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:
Verse 1. - And Elisha the prophet called one of the children of the prophets; i.e. one of the students in one of the prophetical schools which he superintended. There is no indication that the individual chosen for the mission stood to Elisha in any peculiar relation. A rabbinical fancy, scarcely to be called a tradition, makes him "Jonah, the son of Amittai." And said unto him, Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil; rather, this flask of oil. Oil and ointments were commonly kept in open-mouthed jars, vases, or bottles, made of stone, glass, or alabaster, as appears from the remains found in Egypt and Assyria. Many of the bottles are earlier than the time of Elisha. In thine hand, and go to Ramoth-Gilead. Ramoth-Gilead lay across the Jordan, in the proper territory of Gad. It had been seized and occupied by the Syrians in the reign of Ahab; and the possession had been maintained till recently. Joram, however, had recovered it (Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 9:6. § 1, Ἤδη γὰρ αὐτὴν ἡρήκει κατὰ κράτος), and had left a strong garrison in the place when he retired to Jezreel.
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;
Verse 2. - And when thou comest thither, look out Share Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi. Jehu had been in a high position under Ahab (ver. 25), and had been pointed out to Elijah, by Divine revelation, as the future King of Israel (1 Kings 19:16). Elijah had been bidden to anoint him king, but apparently had neglected to do so, or rather had devolved the task upon his successor. Meantime Jehu served as a soldier under Ahaziah and Jehoram, Ahab's sons, and attained such distinction that he became one of the captains of the host (infra, ver. 5), according to Josephus (l.s.c.) the chief captain. Jehu was commonly known as "the son of Nimshi" (1 Kings 19:16; 2 Kings 9:20), either because, his father having died young, he was brought up by his grandfather, or perhaps simply "because Nimshi was a person of more importance than Jehoshaphat." And go in - i.e., seek his presence, go into his quarters, wherever they may be, have direct speech with him - and make him arise up from among his brethren (comp. vers. 5 and 6). Jehu's "brethren" are his brother-officers, among whom Elisha knows that he will be found sitting. And carry him to an inner chamber. Persuade him, i.e., to quit the place where thou wilt find him sitting with the other generals, and to go with thee into a private apartment for secret conference. Secrecy was of extreme importance, lest Joram should get knowledge of what was happening, and prepare himself for resistance. Had he not been taken by surprise, the result might have been a long and bloody civil war.
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.
Verse 3. - Then take - rather, and take - the box of oil - rather, the flask of oil - and pour it on his head. Compare the consecration of Aaron to the high-priestly (Leviticus 8:12), and of Saul (1 Samuel 10:1) and David (1 Samuel 16:12) to the kingly office. The oil used was the holy anointing oil of the sanctuary (Exodus 30:25) - τὸ ἅγιον ἔλαιον, as Josephus says. And say, Thus faith the Lord, I have anointed thee king over Israel. This is an abbreviated form of the actual message, which is given in its entirety in vers. 7-10. The writer of Kings avoids all needless repetitions. Then open the door - the conference was to be with closed doors, that no one might either hear or see what took place - and flee, and tarry not. The Divine message delivered, all would have been done that needed to be done. There would be nothing to wait for. So the young man was to depart with the same haste with which he had come.
So the young man, even the young man the prophet, went to Ramothgilead.
Verse 4. - So the young man, even the young man the prophet - the repetition of han-na'ar is doubtful, since it is not found either in the Syriac or in the Septuagint - went to Ramoth-Gilead.
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.
Verse 5. - And when he came, behold, the captains of the host were sitting - either "sitting in council," or, at any rate, collected together in one place, not engaged in any active work, but seated - and he said, I have an errand - literally, a word - to thee, O captain. Probably he knew Jehu by sight, and looked at him as he spoke; but, as he addressed no one by name, there might be a doubt who was intended. Jehu, therefore, causes the doubt to be resolved by his question. And Jehu said, Unto which of all us? And he said - i.e., the young man the prophet answered - To thee, O captain. Jehu was thus singled out as the object of the message - the person to whom alone it was addressed, and whose special attention was, consequently, required to it.
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.
Verse 6. - And he (Jehu) arose, and went into the house. Jehu left his seat, rose up, and led the way, from the court, where he had probably been sitting with the other generals, into the house which adjoined the court. The messenger followed; and the two were together, alone. And he - i.e. the messenger - poured the oil on his head - as directed (ver. 3) - and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel; literally, Thus saith Jehovah, God of Israel. Jehovah's name is emphatically put forward, in contrast with the name of Baal, as that of the true God of Israel; and appeal is made to Jehu, as to one whose God is Jehovah, and who will accept as authoritative a message emanating from him. I have anointed thee king over the people of the Lord, even over Israel; literally, over the people of Jehovah, over Israel. Practically, the people is, in the main, "the people of Baal" (2 Kings 10:19-21), but theoretically and by covenant it is "the people of Jehovah" - his "peculiar people" (Deuteronomy 14:2), chosen by him out of all the nations of the earth to be his own.
