Christian Churches of God
More Kings of Judah and Israel
(Edition 1.0 20090120-20090120)
While the kings of Israel and Judah continued to walk in the ways of their idolatrous predecessors, Jehu became king of Israel and was appointed to inflict the judgment Elijah had earlier pronounced against the house of Ahab. This paper has been adapted from chapters 129-132, Volume VI of The Bible Story by Basil Wolverton, published by Ambassador College Press.
More Kings of Judah and Israel
We continue here from the paper Elisha’s Ministry Continues (No. CB145).
After the death of Jehoram, Ahaziah, his son, became the next king of Judah. But he had been reared amid pagan practices, and did nothing to improve conditions in Judah. He walked in the ways of the house of Ahab and did evil in the eyes of the Lord – he was son-in-law to the house of Ahab.
At this time Jehoram (not the Jehoram of Judah who had recently died) was king of the House of Israel. He decided to take his army to Ramoth-gilead, a town occupied by Syrian soldiers. This fortified town was in the territory of Gad. The king didn't want the Syrians to continue possessing a stronghold inside Israel, especially that close to Samaria. When the young king of Judah heard about this, he added troops to those of Jehoram. So both kings with their combined forces went to war against Hazael, king of Syria.
However, Jehoram was seriously wounded so he returned to Jezreel to wait until his wounds healed. Then Ahaziah chose to go to Jezreel to visit Jehoram and learn if he had started to recover (2Kgs. 8:25-29; 2Chr. 22:1-6).
Meanwhile, Elisha the prophet was aware of what was taking place. Through God, he knew that it was time for the family of Ahab, because of disobedience, to come to an end. God instructed the prophet to choose one of his students to prepare for an immediate trip to Ramoth-gilead.
"There you will find Jehu, Jehoram's army commander," Elisha told the young man. "State that you have a private message for him and that you must see him alone."
The prophet gave him a flask of oil and explained how he was to use it and just what he should say. He was warned to leave Jehu the moment his mission was over.
When the young man arrived at Ramoth-gilead
he found the army officers sitting together. “I have a message for you
commander”, he said.
“For which of us,” asked Jehu.
“For you, commander,” the young man replied.
Jehu got up and went into the house and the young prophet followed him. He took the flask of olive oil and poured it over the head of Jehu.
"By the authority of the God of Israel, I anoint you as the next king of the House of Israel," the young man explained. "God wants to make it plain to you that as future king you must avenge the deaths of God's prophets at Samaria in Ahab's time; and the deaths of other servants of God caused by Jezebel. With God's help, you are to end the rule of the family of Ahab. That includes Queen Jezebel, whose body will be consumed by dogs, so that there will be little to bury" (2Kgs. 9:1-10).
Having accomplished what he was to do, the young man opened the door and hurried out.
When Jehu rejoined his fellow officers, one of them said to him, "I hope that fellow didn't annoy you. He was probably some kind of religious crackpot. What was his excuse for coming here?"
"You know the man and the sort of things he says”, Jehu replied.
"That’s not true!” they said. “Tell us what he said”.
Jehu replied, "He was sent by the prophet Elisha to tell me that I am to be the next king of the House of Israel."
The officers hurried and took off their jackets and spread them under him on the steps. In this manner, even though they had only the abrupt, brief declaration from their superior, they acknowledged him as their new ruler.
Then they blew the trumpet and shouted “Jehu is king” (2Kgs. 9:11-13).
Convinced of what he should do according to Elisha, whom he greatly respected, Jehu prepared to leave Ramoth-gilead.
"Don't let anyone leave our camps and go and tell the news in Jezreel,” Jehu said.
So Jehu set off for Jezreel in his chariot.
When a watchman in a lookout tower on the wall saw Jehu and his troops approaching he called out, “I see some troops coming”.
"Send a horseman out to meet them and and ask if they come in peace", Jehoram said.
