Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
FROM THE ELEVATION OF JEHU TO THE THRONE UNTIL THE DESTRUCTION OF THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL
2 KINGS 10–17
THE MONARCHY UNDER JEHU IN ISRAEL AND UNDER ATHALIA AND JOASH IN JUDAH
2 KINGS 10–12
A.—The Reign of Jehu
2 KINGS 10:1–36
1AND Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel [the city],1 to the elders, and to them that brought up [the guardians of] Ahab’s children, saying,2 2Now as soon as this letter cometh to you, seeing your master’s sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, a fenced city, also, and armor [weapons]: 3look even out the best and meetest of your master’s sons, and [that ye may] set him on his father’s throne, and fight for3 your master’s house. 4But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, Behold, two kings stood not before him: how then shall we stand? 5And he that was over the house [palace], and he that was over the city, the elders also, and the bringers up of the children, sent to Jehu, saying, We are thy servants, and will do all that thou shalt bid us; we will not make any [one] king: do thou that which is good in thine eyes. 6Then he wrote a [second] letter the second time [omit the second time] to them, saying, If ye be mine [on my side], and if ye will hearken unto my voice, take ye the heads of the men your master’s sons, and come to me to Jezreel by to morrow this time. [(]Now the king’s sons, being seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, which brought them up[)]. 7And 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. 8And there came a messenger, and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king’s sons. And he said, Lay ye them in two heaps at the entering in [entrance] of the gate until the morning. 9And it came to pass in the morning, that he went out, and stood, and said to all the people, Ye be righteous [just]: behold, I conspired against 10my master, and slew him: but who slew all these? Know now [therefore] that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the Lord, which the Lord spake concerning the house of Ahab: for the Lord hath done that which he 11spake by his servant Elijah. So [And] Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his kinsfolks [intimate friends], and his priests [chief officers], until he left4 him none remaining [no survivor].
12And he arose and departed, and came to Samaria. And [On the way,] as he was at the shearing house in the way [Shepherd’s House of Meeting], 13Jehu met with the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah, and said, Who are ye? And they answered, We are the brethren of Ahaziah; and we go down to salute the children of the king and the children of the queen[-mother]. 14And he said, Take them alive. And they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of the shearing house [House of Meeting], even two and forty men; neither left he any of them.
15And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right [verily sincere], as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is [Verily, verily, it is]. If it be [said Jehu], give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot. 16And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord. So they [he]5 made him ride in his chariot. 17And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the Lord, which he spake to Elijah.
18And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much. 19Now 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. 20And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it. 21And Jehu sent through all Israel: and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not. And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to another [wall to wall]. 22And he said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal. And he brought them forth vestments. 23And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and [he, (Jehu)] said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the Lord, but the worshippers of Baal only. 24And when they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, Jehu appointed [stationed] fourscore men without, and said, If [Whoso letteth—omit if]6 any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escape, he that letteth him go, his life shall be for the life of him [he shall pay for it, life for life]. 25And it came to pass, as soon as he [they] had made an end of [completed the preparations for] offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains [royal foot-guards and horse-guards], Go in, and slay them; let none [not one] come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains [foot-guards and horse-guards] cast them out, 26and went [pressed through] to the city [strong-hold] of the house of Baal. And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them. 27And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house [privy] unto this day.
28, 29Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel. Howbeit, from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Beth-el, and that were in Dan. 30And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well [been zealous] in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel. 31But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.
32In those days the Lord began to cut [off parts from] Israel short [omit short]: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts [along the entire frontier] of Israel; 33from Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan. 34Now the rest of the acts of Jehu, and all that he did, and all his might, are they not written in the book of the Chronicles of the kings of Israel? 35And Jehu slept with his fathers: and they buried him in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son reigned in his stead. 36And the time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty and eight years.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
2 Kings 10:1. Seventy sons in Samaria, &c. 2 Kings 10:3 shows (“your master’s sons”) that the grandsons of Ahab are included, for the “master” cannot mean Ahab, who had been dead for twelve years, but Joram. We must understand the words as referring to all the male descendants of Ahab.—To Samaria, to the rulers of Jezreel. 2 Kings 10:5 shows who are meant, viz., he who was over the house (palace), and he who was over the city; and we may understand it to refer to Samaria, which was the capital and the residence of the king, and not to Jezreel, which only served as summer residence of the court. The governors, who were the highest officers in Samaria, cannot possibly have been the “rulers of Jezreel,” for these could have had no authority in Samaria. The word יִזְרְעֶאל is entirely wasting in the Sept. and Vulg. The former have πρὸς τοὺς ἄρχοντας τῆς πόλεως καὶ πρὸς τοὺ̀ς πρεσβυτέρους; the latter has: ad optimates civitatis et ad majores natu. Keil, therefore, conjectures that יִזְרְעֶאל is an error הָעִיר אֶל, This is favored by הַזְּקֵנִים, before which, since it cannot be taken as an apposition to אֶל ,שָׂרֵי must certainly be supplied. This seems better than, with Clericus, Michaelis, and Ewald, to change יִזְרְעֶאל into יִשְׂרָאֵל, or, with Thenius, to adopt the conjecture that there stood in the original text: “He sent from Jezreel to the rulers of Samaria.” The אֹמְנִים are the tutors appointed by Ahab for his sons.
2 Kings 10:2. Only the main point of Jehu’s letter is given (2 Kings 5:6). It is not necessary to understand that this letter was a “trick,” or “irony,” or “scorn,” as is generally done; it rather expresses contrariness or perversity. Its meaning may be expressed thus: “I am king; but if you, who have chariots and horses and weapons in your power, want to put a prince of Ahab’s house on the throne, commence a war with me.” [The letter is very characteristic in its form. It is composed in that comprehensive satire which says much in a few words. It implies self-confidence so great that the writer can afford to tantalize the reader with an apparent command of the situation, and an apparent freedom of choice, which in reality he has not got. It implies also a threat of consequences if the readers are sanguine enough to choose the policy of resistance. If on the other hand they choose the policy of submission, they will find out what they have to do to please the new ruler. It is a satirical and scornful challenge.—W. G. S.] As Jehu was well known to them by reputation as one of the boldest and bravest generals, and no one of them felt competent to meet him, they became frightened, and surrendered at once; all the more readily when they heard what he had already done. It was very cautious of him not to go himself immediately, with his small force (2 Kings 9:17), against the strongly fortified city of Samaria, but to first write them threatening letters, so as to find out what disposition he must expect to find in the capital.
