Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
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:IX.
JEHU ANOINTED BY ELISHA’S MESSENGER AS KING OF ISRAEL. HE SLAYS JEHORAM. AHAZIAH AND JEZEBEL.(Comp. 2. Chron. 22:7-9.)
(1) And Elisha the prophet called.—Rather, meanwhile Elisha had called—i.e., while Joram was lying ill of his wounds. The Hebrew construction again indicates not so much succession as contemporaneousness.
One of the children (sons) of the prophets.—Rashi says it was Jonah, who is mentioned in 2Kings 14:25.
Box.—The same word occurs again only in 1Samuel 10:1. Render, phial.
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) And when thou comest thither.—Rather, And enter into it—i.e., into the town of Ramoth. This makes it clear that the Israelites had retaken Ramoth from the Syrians (comp. also the mention of “chambers” and “the door” in 2Kings 9:3, and the order, 2Kings 9:15, to “let no man escape out of the city”) probably before Joram returned to Jezreel (2Kings 9:14). Josephus expressly asserts this.
Jehu.—Probably left in supreme command of the forces at Jehoram’s departure, as being the ablest of the generals (so Josephus).
The son of Jehoshaphat.—It is curious that the father of Jehu who executed the sentence of Jehovah upon the house of Ahab should have borne this name (“Jehovah judgeth”). Nothing is known of Jehu’s origin. He is twice mentioned by Shalmaneser II., king of Assyria, as one of his tributaries. In a fragment of his Annals relating to the campaign against Hazael, undertaken in his eighteenth year (see Note on 2Kings 8:15), the Assyrian monarch states that, after besieging Damascus, and ravaging the Haurân, he marched to the mountains of Baal-rôsh, the foreland of the sea (Carmel?), and set up his royal image thereon. “In that day the tribute of the land of the Tyrians (and) Sidonians, (and) of Ya’ua (Jehu), son of Omri, I received.” On the Black Obelisk there is a representation of Jehu’s tribute-bearers, and, perhaps, of Jehu himself, kneeling before Shalmaneser. The superscription is: “Tribute of Ya’ua, son of Humrì (Omri)—(ingots of) silver and gold, a bowl of gold, ewers of gold, goblets of gold, buckets of gold, (ingots of) lead, a rod of the hand of the king, spears—I received it.”
Go in.—Into Jehu’s house.
From among his brethren—i.e., his comrades in arms; his fellow-captains.
Carry him.—Literally, cause him to enter. The object was secrecy.
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) Then.—And (both times).
Thus saith the Lord . . . over Israel.—Only the chief part of the message to Jehu is here given, to avoid publicity. (See infra, 2Kings 9:6-9.)
Over Israel.—Literally, unto Israel, both here and in 2Kings 9:12. But a great number of MSS., and all the versions in both places, read over Israel.
Tarry not.—So as to avoid all questioning, and to give greater force to the act.
So the young man, even the young man the prophet, went to Ramothgilead.(4) Even the young man the prophet.—Rather, the young man of the prophet—i.e., Elisha’s minister. The construction, however, is unusual, and some MSS., the LXX. and the Syriac, omit the young man in the second place. This gives the suitable reading: “So the young man, the prophet, went,” &c.
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) And when he came, behold.—Rather, And he went in, and behold. He went into Jehu’s headquarters.
The captains of the host were sitting.—In council with Jehu.
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) And he arose—i.e., Jehu arose.
Into the house.—The council of war was sitting in the court.
I have anointed thee.—The commission to Elijah (1Kings 19:16) was thus fulfilled by his successor.
Over the people of the Lord.—Israel being Jehovah’s people, Jehovah was Israel’s true king, and therefore it was within His sovereign right to appoint whom He would as His earthly representative. Reuss asserts that this account of the anointing of Jehu, like that of the anointing of Hazael (2Kings 8:13), is substituted in the present narration for what another document related of Elijah. This is pure conjecture. It is easier to suppose that Elijah had instructed his successor to carry out the commission intrusted to himself, although the narrative nowhere says so. He goes on to remark that there is no need to try to clear Elisha of the charge of being a revolutionary and a regicide, for that the new dynasty would make use of his name by way of legitimising itself, exactly as the houses of Kish and of Jesse made use of that of the prophet Samuel. This is being considerably wiser than our only authorities.
