Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And Elisha the prophet called one of the children of the prophets, and said unto him, Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramothgilead:Ch. 2 Kings 9:1-10. Elisha sends one of the sons of the prophets to anoint Jehu, and give him his commission (Not in Chronicles)
And Elisha the prophet called one of the children [R.V. sons] of the prophets] ‘Children gives a wrong idea. The prophetic communities were formed of men who came together for worship, and were not necessarily connected in any family relationship, any more than Elisha was connected with Elijah. Elisha had an attendant who served him as he had served his master. Such a one he chooses for his messenger to Jehu.
Gird up thy loins] The moment had come for executing God’s vengeance on the house of Ahab, and the work is to be done without delay. Joram’s conduct seems to have prepared the feelings of the army for a revolt.
take this box [R.V. vial] of oil] ‘Vial’ is the rendering of this word in A.V. of 1 Samuel 10:1 and is a more appropriate word when used for an oil vessel. It only occurs there and in this chapter. Jehu alone of all the kings of Israel was anointed.
to Ramoth-gilead] Here Jehu and his fellow officers had apparently been left in charge, while Joram went away to Jezreel. But from Joram’s action, when he finds Jehu approaching Jezreel (verse 21), it is clear that his wound was not of a very serious character. It may be therefore that he had seized the first opportunity of withdrawing from the war to the capital. If so the soldiery would be inclined to favour the generals who remained through the campaign, and to hold the king in contempt. This would explain the ease with which Jehu’s attempt succeeded in Ramoth-gilead, and the readiness with which his fellow generals fell in with the movement.
And when thou comest thither, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and carry him to an inner chamber;2. Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi] Jehu was no doubt well known both in the army and elsewhere, and his afterlife shews that he was a man of action and with very slight scruples. The watchman on the tower in Jezreel knows his manner of riding, and there seems to have been little hesitation on the part of the messengers whom Joram sent out about obeying Jehu’s order ‘Turn thee behind me.’
and go in] We see from this that the troops and officers of Israel were within the city, and holding it against the Syrians.
from among his brethren] i.e. His fellow officers, his brothers in arms.
to an inner chamber] Literally ‘a chamber within a chamber’. See note on 1 Kings 20:30. The design of this privacy was no doubt that Jehu might be at liberty to take his own measures for carrying out his commission, without the interference of any but comrades of his own choice.
Then take the box of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus saith the LORD, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee, and tarry not.3. Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed thee] ‘God who would not countenance (by anointing) the erection of that usurped throne, would countenance the alteration. Or is it that by this visible testimony of divine ordination the courage of the Israelitish captains might be raised up, to second the high and bold attempt of him, whom they saw destined from heaven to rule?’ (Bp Hall.)
flee, and tarry not] The suddenness of the messenger’s arrival and departure would be sure to produce a deep impression on those who observed him.
So the young man, even the young man the prophet, went to Ramothgilead.
And when he came, behold, the captains of the host were sitting; and he said, I have an errand to thee, O captain. And Jehu said, Unto which of all us? And he said, To thee, O captain.5. the captains of the host were sitting] Perhaps discussing some matter connected with the defence of the city. Jehu is the one who speaks to the new-comer. We may take it that he was the moving spirit in the war-council, and hence had gained a popularity beyond that of king Joram.
And he arose, and went into the house; and he poured the oil on his head, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I have anointed thee king over the people of the LORD, even over Israel.6. went into the house] The council was sitting in the courtyard, a place which in Eastern houses can be kept somewhat private.
over the people of the Lord, even over Israel] Though the northern kingdom had cast aside the true worship of Jehovah, and followed readily in the ways of Jeroboam, yet the abundance of prophetic labour which was expended in Israel exceeds, as far as we learn from the Bible, that which was bestowed on the more faithful Judah. Israel is still the people of the Lord.
