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Jehu Becomes King of Israel

One day, Elisha called for one of the other prophets and said:

Take this bottle of olive oil and get ready to go to the town of Ramoth in Gilead. When you get there, find Jehu son of Jehoshaphat and grandson of Nimshi. Take him to a place where the two of you can be alone, then pour olive oil on his head to show that he is the new king. Say to him, “The Lord has chosen you to be king of Israel.” Then leave quickly—don’t wait around for anything!

The young prophet left for Ramoth. When he arrived, the army officers were meeting together. “Sir, I have a message for you,” he said.

“For which one of us?” Jehu asked.

“You, sir,” the prophet answered. So Jehu got up and went inside.[a] The prophet poured olive oil on Jehu’s head and told him:

The Lord God of Israel has this message for you: “I am the Lord, and I have chosen you to be king of my people Israel. I want you to wipe out the family of Ahab, so Jezebel will be punished for killing the prophets and my other servants. Every man and boy in Ahab’s family must die, whether slave or free. His whole family must be destroyed, just like the families of Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah. 10 As for Jezebel, her body will be eaten by dogs in the town of Jezreel. There won’t be enough left of her to bury.”

Then the young prophet opened the door and ran out.

11 Jehu went back to his officers, and one of them asked, “What did that crazy prophet want? Is everything all right?”

“You know him and how he talks,” Jehu answered.

12 “No, we don’t. What did he say?” they asked.

“He had a message from the Lord,” Jehu replied. “He said that the Lord has chosen me to be the next king of Israel.”

13 They quickly grabbed their coats and spread them out on the steps where Jehu was standing. Someone blew a trumpet, and everyone shouted, “Jehu is king!”

Jehu Kills Joram and Ahaziah

14-16 King Joram[b] of Israel had been badly wounded in the battle at Ramoth, trying to defend it against King Hazael and the Syrian army. Joram was now recovering in Jezreel, and King Ahaziah of Judah was there, visiting him.

Meanwhile, Jehu was in Ramoth, making plans to kill Joram. He said to his officers, “If you want me to be king, then don’t let anyone leave this town. They might go to Jezreel and tell Joram.” Then Jehu got in his chariot and rode to Jezreel.

17 When the guard in the watchtower at Jezreel saw Jehu and his men riding up, he shouted to the king, “I see a bunch of men coming this way.”

Joram ordered, “Send someone out to ask them if this is a friendly visit.”

18 One of the soldiers rode out and said to Jehu, “King Joram wants to know if this is a friendly visit.”

“What’s it to you?” Jehu asked. “Just stay behind me with the rest of my troops!”

About the same time the guard in the watchtower said, “Your Majesty, the rider got there, but he isn’t coming back.”

19 So Joram sent out another rider, who rode up to Jehu and said, “The king wants to know if this is a friendly visit.”

“What’s it to you?” Jehu asked. “Just get behind me with the rest of my troops!”

20 The guard in the watchtower said, “Your Majesty, the rider got there, but he isn’t coming back either. Wait a minute! That one man is a reckless chariot driver—it must be Jehu!”

21 Joram commanded, “Get my chariot ready.” Then he and Ahaziah got in their chariots and rode out to meet Jehu. They all met on the land that had belonged to Naboth.[c] 22 Joram asked, “Jehu, is this a peaceful visit?”

“How can there be peace?” Jehu asked. “Your mother Jezebel has caused everyone to worship idols and practice witchcraft.”

23 “Ahaziah, let’s get out of here!” Joram yelled. “It’s a trap!” As Joram tried to escape, 24 Jehu shot an arrow. It hit Joram between his shoulders, then it went through his heart and came out his chest. He fell over dead in his chariot.

25-26 Jehu commanded his assistant Bidkar, “Get Joram’s body and throw it in the field that Naboth once owned. Do you remember when you and I used to ride side by side behind Joram’s father Ahab? It was then that the Lord swore to Ahab that he would be punished in the same field where he had killed Naboth and his sons. So throw Joram’s body there, just as the Lord said.”

27 Ahaziah saw all of this happen and tried to escape to the town of Beth-Haggan, but Jehu caught up with him and shouted, “Kill him too!” So his troops shot Ahaziah with an arrow while he was on the road to Gur near Ibleam. He went as far as Megiddo, where he died. 28 Ahaziah’s officers put his body in a chariot and took it back to Jerusalem, where they buried him beside his ancestors.

29 Ahaziah had become king of Judah in the eleventh year of the rule of Ahab’s son Joram.

Jehu Kills Jezebel

30 Jehu headed toward Jezreel, and when Jezebel heard he was coming, she put on eye shadow and brushed her hair. Then she stood at the window, waiting for him to arrive. 31 As he walked through the city gate, she shouted down to him, “Why did you come here, you murderer? To kill the king? You’re no better than Zimri!”[d]

32 He looked up toward the window and asked, “Is anyone up there on my side?” A few palace workers stuck their heads out of a window, 33 and Jehu shouted, “Throw her out the window!” They threw her down, and her blood splattered on the walls and on the horses that trampled her body.[e]

34 Jehu left to get something to eat and drink. Then he told some workers, “Even though she was evil, she was a king’s daughter,[f] so make sure she has a proper burial.”

35 But when they went out to bury her body, they found only her skull, her hands, and her feet. 36 They reported this to Jehu, and he said, “The Lord told Elijah the prophet that Jezebel’s body would be eaten by dogs right here in Jezreel. 37 And he warned that her bones would be spread all over the ground like manure, so that no one could tell who it was.”

Jehu Kills All of Ahab’s Descendants

10 Ahab still had seventy descendants living in Samaria. So Jehu wrote a letter to each of the important leaders and officials of the town,[g] and to those who supported Ahab. In the letters he wrote:

Your town is strong, and you’re protected by chariots and an armed cavalry. And I know that King Ahab’s descendants live there with you. So as soon as you read this letter, choose the best person for the job and make him the next king. Then be prepared to defend Ahab’s family.

The officials and leaders read the letters and were very frightened. They said to each other, “Jehu has already killed King Joram and King Ahaziah! We have to do what he says.” The prime minister, the mayor of the city, as well as the other leaders and Ahab’s supporters, sent this answer to Jehu, “We are your servants, Your Majesty, and we will do whatever you tell us. But it’s not our place to choose someone to be king. You do what you think is best.”

Jehu then wrote another letter which said, “If you are on my side and will obey me, then prove it. Bring me the heads of the descendants of Ahab! And be here in Jezreel by this time tomorrow.”

The seventy descendants of King Ahab were living with some of the most important people of the city. And when these people read Jehu’s second letter, they called together all seventy of Ahab’s descendants. They killed them, put their heads in baskets, and sent them to Jezreel.

When Jehu was told what had happened, he said, “Put the heads in two piles at the city gate, and leave them there until morning.”

The next morning, Jehu went out and stood where everyone could hear him, and he said, “You people are not guilty of anything. I’m the one who plotted against Joram and had him killed. But who killed all these men? 10 Listen to me. Everything the Lord’s servant Elijah promised about Ahab’s family will come true.”[h]

11 Then Jehu killed the rest of Ahab’s relatives living in Jezreel, as well as his highest officials, his priests, and his closest friends. No one in Ahab’s family was left alive in Jezreel.

12-13 Jehu left for Samaria, and along the way, he met some relatives of King Ahaziah of Judah at a place where shepherds meet.[i] He asked, “Who are you?”

“We are relatives of Ahaziah,” they answered. “We’re going to visit his family.”

14 “Take them alive!” Jehu said to his officers. So they grabbed them and led them to the well near the shepherds' meeting place, where they killed all forty-two of them.

