Now therefore call to me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtlety, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Call unto me all the prophets of Baal.—Comp. the similar convocation of the prophets of the Baal and Asherah by the prophet Elijah, 1Kings 18:19 seq.
His servants.—The same word as “worshippers,” infra.
To Baal.—For the Baal.
But Jehu did it.—Or, Now Jehu had done it; a parenthesis.
In subtilty.—Or, in guile, treacherously. The word (‘oqbāh) occurs only here. It is connected with the proper name Jacob. (See Genesis 25:26; Hosea 12:4.) The LXX. renders literally, ἐν πτερνισμφ, “in heeling”—i.e., striking with the heel, tripping up.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.All his servants; either,
1. All his ministers; of whom there may seem to have been several sorts, whereof two are here distinctly mentioned, his prophets and priests; and the rest of the inferior sort may be comprehended under this general title of servants, because they were to attend upon the others in their sacred ministrations. And these being once destroyed, Jehu rightly concluded that the rest would fall of course. And this sense may seem to be favoured by 2 Kings 10:22, wherein vestments were brought forth
for all these worshippers of Baal; which were not commonly used by the people in the worship either of God or of Baal, but only by the priests or ministers. Or,
2. All his worshippers, as the same word is translated in the close of this verse.
Quest. How could all these be contained in one house of Baal?
Answ. Well enough, for the number of Baal’s worshippers had been vastly diminished by the ministry of Elijah and Elisha, and the rest of the prophets, and by Joram’s neglect and disuse of that worship. For the generality of the Israelites had too much knowledge to have any real and religious respect to such senseless idols; only they practised it in compliance with the humour of their king and queen, and for worldly or wicked ends; and therefore when the king deserted it, they generally forsook it, some few silly and besotted persons excepted, who are here gathered together. Besides, this house or temple of Baal might be very large and capacious, and probably was so, because it was the chief of that sort, as being in the king’s city, and nigh his palace, and for the use of the king and queen, and the while court, and for great and high solemnities. Moreover, as the name of the house or temple of God at Jerusalem oft signifies not only the principal building, but all the other buildings and courts belonging to it, in which all the worshippers stood when they worshipped; so it might be here; and so there was space sufficient for all the worshippers of Baal which can reasonably be thought to have been at this time in all Israel.
I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; I will offer to him a noble and acceptable sacrifice; not of sheep, or oxen, &c., as they understood it, but of his own beloved priests, and prophets, and servants, as he meant it.
In subtlety; with another design, that he might both certainly discover and utterly destroy them all, without any further trouble, or danger of sedition or tumult in his kingdom.
for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; by which, though he might mean a sacrifice of his prophets, priests, servants, and worshippers, he would have it otherwise understood, and his design was to deceive, which cannot be justified:
whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live: but be put to death; this he said, pretending his great zeal for Baal, when his view was by this threatening to get all his worshippers together to destroy them, that none might escape as follows:
but Jehu did it in subtlety, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal: the Targum renders it, "with wisdom"; but Jarchi and Ben Gersom much better, "in deceit"; the word signifies supplantation, such as Esau charged Jacob with.Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtilty, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)19. call unto me all the prophets of Baal] The LXX. represents Jehu’s words as an address to the prophets of Baal, ‘Now, O ye prophets of Baal, call ye unto me all his servants &c.’
all his servants] R.V. worshippers. As the same word is so translated at the close of this verse, and again in 21, 22, and 23, there can be no warrant for a change in this place. R.V. makes the whole consistent.
all his priests] These were not the same as the prophets. The latter gave oracles to enquirers and taught the mysteries of the worship, the priests attended on the numerous sacrifices.