And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel.7. thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master] The punishment of Ahab had been postponed because of his repentance (1 Kings 21:29) but the sins of the father, which have blossomed and borne evil fruit in his children, will at last be thoroughly punished. The instrument chosen is one who had been in the service of Ahab, and so was aware of the evil that had been wrought by him.
my servants, the prophets] Although Obadiah was able to save a hundred, Jezebel still made havoc of the rest. And it appears from the words that follow that not the prophets only, but all the servants of the Lord, had been the objects of her rage. And she was yet alive and in power. There must have been much zeal for Jehovah to sustain the righteous spirit which manifests itself so frequently in the history of Elijah and Elisha.
at the hand of Jezebel] i.e. God will require from her and her family the penalty for all the evil that has been wrought.
For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel:8. On this verse see the notes on 1 Kings 14:10. The entire family is doomed. God will cut off from Ahab every man child. (R.V.)
and him that is shut up and left in Israel] R.V. him that is shut up and him that is left at large in Israel. The phrase is intended to embrace every one, young or old, bond or free.
And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah:9. like the house of Jeroboam] Against whom the like prophecy is spoken in 1 Kings 14:10, and against Baasha in 1 Kings 16:3-4.
And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door, and fled.10. the dogs shall eat Jezebel] This fate had been foretold by Elijah 1 Kings 21:23. The dogs in Eastern cities prowl hungrily about, and act as scavengers. Hence they are in bad repute, and the name ‘dog’ is one of greatest contempt. To be devoured by them was the extreme of degradation and penalty to an Oriental mind.
in the portion of Jezreel] In 1 Kings 21:23 the Hebrew word used signifies ‘wall’ (R.V. rampart) though according to some authorities the word should be the same which is used here. ‘By the rampart’ indicates that she should lie just where she was thrown down close to the city wall. The ‘portion’ signifies the ground a little more outlying, which in an Eastern town is used for the deposit of all offal and rubbish.
and there shall be none to bury her] One moment she will be queen, the next, cast out of the window by the eunuchs, and her lot so changed that none shall care to go and see what becomes of her body.
Then Jehu came forth to the servants of his lord: and one said unto him, Is all well? wherefore came this mad fellow to thee? And he said unto them, Ye know the man, and his communication.11–26. Jehu is proclaimed, and goes to Jezreel. Joram is slain, and his body cast into the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite (Not in Chronicles)
11. to the servants of his lord] i.e. To the other captains with whom he had before been in conference. They were all Joram’s officers.
wherefore came this mad fellow to thee?] The visit had been made abruptly and in much haste, and amid the camp there would be but little respect for the garb of the prophet. We can see too from the words of the next verse that there was much of bluntness and rudeness in the speech of these soldiers to one another. We need not then suppose that they deemed the prophet a madman, but this is the term they are pleased to apply to him owing to his sudden movements.
Ye know the man] No doubt this applies to the appearance and dress of the prophets which distinguished them from others. It means, ‘Ye know to what class the man belongs, and so you can guess at the nature of his communication.’ Such a man in such haste comes only with a message. ‘Thus saith the Lord’. Others have referred the words to what the officers had before said, calling the messenger ‘mad’. This would make Jehu’s reply mean, ‘You call him mad, and of course then his communication must be only a madman’s raving.’ So R.V., and what his talk was.
And they said, It is false; tell us now. And he said, Thus and thus spake he to me, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I have anointed thee king over Israel.12. It is false] In the bluntest way they make Jehu understand that his answer is a mere subterfuge, and that in spite of having called the prophet a madman, they feel that he has not come without some special errand.
Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed thee] It is worthy of notice how constantly the people of the northern kingdom, though it was given up to calf-worship, and Baal-worship, yet attach the highest importance to the messages of God’s prophets, and act upon them without demur. Jehu and his companions, being about the court of Ahab, Ahaziah and Joram, no doubt joined in the idolatry and excesses of the time. But at the voice of the prophet they are prepared to dethrone the house of Ahab and put Jehu in his place.