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.
Verse 7. - And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master. This is plainly a command, not a prophecy. Jehu is expressly ordered by God to "smite," i.e. destroy utterly, the whole house of Ahab. This command he carried out (vers. 24, 33; 2 Kings 10:1-11); and his obedience to it obtained for him the temporal reward that his children to the fourth generation should sit on the throne of Israel (2 Kings 10:30). Yet still his conduct in destroying the house of Ahab is spoken of by the Prophet Hosea as a sin, and God declares, by Hosea's mouth, that he will "avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu" (Hosea 1:4). It is naturally asked - "How could Jehu's shedding this blood, at God's command and in fulfillment of his will, be a sin?" And it is rightly answered, "Because, if we do what is the will of God for any end of our own, for anything except God, we do in fact our own will, not God's. It was not lawful for Jehu to depose and slay the king his master, except at the express command of God, who, as the supreme King, sets up and puts down earthly rulers as he wills. For any other end, and done otherwise than at God's express command, such an act is sin. Jehu was rewarded for the measure in which he fulfilled God's commands, as Ahab, 'who had sold himself to work wickedness,' had yet a temporal reward for humbling himself publicly, when rebuked by God for his sin, and so honoring God, amid an apostate people. But Jehu, by cleaving, against the will of God, to Jeroboam's sin (2 Kings 10:29, 31), which served his own political ends, showed that, in the slaughter of his master, he acted, not as he pretended, out of zeal for the will of God (2 Kings 10:16), but served his own will and his own ambition only. By his disobedience to the one command of God, he showed that he would have equally disobeyed the other, had it been contrary to his own will or interest. He had no principle of obedience. And so the blood which was shed according to the righteous judgment of God, became sin to him that shed it in order to fulfill, not the will of God, but his own" (see Dr. Pusey's 'Minor Prophets, with a Commentary,' p. 9, col. 1). That I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets. Comp. 1 Kings 18:4 and 1 Kings 19:14. Elijah believed all the prophets of Jehovah, except himself, to have been either slain or banished under Ahab, as we see from 1 Kings 18:22 and 1 Kings 19:10, 14. And the blood of all the servants of the Lord. There had evidently been a general persecution of the followers of Jehovah, and not merely a persecution of the prophets. It was only after a number of martyrdoms that the followers of Jehovah in Israel were reduced (1 Kings 19:18) to the scanty number of "seven thousand." At the hand of Jezebel. Jezebel was at the bottom of all the persecutions. Sometimes she took matters into her own hands, gave her own orders, and saw them carried out (1 Kings 18:13; 1 Kings 21:8-14). At other times she was content to "stir her husband up" (1 Kings 21:25) and incite him to evil courses.
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:
Verse 8. - For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that passeth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel (see the comment on 1 Kings 14:10). While the exact force of the phrases used is doubtful, the general intention to embrace in the sentence all Ahab's posterity cannot be doubted.
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:
Verse 9. - And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Jeroboam's house had been "cut off," smitten, destroyed, till not one of his posterity was left, about seventy years previously (1 Kings 15:29), by Baasha, "because of his sins which he sinned, and which he made Israel sin, by his provocation wherewith he provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger" (1 Kings 15:30). The far greater sin of Ahab could not be visited with less severity. And like the house of Baasha the Son of Ahijah. As the whole house of Jeroboam had been cut off for its idolatries, so the house of Baasha, which succeeded to the throne, was removed even more speedily, Baasha himself and all his posterity being swept from the earth by. Zimri, who "smote him and killed him," and succeeded him (1 Kings 16:11). The house of Ahab had had a double warning of the fate in reserve for those who deserted the religion of Jehovah, but had disregarded both warnings alike, and had provoked God yet more than their predecessors, by introducing a novel and degraded form of idolatrous worship.
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.
Verse 10. - And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel. This had been previously prophesied by Elijah (1 Kings 21:23; 2 Kings 9:26, 27). To an Israelite, and even to a Phoenician, it was an awful threat; for both nations alike buried their dead carefully in deep-dug graves or rocky receptacles, and both regarded the desecration of a corpse as a grievous calamity ('Records of the Past,' vol. 9. pp. 112,114). The dog was to the Hebrews, and to the Orientals generally, an unclean animal, and to be devoured by dogs would have been viewed as a fate which, for a queen, was almost inconceivable. And there shall be none to bury her. Jezebel had no one sufficiently interested in her fate to watch over her remains. Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, had kept watch over the bodies of the seven sons of Saul, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night (2 Samuel 21:10); and in Greece, if we may believe the poets, life had been risked, and actually forfeited, to save a near relative from similar ignominy (Soph., 'Ant.,' lines 245-743). But "Jezebel had none to bury her." When she was ejected from the palace window (ver. 33) and fell to the ground, and was trodden under foot by Jehu's chariot-horses, no one came forth from the palace to give the bruised and wounded corpse such tendance as was possible. There was entire neglect of the body for (probably) some hours; and, during these, the catastrophe occurred which Divine foresight had prophesied, but which human malice had not intended (see vers. 34-37). And he opened the door, and fled. The young man the prophet obeyed to the letter the injunctions which Elisha had given him (ver. 3). The moment that he had executed his errand, he fled.