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) The house of Ahab thy master.—Not Ahab thy master, but the house of Ahab thy lords. The LXX. adds, from before me.
The blood of all the servants of the Lord.—We are not told elsewhere, but the thing is in itself probable, that Jezebel persecuted to the death those who clung to the exclusive worship of Jehovah.
At the hand of Jezebel.—Comp. Genesis 9:5. Jezebel (Heb., ’Izèbel) means immaculata—i.e., virgo. Is it the original of Isabel, Isabella, Isbel?
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) For.—And.
Shall perish.—Syriac, Arabic, Vulg., “I will cause to perish” (different Hebrew points). The LXX. has, “and at the hand of all the house of Ahab,” a difference of reading which favours the ordinary Hebrew text.
Him that is shut up and left (and him that is left).—Reuss imitates the alliteration of the original, “qu’il soit caché ou lâché en Israel.”
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) Baasha.—See 1Kings 14:10; 1Kings 16:3-4. Shalmaneser II. mentions a king of Ammon named Ba’sa.
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) And the dogs shall eat Jezebel.—Literally, and Jezebel the dogs shall eat. (Comp. Elijah’s threat, 1Kings 21:23.)
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) The servants of his lord.—Jehoram’s captains.
And one said.—Many MSS. and all the versions, except the Targum, have “and they said.”
Is all well?—They dreaded some sinister news.
This mad fellow.—They were struck by his wild demeanour and furious haste. Or, perhaps, “this inspired one,” in a tone of ridicule. (Comp. Hosea 9:7.)
Ye know the man.—There is emphasis on the ye. Jehu apparently implies that the man was sent to him by his fellow-generals—that they had planned the whole thing. His purpose is to find out their disposition. Or, more probably, his reply may simply mean: “Why ask me, when you yourselves must have divined the right answer to your question?”
His communication.—Or, his meditation (comp. 1Kings 18:27)—i.e., the thing he had in his mind, his purpose in coming. Corn, à Lapide: “Ye know that he is mad, and accordingly what he says is mad, and therefore neither to be credited nor repeated.” LXX., “Ye know the man and his babble;” the Targum, “and his story;” the Syriac, “and his folly;” the Vulg., “and what he said;” the Arabic, “and his news.”
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.—This is rather too strong, and does not convey the exact force of the reply. The captains reply to Jehu’s “Oh, you know all about it!” with the one word, “trickery!” i.e., “you are pretending!” “mere evasion!” They then assume a tone of persuasion: “Do tell us.” Even if they had really guessed the import of the prophet’s visit, their manner now convinced Jehu that he might safely trust them.
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 (and) they hasted.—LXX., “and they heard, and hasted.” This is probably original, the sense being that the moment they heard it, they hastily took up their outer garments, and laid them as a carpet for Jehu to walk upon. (Comp. Luke 19:36.) The instantaneous action of the generals shows that there must have existed a strong feeling against Joram in the army and an enthusiasm for Jehu which only required a word from him to precipitate a revolution.
Put it under him on the top of the stairs.—So Kimchi, “at the uppermost step.” The words are much discussed by commentators. The LXX. has, “and put it underneath him on the garem of the steps” (retaining the Hebrew word gèrem); the Syriac, “and put it under him on a seat of steps;” the Targum, “at the steps of the hours,” i.e., a flight of steps which served as a sundial (comp. 2Kings 20:11); the Vulg., “and each one, taking his cloak, put it under his feet in similitudinem tribunalis,” i.e., in the fashion of a rostrum, or elevated platform; the Arabic, “on the steps of the rise” (or “elevation”).
The word gèrem, rendered “top,” can hardly have that meaning. In Hebrew it rarely occurs (Proverbs 17:22; Proverbs 25:15), and means bone, for which in Aramaic it is the usual term (Daniel 6:25). In Arabic the word means “body,” and it is usually so explained in one passage of the Bible (Genesis 49:14), “Issachar is a strong ass;” literally, an ass of body. As the Aramaic garmâ is used in the sense of “self,” some would render the present phrase, “on the stairs themselves.” But perhaps we may better translate on the analogy of the Arabic word, “They put (their cloaks) under him, on to (‘el) the body of the stairs.” The stairway on the outside of the house, leading to the roof, served as an extemporised throne, or rather platform, for the king. (Comp. 2Kings 11:14.) Some Hebrew MSS. have “upon” for “on to.” (Comp. 2Samuel 21:10, “on the rock.”)