Then they hasted, and took every man his garment, and put it under him on the top of the stairs, and blew with trumpets, saying, Jehu is king.13. Then they hasted] The LXX. gives ‘they heard it and hastened’. This action on the part of the generals shews how little they were attached to the house of Ahab.
took every man his garment] The loose Oriental robe which could easily be laid aside, and which they probably had laid aside or allowed to fall off during the consultation.
and put it under him] They made a seat for Jehu by folding their garments, and piling them together. The expression ‘under him’ shews what use was made of all the garments. Some have thought that the robes were used as a carpet, and laid all the way up the stairs from the court where they had been in conference. The stairs were outside the building and went from the courtyard up to the roof. Thus Jehu would have walked in state to the place which they chose for the proclamation. But the conspirators were in too great haste for this sort of parade. They extemporised a cushion with their robes, and set Jehu upon them.
on the top of the stairs] There is some difficulty in explaining the word rendered ‘top’. Primarily it means ‘a bone’. Then something strong and firm. Hence it has been thought to have the sense here of the body of the staircase, and so to signify ‘the stairs themselves’. Thus the translation would be merely ‘on the stairs’. Others clinging to the sense of ‘bone’ have translated ‘on the bare steps’ (R.V. margin). The Vulgate appears to have taken the word as equivalent to ‘in the manner of’ and translates ‘in similitudinem tribunalis’. But without the steps there could be little made by the garments to look like a rostrum or tribune. The LXX. merely transliterates the Hebrew word ἐπὶ τὸ γαρὲμ. The sense ‘top’ is obtained by considering that the prominent part of the staircase is meant by this expression, and that for the purpose here desired, the best possible place was that where Jehu would be set above the people. The generals must have gathered such a company as they could on a short notice, and when Jehu was seated in the best state they could prepare, have made their proclamation while he sat on the extemporized throne.
blew with trumpets] For this cf. the proclamation of Solomon (1 Kings 1:34).
So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi conspired against Joram. (Now Joram had kept Ramothgilead, he and all Israel, because of Hazael king of Syria.14. conspired against Joram] The verb has the notion of ‘binding’. Hence it implies here that Jehu made a league with the other generals to carry out the deposition and slaying of Joram. The word in the form here used is found again 2 Chronicles 24:25-26 of those who combined ‘to execute judgement’ on Joash king of Judah.
Now Joram had kept [R.V. omits had] Ramoth-gilead] The reference is to the existing state of the war. The army of Israel was in Ramoth, to protect the place against the threatened invasion of the Syrians.
he and all Israel] Meaning the greater part of the army, all the soldiery which could come into the field. Syria was clearly a most formidable enemy. Hazael was carrying out to the full the predictions of Elisha (2 Kings 8:12).
But king Joram was returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him, when he fought with Hazael king of Syria.) And Jehu said, If it be your minds, then let none go forth nor escape out of the city to go to tell it in Jezreel.15. But king Joram was returned] Though he was at Jezreel professedly for the cure of his wounds, Joram was sufficiently recovered to be able to entertain Ahaziah, and also to go forth in his chariot to meet Jehu. If he stayed in his capital thus, while the army was in force at Ramoth-gilead and fully occupied with the Syrian foe, we can easily understand how the feelings of the soldiery would turn from him to the officers who remained with them, and especially to Jehu, who seems to have been the man of action among the number.
If it be your minds] R.V. If this be your mind. The LXX. renders ‘If your mind be with me’, which gives the sense, though there is nothing in the Hebrew to represent ‘with me’ any more than the ‘this’ of R.V. Jehu, as was fit until his throne was secure, takes counsel with his fellow-generals.
let none go forth nor escape] R.V. let none escape and go forth. The literal meaning of the Hebrew is ‘let no escaper go forth’. Hence the change in R.V. To secure this must be their care. Jehu himself with a faithful few will start at once to execute the judgement which has been laid upon him. His best chance of success is to take Joram by surprise.
So Jehu rode in a chariot, and went to Jezreel; for Joram lay there. And Ahaziah king of Judah was come down to see Joram.16. went to Jezreel] After these words the LXX. has “for Joram king of Israel was being cured in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians gave him in Ramoth in the battle with Hazael king of Syria, for he was a mighty man and man of power”.
And Ahaziah king of Judah was come down to see Joram] This visit of Ahaziah to Joram and its fatal result is the only portion of the history alluded to by the Chronicler (2 Chronicles 22:7-9). He tells how the visit was ordained by God for Ahaziah’s destruction. He gives however some variations in reference to the manner of Ahaziah’s death, on which see below, verse 27.
And there stood a watchman on the tower in Jezreel, and he spied the company of Jehu as he came, and said, I see a company. And Joram said, Take an horseman, and send to meet them, and let him say, Is it peace?17. And there stood a watchman] R.V. Now the watchman stood. While such danger was threatening one part of the land, and the army was in the field, the watchman would be kept permanently on the lookout for any messenger that might be seen coming. The tower was probably some lofty part of the royal palace, for the news seems easily to have been conveyed to the king.
Is it peace?] There would be much anxiety in the king’s mind, though he would not expect what was coming. He might suppose that the army in Ramoth had been defeated, and that the hasty messenger was coming to announce that Ramoth was again in the hand of Syria. So the ‘Is all well?’ of the margin of R.V. gives an excellent sense, and is the rendering of the same phrase in verse 11, though it does not admit of the reply which Jehu gives in the next verse.
So there went one on horseback to meet him, and said, Thus saith the king, Is it peace? And Jehu said, What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me. And the watchman told, saying, The messenger came to them, but he cometh not again.18. What hast thou to do with peace?] What concern is it of thine whether I come peaceably or not? My errand is not to thee. Josephus says the messenger’s enquiry was about affairs in the camp, for that the king’s questions were about them. Jehu bade him not to worry about these things but to follow him (Ant. IX. 6. 3). The design of Jehu’s order was that no information should be brought to Joram.
Then he sent out a second on horseback, which came to them, and said, Thus saith the king, Is it peace? And Jehu answered, What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me.
And the watchman told, saying, He came even unto them, and cometh not again: and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously.20. the driving is like the driving of Jehu] It is clear from this that Jehu was well known, and the manner in which he would lead forward his men was unmistakeable.
the son of Nimshi] Really ‘grandson’, see verse 2, and the note on chapter 2 Kings 8:28.
he driveth furiously] The word rendered ‘furiously’ is from the same root as that rendered ‘mad’ in verse 11. This is the sense given by the Greek and Latin versions, but Josephsus as if explaining this word says ‘Jehu journeyed leisurely and in good order’. The Chaldee and Arabic also explain it by ‘quietly’.
And Joram said, Make ready. And his chariot was made ready. And Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot, and they went out against Jehu, and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite.21. Make ready] Literally as in margin of R.V. ‘yoke’. The mention of Jehu has shewn Joram that the reason must be a weighty one which brings the commander of the army from Ramoth at full speed. So he goes to meet him that he may know what has happened. Apparently he set forth without any body guard, and thus is easily put to flight when Jehu attacks him. The two kings went forth in somewhat of a state array. Both had been in the defence of Ramoth-gilead and so were both interested in what they expected would be news from the army.
went out against Jehu] R.V. to meet Jehu. There is not necessarily an adverse sense in the word, and the kings had no suspicion of what Jehu’s real errand was. It might be disaster in the army, but rebellion was out of their thoughts.
in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite] This was ‘hard by the palace’ (1 Kings 21:1) so that the royal chariots had not gone far before they came upon Jehu. The spot was no longer ‘a vineyard’ as when it belonged to Naboth, but had been converted by Ahab and Jezebel to some other purpose.
