The deaths of 70 descendants of Ahab

Chapter 10

The deaths of 70 descendants of Ahab

v1 There were 70 *descendants of Ahab’s family who lived in Samaria. Jehu wrote letters and he sent them to Samaria. Jehu sent the letters to the rulers of Jezreel. He also sent them to the leaders. And he sent them to those people who looked after Ahab’s *descendants. This is what Jehu wrote. v2 ‘You look after the king’s *descendants. You have *chariots, horses, and weapons (military arms). And you have a strong city. So, when you receive this letter, v3 choose the best and most suitable person among your master’s *descendants. Then make him the king. And fight to defend him.’

v4 But those people in Samaria were very afraid. They said this. ‘We cannot oppose Jehu if two kings could not do it.’

v5 The rulers of the palace and the city acted with the leaders and the people who looked after Ahab’s *descendants. Together, they all sent this message to Jehu. ‘We are your servants. We will do anything that you say. But we will not make anyone the king. Do whatever you consider to be the best thing.’

v6 Then Jehu wrote a second letter to them. In it, he said this. ‘If you are on my side, then obey me. Bring the heads of your master’s *descendants to me. Bring them here to Jezreel by this time tomorrow.’

Now the principal citizens of Samaria were looking after the 70 royal princes. v7 When the letter arrived, those men killed all 70 princes. They put the princes’ heads in baskets and they sent them to Jehu. Jehu was in Jezreel. v8 The man that had taken the letter said this to Jehu. ‘They have brought the heads of the princes.’

Then Jehu gave an order. ‘Put the heads in two piles at the city’s gate. Leave them there until morning.’

v9 The next day, Jehu went out and he spoke to all the people. He said, ‘You are innocent. I plotted against King Joram and I killed him. But someone else killed all these 70 princes. v10 Know this! Everything that the *Lord has spoken against Ahab’s family will become true. The *Lord has done what he promised by means of his servant Elijah.’ v11 So Jehu killed all the family of Ahab that remained alive in Jezreel. He also killed Ahab’s officers, close friends and priests. Nobody from Ahab’s family remained alive.

The *Lord appointed Jehu to carry out his punishment against Ahab’s family. But Jehu was not a good man (verse 31). He served God when he acted against Ahab’s *descendants (verse 30). But Jehu was too cruel. He killed people whom he should not have killed (Hosea 1:4).

Jehu used two different methods to oppose his enemies in *Israel:

(1) He was a skilled politician. He used clever political language. He chose his actions well. He was able to persuade people to support him.

(2) He did not allow his enemies to become powerful. Instead, he killed them first. He killed them when they were too weak to defend themselves.

Jehu had already killed Joram, Ahaziah and Jezebel. God had clearly told him to kill them as a punishment (9:7-10). They were Jehu’s most powerful enemies in *Israel. But God had also told Jehu that no male *descendant of Ahab should remain alive. So Jehu had more work to do.

At this time, Jehu ruled Jezreel. But the most important city in *Israel was Samaria. 70 male *descendants of Ahab lived there. They were all princes. The principal citizens of Samaria were bringing them up. Jehu could see that any one of them could try to become king. Jehu would not have a peaceful rule unless the inhabitants of Samaria supported him.

Jehu used a clever scheme to obtain their support. He told them to appoint a *descendant of Ahab as king. And Jehu invited them to fight for that king, if they dared. If they were loyal to Ahab’s family, they should fight on behalf of that family. But they refused to do that. They had seen that nobody was able to oppose Jehu. Instead, they agreed to do anything that he wanted. So they promised to be loyal to Jehu.

Jehu ordered them to bring the heads of Ahab’s *descendants that they were looking after. People could understand the instruction in two ways. It could have meant, ‘Bring the heads of Ahab’s most important *descendants.’ Or it could have meant, ‘Bring the heads of all Ahab’s *descendants.’

The leaders of Samaria did what Jehu hoped. They killed all those *descendants and they brought their heads in baskets. That was an awful thing to do. But they felt that they had to do it. Otherwise, Jehu might bring his army to surround Samaria. Such an event had already happened during their lives (6:24-30). They could not risk that it might happen again.

Of course, God had said that the male *descendants of Ahab could not remain alive (1 Kings 21:21; 2 Kings 9:8). This was God’s punishment because of the wicked behaviour of Ahab and his family.

Afterwards, Jehu told the leaders that they were all on the same side. He told them that they were innocent of King Joram’s death. They had not killed Joram. But they had killed all the princes, and Jehu had not done so! Nobody could blame him for that, he said. He was careful not to remind them that he ordered them to do it. And Jehu showed how Elijah’s *prophecy had become true.

Jehu left the heads outside the city gates. That was probably to warn other people. He wanted the inhabitants of Jezreel to support him completely. There were more people in *Israel whom he wanted to kill.

Next, Jehu carried out the worst act during his rule. He had already killed all the male *descendants of Ahab. He had already killed anyone who might try to become king.

