Good morning! Today’s passage (2 Kings 8-10) catalogues the life and times of Jehu, who overthrows the northern kingdom of Israel under Joram, and then destroys Jezebel plus all the descendants of Ahab. Throughout, these three chapters are stories of powerful men behaving badly, and of God allowing the success of the least unrighteous among them, Jehu.
Chapter 8 begins in the neighboring kingdom of Aram. An assistant to the Aramean king, Hazael turns assassin with the foreknowledge of prophet Elisha. (This causes me to both wonder about Elisha’s mercenary intentions, and his ability to travel throughout Palestine, advising whichever kingdom he chooses.) Hazael kills Ben-hadad to ascend the throne of Aram. Meanwhile, over the course of time southern Judah gets pulled astray by their association to northern Israel. Fighting against Aram, Joram is wounded and then consults with the Israelite forces in Jezreel.
This is where Jehu finds Joram at the beginning of chapter 9. First, at Elisha’s command a prophet secretly anoints Jehu king of Israel in place of Joram—a coup by prophetic means. Jehu’s aggression against Ahab’s descendants is framed as God’s vengeance on Jezebel, who (we remember) made such a point of killing prophets of God. Jehu makes pretense and approaches Jezreel. His real aim is to kill Joram for the sins of his ancestor Ahab and Ahab’s wife Jezebel, who still lives. Jehu shoots Joram with an arrow, who then dies in his chariot. Joram’s body is thrown out on the plot of land that used to belong to Naboth, because God never forgets wrongdoing. Ahaziah of Judah, allied with northern Israel, dies by Jehu’s command as well.
Jehu presses his advantage against the “old order’ of Israel in 2 Kings 10. Servants of Ahab’s descendants kill them in order to gain the good graces of Jehu. Successors of Ahaziah are killed also, and then Jehu kills all the prophets of Baal. The bloodshed of these violent chapters is not enough for God, we hear, because Jehu didn’t stop the idolatry of golden calf worship, but we still hear that God is pleased with his vengeance against the prophets of Baal and descendants of Ahab. Overall, I find little to commend in these chapters—whether Elisha’s meddling, Jehu’s bloodthirst, or the conduct of the previous administrations Ahaziah and Joram. Perhaps (hopefully) your reading will shed more light than mine, but this is a time when we strain to trust the adage that “God writes straight, with crooked lines”, and crooked lives. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is 2 Kings 11-14. Thanks for reading!