Minutes later a rider drew up alongside Jehu's chariot and said, “The king asks if you come in peace?”
"Don't be concerned about peace!" Jehu shouted back. "Go fall in at the rear of the cavalry!"
When the rider failed to return within a reasonable time, Jehoram sent another man to meet the oncoming company. Jehu told him, too, to ride at the rear. The watchman told Jehoram that the company appeared to be led by a chariot, and that the driving was like that of Jehu, who drives like a madman (2Kgs. 9:14-20).
Both Jehoram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah set out at once, each in his own chariot, to meet Jehu's company. Not far outside Jezreel, where Naboth's vineyard had been taken from him (I Kings 21:1-16), they met Jehu.
"Have you come in peace?" Jehoram anxiously asked.
"How can there be peace in Israel as long as it has a king whose mother deals in adultery, witchcraft and idolatry, and whose son follows in her footsteps?" Jehu replied (2Kgs. 9:21-22).
Jehoram turned and fled calling out to Ahaziah, "Get out of here! These men have become our enemies!"
Jehu seized his bow and hastily fitted an arrow to the string. Seconds later Jehoram was dead on the floor of his chariot (2Kgs. 9:23-24).
"Take Jehoram's body and throw it into the field where Naboth the grape-grower was stoned to death," Jehu said to Bidkar, his cavalry captain. "Do you remember when we were young horse soldiers under Ahab, how Ahab's wife Jezebel had Naboth unjustly killed? Now let her dead son be food for wild dogs on the same spot where she had Naboth murdered" (2Kgs. 9:25-26; 1Kgs. 21:17-22).
The prophet had told that king about fifteen years previously that his blood would be licked up by dogs at the same place dogs had licked up Naboth's blood. In this event it was Ahab's son's blood, which was the same as his in a lineage sense.
When Ahaziah saw what happened he fled up the road in the direction of Beth-haggan. Jehu went after him and said, “Shoot him also”. And they shot him in his chariot on the way up to Gur. But he escaped to Megiddo, and died there. His servants took his body and buried him in the tomb of his fathers at Jerusalem.
Jehu then went to Jezreel where Jezebel was waiting for him. (Jezebel was Jehoram's mother and Ahaziah's grandmother.) She had painted her eyes and her hair was beautifully arranged.
As he entered the gate she called out to him from a window, “Have you come in peace, Zimri, you murderer of your master?” (2Kgs. 9:27-31).
Zimri had seized the throne from Elah by assassination and then killed the whole house of Baasha (1Kgs. 16:8-20).
Jehu looked up and called out, "Who is on my side?"
Two or three eunuchs appeared and looked down at him. "Throw that woman down!" Jehu said.
So they threw her out of the window and some of her blood splattered on the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot (2Kgs. 9:32-33).
Jehu then went in to eat and drink and he said, "Take care of that cursed woman and bury her. She was the daughter of a king, the wife of a king, the mother-in-law of a king and the grandmother of a king. She shouldn't be left unburied. Take her off the street and prepare a grave for her."
Jehu's men went to the place where they had last seen the body, but hungry dogs had already been there. Only the skull, feet and palms of her hands remained. The men returned to their commander to tell him what had happened (vv. 34-35).
"This is according to God's will," Jehu informed them. "Elijah the prophet foretold that dogs would consume this woman close to the wall of Jezreel. Not enough is left of her to even be buried. She will become only waste matter on the ground. She'll never have a monument or even a tombstone with her name on it" (2Kgs. 9:36-37; 1Kgs. 21:1-26).
This was the wretched end of a woman who was probably the most infamous in Bible history. Her evil, idolatrous life strongly influenced and infected all Israel, resulting in misery and unhappiness for many people. Probably a large part of them didn't deserve anything better, and so God allowed this woman to affect their lives in a step toward the destiny of all Israel.
