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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Kings 9

Verse 1

2 Kings 9:1. Elisha—called one of the children of the prophets Some of the Jewish doctors have been of opinion, that this messenger was the prophet Jonah, who, upon this supposition, must have been a very young man, because Jeroboam the second, in whose reign Jonah prophesied, did not ascend the throne till about fifty years after this appointment of Jehu to the kingdom of Israel. However this be, it is reasonable to think that Elisha did not go himself to perform this office, either because he was now grown old, and unfit for such a journey, or because he was a person too well known, and not so proper to be employed in an affair which required secrecy.

Verse 3

2 Kings 9:3. I have anointed thee king over Israel 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 to 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 with the actual possession of the kingdom. For if that which some imagine from 1Ki 19:16 be true, that the prophet Elijah did before this time anoint Jehu, that unction conferred upon him only a remote right to the kingdom, in the same manner as Samuel's unction did upon David; see 1 Samuel 16:13.

Verse 11

2 Kings 9:11. Wherefore came this mad fellow to thee? See Numbers 11:25. The officers who were in company with Jehu might easily perceive, by the air, habit, and manner of speech of the person who accosted Jehu so boldly, and when he had done his business vanished so suddenly, that he was a prophet; but then there might be several reasons which might induce men of their profession to have a contemptible opinion of men of that order. The rigid and obscure course of life which the prophets led, and their neglect of the things of this world, might pass with them for a kind of infatuation, and the holy exercises to which they devoted themselves, for no more than a religious phrenzy; besides this, the false prophets whom they had seen in the court of Ahab had given just offence, and by their affected gestures and studied contortions, whereby they thought to recommend their crude enthusiasms, made themselves justly ridiculous and contemptible; and therefore it is no wonder that these officers at first sight should censure a true prophet, as they thought they had reason to judge of the false prophets with whom they had been acquainted; especially when we find some leading men in the tribe of Judah treating the prophets of the Lord as fools and madmen. See Ezekiel 23:30-31. Jer 29:26 and Cicero de Divinat. lib. 2:

Note; (1.) It is not the last time that God's zealous servants have been called madmen. Thus Paul was branded, and even the blessed Jesus; let none of his followers therefore marvel, if a carnal world still judge thus of them. (2.) If worldly men expect from God's prophets reproof and religious conversation, let them not be disappointed by an endeavour to secure their regard at the expence of silence, or any sinful compliance.

Verse 17

2 Kings 9:17. There stood a watchman on the tower In times of peace as well as war, it was usual to have watchmen set on high and eminent places wherever the king was, to prevent his being surprised. Thus David at Jerusalem was informed by the watchmen, that his sons were escaped from the slaughter of Absalom, when he thought them all lost, 2 Samuel 13:34.; and therefore Jehoram, who had an armor lying before Ramoth-gilead, had good reason to keep a watchful eye upon every motion, especially from that quarter. See Calmet.

Verse 22

2 Kings 9:22. So long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many i.e. Whilst her idolatries, wherewith she bewitches the people, are still continued and multiplied. He upbraids Jehoram with his mother's sins, not with his own, because her's were more notorious and infamous, and what by his connivance he had made his own; because they were the principal reason why God inflicted, and he was come to execute these judgments; and because he could find no odious accusation against him except about the golden calves, which he purposely declined mentioning, because he himself intended to keep them up. See Poole and Calmet.

Verse 26

2 Kings 9:26. The blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons It is to be observed, that in the history of Naboth, recorded 1 Kings 21:0 we find no mention made of the death of his sons; but it is no unusual thing for the Scripture to supply in one place that which has been omitted in another. It is not improbable therefore that, as Naboth was accused of high-treason, all his family was involved in his ruin, and all his estate confiscated to the king's exchequer; and what seems to confirm this opinion is, that we find Elijah never once putting the king in mind to restore the vineyard to Naboth's children, nor the king in the time of his repentance ever once thinking to do it, because, to all human appearance, there were no heirs left. Notwithstanding this, Grotius and other learned men have observed, that these words may signify no more than the extreme poverty to which Naboth's family was reduced, by the death of the father and the confiscation of his goods. For among the Hebrews, say they, all punishments and miseries are called blood. Leviticus 17:4. And to take away their estate, upon which they would have lived, was in effect to take away the blood, which is the life of every creature. But this, I think, is a little forced. See Le Clerc and Calmet.

