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Extermination of the Seventy Sons of Ahab in Samaria. - 2 Kings 10:1-3. As Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria ( בּנים in the wider sense, viz., sons, including grandsons see at 2 Kings 10:13, as is evident from the fact that אמנים , foster-fathers, are mentioned, whereas Ahab had been dead fourteen years, and therefore his youngest sons could not have had foster-fathers any longer), Jehu sent a letter to the elders of the city and to the foster-fathers of the princes, to the effect that they were to place one of the sons of their lord upon the throne. There is something very strange in the words הזּקנים יזרעאל אל־שׂרי , “to the princes of Jezreel, the old men,” partly on account of the name Jezreel, and partly on account of the combination of הזּקנים with שׂרי . If we compare 2 Kings 10:5, it is evident that הזּקנים cannot be the adjective to יז שׂרי , but denotes the elders of the city, so that the preposition אל has dropped out before הזקנים . יזרעאל שׂרי , the princes or principal men of Jezreel, might certainly be the chief court-officials of the royal house of Ahab, since Ahab frequently resided in Jezreel. But against this supposition there is not only the circumstance that we cannot discover any reason why the court-officials living in Samaria should be called princes of Jezreel, but also 2 Kings 10:5, where, instead of the princes of Jezreel, the governor of the city and the governor of the castle are mentioned. Consequently there is an error of the text in יזרעאל , which ought to read אל העיר , though it is older than the ancient versions, since the Chaldee has the reading יזרעאל , and no doubt the Alexandrian translator read the same, as the Septuagint has sometimes τῆς πόλεως , like the Vulgate, and sometimes Σαμαρείας , both unquestionably from mere conjecture. The “princes of the city” are, according to 2 Kings 10:5, the prefect of the palace and the captain of the city; the זקנים , “elders,” the magistrates of Samaria; and אחאב אמנים , the foster-fathers and tutors appointed by Ahab for his sons and grandsons. אחאב is governed freely by האמנים . In 2 Kings 10:2 the words from ואתּכם to הנּשׁק form an explanatory circumstantial clause: “since the sons of your lord are with you, and with you the war-chariots and horses, and a fortified city and arms,” i.e., since you have everything in your hands, - the royal princes and also the power to make one of them king. It is perfectly evident from the words, “the sons of your lord,” i.e., of king Joram, that the seventy sons of Ahab included grandsons also. This challenge of Jehu was only a ruse, by which he hoped to discover the feelings of the leading men of the capital of the kingdom, because he could not venture, without being well assured of them, to proceed to Samaria to exterminate the remaining members of the royal family of Ahab who were living there. על נלחם , to fight concerning, i.e., for a person, as in Judges 9:17.
This ruse had the desired result. The recipients of the letter were in great fear, and said, Two kings could not stand before him, how shall we? and sent messengers to announce their submission, and to say that they were willing to carry out his commands, and had no desire to appoint a king.
Jehu then wrote them a second letter, to say that if they would hearken to his voice, they were to send to him on the morrow at this time, to Jezreel, the heads of the sons of their lord; which they willingly did, slaying the seventy men, and sending him their heads in baskets. אד בּני אנשׁי ראשׁי , “the heads of the men of sons of your lord,” i.e., of the male descendants of Ahab, in which אנשׁי may be explained from the fact that בּני־אדניכם has the meaning “royal princes” (see the similar case in Judges 19:22). In order to bring out still more clearly the magnitude of Jehu's demand, the number of the victims required is repeated in the circumstantial clause, “and there were seventy men of the king's sons with ( את ) the great men of the city, who had brought them up.”
When the heads were brought, Jehu had them piled up in two heaps before the city-gate, and spoke the next morning to the assembled people in front of them: “Ye are righteous. Behold I have conspired against my lord, and have slain him, but who has slain all these?” Jehu did not tell the people that the king's sons had been slain by his command, but spake as if this had been done without his interfering by a higher decree, that he might thereby justify his conspiracy in the eyes of the people, and make them believe what he says still further in 2 Kings 10:10: “See then that of the word of the Lord nothing falls to the ground (i.e., remains unfulfilled) which Jehovah has spoken concerning the house of Ahab; and Jehovah has done what He spake through His servant Elijah.”
