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Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary Preacher's Homiletical
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Kings 10". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ phc/ 2-kings-10.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Kings 10". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
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THE FALL OF BAAL
CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—
2 Kings 10:1. Seventy sons—i.e., descendants, sons grandsons, &c. The rulers of Jezreel—“Jezreel” has no authoritative place in the text. The LXX. suggests “Samaria,” and the Vulgate supplies civitatis; other translators have changed יִוְרְעָאל (Jezreel) into יִשְׂרָאַל (Israel). Keil suggests that “the rulers of Jezreel” mean “the supreme court officials of the royal house of Ahab.” Them that brought up Ahab’s children—These הָאֹמִנִים are the guardians and educators of the royal princes of Ahab.
2 Kings 10:2. This letter—It is full of satire. Jehu is so sure he is possessor of the throne that he tantalizes those he addresses by urging them to select a rival!
2 Kings 10:2. Your master’s sons, &c.—This “master” meant Joram.
2 Kings 10:5. He that was over the house—אֲשֶׁר, perfect.
2 Kings 10:11. So Jehu slew all—How remarkable this honest record in God’s book! The cunning dissembler wished to impress “all the people” (2 Kings 10:9) with the idea that the chief men in charge of Ahab’s house had conspired to murder these seventy descendants of Ahab, and then had hypocrisy enough to quote Elijah’s prophecy as being fulfilled in the extirpation of Ahab’s house. But neither his dissembling nor his religious cant hinders the plain record that “Jehu slew all.”
2 Kings 10:13. Brethren of Ahaziah—Rather, blood relations—step-brothers, nephews, cousins—for Jehoram died when he was forty years old, and it is incredible that he could have forty-two sons. To salute the children of the king—i.e., as they in their ignorance of Jehu’s conspiracy and murders supposed, Joram; and the queen meant the queen-mother, Jezebel.
2 Kings 10:16. My zeal for the Lord—Ambitious blood-thirstiness rather; but a villain knows how to use religious phrases, as the devil did (Matthew 4:6).
HOMILETICS OF 2 Kings 10:1-17
ZEAL IN EXECUTING DIVINE JUDGMENTS
I. Is not deficient in resources for accomplishing its purpose (2 Kings 10:1-11). Joram, Ahaziah, and Jezebel have fallen, but the Divine vengeance, which had so long and patiently slumbered, will not have finished its work of retribution till every member of Ahab’s guilty house is brought to judgment. Jezreel was in the power of Jehu, and with his characteristic promptitude, he seeks to get Samaria in his grasp, and wreak his vengeance on the children of Ahab there. His artifice in writing to the rulers in Samaria to set up a child of Ahab’s as king, and fight for him, is full of both irony and menace—of irony because he knew how unlikely it was that they would champion the cause of a fallen house, known to be doomed of God, and of menace, as it seemed to involve a demand, either to surrender, or else prepare for the worst. Bähr paraphrases it thus:—“I am king, but if ye, who have in your possession the chariots and horses and arms, are desirous of placing a prince of the house of Ahab on the throne, you thereby begin a war with me.” They submitted; and it is a melancholy evidence of the utter demoralisation caused by the prevailing idolatry, that the guardians, without the least show of defence, coolly massacred the seventy sons of Ahab, many of them young and tender, who had been committed to their care, and sent their heads to the blood-thirsty Jehu. By this stratagem it would seem that the slaughter of these descendants of Ahab was charged upon the rulers of Samaria, and that Jehu gained his object without the odium of the guilt. Not so. Jehu takes the full responsibility, and regards it as a fulfilment of the Divine word (2 Kings 10:9-11). The man fired with zeal to do a work which is so congenial to his own taste and aims, knows how to make the best of his power and opportunities.
II. May excite a love of slaughter which tempts it to exceed the limits of its original commission (2 Kings 10:12-14). Jehu moves on to Samaria to take possession of the capital of his newly-acquired kingdom, and every stage of his progress is marked with blood. When the thirst for blood is once aroused, it is not readily slaked. “On the way he met a gay and gallant party of princes from Judah, proceeding on a visit to the court of Israel, whom the tidings of the revolution had not reached, so rapid had been Jehu’s movements. These, in his still unslaked-thirst for blood, he ordered to be slain on the spot; and it is quite possible that, like the early Moslem conquerors, he sincerely thought that, while performing these and other atrocities, which were greatly beyond his commission, though under cover of it, he was doing God service, and that he suffered not himself to perceive that he was following to a greater extent the ferocious instincts of his nature, or that sanguinary excitement under which he laboured, combined with an undercurrent of selfish policy, which taught him that, after such a beginning as he had made, the more complete the riddance he accomplished of all the adherents of the house of Ahab—whether from sympathy of principle, or from alliance of blood—the more thoroughly the power of future reaction would be weakened. Jezebel’s question—“Had Zimri peace when he slew his master?” rang constantly in his ears; and he was answering it after his hard fashion, which seemed to say: “Zimri had no peace, because he slew only his master; I slay more that I may have peace.”—(Kitto). The intoxication of slaughter is a dangerous symptom in any nature, and will soon hurry one beyond the bounds of duty and justice.
III. Finds sympathy and encouragement in those who fully believe in the righteousness of the judgment (2 Kings 10:15-16). Here Jehu comes across a figure who might have reminded him of Elijah himself. It was Jehonadab, the son of Rechab—that is, the son of the “Rider,” an Arab chief of the Kenite tribe, who was the founder, or second founder, of one of those Nazarite communities which had grown up in the kingdom of Israel, and which, in this instance, combined a kind of monastic discipline with the manners of the Bedouin race, from whom they were descended. It seems that he and Jehu were already known to each other. The king knew the stern tenacity of purpose that distinguished Jehonadab and his tribe. The hand was grasped in a clasp which was not afterwards parted. The king lifted him up to the edge of the chariot, apparently to whisper into his ear the first indication of the religious revolution which he had determined to make with the political revolution already accomplished. Side by side with the king, the austere hermit sat in the royal chariot as he entered the capital of Samaria, the warrior in his coat of mail, the ascetic in his haircloth (Stanley).Jehonadab had probably mourned over the prevailing idolatry, and hearing of what Jehu had done and said, he recognised in him a minister of Jehovah, to execute judgment on the wicked house of Ahab, and went forth to meet him, and declare that his heart was with him in this ministry of judgment. To have the sympathy and approval of such a man would be no small advantage to Jehu; and one does not know how far Jehonabab restrained him from excesses into which his impulsive nature might have driven him. It is an unspeakable benefit to any cause when zeal is at once encouraged and controlled. Even the fierce minister of Divine judgment is relieved when the terrible responsibility of his action is shared by a congenial and sympathizing companion.
IV. Persists in fully carrying out the Divine command (2 Kings 10:17). Jehu was commissioned to destroy the whole house of Ahab, and he rested not till he had done in Samaria what he had done in Jezreel—put to death all the members of the doomed house. It was customary in the East, from the earliest times, for the founder of a new dynasty to put to death, not only the deposed monarch, but also his descendants and relatives—especially all the males—and we have several examples of this in these books of Kings (1 Kings 15:29; 1 Kings 16:11; 2 Kings 25:7). Jehu, therefore, did not commit an unheard of crime, but followed, in this respect, the example of other founders of new dynasties, though there was in his case the solemn charge and warrant from Jehovah. A zealous nature is restless until the work committed to it is finished, and finished with all fidelity of detail. The marvel is that such strong, fiery spirits do not oftener exceed their commission and plunge into deeper crimes. Naturalists tell us that, among birds and butterflies, the swiftest, strongest flyers approach man much nearer than those with weaker wings, feeling confident that they can dart away from any threatened danger; and this misplaced confidence brings them into the net of the collector. How often has a confidence similarly inspired, and similarly misplaced, brought a strong ardent nature to the very brink of some terrible excess. How few can do just as much, and no more, than he is authorised to do!
1. It is no enviable office to be the executioner of Divine vengeance.
2. There are natures to whom the work of slaughter is congenial.
3. If so much seal is shown in carrying out the Divine judgments, with how much eagerness should the Divine mercy be proclaimed!
GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES
2 Kings 10:1-7. Idolatry: its emasculating and degrading tendency. I. It has not the courage to defend the interests of its best patron but trembles with fear before the ambiguous threat of a usurper (2 Kings 10:1-4). II. It makes a cowardly and humiliating submission (2 Kings 10:5). III. Without even a remonstrance it surrenders its guardianship over lives it had pledged itself to protect and educate (2 Kings 10:6). IV. It does not hesitate to commit the cruellest and most infamous crimes (2 Kings 10:7).
—Moral decline among the highest ranks of a nation generally proceeds from a corrupt court which sets the fashion. As is the master, so is the servant. He who has the power in his hands always finds instruments among the great and those of high rank who shrink back from no demand which is made upon them, however much it may conflict with honour and duty. Those who no longer fear God, must fear men. Fear of men may become the cause of the greatest crimes.—Lange
2 Kings 10:1. The plentiful issue of princes is no small assurance to the people. Ahab had sons enough to furnish the thrones of all the neighbouring nations—to maintain the hopes of succession to all times. How secure did he think the perpetuation of his posterity when he saw seventy sons from his own loins. Neither was this royal issue trusted either to weak walls or to one roof; but to the strong bulwarks of Samaria, and there in to the several guards of the chief peers. It was the wise care of their parents not to have them obnoxious to the danger of a common miscarriage, but to order their separation, so as one may rescue the other from the peril of assault. Had Ahab and Jezebel been as wise for their souls as they were for their seed, both had prospered.—Bp. Hall.
—Though a large family of children is a blessing of God, yet we must not rely upon them, or be self-willed on that account, as if the family could not die out; but we must fear God, must not stain ourselves with sin against our consciences, and must bring up children in the fear of God, else He will take them away, and destroy the entire family.
2 Kings 10:5. Unconditional submission. I. Unjustifiable when it involves a greater wrong than continued resistance. II. Should not be made till every other expedient is first exhausted. III. Evidence of a weak and cowardly spirit. IV. May involve irreparable disgrace and ruin. V. Is always legitimate when made to the King of Heaven.
—Well may Jehu think—These men which are thus disloyal to their charge cannot be faithful to me; it is their fear that draws them to this observation. Were they not cowards, they would not be traitors to their princes, subjects to me. I may use their hands, but I will not trust them. It is a thankless obedience that is grounded upon fear. There can be no true fidelity without love and reverence. Neither is it other betwixt God and us. If, out of a dread of hell, we be officious, who shall thank us for these respects to ourselves?—Bp. Hall.
2 Kings 10:6-7. Here we have an example of unfaithful tutors, governors, and friends, who look in their actions not to the interests of the orphans, but to their own advantage, and let the orphans and their cause be ruined. As Jehu nevertheless destroyed them all, so will the just God also bring upon the heads of false friends and trustees all the unfaithfulness which they inflict upon orphans; therefore let such be warned against all violation of their trust. How they probably promised with all zeal to guard the life, the honour, and the rights of these princes. Now they themselves become their murderers. Let no man trust the golden words of him who fears man more than he fears God. Unfaithfulness ruins those who practise it. Though the crime which these men perpetrated against their wards could hardly occur in our day, yet instructors and guardians are not wanting who become murderers of the souls of their pupils, in that they mislead them by example and precept into apostasy from the living God, and disbelief in His holy word, instead of educating them in the fear and admonition of the Lord. What is the worth of all the friendship, favour, and trust of this World? It is like a tree in soft, loose ground, which, so long as thou holdest it aright, covers thee pleasantly with its shadow; but which, when the storm roars through its top, and it is overthrown, no longer takes account of thee, but crushes thee in its fall.—Lange.
2 Kings 10:7. No doubt among so many sons of Ahab some had so demeaned themselves that they had won zealous professions of love from their guardians. What tears, what entreaties, what conjurations must here needs have been! What have we done, O ye peers of Israel, that we deserve this bloody measure! We are the sons of Ahab, therefore have ye hither to professed to observe us. What change is this? Why should that which hath hitherto kept you loyal now make you cruel? Is this the reward of the long peaceable government of our father? Are these the trophies of Ahab’s victories against Benhadad, Jehoram’s against Hazael? If we may not reign, yet at least let us live; or, if we must die, why will your hands be imbrued in that blood which ye had wont to term royal and sacred? Why will ye of tutors turn murderers? All pleas are in vain that are deafened with their own fears. Perhaps these expostulations might have fetched some dews of pity from the eyes, and kisses from the lips of these unfaithful tutors, but cannot prevent the stroke of death. These crocodiles weep upon those whom they must kill; and if their own sons had been in the place of Ahab’s, doubtless they had been sacrificed to the will of a usurper, to the parents’ safety. It is ill relying upon timorous natures: upon every occasion those crazy reeds will break and run into our hands. How worthy were Ahab and Jezebel of such friends! They had been ever false to God; how should men be true to them? They had sold themselves to work wickedness, and now they are requited with a mercenary fidelity. For a few lines have these men sold all the heads of Ahab’s posterity. Could ever the policy of Jezebel have reached so far as to suspect the possibility of extirpation of so ample an issue, in one night, by the hands of her trustiest subjects?—Bp. Hall.