2 Kings 10:6. Then he wrote a second letter, &c. The reason why Jehu not only commands to put to death the sons of Ahab, but also to bring their heads, at the same hour the next day, to Jezreel, which was nine hours, journey from Samaria, is plain from 2 Kings 10:9 and 10. It was important for him to be acknowledged, by the people as king as soon as possible. The people were to be convinced by the sight of the heads that all who might eventually become pretenders to the crown were dead, and also that the rulers and the great men of the kingdom, who had sent these heads, had thereby broken utterly with the dynasty of Ahab.—The parenthesis in 2 Kings 10:6 is not to be translated according to the massoretic punctuation: “The king’s sons were seventy persons,” for this would be an entirely superfluous repetition of 2 Kings 10:1. It means rather that the sons, mentioned in 2 Kings 10:1, resided with these important persons (אֶת is not a sign of the nominative, but a preposition: “with”), and that this is the reason why the command was addressed to them.
2 Kings 10:8. Jehu ordered the heads to be brought to the entrance of the gate, because the people were accustomed to assemble there. It is an old oriental custom to cut off the heads of slain enemies, and then to show these publicly, 2 Macc. 15:30; 1 Sam. 17:54 (cf. Winer, R.-W.-B., i. s. 681). Even now, in the Orient, the heads of those who are beheaded are placed upon the gate, in order that they may be seen by all.
2 Kings 10:9 sq. And said to all the people, &c. The sight of the seventy heads very naturally produced consternation among the people, probably also dissatisfaction and complaints against Jehu, the supposed cause of their death. Thereupon he appeared before the people in order to soothe them. He does not attack them rudely, but appeals to their just judgment. Ye are just; i.e., not, “Ye insist upon it that ye are right” (Luther); nor: “Ye are righteous,” i.e., “I declare you guiltless” (Richter); nor: “Now is the sin of the people atoned for, now are ye once more righteous before God; the punishment began through me, here ye see how it has gone on” (Gerlach). The sense is rather: “Ye are just, so judge yourselves; I have, it is true, made a conspiracy against Joram and killed him; but I did not kill these seventy. The rulers in Samaria, the friends of the house of Ahab, the tutors of the royal princes, killed these. If ye will lament and complain, ye have far greater reason to do so against them than against me, but consider that both I and they acted according to divine ordinance and in consequence of the sentence which Elijah, the great prophet, pronounced.” In all this, Jehu carefully conceals the main point, viz., that the murders were committed by his command. Perhaps he saw a providential dispensation in the very fact that the rulers at Samaria yielded to him at once, and executed his further commands from fear. His speech had the desired effect. The people ceased their complaints and resigned themselves contentedly. He was thereby encouraged to go farther, and to put to death all the higher officers and friends of the house of Ahab, as is recorded in 2 Kings 10:11. The מְיֻדָּססעָיו are not Ahab’s relatives (Luther, E. V.), but his friends and intimate companions. In like manner כֹהֲנָיו are not his “priests” (Keil), but, as in 2 Sam. 8:18 and 1 Kings 4:5, his highest officers and servants. The turn of the idolatrous priests came later (2 Kings 10:18 sq.). Not until after this had all taken place, did Jehu go to Samaria, where he no longer needed to fear any opposition (2 Kings 10:12).
2 Kings 10:12. At the Shepherd’s House of Meeting. “The Chaldee version has בֵּית כְּנִישַׁת רַעֲיָא, the meeting-house of the shepherds, so that it was probably a house which stood alone, and which served the shepherds of the region round about as a place of assembling. The commonest interpretation is, binding-house (where the shepherds tied up their sheep for the shearing), but opposed to this is the fact that the shearing and not the binding is the main point in that connection, and moreover, that the shearing took place, according to Gen. 38:12; 1 Sam. 25:2; 2 Sam. 13:23, in the separate localities, and not at one place for an entire district” (Thenius).
2 Kings 10:13. Instead of Brethren of Ahaziah, 2 Chron. 22:8 has: “Sons of the brethren of Ahaziah.” Considering the comprehensiveness of the signification of אָח, this is no contradiction. We must understand in general cousins and relatives of Ahaziah. They undertook the journey to Jezreel, as they themselves say in 2 Kings 10:13, לִשְׁלוֹם ad salutandum, in order to make a friendly visit at the court there. The fact that they came in such a large number shows clearly that Joram, at this time, no longer lay ill from his wound, but was already recovered, as we saw also from 2 Kings 9:21. They expected to enjoy a pleasant visit, and knew nothing of what had occurred since they last heard from the court of Joram. When Jehu heard who they were and whither they were going, he called to his retinue: Take them alive; i.e., take them captives. Perhaps they would not submit to be captured, and undertook, as many suppose, to defend themselves, whereupon he caused them to be slaughtered. There is no ground whatever for the notion which Duncker adopts, that he did this in “the hope of getting possession of the kingdom of Judah also.” There is no sign anywhere of any such intention on the part of Jehu. Evidently his purpose was, by slaying these relatives of Ahab, who, as their journey showed, were friends and retainers of the house of Ahab, to make every attempt at blood-vengeance, or at the overthrow of his royal authority, impossible.
2 Kings 10:15. He lighted on Jehonadab, the son of Rechab, &c. No one doubts that this is the same Jehonadab who, according to Jerem. 35:1–19, gave to the so-called Rechabites their stern, nomadic rules of life, and whom they there call their “father.” Josephus says of him: ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς καὶ δίκαιος, ’Ιωνάδαβος ἄνομα φίλος αὐτῷ [’Ιηνοῦ] πάλαι γεγονώς. It is uncertain whether his meeting with Jehu was accidental, or whether Jehonadab came on purpose to meet him. According to the Hebrew text Jehu saluted him and said: Is thine heart right, &c. According to Josephus, Jehonadab saluted Jehu, and commenced to praise him, because he had done everything according to the will of God for the rooting out of the house of Ahab. Jehu called upon him to mount into the chariot, and to ride with him to Samaria, saying that he would show him how he would spare none of the wicked, but would punish the false prophets and priests and all who had misled the people to the abandonment of Jehovah, and to the worship of false gods. He said that it was the most beautiful, and, for an honorable and just man, the pleasantest sight to see the punishment of the wicked. Jehonadab, prevailed upon by this, mounted the chariot and came to Samaria.—Doubtless some such conversation preceded the words: “Is thine heart right,” &c. At any rate, Jehonadab was a zealous servant of Jehovah, and, therefore, also an opponent of the house of Ahab. As he also stood at the head of a religious community, it was of great importance for Jehu to have him on his side, and to be accompanied to Samaria by him. It was a mark of high esteem to invite him to mount into the chariot.—אֶת before לְבָבְךָ [is used to form an accusative of specification, equivalent to a nominative absolute. “Is it right, as to thy heart,” or “Thy heart, is it right”=“Is thy heart right.” The form gives peculiar emphasis], see Ewald, Lehrb., § 277 d. “יָשָׁר here involves the idea of a sincere agreement in feeling” (Thenius). Almost all the versions render וַיַּרְכִּבוּ, 2 Kings 10:16, as if they had read וַיַּרְכִּיב, i.e., “He made him ride.” According to 2 Kings 10:17, the first thing which Jehu did in Samaria was just what he had done in Jezreel (2 Kings 10:11). After the entire house of Ahab had been destroyed, he went on to overthrow the worship of Baal.