REFLECTIONS.—As success depended upon the swiftness of their march, we have Jehu, his chariots and horsemen, with eager haste pressing toward Jezreel.

1. The watchman on the tower descries at a distance the approaching company, and Joram, desirous to know the cause, sends out repeated messengers, whom Jehu detains. As he drew nearer, the watchman, by his furious driving, concludes that it was Jehu, and the host from Rammoth-gilead. Note; It is too late to inquire, Is it peace? when the sword is unsheathed, and Jesus with his host appears, coming in the clouds of heaven to judge.

2. Unable, through impatience, to wait, or rather through divine infatuation hurried to his ruin, Joram orders his chariot, and hastes to meet Jehu, and Ahaziah accompanies him; and where should they meet but in the very spot of Naboth's vineyard. Joram, unsuspicious of danger, seems only concerned to know, whether they came victors over the Syrians in triumph, or in flight as vanquished; till Jehu's answer undeceived him, and the charge of his mother's idolatry and whoredoms, which he encouraged and copied, bid him despair of peace, and expect the sword of an avenging God. Note; (1.) Providence, in many instances, by strange events makes God's justice appear glorious in the eyes of men. (2.) Peace is still the sinner's cry, when ruin is at his very heels. (3.) The whoredoms which now are the sinner's pleasure, will shortly produce his everlasting pain.

3. Too late the treachery is discovered, and Joram attempts to escape; but the arrow from Jehu's bow stops his flight; and, as the executioner of the divine vengeance, Jehu commands his captain to throw his dead corpse into the vineyard of Naboth, according to the prophesy, 1 Kings 21:19. Nor must Ahaziah be spared: since he is found in such bad company, he must fall with them. Note; (1.) When judgment overtakes the sinner, it is then too late to fly. (2.) They who are found companions of fools, will be destroyed with them.

Verse 30

2 Kings 9:30. She painted her face Rendered in the margin, put her eyes in painting: the word פוךֶ puk, rendered painting, signifies a mineral substance, stybium or stimmi, otherwise called plumbago, or black-lead, a kind of ochre of very fine and loose parts. The word occurs again, Jer 4:30 and both there as well as here, it is mentioned as somewhat with which women coloured their eyes. At this day the women in many parts of the east, tinge their eyes with black to heighten their beauty. The ingenious writer of the "Agreement of the customs between the East Indians and Jews," well illustrates this matter. "Ezekiel," says he, "describing the idolatry of Jerusalem, under the figure of a lewd woman, accuses her of rubbing her eye-lids with black-lead when her lovers came to wait upon her." Ezekiel 23:40. This is what we find also that Jezebel did. She painted her eye lids or her eyes, with black-lead, and put ornaments upon her head. If we may judge of this practice by our fashions, it was not very fit to render women more enticing, yet the custom is still in use among the Indian women that are white, who, to heighten the lustre of their complexion, and render their eyes more languishing, paint them round with black-lead, which serves almost the same purpose as the patches used by some European ladies. See Tavernier's Travels into Persia, Russel's Natural History of Aleppo, and Shaw's Travels. The last cited author observes, that the practice above-mentioned was used as well by the Greeks and Romans as by the eastern nations; and to this Juvenal plainly refers, Sat. 2:

