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This chapter gives a further account of the destruction of the house of Ahab by Jehu, or his orders, even of all his sons and relations, ( 2 Kings 10:1-11), and also of the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah, ( 2 Kings 10:12-14), of his taking up Jehonadab the son of Rechab into his chariot, to be a witness of his zeal for the Lord, ( 2 Kings 10:15-17), and of his gathering together the prophets, priests, and worshippers of Baal, and slaying them, ( 2 Kings 10:18-25) and of his extirpation of the idolatry of Baal, ( 2 Kings 10:26-28), nevertheless he continued the worship of the calves, ( 2 Kings 10:29-31) wherefore Israel was distressed by the king of Syria, ( 2 Kings 10:32,33) and the chapter is concluded with the reign and death of Jehu, ( 2 Kings 10:34,35).
Ver. 1 . And Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria , etc.] These might not be all his immediate sons, but some of them his grandsons, as such are sometimes called in Scripture: and Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel ; who fled thither, perhaps on Jehu’s coming to Jezreel, having slain Joram, being the metropolis of the kingdom, to consult about a successor, or how to oppose Jehu, and to frustrate his designs: but the Septuagint version is, “to the rulers of Samaria”, which seems most likely to be the true reading: to the elders ; the civil magistrates of the city of Samaria: and to them that brought up Ahab’s children : who had the care of their education; who either always dwelt at Samaria, being the royal city, or were sent with their charge thither, when Joram went to Ramothgilead, for safety, supposing he should be worsted by the Syrians; or they fled thither with them upon the death of Joram: saying ; as follows.
Ver. 2 . Now as soon as this letter cometh to you, seeing your master’s sons are with you , etc.] Sons of Ahab, and some of Joram, and all either the sons or grandsons of Ahab: and there are with you chariots and horses ; military ones: a fenced city also : as Samaria was, well walled and fortified, and able to hold out a long siege: and armour ; of all sorts, to arm themselves and people with in their defence.
Ver. 3 . Look even out the best and meetest of your master’s sons , etc.] Most fit for government, whether on account of age or proper qualifications, and wisdom, courage, etc. and set him on his father’s throne ; proclaim him king: and fight for your master’s house ; that the crown may continue in his family; all which he did not desire might be, but in this sarcastic and sneering manner dares them to do it.
Ver. 4 . But they were exceedingly afraid , etc.] They were intimidated at once; for they saw the purport of those letters, that should they attempt anything of this kind, he would come upon them with his forces: and said, behold, two kings stood not before him ; the kings of Israel and Judah, Joram and Ahaziah; but they were unarmed, and therefore how should they stand before an armed body of men Jehu had with him? this shows the pusillanimity of these men to make use of such an argument as this: how then shall we stand ? that is, before Jehu; but they were in much better circumstances than the two kings, as they are truly represented in ( Kings 10:2).
Ver. 5 . And he that was over the house , etc.] The king’s palace in Samaria, who had the custody, care, and government of it: and he that was over the city ; the commander and governor of it, that had the highest post in it under the king; the elders also all other subordinate officers and magistrates: and the bringers up of the children ; who had the education of the king’s sons committed to them: sent to Jehu, saying, we are thy servants, and will do all that thou shall bid us . They were ready to do homage, and swear allegiance to him as their king, and obey all his commands as faithful subjects: we will not make any king ; or set up any on the throne, no, not any of the sons or grandsons of Ahab: do thou that which is good in thine eyes , we will never oppose thee.
Ver. 6 . Then he wrote a letter the second time to them , etc.] Having gained his point by the former: saying, if ye be mine , acknowledge yourselves my subjects and servants; and if ye will hearken to my voice ; obey my commands: take ye the heads of the men your master’s sons ; that is, take off their heads: and come to me to Jezreel by tomorrow this time meaning with the heads along with them: (now the king’s sons, being seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, which brought them up;) they were in their houses, and under their tuition, and so had an authority over them, and could dispose of them at pleasure; they were not ordinary persons to whose care they were committed, but the principal men of the city.
Ver. 7 . And it came to pass, when the letter came to them , etc.] They did not in the least hesitate, but immediately complied with the contents of it: that they took the king’s sons, and slew seventy persons ; which was the whole number of them: and put their heads in baskets, and sent them to Jezreel ; as a present to Jehu, just as they carried the firstfruits, as Abarbinel observes.
Ver. 8 . And there came a messenger, and told him, saying, they have brought the heads of the king’s sons , etc.] Perhaps this messenger to Jehu came from the great men of Samaria themselves, to let him know that they had obeyed his orders: and he said, lay ye them in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning ; very probably it was towards or at the evening they were brought; and he ordered them to be taken out of the baskets, and laid in two heaps at the entering of the gate of the city, that they might be taken notice of, and publicly viewed by the people that passed and repassed the gate; and where they met in great numbers, either on account of the market there, or court of judicature there held, especially in mornings; and here they were to remain till the morning, though not without a guard, that they might still be more exposed to view; Noldius renders it, “without the door of the gate”, for they were brought at night, when the gate was shut.