2 Kings 10:18. And Jehu gathered all the people together, &c. The fact that Jehu was believed, when he said that he would serve Baal far more than Ahab had done, is explained by the consideration that his entire enterprise was regarded as a military revolution, like that of Baasha and Zimri, in which the thing at stake was the supreme power and the throne, not a religious reform and the restoration of the service of Jehovah. No one any longer thought of that as a possibility.—On the prophets of Baal, 2 Kings 10:19 sq., see note above on 1 Kings 18:19.—עֲצָרָה, 2 Kings 10:20, is not “feast-day” (Vulg. diem solemnem) but a solemn festal assembly, as in Isai. 1:13; Joel 1:14; Amos 5:21.—The “House of Baal” is the one built by Ahab (1 Kings 16:32), which seems to have been a large and rambling structure, in which were 450 priests of Baal and 400 of Astarte.—פֶּה לָפֶה, 2 Kings 10:21, strictly, mouth to mouth, or opening to opening, i.e., as far as it was open, as much as it could hold. It refers to the outer court in which the altar of sacrifice stood, for the house, strictly speaking, that is, the sanctuary or shrine in which the statue of Baal was, was, as in all temple structures, very small.—מֶלְתָּחַה, 2 Kings 10:22, occurs only here, but means, unquestionably, vestiarium (Ges., Thes., p. 764). Thenius thinks, because the king here gave especial commands, that “we must understand it to refer to the stores of festal garments in the palace, not to the wardrobe of the temple of Baal, or to especial sacrificial dresses of all who took part in the ceremony.” However, the king ordains everything here; it was he who planned the feast. Neither before this nor afterwards is there any reference to anything but the house of Baal, and certainly there were priestly garments in that, just as the dresses of the priests of Jehovah were preserved in the temple at Jerusalem (Braun, De Vest. Sacerdot., ii. 26, p. 675). Clericus says that, in Ethiopic, אלתח, with which מלתחה is connected, means vestis byssina. Garments of byssus were the peculiar dress of priests in all ancient countries (Symb. des Mosaischen Kult, ii. s. 87 sq.). According to Josephus, it was especially important for Jehu that all the priests of Baal Should be there. They all received priestly garments, and became thereby all the more easily recognizable for the eighty men who were commanded to slay them before all others.
2 Kings 10:23. And Jehu went, and Jehonadab, &c. When they came into the outer court of the temple, Jehu gave orders to examine carefully and see whether there were any of the servants of Jehovah there. He thereby gave himself the appearance of a strict adherent of Baal; but his object was to take care that no servant of Jehovah should be killed. There is no foundation for Ewald’s representation of the incident: “Jehu gave orders that the feast should be celebrated with all pomp, just as a powerful man may show himself open-handed towards mysteries into which he desires to be admitted. He commanded that garments should be given to all who had not any such as were proper for the feast. When the time for the solemnity approached, he commanded with severity that any servants of Jehovah should be cast out. (It is well known what an importance the heathen attached to the procul profani! in their mysteries.) Finally he sacrificed with his own hand as if he were a most zealous worshipper of Baal.” Eisenlohr, who always follows Ewald, thinks that 2 Kings 10:22 refers to “the unchaste garments woven by the Kedeshoth” [women who prostituted themselves in the service of Astarte]. But we know nothing at all of any mysteries of Baal. There is no syllable of reference to any such thing here, much less of reference to any intention, which was even pretended, of initiating the king. Nor does the text say that Jehu himself sacrificed, and then gave the signal for the slaughter of all who were present.
2 Kings 10:25, כְּכַלֹּתוֹ, cannot here be translated: “When he, Jehu, had finished,” nor, with some of the Rabbis and Keil: “When he (the sacrificing priest), had finished the burnt-offering.” The suffix וֹ is to be taken as equivalent to an indefinite subject, “one” (German, man) [commonly rendered in English by an indefinite plural, “they,” or by a passive construction]: “When they had completed the preparations for the sacrifice,” or, “When the preparations for the sacrifice were completed.” The Sept. give this same sense: ὡς συνετέλεσαν ποιοῦντες τὴν ὁλοκαύτωσιν; and the Vulg. also, cum completum esset holocaustum. It is not therefore necessary to read כְּכַלְּתָם as Thenius does (cf. Ew. § 294, b).
As soon as they had completed the preparations for offering. Not, when the sacrifice itself was over, for then the feast of Baal would have been at an end, but, at the moment when the sacrifice was just fully prepared, and was on the point of being offered, Jehu gave command to the “runners and riders,” i.e., to the royal body-guard and its officers (see note on 1 Kings 1:38; 9:22; 14:28) to force their way in. Ewald translates וַיַּשְׁלִכוּ: “And threw the corpses aside unburied,” but of course it is plain that they could not undertake to bury them at once. It did not need another sentence to tell us that they did not bury them as fast as they killed them. The interpretation: “They threw the corpses out of the temple,” is somewhat better, but the athnach with חָרֶב and the express repetition of the subject (“the runners and riders”) seem to indicate that a new sentence begins with וישׁלכו. This sentence does not, therefore, join immediately on to the preceding, but to what follows, and it is to be connected with וַיֵּלְכוּ. In this connection De Dieu translates: proripuerunt se cum impetu et festinatione, and Thenius: “And the guards pressed forward.” שׁלךְ stands in this sense in 1 Kings 14:9. They threw the corpses behind them as they pressed forward, and forced their way through to the עִיר of the house. Under this we have not to understand a neighboring city (De Dieu and others), nor a particular district of the city of Samaria (De Wette, Maurer, and others), for this would not fit into the context. The fundamental signification of עִיר is sepimentum, munimentum, locus circumseptus (Fürst, Concord., p. 805). It is then used for city, because every city, as such, was surrounded by a wall, and so formed a stronghold. In this place, however, it refers to that part of the entire sacred enclosure, which, in contrast with the outer courts, was firmly surrounded by a wall, the temple strictly speaking, in which was the chief image of Baal. This may have stood upon a base, and risen like a fortress from it, as the temple of Solomon did. On מַצְּבוֹת see note on 1 Kings 14:23. We cannot determine whether they were small images of Baal himself, or images of other and inferior divinities. Movers (Rel. der Phönizier, s. 674) thinks they were the πάρεδροι or σύμβωμοι of Baal. Thenius proposes to read מַצְּבַת in 2 Kings 10:26, and מַצְּבוֹת in 2 Kings 10:27, as the Sept. do, on account of the sing. surf. in יִשְׂרְפוּהָ. It is to be noticed, however, that, the images were burned (2 Kings 10:26), so that they must have been of wood, while the chief image was “broken in pieces” (נתץ), as the stone temple-building was. This image was therefore probably of stone, as indeed we might presume that the large image would be of stone and the smaller ones of wood rather than vice versa. The old expositors translate the suffix by unamquamque earum (Piscator). According to Keil the singular suffix refers to מַצְּבוֹת, the plural being taken as an abstract, as in 2 Kings 3:3. [The latter is the correct explanation of the construction. Cf. Ew. § 317, a.] The destruction of this idol was perfectly in accordance with the law, Deut. 7:5, 25; 12:2, 3.—In order to make the destroyed temple a place forever unclean and abominable, they made it a sink or privy. (The Massoretes propose the word מוֹצָאוֹת, exits, as a euphemism.) Cf. Ezra 6:11; Dan. 2:5 (Rosenmüller, Morgenland, iii. s. 279).