But still Jehu went through Jezreel (verse 11). And he killed everyone whom he did not like there. God did not tell Jehu to kill Ahab’s friends or his officers. God did not tell Jehu to kill any relatives of Ahab who were not Ahab’s *descendants. But Jehu did that because he wanted to control *Israel completely. In the end, God would punish Jehu’s family because of Jehu’s actions at Jezreel (Hosea 1:4).

v12 Jehu then went to Samaria. On the way, he came to *Shepherd’s Camp. v13 There he met some relatives of Ahaziah, king of *Judah. Jehu asked, ‘Who are you?’

They replied, ’We are relatives of Ahaziah. We have come here to greet the family of the king (Joram) and the king’s mother (Jezebel).’

v14 ‘*Capture them,’ Jehu ordered. So his men *captured Ahaziah’s relatives. Then he killed them near the well at *Shepherd’s Camp. There were 42 men. Jehu did not leave any relatives alive.

Jehu met some relatives of Ahaziah. They had not heard what had happened. They were going to greet Joram’s family. Jehu killed Ahaziah’s relatives because they were also relatives of Athaliah. Athaliah was not only Ahaziah’s mother, but she was also Ahab’s daughter.

It is not clear whether God wanted Jehu to kill Ahaziah’s relatives. God told Jehu to kill Ahab’s male *descendants, but not other relatives. These people were probably other relatives. But their reply showed that they were loyal to Ahab’s family. Perhaps the explanation of this event is that Jehu did not care about such matters. He was carrying out a revolution. He was killing hundreds of people. He killed anyone who was not loyal to him. He was not asking what God wanted him to do. Jehu was doing whatever he (Jehu) wanted to do.

Jehu kills the *prophets of *Baal

v15 After Jehu left that place, he met Jehonadab, the son of Rechab. Jehonadab had come there in order to meet Jehu. Jehu greeted Jehonadab. Jehu said, ‘Will you support me as I support you?’

Jehonadab said, ‘Yes.’

Jehu said, ‘If that is so, give me your hand.’ Jehonadab did that, and Jehu helped Jehonadab to get into the *chariot. v16 Jehu said, ‘Come. You will see how loyal I am to the *Lord.’ So he made Jehonadab ride in his (Jehu’s) *chariot.

v17 When Jehu came to Samaria, he killed all the other people in Ahab’s family. He did it as the *Lord had told Elijah.

v18 Then Jehu called all the people together. Jehu said to them, ‘Ahab served *Baal in a weak manner. Jehu will serve *Baal much more. v19 Now call *Baal’s *prophets, his *worshippers and his priests. Make sure that nobody is absent. I intend to offer a great *sacrifice to *Baal. I will kill anyone that does not come.’ [But Jehu was lying. He wanted to kill all the *worshippers of *Baal.]

v20 Jehu said this. ‘Announce a day when people will give honour to *Baal.’ So people announced it. v21 Jehu sent people with messages all over *Israel. Everyone that gave honour to *Baal came. Nobody was absent. They all went into *Baal’s *temple until it was completely full. v22 Jehu ordered the man that looked after the holy clothes to give them to the *worshippers of *Baal. So the man did that.

v23 Then Jehu and Jehonadab, who was Rechab’s son, went into *Baal’s *temple. Jehu said this to the people that *worshipped *Baal. ‘Make sure that there are no servants of the *Lord here. There must only be servants of *Baal.’ v24 So the *worshippers went in to make *sacrifices and *burnt *offerings. Jehu had told 80 men to stand outside the *temple. He told them, ‘You must kill all the people. If you let anyone escape, you will die.’

v25 As soon as Jehu had made the *burnt *offering, he gave the order to the guards and officers. ‘Go in and kill them all. Do not let anyone escape.’ So the guards and officers killed all the *worshippers with their swords. They threw out the bodies. Then they went into the inner part of *Baal’s *temple. v26 The guards and officers brought out the holy stone from *Baal’s *temple and they burned the stone.v27 They pulled down the holy stone of *Baal and they pulled down the *temple of *Baal. Since then, people have used the place as a toilet.

Jehonadab was the leader of a group of people called the Rechabites. This group of people believed that it was wrong to *worship *Baal. They lived in tents in the country. They did not drink wine. You can read more about them in Jeremiah chapter 35.

It seems that Jehonadab heard about Jehu’s actions against Ahab’s family. And so Jehonadab went to meet Jehu. They became friends at once. They had a common purpose. They both opposed the rule of Ahab’s family. They both opposed the *worship of *Baal. And they both wanted to fight against the *Lord’s enemies.

Jehu invited Jehonadab into his *chariot. Jehu had plans to fight against more of the *Lord’s enemies. Those plans pleased Jehonadab. The two men agreed to act together in order to carry out those plans.

