DIVINE EXECUTIONS DISPLAY THE IRONY OF PROPHETIC FULFILLMENT AND THE HORROR OF GRUESOME DESECRATION
Jehu is God’s avenging instrument of execution to purge both Israel and Judah of the wicked influence of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel and their promotion of Baal worship. He strikes decisively to eliminate Joram, Ahaziah and finally Jezebel. He is ruthless and relentless in fulfilling his divinely appointed mission. There is no peace for these wicked rulers.
Dale Ralph Davis: the demise of the wicked should be the joy of the righteous. It may sound crude to put it that way but that’s only because the church has stopped living in, for example, Psalms 83 and 94 and has been sucking up the bland milk of tolerance from the breasts of an anemic culture for far too long. There is no biblical spine in our theology.
I. (:14-23) NO PEACE FOR THE WICKED — JEHU CHASES DOWN JORAM
A. (:14-16) Plotting to Kill Joram
1. (:14a) Conspiracy Set in Motion
“So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi
conspired against Joram.”
2. (:14b-15a) Convalescence of Joram
“Now Joram with all Israel was defending Ramoth-gilead against Hazael king of Aram, 15 but King Joram had returned to Jezreel to be healed of the wounds which the Arameans had inflicted on him when he fought with Hazael king of Aram.”
3. (:15b) City of Ramoth-gilead Sealed Off
“So Jehu said, ‘If this is your mind, then let no one escape or leave the city to go tell it in Jezreel.’”
MacArthur: For Jehu to succeed in his revolt and to avoid a civil conflict, it was important to take Joram totally by surprise. Therefore, Jehu ordered the city of Ramoth-gilead where he had been anointed (vv. 2, 3) to be sealed lest someone loyal to Joram escape and notify the king.
4. (:16a) Chariot Ride to Jezreel
“Then Jehu rode in a chariot and went to Jezreel,
for Joram was lying there.”
Wiersbe: It was about forty-five miles from Ramoth Gilead to Jezreel, but Jehu was a fast and daring charioteer and his men were accustomed to traveling at speeds that were alarming in those days.
5. (:16b) Catching Ahaziah Visiting at Jezreel
“And Ahaziah king of Judah had come down to see Joram.”
B. (:17-23) Pursuing Joram –
Series of 3 Investigations by Joram to See if Jehu was on a Mission of Peace
1. (:17-18) First Investigation
“Now the watchman was standing on the tower in Jezreel and he saw the company of Jehu as he came, and said, ‘I see a company.’ And Joram said, ‘Take a horseman and send him to meet them and let him say, Is it peace?’ 18 So a horseman went to meet him and said, ‘Thus says the king, Is it peace?’ And Jehu said, ‘What have you to do with peace? Turn behind me.’ And the watchman reported, ‘The messenger came to them, but he did not return.’”
2. (:19-20) Second Investigation
“Then he sent out a second horseman, who came to them and said, ‘Thus says the king, Is it peace?’ And Jehu answered, ‘What have you to do with peace? Turn behind me.’ 20 And the watchman reported, ‘He came even to them, and he did not return; and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously.’”
David Guzik: Jehu was such an intense man that his personality could be easily seen in the way he drove a chariot.
3. (:21-23) Third Investigation
“Then Joram said, ‘Get ready.’ And they made his chariot ready. And Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot, and they went out to meet Jehu and found him in the property of Naboth the Jezreelite. 22 And it came about, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, ‘Is it peace, Jehu?’ And he answered, ‘What peace, so long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?’ 23 So Joram reined about and fled and said to Ahaziah, ‘There is treachery, O Ahaziah!’”
David Guzik: This was the land that Ahab and Jezebel had so wickedly obtained by murdering the innocent owner of the land – Naboth. On this very land – which, as far as God was concerned, still belonged to Naboth – the dynasty of Omri would meet its judgment.