2 Kings 10:28. Thus Jehu destroyed Baal, &c. This is here once more emphasized as the chief act of Jehu, but it is added that he persisted in the sins of Jeroboam, viz., the worship of the golden calves in Bethel and Dan.
2 Kings 10:30. And the Lord said unto Jehu, i.e., by a prophet, but whether by Elisha (Thenius), is very uncertain. הֱטיבֹתָ is correctly rendered by the Vulg. studiose egisti; Piscator: quia strenuum te prœbuisti ad faciendum, etc. He had an earnest will to execute the purposes of God (2 Sam. 13:28; Ruth 3:7, 10). The rooting-out of the house of Ahab and the attendant overthrow of idolatry, the latter of which not even Elijah had succeeded in accomplishing, were accomplished by Jehu. It was in truth an act of kindness toward Israel, which otherwise would, at this time, have gone to ruin. In so far Jehu had accomplished a great deed which is here recognized and acknowledged. The manner in which he carried it out, in all its details, is not, however, approved; especially is it recorded as unsatisfactory that he persisted in the worship of Jeroboam’s calves. Therefore it was announced to him that his dynasty should not reign beyond the fourth generation (Ex. 20:5; 34:7), cf. 2 Kings 15:12.
2 Kings 10:31 is not to be connected with 2 Kings 10:30 by “but,” but rather with 2 Kings 10:32. It states the occasion for what is narrated in 32 and 33. The threatened calamities from foreign foes came upon them through Hazael (2 Kings 8:12), because Jehu did not walk in the ways of the Lord with all his heart. [If we hold to the massoretic verse-division,—and there is no reason to abandon it,
2 Kings 10:30 is a promise of the throne during four generations as a reward for the vigor with which Jehu had carried out the task which was laid upon him, and not a warning that he should not keep it longer than that because he had kept up the worship of the calves. The “but” at the commencement of 2 Kings 10:31 is therefore quite correct. Although God commended Jehu and promised to reward him, yet Jehu did not walk perfectly with God. The origin of the calf-worship was political, and Jehu unquestionably kept it up for political reasons. While we certainly could not deny that the military misfortunes east of the Jordan were divine punishments, if the record said that they were such, yet in the absence of any such definite combination of the two things as cause and effect, we may leave that hypothesis aside, as something which we are not competent to decide. Such a revolution as this was certainly never accomplished without great internal commotion. Jehu found it necessary to consolidate his authority at home and could not give his attention to the foreign war. Hazael in the meantime was a very warlike and energetic king, and he pushed his conquests with vigor while his enemy was weak. We shall see below that this district was recovered when Israel once more was united and contented under a vigorous ruler (Jeroboam II.).—W. G. S.]
2 Kings 10:32. In those days the Lord began to cut off parts from Israel. Instead of לֲקצּוֹת, i.e. to cut off parts of, the Chald. and Arab. read לִקְצוֹף i e. to become enraged (Luther: überdrüssig zu werden; Vulg. taedere super Israel). There is no ground, however, for changing the text, which is sustained by the Sept. (συγκόπτειν).—Along the entire frontier, not “in all the coasts” (Luther, De Wette, E. V.). The frontier country is, in general, the land beyond the Jordan, which was divided among the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. Their territory formed the district which was also called Gilead. Aroer on the Arnon was the southern limit of the Israelitish territory east of the Jordan. These conquests of Hazael, therefore, extended to the frontier of the Moabites. The closing words: Even Gilead and Bashan [cf. Amos 1:3] are meant to show “that the land east of the Jordan, in all its extent, even to its farthest eastern limit, came into the hands of the enemy (Thenius). These conquests were made gradually, and they reached this extent at about the end of the twenty-eight years’ reign of Jehu.—On גְּבוּרָה, 2 Kings 10:34, see 1 Kings 15:23.
