessary secrecy was to the execution of such great designs as he had in hand.

Verses 17-18

2 Kings 9:17-18. There stood a watchmen on the tower For watchmen were set on high places in time of peace as well as war wherever the king was, that he might not be surprised. Let him say, Is it peace? Inquire who it is that comes, and if he comes on peaceable terms. For he feared lest either the Syrians had prevailed at Ramoth-gilead, or some sedition or rebellion was raised against him, which the example of Libnah, and his own guilty conscience, made him fear. Jehu said, What hast thou to do with peace? It is not to thee, but to him that sent thee, that I will give answer. Turn thee behind me Join thyself to my followers, if thou wishest for safety. This order he did not dare to disobey, seeing such a company of soldiers with Jehu.

Verse 21

2 Kings 9:21. They went out against him Or rather, to meet him, that they might know his intention, and, by their presence, repress any seditious inclinations which might be in Jehu or his followers. And met him in the portion of Naboth The very sight of that ground was enough to make Jehu triumph, and Joram tremble. The circumstances of events are sometimes so ordered by Divine Providence as to make the punishment answer the sin, as face answers face in a glass.

Verse 22

2 Kings 9:22. Is it peace, Jehu? Dost thou come to me with a peaceable mind, or in a way of hostility? For now, when it was too late, he began to suspect some treachery, God hiding it from him before, in order to his destruction. And he answered, What peace, &c.? What cause hast thou to expect peace, when thou hast so long abetted, and dost still abet, thy mother in her abominable practices? So long as the whoredoms, &c. This may be understood, either literally or spiritually; spiritual whoredom, which is idolatry, being often punished with corporal, and witchcraft being often practised by idolaters; or rather, spiritually, of her idolatry, which is often called whoredom, because it is a departing from God, to whom we are tied by many obligations; and witchcraft, because it doth so powerfully bewitch men’s minds; and because it is a manifest entering into covenant with the devil. He mentions not Joram’s, but his mother’s sins, because they were more notorious and infamous; and because they were the principal cause why God inflicted, and he was come to execute these judgments. The way of sin can never be the way of peace.

Verses 23-24

2 Kings 9:23-24. Joram turned his hands Or the reins of his chariot; and said, There is treachery, O Ahaziah Jehu is our enemy: it is time for us to shift for our safety. Jehu drew a bow and smote Jehoram between his arms Or shoulders, when he was turned or turning back, the chariot being probably open behind, as many times they were. The arrow went out at his heart It was one of God’s arrows, which he ordained against the persecutor, and it killed him on the spot. Cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth He died a criminal under the sentence of God, which Jehu, the executioner thereof, pursues in the disposal of the dead body. When I and thou rode together after Ahab, &c. Probably when Ahab went in his chariot, attended with his nobles or chief officers, of which these were two, to take a formal and solemn possession of Naboth’s land: for then the Prophet Elijah met him, and denounced this judgment against him, (1 Kings 21:17-21,) which was extended to his son. The Lord laid this burden upon him This predicted punishment: prophecies of calamities to come upon individuals or nations are frequently termed burdens in the Scriptures.

Verse 26

2 Kings 9:26. And the blood of his sons Who, many commentators have thought, were killed by their father, by Jezebel’s advice, to make the possession of the vineyard more sure to Ahab. Some however, are of opinion, as we have no account in the history of Naboth, (1 Kings 21:0.,) that his sons were killed with him, that Jehu does not here repeat the exact words of God by Elijah, but exaggerates the matter, and represents the sons as slain with their father, because, by their being deprived of him and of his estate, they were, in a manner, in as bad a condition as though they had been destroyed. I will requite thee in this plat That very piece of ground, which Ahab, with so much pride and pleasure, had made himself master of, at the expense of the guilt of innocent blood, now became the theatre on which his son’s dead body lay unburied and exposed, a spectacle to the world, and a prey to the dogs or fowls, according to the prediction, 1 Kings 21:19. Thus the Lord is known by the judgments which he executeth. The son justly deserved the punishment due to the father, because he gave his approbation to the deed of his father, by continuing to keep possession of Naboth’s vineyard, and taking no care to repair the injury done to Naboth and his family by the false accusation which had been preferred against him.

Verses 27-28

2 Kings 9:27-28. He fled by the way of the garden-house By some secret way, hoping to escape while they were busy about Joram. Jehu said, Smite him also As you have done Joram, for he also is of the house of Ahab, chap. 2 Kings 8:18. And they did so They wounded him, but not mortally; being the more remiss in executing Jehu’s sentence against him, either because they were not so much concerned in his, as in Joram’s death; or because they had some regard for him for Jehoshaphat’s sake. He fled to Megiddo, and died there The account of his death is briefly and imperfectly given here, and the defects are supplied in the book of Chronicles, (which was in a great part written to supply things omitted in the book of Kings,) and out of both, the history may be thus completed. He fled first to Megiddo, and thence to Samaria, where he was taken, and thence brought to Jehu, and by his sentence was put to death at Megiddo. And his servants carried him to Jerusalem, &c. Which they did, by Jehu’s permission, out of respect to Jehoshaphat’s memory, 2 Chronicles 22:9.