To qualify as king of the House of Israel, Jehu's task was far from accomplished. Through him God purposed to destroy all of Ahab's family. Seventy of Ahab's sons lived in Samaria, the capital of Israel. Jehu wanted to move promptly against them before they could flee and hide in distant places.
So Jehu sent letters to close friends of Ahab, who cared for his younger sons, and to the head-men of Samaria. He suggested that they immediately choose one of the seventy sons of Ahab to lead them, using the equipment of war available in the city, in defending themselves against Jehu and his cavalry. This frightened the men in Samaria. They knew it would be futile to try to stand against Jehu. All they could do was send back a reply promising to cooperate in any way except to fight (2Kgs. 10:1-5).
A little later an answer came from Jehu. The men of Samaria were shocked and even more fearful when they read it.
"If you are on my side, take the heads of your master’s seventy sons and come to me at Jezreel at this time tomorrow."
So they slew the king’s sons and put their heads in baskets and sent them to Jehu. When Jehu heard the news, he instructed them to pile the heads in two heaps at the sides of the main gate of Jezreel. These were meant as grisly reminders to any who might consider resisting the new king.
Jehu came out to the gate next morning he said to all the people, “You are innocent. I conspired against the king and slew him but I didn't cut off those heads. I took Jehoram's life, and that was according to God's will. It's also God's will that all of Ahab's sons should die, according to the prophets Elijah and Elisha" (2Kgs. 10:6-10; 1Kgs. 21:17-19; 2Kgs. 9:1-10).
In the next hours Jehu and his men combed Jezreel and nearby regions for those related to Ahab, and put an end to their lives. They also did away with all pagan priests they could find. They then started for Samaria to continue their purpose, but stopped on the way at a shearing place where people were gathered. Jehu didn't recognize anyone there and no one seemed to recognize him.
"Who are all these?" he asked one man. "We are relatives of Ahaziah, king of Judah," the man proudly replied. "We are on our way to visit other relatives, Jehoram and Jezebel. We stopped here to take in the annual shearing event."
The speaker was unaware that the king and queen were dead and that he had just pronounced a death sentence on himself and his relatives. Jehu and his men acted at once and slew all forty-two of them (2Kgs. 10:11-14).
Again Jehu and his cavalry turned back for Samaria. On the way they met Jehonadab, son of Recab. Jehu knew of Jehonadab, and wondered if Jehonadab intended to oppose him.
"Do you disapprove of what I have been doing?" Jehu asked.
"I am in favour of it," Jehonadab replied. "I know that it's according to the will of God."
"Then go with me in my chariot to Samaria, and help us find the remaining kin of Ahab," Jehu said, holding out his hand to the other man. Jehonadab agreed and rode with Jehu in his chariot. (2Kgs. 10:15-16).
When Jehu came to Samaria, he killed all who were left there of Ahab’s family – according to the word of the Lord spoken to Elijah (v. 17).
Jehonadab, son of Recab had made a lasting name for himself by strict adherence to God's Law and by training his children so well they followed him. They were known as the Recabites (Jer. 35).
This marked an end to the expanded family of Ahab. If that king had been obedient to God, his descendants wouldn't have been slaughtered, and would have continued to rule as long as they lived and ruled wisely.
After Jehu had established himself at Samaria, he made a surprising public proclamation that he had decided to become a follower of Baal, even though he had put an end to some pagan priests in Jezreel. To make up for it, he declared that he would worship Baal with much more zeal than did Ahab, who sometimes was swayed to consider the God of Israel as more powerful. This was good news to the many followers of Baal in Israel, and especially to the priests of Baal, of whom there were hundreds in the land.
"I have chosen a day on which to offer sacrifice to Baal," Jehu announced. "Every loyal priest of that god should be present at the temple to participate in the ceremonies. Any priest who fails to show up will be subject to death." But Jehu was being deceitful because he wanted to destroy the worshippers of Baal (2Kgs.10:18-19).
When the special day came, so many priests attended that the building was packed. All the ministers of Baal came; not one stayed away.