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, 15) Now Joram had kept Ramoth-gilead . . . But king Joram was returned.—Rather, Now Joram had been on guard in Ramoth-gilead . . . And Jehoram the king returned. The whole is a parenthesis intended to explain Jehu’s words in 2Kings 9:15 : “Let none go forth . . . to tell it in Jezreel.” Although substantially a repetition of 2Kings 8:28-29, it was hardly “superfluous” (Thenius) to remind the reader at this point of Joram’s absence—a material element in the success of the conspiracy. Graf’s conjecture that Jehu should be read instead of Joram is an obvious one, but hardly correct.
Because of Hazael.—Rather, against Hazael.
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) If it be your minds.—Literally, if it be your soul; some MSS., “if it be with your soul,” as in Genesis 23:8. The Vulg. paraphrases correctly, si vobis placet.
Let none go forth.—Literally, let not a fugitive go forth. This proves that Ramoth was in the hands of the Israelite army. If they were besieging the city, as Josephus relates, Jehu’s command is unintelligible.
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) Lay.—Was lying. His wounds were not yet quite healed.
Ahaziah king of Judah was come down.—See 2Kings 8:29. After relating what had meanwhile occurred with the army at Ramoth, the narrative returns to that point. Instead of Joram was lying there, the LXX. has, “Joram king of Israel was being healed in Jezreel of the shots wherewith the Arameans shot him in Ramoth, in the war with Hazael king of Syria, because he was mighty and a man of might.” The first sentence, “Joram king of Israel . . . king of Syria,” was probably a marginal note of a different reading of the first half of 2Kings 9:15. This was inadvertently inserted by some transcriber in connection with Joram in the present verse. The sentence, “Because he was mighty and a man of might,” was originally a marginal note on the words “Hazael king of Syria” (2Kings 9:14), but in like manner came to be erroneously connected with the same words in the various reading of 2Kings 9:15 (Thenius).
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.—Literally, and the watchman was standing. The tower was attached to the palace, and the latter was, perhaps, near the eastern wall of the town.
The company of Jehu.—The word (shiph‘āh) literally means overflow, and so a multitude of waters (Job 22:11), of camels (Isaiah 60:6), of horses (Ezekiel 26:10). Jehu was accompanied, therefore, by a considerable force.
Joram said.—Not to the watchman, but to one of his courtiers. The narrative is very concise.
Is it peace?—This hardly represents the force of the original. Joram is not yet apprehensive. His question merely means, “What is the news?” He expects news from the army at Ramoth. Thenius, however, explains “Come ye with friendly or hostile intention?” In that case, would the king have sent a single horseman to ascertain the truth?
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) One on horseback.—Literally, the rider of the horse.
What hast thou to do with peace?—A rough evasion: “What business is it of yours, on what ground I am come?” Conscious of his strength, Jehu can despise the royal message, and the messenger durst not disobey the fierce general, when ordered summarily to the rear. Of course Jehu wished to prevent an alarm being raised in Jezreel.
Came to them.—Literally, came right up to them. (The Hebrew text should be corrected from 2Kings 9:20.)
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.(19) Then.—Literally, And he sent a second rider of a horse.
Is it peace?—So the versions, many editions, and some MSS. The ordinary Hebrew text gives it as a salutation: “Peace!” but wrongly. Joram is still unsuspicious of evil. Some accident might have detained his first messenger.
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) Driving.—Correct. The margin is wrong.
The son of Nimshi.—Jehu was son of Jehoshaphat son of Nimshi. The former phrase may have fallen out of the text here. (Yet comp. 2Kings 8:26, “Athaliah daughter of Omri.”) The Syriac and Arabic call Jehu “the son of Nimshi” in 2Kings 9:2 also.
He driveth ſuriously—i.e., the foremost charioteer so drives. The word rendered “furiously” is related to that rendered “mad fellow” in 2Kings 9:11. (Comp. margin here.) Jehu’s chariot swayed unsteadily as he drove madly on. LXX., ἐν παραλλαγῇ. The Targum explains in an exactly opposite sense, “quietly;” and so Josephus: “Jehu was driving rather slowly, and in orderly fashion” (perhaps confounding shiggā‘ôn, “madness,” Deuteronomy 28:28, with shiggāyôn, “a slow, mournful song,” or elegy).
