The Second Book of Kings
2-Kings. Chapter 9.
|2-Kings ch. 9. Jehu Becomes King of Israel.|
Elisha sends one of the prophets to annoint as King over Israel, Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi. Jehu was with the army at Ramoth Gilead. When the other army commanders saw what had happened they proclaimed Jehu King.
Jehu advances on Joram (Yehoram) son of Ahab, King of Israel, and Ahaziah King of Judah who were in the city of Jezreel
recovering from their recent defeat by Hazael king of Aram (Syria). An attitude of self-destruction had seemingly overtaken both the defeated monarchs who in effect delivered themselves into the hands of
Jehu. A possible parallel with stalin after the German invasion of Russia in World War 2? Jehu shoots an arrow at Joram
hitting him in the back and piercing his heart. Ahaziah of Judah is pursued and also shot to death. Jehu enters the
city of Jezreel. Jezebel taunts him so Jehu orders her thrown out the window. After eating and drinking Jehu orders that the body of Jezebel be attended to but only the head and feet remained. The dogs had eaten the rest.
Jehu Becomes King.
2 Kings 9
[2-Kings 9:1] And
the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said to him, Get
yourself ready, take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to
# one of the sons of the prophets #
According to tradition this was the Prophet Jonah.
[2-Kings 9:2] Now when you arrive at
that place, look there for Jehu
the son of Jehoshaphat,
the son of Nimshi,
and go in and make him rise up from among his associates, and take him to an
Elijah had originally been given the task of anointing Jehu (Yehu) but because
King Ahab had repented the matter was delayed to be fulfilled through Elisha the
disciple of Elijah.
R. M. Shlanger points out that the name Nimshi in Hebrew is comprised of the
same letters as the name Manasseh. Shlanger says that Jehu son of Nimshi
epitomized the principle of limited defined leadership that characterizes
For more on this matter and how we may learn from it about Joseph and Manasseh
and the Tribal Characteristics of Manasseh see:
- A National Character Appraisal
based on Rabbinical Sources.
(3) Presidents and Not Kings
[2-Kings 9:3] Then take the flask of
oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus says the LORD: I have anointed you
king over Israel. Then open the door and flee, and do not delay.
In Hebrew "oil" is shemen. Two types of anointing oil were used for consecrating
a. Holy Anointing Oil [Shemen ha-Mishcha]. This was used for anointing Temple
vessels, the High Priest, ands Kings from the House of David.
b. Shemen Afarsimon. This was used for anointing Kings who were not from the
House of David meaning King Saul and the Kings of the Ten Tribes in the Northern
Kingdom of Israel.
The Special Status of the Davidic
By Rav Mosheh Lichtenstein
concerning anointment. Davidic kings are anointed with the
(anointing oil) used to anoint
kohanim while other rulers are
appointed by means of shemen
(persimmon oil), which serves to designate them as kings without granting them
the personal status of kedusha,
which can only be conferred by the
In other words, meshicha
(anointing) performs a dual function: 1) appointment of the ruler and
establishing his authority; 2) endowing him with personal
A non-Davidic king can achieve only the STATUS of a functional sovereign,
appointed for the utilitarian benefits which he can provide. For these
suffices. However, the Davidic king is anointed with
and, therefore, he receives the
of the kohanim.
[2-Kings 9:4] So the young man, the
servant of the prophet, went to
[2-Kings 9:5] And when he arrived,
there were the captains of the army sitting; and he said, I have a message for
said, For which one of us?
And he said, For you, Commander.
The word translated as "Commander" in Hebrew is "Ha-Sar". "Sar" means commander
or lord. This is probably the ultimate root of the English words "Sire" and
Apparently Jehu was sitting with the other officers and did not consider himself
any better than them. This Prophet (as shown below) was a known personality
amongst the leaders of Israel. He was emphasizing on his approach and in his
manner of address that Jehu was the Commander. In modern terms we might say, "He
was the Man!"
2 Kings 9:6-13
[2-Kings 9:6] Then he arose and went
into the house. And he poured the oil on his head, and said to him, Thus says
the LORD God of Israel: I have anointed you king over the people of the LORD,
He was being made King over the Ten Tribes in the Northern King. They, just like
Judah, are the Chosen People.
They are referred to here as, # the people of the LORD,... Israel. #
The Commentary "Me'am Loaz" brings a source interpreting the Hebrew to say:
anointed you King to elevate the People to the level of People of God and Israel
with the name Israel connoting a striving for perfection.
[2-Kings 9:7] You shall strike down the
house of Ahab your 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.
"Me'am Loaz" says Jehu was being told to act harshly with the House of Ahab and
to have no compunctions about it since they too had been ruthless towards the
Prophets of the Almighty.
[2-Kings 9:8] For the whole house of
Ahab shall perish; and I will cut off from Ahab all the males in Israel, both
bond and free.
[2-Kings 9:9] So I will make the house
of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of
and like the house of Baasha
the son of Ahijah.
[2-Kings 9:10] The dogs shall eat Jezebel on the plot of ground at
and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door and fled.
[2-Kings 9:11] Then Jehu
came out to the servants of his master, and one said to him, Is all well? Why
did this madman come to you?
And he said to them, You know the man and his babble.
They referred to the Prophet as a madman yet Jehu had left their company and
consulted in private with him in the presence of them all. From the reply of
Jehu we see that the Prophet was a familiar figure with them. Apparently their
attitude towards the Prophets and the Sons of the Prophets was a mixture of
contempt and respectable fear.
[2-Kings 9:12] And they said, A lie!
Tell us now.
So he said, Thus and thus he spoke to me, saying, Thus says the LORD: I have
anointed you king over Israel.
[2-Kings 9:13] Then each man hastened
to take his garment and put it under him on the top of the steps; and they blew
trumpets, saying, Jehu
The people and their leaders were most likely tired of King Joram and the
shenanigans of the House of Ahab.
Incidentally the word "shenanigan" is defined as tomfoolery and is of obscure
origin. It sounds American Irish but in my opinion could be related to the
Hebrew, "shigaiyon" meaning "madness, eccentricity".
Jehu was an exceptional leader who conducted himself with familiarity and
consideration towards those around him. We see this in the way he spoke to the
Prophet. He was the obvious replacement for King Joram. Everybody had felt this
for some time. He himself had apparently also felt it and allowed himself to
take liberties with royal decorum as we shall see later when he drove his
chariot up to Joram and was described as acting with an aberrations from the
norm that were characteristic to himself. The declaration of the Prophet
anointing Jehu served as a catalyst galvanizing everybody into deliberate
[2-Kings 9:14] So
the son of Jehoshaphat,
the son of Nimshi,
conspired against Joram.
had been defending Ramoth
Gilead, he and all Israel, against
king of Syria.
[2-Kings 9:15] But King
had returned to Jezreel
to recover from the wounds which the Syrians had inflicted on him when he fought
king of Syria.
said, If you are so minded, let no one leave or escape from the city to go and
tell it in Jezreel.
# in Jezreel # in the region of "Jezreel" surrounding the city as distinct from
the city of Jezreel itself.
Jehu said to his fellow conspirators that if they indeed want to succeed in
setting him up as the new king then they must eliminate all of the royal party
in the city of Jezreel. None must be allowed to escape so that no potential
opposition group have time to set itself up in the surrounding area.
[2-Kings 9:16] So
rode in a chariot and went to
was laid up there; and Ahaziah
king of Judah had come down to see
Joram was the King of Israel. Jehu was on of his military commanders who was now
conspiring against him. Ahaziah was King of Judah, the nephew (through his
mother) of Joram and the military ally of Joram. Ahaziah had joined forces with
Joram in the war against Hazael of Aram (Syria) in which Joram had been wounded.
Joram was recuperating in the city of Jezreeel so Ahaziah went to visit him.
Jehu likewise decided to pay them both a visit.
These events are recalled in the Tell Dan Stele:
The stele [commemorative inscribed stone slab] was found during excavations of
Tel Dan in northern Israel.
[A very beautiful and inspiring site. Well worth a visit.]
The stele refers to the House of David. It has been interpreted as having been
put up by King Hazael who makes the claim that he killed both Joram and Ahaziah.
The ancient monarchs of non-Israelite entities were notorious liers. They were
pathological expounders of terminological inexactitude.
Hazael may however have meant that by defeating Joram and Ahaziah and wounding
Joram he had set in motion the events that lead to the death of both of them.
The stele itself is now in the Hebrew Museum in Jerusalem.
A replica of the stele may be seen at Bayt Shmuel near the Old City in
I saw it. In my opinion it definitely does refer to the House of David. The
words jump out for anyone with even a cursory familiarity with Paleo-Hebrew.
They who say otherwise are mistaken and cannot be taken seriously. A more
interesting question is Hazael having used this script. It is not Aramaic.
[2-Kings 9:17] Now a watchman stood on
the tower in Jezreel,
and he saw the company of Jehu
as he came, and said, 'I see a company of men.'
said, 'Get a horseman and send him to meet them, and let him say, "Is it
#company # Hebrew "shipat" connoting "overflowing" i.e. the cloud of dust raised
by a large group of cavalry.
Joram said a messenger should be sent to determine if the approaching group had
peaceful or warlike intentions.
[2-Kings 9:18] So the horseman went to
meet him, and said, 'Thus says the king: "Is it peace?"'
said, 'What have you to do with peace? Turn around and follow me.'
So the watchman reported, saying, "The messenger went to them, but is not coming
"Is it peace?"' i.e. Do you come
To which Jehu replied, What do you care whether or not I come in peace? Fall in
line after me.
[2-Kings 9:19] Then he sent out a second
horseman who came to them, and said, 'Thus says the king: "Is it peace?"
answered, 'What have you to do with peace? Turn around and follow me.'
[2-Kings 9:20] So the watchman
reported, saying, 'He went up to them and is not coming back; and the driving is
like the driving of Jehu
the son of Nimshi,
for he drives furiously!'
# furiously # Hebrew, "be-shigaon" literally with madness. The use of this
expression is intended to remind us that the Prophet who had anointed Jehu had
been referred to as a "Meshuga" i.e. "madman" by the companions of Jehu who had
asked him, "Why did this madman come to you?" [2-Kings 9:11].
Jehu was apparently famous for his eccentricities and had his own style of
travel that could be recognized by the trained eye from a distance.
Josephus and Targum Yehonatan for some reason say that Jehu was traveling slowly
and with care. How they reached this conclusion I do not know. Everybody else
understands it as it sounds and as it has been translated, furiously, with
speed, and in a reckless manner.
This is not slowly and not with care.
[2-Kings 9:21] Then
said, 'Make ready.' And his chariot was made ready. Then
king of Israel and Ahaziah
king of Judah went out, each in his chariot; and they went out to meet
and met him on the property of
[2-Kings 9:22] Now it happened, when
that he said, 'Is it peace, Jehu?'
So he answered, 'What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel
and her witchcraft are so many?'
We see from the question of Joram to Jehu that the King of Israel suspected that
Jehu may not have peaceful intentions.
If such was the case why did he ride out to him?
Why put himself in the hands of someone he already suspected and
who was acting in a way designed to arouse suspicion?
Why did Ahaziah accompany him?
Why did Joram let him come?
Maybe their inner instinct of self-preservation and of
self-assertion allowing them to rule had suddenly failed them? Such things
happen. Perhaps their failure and defeat in the war against Hazael had caused
defeatist emotions to overwhelm them.
A Possible Parallel with Stalin
In World War 2 Stalin ignored numerous repeated and emphasized warnings that the
Germans were about to attack Russia. He ignored them all. The Germans did attack
and Russia was almost overwhelmed. Stalin went into depression and retired to
one of his country-houses. A deputation of his officials drove out to urge him
to rally the country. When Stain saw them coming he reportedly felt he was about
to be arrested and was resigned to such an eventuality. Stalin however was not
arrested and went on to lead Russia to victory while he continued his rule of
tyranny over her.
The reply of Jehu concerning the harlotries and witchcraft of Jezebel combined
with the suspicions of Joram reveal a long-standing dissatisfaction with the
Dynasty of Omri-Ahab.
[2-Kings 9:23] Then
turned around and fled, and said to
[2-Kings 9:24] Now
drew his bow with full strength and shot
between his arms; and the arrow came out at his heart, and he sank down in his
# his arms #. hebrew "zroyav" his arms, i.e. he shot him from behind. The
missile hit him in the back between the shoulder blades and came out the other
side piercing his heart in the process.
[2-Kings 9:25] Then
said to Bidkar
his captain, "Pick him up, and throw him into the tract of the field of
for remember, when you and I were riding together behind Ahab his father, that
the LORD laid this burden upon him:
Apparently Bidkar and Jehu had been senior-ranking soldiers in the forces of
Ahab. They had been in the chariot behind his when Ahab went to request Naboth
to sell him his vineyard. Naboth refused which resulted in his death. Jehu and
Bidkar considered themselves somehow involved in the whole episode
and this was their way of cleansing themselves.
[2-Kings 9:26] 'Surely I saw yesterday
the blood of Naboth
and the blood of his sons,' says the LORD, 'and I will repay you in this plot,'
says the LORD. Now therefore, take and throw him on the plot of ground,
according to the word of the LORD."
"and the blood of his sons". Opinions are divided on this. Either jezebel had
had the sons of Naboth killed as well as Naboth or through killing Naboth she
had prevented the birth of children that were destined to be begatten by Naboth.
Jehu is assumed to have been quoting from a Prophecy of Elijah (1-Kings 21:19)
but it may be that he too had received a prophetic vision.
[2-Kings 9:27] But when
king of Judah saw this, he fled by the road to Beth
pursued him, and said, 'Shoot him also in the chariot.' And they shot him at the
Ascent of Gur,
which is by Ibleam.
Then he fled to Megiddo, and died there.
Ahaziah was the nephew of Joram, son of the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. He was
part of the family of Ahab and therefore could expect no mercy from Jehu.
Ibleam was also known as Bilaam (1-Chronicles 6:44, Daat Mikra). It was a city
of the Levites in the territory of Manasseh near present-day Jenin.
[2-Kings 9:28] And his servants carried
him in the chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his tomb with his fathers in
the City of David.
[2-Kings 9:29] In the eleventh year of
the son of Ahab, Ahaziah
had become king over Judah.
The mother of Ahaziah was Athalia daughter of Ahab and Jezebel and therefore
sister of Joram of Israel.
The King of Judah, husband of Athalia, and father of Ahaziah, had also been
named Joram or Jehoram.
One may be liable to get confused between Joram of Judah and Joram of Israel.
When Joram of Judah died Ahazaiah became king but his mother, Athalia, retained
some power of her own.
Aftter the death of Ahaziah, Athalia took over the kingdom altogether. Athalia
tried to kill off all of the children of Ahaziah (her own grandchildren)
but Joash was hidden away in the Temple precincts and eventually became king in
a coup that sent Athalia to her death (2-Kings 8:16 to 11:16 and 2-Chronicles
[2-Kings 9:30] Now when Jehu had come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she
put paint on her eyes and adorned her head, and looked through a window.
Some commentators say Jezebel intended to seduce Jehu. She must have been quite
old by this stage but some women are exceptional and retain their charm for a
long time. Some women whom bear many children stay young and beautiful for long
after the average time. Jezbel was the daughter of the King of Tyre which was
the major Phoenician city. The Phoenicians were adepts with cosmetics, and
medicines, and given over to lascivious pursuits. Since Jezebel was the queen and had command over local resources she may have succeeded at
retaining her feminine attractiveness.
Jezebel may perhaps be compared to Celopatra.
Cleopatra (69-30 BCE) queen of Egypt who seduced first Julius Caesar and then Mark Anthony
and changed the course of world history was not, by report, beautiful. She
rather had a seductive voice and manner and was well practiced at used them.
Alternately Jezebel may also have been so immersed in matters of the flesh that
she did not realize how past it all she really was.
Daat Mikra opines that Jezebel in the time of her husband Ahab had in fact been
a co-ruler alongside her husband.
Then when Joram became king of Israel she continued to exert some degree of
authority. With the death of Joram she may have considered some kind of
contestant for the throne as occurred in some of the neighboring kingdoms and as
was about to take place with her daughter Athalia in the Kingdom of Judah.
[2-Kings 9:31] Then, as
entered at the gate, she said, 'Is it peace,
murderer of your master?'
After the death of Baasha king of Israel, his son Elah became king but Zimri
killed him and reigned in his stead.
The reign of Zimri lasted for seven days when he too was killed by Omri the
father of Ahab (1-Kings 16:8-20).
The Commentators have differences of opinion as to what Jezebel intended.
Was she saying that like Zimri killing his master and being killed in his turn
so too would happen to Jehu?
Did she mean that such is the way of rulership and what Jehu had done had been
done by others and now Jehu
should enjoy the rulership and maybe her as well as part of the spoil?
[2-Kings 9:32] And he looked up at the
window, and said, 'Who is on my side? Who?'
So two or three eunuchs looked out at him.
[2-Kings 9:33] Then he said, 'Throw her
down.' So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered on the wall and
on the horses; and he trampled her underfoot.
[2-Kings 9:34] And when he had gone in,
he ate and drank. Then he said, 'Go now, see to this accursed woman, and bury
her, for she was a king's daughter.'
[2-Kings 9:35] So they went to bury
her, but they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of
[2-Kings 9:36] Therefore they came back
and told him. And he said, 'This is the word of the LORD, which He spoke by His
servant Elijah the Tishbite,
saying, 'On the plot of ground at
dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel;
[2-Kings 9:37] and the corpse of Jezebel
shall be as refuse on the surface of the field, in the plot at
so that they shall not say, "Here lies Jezebel."