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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
2 Kings 9

 

 

Verse 1

1. Called one of the children of the prophets — Elisha was now, perhaps, too old and infirm to go himself to Ramoth-gilead, or else he deemed it better for some reason to send another in his place.

Gird up thy loins — So as to be expeditious in thy mission.

This box of oil — Or, flask of oil. See on 1 Samuel 10:1.


Verses 1-13

JEHU ANOINTED KING OF ISRAEL, 2 Kings 9:1-13.

We come now to trace the fearful doom of Omri’s dynasty. First the chosen avenger is anointed king and proclaimed such in the army, (1-14.) Then follow, in rapid succession, the deaths of Joram (15-26) and of Ahaziah, (27-29,) and of Jezebel, (30-37;) the slaughter of Ahab’s seventy sons, (chap. 2 Kings 10:1-11,) and of the brethren of Ahaziah, (12-14,) and of the priests and worshippers of Baal, (18-28.) Then follows (in chap. 11) the tragic tale of Athaliah’s fall.


Verse 2

2. Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat — Not, of course, of king Jehoshaphat, but of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi. This Jehu had been with Ahab, and had heard, and laid up in his heart, the fearful prediction of Elijah against that monarch when he went to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard. 1 Kings 21:18-29. Compare 2 Kings 9:25. But already had he been made known to Elijah as the future king of Israel, and that prophet had been commissioned to anoint him; (1 Kings 19:16;) but the commission was, in the providence of God, transferred to Elisha, who now fulfils it by the hand of one of his disciples.

His brethren — His brethren in arms; his fellow-soldiers at Ramoth-gilead.

Carry him — Literally, cause him to come in; that is, lead or conduct him.

Inner chamber — This significant act is to be done in secret. In like manner Saul and David were first privately anointed.


Verse 6

6. Thus saith the Lord — Compare the following words of this prophet with the words of Ahijah in 1 Kings 14:10-11, and of Elijah, 1 Kings 21:21-24 and the notes on those passages.


Verse 11

11. His lord — King Joram.

This mad fellow משׁגע, pual part. of שׁגע; one who raves, or is frenzied and furious. This was spoken contemptuously of the prophet, though doubtless his hurried manner, his emotional bearing, and sudden departure and flight, gave occasion for the term mad or crazy.

Ye know the man, and his communication — That is, ye know him to be mad, and his discourse is according to his wild character. Jehu wished at first to keep the matter to himself, and so avoided answering their question.


Verse 12

12. False; tell us now — Though they had contemptuously called him a madman, their better nature told them that this was false, and now, as they notice Jehu’s disposition to evade their question, they insist on knowing the prophet’s mission.

Thus and thus spake he to me — He at once decides to tell them just that part of the prophet’s discourse and action which referred to his being made king, thinking, possibly, that they might consider that declaration further evidence of his being crazy. Of his commission to destroy the house of Ahab he said nothing.


Verse 13

13. Took every man his garment — This spreading of garments down for sovereigns to tread upon was and is a common custom in the East.

Compare Matthew 21:7. It was a public expression of subjection and homage.

On the top of the stairs — Literally, On the bone of the steps, that is, on the very steps, or stairway, leading up to the house wherein these warriors were assembled. In their haste to proclaim Jehu king, they did not stop to go and erect a suitable platform and a throne, but used for this purpose the very steps of the house where they were sitting. “The stairs doubtless ran round the inside of the quadrangle of the house, as they do now, for instance, in the ruin called the house of Zaccheus at Jericho, and Jehu sat where they joined the flat platform which formed the top or roof of the house. Thus he was conspicuous against the sky, while the captains were below him in the quadrangle.” — Stanley.

Blew with trumpets — A common custom when a new king was proclaimed. Compare 1 Kings 1:39-40.

Jehu is king — “Their readiness in throwing off their allegiance to Jehoram is something remarkable. But it was known that the house of Ahab was in this generation doomed to destruction. This was a thing people were not likely to forget. It was known that Elisha, who had sent this man, was a commissioned prophet, authorized to declare the will of the Lord. And it is probable that the military were dissatisfied with the rule of a house so completely under the influence of one bad woman, and the errors and crimes of which had, first and last, brought so much discredit upon the nation. Add to this, that in the absence of a fixed succession to a throne which so many successful adventurers had already won, loyalty sits but lightly upon the soldiery; and they are very prone to vote a popular commander into the throne when it becomes vacant, or even to make it vacant for him.” — Kitto.


Verse 14

DEATH OF JEHORAM, 2 Kings 9:14-26.

14. Joram had kept Ramoth-gilead — Rather, was keeping watch in Ramoth-gilead. He had forcibly taken it out of the hands of the Syrians, and now had all the army there to guard it lest it should be retaken by Hazael. The king himself, as we have already seen, (2 Kings 8:28,) had been wounded during the siege by the Syrian archers, but after having taken it, he left it in charge of the army under command of Jehu, and returned to Jezreel to be healed of his wounds.