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, bind—i.e., the horses to the chariot.
And his chariot was made ready.—Literally, And one bound his chariot.
Against Jehu.—Rather, to meet Jehu. Joram was curious to know why his messengers had not returned, as well as why the commander-in-chief had left the seat of war. Had he suspected treachery, he would hardly have left the shelter of the walls of Jezreel, and ventured forth without a guard.
In the portion of Naboth.—Naboth’s vineyard, which now formed part of the pleasure-grounds of the palace. (See 1Kings 21:16.)
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) Is it peace, Jehu?—Joram meant, “Is all well at the seat of war?” Jehu’s reply left no doubt of his intentions. He assumes the part of champion of the legitimate worship against Jezebel and her foreign innovations, and the lawless tyrannies by which she sought to enforce them. (Comp. 2Kings 9:25-26.)
What peace . . . are so many?—Rather, What is the peace during the whoredoms of thy mother, and her many witchcrafts—i.e., so long as they continue?
Whoredoms.—In the spiritual sense, i.e., idolatries. (See Note on 1Chronicles 5:25.)
Witchcrafts.—Sorceries; the use of spells and charms, common among Semitic idolaters. (Comp. the prohibitions in the Law (Exodus 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:10-11.) A great number of the Assyrian tablets contain magical formulas, incantations, and exorcisms. Babylonia was the home of the pseudo-science of magic; and the oldest collection of such formulas is that of Sargina king of Agadê (Accad), compiled in seventy tablets, about 2200 B.C.
And Joram turned his hands, and fled, and said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, O Ahaziah.(23) And Joram turned his hands—i.e., turned the horses round. (Comp. 1Kings 22:34.)
There is treachery.—Literally, Guile, or fraud, Ahaziah! Joram shouted these two words of warning to his companion as he was turning his horses to fly.
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) And Jehu drew . . . strength.—See margin, which, however, is not quite accurate. Rather it should be, And Jehu had filled his hand (with an arrow) on the bow—i.e., had meanwhile put an arrow on his bow ready to shoot. Keil explains, “filled his hand with the bow,” i.e., seized the bow. The phrase “to fill a bow” means to stretch it, both in Hebrew (Zechariah 9:13) and in Syriac (Psalm 11:2). In Psalm 64:4. Symmachus renders the Hebrew, “they have aimed their arrow,” by the Greek, ἐπλήρωσαν τὸ τόξον, “they have filled the bow.”
Between his arms—i.e., between the shoulders, as he was flying; Vulg., “inter scapulas.”
The arrow went out at his heart.—Or, came out from his heart. It struck him obliquely between the shoulders, and went right through the heart. (The word for “arrow” is hĕçî, an ancient form, occurring thrice in 1Samuel 20:36-38.) Ewald, on this account, refers both passages to the oldest narrator of the history of the kings.
Sunk down.—See margin (Isaiah 46:1).
In his chariot.—LXX., “on his knees,” owing to a partial obliteration of one letter in their Hebrew text.
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) Then said Jehu.—Literally, And he said.
Bidkar.—The Syriac gives Bar-dĕkar, “son of stabbing,” i.e., “stabber,” “slayer” a very suitable name for Jehu’s squire. The Hebrew name is, therefore, a contraction of Ben-dekar. (Comp. Bedan, “son of Dan,” i.e., Danite, 1Samuel 12:11; and Bedad, “son of Hadad,” in 1Chronicles 1:46.)
Captain.—Adjutant, aide-de-camp, chief (2Kings 7:2).
Remember how that, when I and thou rode together.—This gives the sense of the Hebrew correctly. Literally, remember thou me and thee riding together. The word rendered “together” probably means riding side by side on horseback in attendance on the king. The Targum, vulg., and Kimchi interpret, riding together in the same chariot; Josephus, riding together in Ahab’s chariot behind him.
The Lord laid this burden upon him.—Rather, Jehovah uttered this (prophetic) utterance upon (i.e., about) him. (Comp. the oracle uttered by Elijah against Ahab when taking possession of Naboth’s vineyard, 1Kings 21:17, seq., 1Kings 21:29.)
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) Surely.—Literally, if not; a formula of emphatic asseveration, which originally must have run somewhat as follows: “If I have not seen, may I perish.” The inappropriateness of such an expression in the mouth of the Deity is obvious; but that only shows how completely the original meaning of the formula was forgotten in everyday usage.