HISTORICAL AND ETHICAL
1. In regard to the reign of Jehu during the long period of twenty-eight years, the author gives only the summary at the end of the passage before us, viz., that he retained the calf-worship which Jeroboam had introduced, and that he lost a large portion of his territory, piece by piece, to Hazael of Syria. For all else he refers to the book of the Chronicles of the kings of Israel. The destruction of the house of Ahab, and the abolition of idolatry, with which Jehu commenced his reign, are narrated with full details. It was these two things that made his reign remarkable, and that constituted it an epoch in the history of the Israelitish monarchy, and of the Old Testament theocracy. All other incidents or actions of his reign seem to this theocratical historian to be inferior in significance and importance to these. Duncker’s assertion is astonishing and it is false (Gesch. des Alt., i. s. 416): “The house of Omri, under which Israel had flourished and prospered, was overthrown and annihilated by a wild murderer whom the prophet of Jehovah had instigated.… Jehu was a good assassin, but a bad ruler and a bad general.… Although the prophets of Jehovah did not oppose him as they had opposed Ahab and Joram, but, on the contrary, Elisha’s authority and influence were lent to his support, yet Israel, under his reign, became weaker and weaker.” Under the house of Ahab, of which the shameless and fanatical Jezebel was the soul, the kingdom of Israel, so far from being elevated and prospered, had been shattered to its very foundations. Under this house Moab revolted, and Ahab and his successors never succeeded, even with the assistance of Judah, in completely conquering the Syrian arch-enemy, who continually threatened Israel and even brought it near to ruin (2 Kings 7:24). No fact can be cited from the record to prove that Jehu reigned for twenty-eight years wickedly, still less that he was a bad general; if he had been this latter, his fellow-commanders would never have proclaimed him king. Moreover, the record mentions his גְּבוּרָה with especial emphasis (2 Kings 10:34), even adding כֹּל, which is not found elsewhere except in 1 Kings 15:23, and 2 Kings 20:20, and which Ewald correctly takes as referring to “his great and inexhaustible manly courage.” It is true that he saw himself compelled to give up to Hazael land after land on the east of the Jordan, but this may have been due partly to the superior strength of the Syrians, partly to the lack of assistance from Judah, such as Ahab and Joram had enjoyed, partly to the state in which the kingdom had been left by the house of Ahab. [It is a simple truism to say that he was defeated partly because his enemy was stronger than he, and partly because he did not have more help. It is not at all certain that Joram left the kingdom weak in material respects. If it was shattered morally, as it undoubtedly was, it would not long prosper materially, but, for a time, moral decay and material prosperity might co-exist. The fact that Joram’s last act was to collect an army and go into Gilead to try to recover Ramoth, even by a conflict with a general like Hazael, is certainly strong evidence that Israel was not weak in material and military force under his rule. A far more natural ground for Jehu’s inactivity (for all we know to the contrary) while Hazael was making these conquests, is the one suggested above in the note on 2 Kings 10:30 under Exegetical. That is, that the revolution was not accomplished so quickly as one might suppose on reading the only details of it which are here given, and that it was not accomplished by those few great and terrible blows which are alone mentioned here. To kill the royal family and mount the throne, to kill the priests of a certain religion, and put an end to the public performance of its rites, were comparatively easy things. We may be sure, however, that the house of Ahab had friends and supporters, and that Baal had worshippers who saw with sorrow his joyous worship give place to the austere religion of Jehovah. These elements of discontent had to be watched and time had to be spent in healing the wounds which the revolution had inflicted, before the state could be made docile, contented, and loyal at home, and reliable for campaigns abroad. It was during this interval that Hazael probably made his conquests.—W. G. S.] The author sees in the misfortunes east of the Jordan a divine judgment, because Jehu had persisted in the sins of Jeroboam, and had not fulfilled his appointed task. [See Exeg. notes on 2 Kings 10:31. Bähr connects 2 Kings 10:31 and 32, but it is more correct to begin a new paragraph with 2 Kings 10:32 as the English translators do.] We do not learn in what relation the prophet Elisha stood to Jehu during his reign. Elisha’s name does not occur, as has been said above, from 2 Kings 9:1 to 2 Kings 13:14, where his death, in the reign of Joash, is mentioned.
2. The rooting-up of the house of Ahab, and the destruction of the worship of Baal, ought not to be measured by the New Testament standards, and ought not to be judged from a modern, humanitarian stand-point. As for the slaughter of Ahab’s family, it was customary in the Orient from the earliest times for the founder of a new dynasty to put to death, not only the deposed monarch, but also his descendants and relatives, especially all the males. We have several examples of this in these very books (1 Kings 15:29; 16:11; 2 Kings 25:7). Similar instances occur in the East even in our own day. This cruel conduct was connected, not only with their ideas of the solidarity of all blood-relations in one family, but also with the universal custom of blood-vengeance, according to which it appeared to the relatives of a murdered man to be their right and their duty to pursue and slay the murderer. Not seldom their vengeance extended to the whole family of the murderer (Gen. 34:30; 2 Sam. 14:7; 2 Kings 14:6). How wide-spread and deep-rooted the custom of blood-vengeance was, may be seen from the fact that the Mosaic law could not abolish it, but only limit it and restrain it, as was the case also in regard to polygamy (Winer, R.-W.-B., i. s. 189). When, therefore, Jehu put to death all the adherents of the deposed dynasty, he did not commit an unheard-of crime, but only “followed the example of other founders of new dynasties” (Ewald). What is more, Ahab’s house had introduced and fostered idolatry, and it was not to be hoped that it could be absolutely rooted out, as long as there were still members of this family alive. The case is similar as regards his conduct toward the worship of Baal. The Israelitish constitution knew nothing of freedom of religion or of worship, but assigned the death-penalty for all idolatry (see 1 Kings 18, Hist. § 5). Jehu acted as little contrary to the law when he caused the servants of Baal to be put to death, as Elijah did in. 1 Kings 18:40. Nevertheless his mode of action is to be condemned, even from the Old Testament stand-point. He allowed himself to be carried away by his fierce, violent, soldierly, despotic disposition. He proceeded to extremes, and observed no limits. When he had once spilled blood, he thirsted for more, and thought that this thirst for blood was zeal for Jehovah. Especially did he fail in the matter of the cunning and deceit and falsehood which he employed. In Jezreel he pretended to the people that he was innocent of the murder of the seventy descendants of Ahab, although he had himself ordered it. In Samaria he declared that he was a zealous servant of Baal, in order that he might get all the servants of Baal into his power, and slaughter them all at once. Therefore also the prophet Hosea speaks of the “blood of Jezreel” which Jehovah will avenge upon the house of Jehu (Hosea 1:4). Krummacher asserts, in opposition to this prophetical declaration, as well as to the fact before us (Elisa, iii. s. 152): “Nevertheless he (Jehu) comes out from this horrible massacre pure, because he did not draw the sword in obedience to his own thirst for blood, but in the name of Him who ‘maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire’ [Ps. 104:4, where the translation is incorrect. It should read, “maketh winds his messengers, and flames his ministers.”—W. G. S.], and who had chosen Jehu as His executioner.” Lilienthal observes correctly (Die gute Sache der göttl. Offenbarung, iv. s. 410): “An executioner does what is right when he takes the life of an evil-doer, at the command of the civil authority, and receives for this service his proper wages. But when he purposely torments and tortures the culprit, he deserves to be especially punished for it. Therefore blood-guilt is ascribed to Jehu, because it was a gratification to his fierce disposition to spill the blood of those who had indeed merited death, but who ought not to have been slain at the instigation of private hate.” Every attempt to wash Jehu clean from blood-guilt becomes, in spite of itself, a defence of falsehood and deceit in majorem Dei gloriam. Jehu was indeed a “Scourge of God,” but he certainly was not a “man of God,” as appears in the fact that, with all his pretended zeal for Jehovah, he nevertheless did not desist from the “sins of Jeroboam” as long as he ruled. The instruments of the divine punishments are not made “pure” by the fact that they are God’s instruments, but they are, in their turn, punished for their own sins; cf. Isai. 10:5–7, 12.