Then Jehu told the keeper of the wardrobe to bring robes for all the ministers; and he did. So Jehu and Jehonadab went into the temple of Baal.
Jehu gave instructions that no follower of God should be allowed as a spectator in the temple. He also had stationed eighty men outside and told them if any of the Baal worshippers escaped they would pay with their lives.
When he had finished making the sacrifice Jehu said to the guard and the officers, “Go in and slay them; let no man escape!” So they cut them down with the sword.
After they had dragged the bodies out, the soldiers set about demolishing the temple of Baal. The temple building was ruined. Its rooms were used as public waste rooms for hundreds of years (vv. 20-28).
Jehu had obediently and zealously performed for God, but he wasn't inclined toward obedience toward God in other ways. Though he had fanatically wiped out the worship of Baal in Israel, he later promoted and encouraged the worship of the golden calves in shrines at Bethel near Jerusalem and at Dan near Mt. Hermon.
These animal images, set up by King Jeroboam more than ninety years previously, were supposedly intended as substitutes for God, so that the people of the northern tribes wouldn't have to go all the way to Jerusalem to worship and sacrifice. The fact was that Jeroboam didn't want his subjects to go into Judah, lest they find freedom of worship there and decide to stay. His spurious priests convinced many that God was pleased with this arrangement. In this matter Jehu followed to a great extent in Jeroboam's footsteps.
Through a prophet or priest or perhaps by means of a dream, the information was conveyed to Jehu that because he had carried out God's will in putting an end to Ahab's family, his descendants for the next four generations would rule ten tribes of Israel. At the same time it was made plain to him that if he continued condoning calf-image worship, trouble would come to his nation.
Jehu was a man who depended on his power and influence and the strength of armed men. He saw no need to change his ways for the sake of his country. Nevertheless, because he had been zealous in the beginning, God allowed him to be king for twenty-eight years. Jehu rested with his fathers and was buried in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son succeeded him as king (vv. 29-36).
Athaliah, mother of King Ahaziah of Judah, reacted in a terrible manner after her son was brought back dead to Jerusalem. She saw this as an opportunity to become the queen ruler of Judah. She was determined that if her son couldn't continue as king, none of the sons of her dead husband's other wives would succeed Ahaziah. Besides, she relished the idea of David's posterity coming to an end.
Only a daughter of that infamous couple, Ahab and Jezebel, might have been capable of what Athaliah caused to be done (2Kgs. 8:16-18). All the young sons of Ahaziah were found dead except little Jehoash, the infant son of Ahaziah. His grandmother intended to do away with him, too, but through some oversight he was spared. Jehosheba, Ahaziah's sister, found the child alive and temporarily hid him and his nurse in a bedroom closet. Later she took him to the temple where he remained hidden there for the next six years by Jehosheba and her husband, Jehoiada, who was the high priest.
Meanwhile Athaliah ruled Judah, unaware that there was a male descendant of David still living (2Kgs. 11:1-3; 2Chr. 22:10-12).
When Jehoash (also called Joash) was seven years old, Jehoiada, the high priest, made a covenant with the commanders of the Carites and the guards and put them under oath. (Carites were mercenary soldiers from Caria in Asia Minor who served as royal bodyguards; see footnote to v.4 in The NIV Study Bible.)
They went throughout Judah and gathered all the Levites from the cities and all the heads of families of the Israelites and they came to Jerusalem. And all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the House of the God.
Then Jehoiada said to them, “Behold the king’s son. Let him reign as the Lord spoke concerning the sons of David” (2Kgs. 11:4; 2Chr. 23:1-3).
Jehoiada disclosed his plans to declare Jehoash king on the next Sabbath. He divided the men into three groups, each of which was to be armed with weapons David had put in the temple treasury years before. This was a precaution against a possible attack on the temple and Jehoash by the royal guard. The queen was expected to be in a rage when she found out what was taking place.