Jehu and Jehonadab were in complete agreement about their plans to oppose *Baal *worship. But it seems that their reasons were different. Jehu opposed *Baal *worship for political reasons. He wanted to establish a strong government that he controlled totally. He could see that the *worshippers of *Baal would be against him. He had killed the family of Ahab. And it was Ahab who introduced *Baal *worship in *Israel.

It seems that Jehonadab’s reasons to oppose *Baal *worship were more sincere. We can read in Jeremiah chapter 35 about the attitudes of the people called Rechabites. They were very loyal people. So probably Jehonadab opposed *Baal because Jehonadab was loyal to the *Lord. And of course, that was how Jehu encouraged Jehonadab to support him in verse 16. Jehu always used political language well. He knew how to impress people.

First, Jehu killed all the members of Ahab’s family that remained in Samaria. Then Jehu plotted to kill all the people that followed *Baal. He said, ‘Ahab served *Baal in a weak manner. Jehu will serve him much more.’ So Jehu lied to them. His real plan was to end the *worship of *Baal in *Israel. But he pretended that he was going to *worship *Baal with them.

Jehu organised a special ceremony at *Baal’s *temple. People came from all over *Israel to attend the ceremony. Jehu made sure that all *Baal’s servants were in the *temple. He also made sure that no servants of the *Lord were there. When everyone was inside, he ordered his guards and officers to kill them all. Afterwards, the guards and officers broke the stone image of *Baal. They pulled down the *temple and they destroyed the stone.

Nobody ever rebuilt that *temple. People considered it an *unclean place. They did not still *worship there. But perhaps a youth might pass that place as he worked in the hills. He might go behind the piles of stone when he needed the toilet. His actions would show that nobody still respected the place.

God’s *prophecy about the punishment of Ahab’s family became true. The people destroyed the religion of the false god *Baal. But that religion continued in other places. And the people in *Israel would continue to *worship other false gods. Even Jehu *worshipped *idols.

In the end, God will stop all false religion. The Book of Revelation shows us the fate of all those people that oppose God. ‘Some people’s names were not in the book of life. Those people went into the lake of fire’ (Revelation 20:15).

v28 So Jehu made the people in *Israel stop *worshipping *Baal. He destroyed the things that people used in that *worship. v29 But he did not refuse to do the *sin of Jeroboam, Nebat’s son. Jeroboam had made *Israel’s people *worship the gold images of young *bulls at Bethel and Dan.

v30 The *Lord said this to Jehu. ‘You have obeyed me. You have done to Ahab’s family all that I wanted you to do. So your *descendants will be kings of *Israel for four *generations.’ v31 But Jehu did not completely obey the law of the *Lord, who is the God of *Israel. Jehu behaved like Jeroboam, who led *Israel into *sin.

v32 At that time, the *Lord began to reduce the size of the *Israelites’ territory. Syria’s king Hazael *conquered all the *Israelites’ territory v33 on the east side of the Jordan river. He *conquered the territory as far south as the town called Aroer by the Arnon river. That included the territories called Gilead and Bashan. They were where the *tribes called Gad, Reuben and east Manasseh lived.

v34 You can read about the events during Jehu’s rule. You can read about his other deeds and the things that he achieved. They are in the history of *Israel’s kings.

v35 Jehu died and people buried him in Samaria. Jehoahaz, his son, became the king after him. v36 Jehu ruled over *Israel for 28 years. He ruled in Samaria.

Many things that Jehu did were good. He removed the things that people used to *worship *Baal. He made the people stop *worshipping *Baal. God promised Jehu that four *generations of his family would rule over *Israel. His family’s rule lasted nearly 100 years.

However, Jehu did not make the people stop *worshipping the images of young *bulls. Jeroboam had made those earlier. Jeroboam established those images for his own political benefit. Jehu continued that *worship. So people did not go to Jerusalem to *worship the real God. In that matter, Jehu did not try to please God.

Hosea 1:4 explains Jehu’s other important *sin. He was guilty of many murders at Jezreel. 2 Kings 10:11 explains what he did. It seems that Jehu acted for political reasons. He wanted to make his government stronger. But God did not tell him to kill those people. Jehu was a cruel man. And that *sin was the reason why Jehu’s family would only rule *Israel for 4 *generations. In the end, God ended the rule of Jehu’s family because of his wicked actions at Jezreel.

During Jehu’s rule, God allowed the *Syrians to take some land that belonged to *Israel’s people. And so the land that *Israel’s kings controlled became smaller. God had given *Israel many opportunities to be a great nation. But the people continued their *sin and they were not loyal to God.

Jehu tried to act like a man with two masters. Jehu served God when that benefited Jehu’s political schemes. But Jehu served false gods when that suited him. Jesus warned people not to have such an attitude. ‘A person cannot serve two masters loyally. That person will hate one master and he will love the other master. Or that person will obey one master and he will dislike the other master. So you cannot serve both God and money’ (Matthew 6:24).