[Would it not be a hard fate to be chosen to be an instrument of God’s vengeance, and then to be held to a strict account, if one’s human infirmities of judgment led one to overdo or to fall short in some points of the just execution of the task? The trouble is that Jehu in the first place gets credit for far more pure and hearty zeal for the restoration of the Jehovah-religion than he deserves, and then has to be correspondingly under-estimated. If we attempt, with all the light given us by the text, to estimate Jehu’s personal feeling in regard to this revolution, we shall reach the following conclusion: Jehu was a military man to whom the crown presented itself as an object of earthly ambition worth some effort. Supposing him to have been, by conviction, an adherent of the: religion of Jehovah, the call to him to put himself at the head of a reaction in favor of the Jehovah-religion, and the anointment to the royal office by a prophet of Jehovah, might move him to make the attempt. The adherence of the army determined him. When he had won his victory, he carried out faithfully the policy to which he was bound as leader of the Jehovah-party. He put an end to the worship of Baal. The crown, however, was his reward. It was a political reward, and he took political means to secure it. He slew all the possible pretenders to the crown from the house of Ahab, according to the oriental custom in such cases, as a means of securing himself on the throne. He stopped short with his religious reforms and did not destroy the golden calves; he left them for the same political reasons for which Jeroboam erected them, i.e., that the northern kingdom might have its own religious centres outside of Jerusalem. He saw in the revolution principally a gratification of his own ambition. He was willing to be the instrument of the overthrow of a wicked dynasty and a corrupt religion, and he stopped just where his personal interests were in danger of being impaired. It is not strange that his contemporaries rejoiced so much at the rescue of their ancestral religion that they were indifferent to the excesses by which Jehu tried to establish his royal power, nor that later and calmer judges, on the contrary, raised his bloodshed into prominence in judging of his career (Hos. 1:4).—See further, below, § 5.—W. G. S.]
3. In connection with the violent and bloody conduct of Jehu, the religious and moral condition into which the kingdom had been brought, under the dominion of the house of Ahab, is thrown into distinct relief. “What a shocking picture of demoralization, vulgarity, and slavery” (Eisenlohr) presents itself to us in the rulers, the elders, and the tutors of the royal princes, that is to say, among the highest officials and the most familiar frequenters of the court! Although the fortified city, with all the necessary means of defence, chariots, horses, and weapons, were still in their possession, yet not one energetic man could be found who would put himself at the head. Upon Jehu’s first letter, which did not even contain a command, but only a question, or, in a certain sense, only a challenge to resist, they all yielded timidly, like cowards. No one of them thinks of even moving a finger in behalf of the royal house, whose confidants, favorites, and servants they have been. They change their disposition with the change of events, and place themselves as instruments without will at the disposal of the new ruler, who had killed their king and master. Jehu would hardly have addressed this challenge to them if he had not been sure of their utter want of principle, and had not known that he had not the least independent opposition to fear from them. Then when he demands of them the very highest crime, the murder of the scions of the royal house, who have been entrusted to their care and their protection, they do not hesitate a moment; they slaughter the whole seventy in one night, and send their heads the next morning to Jezreel, in order to win the favor of the new ruler. If the conduct of the elders at Jezreel, when they slew Naboth at the command of Jezebel, testified to the deep corruption of the time (see 1 Kings 11, Hist. § 3), how much more does this behavior of those of the highest rank and office bear witness to the same. The religious decay was as deep as the moral decay. In the capital of the kingdom there was no sanctuary of Jehovah, but a fortress-like temple of Baal which Ahab had built (1 Kings 16:32), furnished with idols of wood and stone, and surrounded by large courts. In spite of the great day on Mount Carmel, where the people had solemnly declared for Jehovah, and had slain 450 priests of Baal (1 Kings 18:21 sq.), this temple remained standing, and the worship of idols continued to be, as it had been before, the prevailing religion of the kingdom. It appears, it is true, that Joram, at his accession, removed the statue of Baal (2 Kings 3:2), but he did not put a stop to the worship of Baal; and the feast of Baal which Jehu ordained, at which so many worshippers of the god were present from all parts of the kingdom that the extended courts of the temple were packed full, shows how numerous the worshippers of the god had already become again. To this point had Israel come, under the rule of the house of Ahab; since there had been any people of Israel, such a state of things had not existed.
4. The only facts in regard to Jehonadab, the son of Rechab, which can be deduced from this passage, are, that, at the time of the great apostasy under the house of Ahab, he was one of the most earnest opponents of that dynasty, and of the idolatry which it introduced; that he was a firm adherent of Jehovah, and moreover a man who was held in honor by the people, and highly esteemed by Jehu. From the 35th chapter of Jeremiah, we learn further that he stood at the head of a community, the so-called Rechabites, to which he had given peculiar rules of life, according to which they were not to live in houses, not to possess farms or vineyards, and not to drink-wine. They held so firmly to these rules that Jeremiah, 300 years later, could present them to the people, who were disobedient to the commands of Jehovah, as models of obedience. This is sufficient to prove that Jehonadab, although he was a contemporary of Elisha, and probably also of Elijah, yet stood in no direct connection with the prophet-communities which they managed (2 Kings 2:3 sq.), since these did not probably have any special rules of life, and certainly did not have those of the Rechabites. Neither is there any indication anywhere that he acted in concert with Elijah, who had caused Jehu to be anointed. This fact is what makes him important for the history of redemption. Ewald (Gesch., iii. 504 sq. [3d ed. 543]) explains this phenomenon by the theory that, after Elijah’s death, “new institutions of influence for the old religion” had been formed, viz., on the one hand, the so-called schools of the prophets, which prosecuted the objects which had been set before them by Elijah, and, on the other hand, “a society of those who despaired of being able to observe true religion undisturbedly, in the midst of the nation, with the stringency with which they understood it, and who, therefore, withdrew into the desert, and preferred, as all Israel had once done under Moses, the hardships of life in tents to all the fascinations of city-life. They borrowed from the Nazarites the principle of abstention from wine and all food connected with wine, and the ancient Kenites were their models for their tent-life.” He goes on to say that they were called Rechabites from the father of their founder, Jehonadab; that their oath was extended and made more stringent at a later time; that they only returned into ordinary social life at long intervals and under compulsion, etc. This theory, to which Eisenlohr and Thenius give their adhesion, is contradicted, first of all, by the fact that Jeremiah calls them גָּרִים, i.e., strangers and sojourners in the land in which they dwelt. “They were not of the race of Israel, but were an offshoot of the family of the Kenites (1 Chron. 