And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king's sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent him them to Jezreel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And slew.—Rather, butchered, or slaughtered. The way in which the writer speaks of this massacre—“they took the king’s sons, and butchered seventy persons”—shows that he did not sympathise with Jehu’s deeds of blood. His interest rather centres in the fact that the predictions of Elijah were fulfilled by the wickedness of Jehu. (See 2Kings 10:10.)2 Kings 10:7. They took the king’s sons, and slew seventy persons — Having been wickedly obsequious to Jezebel’s order for the murder of Naboth, now, by the same base spirit, they are as pliable to Jehu, and as ready to obey his orders for the murder of Ahab’s sons. From this example, princes may learn two important lessons: 1st, Not to place any dependance on the attachment or fidelity of those who are not influenced by the fear of God, and the dictates of conscience: for who can reasonably expect him to be true to his prince who is false to his God? 2d, Not to aim at arbitrary power, lest they be found rolling a stone, which, some time or other, will return upon themselves. Princes that make their people slaves, take the readiest way to make them rebels; and by forcing men’s consciences, as Jezebel did, they lose their hold of them.Slew seventy persons: Jehu justly required this, because the sovereign and most righteous Lord of all men’s lives commanded it; but the Samaritans wickedly obeyed it, because they destroyed persons in a great measure innocent, merely out of slavish fear, and without any knowledge of or regard to God’s command.
that they took the king's sons, and slew seventy persons; which was the whole number of them:And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king's sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent him them to Jezreel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. and slew seventy persons] R.V. and slew them, even seventy persons. Though the pronoun is not expressed in the original, it is needed for the sense. The A.V. might signify any seventy persons.
in baskets] The word is that which is used (Jeremiah 24:2) for the baskets in which the figs were gathered.
sent him them to Jezreel] R.V. sent them unto him. Before they come themselves, they take care that the price, by which they expect to purchase Jehu’s favour, shall be paid down. The change in R.V. from the English idiom to a more close representation of the Hebrew seems altogether unnecessary.Verse 7. - And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king's sons, and slew seventy persons. Having committed themselves by their answer to Jehu's first letter, the Samaritan great men seemed to themselves to have no choice, on receiving his second, but to allow themselves to become the tools and agents of his policy. They accordingly put the seventy princes to death without any hesitation, though they can scarcely have done so without reluctance. And put their heads in baskets. Thus concealing their bloody deed as long as they could. In the Assyrian sculptures, those who slay the king's enemies carry the heads openly in their hands, as though glorying in what they have done. And sent him them to Jezreel. Jehu had bidden them to bring the heads to him; but this was a degradation to which they did not feel bound to submit. They therefore sent the heads by trusty messengers. 2 Kings 10:1-3. As Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria (בּנים in the wider sense, viz., sons, including grandsons see at 2 Kings 10:13, as is evident from the fact that אמנים, foster-fathers, are mentioned, whereas Ahab had been dead fourteen years, and therefore his youngest sons could not have had foster-fathers any longer), Jehu sent a letter to the elders of the city and to the foster-fathers of the princes, to the effect that they were to place one of the sons of their lord upon the throne. There is something very strange in the words הזּקנים יזרעאל אל־שׂרי, "to the princes of Jezreel, the old men," partly on account of the name Jezreel, and partly on account of the combination of הזּקנים with שׂרי. If we compare 2 Kings 10:5, it is evident that הזּקנים cannot be the adjective to יז שׂרי, but denotes the elders of the city, so that the preposition אל has dropped out before הזקנים. יזרעאל שׂרי, the princes or principal men of Jezreel, might certainly be the chief court-officials of the royal house of Ahab, since Ahab frequently resided in Jezreel. But against this supposition there is not only the circumstance that we cannot discover any reason why the court-officials living in Samaria should be called princes of Jezreel, but also 2 Kings 10:5, where, instead of the princes of Jezreel, the governor of the city and the governor of the castle are mentioned. Consequently there is an error of the text in יזרעאל, which ought to read אל העיר, though it is older than the ancient versions, since the Chaldee has the reading יזרעאל, and no doubt the Alexandrian translator read the same, as the Septuagint has sometimes τῆς πόλεως, like the Vulgate, and sometimes Σαμαρείας, both unquestionably from mere conjecture. The "princes of the city" are, according to 2 Kings 10:5, the prefect of the palace and the captain of the city; the זקנים, "elders," the magistrates of Samaria; and אחאב אמנים, the foster-fathers and tutors appointed by Ahab for his sons and grandsons. אחאב is governed freely by האמנים. In 2 Kings 10:2 the words from ואתּכם to הנּשׁק form an explanatory circumstantial clause: "since the sons of your lord are with you, and with you the war-chariots and horses, and a fortified city and arms," i.e., since you have everything in your hands, - the royal princes and also the power to make one of them king. It is perfectly evident from the words, "the sons of your lord," i.e., of king Joram, that the seventy sons of Ahab included grandsons also. This challenge of Jehu was only a ruse, by which he hoped to discover the feelings of the leading men of the capital of the kingdom, because he could not venture, without being well assured of them, to proceed to Samaria to exterminate the remaining members of the royal family of Ahab who were living there. על נלחם, to fight concerning, i.e., for a person, as in Judges 9:17.
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