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Jehu Kills Ahab’s Family

10 Ahab had seventy sons living in the city of Samaria. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria, to the elders and officials of the city,[a] and to the guardians of King Ahab’s sons. He said, “The king’s sons are with you, and you have at your disposal chariots, horses, a fortified city, and weapons. As soon as you receive this letter, select the best qualified of your master’s sons to be your king, and prepare to fight for Ahab’s dynasty.”

But they were paralyzed with fear and said, “We’ve seen that two kings couldn’t stand against this man! What can we do?”

So the palace and city administrators, together with the elders and the guardians of the king’s sons, sent this message to Jehu: “We are your servants and will do anything you tell us. We will not make anyone king; do whatever you think is best.”

Jehu responded with a second letter: “If you are on my side and are going to obey me, bring the heads of your master’s sons to me at Jezreel by this time tomorrow.” Now the seventy sons of the king were being cared for by the leaders of Samaria, where they had been raised since childhood. When the letter arrived, the leaders killed all seventy of the king’s sons. They placed their heads in baskets and presented them to Jehu at Jezreel.

A messenger went to Jehu and said, “They have brought the heads of the king’s sons.”

So Jehu ordered, “Pile them in two heaps at the entrance of the city gate, and leave them there until morning.”

In the morning he went out and spoke to the crowd that had gathered around them. “You are not to blame,” he told them. “I am the one who conspired against my master and killed him. But who killed all these? 10 You can be sure that the message of the Lord that was spoken concerning Ahab’s family will not fail. The Lord declared through his servant Elijah that this would happen.” 11 Then Jehu killed all who were left of Ahab’s relatives living in Jezreel and all his important officials, his personal friends, and his priests. So Ahab was left without a single survivor.

12 Then Jehu set out for Samaria. Along the way, while he was at Beth-eked of the Shepherds, 13 he met some relatives of King Ahaziah of Judah. “Who are you?” he asked them.

And they replied, “We are relatives of King Ahaziah. We are going to visit the sons of King Ahab and the sons of the queen mother.”

14 “Take them alive!” Jehu shouted to his men. And they captured all forty-two of them and killed them at the well of Beth-eked. None of them escaped.

15 When Jehu left there, he met Jehonadab son of Recab, who was coming to meet him. After they had greeted each other, Jehu said to him, “Are you as loyal to me as I am to you?”

“Yes, I am,” Jehonadab replied.

“If you are,” Jehu said, “then give me your hand.” So Jehonadab put out his hand, and Jehu helped him into the chariot. 16 Then Jehu said, “Now come with me, and see how devoted I am to the Lord.” So Jehonadab rode along with him.

17 When Jehu arrived in Samaria, he killed everyone who was left there from Ahab’s family, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.

Jehu Kills the Priests of Baal

18 Then Jehu called a meeting of all the people of the city and said to them, “Ahab’s worship of Baal was nothing compared to the way I will worship him! 19 Therefore, summon all the prophets and worshipers of Baal, and call together all his priests. See to it that every one of them comes, for I am going to offer a great sacrifice to Baal. Anyone who fails to come will be put to death.” But Jehu’s cunning plan was to destroy all the worshipers of Baal.

20 Then Jehu ordered, “Prepare a solemn assembly to worship Baal!” So they did. 21 He sent messengers throughout all Israel summoning those who worshiped Baal. They all came—not a single one remained behind—and they filled the temple of Baal from one end to the other. 22 And Jehu instructed the keeper of the wardrobe, “Be sure that every worshiper of Baal wears one of these robes.” So robes were given to them.

23 Then Jehu went into the temple of Baal with Jehonadab son of Recab. Jehu said to the worshipers of Baal, “Make sure no one who worships the Lord is here—only those who worship Baal.” 24 So they were all inside the temple to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings. Now Jehu had stationed eighty of his men outside the building and had warned them, “If you let anyone escape, you will pay for it with your own life.”

25 As soon as Jehu had finished sacrificing the burnt offering, he commanded his guards and officers, “Go in and kill all of them. Don’t let a single one escape!” So they killed them all with their swords, and the guards and officers dragged their bodies outside.[b] Then Jehu’s men went into the innermost fortress[c] of the temple of Baal. 26 They dragged out the sacred pillar[d] used in the worship of Baal and burned it. 27 They smashed the sacred pillar and wrecked the temple of Baal, converting it into a public toilet, as it remains to this day.

28 In this way, Jehu destroyed every trace of Baal worship from Israel. 29 He did not, however, destroy the gold calves at Bethel and Dan, with which Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to sin.