2:55), which is traced back to Moses’ father-in-law (Numb. 10:29; Judges 4:11), and which migrated to Canaan (Judges 1:16), in friendship and alliance with Israel (1 Sam. 15:6). In this passage in 1 Sam. they appear as still unsettled. According to Judges 4:11, 17 sq. they continued to be nomadic, as Rechab was also, even before Jehonadab’s regulation.…It is an established historical fact, which is further confirmed by the part. גרים, that they were already nomadic.…Jehonadab only fixed by law what he already found as a generally observed usage, and thereby cut off beforehand all possible temptations to adopt a settled life” (Hitzig). The Rechabites call Jehonadab their “father” (Jerem. 35:6, 8), but they do not thereby designate him as their ancestor (Winer and others). They only mean that he was their teacher and lawgiver, just as the prophet-disciples called Elijah their “father” (2 Kings 2:12). If they had originated with Jehonadab, they would have named themselves after him and not after his father. Moreover, it is certain that Rechab was not, strictly speaking, the father of Jehonadab, but the ancestor of the family to which he and the other Rechabites belonged. We must understand by this name, therefore, a national and nomadic community, and not Simply a religious organization. It was much older than Elijah, and not directly or indirectly an outgrowth of his activity. There is no hint in the history that other communities than the schools of the prophets were formed, after Elijah’s death, for the conservation of “true religion.” The most extraordinary feature is this, that a family, which did not belong to the race of Israel, maintained itself in separation and independence in the midst of this people from the entrance into Palestine until the fall of the kingdom, and was more completely devoted to the service of Jehovah than Israel itself. Jehonadab may have been led to give them fixed regulations of life by the growth of the idolatry which Ahab had introduced, and against which he desired to fortify them by a strict exclusion. The result was that he accomplished his object. He saw in Jehu a deliverer from the tyrannical and idolatrous dynasty, and he willingly accepted his invitation to accompany him to Samaria. He must have known of Jehu’s dissimulation in proclaiming the feast of Baal, and must have approved of it, for he was present with Jehu at it (2 Kings 10:23). Clericus justly observes: conscius rei erat, nec laudandus est hoc in negotio. Hess thinks that he belonged to the number of those who “hardly regarded it as an error in Jehu, that, in his zeal, he went too far, on account of their joy at the overthrow of the idolatrous dynasty.” It is worth noticing that Elisha, who had been the prime mover in raising Jehu to the throne, took no part in this proceeding. It seems that Jehu purposely did not call for his assistance, because he could not expect from him any approval of his falsehood and dissimulation. Jehonadab certainly does not appear here in the favorable light in which Krummacher represents him: “In fact, we hardly know what to praise most in this person, whether the soul, elevated and carried heavenward by divine inspiration, or the rare wisdom, which, in its rich measure, is so peculiar to him, or the clear, unwavering insight with which he commands everything, and which enables him to pass spiritual judgment upon all, or the foresight and care, as enlightened as tender, which we see him employ in behalf of his family and its interests for centuries to come.” Neither the passage before us nor Jerem. 35 mentions with a syllable these grand characteristics. The further delineation is still more arbitrary and unfounded: “So they (Jehu and Jehonadab) sit together—a dark thunder-cloud softly enfolded in a rainbow of promise, as if Law and Gospel had been personified in living allegories: Jehu, the woe of God’s condemnation upon all godlessness; Jehonadab, the divine director to point upward to the throne of grace.… Jehonadab, the Church, which lives in heaven; Jehu, the State, which protects,” &c.
5. The continuance of the worship of the calves under Jehu shows that he was not fully in earnest in the zeal for Jehovah, of which he boasted to Jehonadab, otherwise he must have destroyed the golden calves in Bethel and in Dan, as well as the idols in the temple of Baal at Samaria. He did not let them stand because he considered that what he had done was enough “to satisfy the obligation (?) which he had undertaken towards the prophet of Jehovah” (Menzel). The reason was rather the same one which had led the founder of the kingdom of Israel, Jeroboam, to introduce the worship of these images (1 Kings 12:26 sq., and Hist. § 1). By abolishing the worship of the calves, Jehu would have torn down the partition between the two kingdoms and would have endangered his throne. His zeal for Jehovah did not go so far as this. His royal authority was more important to him than the law of Jehovah. Political and dynastic interests restrained him after he had extinguished the house of Ahab and abolished the worship of Baal. The manner in which he conducted himself in this matter showed that “he did not walk in the law of the Lord with all his heart” (2 Kings 10:31), and this became still clearer when he was firmly established on the throne. He is, therefore, it is true, praised for his zeal in rooting out and destroying the worship of Baal, but is, at the same time, declared guilty of the “sins of Jeroboam,” and this is given as the reason why Jehovah began, in his reign, to cut off provinces from Israel, and why his dynasty should have no firm duration. This criticism of his reign by the author of the history (who was probably one of the prophets) shows that the prophets of the time opposed the worship of the calves [although it was intended, in a certain way, as a worship of Jehovah], and did not simply, as Ewald asserts (see above, Pt. II. p. 35), combat the worship of false gods. [The view of these things entertained by the prophet-author of the Book of Kings, who lived at a much later period and under very different circumstances, cannot be regarded as any indication of the views of “the prophets of the time,” in regard to them.—W. G. S.] The great and bloody revolution of Jehu had, therefore, a merely negative result, namely, the abolition of the worship of false gods; the positive results, the restoration of the constitution, i.e., of the covenant of Jehovah, was prevented by political considerations, i.e., by personal ambition and love of power. It is another proof that a religious reformation can only fail of its objects and come to naught, so soon as political and dynastic interests get control of it, or, indeed, are involved in it.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
2 Kings 10:1–27.—The two Chief Acts of King Jehu: (a) The destruction of the entire family of Ahab, 2 Kings 10:1–17; (b) the abolition of the worship of Baal, 2 Kings 10:18–27 (see the Hist. notes).
2 Kings 10:1. WÜRT. SUMM.: Though a large family of children is a blessing of God (Ps. 127:3), yet we must not rely upon them, or be self-willed on that account, as if the family could not die out, but we must fear God, must not stain ourselves with sin against our consciences, and must bring up children in the fear of God, else He will take them away and destroy the entire family. Ps. 112:1, 2.
2 Kings 10:1–7. The Governors and Chief Men at Samaria: (a) Their cowardice, (b) their blind slavishness, (c) their unfaithfulness.—Moral decline among the highest ranks of a nation generally proceeds from a corrupt court which sets the fashion (Ahab and Jezebel). As is the master, so is the servant.—He who has the power in his hands always finds instruments among the great and those of high rank, who shrink back from no demand which is made upon them, however much it may conflict with honor and duty.—Those who no longer fear God, must fear men. Fear of men may become the cause of the greatest crimes. Therefore the Lord says: (Matt. 10:28).