The effect of these words was, that the people looked quietly on when he proceeded to slay all the rest of the house of Ahab, i.e., all the more distant relatives in Jezreel, and “all his great men,” i.e., the superior officers of the fallen dynasty, and “all his acquaintances,” i.e., friends and adherents, and “all his priests,” probably court priest, such as the heathen kings had; not secular counsellors or nearest servants (Thenius), a meaning which כּהנים never has, not even in 2 Samuel 8:18 and 1 Kings 4:5.
Extermination of the Brothers of Ahaziah of Judah and of the Other Members of Ahab's Dynasty. - 2 Kings 10:12. Jehu then set out to Samaria; and on the way, at the binding-house of the shepherds, he met with the brethren of Ahaziah, who were about to visit their royal relations, and when he learned who they were, had them all seized, viz., forty-two men, and put to death at the cistern of the binding-house. ויּלך ויּבא , “he came and went,” appears pleonastic; the words are not to be transposed, however, as Böttcher and Thenius propose after the Syriac, but ויּלך is added, because Jehu did not go at once to Samaria, but did what follows on the way. By transposing the words, the slaying of the relations of Ahaziah would be transferred to Samaria, in contradiction to 2 Kings 10:15. - The words from וגו בּית הוּא onwards, and from ויהוּא to יהוּדה מלך , are two circumstantial clauses, in which the subject יהוּא is added in the second clause for the sake of greater clearness: “when he was at the binding-house of the shepherds on the road, and Jehu (there) met with the brethren of Ahaziah, he said...” הרעים בּית־עקד ( Βαιθακάθ , lxx) is explained by Rashi, after the Chaldee רעיּא כנישׁת בית , as signifying locus conventus pastorum , the meeting-place of the shepherds; and Gesenius adopts the same view. But the rest of the earlier translators for the most part adopt the rendering, locus ligationis pastorum , from עקד , to bind, and think of a house ubi pastores ligabant oves quando eas tondebant . In any case it was a house, or perhaps more correctly a place, where the shepherds were in the habit of meeting, and that on the road from Jezreel to Samaria; according to Eusebius on the Onom. s.v. Βαιθακάθ , a place fifteen Roman miles from Legio (Lejun, Megiddo), in the great plain of Jezreel: a statement which may be correct with the exception of the small number of miles, but which does not apply to the present village of Beit Kad to the east of Jenin (Rob. Pal. iii. p. 157), with which, according to Thenius, it exactly coincides. עחזיהוּ אחי , for which we have אח אחי בּני , Ahaziah's brothers' sons, in 2 Chronicles 22:8, were not the actual brothers of Ahaziah, since they had been carried off by the Arabians and put to death before he ascended the throne (2 Chronicles 21:17), but partly step-brothers, i.e., sons of Joram by his concubines, and partly Ahaziah's nephews and cousins. לשׁלום , ad salutandum , i.e., to inquire how they were, or to visit the sons of the king (Joram) and of the queen-mother, i.e., Jezebel, therefore Joram's brothers. In 2 Chronicles 22:1 they are both included among the “sons” of Ahab.
As Jehu proceeded on his way, he met with Jehonadab the son of Rechab, and having saluted him, inquired, “Is they heart true as my heart towards thy heart?” and on his replying ישׁ , “it is (honourable or true),” he bade him come up into the chariot, saying וישׁ , “if it is (so), give me thy hand;” whereupon he said still further, “Come with me and see my zeal for Jehovah,” and then drove with him to Samaria, and there exterminated all that remained of Ahab's family. Jehonadab the son of Rechab was the tribe-father of the Rechabites (Jeremiah 35:6). The rule which the latter laid down for his sons and descendants for all time, was to lead a simple nomad life, namely, to dwell in tents, follow no agricultural pursuits, and abstain from wine; which rule they observed so sacredly, that the prophet Jeremiah held them up as models before his own contemporaries, who broke the law of God in the most shameless manner, and was able to announce to the Rechabites that they would be exempted from the Chaldaean judgment for their faithful observance of their father's precept (Jer 35). Rechab, from whom the descendants of Jehonadab derived their tribe-name, was the son of Hammath, and belonged to the tribe of the Kenites (1 Chronicles 2:55), to which Hobab the father-in-law of Moses also belonged (Numbers 10:29); so that the Rechabites were probably descendants of Hobab, since the Kenites the sons of Hobab had gone with the Israelites from the Arabian desert to Canaan, and had there carried on their nomad life (Judges 1:16; Judges 4:11; 1 Samuel 15:6; see Witsii Miscell. ss. ii. p. 223ff.). This Jehonadab was therefore a man distinguished for the strictness of his life, and Jehu appears to have received him in this friendly manner on account of the great distinction in which he was held, not only in his own tribe, but also in Israel generally, that he might exalt himself in the eyes of the people through his friendship.
