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14 Jehu (son of Jehoshaphat, Nimshi’s son) began plotting against Joram. The entire community of Israel with Joram was defending Ramoth-gilead against Hazael (Aram’s king); but if you remember, 15 King Joram had gone to Jezreel to wait for his injuries to heal—the injuries the Arameans had given him while he was fighting against Aram’s king, Hazael.
Jehu: If you really want me to be king, then do not let anyone leave this city to spread this news in Jezreel.
16 Jehu took a chariot to Jezreel, where Joram was resting. As you may recall, Ahaziah (Judah’s king) was there visiting Joram. 17 The watchman was up on the watchtower in Jezreel, and he saw Jehu and his followers approaching.
Watchman: There is a large group of people approaching.
Joram: Summon a horseman to go out to the group and ask them, “Do you come in peace?”
18 A horseman went out and spoke to Jehu and his followers.
Horseman: The king asks, “Do you come in peace?”
Jehu: Peace? What do you know about peace? Get behind me, and follow.
The watchman immediately went and updated Joram about the situation.
Watchman: The horseman went out to them, but he did not come back.
19 Joram summoned another horseman.
Second Horseman: The king asks, “Do you come in peace?”
Jehu: Peace? What do you know about peace? Get behind me, and follow.
20 The watchman then went and updated Joram about the situation again.
Watchman: The second horseman went out to them, but he did not come back either. Their force and speed is as fierce as the crazy driving of Jehu (Nimshi’s son).
Joram: 21 Prepare my chariot.
So they prepared his chariot; and he and Ahaziah (Judah’s king) went out together, each in his own chariot, to meet Jehu’s caravan on Naboth the Jezreelite’s land.
Joram (face-to-face with Jehu): 22 Do you come in peace, Jehu?
Jehu: Peace? What do you know about peace when the promiscuity and witchcraft of your mother, Jezebel, are too vast to measure!
23 Joram quickly realized that Jehu intended to attack, so he immediately turned his chariot around, quickly rode away, and yelled out to Ahaziah.
Joram: We’ve been betrayed, Ahaziah! Quickly, ride away!
24 But Jehu pulled his bowstring back as far as he could. He released an arrow that struck Joram between his shoulder blades, piercing straight through his heart. Joram fell over in his chariot.
Jehu (to his officer, Bidkar): 25 Pick up his body, and throw him into the field of Naboth the Jezreelite on the eastern slope of the Jezreel hill. I have just remembered that while you and I were riding after his father, Ahab, the Eternal revealed a prophecy concerning him: 26 “I have seen the past and witnessed Naboth’s blood and that of his sons as well. I will one day pay you back in this land,” spoke the Eternal. So go now, pick up Joram’s body, and throw him into Naboth’s field, just as He has said.
27 Ahaziah (Judah’s king) witnessed all of this from a distance, and he rode away by the path to Beth-haggan. Jehu went after him.
Jehu (calling out): Send an arrow toward his chariot, and kill him too!
They shot him at Ibleam as he was driving up toward Gur. But he did not die there. He continued on to Megiddo, where he took his last breath.
28 Ahaziah’s servants transported him to Jerusalem in a chariot. They buried him with his fathers in the city of David. 29 During the 11th year of Joram (Ahab’s son), Ahaziah inherited the throne over Judah.
30 When Jehu arrived in Jezreel, Jezebel was informed of his arrival. She put on her best make-up and fixed her hair, and she stuck her head out her window. 31 While Jehu rode through the gate, she taunted him.
Jezebel: Is everything okay, traitor?[a] Is everything all right, you murderer of your master?
Jehu (looking up at her window): 32 Is anyone in this city on my side? Anyone?
A few officers, who were eunuchs, peered down at him.
Jehu: 33 Seize her, and throw her out the window!
They did as he instructed and threw her out the window. Her blood splattered everywhere—on the ground, on the wall, on the horses. He rode his horse over her and pounded her into the ground.
34 He then went inside to eat and drink. After he had his fill, he gave instructions.
Jehu: Go take care of the mess outside. Give the accursed woman a proper burial. After all, she was a royal daughter.
35 They went out to clean up the mess and bury her body; but when they got there, they found a most haunting sight. All that remained was her skull, her feet, and the palms of her hands. 36 They went back and told Jehu this news, and he explained it to them.