On the Sabbath the men returned to the Temple to arm themselves and take up their positions. When all was ready, Jehoash was brought close to the altar and anointed king by Jehoiada and his sons. Trumpets blared and people applauded happily as a crown was placed on the boy's head.
"God save the king!" Jehoiada and his sons exclaimed, and the audience joined in (2Kgs. 11:5-12; 2Chr. 23:4-11).
Over at the palace, Athaliah, who didn't worship at the Temple of God, couldn't help hearing the shouts and music. She then went to the Temple and looked and there was the king, standing by the pillar as the custom was. The captains and trumpeters were beside the king and all the people of the land were rejoicing and singing and blowing trumpets.
And Athaliah tore her clothes and cried out, "This is treason!"
"Take her out of here!" the high priest ordered. "Don't let her die in the Temple of God! And execute anyone who tries to stop you!"
They seized her and she went into the entrance of the horse gate of the king’s house, and there they put her to death (2Kgs. 11:14-16; 2Chr. 23:12-15).
While the people were still at the Temple, Jehoiada told them that it was the time for looking fervently to God for the right way of living. He enjoined them to be obedient to the Creator and loyal to their new king.
During her reign, Athaliah had caused a temple to be built for the worship of Baal in Jerusalem. Soon after her death, the people went to the house of Baal and tore it down. They destroyed its altars and broke the images in pieces. And they slew Mattan, the priest of Baal, before the altars. This was the end of the evil thing Athaliah had brought to Judah.
Worship of God at the Temple that Solomon had built had declined during Athaliah's reign. Now, with none to interfere, people began to return. Jehoiada put more priests into service and stepped up activity at the Temple of God. He even reorganized the royal guard. Accompanied by these soldiers and marching bands, Jehoash was paraded from the Temple to the palace, where he was to live for many years (2Kgs. 11:17-21; 2Chr. 23:16-21).
Under the priest's influence, Jehoash grew up to be a just and capable ruler. Although he followed God most of his life, he did little to abolish the sacrificing that occasionally took place in other places besides the Temple, which had been vandalized by Athaliah's sons (2Chr. 24:7). It was Jehoash's ambition, as he matured, to have the Temple repaired, even though it would be costly to restore it close to its original condition.
To raise the money, Jehoash told the priests to collect all the money that was brought as sacred offerings to the Temple of the Lord for the repairs. But by the Twenty-third year of the reign of King Jehoash, the priests still had not repaired the Temple.
Therefore Jehoash summoned Jehoiada and the other priests to ask them why they weren’t repairing the Temple. He then told them not to take any more money from the treasuries but to hand it over for repairing the Temple. The priests agreed but they did not pay for the repairs from the money they had already received (2Kgs. 12:1-8; 2Chr. 24:1-7).
So Jehoiada took a large chest, bored a hole in its lid and placed it by the right side of the altar as one enters the temple. The priests who guarded the entrance put in all the money that was brought to the House of the Lord. Whenever they noticed a large amount of money in the chest it was counted and put in bags and given to the men in charge of repairing the Temple.
The money was used to pay the workers on the Temple – carpenters, masons, stonecutters etc. They purchased all the materials necessary to repair the Temple and met the other expenses. Jehoiada used most of what remained to fashion gold and silver bowls and utensils to be used by the priests in their functions. And they offered burnt offerings in the House of Lord continually all the days of Jehoiada.
It was an era when the right kind of rulership resulted in greater welfare for the people, because so many of them, including the priest and honest workmen, followed their king's good example (2Kgs. 12:9-16; 2Chr. 24:8-14).
Thus conditions in Judah were much better, for two or three decades, than they had been since Jehoshaphat's time. Then an unfortunate event took place. It was Jehoiada's death at the age of a hundred and thirty years. For a long time this exceptional priest, aided by a wonderful wife, had exerted the power of a king, and to the country's advantage. He was considered so close to being a ruler that he was honoured by being buried among the kings of Judah at Jerusalem (2Chr. 24:15-16).
