II Kings 10. Jehu and the Eradication of Baalism.

Key Notes: Five phases of the war on Baalism. Jehu killed the kings of Israel and Judah, the prophets and worshipers of Baal. God did not forgive Jehu's blood-lust. A royal family diagram of murders-- Baal worship and its outcomes.

This chapter completes the eradication of Baal worship from Israel. It began with the three-and- a half-year drought started by Elijah. It concludes with the systematic killing of anyone related to King Ahab, who had promoted Baalism apparently under the influence of his wife Jezebel. In Chapter 9, Jehu killed Ahab’s son Jehoram and Ahaziah of Judah, the son of Athaliah. He then killed Jezebel, the widow of Ahab. Ahab died in war.

10:1–6 Jehu proposed to the leaders of Samaria that they put another of Ahab’s sons on the throne and fight to defend him against Jehu. But Jehu had already killed two other kings and they were afraid of him and offered to serve him.

10:7–8 Jehu told them to bring the heads of the 70 sons of Ahab to Jezreel. So the guardians of the royal princes killed those whom they were bound to protect in Samaria and brought their heads to the gates of Jezreel.

10:9–11. Jehu pretended to be shocked. He had killed only Jehoram. Who had killed all these? Then he went about systematically eliminating anyone left in Jezreel who was associated with the house of Ahab.

10:12–14 On his way back to Samaria, he met 42 kin of recently-dead Ahaziah, king of Judah, heading to Jezreel to visit Jezebel and her children. {They probably had not heard that Jezebel was dead.} He killed them all.

10:15–17 On the road, he also met Jehonadab, son of Rechab, a man with a similar zeal for God and against Baal and invited him into the chariot.
In the city of Samaria, Jehu killed anyone with a connection to Ahab, no doubt including all the guardians of the king’s dead sons.

10:18–28 Finally, Jehu assembled all the Baal-worshipers, prophets and priests to a solemn assembly in the temple of Baal. None was excluded and no worshiper of God was included. Their religious robes were put on. Jehu offered the burnt offering. Then he ordered his 80 warriors stationed outside to massacre everyone in the temple. They destroyed the icons, razed the building and turned it into a latrine.

10:29–31 So Jehu wiped out Baalism from Israel. No Baal worship is mentioned for the rest of the history of Israel. But Jehu continued the calf-worship started by Jeroboam. He did not eliminate Israel's established idolatry. Calf worship was a compromise between worship of God and the worship of idols. “Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” (IK.12:28). It always led to the worship of other idols.

God commended Jehu for wiping out Baalism and promised him a short dynasty of four kings. These four kings were Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Jeroboam II and Zechariah. They were not good and the last one was assassinated. IIK.15:8–12

10:32–35 Jehu, for all of his bravado, could not contain the Syrians, who occupied all of the trans-Jordan territories down to the Dead Sea. Hazael was also condemned “because they have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron” and God promised judgment on the Syrians. Amos 1:3–5

The war of God against Baal began with the prophet Elijah about 860BC and was completed forty years later, near the end of Elisha’s life. Baal was a god of fertility, his consort was Ashterte and the worship was corrupted by sexual promiscuity. It had ruined Canaanite civilization and was the cause of its destruction by Israel half a millennium before. Deut.7

•The first attack was through weather and  climate. God stopped the rain and frustrated the agriculture / fertility cycle for 42 months. When Elijah called for rain, the planting could begin again.

•The second approach was spiritual. Elijah confronted Baal priests in a contest to prove that God could answer in fire and Baal could not. There was no question about the outcome. 400 priests of Baal were executed.

•The third mode was Elisha’s demonstration of God’s care in acted out parables:
Fertility: the Shunemite was given a child.
Food : the well was purified.
          the sons of the prophets had enough to eat.
           the food was made edible.
Health: the Syrian general‘s leprosy was cured.
And other human needs were met including the worker’s ax rescued from the  Jordan.

•The fourth mode was the protection of Samaria from the Syrians by God’s power and the prophet’s encouragement and advice.

•The final phase was political and violent, the destruction of Ahab and all his acquaintances, and the killing of all the Baal worshipers.

This family tree describes the destruction of the families of Judah and Israel at the time of Jehu. The arrow shows who killed who. Athaliah killed all her grand-sons [" etc"].

We cannot say God was impatient or precipitous. The war was ended. God won. {“…and He must win the battle”.} The ban was permanent. We should rejoice.

But the pleasure of victory was marred by Jehu’s excesses.
Did Jehu kill innocent people? His slaughter was selective.
Did Jehu depend on guilt by association? Probably.
Did Jehu enjoy it? Plainly.

In God’s economy, the destruction of humans who were perpetuating Baal worship was justified partly for their own sins—Ahab and Jezebel, Jehoram and Ahaziah in particular—not to mention the Baal worshipers. It was also justified by the requirement to purge the nation of a decadent idolatry, the few dying to save the many.

But Jehu killed hundreds if not thousands of his countrymen and God did not excuse his blood-lust. His house did not escape God’s judgment. The immediate judgment was the loss of Transjordan to the Syrians. Judgment fell on his offspring as well.

“Call his name Jezreel, for yet a little while and I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put to an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.” (Hos.1:4–5)

God’s judgment is awesome. Fear Him and do what is right.