Jehu: This is the Eternal’s message which He gave through the prophet Elijah the Tishbite: “Jezebel will be devoured by dogs in the land of Jezreel.[b] 37 Her body will be so gruesome that it will be like a pile of dung on the surface of a field in the land of Jezreel. No one will recognize the remains. No one will be able to say, ‘This is Jezebel.’”
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: 2 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. 3 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.
4 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?
5 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: 6 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. 7 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): 8 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.
9 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.
Paul and Silas are keeping a low profile in order to advance the cause of Jesus. Paul’s first miracle in the area is to cast out an evil spirit from a girl. This sets off an unexpected chain of events bringing the men into the city court to be beaten before the crowds. This sounds like the start of a very bad day. Silas must wonder, “Paul, what were you doing? Is your aggravation with this wandering girl worth all this trouble?” But they neither fight nor despair; instead, they sing, pray to God, and love their captors. Paul and Silas demonstrate that believers are not easily distracted or depressed as long as serving God is their priority.
17 After leaving Philippi and passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia, Paul and Silas came to Thessalonica. There was a Jewish synagogue there. 2-3 As he had done in other cities, Paul attended the synagogue and presented arguments, based on the Hebrew Scriptures, that the Anointed had to suffer and rise from the dead.
Paul: Who is this suffering and rising Anointed One I am proclaiming to you? He is Jesus.
He came back the next two Sabbaths—repeating the same pattern. 4 Some of the ethnically Jewish people from the synagogue were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas. Even more devout Greeks who had affiliated with Judaism came to believe—along with quite a few of the city’s leading women. 5-6 Seeing this movement growing, the unconvinced Jewish people became protective and angry. They found some ruffians hanging out in the marketplaces and convinced them to help start a riot. Soon a mob formed, and the whole city was seething with tension. The mob was going street by street, looking for Paul and Silas—who were nowhere to be found. Frustrated, when the mob came to the house of a man named Jason, now known as a believer, they grabbed him and some other believers they found there and dragged them to the city officials.
Mob: These people—they’re political agitators turning the world upside down! They’ve come here to our fine city, 7 and this man, Jason, has given them sanctuary and made his house a base for their operations. We want to expose their real intent: they are trying to overturn Caesar’s sensible decrees. They’re saying that Jesus is king, not Caesar!
8 Of course, this disturbed the crowd at large and the city officials especially, 9 so they demanded bail from Jason and the others before releasing them.
10 The believers waited until dark and then sent Paul and Silas off to Berea. When they arrived, they went to the synagogue.
Though Paul is known as the Emissary to the Gentiles, wherever he goes he proclaims Jesus to the Jews in the synagogue from the Hebrew Scriptures first.
11 The Jewish people here were more receptive than they had been in Thessalonica. They warmly and enthusiastically welcomed the message and then, day by day, would check for themselves to see if what they heard from Paul and Silas was truly in harmony with the Hebrew Scriptures. 12 Many of them were convinced, and the new believers included—as in Thessalonica—quite a few of the city’s leading Greek women and important men also. 13 Reports got back to Thessalonica that Paul and Silas were now spreading God’s message in Berea; the Jewish people who had incited the riot in Thessalonica quickly came to Berea to do the same once again. 14-15 The believers sent Paul away. A small group escorted him, first to the coast, and then all the way to Athens. Silas and Timothy, however, remained in Berea. Later they received instructions from Paul to join him in Athens as soon as possible.
16 So Paul found himself alone for some time in Athens. He would walk through the city, feeling deeply frustrated about the abundance of idols there. 17 As in the previous cities, he went to the synagogue. Once again, he engaged in debate about Jesus with both ethnic Jews and devout Greek-born converts to Judaism. He would even wander around in the marketplace, speaking with anyone he happened to meet. 18 Eventually he got into a debate with some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. Some were dismissive from the start.
Philosophers: What’s this fast-talker trying to pitch?
Others: He seems to be advocating the gods of distant lands.
They said this because of what Paul had been preaching about Jesus and the resurrection.
The philosophers misunderstand Paul’s message. They think he is talking about two deities: Jesus and Anastasis (the Greek word for “resurrection”).