30 Nonetheless the Lord said to Jehu, “You have done well in following my instructions to destroy the family of Ahab. Therefore, your descendants will be kings of Israel down to the fourth generation.” 31 But Jehu did not obey the Law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

The Death of Jehu

32 At about that time the Lord began to cut down the size of Israel’s territory. King Hazael conquered several sections of the country 33 east of the Jordan River, including all of Gilead, Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh. He conquered the area from the town of Aroer by the Arnon Gorge to as far north as Gilead and Bashan.

34 The rest of the events in Jehu’s reign—everything he did and all his achievements—are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel.

35 When Jehu died, he was buried in Samaria. Then his son Jehoahaz became the next king. 36 In all, Jehu reigned over Israel from Samaria for twenty-eight years.

Queen Athaliah Rules in Judah

11 When Athaliah, the mother of King Ahaziah of Judah, learned that her son was dead, she began to destroy the rest of the royal family. But Ahaziah’s sister Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram,[e] took Ahaziah’s infant son, Joash, and stole him away from among the rest of the king’s children, who were about to be killed. She put Joash and his nurse in a bedroom, and they hid him from Athaliah, so the child was not murdered. Joash remained hidden in the Temple of the Lord for six years while Athaliah ruled over the land.

Revolt against Athaliah

In the seventh year of Athaliah’s reign, Jehoiada the priest summoned the commanders, the Carite mercenaries, and the palace guards to come to the Temple of the Lord. He made a solemn pact with them and made them swear an oath of loyalty there in the Lord’s Temple; then he showed them the king’s son.

Jehoiada told them, “This is what you must do. A third of you who are on duty on the Sabbath are to guard the royal palace itself. Another third of you are to stand guard at the Sur Gate. And the final third must stand guard behind the palace guard. These three groups will all guard the palace. The other two units who are off duty on the Sabbath must stand guard for the king at the Lord’s Temple. Form a bodyguard around the king and keep your weapons in hand. Kill anyone who tries to break through. Stay with the king wherever he goes.”

So the commanders did everything as Jehoiada the priest ordered. The commanders took charge of the men reporting for duty that Sabbath, as well as those who were going off duty. They brought them all to Jehoiada the priest, 10 and he supplied them with the spears and small shields that had once belonged to King David and were stored in the Temple of the Lord. 11 The palace guards stationed themselves around the king, with their weapons ready. They formed a line from the south side of the Temple around to the north side and all around the altar.

12 Then Jehoiada brought out Joash, the king’s son, placed the crown on his head, and presented him with a copy of God’s laws.[f] They anointed him and proclaimed him king, and everyone clapped their hands and shouted, “Long live the king!”

The Death of Athaliah

13 When Athaliah heard the noise made by the palace guards and the people, she hurried to the Lord’s Temple to see what was happening. 14 When she arrived, she saw the newly crowned king standing in his place of authority by the pillar, as was the custom at times of coronation. The commanders and trumpeters were surrounding him, and people from all over the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets. When Athaliah saw all this, she tore her clothes in despair and shouted, “Treason! Treason!”

15 Then Jehoiada the priest ordered the commanders who were in charge of the troops, “Take her to the soldiers in front of the Temple,[g] and kill anyone who tries to rescue her.” For the priest had said, “She must not be killed in the Temple of the Lord.” 16 So they seized her and led her out to the gate where horses enter the palace grounds, and she was killed there.

Jehoiada’s Religious Reforms

17 Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the people that they would be the Lord’s people. He also made a covenant between the king and the people. 18 And all the people of the land went over to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They demolished the altars and smashed the idols to pieces, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.

Jehoiada the priest stationed guards at the Temple of the Lord. 19 Then the commanders, the Carite mercenaries, the palace guards, and all the people of the land escorted the king from the Temple of the Lord. They went through the gate of the guards and into the palace, and the king took his seat on the royal throne. 20 So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was peaceful because Athaliah had been killed at the king’s palace.

21 [h]Joash[i] was seven years old when he became king.

Footnotes

  1. 10:1 As in some Greek manuscripts and Latin Vulgate (see also 10:6); Hebrew reads of Jezreel.
  2. 10:25a Or and they left their bodies lying there; or and they threw them out into the outermost court.
  3. 10:25b Hebrew city.
  4. 10:26 As in Greek and Syriac versions and Latin Vulgate; Hebrew reads sacred pillars.
  5. 11:2 Hebrew Joram, a variant spelling of Jehoram.
  6. 11:12 Or a copy of the covenant.
  7. 11:15 Or Bring her out from between the ranks; or Take her out of the Temple precincts. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  8. 11:21a Verse 11:21 is numbered 12:1 in Hebrew text.
  9. 11:21b Hebrew Jehoash, a variant spelling of Joash.

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