Ver. 9 . And it came to pass in the morning, that he went out, and stood, and said to all the people , etc.] Who were gathered together to this shocking sight, or on the above accounts: ye be righteous ; having had no concern in taking off the heads of those men: behold, I conspired against my master, and slew him ; I own it, and some may blame me for it, and charge me with treason and murder: but who slew all these ? not he, but the chief men of Samaria, and therefore must be more guilty than he, having shed the blood of so many persons, who had not offended against God and man to so great a degree as Joram; this he said to lessen his own sin, and wipe off the reproach of it, that his character might appear fairer in the eyes of the people, concealing, at the same time, his orders for the slaying of them.
Ver. 10 . Know now, that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the Lord, which the Lord spake concerning the house of Ahab , etc.] He would have them observe, that all this, and what else should follow of the same kind, were and would be brought about by the providence of God, according to divine predictions, and as just punishments on Ahab’s family for their sins; and therefore neither he nor others were to be blamed for what was done, since they were only instruments made use of by the Lord, who both foretold all this, and gave orders for the execution of it: for the Lord hath done that which he spake by his servant Elijah ; (see 1 Kings 21:21,29).
Ver. 11 . So Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel , etc.] Which to do, and to justify himself in so doing, was the design of what he said in the preceding verses: and his great men ; his ministers of state and counsellors, that advised him to, and abetted him in his idolatrous practices, and so justly suffered for the same; and perhaps some of them at least were those very men that cut off the heads of his sons in complaisance to Jehu: and his kinsfolks : more distantly related to him or his acquaintance and familiars, his associates in sin and wickedness: and his priests : who officiated for him and offered his sacrifices to Baal; the priests he kept in his palace, and ate at his table: until he left him none remaining ; either of his kindred or his priests, that is, that were at Jezreel; for there were others at Samaria, ( 2 Kings 10:17,19).
Ver. 12 And he arose and departed, and came to Samaria , etc.] To make a clear riddance there of all that belonged to Ahab, as at Jezreel, and abolish idolatry there: and as he was at the shearing house in the way ; or, “the house of the binding of the shepherds”, who, in shearing their sheep, bind their legs together; the Targum is, “the house of the gathering of the shepherds;” where they used to meet and converse together; with some it is the proper name of a place, Betheked, a country village between Jezreel and Samaria.
Ver. 13 . Jehu met with the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah , etc.] At the above place; these were the sons of his brethren, called his brethren, as Lot was called Abraham’s brother, being his brother’s son; for as for his brethren, they had been slain by the Arabians before he was made king, ( 2 Chronicles 22:1,8), and said, who are ye ? though perhaps he knew who they were: and they answered, we are the brethren of Ahaziah ; the sons of his brethren: and we go down to salute the children of the king, and the children of the queen ; meaning either the children of Ahab and Jezebel, or of Joram and his queen; for they knew nothing of the death of Joram and Jezebel, and the revolution made in the kingdom, and therefore with great simplicity tell who they were, and where they were going, and on what account.
Ver. 14 . And he said, take them alive , etc.] Gave orders to his guards to seize them, and make them captives: and they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of the shearing house ; where they washed the sheep when they sheered them; [even] forty and two men, neither left he any of them ; they being, by their grandmother’s side, of the house of Ahab, and so within the commission of Jehu to slay them, at least as he thought; though his chief view might be, lest they should make any pretensions to the crown, being descended from that house, or should hereafter attempt to avenge the death of their relations; but by the judgment of God they were cut off as idolaters.
Ver. 15 . And when he was departed thence , etc.] From Betheked, or the shearing house: he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him ; a Kenite, a descendant of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, a wise and good man, as appears by the laws and rules he gave to his posterity, who continued to the times of Jeremiah, and were then observant of them, ( Jeremiah 35:6-10) this good man hearing of Jehu’s coming to the throne, and of his destruction of the idolatrous family of Ahab, and of his zeal for the worship of God, and against idolatry, came forth from his tent to meet him, and congratulate him upon it: and he saluted him ; Jonadab saluted Jehu, according to Abarbinel; or “blessed him” f116 , wished him all happiness in his kingdom, and success in the reformation of it; though most understand it of Jehu’s saluting Jonadab, which seems best to agree with the following: and said to him, is thy heart right, as my heart is with thy heart ? that is, hast thou the same cordial affection and sincere respect for me as I have for thee? and Jehonadab answered, it is : to which some join the next clause, and read, “and it is”; which is doubling the answer, for the confirmation of it, as Kimchi says; though he also observes, that the latter may be interpreted as the answer of Jehu, by way of interrogation, “is it?”, then give me thine hand ; and to the same purpose is our version, if it be, and he gave [him] his hand ; Jonadab gave Jehu his hand as a token of sincere friendship f117 , and cordial respect, and for the confirmation of the covenant between them, as Ben Melech; who also observes, that Jehu might bid him give him his hand to help him up into the chariot, since it follows, and he took him up to him into the chariot ; to ride with him to Samaria; the company of such a man, so famous for wisdom and goodness, he knew would give him much countenance among the people, and sanction to what he did.
Ver. 16 . And he said, come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord of hosts , etc.] In destroying idolaters and idolatry, with an intent to do which he was going to Samaria; this seems to savour very much of vain glory, hypocrisy, and a pharisaical spirit: so they made him ride in his chariot ; the servants of Jehu by his order opened the chariot door, and assisted Jonadab in getting into it.
Ver. 17 . And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria , etc.] All that were in any connection with him, as related to his family, or as ministers of his in civil or religious things: till he had destroyed him ; his whole house, as he was ordered: according to the word of the Lord, which he spake to Elijah ; which is observed, to show the exact fulfilment of prophecy, (see 1 Kings 21:21).
Ver. 18 . And Jehu gathered all the people together , etc.] The people of Samaria, at least the principal of them: and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little, [but] Jehu shall serve him much ; which some understand as spoken ironically; but the words seem to be spoken with a design to deceive the idolatrous inhabitants of Samaria, making them to believe that he was hearty in the worship of Baal, and should show a greater respect to it, and more constantly attend it, than Ahab had done; and this he said with a view to draw them to the temple of Baal, and there destroy them, as the sequel shows; and in which he is not to be justified, however good his intention was; for evil is not to be done that good may come.
Ver. 19 Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests, let none be wanting , etc.] All that were employed in the several parts of religious worship given him, and in performing any rite and ceremony belonging to it; in invocation of him, and singing praises to him, as the prophets; in offering sacrifices to him, as the priests; or in assisting them in their service, who may be meant by his servants or ministers: for I have a great sacrifice [to do] to Baal ; by which, though he might mean a sacrifice of his prophets, priests, servants, and worshippers, he would have it otherwise understood, and his design was to deceive, which cannot be justified: whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live : but be put to death; this he said, pretending his great zeal for Baal, when his view was by this threatening to get all his worshippers together to destroy them, that none might escape as follows: but Jehu did it in subtlety, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal : the Targum renders it, “with wisdom”; but Jarchi and Ben Gersom much better, “in deceit”; the word signifies supplantation, such as Esau charged Jacob with.
Ver. 20 . And Jehu said, proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal , etc.] Such as with the Jews was an holy convocation, when they were forbidden and restrained from doing any work on that day; and such a day Jehu would have appointed and proclaimed for Baal, that the people might be at leisure to attend: and they proclaimed it ; according to his order, in Samaria.
Ver. 21 . And Jehu sent through all Israel , etc.] Persons to proclaim this solemn assembly: and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not ; some no doubt came cheerfully, having no suspicion of him, and the rather, as he might have been a worshipper of Baal in the times of Ahab; and as for what he had done to Baal’s priests, they might consider that only as they were in connection with Ahab’s family, whom to destroy was his political interest; and they were glad at heart their new king was so affected to Baal, and fond to see such a grand solemnity as they expected this to be; and others that might be suspicious of him, yet as they must die if they did not appear, and there was a possibility they might live, chose therefore to come: and they came into the house of Baal ; the temple which Ahab had built for him in Samaria, ( 1 Kings 16:32) and the house of Baal was full from one end to the other ; not only the body of the temple, but all the outward court, every mouth, or corner, as in the original text: and this single house might be sufficient for all in the land; since the number of them might be greatly lessened by the ministry of Elijah and Elisha, as well as by the destruction the former made of the prophets of Baal; and by the schools of the prophets set up in various places, from whence prophets were sent out to instruct the people; and by Joram’s putting away the image of Baal, which no doubt lessened the number of his worshippers.
Ver. 22 . And he said unto him that was over the vestry , etc.] That had the care of the garments, in which the priests of Baal ministered: bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal ; not for the priests only, but for all that worshipped; and this he ordered for the greater solemnity of this service, as he would have it thought; but, in truth, that the worshippers of Baal might be separated, and distinguished from the worshippers of the Lord, that not one of them might be among them: and he brought them forth vestments ; out of the chamber or wardrobe in which they were, and they put them on.
Ver. 23 . And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal , etc.] Who no doubt was led into the secret, and knew the design of Jehu, or he would not have gone into such an idolatrous place: and said unto the worshippers of Baal, search and look, that there be here with you none of the servants of the Lord, but the worshippers of Baal only ; pretending a great regard to the purity of their worship and sacrifices, that they might not be profaned by the company of such who were not worshippers of Baal, but of Jehovah; whereas his view was to prevent any of the worshippers of God perishing with them, who might out of curiosity go in among them, to behold the manner of their service.
Ver. 24 . And when they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings , etc.] To Baal, all things being ready for them: Jehu appointed eighty men without ; without the temple of Baal, at the several doors and avenues of it: and said, if any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escape, he that letteth him go, his life shall be for the life of him ; should be put to death for it in his room; the life of a watchman set to guard should go for the life of one that escaped.
Ver. 25 . And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering , etc.] The chief of the priests of Baal, whose office it was to do this service: that Jehu said to the guard, and to the captains, go in and slay them, let none come forth ; this he said to the eighty men set to guard the temple, and the officers over them; and perhaps they might also have a reinforcement, since such a number seems scarcely sufficient to destroy so many as were here; though indeed it must be considered they were armed men: and they smote them with the edge of the sword ; put them all to death: and the guard and the captains cast them out ; those that were slain, as the Targum, their dead bodies; but it can hardly be thought they would be at the trouble of casting them out, when the house was to be pulled down, and made a jakes (a common sewer or dung house) of, as follows; rather therefore it should be rendered, “they cast” or “flung themselves” with great force, and in great haste, as Kimchi, and rushed out of the temple, being eager to do as follows: and went to the city of the house of Baal ; to pull it down; to some city near Samaria where was a temple of Baal; or rather this may design the buildings about the temple of Baal, in which the priests and their families lived, and were so large that they might be called a city of themselves.
Ver. 27 . And they broke down the temple of Baal , etc.] Which some take to be Belus, others Saturn, others the sun, which seems most probable: and broke down the house of Baal ; his temple, demolished it: and made it a draught house until this day ; a common sewer, a jakes; a fit place for dunghill gods to be thrown into, and an idol temple to be turned into.
Ver. 29 . Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin , etc.] Which is the common character given of that king, a blot never to be wiped off: Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan : he did not abstain from the worship of them, partly because he might not think it idolatry, because God was worshipped in them; hence he calls the worshippers of the calves the servants of the Lord, ( 2 Kings 10:23), and partly that he might not displease the princes of the people of Israel, who generally gave in to the worship of them; but chiefly lest the kingdom of Israel should return to the house of David, the worship of the calves being a piece of state policy, to keep them from going to Jerusalem to worship, lest thereby they should be drawn off from their allegiance to the king of Israel.
Ver. 30 . And the Lord said unto Jehu , etc.] By a prophet, he not being one himself; and this is generally supposed, by the Jews f120 , to be Jonah the son of Amittai: because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes : in rooting out the idolatry of Baal, which was right in the sight of God, and was materially a good work, though it might not be done from a good principle, nor every step taken in doing it justifiable: and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart : that he had decreed within himself should be done, and had foretold by his prophets would be done, the doing of which was acceptable and well pleasing to him: thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel ; as they did, namely, Jehoahaz, Joash, Jeroboam, and Zachariah, though the last reigned but six months, just enough to fulfil this promise.
Ver. 31 . But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart , etc.] As to his moral conversation, he was not careful that it was according to the law of God, and what he did agreeable to it, it was not sincerely, and from the right principle: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin ; which he would, if he had had a cordial respect to all the commandments of the law.
Ver. 32 . In those days the Lord began to cut Israel short , etc.] To bring their dominions into a narrower compass; this was done in the days of Jehu, though he was so active and courageous, wherefore the hand of God was the more seen in it: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel ; which bordered on his country, when he did what Elisha foretold he would, ( 2 Kings 8:12).
Ver. 33 . From Jordan eastward , etc.] This was principally the coast on which Hazael smote them, to the east of the land of Canaan: all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Moabites ; the country on the other side Jordan, given to these tribes by Moses, at their request, which were before the kingdoms of Sihon and of Og: from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan : countries which the Israelites first conquered, and were the first they lost.
Ver. 34 . Now the rest of the acts of Jehu, and all that he did, and all his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel ?] Of the preceding kings from the times of Jeroboam, in which their several acts were recorded, and his also.
Ver. 35 . And Jehu slept with his fathers , etc.] Died as they did: and they buried him in Samaria ; where Omri and Ahab, his predecessors, were buried, ( 1 Kings 16:28 22:37) and Jehoahaz his son reigned in his stead ; who reigned seventeen years, ( 2 Kings 13:1).
Ver. 36 . And the time that Jehu reigned was twenty and eight years .] Which was longer than any king of Israel had reigned.