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.
Verses 11-22. - Conspiracy of Jehu against Jehoram. Verse 11. - Then Jehu came forth to the servants of his lord. After the young man the prophet had made his precipitate retreat, Jehu, too, quitted the inner chamber, and "came forth" - returned to the place where he had been sitting with "the servants of his lord" - the other captains of the host (ver. 5) - and rejoined their company. And one said unto him, Is all well? One of the other captains of the host took the word and asked, in the ordinary phraseology of the time, "Is it peace?" (comp. vers. 17,18, 19, 22) - or, in other words, u Is all right?" "Is all well?" The sudden appearance and disappearance of the messenger had evidently created an impression that all was not well. Wherefore came this mad fellow to thee? He did not suppose the man to be actually mad. He calls him "this wild fellow" - "this scatterbrain," on account of the haste and strangeness of his conduct; but he quite expects to hear that there was "method in the madness," and that the communication had some serious import. And he - i.e. Jehu - said unto them, Ye know the man, and his communication. Jehu suspected that the whole scene had been arranged beforehand; that Elisha and the young prophet and the captains of the host were in league, and had concerted a way of offering him the throne. He may have had reason to regard the captains as disaffected towards Jehoram, though this does not appear at all distinctly in the very brief narrative.
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.
Verse 12. - And they said, It is false. There was no rudeness in the reply. It merely denied that Jehu's supposition was correct. There had been no collusion between the spiritual and temporal authorities. The captains had no knowledge of the young prophet's errand. Tell us now. "Tell us," i.e., "what the young prophet said, since we are completely in the dark upon the subject." And he said, Thus and thus spoke he to me, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Jehu declared to them without any reserve all that the young prophet had said to him. He accepted their declaration that they were not in league with him, and then gave them an exact account of all that had occurred. He left it for them to determine what, under the circumstances, they would do.
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.
Verse 13. - Then they hasted, and took every man his garment, and put it under him on the top of the stairs. Kings were honored by the spreading of garments in their way, that their feet might not touch the dusty ground (Matthew 20:8). The captains of the host, without hesitation, acclaimed Jehu king on the strength of the prophetical announcement, made his cause their own, and joined in his rebellion. It is reasonably conjectured (Bahr) that "a deep dissatisfaction with Joram must have prevailed in the army," though whether the dissatisfaction arose from the idolatry of the house of Ahab, or from Joram's withdrawal from the war, may be doubted, Jehu, on the ether hand, was evidently highly esteemed. The captains threw themselves with ardor into his cause, and extemporized a sort of enthronement. As often in an Oriental house, an external staircase led from the court to the upper story or to the roof. This they carpeted with their begeds, or outer cloaks, and, seating him on the top stair, saluted him as actual king. The expression, el-gerem ham-ma'aloth, is not literally, "on the top of the stairs," but rather "on the stairs themselves." Naturally, however, the captains would emplace him upon the topmost stair. And blew with trumpets. This was a recognized part of the ceremonial of a coronation (see 2 Samuel 15:10; 1 Kings 1:39; 2 Kings 11:14). Saying, Jehu is king.
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.
Verse 14. - So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi (see the comment on ver. 2) conspired against Joram. It is not meant that there was a secret conspiracy previous to the prophet's coming, but that, by the open acts which followed on his coming, Jehu and the captains were guilty of a "conspiracy." Now Joram had kept Ra-moth-Gilead; rather, now Joram was keeping Ramoth-Gilead. Joram, in his capacity of chief ruler, was keeping, i.e. defending, Ramoth-Gilead against the Syrians with the bulk of his forces. He and all Israel, because of Hazael King of Syria; since Hazael wished to win the city back, and would have done so, had it not been stoutly defended. The writer speaks of Joram as the defender, though he was absent, because the defense was made under his orders. Then, to lore-vent misunderstanding, he repeats what he had already said in 2 Kings 8:29 with respect to Joram's wounds, and his retirement to Jezreel to be healed of them.
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.
Verse 15. - 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 (see the comment on 2 Kings 8:29). And Jehu said, If it be your minds. As soon as he is proclaimed king, Jehu addresses himself to the captains, and proposes a policy. He does not venture to assume a tone of authority, or of imperative command, since he is still but a pretender, and not "established in the kingdom." "If it be your minds," he says; i.e. "If you agree with me, and have nothing to urge against my proposal. Then let none go forth nor escape from the city - literally, let no escaper go forth from the city - equivalent to let no one quit the city - to go to tell it in Jezreel. This is the important point. Secrecy was absolutely essential. If the revolt had got wind - and a single messenger might have carried the news - the whole attempt might have failed, or only have succeeded after a long and bloody civil war. All John's efforts were bent on keeping his revolt secret until he himself announced it to the astonished king (see ver. 22).
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.
Verse 16. - So Jehu rode in a chariot, and went to Jezreel; for Joram lay there. We must understand that the captains came into Jehu's views, acknowledged the necessity of secrecy, and took precautions against the departure of any one, openly or secretly, from the city. Jehu, with a moderate troop or company (שִׁפְעֶה), sets out, perhaps on the very day of his enthronement, and hastens with all speed to Jezreel, bent on arriving there before any suspicion has arisen of revolt or rebellion. His great object was to surprise Joram, and to kill or capture him before he could take any steps to organize a defense. Probably the force which accompanied him was wholly a chariot force. And Ahaziah King of Judah was come down to see Joram (see 2 Kings 8:29, and the comment A.D. loc). Ahaziah, it must be remembered, was Joram's nephew, as well as his ally in the war against Syria. It was natural that he should visit his uncle when he was wounded, even if the wounds were not very serious.
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?
Verse 17. - And there stood a watchman on the tower in Jezreel; literally, and the watchman stood on the tower in Jezreel. The watchtower on the southeast, towards Ramoth-Gilead, is intended. There were probably others in other directions; but the writer is not concerned with them. Each watchtower had its one watchman, who gave warning if anything unusual caught his attention. And he spied the company of Jehu as he came. Shiph'ah is generally "abundance," "multitude" (Deuteronomy 33:19; Job 22:11; Isaiah 60:6), but seems here to designate a "baud ' or "company" of moderate size. It is a somewhat rare word. And said, I see a company. The watchman gave notice to those whose business it was to inform the king, that a band or company of men was approaching the city. And Joram said, Take an horseman, and send to meet them, and let him say, Is it peace? Joram apprehended no danger. If the "company" had been a band of Syrians, or other enemies, coming in hostile fashion, the watchman would have worded his warning differently. The king probably concluded that he was about to receive tidings from the seat of war, and meant to ask, "Is the news good or bad - peaceful or the contrary?" No blame attaches to him for not taking alarm at once.
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.
Verse 18. - 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. Jehu chooses to accept the messenger's words as if they were his own, and not those of the king. "What does it matter to such a one as thee, a mere common man, whether my tidings are peaceful or the contrary? I shall not tell thee my errand. Turn and follow in my train." The messenger had no choice but to obey. An attempt at flight would have led to his being seized or slain. And the watchman told, saying, The messenger came to them, but he cometh not again. The watchman evidently thought his not returning suspicious, and reported it at once. Joram should now have taken alarm, but he did not. He appears to have had no notion that any danger could be approaching.
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.
Verse 19. - Then he sent out a second on horseback. Persistency in a course shown by experience to be futile was characteristic of the sons of Ahab and Jezebel (compare the conduct of Ahaziah, as described in 2 Kings 1:9, 11, 13). Which came to them, and said, Thus saith the king, Is it peace? Exactly the same inquiry as before, and no doubt in the same sense (see the comment on ver. 17). Jehu, addressed with the same words thinks it sufficient to give the same answer. His object is to lose no time, but to reach the king as quickly as possible. And Jehu answered, What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me.
And the watchman told, saying, He came even unto them, and cometh not again: and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously.
Verse 20. - And the watchman told, saying, He came even unto them, and cometh not again. A still stranger circumstance, and one still more suspicious. The second messenger could only have been sent out because the king disapproved the detention or the first. Whoever, therefore, had detained the second messenger must be consciously acting in opposition to the wishes of the king. And the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi. It is not meant that Jehu was driving his own chariot (which great men never did, 2 Kings 22:3-4), and drove in a furious manner, but that the "company" was being urged forward at an unusual pace, in a reckless and hot-headed way. The watchman conjectured, therefore, that Jehu must be leading them, since he had a character for impetuosity. For he driveth furiously; or, madly - " like a madman" (Keil) - "praecipitanter" (Vatabl.). The LXX. translate ἐν παραλλαγῇ - which has, perhaps, the same meaning (comp. Eur., 'Hipp.,' 935; Lysias, Ft., 58).
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.
Verse 21. - And Joram said, Make ready - rather, harness; literally, attach - i.e. "attach the horses to the chariot - and his chariot was made ready - literally, and one attached, or harnessed, his chariot - and Joram King of Israel and Ahaziah King of Judah went out, each in his chariot. The uncle and the nephew went out together, still, as it would seem, unapprehensive of any danger, though the circumstances were certainly such as might well have amused suspicion. Joram was probably anxious to know the reasons which had induced the captain of his host to quit his post at Ramoth-Gilead. Ahaziah probably accompanied him out of politeness, though he too may have been curious to learn the news. If any disaster had overtaken the army of Israel, the safety of Judah might also be endangered. "Tun res agitur, paries cum proximus ardet." And they went out against Jehu - rather, to meet Jehu - εἰς ἀπαντὴν Ἰοὺ (LXX.); see the Revised Version - and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite. Humanly speaking, this was accidental. The "portion of Naboth," or his plot of ground, lay outside the southeastern gate of the city, at no great distance from the walls; and it happened that Joram and Jehu met within its limits. Had the king started a little sooner, or had Jehu made less haste, the meeting would have taken place further from the town, and outside the "portion of Naboth." But Divine providence so ordered matters that vengeance for the sin of Ahab was exacted upon the very scene of his guilt, and a prophecy made, probably by Elisha, years previously, and treasured up in the memory of Jehu (ver. 26), was fulfilled to the letter.
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?
Verse 22. - And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? Still the same question is asked; but we cannot be sure that it is asked in exactly the same sense. Something in the aspect of Jehu, and in his furious haste, may by this time have alarmed the king. Or possibly he maybe merely repeating the question put through his messengers, and still unanswered, Is all well with the army or no? Has there been any disaster?" Jehu, at any rate, chooses to understand his vague phrase in the former sense, as if he had asked, "Is it peace between thee and me?" and answers in the negative. And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witch-crafts are so many? literally, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and those many witchcrafts of hers continue. By "whoredoms" are meant idolatries, as so frequently in Scripture (Leviticus 19:29; Leviticus 20:5; Jeremiah 3:2, 9; Jeremiah 13:17; Ezekiel 16:17; Ezekiel 20:30; Ezekiel 23:11, etc.; Hosea 2:2; Hosea 4:12; Hosea 5:4; Nahum 3:4, etc.); by "witchcrafts" all those magical practices which were so common at the time in Egypt, Assyria, and Babylonia, and no doubt also in Phoenicia, and which were so strictly forbidden by the Mosaic Law (Exodus 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:10). Besides the Baal-worship, Jezebel had introduced these unhallowed practices into the kingdom of Israel. Jehu reproaches Joram with allowing them, and declares that there can be no peace between him and his master under ouch circumstances. Having gained his object and got within bowshot of the unsuspecting monarch, he throws off the mask and declares uncompromising hostility. "No man could use such terms of the queen-mother who was willing any longer to be a subject."
And Joram turned his hands, and fled, and said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, O Ahaziah.
Verse 23-26. - Murder of Jehoram by Jehu. Verse 23. - And Joram tamed his hands, and fled. Joram made his charioteer turn the chariot suddenly round, and fled by the way by which he had come. "Turning the hands" is turning the chariot round by means of the hands; and Joram is said to have done that which he caused to be done. And said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, O Ahaziah. Mirmah is "deceit" or "fraud" of any kind, and here is not ill rendered by "treachery." Jehu's conduct was not justified by the mission given him (vers. 6-10), which certainly did not authorize him to commit a treacherous murder.
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.
Verse 24. - And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength. This meaning is scarcely contained in the Hebrew, which merely says that Jehu "filled his hand with his bow," that is to say, took his bow into his hands for the purpose of using it. And smote Jehoram between his arms; i.e. directed an arrow against Jehoram with so true an aim, that it struck him in the middle of the back between his shoulders. And the arrow went out at his heart. This was quite possible, for the heart lies towards the center of the chest, not wholly on the left side. It is not necessary to suppose an oblique wound. And he sank down in his chariot. Jehoram fell into the "well," or body, of the chariot, and there lay, the chariot being brought to a stand.
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;
Verse 25. - Then said Jehu to Bidkar his captain; literally, his thirdsman; Keil renders "his aide-de-camp," probably one of those who was in his chariot with him - Take up, and cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite. "Take up the body," i.e. "and cast it into the plot of ground which once belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite, and was forfeited to the crown at his death (1 Kings 21:15), and taken possession of by Ahab" (1 Kings 21:16). The reason for the order follows. For remember how that, when I and thou rode together after Ahab his father, the Lord laid this burden upon him. The LXX. have μνημονεύω, "I remember;" but the Hebrew text is זכר, not אזכר "Remember" (imperative mood) is the correct translation. Jehu recalls his captain's recollection to an occurrence which was deeply impressed upon his own. "When thou and I rode together after Ahab" probably means "when we two stood behind Ahab in his chariot." The Assyrian sculptures usually represent the monarch as attended by two body-guards, who ride in the same chariot with him, standing up behind him, and often interposing their shields to protect his person. In this near proximity Jehu and Bidkar would hear any speech which was addressed to Ahab. By a "burden" is meant a sentence of punishment (comp. Isaiah 13:1; Isaiah 15:1; Isaiah 17:1; etc.; Nahum 1:1, etc.).
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.
Verse 26. - Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth (comp. 1 Kings 21:19, where the same idea of retribution is expressed, though in different words). Jehu, after the lapse of fourteen or fifteen years, naturally had forgotten the exact words used. And the blood of his sons. The execution of Naboth's sons had not been mentioned previously; but, under the rude jurisprudence of the age (2 Kings 14:6), sons were usually slain with their fathers. And, unless they had been removed, Ahab could not have inherited the vineyard. Saith the Lord; and I will requite thee in this plat, saith the Lord. This was the gist of the prophecy, which ran as follows: "In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine." Now therefore take and cast him into the plat of ground, according to the word of the Lord. The evil prophesied against Ahab had been formally and expressly deferred to his son's days on Ahab's repentance (cf. 1 Kings 21:29).
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.
Verses 27-29. - Murder of Ahaziah. Verse 27. - But when Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled by the way of the garden house. As soon as Ahaziah saw Jehu shoot his arrow, he too took to flight; not, however, in the same direction as Joram, but southwards, towards his own land. If "garden house" is the right translation of בֵית הַגַּן, we can say no more than that it was probably one of the lodges of the royal demesne, which lay south-east and south of Jezreel, whereof nothing more is known. But it is quite possible that we ought to translate, with the LXX., "by the way of Beth-Gan" - ἔφυγεν ὁδὸν Βαιθ(γάν. In this case "Beth-Gan" would be a village or town, probably identical with En-gannim, which lay at the foot of the hills bounding the Plain of Esdraelon, nearly due south of Jezreel (Zerin), and which is now known as Jenin (see the Map of Western Palestine, by Mr. Trelawney Saunders, compiled from the surveys of the Palestine Exploration Fund, where Ahaziah's flight is well traced. And Jehu followed after him; and said, Smite him also in the chariot; rather, in his chariot, not in that of Jehoram, since the two kings rode respectively in their own chariots (ver. 21). It was a bold step in a pretender not yet settled upon the throne to provoke the hostility of a neighboring country by murdering its monarch; but Jehu probably thought he had more to fear from Ahaziah himself, who had been on such close terms of friendship with Jehoram, than from any probable successors. He, therefore, finding him in his power, pursued after him and slew him. From a religious point of view he could justify the act; since the commission given to him (ver. 7) was to smite all the house of Ahab, and Ahaziah was Ahab's grandson. And they did so at the going up to Gur, which is by Ibleam. The "ascent of Gur," מַעֲלֵה־גוּר, was probably the rising ground between the southern edge of the Plain of Esdraslon and the place known as" Ibleam," or "Bileam" (1 Chronicles 6:70), which is reasonably identified with the modern Bir-el-Belameh, two miles south of Jenin. Here the steep ascent necessarily delayed the chariot, and Ahaziah's pursuers gained upon him, approached him, and wounded him. And he fled to Megiddo. Wounded at the ascent of Gur, and despairing of making his way through the rough mountainous country which lay between him and Jerusalem, Ahaziah suddenly changed his route, perhaps thereby baffling his pursuers, and, skirting the hills, had himself conveyed to Megiddo (Ledjun), where he died, either of his wounds, or through some fresh violence on the part of Jehu (see 2 Chronicles 12:8, 9). The reconciliation of 2 Chronicles 12:8, 9 with the present passage is difficult, but not wholly impossible. Perhaps the Chronicler means by "Samaria" the kingdom, not the town.
And his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his sepulchre with his fathers in the city of David.
Verse 28. - And his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem. No king of the house of David had as yet been buried elsewhere than in the rock-hewn sepulcher which David had constructed for himself and family at Jerusalem. As soon, therefore, as Ahaziah was dead, his attendants conveyed his dead body in a chariot to the Judaean capital. Jehu did not oppose, having no quarrel with the dead. And buried him in his sepulcher; i.e. in the particular excavation, or loculus, which he had prepared for himself. Jewish, like Egyptian, kings seem to have made it their business to see to the construction of their tomb as soon as they mounted the throne. Thus Ahaziah, though he had reigned but a year (2 Kings 8:26), had already prepared, himself, a sepulcher. His "servants" buried him in it. With his fathers in the city of David (comp. 1 Kings 11:43; 14:37; 15:8, 24; 22:50; 2 Kings 8:24).
And in the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab began Ahaziah to reign over Judah.
Verse 29. - And in the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab began Ahaziah to reign over Israel. In 2 Kings 8:25 the accession of Ahaziah is placed in Joram's twelfth, instead of his eleventh, year. The slight discrepancy is sufficiently explained By the double reckoning of a king's "first year," familiar to chronologists, either
(1) from the date of the accession to the end of the current civil year; or
(2) from the date of the accession to the same day in the ensuing year. Vers. 30-37. - Death of Jezebel.
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.
