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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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the son of Jehoshaphat, and grandson of Nimshi, captain of the troops of Joram the king of Israel, was appointed by God to reign over Israel, and to avenge the sins committed by the house of Ahab, 1 Kings 19:16 . The Prophet Elisha received a commission to anoint him; but the order does not appear to have been executed until more than twenty years afterward, and then it was done by one of the sons of the prophets, 2 Kings 9:1-3 . Jehu was then at the siege of Ramoth-Gilead, commanding the army of Joram, the king of Israel, when a young prophet appeared, who took him aside from the officers of the army, in the midst of whom he was sitting, and, when alone in a chamber, poured oil on his head, and said to him, "Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed thee king over Israel; thou shalt smite the house of Ahab, and avenge the blood of the prophets which hath been shed by Jezebel. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and I will make it as that of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, and that of Baasha, the son of Ahijah. Jezebel shall be eaten by the dogs in the fields of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her," 2 Kings 9:1-10 . No sooner had the prophet delivered his message, than, to avoid being known, he instantly withdrew; and Jehu, returning to the company of his brother officers, was by them interrogated respecting what had taken place. He informed them that a prophet had been sent from God to anoint him to the kingly office; on which they all rose up, and each taking his cloak, they made a kind of throne for Jehu, and then sounding the trumpets, cried out, "Jehu is king." Joram, who at that time reigned over the kingdom of Israel, was then at Jezreel in a state of indisposition, having been wounded at the siege of Ramoth-Gilead. Jehu, intending to surprise him, immediately gave orders that no one should be permitted to depart out of the city of Ramoth, and himself set off for Jezreel. As he approached that city, a centinel gave notice that he saw a troop coming in great haste; on which Joram despatched an officer to discover who it was: but Jehu, without giving the latter any answer, ordered him to follow in his rear. Joram sent a second, and Jehu laid upon him the same command. Finding that neither of them returned, Joram himself, accompanied by Ahaziah, king of Judah, proceeded in his chariot toward Jehu, whom they met in the field of Naboth the Jezreelite. Joram inquired, "Is it peace, Jehu?" To which the latter replied, "How can there be peace so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel, and her witchcrafts, are so many?" Joram instantly took the alarm, and, turning to Ahaziah, said, "We are betrayed." At the same time Jehu drew his bow, and smote Joram between his shoulders, so that the arrow pierced his heart, and he died in his chariot. Jehu then gave orders that his body should be cast out into the field of Naboth the Jezreelite, thus fulfilling the prediction of the Prophet Elijah, 2 Kings 9:11-26 .

Jehu next proceeded to Jezreel, where Jezebel herself at that time resided. As he rode through the streets of the city, Jezebel, who was standing at her window and looking at him, exclaimed, "Can he who has killed his master hope for peace?" Jehu, lifting up his head and seeing her, commanded her servants instantly to throw her out at the window; which they did and she was immediately trampled to death under the horses' feet as they traversed the city. To complete her destiny, and fulfil the threatenings of Elijah, the dogs came and devoured her corpse; so that when Jehu sent to have her buried, her bones only were found, 2 Kings 9:27-37 . After this, Jehu sent to inform the inhabitants of Samaria, who had the bringing up of Ahab's seventy children, that they might select which of them they thought proper to place upon the throne of Israel. But overwhelmed with fear, they replied that they were Jehu's servants, and would in all things obey him. He then commanded them to put to death all the king's children, and send their heads to him; which was accordingly done on the following day. Jehu also caused to be put to death all Ahab's relatives and friends, the officers of his court, and the priests whom he had entertained at Jezreel, 2 Kings 10:1-11 . After this, Jehu proceeded to Samaria, and on his way thither met the friends of Ahaziah king of Judah, who were going to Jezreel to salute the children of Ahab's family, with the death of whom they were as yet unacquainted. They were forty-two in number; but Jehu gave orders to have them apprehended and put to death. Soon after this, he met with Jonathan, the son of Rechab; and taking him up into his chariot, "Come with me," said he, "and see my zeal for the Lord." And when he was come to Samaria he extirpated every remaining branch of Ahab's family, without sparing an individual. Then convening the people of Samaria, he said, "Ahab paid some honours to Baal, but I will pay him greater. Send now and gather together all the ministers, priests, and prophets of Baal." When they were all assembled in Baal's temple, Jehu commanded to give each of them a particular habit, to distinguish them; at the same time directing that no stranger should mingle with them; and then ordered his people to put them all to the sword, not sparing one of them; the image of Baal was also pulled down, broken to pieces, and burned, the temple itself destroyed, and the place where it stood reduced to a dunghill, 2 Kings 10:12-28 .

Such were the sanguinary exploits of Jehu toward the idolatrous house of Ahab; but he acted agreeably to divine direction, and the Lord in these instances so far approved his conduct, as to promise him that his children should sit upon the throne of Israel to the fourth generation. Yet, though Jehu had been the instrument in the hand of God for taking vengeance on the profane house of Ahab, we find him accused in Scripture of not entirely forsaking the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin in worshipping the golden calves, 2 Kings 10:29 ; 2 Kings 10:31 . It appears also that, in executing the divine indignation on the wicked house of Ahab, he was actuated more by the spirit of ambition and animosity than the fear of God, or a regard to the purity of his worship. And thus it is that God, in the course of his providence, makes use of tyrants and wicked men, as his instruments to execute his righteous judgments in the earth. After a reign of eight-and-twenty years over Israel, Jehu died, and was succeeded by his son, Jehoahaz; but his reign was embittered by the war which Hazael, king of Syria, long waged against him, 2 Kings 10:32-36 . His four descendants, who succeeded him in the throne, were Jehoahaz, Joash, Jeroboam II, and Zechariah.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Jehu'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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Thursday, October 22nd, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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