Verse 15

15. Let none go forth — Here we observe Jehu’s prompt and decisive action which had so much to do with his success. He would take Joram by surprise, and be himself the first messenger to announce his fall.


Verse 17

17. A watchman on the tower — “There was usually in ancient times a watchtower over the royal residence, where a man was always stationed, night and day, to keep a good look out in all directions, but especially in that direction from which any sort of tidings could be expected. What he beheld, which he deemed of any consequence, he declared below in the courts of the palace. In the present case the frequency of reports from the seat of war, and the king’s anxiety for intelligence, naturally kept the attention of the watchman much in that direction.” — Kitto. Dr. Robinson, describing the modern village of Jezreel, mentions “a square tower of some height, partly in ruins, from the several windows of which we enjoyed a splendid view of the adjacent country in all directions.”

I see a company — A vast multitude. Jehu had not come alone; probably a large part of the army followed him.

Take a horseman — Jehu’s company were yet a great way off, and the position of Jezreel — the modern Zerin — (see note on 1 Kings 18:45,) commanded a wide view both to the east and west.

Jehu and his company must have approached Jezreel from the east, through the deep broad valley of the Wady Jalud. From the heights of Jezreel one can see the acropolis of Beth-shean, some ten miles down this valley, and also the mountains beyond the Jordan.


Verse 18

18. What hast thou to do with peace — The supercilious language of a conqueror who is perfect master of the situation, and can dictate the course to be pursued.


Verse 20

20. He driveth furiously — Or, as the margin, in madness. Stanley suggests that in the Syrian and other wars of that age, when chariots and horses were so much in use, Jehu had acquired a skill and fierceness in his practice which astonished all, and made him known through the whole army and country as the mighty warrior who drove his horses like a madman.


Verse 21

21. Met him in the portion of Naboth — Fatal spot for the son of Ahab, for long before there had gone forth the oracle, that in that spot the dogs should lick his blood. 1 Kings 21:19; 1 Kings 21:29.


Verse 22

22. The whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel — Her idolatry, both spiritual and carnal. She was in fact the impersonation of many forms of wickedness. Idolatry and witchcraft naturally go together, and in the worship of the female deity Asherah, to which Jezebel was particularly attached, (1 Kings 18:19,) there were the most impure practices and licentious rites, which might well be called whoredoms.


Verse 25

25. For remember — Jehu remembers, and in substance repeats, the word of the Lord by Elijah, (1 Kings 21:19; 1 Kings 21:29,) and, conscious that he himself is the minister of judgment, he fulfils the word of the Lord. “This,” says Kitto, “completes the first act of this awful tragedy, which reads like the old Greek dramas — but far less old than this — of accomplished fate. The appointed executer of the doom was himself the witness of its being imposed. All is complete.”

Laid this burden upon him — This burden of judgment; that is, pronounced upon him this doom.


Verse 27

DEATH OF AHAZIAH, 2 Kings 9:27-29.

27. Fled by the way of the garden house — That is, according to some, the summerhouse, built for purposes of rest or shade in the royal garden into which Naboth’s vineyard had been converted. 1 Kings 21:2. But house of the garden is a literal translation of the original word Beth-haggan, and it seems better, in view of what 2 Chronicles 22:9 relates of the flight of Ahaziah to Samaria, to understand it, with the Septuagint, as the name of a place between Jezreel and Samaria. A few miles south of Jezreel is Engannim, the modern Jenin, with which Beth-haggan is probably to be identified. It is still a place of gardens and abundant water, whence, doubtless, it received its names.

Jehu followed after him — To this 2 Chronicles 22:9, adds: “And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, for he was hid in Samaria, and brought him to Jehu: and when they had slain him, they buried him.” Here, it will be noticed, the author of Chronicles does not say where or how he was slain and buried, and this the book of Kings supplies. So we should understand that Ahaziah first fled by the way of Beth-haggan to Samaria, and there hid himself, but was followed by Jehu and his men, and discovered, and brought forth from his hiding-place into the presence of Jehu. It would seem that Jehu himself did not follow all the way to Samaria, but his men continued the pursuit, and when they had captured Ahaziah they brought him back to Jez-reel. Then Jehu said: Smite him also in the chariot at the going up to Gur, which is by Ibleam. These words should thus be connected together, and not separated, as in the English version, with the addition, and they did so. Ibleam was a town allotted to the tribe of Manasseh, (Judges 1:27,) though it seems to have been located in the territory of Issachar or Asher. Joshua 17:11. Its exact position is unknown, but it lay probably not far from Megiddo, and between it and Jezreel. The going up to Gur was some well-known eminence near by it, and it was perhaps from some evil association of Ahaziah or his kindred with that spot that Jehu wished him to be slain there.

