2 Kings 10
Ahab had seventy sons still living in Samaria. Jehu wrote letters addressed to the officers of Jezreel, the city elders, and those in charge of Ahab’s sons, and posted them to Samaria. The letters read:
This letter is fair warning. You’re in charge of your master’s children, chariots, horses, fortifications, and weapons. Pick the best and most capable of your master’s sons and put him on the throne. Prepare to fight for your master’s position.
They were absolutely terrified at the letter. They said, “Two kings have already been wiped out by him; what hope do we have?”
So they sent the warden of the palace, the mayor of the city, the elders, and the guardians to Jehu with this message: “We are your servants. Whatever you say, we’ll do. We’re not making anyone king here. You’re in charge—do what you think best.”
Then Jehu wrote a second letter:
If you are on my side and are willing to follow my orders, here’s what you do: Decapitate the sons of your master and bring the heads to me by this time tomorrow in Jezreel.
The king’s sons numbered seventy. The leaders of the city had taken responsibility for them. When they got the letter, they took the king’s sons and killed all seventy. Then they put the heads in baskets and sent them to Jehu in Jezreel.
A messenger reported to Jehu: “They’ve delivered the heads of the king’s sons.”
He said, “Stack them in two piles at the city gate until morning.”
In the morning Jehu came out, stood before the people, and addressed them formally: “Do you realize that this very day you are participants in God’s righteous workings? True, I am the one who conspired against my master and assassinated him. But who, do you suppose, is responsible for this pile of skulls? Know this for certain: Not a single syllable that God spoke in judgment on the family of Ahab is canceled; you’re seeing it with your own eyes—God doing what, through Elijah, he said he’d do.”
Then Jehu proceeded to kill everyone who had anything to do with Ahab’s family in Jezreel—leaders, friends, priests. He wiped out the entire lot.
That done, he brushed himself off and set out for Samaria. Along the way, at Beth Eked (Binding House) of the Shepherds, he met up with some relatives of Ahaziah king of Judah.
Jehu said, “Who are you?”
They said, “We’re relatives of Ahaziah and we’ve come down to a reunion of the royal family.”
“Grab them!” ordered Jehu. They were taken and then massacred at the well of Beth Eked. Forty-two of them—no survivors.
He went on from there and came upon Jehonadab the Recabite who was on his way to meet him. Greeting him, he said, “Are we together and of one mind in this?”
Jehonadab said, “We are—count on me.”
“Then give me your hand,” said Jehu.
They shook hands on it and Jehonadab stepped up into the chariot with Jehu.
“Come along with me,” said Jehu, “and witness my zeal for God.”Together they proceeded in the chariot.
When they arrived in Samaria, Jehu massacred everyone left in Samaria who was in any way connected with Ahab—a mass execution, just as God had told Elijah.
Next, Jehu got all the people together and addressed them:
Ahab served Baal small-time;
Jehu will serve him big-time.
“Get all the prophets of Baal here—everyone who served him, all his priests. Get everyone here; don’t leave anyone out. I have a great sacrifice to offer Baal. If you don’t show up, you won’t live to tell about it.” (Jehu was lying, of course. He planned to destroy all the worshipers of Baal.)
Jehu ordered, “Make preparation for a holy convocation for Baal.” They did and posted the date.
Jehu then summoned everyone in Israel. They came in droves—every worshiper of Baal in the country. Nobody stayed home. They came and packed the temple of Baal to capacity.
Jehu directed the keeper of the wardrobe, “Get robes for all the servants of Baal.” He brought out their robes.
Jehu and Jehonadab the Recabite now entered the temple of Baal and said, “Double-check and make sure that there are no worshipers of God in here; only Baal-worshipers are allowed.” Then they launched the worship, making the sacrifices and burnt offerings.
Meanwhile, Jehu had stationed eighty men outside with orders: “Don’t let a single person escape; if you do, it’s your life for his life.”
When Jehu had finished with the sacrificial solemnities, he signaled to the officers and guards, “Enter and kill! No survivors!”
And the bloody slaughter began. The officers and guards threw the corpses outside and cleared the way to enter the inner shrine of Baal. They hauled out the sacred phallic stone from the temple of Baal and pulverized it. They smashed the Baal altars and tore down the Baal temple. It’s been a public toilet ever since.
And that’s the story of Jehu’s wasting of Baal in Israel.
But for all that, Jehu didn’t turn back from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, the sins that had dragged Israel into a life of sin—the golden calves in Bethel and Dan stayed.
God commended Jehu: “You did well to do what I saw was best. You did what I ordered against the family of Ahab. As reward, your sons will occupy the throne of Israel for four generations.”
Even then, though, Jehu wasn’t careful to walk in God’s ways and honor the God of Israel from an undivided heart. He didn’t turn back from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into a life of sin.
It was about this time that God began to shrink Israel. Hazael hacked away at the borders of Israel from the Jordan to the east—all the territory of Gilead, Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh from Aroer near the Brook Arnon. In effect, all Gilead and Bashan.
The rest of the life and times of Jehu, his accomplishments and fame, are written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. Jehu died and was buried in the family plot in Samaria. His son Jehoahaz was the next king. Jehu ruled Israel from Samaria for twenty-eight years.
2 Kings 11
Athaliah of Judah
Athaliah was the mother of Ahaziah. When she saw that her son was dead, she took over. She began by massacring the entire royal family. But Jehosheba, daughter of King Joram and sister of Ahaziah, took Ahaziah’s son Joash and kidnapped him from among the king’s sons slated for slaughter. She hid him and his nurse in a private room away from Athaliah. He didn’t get killed. He was there with her, hidden away for six years in The Temple of God. Athaliah, oblivious to his existence, ruled the country.
In the seventh year Jehoiada sent for the captains of the bodyguards and the Palace Security Force. They met him in The Temple of God. He made a covenant with them, swore them to secrecy, and only then showed them the young prince.
Then he commanded them, “These are your instructions: Those of you who come on duty on the Sabbath and guard the palace, and those of you who go off duty on the Sabbath and guard The Temple of God, are to join forces at the time of the changing of the guard and form a ring around the young king, weapons at the ready. Kill anyone who tries to break through your ranks. Your job is to stay with the king at all times and places, coming and going.”
The captains obeyed the orders of Jehoiada the priest. Each took his men, those who came on duty on the Sabbath and those who went off duty on the Sabbath, and presented them to Jehoiada the priest. The priest armed the officers with spears and shields originally belonging to King David, stored in The Temple of God. Well-armed, the guards took up their assigned positions for protecting the king, from one end of The Temple to the other, surrounding both Altar and Temple.
Then the priest brought the prince into view, crowned him, handed him the scroll of God’s covenant, and made him king. As they anointed him, everyone applauded and shouted, “Long live the king!”
Athaliah heard the shouting of guards and people and came to the crowd gathered at The Temple of God. Astonished, she saw the king standing beside the throne, flanked by the captains and heralds, with everybody beside themselves with joy, trumpets blaring. Athaliah ripped her robes in dismay and shouted, “Treason! Treason!”
Jehoiada the priest ordered the military officers, “Drag her outside and kill anyone who tries to follow her!” (The priest had said, “Don’t kill her inside The Temple of God.”) So they dragged her out to the palace’s horse corral; there they killed her.
Jehoiada now made a covenant between God and the king and the people: They were God’s people. Another covenant was made between the king and the people.
The people poured into the temple of Baal and tore it down, smashing altar and images to smithereens. They killed Mattan the priest in front of the altar.
Jehoiada then stationed sentries in The Temple of God. He arranged for the officers of the bodyguard and the palace security, along with the people themselves, to escort the king down from The Temple of God through the Gate of the Guards and into the palace. There he sat on the royal throne. Everybody celebrated the event. And the city was safe and undisturbed—they had killed Athaliah with the royal sword.
Joash was seven years old when he became king.