Jehu did it in subtilty] The word in the original is one connected with the same root as the name Jacob, a name interpreted by Esau to signify ‘supplanter’. Such an action as his implies a certain degree of guile, and hence the sense in this verse.Verse 19. - Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests. In Phoenicia, it would seem, as in Egypt and among the Jews, "prophets" and "priests" were distinct classes of persons. The Egyptians called the priest ab, the prophet neter hen, literally, "servant of God." They held the priest in the greater honor. In Phoenicia, on the contrary, judging from the scanty notices that we possess, prophets appear to have taken precedence of priests, and to have had the more important functions assigned to them (see 1 Kings 18:19-40; 1 Kings 22:6). Let none be wanting - literally, let not a man fail - for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal. Like the other gods of the heathen, Baal and Ashtoreth were worshipped chiefly by sacrifice. The sacrifice was sometimes human, but more Commonly a sacrificial animal, such as a bull, a ram, or a he-goat. In the greater festivals several hundreds of victims were offered; and their flesh was served up at the banquets by which the festivals were accompanied. Whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. His absence would be regarded as an act of contumacy verging on rebellion, and so as deserving of capital punishment. But Jehu did it in subtilty, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal. "Subtilty" was characteristic of John, who always preferred to gain his ends by cunning rather than in a straightforward way. Idolaters were by the Law liable to death, and Jehu would have had a perfect right to crush the Baal-worship throughout the land, by sending his emissaries everywhere, with orders to slay all whom they found engaged in it. But to draw some thousands of his subjects by false pretences into a trap, and then to kill them in it for doing what he had himself invited them to do, was an act that was wholly unjustifiable, and that savored, not of the wisdom which is from above, but of that bastard wisdom which is "earthly, sensual, devilish" (James 3:15). Jehu's religious reformation did not succeed, and it was conducted in such a way that it did not deserve to succeed. A little more honest boldness, and a little less frequent resort to subterfuge and craft, might have had a different result, and have been better both for himself and for his people. 2 Kings 10:12. Jehu then set out to Samaria; and on the way, at the binding-house of the shepherds, he met with the brethren of Ahaziah, who were about to visit their royal relations, and when he learned who they were, had them all seized, viz., forty-two men, and put to death at the cistern of the binding-house. ויּלך ויּבא, "he came and went," appears pleonastic; the words are not to be transposed, however, as Bttcher and Thenius propose after the Syriac, but ויּלך is added, because Jehu did not go at once to Samaria, but did what follows on the way. By transposing the words, the slaying of the relations of Ahaziah would be transferred to Samaria, in contradiction to 2 Kings 10:15. - The words from וגו בּית הוּא onwards, and from ויהוּא to יהוּדה מלך, are two circumstantial clauses, in which the subject יהוּא is added in the second clause for the sake of greater clearness: "when he was at the binding-house of the shepherds on the road, and Jehu (there) met with the brethren of Ahaziah, he said..." הרעים בּית־עקד (Βαιθακάθ, lxx) is explained by Rashi, after the Chaldee רעיּא כנישׁת בית, as signifying locus conventus pastorum, the meeting-place of the shepherds; and Gesenius adopts the same view. But the rest of the earlier translators for the most part adopt the rendering, locus ligationis pastorum, from עקד, to bind, and think of a house ubi pastores ligabant oves quando eas tondebant. In any case it was a house, or perhaps more correctly a place, where the shepherds were in the habit of meeting, and that on the road from Jezreel to Samaria; according to Eusebius on the Onom. s.v. Βαιθακάθ, a place fifteen Roman miles from Legio (Lejun, Megiddo), in the great plain of Jezreel: a statement which may be correct with the exception of the small number of miles, but which does not apply to the present village of Beit Kad to the east of Jenin (Rob. Pal. iii. p. 157), with which, according to Thenius, it exactly coincides. עחזיהוּ אחי, for which we have אח אחי בּני, Ahaziah's brothers' sons, in 2 Chronicles 22:8, were not the actual brothers of Ahaziah, since they had been carried off by the Arabians and put to death before he ascended the throne (2 Chronicles 21:17), but partly step-brothers, i.e., sons of Joram by his concubines, and partly Ahaziah's nephews and cousins. לשׁלום, ad salutandum, i.e., to inquire how they were, or to visit the sons of the king (Joram) and of the queen-mother, i.e., Jezebel, therefore Joram's brothers. In 2 Chronicles 22:1 they are both included among the "sons" of Ahab.
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