Fled to Megiddo, and died there — The arrows of Jehu’s archers did not prove instantly fatal, and the wounded king seized an opportunity for escape, and fled in his chariot as far as Megiddo, where he expired. According to Josephus he left his chariot, and fled on horseback to Megiddo. Megiddo, the modern el-Lejjun, was about six miles west of Jezreel. See on Joshua 12:21.


Verse 28

28. Buried him… with his fathers — Out of respect for the memory of his father, the pious Jehoshaphat. Compare 2 Chronicles 22:9.


Verse 29

29. In the eleventh year of Joram — But 2 Kings 8:25, says, the twelfth year of Joram. “This difference of dates probably arose from a different computation of the beginning of the years of his reign.” — Keil.


Verse 30

30. Painted her face — Better, set her eyes in paint. “The paint used by the Hebrew women was a powder producing a black colour; it was commonly prepared either from antimony, or from lead ore and zinc, which they mixed with water, and spread by means of a needle or probe of silver or ivory upon the borders of the eyelids, so that the white of the eye might appear still whiter by being surrounded with a black margin.” — Gesenius. “This,” says Kitto, “is considered to add greatly to the brilliancy and power of the eye, and to deepen the effect of the long black eyelashes of which the Easterns are excusably proud. The ancient Egyptians practised this long before the date of the present transaction. Figures of painted eyes appear in the monuments, and the implements used in the operation have been actually found in the tombs, with some of the composition remaining in the vessels.”

Tired her head — Adorned her head and hair with a queenly headdress.

Looked out at a window — Some have thought her object, in thus arraying her person in splendid attire, was to captivate Jehu by her charms, and lead him, after the manner of Eastern usurpers, to take her for his wife. But her scornful words to him in the next verse accord not with this thought. She rather looked out of the window, arrayed in royal attire, to bid defiance to her enemy.


Verses 30-37

THE FATE OF JEZEBEL, 2 Kings 9:30-37.

[image]

The tidings of the revolution under Jehu, and of the death of Joram, spread with the greatest rapidity throughout Jezreel, and quickly reached the ears of the haughty Jezebel. One would suppose that on hearing it she would have trembled with terror, and gone to hide herself in some dark recess of the palace. But her fierce, masculine, vindictive spirit asserts its pre-eminence to the very last; and if she too, has to perish with the rest of Ahab’s house, she resolves to die the regal mistress she has lived.

[image]


Verse 31

31. Jehu entered in at the gate — Or rather, as the context shows, came up to the gate; that is, the gate of the palace leading into the enclosed court of the palace beyond. This gate seems to have been the royal entrance into the city of Jezreel, so that the palace was at this point built against the outer wall of the city, and to the window over the gate Jezebel had come, in order to look and speak defiance to the approaching destroyer.

Had Zimri peace, who slew his master — This is her last glory, to remind her enemy of the fate of one who had, like him, usurped the royal power, and killed his king, and, as Kitto says, “to cast one bitter, burning word upon the head of the destroyer, such as should haunt and scorch him all his life.”


Verse 33

33. They threw her down — The eunuchs saw in Jehu their future master, and instantly obeyed his command.

He trode her under foot — He drove his horses and chariot in his usual furious way over the already fearfully mangled body of the queen, crushing out the last spark of life, and scarcely turning to look behind him, drove on into the court of the palace, his horses and chariot becoming sprinkled with her blood. This is one of the most terribly vivid and fearful pictures in all the annals of tragedy.


Verse 34

34. He did eat and drink — This scene of hilarity and cheer in the midst of such fearful bloodshed makes one shudder. But the minister of doom to Ahab’s guilty house must needs be such a one as Jehu. Tenderness and sympathy would unfit the avenger of blood for his work of death.

She is a king’s daughter — Yes, and a king’s widow and a king’s mother. But not till after his feast does Jehu reflect that so much royalty and greatness have fallen. He had left the mangled corpse of the once mighty Jezebel on the mounds of offal outside the gate, a prey to the dogs which in the East ever prowl about such spots.


Verse 35

35. Skull… feet… hands — An eastern traveller, describing the remains of some human bodies that had been devoured by dogs, says: “The only portion of the several corpses I noticed that remained entire and untouched, were the bottoms of the feet, and the insides of the hands — a proof of the rooted antipathy the dog has to prey upon the human hands and feet.” Dr. Thomson supposes that the dogs under Jezebel’s palace “may have been taught to devour the wretched victims of her cruelty, in which case the retribution would be remarkably striking.”


Verse 36

36. This is the word of the Lord — The iron-hearted Jehu remembers and quotes the prophecies of Elijah. He quotes not the very words, but, as was most natural, gave their sense in his own language.


Verse 37

37. They shall not say, This is Jezebel — No person should ever be able to recognise her corpse or know her dust. “Though so great a woman by her birth, connexions, and alliances, she had not the honour of a tomb! There was not even a solitary stone to say, Here lies Jezebel! not even a mound of earth to designate the place of her sepulchre! Judgment is God’s strange work; but when he contends, how terrible are his judgments!”

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 9:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-kings-9.html. 1874-1909.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
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