(Note: According to C. a Lapide, Jehu took him up into his chariot “ that he might establish his authority with the Samaritans, and secure a name for integrity by having Jehonadab as his ally, a man whom all held to be both an upright and holy man, that in this way he might the more easily carry out the slaughter of the Baalites, which he was planning, without any one daring to resist him. ” )
- In את־לבבך הישׁ , “is with regard to thy heart honourable or upright?” את is used to subordinate the noun to the clause, in the sense of quoad (see Ewald, §277, a.). לאחאב כּל־הנּשׁארים , “all that remained to Ahab,” i.e., all the remaining members of Ahab's house.
Extermination of the Prophets and Priests of Baal and of the Baal-Worship. - 2 Kings 10:28. Under the pretence of wishing to serve Baal even more than Ahab had done, Jehu appointed a great sacrificial festival for this idol, and had all the worshippers of Baal throughout all the land summoned to attend it; he then placed eighty of his guards around the temple of Baal in which they were assembled, and after the sacrifice was offered, had the priests and worshippers of Baal cut down by them with the sword. Objectively considered, the slaying of the worshippers of Baal was in accordance with the law, and, according to the theocratical principle, was perfectly right; but the subjective motives which impelled Jehu, apart from the artifice, were thoroughly selfish, as Seb. Schmidt has correctly observed. For since the priests and prophets of Baal throughout the Israelitish kingdom were bound up with the dynasty of Ahab, with all their interests and with their whole existence, they might be very dangerous to Jehu, if on any political grounds he should happen not to promote their objects, whereas by their extermination he might hope to draw to his side the whole of the very numerous supporters of the Jehovah-worship, which had formerly been legally established in Israel, and thereby establish his throne more firmly. The very fact that Jehu allowed the calf-worship to continue, is a proof that he simply used religion as the means of securing his own ends (2 Kings 10:29). עצרה קדּשׁוּ (2 Kings 10:20), “sanctify a festal assembly,” i.e., proclaim in the land a festal assembly for Baal (compare Isaiah 1:13; and for עצרה = עצרת , see at Leviticus 23:36). ויּקראוּ , and they proclaimed, sc. the festal meeting.
The temple of Baal was filled לפה פּה , “from one edge (end) to the other.” פּה in this sense is not to be derived from פּאה , a corner (Cler., Ges.), but signifies mouth, or the upper rim of a vessel. Metaphora sumta a vasibus humore aliquo plenis: Vatabl.
על־המּלתּחה אשׁר is the keeper of the wardrobe (Arab. praefectus vestium ), for the ἁπ. λεγ. מלתּחה signifies vestiarium (Ges. Thes. p. 764). The reference is not to the wardrobe of the king's palace, out of which Jehu had every one who took part in the feast supplied with a festal dress or new caftan (Deres., Then., etc.), but the wardrobe of the temple of Baal, since the priests of Baal had their own sacred dresses like the priests of almost all religions (as Silius has expressly shown in his Ital. iii. 24-27, of the priests of the Gadetanic Hercules). These dresses were only worn at the time of worship, and were kept in a wardrobe in the temple.
Jehu then came with Jehonadab to the temple, and commanded the worshippers of Baal to be carefully examined, that there might not be one of the worshippers of Jehovah with (among) them. When the priests of Baal were preparing to offer sacrifice, Jehu had eighty men of his guards stationed before the temple, and laid this injunction upon them: “Whoever lets one of the men escape whom I bring into your hands (we must read ימלּט instead of ימּלט ), his life shall answer for his (the escaped man's) life. נפשׁו תּחת נפשׁו , as in 1 Kings 20:39.