Dale Ralph Davis: Joram, of course, had no idea what it all meant: that’s why he dispatched horsemen to ask, literally, ‘Is it peace?’ (vv. 18, 19). I think this is meant, as some translations (e.g., njb, njps) have it, in the sense of ‘Is all well?’ Joram had no idea of what might have happened at Ramoth-gilead. Conceivably Jehu may be bringing word of a victory, or, more likely, of disaster. Some commentators wonder why, after both horsemen did not return, Joram (and Ahaziah) drove out to meet Jehu (v. 21) without protection. But the text does not say he was without support—he may well have had a bodyguard. Joram’s suspicions were likely raised when his two emissaries did not return, but what choice did he have? He had to find out what was going on. If one is to be alarmed he must know what to be alarmed about!
II. (:24-29) EXECUTION OF JORAM AND AHAZIAH
A. (:24-26) Execution of Joram
1. (:24) His Death
“And Jehu drew his bow with his full strength and shot Joram between his arms; and the arrow went through his heart, and he sank in his chariot.”
Donald Wiseman: God’s word that Ahab’s house would be destroyed was brought about through the brash actions of his agent Jehu. The experienced warrior deliberately aimed to shoot Joram. A technical archery term is used: ‘filled his hand with the bow’ (mt; cf. Akkad. qašta mullû), that is, stretched the bow ‘with his full strength’ (rsv after Rashi). Sidkar was Jehu’s, or, less probably, Ahaziah’s third man in the chariot (Heb. šālîš, i.e. not the driver, or just an officer, but the royal aide-de-camp; cf. 2 Kgs 7:2). It is possible that Bidkar was driving his own chariot alongside.
2. (:25-26) His Deserving Desecration
“Then Jehu said to Bidkar his officer, ‘Take him up and cast him into the property of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite, for I remember when you and I were riding together after Ahab his father, that the LORD laid this oracle against him: 26 Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons, says the LORD, and I will repay you in this property, says the LORD. Now then, take and cast him into the property, according to the word of the LORD.’”
MacArthur: Jehu viewed himself as God’s avenging agent fulfilling Elijah’s prediction.
Constable: Jehu desired to fulfill the prophecy of Ahab’s punishment (v. 26; cf. 1 Kings 21:21- 22). God had mitigated Ahab’s judgment because he had repented (1 Kings 21:29), but now his descendants were reaping the consequences, as God had promised. Verse 26 adds that Jezebel had executed Naboth’s sons, too. The writer did not record this earlier. Perhaps she sought to preclude any claims that Naboth’s descendants could have made to his lands later. These additional murders also violated the Mosaic Law (Lev. 25:25; Num. 36:7).
Peter Pett: Turning his chariot Jehoram sought to flee crying out to Ahaziah that treachery was afoot, but as he fled Jehu drew his bow, and with a well-aimed arrow, struck him between the arms so that he sank down in his chariot. Then Jehu commanded that his body be taken and cast onto the plot of land stolen from Naboth by Ahab and Jezebel as a kind of atonement for the land, and punishment from YHWH. All Israel would recognise from this that Jehu was simply doing YHWH’s will, while Jehu gained the satisfaction of knowing that he had been YHWH’s chosen instrument.
B. (:27-29) Execution of Ahaziah
1. (:27) His Death
“When Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled by the way of the garden house. And Jehu pursued him and said, ‘Shoot him too, in the chariot.’ So they shot him at the ascent of Gur, which is at Ibleam. But he fled to Megiddo and died there.”
2. (:28) His Deserving Burial in Jerusalem
“Then his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem,
and buried him in his grave with his fathers in the city of David.”
Wiersbe: Ahaziah was wounded as he fled from Jezreel (v. 27). He made it to Beth-haggan and then turned northwest at the Ascent of Gur and headed for Megiddo where he tried to hide from Jehu. But Jehu’s men tracked him down and killed him at Megiddo. Ahaziah’s servants carried his body from Megiddo to Jerusalem where he was buried with the kings, for he was a descendant of David. Had he not compromised with Joram, worshiped Baal, and followed his mother, Athaliah’s counsel, he would have been spared all this shame and defeat.
Constable: Jehu’s assassinations terminated not only two kings of Israel and Judah but the alliance of the two nations as well.