15 As Jehu went on, he saw Jehonadab son of Rechab[j] coming to meet him. Jehu greeted him, then said, “Jehonadab, I’m on your side. Are you on mine?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Then give me your hand,” Jehu answered. He helped Jehonadab into his chariot 16 and said, “Come with me and see how faithful I am to the Lord.”

They rode together in Jehu’s chariot 17 to Samaria. Jehu killed everyone there who belonged to Ahab’s family, as well as all his officials. Everyone in his family was now dead, just as the Lord had promised Elijah.

Jehu Kills All the Worshipers of Baal

18 Jehu called together the people in Samaria and said:

King Ahab sometimes worshiped Baal, but I will be completely faithful to Baal. 19 I’m going to offer a huge sacrifice to him. So invite his prophets and priests, and be sure everyone who worships him is there. Anyone who doesn’t come will be killed.

But this was a trick—Jehu was really planning to kill the worshipers of Baal. 20 He said, “Announce a day of worship for Baal!” After the day had been announced, 21 Jehu sent an invitation to everyone in Israel. All the worshipers of Baal came, and the temple was filled from one end to the other. 22 Jehu told the official in charge of the sacred robes to make sure that everyone had a robe to wear.

23 Jehu and Jehonadab went into the temple, and Jehu said to the crowd, “Look around and make sure that only the worshipers of Baal are here. No one who worships the Lord is allowed in.” 24 Then they began to offer sacrifices to Baal.

Earlier, Jehu had ordered eighty soldiers to wait outside the temple. He had warned them, “I will get all these worshipers here, and if any of you let even one of them escape, you will be killed instead!”

25 As soon as Jehu finished offering the sacrifice, he told the guards and soldiers, “Come in and kill them! Don’t let anyone escape.” They slaughtered everyone in the crowd and threw the bodies outside. Then they went back into the temple 26 and carried out the image of Baal. They burned it 27 and broke it into pieces, then they completely destroyed Baal’s temple. And since that time, it’s been nothing but a public toilet.[k]

28 That’s how Jehu stopped the worship of Baal in Israel. 29 But he did not stop the worship of the gold statues of calves at Dan and Bethel that Jeroboam had made for the people to worship.[l]

30 Later the Lord said, “Jehu, you have done right by destroying Ahab’s entire family, just as I had planned. So I will make sure that the next four kings of Israel will come from your own family.”

31 But Jehu did not completely obey the commands of the Lord God of Israel. Instead, he kept doing the sinful things that Jeroboam had caused the Israelites to do.

Jehu Dies

32 In those days the Lord began to reduce the size of Israel’s territory. King Hazael of Syria defeated the Israelites and took control 33 of the regions of Gilead and Bashan east of the Jordan River and north of the town of Aroer near the Arnon River. This was the land where the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh had once lived.

34 Everything else Jehu did while he was king, including his brave deeds, is written in The History of the Kings of Israel. 35 Jehu died and was buried in Samaria, and his son Jehoahaz became king. 36 Jehu had ruled Israel twenty-eight years from Samaria.

Queen Athaliah of Judah

11 As soon as Athaliah heard that her son King Ahaziah was dead, she decided to kill any relative who could possibly become king. She would have done that, but Jehosheba rescued Joash son of Ahaziah just as he was about to be murdered. Jehosheba, who was Jehoram’s[m] daughter and Ahaziah’s half sister, hid her nephew Joash and his personal servant in a bedroom in the Lord’s temple where he was safe from Athaliah. Joash hid in the temple with Jehosheba[n] for six years while Athaliah ruled as queen of Judah.

Jehoiada Makes Joash King of Judah

Joash son of Ahaziah had hidden in the Lord’s temple six years. Then in the seventh year, Jehoiada the priest sent for the commanders of the king’s special bodyguards[o] and the commanders of the palace guards. They met him at the temple, and he asked them to make a promise in the name of the Lord. Then he brought out Joash and said to them:

Here’s what I want you to do. Three of your guard units will be on duty on the Sabbath. I want one unit to guard the palace. Another unit will guard Sur Gate, and the third unit will guard the palace gate and relieve the palace guards.