2 Kings 10:8. This cutting off of heads in collective masses, and making them into heaps, is and has been frightfully common in the East, and an Oriental familiar with blood and beheading from his cradle would read this portion of Scripture with little, if any, of the disgust and horror, and certainly with none of the surprise, with which it inspires us. After a battle, or a massacre, or the rout of a band of robbers, the heads are, as in the present instance, heaped up pyramidally, face outward, on each side the palace gates; and the builder of this horrid pile, if a man of taste and fancy, usually reserves a picturesque head, such as one with a fine long beard, to form the crown of his handiwork. Indeed, we have it on credible authority, that these men make little scruple of taking off the head of a bystander for the purpose, if they find not one in their stock equally becoming for the apex of the pile. Nothing in the East so much shocks a European as the frightful cheapness of human life, and with it of human heads. In Persia, the king has not seldom been known to express his displeasure at a town or village by demanding from it a pyramid of heads of given dimensions.—Kitto.
2 Kings 10:9. “Who slew all these?” The terrible havoc of sin. I. The fruitful source of suffering and misery. II. The instigator of anarchy and confusion in the family, the court, the nation, the universe. III. Provides the ghastly harvests of death.
2 Kings 10:9-10. He wished the people to understand that in this work of blood, there were other ministers of Divine judgment besides himself. Most commentators explain these words as the language of sarcasm or irony, and suppose that Jehu either intended to involve them in the odium and guilt of this slaughter, or at least to keep them in ignorance of the fact that he had himself given orders for their slaughter. But this is altogether unnecessary and unauthorised by anything that appears in the text. Doubtless what Jehu had done towards this massacre was well known to all the people of Jezreel. He had, indeed, in a certain sense, ordered it, but yet in such a way as to involve the nobles, elders, and guardians in the guilt as much as himself. Their ready and prompt obedience in beheading these seventy persons was, perhaps, hardly expected by Jehu; and when he saw it, he at once began to feel that he was comparatively guiltless of their blood. Jehu wishes them to understand that these massacres are no works of private revenge, but a most signal fulfilling of Jehovah’s word by the prophet Elijah (1 King 2 Kings 21:19-26). Strange that the man who so clearly. recognised his mission as a minister of Divine judgment, utterly failed to see that, by cleaving to the sins of Jeroboam, he exposed himself to the same judgment, and that sooner or later Divine righteousness would “avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu.”—Whedon.
2 Kings 10:10. The righteous judgments of God.
1. May be wrought out by the basest villanies of man.
2. Are brought about by persistence in disobedience and sin.
3. Impress the most obdurate with awe.
4. Should lead to humiliation and repentance.
2 Kings 10:12-14. A thirst for slaughter.
1. A dangerous appetite to indulge.
2. May impel to unnecessary cruelty.
3. Is indifferent to the number of its victims.
4. May be used as an instrument for inflicting deserved punishment.
2 Kings 10:15. The right state of the heart. Whatever professions of kindness and friendship we receive from men, their whole value depends on their agreement with the sentiment of the heart. We admit this so uniformly, that there is nothing so detestable as insincerity. The most friendly smiles, the most engaging attentions, become the objects of aversion when seen to be separated from the heart. When the base tinsel, which had given currency to the counterfeit coin, is worn off, we cast the piece away, notwithstanding the correctness of Cæsar’s image and superscription impressed on it, and hold its utterer as a deceiver and cheat. Nothing is so thoroughly contemptible as hypocrisy, when once the mask falls off. If we exact this sincerity from each other—and this is what Jehu required from Jehonadab—how much more strictly may we not expect that it should be required from us by the all-seeing God! He claims the heart in all its principles and feelings. “He searches the heart, and tries the reins.” He regulates his present proceedings towards us by the state of our heart, and by this will He judge us at the last day.
I. If the state of our hearts be right, then they will be right with God. The greatest idea that can be presented to our mind is that of God. He is not a distant being, unconnected with us, unrelated to us; and the state of our hearts towards Him must always be either right or wrong. Every sentiment we cherish contains in it, as to Him, some positive good or evil.
1. A heart truly right with God implies that we venerate him. How little of this is expressed, or even felt, on earth! Yet in Heaven, where all hearts are right, the seraphim veil their faces, and all living beings fall prostrate before His throne. When, therefore, we are conscious of His presence, when we walk as under His inspection, fear His displeasure more than the frowns of the world, and, bowing before His Majesty with lowliness of mind, give unto Him the honour due unto His name, then only are our hearts right with him.
2. A heart truly right with God implies that we entirely submit ourselves to him. The very word “God,” is a name of dominion, and never be it forgotten that He to whom it belongs has a supreme will concerning us. There cannot be a sadder spectacle than a heart wrestling with its Maker’s will; but when we recognise His will as our only rule, when we keep this before us as our supreme law, regarding it as the light and guide of our conduct, when we acknowledge His sovereignty in providence, take our place in society as He appoints, submit to His dispensations, and, even in the greatest afflictions, even when nature agonizes, meekly bow, like Him in the garden, and say: “Not my will, but thine be done,” then is our heart right with God.
3. A heart truly right with God implies that, by the cultivation of a devotional spirit, we maintain a sacred intercourse with Him. Prayer and praise are the great instruments of the fellowship of our spirits with God, and illapses of light, and love, and moral power, are the returns which the condescension of God makes to them. Ever since created intelligences existed, to desire good from God, to receive supplies of it from Himself, to be devoutly grateful, and to express their love—so far as it can be expressed—in praises, has been the Heaven of happy spirits. It is the Heaven even of earth, the only one to be enjoyed, and which all may enjoy. How dead the heart which has no intercourse with Heaven! True joy is a stranger there, and all is darkness and sin. Barren and unwatered, it bears no fruit of either righteousness or peace.
II. If our hearts be right, they are right with Christ. Till this be the case, the heart cannot even be right with God. Some have attempted, indeed, to produce a state of mind, reverential, submissive, and devotional, without respect to Christ; but the attempt has been vain. That our heart be right with Christ is the foundation of all religion.
1. It is so when it accepts His sacrifice as the only ground on which to claim the remission of sins. How many are there that are not, in this respect, right with Christ! One depends on his own virtues, another on his benevolence and charities; and more still (for the heart will rest its hopes somewhere) upon some undefined, unscriptural views of God’s mercy. Others, more enlightened, it is true, but still egregiously wrong, repose a general trust in the merits of Christ; forgetting that this trust is the personal specific act of a broken and contrite heart, which not only flees to that atoning sacrifice, but, despairing of all other help, eagerly embraces this. A heart right with Christ in this respect has gone through the process of awakening, of arousing fears, of conviction of utter helplessness, and then surrenders its whole case to Christ, trusting solely in the merit of his death, and the power of his intercession; looking through them alone, and looking now, for the mercy of God into eternal life.
2. The heart is not right with Christ unless it loves him. Considered abstractedly, all would pronounce it a thing monstrous, and almost a diabolical act, not to love the Saviour, and yet, sad as is this state of the heart, what can be more common? He stands before us arrayed in the perfection of virtue and holiness, and yet his character possesses no interest for us, as though it had no form or comeliness that men should desire Him as their example. He exhibits the tenderest benevolence, but what heart is moved by it, or shows forth its praise? Men are under an infinite obligation to Him, for He died to save them, but this excites no gratitude. He holds out to them the blessings purchased by His blood, and they spurn them for every trifle. What a state of the heart is this? You see that it is wrong, awfully wrong. Yes, and it never can be right till it loves Christ supremely.
3. When the heart is right with Christ, there is an habitual confidence in His intercession. That is what is called the life of faith, or living by faith, and it is by this that the real is distinguished from the nominal believer. Faith is not one single act, but a constant reliance on the Saviour’s mediation, as that which alone stands between the extreme of justice and ourselves, and by which we are looking for all good, for the supply of every want. Thus when the heart is right with Him it rests not in acknowledging His merit, but draws its virtue from heaven. It is not satisfied with acknowledging a fulness of spiritual blessings to be in Him, but derives them from Him through its specific and habitual exercises.
III. If our hearts be right, they are right with the church of Christ.
1. When the heart is in a right state, the church is avowed. There is the church and the world—the one is renounced, the other embraced. Baptism is not of itself a sufficient avowal. We shall unite ourselves to some portion of the visible church, and so place ourselves under its discipline. Where this is not the case the heart is not right. That which keeps us in the world is some bad principle which we will not renounce, some guilty shame which we will not cast off, some sinful association which we will not break, some evil practice which we will not amend.
2. Its members are loved. A new sentiment is now awakened, and cherished in obedience to the commandment of Scripture, “Love one another.” And this is holy charity. There would be some peculiarities in the opinions and practices of Jehonadab; yet Jehu says to him, “Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? If it be, give me thine hand.”
3. When our heart is right with the church, we feel we are identified with it. We grieve at its failures. In its successes we rejoice. We say, with the psalmist, If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its cunning.” We pray for its prosperity, and say, “Peace be within thy walls.” We are willing to labour in any part which the providence of God may assign to us, if we may but promote its interests.
IV. If the heart be right, it will be right with itself. There are strange oppositions and divisions in the heart, and this cannot be a right state of it. There is opposition between conviction and choice. Many know the good, who choose it not, who make no effort for its attainment. There is opposition between will and power. To will is indeed present with them, but how to perform they find not. There is the struggle between the flesh and the spirit; the counteraction of graces by opposite evils. There is the stunted growth. The seed is at least so far choked, that there is no fruit unto perfection. When it is thus with us, the heart is manifestly wrong. When it is right, it exerts an enlightened sway over the whole man. All its powers are in obedient order, all its graces fruitful and abundant.
1. Perhaps our heart is wrong. Let us be thankful that we perceive this; but be patient and persevering. Go to the very depths of its error and wrong. Heal not the wound slightly. The case may be hard; but it is not a hopeless one.
2. Perhaps it is in part right. For this be thankful; but rest not here. Many evils have already given way. I see you laden with the spoils of some conquered enemies, more are nearly overthrown. O pursue the fugitives; seek them in their caves, and dens, and hiding-places. Be determined on their final, their utter extirpation.
3. Know and use the means by which this may be accomplished. Exercise faith in the Saviour, live in habitual watchfulness and self-denial, “keeping the heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” O lovely sight, not only to men and angels, but to God also, even a heart renewed, stamped with the Divine image, warmed with the Divine life, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. It is the temple of God, the glorious workmanship of Christ; and He shall exhibit it at the last day as the fruit of his passion, and the monuments of his all-subduing all-restoring grace.—R. Watson.
—Jehonadab and Jehu: a symbol
1. Of war and peace.
2. Of the man of action and the man of contemplation.
3. Of zeal and prudence.
4. Of the union of various gifts and graces in the common service of God.
—Jehonadab is a type of faithful adherence to the faith and the customs of the fathers in the midst of an apostate, wavering people. Decided and firm faith, combined with a strict and earnest life, compels respect even from those who themselves follow another course. Where there is agreement in the highest and most important interests, there one may find a speedy and easy basis of intercourse, whatever may be the difference of rank or nationality. Jesus says to me and thee, what Jehu said to Jehonadab—If thine heart is right with mine, as mine with thine, then come to me upon my throne (Revelation 3:21).—Lange.
2 Kings 10:16. Zeal for God. I. A laudable and desirable impulse. II. Should be used in exposing and punishing wrong, and in promoting that which is good. III. Should be under the control of a heart right with God.
—Why should Jehu so desire that his zeal should be noted and noticed? Hypocrisy is very ostentatious. Drones make more noise than bees, though they make neither honey nor wax. It is reported of John Fox that as he was going along London streets, a woman of his acquaintance met with him, and as they discoursed together she pulled out a Bible, telling him she was going to hear a sermon; whereupon he said to her, If you will be advised by me, go home again. But said she, when shall I then go? To whom he answered, When you tell nobody of it.—Trapp.
—Zeal for the Lord is a great and rare thing when it is pure. It forfeits its reward, however, when it aims to be seen. How many a one deceives himself with his zeal for the Lord and for His kingdom, when at the bottom he is zealous only for himself, for his own honour and fame, his own interest and advantage.—Lange.
—Some have thought that this was all pretended zeal and showy hyprocrisy, but in 2 Kings 10:30 the Lord commends Jehu for having done well, and declares that his bloody work was right in His eyes and according to the feelings of His own heart. In other things Jehu sinned, and it is not pretended that all his measures and motives in his work of doom had the approval of God; but in executing judgment on Ahab’s house his zeal was praised, though it was not without a selfish ambition, and perhaps other elements of wickedness. But we need not call Jehu a heartless boaster and a murderous hypocrite. Shall he be blamed as murderous and cruel who obeys to the very letter Jehovah’s positive command? If the fall of the tower in Siloam were really a Divine judgment on the eighteen hapless victims whom it ground to powder (Luke 13:4), need we charge the tower with blood-guiltiness and cruelty? Sometimes, indeed, God uses wicked hands to execute His counsels, and holds them guilty for their deeds (Acts 2:23); but never does He blame a minister of vengeance for doing what His own word has positively commanded him to do. Let us beware how we curse and blame what God has not blamed. There are in our times too many shallow and unbiblical attempts to ignore the awful severities of Divine justice, as revealed in God’s word.—Whedon.
CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—
2 Kings 10:19. But Jehu did it in subtilty—His subterfuge for the destruction of Baal’s priests and votaries must not be regarded as proof of Jehu’s attachment and loyalty to Jehovah, but because he knew these priests and prophets were adherents to Ahab’s dynasty, and would be unfriendly to his own. He used religion for his own guilty ends, as 2 Kings 10:29 proves.
2 Kings 10:22. Vestments for all the worshippers of Baal—These priestly vestments were white robes, and kept within the temple by the master of the wardrobe; as, indeed, the holy garments of the priests of Israel were kept in the temple at Jerusalem.
2 Kings 10:26. Images out of the house of Baal—See Note on 1 Kings 14:23.
2 Kings 10:27. A draught-house—A sink or filth-closet, in order to cover the scene with infamy and detestation.
HOMILETICS OF 2 Kings 10:18-28
THE PUNISHMENT OF IDOLATRY
JEHU’S thirst for blood is not yet satiated. There remains one more power that menaces his peaceful and safe possession of the throne. The Baal-idolatry was so closely interwoven with the fortunes and prestige of the dynasty of Ahab, that Jehu must feel his crown insecure while that cultus was allowed to predominate. He rapidly matures a scheme by which the priests and worshippers of Baal shall be utterly exterminated, and the very name of the great Phœnician deity degraded and made an abomination for ever. It was a horrible conception. But Jehu was in the temper of mind, in the fever-flush of slaughter, when such conceptions had nothing revolting in them. He had shed too much blood already to shrink for a moment from shedding more. He was the more confirmed in his resolution, as he had the countenance and co-operation of the God-fearing Jehonadab, who saw in this subtle plan the necessary and deserved punishment of idolatry.
I. That the punishment of idolatry is in harmony with Divine law. Judged in the light of Mosaic ethics, the destruction of idolaters was a righteous and laudable work. The law commanded that the devotees of idolatry should be punished with death (Deuteronomy 13:1-15; Deuteronomy 17:2-4; Deuteronomy 18:20). There is nothing clearer in the history before us than this—that all the calamities that fell upon Ahab were in consequence of his idolatry. Two of the grandest prophets of Old Testament times were sent to instruct and warn him and his people. Their counsels and miracles were unheeded, and the chosen people of God were in danger of being irredeemably lost in idolatry, and His gracious purpose concerning the race of being frustrated or indefinitely postponed. As a just punishment for disobedience and rejection of Jehovah, and in the widen interests of the nation and of the world, the Baal-worship must be utterly destroyed. In this respect Jehu was the instrument of just and righteous vengeance.
II. That the punishment of idolatry may be accomplished by false and unjustifiable methods. Here we cannot but blame Jehu, and here the Old Testament morality rebukes him. He interposed the cunning and plotting of the military stategist into the carrying out of a righteous work. His Divine commission doubtless authorised him to cut off the worshippers of Baal, but not by guile. God praised his zeal in rooting out idolatry, but not his subtlety. His craft and guile on this occasion were in fearfulness equal to the duplicity and baseness which prepared the way for the massacre of St. Bartholomew. Truth never requires a lie. The end does not justify the means. It is unjustifiable to do a right thing in a wrong way. And yet what a large class of people there is in the world who do this! There is an evil that is damaging society; the more licence it has, the more it grows; it must be put down; let all possible force be put into operation to crush it; irrespective of the rights and feelings and opinions of others, root it out. It is the right thing to do; but in the majority of instances it is done in the wrong way. There’s a friend yonder going wrong; he has no longer the humility and zeal and power he used to have; he must be remonstrated with. It is the right thing to do; but in nine cases out of ten it is done in the wrong way, and more harm is done than good. A rude, impulsive, unsympathetic spirit hurried Jehu into acts of unnecessary severity and cruelty while he was seeking to do what was right, and he has many imitators in that respect in modern times.
III. That the punishment of idolatry should nevertheless be thorough and final. “Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel” (2 Kings 10:28). In slaying the priests and worshippers of Baal, the sword of Jehu completed the work which Elijah began at the brook Kishon (1 Kings 18:40). The deep corruption into which this idolatry had sunk the nation is evident in the fact that there was not one man with spirit and bravery enough to dispute the usurpation of Jehu, and in the cowardice and cruelty with which men of the highest rank assisted in the murder of the king’s sons. It was time that a system that could produce such utter moral degradation as this should be extinguished. Jehu was at home in such work; it was everyway congenial to his instincts. The images of Baal are shattered, the sacred citadel of Baal himself is invaded, his colossal figure is broken in pieces, the massive temple is pulled down in ruins, and the very site made a place of filth—a degradation which would cover the name of Baal with everlasting infamy and reproach. Such must be the fate of all that seeks to oppose and substitute itself for God. Every age of shams and unrealities has its Iconoclast who will shatter them in pieces. The world should be wiser and better as it reads the history and fate of all false systems.
1. Jehovah cannot tolerate a rival.
2. All idolatries must perish.
3. In the midst of the deepest degeneracy God is preparing the instrument of its punishment.
GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES
2 Kings 10:18-28. Idolatry a national curse. I. Demoralizes the people. II. Is hateful to Jehovah. III. Not to be abolished by deceitful and unjust methods. IV. Witnesses in its destruction no greater enormities than it generates itself. V. Its complete uprooting essential to national growth and prosperity.
—In an objective light the slaying of the servants of Baal was quite in harmony with the law, and quite legitimate on theocratic grounds; but the subjective motive which, irrespective of the artifice, influenced Jehu was thoroughly selfish. As the priests and prophets of Baal in the land of Israel, with all their interests and their whole existence, were bound up with the dynasty of Ahab, they might be dangerous to Jehu, if he did not, from political considerations, earnestly promote their objects; whereas by their extermination he might hope to bring to his side the whole of the certainly very numerous party of the earlier legally constituted worship of Jehovah in Israel, and thereby give stability to his throne. But that Jehu used religion only as a means to an end is proved by the circumstance that he continued the worship of the calves.—Keil.
—A work which is in itself pure and holy loses its value when it is accomplished by falsehood and dissimulation. One cannot battle for the truth with the weapons of falsehood. What things one may do by outward acts, and yet be internally a hypocrite! Jehu dissimulated in order to circumvent the hypocrites and idolaters in himself. Jehu destroys the worship of false gods by the sword, and by external violence. He had full justification for this in the law, for under the old covenant idolatry was the worm at the root of the Israelitish nationality; it was high treason to the Israelitish state. Under the new covenant, it is not permitted to make use of fire and sword against heresy and superstition. No other weapon may here be used than that of the Spirit—i.e., the word of God. Christianity is not bound to any people; as it was not brought into the world by violence, so it cannot be extended and nourished by the sword. Even now, every evil power has the right and the duty to proceed to extreme measures against a cultus like that of Baal, which is interwoven with licentiousness and abominations.—Lange.
2 Kings 10:18-21. What a dead paleness was there now in the faces of those few true-hearted Israelites that looked for a happy restoration of the religion of God! How could they choose but think—Alas! how are we fallen from our hopes! Is this the change we looked for? Was it only ambition that hath set this edge upon the sword of Jehu? It was not the person of Ahab that we disliked, but the sins; if those must still succeed, what have we gained? Woe be to us, if only the author of our misery be changed, not the condition, not the cause of our misery. On the other side, what triumphs sounded everywhere of the joyful Baalites! What glorying of the truth of their profession, because of their success! What scorn of their dejected opposites! What promises to themselves of a perpetuity of Baalism! How did the dispersed priests of Baal now flock together, and applaud each other’s happiness, and magnify the devotion of their new sovereign? Never had that idol so glorious a day as this, for the pomp of his service. Before, he was adored singly in corners; now solemn sacrifices shall be offered to him by all his clients, in the great temple of the mother city of Israel. I can commend the zeal of Jehu; I cannot commend the fraud of Jehu. We may come to our end even by crooked ways. He that bade him to smite for Him, did not bid him to lie for Him. Falsehood, though it be but tentative, is neither needful nor approved by the God of truth. If policy have allowed officious untruths, religion never.—Bp. Hall.
2 Kings 10:18-19. Duplicity.
1. Should be beneath the dignity of a king.
2. Not allowable, even in the execution of a righteous punishment.
3. All the more detestable when under the mask of religious zeal.
2 Kings 10:19. That it was possible for a large number of persons to be imposed upon by this pretence, after what Jehu had done, painfully evinces the extent of religious corruption in Israel. Something may, however, be allowed for the still imperfect knowledge of the transactions at Jezreel. News travelled but slowly in those days; and the men who had come over with the king to Samaria—his personal followers and guards—had perhaps been instructed not yet to disclose the full particulars of the great tragedy at Jezreel.—Kitto.
2 Kings 10:20-22. The popularity of religion no proof of its genuineness. I. The court set the fashion in religion, and the people followed. II. Whatever pleases the outer senses—in ceremony or vestments—is sure to be popular. III. A national holiday soon gathers a crowd. IV. A crowd is little aware of the peril with which it is sometimes threatened.
2 Kings 10:23. Sincerity in worship. I. Should be encouraged by self-scrutiny. II. Essential to spiritual profit. III. Demanded by an all-seeing God.
2 Kings 10:25. How is the tune now changed! What shrieking was here! What outcries! What running from one sword to the edge of another! What scrambling up the walls and pillars! What climbing into the windows! What vain endeavours to escape that death which would not be shunned! Whether running, or kneeling, or prostrate, they must die. The first part of the sacrifice was Baal’s, the latter is God’s; the blood of beasts was offered in the one, of men in the other. The shedding of this was so much the more acceptable to God, by how much these men were more beasts than those they sacrificed. Bp. Hall.
2 Kings 10:26-28. The glory of Baal
1. Discovered to be empty and deceptive.
2. Powerless to resist the fury of righteous retribution.
3. Dragged down to the most loathsome degradation.
2 Kings 10:28. So ended this great revolution. The national worship of Baal was thus in the northern kingdom forever suppressed. For a short time, through the very circumstances which had destroyed it in Samaria, it shot up afresh in Jerusalem. But in Israel the whole kingdom and church returned to the condition in which it was before the accession of the house of Omri. The calf-worship of Jeroboam was once more revived, and in that imperfect form the true religion once more became established.—Stanley.
—If we attempt with all this light given to us by the text to estimate Jehu’s personal feeling in regard to this revolution, we shall reach the following conclusion—Jehu was a military man to whom the crown presented itself as an object of earthly ambition worth some effort. Supposing him to have been by conviction an adherent of the religion of Jehovah, the call to him to put himself at the head of a reaction in favour of the Jehovah-religion, and the anointment to the royal office by a prophet of Jehovah, might move him to make the attempt. The adherence of the army determined him. When he had won his victory, he carried out faithfully the policy to which he was bound as leader of the Jehovah-party. He put an end to the worship of Baal. The crown, however, was his reward. It was a political reward, and he took political means to secure it. He slew all the possible pretenders to the crown from the house of Ahab, according to the oriental custom in such cases, as a means of securing himself on the throne. He stopped short with his religious reforms, and did not destroy the golden calves. He left them for the same political reasons for which Jeroboam erected them—that the northern kingdom might have its own religious centres outside of Jerusalem. He saw in the revolution principally a gratification of his own ambition. He was willing to be the instrument of the overthrow of a wicked dynasty and a corrupt religion, and he stopped just where his personal interests were in danger of being impaired. It is not strange that his contemporaries rejoiced so much at the rescue of their ancestral religion that they were indifferent to the excesses by which Jehu tried to establish his royal power, nor that later and calmer judges, on the contrary, raised his bloodshed into prominence in judging of his career.—Editor of Lange.
CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—
2 Kings 10:29. The golden calves that were in Bethel—Political reasons led to the origin of calf-worship (1 Kings 12:28), and doubtless for political reasons Jehu continued it.
2 Kings 10:32. To cut Israel short—Instead of לְקַצּוֹת, to cut off from, the Targum and others read לִקְצוֹף, to be enraged, wrath. In all the coasts of Israel—i.e., along the entire frontier, the land beyond Jordan belonging to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh.—W. H. J.
HOMILETICS OF 2 Kings 10:29-36
THE IMPERFECTIONS OF A GREAT REFORMING WORK
THE fearless and energetic efforts of Jehu at the beginning of his reign, while they filled many with dismay, excited in others the highest hopes. There were the hidden ones, the secret worshippers of Jehovah, who mourned over the degeneracy of the times, and sighed and prayed for a brighter day to dawn. It seemed as if their prayers were heard, and they recognised in the man who had dealt such fierce and summary justice to the adherents of Baal, one who would again establish the worship of Jehovah, and thus save the nation from the whirlpool of ruin into which it was rapidly sinking. It was therefore a bitter disappointment to all lovers of the truth when Jehu stayed his reforming hand, and gave his public sanction to the calf-worship of Jeroboam, putting back the nation to where it was ninety years before. The paragraph suggests the imperfections of a great reforming work.
I. That reform is imperfect when it does not thoroughly root out the evil against which it is directed (2 Kings 10:29). If the worship of the golden calves was not so gross as that of Baal, still it was idolatry, and as such should have been abolished. It was a standing insult to Jehovah, a violation of the Divine law, and a source of moral enfeeblement to the people, weighing upon them like chains of habit which are generally too small to be felt till they are too strong to be broken. It was an opportunity for Jehu to rid the nation once and for ever of the terrible curse. The hand that struck down Baal could also crush the calves of Dan and Bethel It was here the reformer failed; his work was ineffectual because it lacked thoroughness. Half reforms are always unsatisfactory. An admitted evil can be cured only by complete eradication.
II. That reform is commendable as far as it goes (2 Kings 10:30).
1. It has the Divine approval. “The Lord said unto Jehu, thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes.” Every attempt at reformation is encouraged by the Divine favour. It is this that sustains the courage of the reformer in the midst of formidable difficulties. We may well hesitate to touch any work of reformation that has not the Divine sanction, and on which we cannot ask the Divine blessing. Jehu was an instrument of Divine vengeance on the house of Ahab, and was commended so far as he carried out his commission.
2. It has the Divine reward. “Thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” This was a favour not vouchsafed to any other king of Israel since the division of the kingdom. Lange supposes that the succession is limited to the fourth generation because Jehu still retained the calf worship; but we prefer the prima facie teaching of the text, which clearly indicates a promise of reward, rather than a threat of limitation. God will not be indebted to any man, nor shall those who do or suffer aught for Him complain of a hard bargain. The final reward of the Christian victor will be to share the throne and honours of his Lord (Revelation 3:21).
III. That reform is imperfect when it is not personal and sincere (2 Kings 10:31). “Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart.” It was not with him so much a question of religion as of politics. He was not anxious first to have his own heart right with God, and to render sincere obedience to His law, as he was to secure a firm footing as king, and to compel obedience to his authority. Jehu, as Kitto justly remarks, “was one of those decisive, terrible, ambitious yet prudent, calculating, passionless men whom God from time to time raises up to change the fate of empires, and to execute His judgments on the earth. He boasted of his zeal—Come and see my zeal for the Lord—but at the bottom, it was zeal for Jehu. His zeal was great so long as it led to acts which squared with his own interests, but it cooled marvellously when required to take a direction in his judgment less favourable to them.” All true and permanent reformation begins with the individual. If the heart be renewed, the whole man is reformed: the heart right with God is the motive-force that effects all necessary outward reformation.
IV. That reform is imperfect when it is not national and general (2 Kings 10:32-33). Had the nation been wholly delivered from idolatry, neither Hazael nor any other enemy would have been permitted to invade the kingdom and harass the people. The national spirit was broken, its prestige dimmed, even the love of fatherland was not strong enough to bind all the people together to resist and repel invasion. In the latter part of Jehu’s reign, Israel began to suffer those fearful punishments of invasion and conquest from the North and North East, which finally ended in the total captivity of the land. Jehu’s name occurs on the Assyrian monuments among others who paid tribute to the king of Assyria, and Rawlinson inclines to the opinion that from this date both the Jewish and the Israelitish kings held their crowns as fiefs, dependent on the will of the Assyrian monarch, with whom it formally lay to confirm each new prince in his kingdom (chap. 2 Kings 14:5). Partial and incomplete reforms always leave elements of weakness and discord behind them. When a nation is united in acknowledging and serving God, it is invincible; it is respected and feared by its enemies.
V. That reform is imperfect when it is employed for selfish ends (2 Kings 10:34-36). Jehu carried on the revolution, and wrought out reforms with an Iron hand, to serve his own purposes—that he might reign securely and peacefully—might acquire fame and power—might establish his throne for years, and be able to leave his own son in unquestioned and undisturbed possession of the kingdom. He reigned longer than any of his predecessors, and his successors reigned seventy-six years. If his zeal and ambition were expended in founding a royal dynasty, he gained his end; but that was all he did gain. The nation was not permanently benefited, nor was it long arrested in its downfall. It destroys the dignity and efficacy of reform when it is carried on from selfish motives; and yet God can work out His just retribution upon evil-doers through the violence and selfishness of human passions.
1. It is a solemn responsibility to be a public reformer.
2. It is disappointing and disastrous when reform is not radical.
3. Every step of reform in the right direction is pleasing to God, and shall not go unrewarded.
GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES
2 Kings 10:29-33. Jehu is a type of those who show great zeal in tearing down and destroying superstition and false worship, but do nothing to build up the faith, because they themselves have no living faith, and do not walk before God with all their hearts. Jehu did indeed destroy idolatry, but he did not touch the chief sin of Israel, because he considered it the chief support of his own authority. So many a one renounces gross, external sins, but will not think of denying himself, of sacrificing his own interests, and of turning his heart to the living God. He who remains standing half-way goes backward in spite of himself. Jehu would not desist from the sins of Jeroboam because he thought it would cost him his crown, but on that very account he lost one province after another.—Lange.
2 Kings 10:29. The exigencies of government.
1. Cannot ignore the influence of religion upon a people.
2. Will sanction an imperfect religion rather than lose power.
3. In danger of placing politics and dynastic interests above religious reformation.
2 Kings 10:30. Zachariah, of the fourth generation, was slain by Shallum, and thus was this word of the Lord fulfilled (compare chap. 2 Kings 15:12); and thus, too, according to the prophecy of Hosea (2 Kings 1:4), did the Lord “avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu.” For when the minister of Divine judgment himself turned to idolatry, the very blood of his guilty victims might well call for vengeance on him for doing the same things for which he had executed the Divine judgment on them (Romans 2:1).—Whedon.
—The strict impartiality of Divine Justice.
1. Recognises and commends what is good in the worst characters.
2. Apportions to every action its exact measure of reward.
3. Does not interfere with the exercise of individual freedom.
—Jehu first receives praise for the work which he has done, and afterwards is denounced, in his posterity at least, for the same action (compare 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4). The first of these two points throws much light upon the second. The defection of Jehu showed that he had other ends in view than the pleasing of God Personal ambition had been at the bottom of his heart, and he had destroyed that form of idolatry which was identified with the house of Ahab. But having achieved his end, he took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord. The vengeance which had fallen upon Ahab’s house had been the righteous retribution upon Ahab’s sins; but the executioner gloated over and rejoiced in his work. He had his reward in the establishment of his dynasty for four generations. What was righteous in his spirit—his steadiness of purpose and hatred of injustice—all this God blessed. But the brutal ferocity, the remorseless indifference to agony and bloodshed, these evil elements prevailed over the better, and when the fire against Baal had burnt itself out for want of fuel, nought was left but dull ashes. His zeal for righteousness did not turn inwards and burn up his own sins. When there was nothing left to destroy, his occupation was gone. The same thirst for blood which had marked him, passed down, a ghastly bequeathment, to his children, and brought the Divine curse upon them.—The Bible Educator.
2 Kings 10:31. The seductive power of unbelief.
1. Arrests and paralyzes the efforts of the most zealous reformers.
2. Creates indifference to the most sublime revelations of God’s word.
3. Unfits the soul for the highest spiritual experiences.
4. Leads to the practice of the basest idolatry.
—It is an entire goodness that God cares for. Perhaps, such is the bounty of our God, a partial obedience may be rewarded with a temporal blessing, as Jehu’s severity to Ahab shall carry the crown to his seed for four generations; but we can never have any comfortable assurance of an eternal retribution if our hearts and ways be not perfect with God. Woe be to us, O God, if we be not all thine! We cannot but everlastingly depart from Thee, if we depart not from every sin. Thou hast purged our hearts from the Baal of our gross idolatries. O clear us from the golden calves of our petty corruptions, also that Thou mayst take pleasure in our uprightness, and we may reap the sweet comforts of Thy glorious remuneration!—Bp. Hall.
2 Kings 10:32-33. National apostacy from God.
1. Will be Divinely punished.
2. Leaves the nation a prey to violent enemies.
3. Brings national loss and degradation.
—The reign of Jehu closed in disaster. The Syrian invasion, from combating which he had hastened on becoming king, had been vigorously pushed forward by Hazael, and was now successful. The whole country east of Jordan, comprising half of the kingdom of Israel, was wrested away. And this had been done with the accompaniment of horrible cruelty on the part of Hazael (2 Kings 8:12-13). The reign of Jehu, therefore, was one of misery and calamity. He was the first Israelite king, too, who is recorded to have paid tribute to the king of Assyria. But one feature of his reign we must not forget. While he stands before us the one figure in the picture, red-handed and remorseless, we might, at first sight, take him as the embodiment of the whole monarchy and people. But he is not so. There was another emissary of God at work in the kingdom, though his name does not appear, his hand doubtless busy with healing and binding up the broken places. Elisha, the son of Shaphan, was he. Many years afterwards he lay dying, and Jehu’s grandson came to bid him farewell. “My father,” cried the king, “the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof;” that is, the defence and protection of the kingdom art thou, and thou art passing away. Joash was hereby confessing the truth that deeds of violence and oppression like Jehu’s have no power, and leave no advantage, but the Lord’s delight is in them that fear Him and put their trust in His mercy.—The Bible Educator.
—The character of Jehu is not difficult to understand, if we take it as a whole, and consider the general impression left us by the Biblical account. He is exactly one of those men whom we are compelled to recognize, not for what is good or great in themselves, but as instruments for destroying evil and preparing the way for good; such as Augustus Cæsar at Rome, Sultan Mahmond II. in Turkey, or one closer at hand in the revolutions of our own time and neighbourhood. A destiny, long kept in view by himself or others—inscrutable secresy and reserve in carrying out his plans—a union of cold, remorseless tenacity, with occasional bursts of furious, wayward, almost fanatical zeal; this is Jehu, as he is set before us in the historical narrative, the worst type of a son of Jacob, the “supplanter,” as he is called, without the noble and princely qualities of Israel—the most unlovely and the most coldly commended of all the heroes of his country. It is a striking instance of the gradually increasing light, even in the Jewish dispensation, that in the wider and more evangelical revelations of the later prophets the commendation on Jehu’s acts is repealed. It is declared through the voice of Hosea, that for the blood even of Jezebel and Ahaziah an account must be rendered; “I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu” (Hosea 1:4). Their blood, like the blood which has been shed again and again in the convulsions of nations and churches, was a righteous retribution, is at last exacted by the just judgment which punishes the wrong-doer, not only of one party in the church or state but of both. And the accursed spot of the ancient dynasty, the very title and site of Jezreel, seemed to draw down upon itself a kind of Divine compassion. The innocent child of the prophet was to bear the name of Jezreel, and “the vow” of Jehu’s house “was to be broken.… in the great “day of Jezreel” (Hosea 1:4-5; Hosea 1:11). It is the same touching thought of life growing out of death which has so often forced itself on those who have seen the rich harvest springing up out of a battlefield, that out of that time and place of humiliation the name is to go back to its original signification as derived from the beauty and fertility of the rich plain, and to become a pledge of the revived beauty and richness of Israel. “I will hear and answer the heavens, and they will hear and answer the earth, and the earth shall hear and answer, and the wine and the oil of that fruitful plain, and they shall hear and answer Jezreel (that is, the seed of God), and I will sow her unto me in the earth.” And from this time the image seems to have been continued as a prophetical expression for sowing the blessings of God, and the people of Israel, as it were broadcast, as though the whole of Palestine and the world were to become, in a spiritual sense, one rich plain of Jezreel.—Stanley.