3. (:29) Summary of Reign of Ahaziah over Southern Kingdom
“Now in the eleventh year of Joram, the son of Ahab,
Ahaziah became king over Judah.”
Peter Pett: The whole passage from 2 Kings 8:25 is now summed up by a repeat of the fact concerning Ahaziah’s succession, so that 2 Kings 8:25 and 2 Kings 9:29 form an inclusio. (It will be noted that it is also required for the chiasmus). The difference lies in the fact that here the Israelite method of reckoning regnal years (eleven years excluding the accession year) is used instead of that used in Judah (twelve years including the accession year). This is interesting evidence that the passage includes information extracted from both the annals of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, with the statements being extracted from each without being altered.
III. (:30-37) EXECUTION OF JEZEBEL
A. (:30-31) Jezebel’s Final Defiance
1. (:30) Shameless Presentation
“When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it, and she painted her eyes and adorned her head, and looked out the window.”
R. D. Patterson: Doubtless Jezebel’s adornment was intended to create a queenly appearance in the face of impending death and served as a royal burial preparation.
John Kitto: “Painted her eyes” is the correct reading, as given in the margin and read in the Septuagint and Vulgate. This custom, which our translators do not to have comprehended, is universal among the women the East, and sometimes is also adopted by the men. They eyelid is tinged with a metallic black powder, which is called surmeh the Turks and Persians, and kohol by the Egyptians. It is rather a delicate operation, which is thus performed: The eye is closed, and a small ebony rod smeared with composition is squeezed between the lids, so as to tinge their edges with the colour. This is considered to add greatly to the brilliancy and power of the eye, and to deepen the effect of the long black eye-lashes of which the Orientals are proud. The same drug is employed on the eyebrows — used thus, it is intended to elongate, not to elevate, the arc, so that the inner extremities are usually represented as meeting between the eyes. To a European the effect produced is seldom, at first, pleasing; but it soon becomes so. The Egyptian monuments confirm the intimation which the present text affords of the antiquity of the custom.
NET Bible quoted by Constable: On the surface Jezebel’s actions seem contradictory. On the one hand, she beautifies herself as if to seduce Jehu, but on the other hand, she insults and indirectly threatens him with this comparison to Zimri. Upon further reflection, however, her actions reveal a clear underlying motive. She wants to retain her power, not to mention her life. By beautifying herself, she appeals to Jehu’s sexual impulses; by threatening him, she reminds him that he is in the same precarious position as Zimri. But, if he makes Jezebel his queen, he can consolidate his power. In other words through her actions and words Jezebel is saying to Jehu, ‘You desire me, don’t you? And you need me!’
John Schultz: Jezebel will be killed next, but she will not die quietly. She puts on makeup, fixes her hair, and waits for Jehu by her window. This is no attempt to seduce the rebel. Rather, she does these things to look like, and die like, a queen. When Jehu arrives, she sarcastically asks if he has come in peace. She then insults him by calling him Zimri, the ineffectual, short-lived usurper of Elah’s throne (cf. 1 Kgs 16:8–20). Of course, Jehu is the killer of his master, so it may be the insinuation of a brief reign that provides the bite to her accusation/insult.
Dale Ralph Davis: If Joram’s end highlights the irony of God’s judgment, Jezebel’s displays the horror of that judgment. Jehu enters Jezreel. Jezebel in the meantime has been briefed on what has occurred (v. 30a) and apparently divines what is coming. She is hardly unnerved. Out come the cosmetics; she gets on her mascara, teases and fixes her hair, and, looking like the queen, peers through the window as Jehu comes through the gate (v. 30b). Her sarcasm is in top form: she asks Jehu, ‘Is all well, Zimri, murderer of his master?’ (v. 31b). There are some who think Jezebel here holds out an offer of negotiation (lit., ‘Is it peace?’) to Jehu and that she dolls herself up in order to allure or seduce him to take over the harem and thereby rule by being united to Ahab’s dynasty. But, as Cohn notes, ‘the parallel between Jehu’s treason and Zimri’s [on whom see 1 Kings 16:8–20] is too strong to be ignored and the epithet “murderer of his master” is hardly designed to flame Jehu’s desire.’ Instead Jezebel gussies herself up in her full regalia as an act of defiance to Jehu. She will go out in style—or so she thinks.