And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?22. What peace] i.e. How can there be any peace, while the evil doings of Jezebel continue as great as before. By ‘whoredoms’ the Scripture writers continually signify ‘the practice of idolatry’ and that is probably the sense here. Cf. Exodus 34:15-16; Deuteronomy 31:6 : Jdg 8:27; Jeremiah 3:6 &c. ‘The witchcrafts’ probably allude to the incantations and charms employed to obtain responses from the heathen gods. In Isaiah 47:9; Isaiah 47:12, where the word is rendered ‘sorceries’, this is clearly the sense, and cf. also Micah 5:12 ‘I will cut off witchcraft’, and in Nahum 3:4 Nineveh is called ‘the mistress of witchcrafts … that selleth families through her witchcrafts’.
And Joram turned his hands, and fled, and said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, O Ahaziah.23. Joram turned his hands] i.e. Wheeled his chariot about to go in a contrary direction. Cf. 1 Kings 22:34.
And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms, and the arrow went out at his heart, and he sunk down in his chariot.24. drew a [R.V. his] bow with his full strength] Literally as on margin of R.V. ‘filled his hand with the bow’, which expresses the attitude of a bowman as he shoots.
between his arms] As he was in flight, the arrow passed between his shoulders and so went through the breast. He was mortally wounded and could not be stayed up in his chariot, but died at once. Instead of ‘in his chariot’ the LXX. renders ‘upon his knees, reading the preposition in ברככו as a part of the root and treating the word as if it had been ברכיו.
Then said Jehu to Bidkar his captain, Take up, and cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite: for remember how that, when I and thou rode together after Ahab his father, the LORD laid this burden upon him;25. rode together after Ahab his father] Jehu had long experience of the doings of Ahab’s family, and had not forgotten the prophetic words of Elijah. ‘Little did he think when he heard that message that his hands would act it’ (Bp Hall). By ‘riding together after Ahab’ we are not to understand that they were both together in the same chariot or both in Ahab’s chariot, but that they were together among the king’s retinue, when he went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.
laid this burden upon him] Or (as R.V. margin) ‘uttered this oracle against him’. The noun is that which is so often used by the prophets, especially Isaiah, for the oracle spoken against any city or nation. Cf. Isaiah 13:1; Isaiah 15:1; Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 19:1, &c. Also 2 Chronicles 24:27. The verb also is cognate with the noun, and signifies here ‘to lift up’, i.e. the voice, in the utterance of a prophecy.
Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, saith the LORD; and I will requite thee in this plat, saith the LORD. Now therefore take and cast him into the plat of ground, according to the word of the LORD.26. the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons] It appears from this that Jezebel in order that she might put all claimants out of the way, had caused the family of Naboth to be killed as well as himself. So Ahab’s son pays the penalty of his father’s wrongdoing, and both father and son are brought at death into the field which they had gained with so much crime, and as Elijah had foretold, dogs lick the blood of both.
saith the Lord] The phrase is not the usual Hebrew, but a more solemn form of expression, used in the prophets and especially in Jeremiah. Cf. Jeremiah 1:8; Jeremiah 1:15; Jeremiah 1:19, &c.
I will requite thee in this plat] Jehu gives the sense but not the words of 1 Kings 21:19.
take and cast him] i.e. Lift his dead body out of the chariot and carry it and throw it forth into the ground which was taken from Naboth.
But when Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled by the way of the garden house. And Jehu followed after him, and said, Smite him also in the chariot. And they did so at the going up to Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megiddo, and died there.27–29. Death of Ahaziah king of Judah (2 Chronicles 22:7-9)
27. by the way of the garden house] The events took place close to the royal grounds, for Naboth’s vineyard lay in the neighbourhood. The garden house may have been some building at the extremity of the domain by which flight from the scene of destruction appeared easy to Ahaziah. The LXX. however treats it as a proper name, writing Βαιθγάν. This has been supposed to be the same as En-gannim = ‘the well of the gardens’ which is identified with the modern Jenin. This place lies south from Jezreel on the road to Samaria, and would be on the shortest route by which Ahaziah could make his way to Jerusalem.