Yesterday.—So that Ahab seized the vineyard the day after the murder of Naboth, a detail not exactly specified in 1Kings 21:16.
The blood.—The plural (margin) implies death by violence (Genesis 4:10).
And the blood of his sons.—The murder of the sons of Naboth is neither stated nor implied in 1 Kings 21, an omission which has needlessly troubled the minds of commentators. As to the fact, it would be quite in accordance with ancient practice to slay the sons of one accused of blasphemy along with their father (comp. Joshua 7:24-25); and the crafty Jezebel would not be likely to spare persons whose wrongs might one day prove dangerous. The difference in the two narratives is accounted for by the circumstance that the present is the exact version of an eye-witness, viz., Jehu himself, while the former was probably derived from a less direct source.
Saith the Lord.—Literally, is the thing uttered of Jehovah. This phrase, which is uncommon except in the writings of the prophets, and the word rendered “burden” in the last verse, which also belongs to prophetic terminology, together establish the historical authenticity of the short oracle of Elijah, recorded in this verse. Its brevity and the solemnity with which it was pronounced would, we may be sure, stamp it ineffaceably upon the memory of those who heard it. (Comp. 1Samuel 2:30; and 2Kings 19:33, infra.)
I will requite thee in this plat.—Another important detail not given in the former account.
Plat.—Portion, as in 2Kings 9:25 (twice).
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) But when . . . saw this.—Now Ahaziah . . . had seen it; and he fled, &c.
By the way of the garden house—i.e., in the direction of the garden house, which was probably a sort of arbour or drinking pavilion near the gates of the palace gardens, of which Naboth’s vineyard formed a part. Ahaziah wished to escape from the royal park as fast as he could.
Smite him also in the chariot.—The Hebrew is much more suited to the excitement of the occasion: Him too! shoot him in the chariot! (Here and in 2Kings 9:13, supra, ‘el, “into,” seems equivalent to ‘al, “upon.”)
And they did so.—Some such words as these may have fallen out of the Hebrew text. So the Syriac: “Him also! slay him! and they slew him in his chariot, on the ascent of Gur,” &c. But the rendering of the LXX. involves the least change, and is probably right: “Him too! And he smote him in the chariot, in the going up,” &c. This is more graphic. Jehu simply ejaculates,” Him too! “and, after a hot pursuit, shoots his second victim, at the ascent or declivity of Gur, where Ahaziah’s chariot would be forced to slacken speed.
And he fled to Megiddo, and died there.—See the Note on 2Chronicles 22:9, where a different tradition respecting the end of Ahaziah is recorded. The definite assignment of localities in the present account is a mark of greater trustworthiness. The way in which Rashi, whom Keil follows, attempts to combine the two accounts, is revolting to common sense. It would be better to assume a corruption of the text in one or the other narrative.
Megiddo.—Identified in the cuneiform inscriptions as Magidû or Magadû.
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) Carried him in a chariot.—Literally, made him ride. After this verb the LXX., Syriac, and Vulg. supply what the Hebrew text almost demands, “and brought him.”
In his sepulchre.—In his own sepulchre, which he had in his lifetime prepared, according to the custom of antiquity.
And in the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab began Ahaziah to reign over Judah.(29) In the eleventh year of Joram.—2Kings 8:25 says “in the twelfth year of Joram.” Such a difference is not remarkable, inasmuch as the synchronisms between the reigns of the two kingdoms are not based upon exact records. Moreover, different computations might make the same year the eleventh or tweftth of Joram. (The verse is a parenthesis, and perhaps spurious.)
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) And when Jehu was come.—Rather, And Jehu came—i.e., after the slaughter of Ahaziah, as the Hebrew construction implies.
Jezebel heard of it.—Rather, Now Jezebel had heard—scil., the news of the death of the two kings. There should be a stop after Jezreel.
And she painted her face.—Rather, and she set her eyes in paint—i.e., according to the still common practice of Oriental ladies, she painted her eyebrows and lashes with a pigment composed of antimony and zinc (the Arabic kohl). The dark border throws the eye into relief, and makes it appear larger (Bähr). Pliny relates that in his day this pigment (stibium) was called platyophthalmon (comp. Jeremiah 4:30), because it dilates the eye (Plin. Hist. Nat. xxxiii. 34).
