Lesson 8: Jehu’s Dynasty

The story of Jehu ties together two declarations from the Lord which were made during Ahab’s reign. First, the Lord had commissioned Elijah to anoint Jehu as king over Israel (1Kings 19.16). Second, the Lord declared that Ahab, Jezebel and all of their family would suffer a violent and bloody end (1Kings 21.17-24). Jehu would be anointed as king, and he would bring about God’s justice on Ahab’s family. As reward, Jehu would found the longest dynasty (five generations dating from 841 to 753 B.C.) in the history of the northern kingdom.

God’s judgment on Ahab & Baal (2Kings 9.1-10.28) 

Ahab and his wife Jezebel had introduced Baal worship into the national life of Israel, so it was only fitting that the Lord used Jehu to execute His wrath against Ahab, his house and the worship of Baal. Ahab had already died, fulfilling a portion of the Lord’s prophecy against Ahab’s house (see 1Kings 21.21-24; 22.37-38), but Jehu would fulfill the rest.

2Kings 8.28-29 sets the stage for Jehu’s vengeance on Ahab’s house. Hazael had usurped the Syrian throne (see 1Kings 19.15; 2Kings 8.7-15) and we went to war with Israel for control of Ramoth-gilead. Jehoram, king of Israel, was wounded in the fight and was removed to Jezreel. While there he was paid a visit by his nephew Ahaziah, king of Judah.

Note the following as you read the text:

  • “I have anointed you king over Israel” (9.3): fulfills 1Kings 19.16. 
  • “You shall strike the house of Ahab” (9.7-10): fulfills 1Kings 21.17-24). 
  • “Jehu is king!” (9.13). It could be that Ahab and his house were not well liked among the people of Israel. Note how many were willing to join in the uprising against his house:
    • The servants of Ahab were quick to proclaim Jehu as king (9.13)
    • The messengers of Joram fell-in behind Jehu (9.18-19)
    • Officials of Jezreel threw Jezebel down to her death (9.32-33)
    • The guardians of Ahab’s 70 sons slew them and proclaimed Jehu as their king (10.1-11)
    • Jehonadab joined himself to Jehu in order to eradicate the house of Ahab and the prophets of Baal (10.15ff)
  • Jehu slays Joram, king of Israel (2Kings 9.14-26)
    • “property of Naboth the Jezreelite” (9.21-26). it was following the murder of Naboth that the Lord pronounced judgment on Ahab’s house and foretold that justice would be executed at Naboth’s vineyard (1Kings 21.19).
  • Jehu slays Ahaziah, king of Judah (2Kings 9.27-28)
  • Jezebel is thrown down to her death (2Kings 9.30-37)
    • “painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out the window” (vs.30): “It is intriguing nonetheless that her posture echoes the “woman in the window” motif found on carved ivory plaques from various ancient Near Eastern sites, which may represent the goddess Astarte, one of the consorts of Baal. In this case, Jezebel is represented as the very incarnation of the religion she brought into Israel from Sidon.” (ZIBBC)
    • “Is it well, Zimri, your master’s murderer?” (vs. 31): “Her point was that just as Zimri had destroyed Baasha’s dynasty by murder, but paid for his act of defiance seven days later by having to burn down the palace at Tirzah over his own head (1 Kings 16:9–20), so Jehu would no doubt have to pay with his life.” (Kaiser 340)
  • Ahab’s 70 sons are slain (2Kings 10.1-11)
    • “there shall fall to the earth nothing of the word of the Lord” (vs. 10): Jehu’s commitment to fulfilling the Lord’s word is commendable, yet sadly it would not hold true in all things (see vs. 29).
    • “and all his great men and his acquaintances” (vs. 11): Jehu undertook a complete regime change, leaving no-one who was loyal to Ahab.
  • Relatives of Ahaziah are slain (2Kings 10.12-14)
  • Rest of Ahab’s house in Samaria is slain (2Kings 10.15-17)
    • Jehonadab the son of Rechab (vs. 15): a man who’s descendants would be commended for their faithfulness to his instructions (see Jeremiah 35). 
  • Baal prophets are slain (2Kings 10.18-28) 

Jehu’s failure to establish his house (2Kings 10.29-36) 

Jehu was zealous to fulfill the Lord’s will in regards to destroying the house of Ahab (2Kings 10.10), but sadly that didn’t mean he was committed to the Lord. He may have eradicated Baal worship (vs. 28), but he continued in the apostasy which began under Jeroboam (vs. 29,31). As a result, Jehu would be granted a dynasty which lasted for four generations after him, but his house would not endure (vs. 30). 

The new king’s failure to be “careful to walk in the law of the Lord” (vs. 31) had immediate results for his kingdom as the Syrians gained much territory (vss. 32-33). Israel, without the protection of the Lord was subject to the geopolitics of the region, and not just to the Syrians. Scriptures don’t record this event, but the black obelisk of Shalmaneser records how Jehu was forced to pay tribute to the Assyrian king. One panel of the obelisk shows Jehu bowing before Shalmaneser with the caption, “The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri: I received from him silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets, tin, a staff for a king, and javelins.” The Assyrian king had defeated Hazael of Syria, but soon Shalmaneser would be forced to deal with uprisings closer to home, freeing Hazael to turn his attention toward Israel. Jehu’s thorough regime change (see 10.11) left Israel unable to respond. The Lord could have protected Israel, but Jehu’s unfaithfulness had left him without his greatest protector.

Hazael’s Invasion of the eastern tribes.
Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III
Panel of Shalmaneser III’s Black Obelisk showing Jehu bowing before the Assyrian king.

Jehoahaz and Jehoash (2Kings 13; 14.8-14) 

Four descendants of Jehu would rule over Israel, but we’ll consider only the first two as we conclude this lesson. Jehoahaz (2Kings 13.1-9) continued in his father’s practice of following in the evil practices of Jeroboam, thus he was continually afflicted by Hazael of Syria (vss. 2-3). However, the Lord’s compassion and mercy were evident as Jehovah heard the king’s petition (vs. 4).

An unnamed “deliverer” is mentioned in vs. 5, and while Scripture does not identify this person, history would indicate the intervention of the new king of Assyria, Adad-nirari III. He “began to launch his campaigns to the west in 805 B.C., an event that resulted in the subjugation of Hazael and relief for Israel. Israel was forced to pay tribute to Adad-nirari III, along with Tyre, Sidon, Edom, and Philistia. But they were spared the crushing blow that the Assyrian delivered to Damascus. So wounded was Damascus that it gave Israel an opportunity to rebuild.” Israel was delivered, but Jehoahaz’s continued unfaithfulness left the kingdom severely weakened (vss. 6-7). 

Jehoash (2Kings 13.10-25) continued in the evil practices of his father Jehoahaz and grandfather Jehu, but the Lord continued to grant Israel relief from Aram. Assyria continued to assert its dominance in the region, keeping the forces of Aram occupied. During this time the prophet Elisha was about to die when Jehoash paid him a visit. This man of God conveyed to the king that God would grant him three victories over the Syrians, although he could have had more if he’d demonstrated greater faith in the Lord (vss. 14-25). 

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