Verse 30

2 Kings 9:30. Jezebel heard of it, &c. She had heard that Jehu had slain her son, and slain him for her murders, idolatries, and other crimes, and thrown his dead body into the portion of Naboth, according to the word of the Lord; and now she learned he was come to Jezreel, where she could not but dread falling herself next a sacrifice to his revenging sword. Here we see how she meets her fate. She painted her face Rendered in the margin, put her eyes in painting. The word פוךְ , puch, translated painting, signifies a mineral substance, stibium, otherwise called plumbago, or black- lead, a kind of ochre of very fine and loose parts. The word occurs again, Jeremiah 4:30, and both there and here is mentioned as somewhat with which women coloured their eyes. It made them look black, and also larger, by dilating their eye-brows; both which circumstances were thought to give them additional beauty. At this day the women, in many parts of the East, tinge their eyes with black to heighten their beauty. And tired her head That is, dressed and adorned it, as the word תישׂב , theteb, here used, signifies. These things she did, hoping that, by her majestic dress and demeanour, she should strike Jehu and his followers with such awe, that they would be intimidated, and thereby prevented from offering her any personal injury; or rather, because, perceiving her case to be desperate, and that she would not be suffered to live, she was resolved to die with honour and gallantry. And looked out at a window She placed herself at a window at the entering of the gate of the king’s palace, to affront Jehu, and set him at defiance.

Verse 31

2 Kings 9:31. Had Zimri peace, who slew his master? Remember that thy brother traitor, Zimri, had but a very short enjoyment of the benefit of his treason, and was speedily and severely punished for it by my grand-father Omri, (see the margin,) and expect thou the same treatment from some of my posterity. She took no notice of the hand of God gone out against her family, but flew in the face of him who was only a sword in that hand. Thus men are very apt, when they are in trouble, to break out into passion against the instruments of their trouble, when they ought to be submissive to God, and angry at themselves only. The cases of Zimri and Jehu were not at all parallel. Zimri, who had come to the throne by blood and treachery, and who, within seven days, was constrained to burn the palace over his head, and himself in it, had no warrant for assuming the government, but was incited to do it purely by his own ambition and cruelty; whereas Jehu was anointed to be king at the express command of God, given to Elijah, (1 Kings 19:16,) and in all he did against the house of Ahab, acted by divine direction. In comparing persons and things, we must carefully distinguish between the precious and the vile; and take heed, lest in the fate of sinful men we read the doom of useful men.

Verses 32-33

2 Kings 9:32-33. He said, Who is on my side? He had been called out by God to the work of punishing those who had corrupted the land, and he here calls out for assistance in doing it. And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs Or chamberlains, for such used to attend upon queens in their chambers. “And by their great fidelity and obsequiousness, they generally gained the esteem, and were admitted to the confidence, of those they served; and so, very often, into places of great trust and profit. It is remarkable, however, of Jezebel’s eunuchs, that they were far from being faithful to her; to let us see how suddenly courtiers are wont to change with the fortune of their masters.” He said, Throw her down. So they threw her down Being mercenary creatures, they quickly comply with Jehu’s command, sacrificing her life to save their own. “Thus, as she had done, so she suffered. She had commanded Naboth to be stoned, and now she is stoned herself: for there were two ways of stoning among the Hebrews, either by throwing stones at malefactors till they were knocked down and killed, or by throwing them down from a high place, and so dashing them to pieces.” Dodd, who refers to Patrick and Calmet on the punishments of the Jews. And he trode her under foot Houbigant renders it, they, that is, the horses, trod her under foot, after she had been dashed against the wall and pavement, which, with the horses, were besmeared with her blood.

Verse 34

2 Kings 9:34. Go see now this cursed woman She had been the greatest delinquent in the house of Ahab. She had introduced Baal; slain the Lord’s prophets; contrived the murder of Naboth; excited her husband first, and then her sons, to do wickedly. She had been a curse to her country, and one whose memory all who loved their country execrated. Three reigns her reign had lasted, but now, at length, her day was come to fall, and meet with the due reward of her deeds. And bury her, for she is a king’s daughter He does not say, because she was a king’s wife, lest he should seem to show any respect to that wicked house of Ahab, which God had devoted to ignominy and destruction. When Jehu gave this order about burying Jezebel, he seems to have for gotten the prediction of the prophet, and the charge given, 2 Kings 9:10. But though he had forgotten it, God had not: while he was eating and drinking, the dogs had devoured her dead body; so that there was nothing left but her bare scull, (the painted face was gone,) and her feet and hands. The hungry dogs paid no respect to the dignity of her extraction: a king’s daughter was no more to them than a common person. It is probable, when the horsemen were gone, who trod her under foot, the footmen stripped her, and left her in her own blood exposed to the dogs, that came out of the city in great numbers, by the ordination of Providence, and with a more than common hunger, otherwise they could not have devoured the body in so short a time.

Verses 36-37

2 Kings 9:36-37. He said, This is the word of the Lord He now calls to mind the words of the Prophet Elijah, which before he had forgot, or did not regard. And the carcass of Jezebel, &c. These words are not extant in the place where this prophecy is first mentioned, 1 Kings 21:23; but are here added by Jehu, by way of explication and amplification. So that they shall not say, This is Jezebel No memory of her, nothing whereby it might be known there had been such a woman as Jezebel, should remain of her, as a picture or effigies, to which men might point and say, This is Jezebel. No monument was made of her, and she had no sepulchre but in the belly of dogs.

Upon the whole, what is recorded in this chapter shows that the divine threatenings are never in vain: that the curse of God pursues princes and families where impiety reigns. Let it be observed, likewise, that Ahaziah king of Judah, because he imitated the kings of Israel in their idolatries and other sins, and was united with Jehoram king of Israel, perished with him. Those who become the companions and imitators of the wicked, are involved, sooner or later, in the same judgments with them.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 9". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/2-kings-9.html. 1857.
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