כּכלּתו : when he (the sacrificing priest, not Jehu) had finished the burnt-offering (the singular suffix ו may also be taken as indefinite, when one had finished, vid., Ewald, §294, b.), Jehu commanded the runners and aides-de-camp: Come and smite them (the worshippers of Baal), without one coming out (escaping); whereupon they smote them with the edge of the sword, i.e., slew them unsparingly. ויּשׁליכוּ : and the runners and aides-de-camp threw (those who had been slain) away, and went into the citadel of the temple of Baal. בּית־הבּעל עיר cannot be the city of the temple of Baal, i.e., that part of the city in which the temple of Baal stood, for the runners were already in the court of the temple of Baal; but it is no doubt the temple-citadel, the true temple-house ( עיר from עוּר , locus circumseptus ) - templum Baalis magnifice exstructum instar arcis alicujus (Seb. Schm.).
They then fetched the columns ( מצּבת ) out of the temple and burned them (the suffix in ישׂרפוּה refers to the plural מצּבת taken as an abstract noun, as in 2 Kings 3:3; cf. Ewald, §317, a.). They then broke in pieces the הבּעל מצּבת , column of Baal, i.e., the real image of Baal, probably a conical stone dedicated to Baal, whereas the מצּבת , which were burned, were wooden columns as πάρεδροι or σύμβοομοι of Baal (see Movers, Phöniz. i. p. 674).
Lastly, they destroyed the temple itself and made it למחראות , privies, for which the Masoretes have substituted the euphemistic מוצאות , sinks, as a mark of the greatest insult, many examples of which are to be met with among Oriental tribes (vid., Ezra 6:11; Daniel 2:5, and Haevernick in loc.). - Thus Jehu exterminated Baal from Israel. This remark in 2 Kings 10:28 forms the introduction to the history of Jehu's reign, with which the last epoch in the history of the ten tribes begins.
Jehu exterminated the worship of Baal from Israel; but the sins of Jeroboam, the golden calves at Bethel and Dan, that is to say, the idolatrous worship of Jehovah, he allowed to remain. “The golden calves, etc.:” this is a supplementary and explanatory apposition to “the sins of Jeroboam.”
Jehu is promised the possession of the throne to the fourth generation of his sons for having exterminated the godless royal house of Ahab (vid., 2 Kings 15:12). The divine sentence, “because thou hast acted well to do right in mine eyes. (because thou) hast done as it was in my heart to the house of Ahab,” refers to the deed as such, and not to the subjective motives by which Jehu had been actuated. For it is obvious that it had not sprung from pure zeal for the honour of the Lord, from the limitation added in 2 Kings 10:31: “but Jehu did not take heed to walk in the law of Jehovah with all his heart, and did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam.”
Therefore (this link of connection follows from the actual fact, though it is not distinctly mentioned in the text) Hazael had now to inflict chastisement upon faithless Israel. In Jehu's days Jehovah began “to cut off in Israel,” i.e., to rend away certain portions from the kingdom. “Hazael smote them (the Israelites) on the whole of the border of Israel,” i.e., of the kingdom, “from Jordan to the sun-rising (i.e., on the eastern side of the Jordan), the whole of the land of Gilead ( כּל־ארץ את is dependent upon יכּה which must be supplied from יכּם ), namely, the territory of the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and Half-Manasseh, from Aroer on the brook Arnon (now Araayr, a ruin on the northern border of the Mojeb (Arnon) valley; see at Numbers 32:34), the southern border of the Israelitish land to the east of the Jordan (Deuteronomy 2:36; Deuteronomy 3:12), both Gilead and Bashan,” the two countries into which Gilead in the broader sense was divided (see at Deuteronomy 3:8-17). - These conquests took place during the twenty-eight years' reign of Jehu, since Hazael began to reign before Jehu, viz., while Joram was king, and had already fought successfully against the Israelites at Ramoth in Joram's reign (2 Kings 8:28-29), but not in the later part of Jehu's reign, as Thenius supposes.
Conclusion of the history of Jehu's reign. The length of his reign is not given till the end in this instance (2 Kings 10:36), contrary to the usual custom in our books, because his ascent of the throne is not expressly mentioned in what precedes; but the general character of his reign is given in immediate connection with the account of his anointing and of the extermination of Ahab's dynasty.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 2 Kings 10". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany