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10 Ahab had many sons in Samaria—70 in all. This is how Jehu got the best of them:

Jehu wrote many letters to Samaria—to the leaders in Jezreel, the elders, as well as the caretakers of Ahab’s children.

Jehu’s Letter: When you receive this letter, you will be in the company of Ahab’s sons; and at your fingertips, you will have all the force you need—chariots, horses, weapons, and a fortified city. So choose the best and strongest son of your late master to inherit the throne, and then go fight with honor for your master’s household.

The leaders of Jezreel became immensely afraid because of Jehu’s letter.

Leaders of Jezreel: If two mighty kings cannot survive this man, is it possible for us to survive him?

All the leading citizens of Jezreel—leader of the city, house managers, elders, and the children’s guardians—sent a letter back to Jehu.

Leaders’ Letter: Mighty Jehu, consider us all your servants. We will do anything you ask. But know this, we are not going to give the throne to one of Ahab’s sons. We hand this matter over to you and wish only for you to do what you think is best.

Jehu’s Reply: Prove yourselves. If you have truly given yourselves over to my service and will do as I say, then I command you to behead Ahab’s sons and bring the heads to me at Jezreel this time tomorrow.

All 70 of Ahab’s sons lived with the chief men in the city, who were their guardians. After the leaders of Jezreel read Jehu’s second letter, they beheaded all 70 of Ahab’s sons. It was a horrific slaughter! They then placed all the heads in baskets and transported the blood-drenched baskets to Jezreel, so that Jehu would have proof of their obedience to him.

Servant (to Jehu): The heads of the late king’s sons have arrived.

Jehu: Make two piles of them at the gate entrance, and leave them there until dawn.

Dawn arrived, and Jehu addressed everyone.

Jehu: I speak to you who are innocent! I am responsible for slaughtering my king, but who is responsible for this slaughter? 10 The word of the Eternal One is unbreakable. All that He has said would happen to Ahab’s household has happened. His servant Elijah the prophet was His true messenger, a true man of God!

11 Jehu slaughtered everyone who belonged to Ahab’s household in Jezreel. He slaughtered all who knew Ahab—the mighty men of the city, the priests, and even mere acquaintances. There was not a single person left alive who knew Ahab.

Whenever a king dies, there is always some struggle over who should follow him. Even when King David died, his successor was unclear (1 Kings 1). Since Jehu is not related to Ahab, he does not have a blood right to the throne; and since Jehu takes it by force, he must keep it by force. The best way to make sure none of Ahab’s family and acquaintances conspire against him is to kill them all.

12 For example, on his way to Samaria, when Jehu was with the shepherds at Beth-eked, 13 he met some relatives of Ahaziah, king of Judah.

Jehu: Do I know you?

Ahaziah’s Relatives: We are related to Ahaziah. We are here to meet the king and queen’s sons.

Jehu: 14 Seize them!

They seized Ahaziah’s relatives, and they slaughtered them at the ditch of Beth-eked. There were 42 men slaughtered that day. Not a single man was left alive. No mercy was shown.

15 Jehu left in his chariot, and he was met by Jehonadab (Rechab’s son).

Jehu: I have no grievance against you. Do you have a problem with me?

Jehonadab: No. I am at peace with you, as you are at peace with me.

Jehu: If you truly are at peace with me, then offer your hand to me.

Jehonadab offered his hand to Jehu, and Jehu lifted him up into the chariot.

Jehu: 16 You’re coming with me. You will witness my zeal for the Eternal One.

So the two rode off together in Jehu’s chariot. 17 When they arrived in Samaria, Jehu slaughtered every person who was at all connected to Ahab. Finally every remnant of Ahab was erased from the earth. This all happened exactly as the Eternal said it would when He gave His message through Elijah.

18 For Jehu’s next ingenious move, he assembled everyone.

Jehu: Ahab served Baal a little, but I, Jehu, will serve him much more! 19 Quick! Assemble all of Baal’s servants together—his prophets, priests, and worshipers—so they can witness the great sacrifice I am going to offer Baal. If any of Baal’s servants do not attend this sacrificial gathering, they will be slaughtered.

Several cultures in the ancient Near East worshiped gods named Baal, which literally means, “lord.” Baal began as a local Canaanite god of thunder and rain long before the Hebrews entered Canaan, but his cult spread to other nations and changed in each of them. One thousand years later, under Jezebel’s influence, these Israelites are worshiping the Phoenician Baal, whom they consider the highest god and creator of the universe.

Jehu only said this sly thing so that he might slaughter Baal’s servants all in one attack.

Jehu: 20 Purify the sacred gathering for Baal.

They did as they were told.

21 Jehu spread the word of this sacred gathering throughout all of Israel. Every single one of Baal’s worshipers in the entire land attended. Everyone assembled inside the temple of Baal, and it was packed from wall to wall. Jehu continued pretending he was devoted to Baal. 22 He gave instructions to the wardrobe manager.

Jehu: Bring out the proper robes to all of Baal’s worshipers.

The wardrobe manager did as Jehu instructed and brought out the proper clothing to everyone.

23 Jehu was accompanied by Jehonadab (Rechab’s son) as he entered the temple of Baal. Jehu gave a strict command to Baal’s worshipers.

Jehu: Look among yourselves, and make sure that none of the Eternal’s servants have slipped in without us noticing. This is very important. There should be no one but Baal’s servants within this room.

24 All of Baal’s servants began to give offerings and sacrifice burnt offerings to Baal. Outside the temple of Baal, Jehu had stationed 80 soldiers. He gave them strict instructions.

Jehu: Kill them all without mercy. If you let anyone escape, then you will die in his place.

25 Jehu offered a burnt offering for show; and after he finished with it, he gave the command to the soldiers and their officers.

Jehu: It’s time. Go inside quickly, and be sure to slaughter every last one of them. Don’t let any escape alive.

Needless to say, when the soldiers enter the place of burnt offerings, all of Baal’s servants are shocked and horrified by the attack.

The soldiers slaughtered every one of Baal’s servants with the sword—one by one. After the massacre was over, the soldiers and the officers then tossed the corpses outside of Baal’s temple. When they had removed all of the corpses, they entered the inner chamber. 26 There they tore down and removed the sacred pillars from this pagan temple, and they set them on fire. 27 They tore down Baal’s sacred pillar and proceeded to tear down the rest of Baal’s temple. Ever since then, that place has been designated as a latrine, even to this day.

28 And that is the story of how Jehu exterminated Baal worship from the community of Israel. 29 But Jehu emulated the wickedness of Jeroboam (Nebat’s son)—causing the Israelites to live sinful lives. He did not turn away from the golden calves in Bethel and in Dan.

Eternal One (to Jehu): 30 I commend you for your good work. You have honored Me by destroying Ahab’s household as I desired. I am going to reward you by allowing your sons, until the fourth generation, to reign over Israel.

31 After all that Jehu had done, and even after the Lord had honored him, he fell from the higher path, from the ways of the Eternal. His whole heart did not belong to Israel’s God. He walked the wicked path of Jeroboam, causing the Israelites to live sinful lives.

32 During that time, the Eternal One began reducing the territorial holdings of Israel.

Hazael and his Aramean army are the human instrument for this act of divine judgment.

Hazael conquered these sections throughout the land of Israel— 33 all territories east of the Jordan River (where the Gileadites, the Gadites, the Reubenites, and the Manassites lived), from Aroer (near the Arnon Valley) north to Gilead and Bashan as well.

34 Is not the rest of Jehu’s story—his accomplishments and his actions—documented in the book of the chronicles of Israel’s kings? 35 Jehu left this world to sleep with his fathers, and he was laid to rest in Samaria. His son, Jehoahaz, then inherited the throne. 36 Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria for 28 years.

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