And Jehu followed after him] i.e. In the person of his partizans and followers, to whom he gave the order ‘Smite him also’. Jehu wished to get into Jezreel as soon as possible, and left the fate of the king of Judah to others.
Smite him also in the chariot] In the original the command continues ‘at the going up to Gur’ (R.V. at the ascent of Gur), as though Jehu knowing the country specified to his men the place where they would be most likely to overtake Ahaziah, where the ground began to rise, and so would retard his flight. This seeming somewhat unnatural, the A.V. inserted ‘And they did so’, the R.V. ‘and they smote him’. Neither Gur nor Ibleam have been identified, and there is some difference between the statements here and the narrative in Chronicles. There we read (2 Chronicles 22:9) that Jehu ‘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’. The LXX. in this passage has a rendering which suggests how the two accounts may be reconciled. There it is said that Ahaziah had gone to Samaria to be cured (ἰατρευόμενον). Suppose that in the pursuit Jehu’s command to smite him had been carried out, and the wounded king escaped to Samaria in which direction he was hurrying. If he remained there to have his wound attended to, the emissaries of Jehu might discover him, when the new king came to his capital to take possession, and Ahaziah might then be taken to Megiddo and slain. The Chronicler speaks more at length on the particulars of Ahaziah’s death, as the evil issue of an alliance between a king of Judah and the house of Ahab was the sort of lesson on which it suited his purpose to dwell.
And he fled to Megiddo] Megiddo was on the southern extremity of the plain of Esdraelon, and by its position was a place of much strategical importance. It had a king when the Israelites entered Canaan, and it was the scene of the battle against the Canaanites in the days of Deborah. It was a place of importance in the days of Solomon (1 Kings 4:12) for he made it one of his commissariat stations. At a later period it was the scene of Josiah’s death (2 Kings 23:29) when he had taken part with Assyria against Pharaoh-necho, king of Egypt. If we consider ‘Samaria’ in 2 Chronicles 22:9 to mean ‘the land of Samaria’ and not the city, Megiddo was a part thereof, and in that way another method of reconciling the narratives in Kings and Chronicles would be found.
and died there] It was part of Jehu’s commission to have Ahaziah slain, for he was Ahab’s grandson.
And his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his sepulchre with his fathers in the city of David.28. his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem] As is seen afterwards by his conduct in Jezebel’s case Jehu had no wish to deprive the kin of Ahab of regal burial after they were slain. Hence the servants of Ahaziah would be allowed to carry their master’s body to Jerusalem without molestation. The italics of A.V. in this verse are a mistake. The verb signifies ‘to carry in a chariot’.
And in the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab began Ahaziah to reign over Judah.29. And in the eleventh year of Joram … began Ahaziah to reign] This verse seems out of place. It is not usual to mention the date at which a king begins to reign, after his death, but at his accession. This was done for Ahaziah in 2 Kings 8:25, but there it is said that it was in the twelfth year of Joram that his reign began. So small a variation is of very little account when we consider how the Jews reckoned the regnal years of their kings, but the unusual position of the notice in this verse casts some suspicion upon it. The LXX. however represents it.
And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window.30–37. The fate of Jezebel (Not in Chronicles)
30. when Jehu was come to Jezreel] Very little time could have elapsed between the slaying of Joram and the advance from Naboth’s vineyard to the palace. But the news of what Jehu had done had already been brought to Jezebel, for she knows that he has murdered the king her son. As queen-mother she lived in the royal city, and probably in the royal palace. On the position of the queen-mother and her influence in Eastern courts see on 1 Kings 2:19. Her action Bp Hall thinks was with the hope ‘to daunt the courage of a usurper with the sudden beams of majesty’.
and she painted her face] R.V. eyes. The A.V. gives a wrong idea, though placing the literal rendering on the margin ‘put her eyes in painting’. The process is common still in the East. The preparation used is made from antimony, which gives when applied to the eyelashes and eyebrows, a dark outline, as a setting to the eyes, which while making them look larger adds also to their brilliancy.
and tired her head] Putting on some ornamental diadem or insignia of royalty. As she was to die, and she could expect no less, she would look the queen to the last.
and looked out at a window] Josephus (Ant. IX. 6. 4) describes her as ‘standing upon the tower’. It is clear that the building in which she was formed part of the city wall, and that the gateway by which the city was entered was close by. So the window may have been in some lofty part.