The other two guard units are supposed to be off duty on the Sabbath. But I want both of them to stay here at the temple and protect King Joash. Make sure they follow him wherever he goes, and have them keep their swords ready to kill anyone who tries to get near him.

The commanders followed Jehoiada’s orders. Each one called together his guards—those coming on duty and those going off duty. 10 Jehoiada brought out the swords and shields that had belonged to King David and gave them to the commanders. 11 Then they gave the weapons to their guards, who took their positions around the temple and the altar to protect Joash on every side.

12 Jehoiada brought Joash outside, where he placed the crown on his head and gave him a copy of instructions for ruling the nation. Olive oil was poured on his head to show that he was now king, while the crowd clapped and shouted, “Long live the king!”

13 Queen Athaliah heard the crowd and went to the temple. 14 There she saw Joash standing by one of the columns, which was the usual place for the king. The singers[p] and the trumpet players were standing next to him, and the people were celebrating and blowing trumpets. Athaliah tore her clothes in anger and shouted, “You betrayed me, you traitors!”

15 Right away, Jehoiada said to the army commanders, “Kill her! But don’t do it anywhere near the Lord’s temple. Take her out in front of the troops and kill anyone who is with her!” 16 So the commanders dragged her to the gate where horses are led into the palace, and they killed her there.

17 Jehoiada the priest asked King Joash and the people to promise that they would be faithful to each other and to the Lord. 18 Then the crowd went to the temple built to honor Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols and killed Mattan the priest of Baal right in front of the altars.

After Jehoiada had placed guards around the Lord’s temple, 19 he called together all the commanders, the king’s special bodyguards,[q] the palace guards, and the people. They led Joash from the temple, through the Guards' Gate, and into the palace. He took his place on the throne and became king of Judah. 20 Everyone celebrated because Athaliah had been killed and Jerusalem was peaceful again. 21 Joash was only seven years old when this happened.

Footnotes

  1. 9.6 went inside: The officers were probably meeting outside in an open courtyard of some building.
  2. 9.14-16 Joram: The Hebrew text has “Jehoram,” another spelling of the name.
  3. 9.21 the land. . . Naboth: See 1 Kings 21.
  4. 9.31 Zimri: An Israelite king who killed King Elah and his family so he could become king, but who ruled only seven days (see 1 Kings 16.8-20).
  5. 9.33 horses. . . her body: Two ancient translations; Hebrew “horses. Then Jehu trampled her body.”
  6. 9.34 she. . . daughter: Her father was King Ethbaal of Sidon (see 1 Kings 16.31).
  7. 10.1 the town: Two ancient translations; Hebrew “Jezreel.”
  8. 10.10 Everything. . . come true: See 1 Kings 21.17-24.
  9. 10.12,13 at a place where shepherds meet: Or “at Betheked of the Shepherds.”
  10. 10.15 Jehonadab son of Rechab: Or “Jehonadab the chariot driver.”
  11. 10.27 public toilet: Or “garbage dump.”
  12. 10.29 gold statues. . . to worship: See 1 Kings 12.26-30.
  13. 11.2 Jehoram’s: The Hebrew text has “Joram’s,” another spelling of the name.
  14. 11.3 Jehosheba: Jehosheba was the wife of Jehoiada the priest (see 2 Chronicles 22.11), which is why she could hide Joash in one of the private bedrooms used only by the priests.
  15. 11.4 the king’s special bodyguards: The Hebrew text has “the Carites,” who were probably foreign soldiers hired to serve as royal bodyguards.
  16. 11.14 singers: Two ancient translations; Hebrew “commanders.”
  17. 11.19 the king’s special bodyguards: See the note at verse 4.

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