Idolatry creeps in
From then on, without the wise influence of Jehoiada, matters in Judah took a turn in the wrong direction. The leaders from all parts of the nation came to bring gifts to the king and to praise and flatter him, and he listened to them. They abandoned the Temple of God and worshipped idols.
This turn of events displeased God, but instead of immediately punishing the idolaters, He sent prophets to warn of disaster to come unless the idol worship ceased. The warnings were ignored (2Chr. 24:17-19).
Jehoiada's sons took over management of the Temple functions after the death of the high priest. Because of the influence of exceptional parents, they were very faithful to their responsibilities. One of them, Zechariah, one day was inspired to give his audience the same kind of warning the prophets had been delivering.
"You are breaking God's Commandments by following pagan gods," Zechariah declared. "You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken God, He has forsaken you. You will have no protection when calamity comes, and it's coming soon."
But the people would not listen and they plotted against Zechariah. By order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the Temple. Even though Zechariah's aged father and mother had saved Jehoash from being murdered when he was a child, King Jehoash, now influenced by evil younger leaders, callously issued that shocking order.
As he lay dying, Zechariah said, "May the Lord see this and bring you to account” (2Chr. 24:20-22).
Meanwhile in Samaria ...
Before this, up in Samaria, King Jehu had begun to be troubled by invasions of Syrians under the command of King Hazael, as Elisha predicted would happen. After Jehu died, his son Jehoahaz became king of the ten tribes of Israel (2Kgs. 10:30-36).
At first he wasn't much of an improvement over his father, but after struggling through a miserable period of war with the Syrians, he decided to look to God for help.
By this time the Syrians had taken over Israel's territory east of the Jordan River, which was land belonging to the tribes of Manasseh, Reuben and Gad. The invaders moved westward slaughtering most of Jehoahaz' army. They brought most of the people of the ten tribes under subjection, and it was at this point that the king of Israel desperately appealed to God to spare the nation.
God listened to him for He saw how severely Israel was being oppressed, and He provided a deliverer for Israel so they escaped from the power of Syria. So the Israelites lived in their own homes as they did before, but they did not turn away from worshipping idols.
Jehoahaz was left with only fifty horsemen, ten chariots and ten thousand foot soldiers; for the king of Syria had destroyed the rest and made them like the dust at threshing time (2Kgs. 13:1-8).
At that time Hazael, king of Syria fought against Gath and took it. Then he made up his mind to go up against Jerusalem. When he heard this, Jehoash, king of Judah, took all the sacred objects dedicated by other kings and his own gifts and all the gold that was found in the treasuries of the House of the Lord and the king’s house, and sent these to Hazael, king of Syria. Then Hazael went away from Jerusalem (2Kgs. 12:17-18).
Jehoash had been spared from certain disaster, for which he had given up most of the valuable objects in his palace that were portable. But the greatest part of what he paid he had ruthlessly stripped from the Temple to buy his way out of an enemy attack!
But security didn't last long. At the end of the year the Syrian army were marching directly toward Jerusalem. They killed all the leaders of the people and sent all the plunder to their king in Damascus. Although the Syrian army had come with few men, the Lord delivered a much larger army into their hands. Because Judah had forsaken the God of their fathers, judgment was executed on Jehoash. So God permitted the Syrians to punish Judah for idolatry (2Chr. 24:23-24).
When the invaders withdrew they left Jehoash severely wounded. His servants conspired against him because he murdered the son of Jehoiada the priest and they slew him on his bed.
So Jehoash died; and they buried him in Jerusalem, but because he hadn't earned much respect as a ruler, he wasn't buried in the tombs of the kings of Judah (2Kgs. 12:19-21; 2Chr. 24:25-27).
We continue this Bible story in the paper The Kings Continue in Idolatry (No. CB147).