Verse 30. - And when Jehu was come to Jezreel. Some commentators suppose that Jehu did not engage personally in the pursuit of Ahaziah, but, leaving that to a portion of his retinue, pushed on with all haste to Jezreel, where Jezebel was, "the originator of all the mischief." But it is certainly more natural to understand (with Keil and Josephus) that Jehu himself pursued. The pursuit to Ibleam, where Ahaziah was mortally wounded, and the return to Jezreel, need not have occupied more than about three hours. Jezebel heard of it. She would naturally be the first to hear. On the death of her son, which must have been plainly seen from the walls of Jezreel, she become practically the chief authority in the place, and indeed in the kingdom. Jehoram's sons were probably minors. And she painted her face; literally, and she put her eyes in antimony; i.e. she adorned her eyes with the dark dye which has always been fashionable in the East, and which is still used at the present day. The dye is spread both on the upper and the lower eyelids. It at once increases the apparent size of the eye, and gives it unnatural brilliancy. The Oriental nations, Babylonians, Assyrians, Medes, Persians, were acquainted with the practice from very early times; and it is not surprising that it was known to Jezebel. What was her exact object in applying it is more doubtful. The older commentators, who are followed by Ewald, suppose that she intended to "summon up all her seductive fascinations in order to tempt and conquer Jehu;" but more recent writers (Bahr, Keil, and others) argue that her probable age renders this incredible, since she had already a grandson who was twenty-three years of age (2 Kings 8:26), and must therefore have been herself at least fifty. But, if we remember that Cleopatra was forty when She held Antony as her slave and hoped to captivate Augustus, it would seem to be not altogether beyond the bounds of possibility that a Phoouician princess of fifty may have thought that, by the use of art, she might reader herself a captivating personage. There is, at any rate no evidence that "putting the eyes in antimony" was an ordinary or a fitting preparation for meeting death in a way worthy of a queen. Ewald's view has, therefore much to commend it to our acceptance. Jezebel, trusting in the charms and the fascination which had been so potent over Ahab, may have imagined that she had still enough beauty left to capture Jehu, provided she increased her natural attractions by a careful use of all the resources of art. And tired her head. Phoenician statues of goddesses have their hair arranged in long pendent curls, and bear on their heads a small conical cap with a ribbon wreathed round the base. The artists probably had queens and princesses as their models. There is no evidence that false hair was worn in Phoenicia, either by men or women. And looked out at a window. Windows, sometimes open, sometimes latticed, were common in Oriental houses from the earliest times. They mostly looked into the court round which a house was commonly built; but some few were in the external wall of the building; and through these new arrivals might be reconnoitered. Jezebel "looked out," partly to see, but perhaps still more to be seen.
And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?
Verse 31. - And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, who slew his master? This is a possible meaning of Jezebel's words, and it has among its advocates - Luther, De Wette, Maurer, and Dathe, besides our own translators. But so defiant an utterance is quite incompatible within intention to captivate and conciliate. Probably, therefore, we should understand the queen either as saying affirmatively, "Peace to thee, Zimri!" (or, "Hail, Zimri!") "slayer of thy lord," or else as asking, "Is it peace" (i.e. "Is it peace now between thee and me?"), Zimri, slayer of thy lord?" In either case, Zimri is an honorific appellation, recalling the fact of another Israelite general, who had revolted, slain his master, and reigned as king.
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.
Verse 32. - And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, Who is on my side? who? Whatever Jezebel's intention, Jehu yielded not a jot; he was deaf to her flatteries, blind to her seductions. He had made up his mind for "war to the knife" before he embarked upon his enterprise, and the feeble attempts of a queen whose part was played out, whose age he knew, and whom he no doubt regarded as an old woman, had no power on him. Instead of responding to her blandishments, he took a stern and hard line. He would not see her privately. He summoned to his aid the menials of the palace - the eunuchs -those on whom beauty has least influence. "Who is on my side? who?" he exclaimed (literally, "Who is with me? who?"); thus calling on the court servants to desert their masters, the guards to turn their swords against their employers, the menials to consummate an intra-palatial revolution. We cannot deny to Jehu the credit of vigor, promptness, audacity, the talent to seize on the opportunity of the moment, and to make the most of it; but he must ever present himself to us as the rough soldier, with no courtesy, with no chivalry, bent on accomplishing his own ends, and shrinking from no deed of blood, no precedent pessimi exempli, if thereby his ends might be brought about. And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs. Eunuchs had become an integral part both of the Jewish and of the Israelite courts from the time of David (1 Chronicles 28:1). They are an institution which almost necessarily accompanies polygamy; and they had long held high office in. Egypt, in Babylon, and in Assyria. A position outside nature, at variance with all men's natural feelings and aspirations, of necessity depraves the character, weakens the moral principle, and ends by debasing the class. In Oriental history, the lowest, vilest part is always played by the eunuchs of the palace, who are ever ready to take part in any intrigues, in any conspiracies, and who seem to be almost wholly devoid of the ordinary feelings of humanity. The eunuchs who "looked out" to Jehu were probably the chief eunuchs of the palace, who had authority over the others, and indeed over the court officials generally.
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.