2 Kings 10:6, 7. WÜRT. SUMM.: Here we have an example of unfaithful tutors and governors and friends, who look, in their actions, not to the interests of the orphans, but to their own advantage, and let the orphans and their cause be ruined. As Jehu nevertheless destroyed them all (2 Kings 10:17), so will the just God also bring upon the heads of false friends and trustees, all the unfaithfulness which they inflict upon orphans: therefore, let such be warned against all violation of their trust.—KYBURZ: The children of this world become traitors to one another, as we see in the case of these guardians of the royal children. How they probably promised with all zeal to guard the life, the honor, and the rights of these princes! Now, they themselves become their murderers. Let no man trust the golden words of him who fears man more than he fears God.—Unfaithfulness ruins those who practise it. Jehu must infer from the treason of these guardians towards their wards that they would still less be faithful to him. He, therefore, treated them as they treated those who had been entrusted to them.—Though the crime which these men perpetrated against their wards could hardly occur in our day, yet instructors and guardians are not wanting who become murderers of the souls of their pupils, in that they mislead them by example and precept into apostasy from the living God and disbelief in His holy word, instead of educating them in “the fear and admonition of the Lord.” (Cf. Matt. 18:6.)—KRUMMACHER: What is the worth of all the friendship and favor and trust of this world! It is like a tree in soft, loose ground, which, so long as thou holdest it upright, covers thee pleasantly with its shadow, but which, when the storm roars through its top, and it is overthrown, no longer takes account of thee, but crushes thee in its fall.
2 Kings 10:8–11. Jehu’s Words to the People: (a) He says to the people just what they like to hear: “Ye are just;” (b) he throws the guilt off from himself on to others: “But who slew all these?” (c) he represents something which he had done himself as a divine dispensation: “The Lord hath done that which he spake,” &c.—He who has a good conscience may alone appeal to God’s word. Guard thyself from the great mistake of glossing over and justifying thy sins and errors by citations from the word of God.—Human sins are not justified by the fact that they are made means in the hand of God for accomplishing his judgments.
2 Kings 10:12–16. Jehu’s Journey to Samaria: (a) His meeting with the brethren of Ahaziah, 2 Kings 10:12–14; (b) his meeting with Jehonadab, 2 Kings 10:15, 16.
2 Kings 10:12, 13. The quiet and peaceful house of the shepherd becomes a house of terror and of death. Destruction overtakes the self-assured on their way to pleasure and joy!—WÜRT. SUMM.: When we go out of the house, let us commit ourselves into the hands of God, for much may happen on our journey to prevent us from coming in life or happiness homeward (James 4:13–15).
Ver 15. Jehonadab, son of Rechab, chief of the Rechabites (Jer 35), is a type of faithful adherence to the faith and the customs of the fathers in the midst of an apostate, wavering people.—Decided and firm faith, combined with a strict and earnest life, compels respect even from those who themselves follow another course.—Where there is agreement in the highest and most important interests, there one may find a speedy and easy basis of intercourse, whatever may be the difference of rank or nationality.—KYBURZ: Jesus says to me and thee what Jehu said to Jehonadab: If thine heart is right with mine, as mine with thine, then come up to me upon my throne (Rev. 3:21).
2 Kings 10:16. Zeal for the Lord is a great and rare thing, when it is pure. It forfeits its reward, however, when it aims to be seen (Matt. 6:1–6). How many a one deceives himself with his zeal for the Lord, and for His kingdom, when, at the bottom, he is zealous only for himself, for his own honor and fame, his own interest and advantage.
2 Kings 10:18–28. The great Feast of Baal at Samaria: (a) The preparation of it; (b) its finale.—A work which is in itself pure and holy loses its value when it is accomplished by falsehood and dissimulation. One cannot battle for the truth with the weapons of falsehood (Rom. 3:8).—BERLEB. BIBEL: What things one may do by outward acts, and yet be internally a hypocrite! Jehu dissimulated in order to circumvent the hypocrites and idolaters, and never recognized the hypocrite and idolater in himself.—Jehu destroyed the worship of false gods by the sword, and by external violence. He had full justification for this in the Law, for, under the old covenant, idolatry was the worm at the root of the Israelitish nationality; it was high treason to the Israelitish state. Under the new covenant, it is not permitted to make use of fire and sword against heresy and superstition. No other weapon may here be used than that of the spirit, that is, the word of God. Christianity is not bound to any people; as it was not brought into the world by violence, so it cannot be extended and nourished by the sword.—Even now every civil power has the right and the duty to proceed to extreme measures against a cultus like that of Baal, which is interwoven with, licentiousness and abominations.
2 Kings 10:21. The house of Baal was full from wall to wall. The houses in which worship and sacrifice are rendered to the deities of this world, to the lusts of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, are full, also now-a-days, from wall to wall, while the churches, in which the word resounds: “Repent and be converted that your sins may be forgiven,” are empty.
2 Kings 10:26 sq. J. LANGE: The destruction and desecration of the temple of Baal was a genuine physical preaching of repentance through the entire country, by which many a one may have been awakened from the sleep of sin, and many a faithful soul may have been strengthened in goodness. As the German hymn says: “Bring all false gods to shame! The Lord is God! Give to our God the praise!”
2 Kings 10:28–33. Jehu is a type of those who show great zeal in tearing down and destroying superstition and false worship, but do nothing to build up the faith, because they themselves have no living faith, and do not walk before God with all their hearts.—Jehu did indeed destroy idolatry, but he did not touch the chief sin of Israel, because he considered it the chief support of his own authority. So many a one renounces gross, external sins, but will not think of denying himself, of sacrificing his own interests, and of turning his heart to the living God.—He who remains standing half-way, goes backward in spite of himself. Jehu would not desist from the sins of Jeroboam, because he thought that it would cost him his crown, but on that very account he lost one province after another.
2 Kings 10:1.—[For יזרעאל read הָעִיר אֶל. See Exeg.—אחאב אמנים], “Ahab’s tutors.” Since, however, they were not tutors of Ahab, but those whom he had appointed to instruct his sons, אמנים stands in a loose construction in the case absolute.
2 Kings 10:2.—[After the formal greeting and address of the letter, which are not given here, its substance began with וְעַתָּה. Cf. 2 Kings 5:6.]
2 Kings 10:3.—[עַל, for. Ewald, § 217, i. ß.]
2 Kings 10:11.—[הִשְׁאִיר is an infinitive. See Text. and Gramm. on 2 Kings 3:25.]
2 Kings 10:16.—[All the versions but the Chaldee have the singular.]
2 Kings 10:24.—[For יִמָּלֵט read יְמַלֵּט with Keil, Thenius, Bunsen, and others.—W. G. S.]
And Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to them that brought up Ahab's children, saying,