Ille supercilium madida fuligine tinctum, Obliqua producit acu, pingitque trementes Attollens oculos.
With jet-black pencils on his eye-brows dyes, And, gently touching, paints his trembling eyes.
See Parkhurst on the word פךֶ pak. Dr. Shaw further observes, that the general method of building, both in Barbary and the Levant, seems to have continued the same from the earliest ages down to this time, without the least alteration or improvement. Large doors, spacious chambers, marble pavements, cloistered courts, with fountains sometimes playing in the midst, are certainly conveniences very well adapted to the circumstances of these hotter climates. The jealousy likewise of these people is less apt to be alarmed, whilst, if we except a small latticed window or balcony which sometimes looks into the street, all the other windows open into their respective courts or quadrangles. It is during the celebration only of some public festival that these houses and their latticed windows or balconies are left open; for, this being a time of great liberty, revelling, and extravagance, each family is ambitious of adorning both the inside and outside of their houses with their richest furniture; while crowds of both sexes, dressed out in their best apparel, and laying aside all modesty and restraint, go in and out where they please. The account that we here have of Jezebel's dressing herself and looking out at a window for Jehu's public entrance into Jezreel, gives us a lively idea of an eastern lady at one of these public solemnities. See Trav. p. 227. 229.

Verse 32

2 Kings 9:32. There looked out—two or three eunuchs According to the custom of the eastern nations, the business of this sort of people was to attend upon queens in their chambers. By their great fidelity and obsequiousness they generally gained the esteem, and were admitted to the confidence of those whom 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. Some of the Jewish doctors look upon Jezebel's as a punishment according to the Lex talionis; for, as she had done, so she suffered. She had caused Naboth to be stoned, and she is now condemned to be stoned herself: for there were two ways of stoning, either by throwing stones at malefactors till they were knocked down and killed, or by throwing them down upon the stones from a high place, and so dashing them to pieces. See Patrick and Calmet. The words, he trod her under foot, at the close of the 33rd verse, Houbigant renders they, that is, the horses trod her under foot.

REFLECTIONS.—Long had this hateful monster of a woman, big with mischief, dispensed her baleful influence around, defying God, and tempted by long impunity to think that she should ever reign as a queen, and see no sorrow. But vengeance, though slow, is sure.

1. Her pride and insolence endured to the last. Unhumbled under the scourge now fallen upon her house, and decked with paint and jewels, she would still act the queen, and from her window dares insult the conquering Jehu. Note; (1.) When God in just judgment gives up the sinner to his hardened heart, then he rushes on ruin as the horse into the battle. (2.) A painted face is the devil's mask. Like Jezebel, whom such imitate, their pride will have a fall. (3.) They who would act with zeal for God, will be often insulted and threatened; but, like Jehu, they will not be intimidated.

2. Jehu, mocking her impotent rage, calls out hastily, Who is on my side? who? and some eunuchs appearing at the summons, he bids them throw her down, which out of fear of Jehu they instantly complied with, and her blood besmeared the walls of the palace, and was sprinkled on Jehu's horses, as he drove over her corpse. Note; (1.) There is no standing neuter between Christ and Belial. If we are on the Lord's side, we must appear for him. (2.) Wickedness and wretchedness are inseparable. Though for a time the sinner lifts his head high, it will be laid shortly low in the dust, and still lower in hell.

3. Having taken possession of the palace, and refreshed himself after his march, in respect for her royal descent, Jehu designs Jezebel a grave, forgetting the denunciation pronounced upon her; but God had fulfilled his own word. The dogs had devoured her carcase, and only a few scattered fragments remained; of which when Jehu was informed, he reflected on the word of Elijah, and admired its awful accomplishment. She who alive was so imperious, cruel, and arrogant, is devoured as carrion, and denied even a grave. Note; (1.) Whether we intend it or not, the word of the Lord will have its exact accomplishment. (2.) Not only the corpse, but the very memory of the wicked shall rot. (3.) Let Jezebel's fate be a warning against her sins.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Kings 9". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/2-kings-9.html. 1801-1803.