2. (:31) Sarcastic Taunt
“And as Jehu entered the gate, she said,
‘Is it well, Zimri, your master’s murderer?’”
MacArthur: In referring to Jehu by that name, Jezebel sarcastically alluded to the previous urge of Zimri (1Ki 16:9-15). Since Zimri died 7 days after beginning to reign, Jezebel was implying that the same fate awaited Jehu.
B. (:32-33) Jezebel’s Fatal Dashing
1. (:32) Betrayers Solicited
“Then he lifted up his face to the window and said, ‘Who is on my side? Who?’ And two or three officials looked down at him.”
2. (:33) Bloody Spectacle
“And he said, ‘Throw her down.’ So they threw her down, and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall and on the horses, and he trampled her under foot.”
Meyer: Jehu emphatically answered her question about peace. There cannot be true peace so long as we permit the infidelities and charms of some Jezebel of the soul-life to attract and affect us… Whatever its charms, it must be flung out the window before we can be at peace.
C. (:34-37) Jezebel’s Foretold Desecration
1. (:34) Dining in the Royal House a Priority over Burial
“When he came in, he ate and drank; and he said, ‘See now to this cursed woman and bury her, for she is a king’s daughter.’”
August Konkel: Jehu returns to Jezreel to deal with Jezebel; her attendants join the revolt and throw her down to be trampled on the ground. Though the versions say she is trampled by the horses, the Masoretic text is singular, indicating that she is trampled by Jehu (9:33). Jehu goes on to celebrate (v. 34), possibly a meal in which he secures the support of the leaders at Jezreel and assures them of his goodwill.
Adam Clarke: She is a king’s daughter. Jezebel was certainly a woman of a very high lineage. She was daughter of the king of Tyre; wife of Ahab, king of Israel; mother of Joram, king of Israel; mother-in-law of Joram, king of Judah; and grandmother of Ahaziah, king of Judah.
2. (:35) Dismembered Carcass All that Remains
“And they went to bury her, but they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands.”
The Pulpit Commentary: History presents no parallel to such an indignity. Kings and queens had been, time after time, removed by violence; their lives had been taken; they had been transplanted to another sphere of being. But the open casting forth from a window of a crowned head by the menials of the court, at the command of a usurper, was a new thing, unprecedented, unparalleled. It must have been a shock to all established notions of propriety. In commanding it Jehu showed his superiority to existing prejudice, his utter fearlessness, and his willingness to create a new precedent, which might seriously shake the monarchical principle.
3. (:36-37) Divine Prophecy of Her Demise Fulfilled in Detail
“Therefore they returned and told him. And he said, ‘This is the word of the LORD, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the property of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; 37 and the corpse of Jezebel shall be as dung on the face of the field in the property of Jezreel, so they cannot say, This is Jezebel.’”
Peter Pett: When this was reported back to him he drew attention to the fact that it was the fulfilment of YHWH’s word through Elijah, cited in 1 Kings 21:23 as, ‘The dogs will eat Jezebel by the walls of Jezreel’. This fuller version of the prophecy, which we have no reason for doubting as authentic, although possibly paraphrased by Jehu, was probably recorded in a different original record. It is sufficiently different from the facts to indicate that it was not just invention. It included not only the thought that Jezebel would be eaten by scavenger dogs, but that her remains would act as fertiliser in the area of Jezreel, with nothing remaining to remember her by. There would be insufficient preserved remains for anyone to be able to say, ‘This is Jezebel’. She had become a nothing.
Adam Clarke: As she could not be buried, she could have no funeral monument. Though so great a woman by her birth, connections, and alliances, she had not the honour of a tomb! There was not even a solitary stone to say, Here lies Jezebel! not even a mound of earth to designate the place of her sepulture! Judgment is God’s strange work; but when he contends, how terrible are his judgments! and when he ariseth to execute judgment, who shall stay his hand? How deep are his counsels, and how terrible are his workings!