19-21 This stirred their curiosity, because the favorite pastime of Athenians (including foreigners who had settled there) was conversation about new and unusual ideas. So they brought him to the rock outcropping known as the Areopagus, where Athens’ intellectuals regularly gathered for debate, and they invited him to speak.
Athenians: May we understand this new teaching of yours? It is intriguingly unusual. We would love to know its meaning.
Paul: 22 Athenians, as I have walked your streets, I have observed your strong and diverse religious ethos. You truly are a religious people. 23 I have stopped again and again to examine carefully the religious statues and inscriptions that fill your city. On one such altar, I read this inscription: “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” I am not here to tell you about a strange foreign deity, but about this One whom you already worship, though without full knowledge. 24 This is the God who made the universe and all it contains, the God who is the King of all heaven and all earth. It would be illogical to assume that a God of this magnitude could possibly be contained in any man-made structure, no matter how majestic. 25 Nor would it be logical to think that this God would need human beings to provide Him with food and shelter—after all, He Himself would have given to humans everything they need—life, breath, food, shelter, and so on.
This is the only universal God, the One who makes all people whatever their nationality or culture or religion.
26 This God made us in all our diversity from one original person, allowing each culture to have its own time to develop, giving each its own place to live and thrive in its distinct ways. 27 His purpose in all this was that people of every culture and religion would search for this ultimate God, grope for Him in the darkness, as it were, hoping to find Him. Yet, in truth, God is not far from any of us. 28 For you know the saying, “We live in God; we move in God; we exist in God.” And still another said, “We are indeed God’s children.” 29 Since this is true, since we are indeed offspring of God’s creative act, we shouldn’t think of the Deity as our own artifact, something made by our own hands—as if this great, universal, ultimate Creator were simply a combination of elements like gold, silver, and stone. 30 No, God has patiently tolerated this kind of ignorance in the past, but now God says it is time to rethink our lives and reject these unenlightened assumptions. 31 He has fixed a day of accountability, when the whole world will be justly evaluated by a new, higher standard: not by a statue, but by a living man. God selected this man and made Him credible to all by raising Him from the dead.
32 When they heard that last phrase about resurrection from the dead, some shook their heads and scoffed, but others were even more curious.
Others: We would like you to come and speak to us again.
33 Paul left at that point, 34 but some people followed him and came to faith, including one from Areopagus named Dionysius, a prominent woman named Damaris, and others.
1 Blessed be the Eternal, my rock.
He trains my hands for war, gives me the skills I need for battle.
2 He is my unfailing love and my citadel.
He is my tower of strength and my deliverer.
He is my shield of protection and my shelter;
He holds my people in check under me.
3 O Eternal One, what is man, that You even care to know him?
or the son of man, that You are mindful of him?
4 Humans are like a passing breath;
their time on earth is like a shadow that passes over us during the day and soon is gone.
5 Eternal One, stretch out an opening in the heavens, and descend.
Touch the mountains, and make them smoke.
6 Send forth bolts of lightning, and scatter my enemies.
Shoot Your fiery arrows, and rout the enemy.
7 Reach down from Your high place;
save me out of the great waters;
rescue me from the grasp of these foreigners
8 Who speak only lies
and don’t have truth in their deeds.
9 To You, my God, I will sing a new song;
I will sing Your sweet praises to the sound of a ten-stringed harp,
10 For You deliver kings from their enemies
and You rescue Your servant, David, from the sword of evil.
11 Rescue me,
and save me from the grasp of these foreigners
Who speak only lies
and don’t have truth in their deeds.
12 May our sons be like healthy plants
as they grow and mature,
And may our daughters be like the corner pillars
that decorate a palace.
13 May our storehouses be full
with abundant supplies of every crop,
And may the flocks of our fields
multiply into thousands and tens of thousands!
14 May our cattle be strong and productive,
without miscarriage, without loss,
and may there be no riots or protests in our streets!
15 Happy are the people for whom all this is true;
happy are the people whose God is the Eternal!
27 Those with knowledge know when to be quiet,
and those with understanding know how to remain calm.
28 Even a fool who keeps quiet is considered wise,
for when he keeps his mouth shut, he appears clever.