Verse 33. And he said, Throw her down. A splendid example of the wicked man's prompt and bold and unscrupulous decision. A queen, a queen-mother, always more tenderly regarded than an ordinary queen-regnant, a princess in her own right (see ver. 34), daughter of a neighboring and powerful potentate, settled in her kingdom for over thirty years, the most powerful person the state during that entire period, backed up by the numerous and dominant party of her co-religionists, she is to Jehu nothing but a wicked woman who is in his way; she inspires him with no awe, she does not even touch him with any feeling of respect. "Throw her down." History presents no parallel to such an indignity. Kings and queens had been, time after time, removed by violence; their lives had been taken; they had been transplanted to another sphere of being. But the open casting forth from a window of a crowned head by the menials of the court, at the command of a usurper, was a new thing, unprecedented, unparalleled. It must have been a shock to all established notions of propriety. In commanding it Jehu showed his superiority to existing prejudice, his utter fearlessness, and his willingness to create a new precedent, which might seriously shake the monarchical principle. So they threw her down. There appears to have been no hesitation. The boldness of Jehu communicated itself to those whom he addressed; and the eunuchs violently seized the person of the queen, and precipitated her from the window to the ground below. She fell on the road by which the palace was approached, and lay there bleeding and helpless. And some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall. As she fell, some portion of her body struck against the wall of the palace, and left splashes of blood upon it. There were probably some projections from the wall between the window and the ground. And on the horses. As her body struck the projections, a bloody shower spurted from it, which fell in part upon the horses that drew Jehu's chariot. And he trode her underfoot. Like Tullia (Liv, 1:48), Jehu had his chariot driven over the prostrate corpse, so that the hoofs of his horses, and perhaps his own person, were sprinkled with the royal blood. Compare the passage of Livy, "Amens, agi-tantibus furiis, Tullia per patris corpus carpentum egisse fertur, partemque sanguinis ac caedis paternae cruento vehiculo, contaminata ipsa respersaque, tutisse ad penates suos virique sui." It is not often that royal corpses, unless in the heat of battle, have received such treatment.
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.
Verse 34. - And when he was come in - i.e. when Jehu had established himself in the royal palace - he did eat and drink, and said. His first care was to refresh himself - to order a banquet to be served, and to satisfy his appetite with food and drink. Not till afterwards did he bethink himself of the bloody corpse of his late queen and mistress, lying on the cold ground uncared for and untended, exposed to scorn and ignominy. When the thought occurred to him, it brought about a certain amount of relenting. Go, see now this cursed woman. He calls Jezebel, "a cursed woman," not inappropriately. She had brought a curse on her husband, on her sons, and on her grandsons; she had been the evil genius of two countries, Israel and Judah; she had been the prime mover in a bloody persecution of the worshippers of Jehovah; and was the true original source of the present revolution, which was to result in the deaths of so many others. And bury her: for she is a king's daughter. As queen-mother, Jehu, it seems, would not have regarded Jezebel as entitled to burial; but as daughter of Eth-Baal, King of the Zidonians (1 Kings 16:31), and so a princess born, he allowed her claim. Perhaps he feared lest further insult to the corpse might provoke the resentment of the Phoenician monarch, and draw down upon him that prince's hostility.
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.
Verse 35. - 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. "The harder parts of the human frame" (Stanley); perhaps also the less palatable, since cannibals say that the palm of the human hand is excessively bitter. Dogs in Oriental countries are ever prowling about, especially in the vicinity of towns, on the lookout for food, and will eat flesh or offal of any kind. They have been called "the scavengers of the East," and the phrase well describes them. Dean Stanley saw "the wild dogs of Jezreel prowling about the mounds where the offal is cast outside the gates of the town by the inhabitants."
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:
Verse 36. - Wherefore they came again, and told him. The men whom he had sent to bury Jezebel returned, and told the king what they had found. The narrative woke another chord of memory which had hitherto slept. And he said, This is the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite. The prophecy referred to is doubtless that recorded in 1 Kings 21:23. It is, however, here expanded, either because Jehu's recollection was not exact, or because the record in 1 Kings is abbreviated. The great point of the prophecy is common to both records, viz. that the dogs should eat Jezebel at Jezreel, on the scene of her iniquities. Saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel. It is not quite clear what is meant by the portion (חֵלָק) of Jezreel. Probably there is no allusion to the "portion" (חֶלְקָה) of Naboth (vers. 25, 26). Rather the same is meant as by חֵל in 1 Kings 21:23, viz. the cultivated space or "portion" of land outside the wall of the town (see the comment on that passage).
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.
Verse 37. - And the carcass of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field (comp. Psalm 83:10; Zephaniah 1:17; Jeremiah 9:22; Jeremiah 16:4, etc.). The expression was proverbial. In the portion of Jezreel (see the comment on the preceding verse); so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel. The fragments of the body were so scattered that there could be no collective tomb, no place whereat admirers could congregate and say, "Here lies the great queen - here lies Jezebel." To rest in no tomb was viewed as a shame and a disgrace.