Tired.—An old English word, meaning adorned with a tire or head-dress. (Comp. Isaiah 3:18.) Tire might seem to be the Persian tiara, but is much more probably connected with the German zier and zieren. (See Skeaťs Etym. Dict., s.v) Jezebel put on her royal apparel in order to die as a queen. Comp. the similar behaviour of Cleopatra:—
“Show me, my women, like a queen. Go fetch
My best attires. I am again tor Cydnus,
To meet Marc Antony . . . Bring our crown, and all.
Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have
Immortal longings in me.”
Antony and Cleop., Acts 5, scene 2.
A window.—The window, looking down upon the square within the city gate. Others think of a window looking down into the courtyard of the palace.
Ewald’s notion (after Ephrem Syrus), that Jezebel thought to captivate the conqueror by her charms, is negatived by the consideration that she was the grandmother of Ahaziah, who was twenty-two years old when Jehu slew him, and the fact that Oriental women fade early.
And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?(31) And as . . . she said.—And Jehu had come into the gate, and she said.
Had Zimri . . . master?—Rather, Art well (literally, Is it peace), thou Zimri, his master’s murderer? The “Is it peace?” which Jezebel addresses to Jehu, appears to be an ironical greeting. Thenius explains: “Is there to be peace or war between me and thee, the rebel?” referring to the same phrase in 2Kings 9:17-19; 2Kings 9:22, supra. The phrase is vague enough to admit of many meanings, according to circumstances. Perhaps Jezebel, in her mood of desperate defiance, repeats the question which Jehoram had thrice asked of Jehu, as a hint that she herself is now the sovereign to whom Jehu owes an account of his doings. She goes on to call him a second Zimri—i.e., a regicide like him who slew Baasha, and likely to enjoy as brief a reign as he. (See 1Kings 16:15-18.)
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) Who is on my side? who?—This hardly implies, as Thenius thinks, that Jezebel had made preparations for resistance. Jehu knew that the imperious and cruel queen was well hated by the palace officials. The “two or three eunuchs,” who a moment before had crouched in servile dread before Jezebel, would now be eager to curry favour with the regicide, and, at the same time, wreak their malice upon their former tyrant. (The repetition, “Who is on my side? who?” accords well with Jehu’s character. The LXX. has the strange reading, “he saw her, and said, Who art thou? Come down with me.” Josephus adopts this; but Thenius shows clearly that it has originated in easy corruptions of the present Hebrew text.)
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) Throw her down.—Comp. Note on 1Chronicles 13:9.
Was sprinkled on.—Spirted on to.
He trode her under foot.—All the versions have they—i.e., the horses—trode. Thenius supposes they were excited by the blood being sprinkled upon them. But “he”—i.e., Jehu—“trode her under foot,” plainly means, he drove over her fallen body. Ewald goes beyond the text in stating that Jehu spurned her with his own feet. (For the verb, comp. 2Kings 7:20.)
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 . . . drink.—Rather, And he went in (into the palace), and ate and drank. Jehu takes possession of the palace, having slain its former occupants. Savage warrior as he was, he forgot all about the victim of his violence until he had appeased the demands of his appetite. Then he could remember that even Jezebel was of royal rank, and perhaps a touch of remorse may be discerned in the mandate for her burial.
Go, see now.—Rather, Look, I pray, after.
This cursed woman.—Jehu was thinking of the curse pronounced on Jezebel by the prophet Elijah. (See next verse.)
She is a king’s daughter.—Compare 1Kings 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) Her hands.—Heb., the hands.
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.—See 1Kings 21:23, where this oracle of Elijah is given.
Portion—i.e., domain, territory (hēleq). In 1Kings 21:23, the word is “wall” (hēl), an error due to the loss of the final letter; not an original difference, as Keil assumes.
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.(37) And the carcase of Jezebel.—This continuation of the prophecy is not given in 1Kings 21:23. It is probably original; not “a free expansion” by Jehu, as Keil asserts.
Shall be.—It is questionable whether the Hebrew text is to be read as a rare ancient form wehāyāth); or simply as an instance of defective writing (wehāyethā). We prefer the second view.
As dung.—Comp. Psalm 83:10.
So that they shall not say.—Comp. Genesis 11:7 for the construction. The sense is, So that men will no longer be able to recognise her mangled remains.