And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?31. at the gate] Of Jezreel. The king’s palace was sure to be there, because it was the custom for the king to sit in the gate to hear causes and complaints brought to him for judgement.
Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?] R.V. Is it peace, thou Zimri, thy master’s murderer? The Hebrew has ‘his master’s murderer’. These sudden changes of person are common in Hebrew but cannot be reproduced easily in English. For an example cf. verses 1, 2 of Psalms 68. ‘God … cause His face to shine … that Thy way may be known’. Jezebel could not expect peace from Jehu. The salutation must therefore be looked on as having lost its literal significance, and become a mere exclamation. For Zimri’s slaughter of Elah, and his seven days’ reign, cf. 1 Kings 16:9-20. With a like short tenure of power, and the same fate, Jezebel would threaten Jehu.
And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, Who is on my side? who? And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs.32. to the window] Here the LXX. adds ‘and saw her’. After which it continues, ‘And he said, Who art thou? Come down with me. And there looked out &c.’ Josephus makes Jezebel’s remark to be: ‘A pretty servant you, who have killed your master!’ and then describes Jehu’s reply in much the same way as the LXX. The Hebrew as represented in our version is exactly like the impetuous sentence of such a man as Jehu was.
two or three eunuchs] There is no conjunction in the original, as the italics in A.V. indicate. But in all languages the omission of connecting particles between numerals is common. There have however been several explanations offered; as that at first two looked forth and, soon after, another; or that two looked out at one window and three at another. Most likely the omission is a colloquial form of expression. ‘Twothree’, as one word, is used in some English dialects for ‘several’. See Halliwell’s Glossary s.v.
And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trode her under foot.33. So they threw her down] It is easy to understand how such an imperious mistress would have few friends among her servants. And to them, as well as to her, the news of Jehu’s revolt and Joram’s death would have been brought. So with Eastern fickleness they at once take the side which seems victorious.
some of her blood] The fall was from such a height as to kill her, and apparently she was torn and bruised as she descended, so that the blood from her wounds spirted forth at once.
and he trode her under foot] i.e. Drove his horses and chariot over her fallen body. Hence the LXX. renders ‘they trode her’.
And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a king's daughter.34. And when he was come in] To the palace, where now he was master. Not only the eunuchs of Jezebel, but the household of Joram appears to have been ready to serve him, for the queen-mother is hardly dead before Jehu is set down to a banquet in the palace.
and said, Go, see now this cursed woman] [R.V. And he said, See now to this cursed woman] The ‘Go’ of A.V. is of course implied but not expressed in the original. By ‘cursed’ he means that she has brought God’s curse upon herself by her idolatry and bad example. It is no objurgation of his own. The word is the same that is employed in that solemn list of God’s curses on evil-doing in Deuteronomy 27, 28.
she is a king’s daughter] Jezebel was daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. See note on 1 Kings 16:31.
And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands.35. they went to bury her] While Jehu was refreshing himself in the palace, the dogs gathered about the dead body of Jezebel and devoured it. So completely had the tide of popular favour turned towards Jehu, that there was not found one to protect the corpse of Jezebel.
Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel:36. This is the word of the Lord] In one point after another he finds the curse fulfilled. Now it is Joram’s death in Naboth’s vineyard, and now the dogs devouring Jezebel. For the word of the Lord concerning Jezebel, see 1 Kings 21:23.
And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel.