2 Kings 9:14-37: Jehu the Reformer
When Elijah was discouraged and fled to Horeb, the mount of God, the Lord gave him new courage and also told him several things to do. He told him to find Elisha, who would be prophet after him, and said also, “Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel.” (1 Kings 19:16) The time had now come for Jehu to be anointed. He was a strong, rough man who was needed to destroy the wicked family of Ahab and Jezebel and the evil worship of Baal which they had encouraged. Jehu was now at Ramoth-gilead in the country beyond Jordan, fighting with the Syrians. Joram, the son of Ahab, who was now king of Israel, had also been in the war at Ramoth-gilead, but he had been wounded and had come back to Jezreel to be healed. Elisha was now the prophet, and it was for him to see that Jehu was anointed. He did not go himself, but sent a young man of the prophets to Ramoth-gilead. A king was anointed by pouring oil upon his head. You remember the anointing of Saul and of David by Samuel. So this prophet took from Elisha a vial of oil and went on his errand. The young prophet found Jehu, and called him from the company with whom he was sitting, and anointed him and told him that the family of Ahab and Jezebel would be destroyed.
Now we go back to Jezreel, where Naboth's vineyard once was, and where Ahab and Jezebel had a palace. Joram, Ahab's son, who was now king, was there, having come back from the war to be healed of his wound. You remember the beautiful green valley down which the brook runs from Gideon's spring, near Jezreel, to the Jordan. The watchman on the tower at Jezreel, looking down this valley, spied Jehu in his chariot with his company driving up the valley. What could it mean? The king sent a messenger on horseback to ask, “Is it peace?” but he did not come back with an answer. He sent another, but he did not come. The company now drew nearer, and the watchman said, “The driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he driveth furiously.”
Then King Joram and his cousin, the king of Judah, who was visiting him at the time, went out each in his chariot, to meet Jehu. “Is it peace, Jehu?” he asked; but there was no peace, and they turned their chariots to flee. Jehu drew his bow with his full strength and Joram sank down in his chariot, shot through the heart; his body was cast into the field which once was Naboth's vineyard. The king of Judah fled on toward Jerusalem, but Jehu followed, and that king too was killed in his chariot. Then Jehu came to Jezreel, and as he entered the city Jezebel, who had been the cause of so much wickedness, was thrown from a window, and met the terrible death which Elijah had predicted. (1 Kings 21:23) So Jehu destroyed the family of Ahab and the priests of Baal, and Jehu and his sons were kings of Israel for many years.
What prophet did we learn of long ago who took a horn of oil and anointed a king as the Lord told him to do? You remember how Samuel anointed both Saul and David. Now Elisha sent one of the prophets to anoint a king over Israel, to rule in place of Jezebel and the family of Ahab who had led the people into so much wickedness.
Jehu was at Ramoth-gilead in the country east of Jordan, the town where Ahab had met his death. The army of Israel was holding the city against the Syrians, for Hazael king of Syria was their enemy, as Ben-hadad who was king before him had been. Joram, Ahab's son, had been at Ramoth-gilead but had gone back to Jezreel to be healed of his wounds. Jehu was one of the chief captains with the army and was sitting with the other captains when the messenger of Elisha came. The messenger anointed him and told him that the Lord had made him king, and that he should destroy the wicked family of Ahab.
Jehu told the other captains, and they were his friends. They blew the trumpets and said, “Jehu is king.” Then before anyone could take word to Joram, Jehu rode in his chariot to Jezreel. You remember the broad green valley that leads from the great plain of Esdraelon, between Little Hermon and Mount Gilboa to the Jordan. It was up this valley that Jehu drove with all haste.
A watchman on the tower in Jezreel saw the company of Jehu coming and told Joram. Twice he sent a horseman to ask “Is it peace?” or “Is all well?” but they brought no answer and the chariot drove on. They knew that is was Jehu, but they did not know why he came. Then Joram went out to meet him, and Ahaziah king of Judah who was with Joram at the time, each in his own chariot. Both kings were killed, Joram by an arrow from Jehu’s bow, and Ahaziah by men whom Jehu sent after him as he fled.
The “garden house” is thought to be the name of a place called elsewhere En-gannim and today Jenin, at the southern corner of the plain of Esdraelon, on the road that Ahaziah would take escaping toward Jerusalem. He was wounded in his chariot and died at Megiddo, another town near the southern edge of the great plain.
Meantime, Jehu had entered Jezreel. Jezebel heard that he was coming, and, dressed royally like a queen, she looked out from a high window near the gate where Jehu would enter. He saw her there, and at his word, her servants threw her down from the window, and she was trodden under foot by the men and horses marching in. When, soon after, Jehu sent to bury the body of Jezebel, it had been eaten by the dogs, which prowl about the cities in that land and eat whatever they can find.
Several prophecies are fulfilled in this story. Read again, in 1 Kings 19:15-17, what the Lord said to Elijah at Horeb. We learn about Hazael in 2 Kings 8 and about Jehu in this lesson. Other prophecies were spoken by the mouth of Elijah at the time when Ahab and Jezebel took the vineyard of Naboth at Jezreel, and caused Naboth's death. (1 Kings 21:17-24) For the fulfillment see 1 Kings 22:38 and our present chapter.
1. When is the anointing of Jehu first mentioned? Where was he anointed? By whom?
2. Tell me about Jehu's coming to Jezreel.
3. What was the fate of Joram? of Ahaziah? of Jezebel?
4. What do we know about Naboth's field?
The destroying of evil people like Ahab and Jezebel represents in Scripture the condemning and putting out of evil things from the heart and life. Some outward evils of life can be corrected by truth of a natural, worldly kind; deeper evils by truth that is deeper and more spiritual; and the root of evil can be overcome only by the Lord's own truth, with the power of the Lord in it. Is not this meant by the command to Elijah to anoint Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha, and by the saying, “Him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay”? (1 Kings 19:17)
The bodies of Joram and Jezebel were not given burial, but the one was cast out, and the other was trodden under foot and was said to be “as dung upon the face of the field.” This treatment of the bodies pictures the utter condemnation and rejection of the evil things which the people represent. For when burial is mentioned in the Word, it means to the angels resurrection and eternal life. This would imply that something of good was present that could be saved and brought into heaven. But the treatment of the bodies of Joram and Jezebel means that they represent what has nothing good in it and must be utterly rejected. (E. 659; R. 506; A. 2916)
The fate of Ahab and Jezebel and their family is connected with the wrong that they did in taking Naboth's vineyard. The taking of Naboth's vineyard represented the destruction of spiritual intelligence through an evil life, and this same thing carried to its completion ends in spiritual death. Dogs here are the delight in vile and evil pleasures which Jezebel represents. (A. 7784, 9231; R. 132; E. 160)
As a good king of Israel represents spiritual truth and intelligence ruling in the soul, a wicked king like Ahab represents false thought and reasoning, and his wife Jezebel who stirred him up to evil represents the delight in evil pleasures, which prompts the false, excusing thoughts. What a power, but what a dangerous power this delight in evil pleasures may exercise in the life. Jezebel's being thrown from the window suggests the degrading of the mind by such evil delight, and especially the loss of all clear light and true understanding, for this is the window of the mind. (E. 159, 160; A. 3391)
The licking of Ahab's blood by the dogs, and their eating of Jezebel's body is the last horrible touch in the natural picture. Dogs sometimes represent a simple, kindly affection; but here they represent a love of what is utterly vile and evil. This is what people will come to if they indulge the delight in evil pleasures, which Jezebel represents. (A. 7784, 9231)