2 Kings Chapter 9
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Go to Bible: 2 Kings 9
“Elisha the prophet called.” Years before this, Elijah the prophet had been instructed to anoint Jehu as king of Israel (1 Kings 19:16). It was accomplished through his disciple and agent, Elisha.
“Tuck your cloak under your belt.” The literal Hebrew is “belt up your loins.” This refers to the custom of a man tying up his long clothing so he could move more quickly. See commentary on 2 Kings 4:29.
“go to Ramoth-gilead.” The combined armies of Israel and Judah were not able to conquer Ramoth-gilead, but they were fighting there, which is why Jehu, a commander in the army of Israel, was there. Joram was the current king of Israel, but the fighting over Ramoth-gilead had been on and off for years. A previous king, Ahab, had been mortally wounded there (1 Kings 22:35)(top)
“Jehu.” This name likely means “He is Yahweh.” Yahweh is announcing that He will bring an end to the idolatrous house of Omri. Jehu is famously mentioned and depicted on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, called “Jehu, the son of Omri.” Assyrian kings called Israel “Omri Land” because of his dominance and dynasty. Since Jehu killed the last member in the dynasty of Omri and became king, it seems appropriate that the Assyrians would call him “the son of Omri,” even though there was no blood connection between Omri and Jehu. Jehu was Yahweh’s agent of judgment against Baalism and the dynasty of Omri-Ahab. Nevertheless, the biblical text expresses reservations about him, and one reason for that was he still followed the sin of Jeroboam, namely, the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.
“Nimshi.” The name “Nimshi” has been found on two storage-vessel potsherds at Tel Rehov in the Beth-Shean Valley. They have been dated to approximately the same period as the biblical Jehu. Of course, there is no way to know if this is the same person as Jehu’s grandfather mentioned here in 2 Kings 9:2, but it shows that Nimshi was a known name at that time.
“an inner room.” The Hebrew is idiomatic: a room within a room.(top)
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|2Ki 9:4||- (top)|
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|2Ki 9:6||- (top)|
“You are to strike down the house of Ahab.” Ahab was long dead, so this is one of the places where “the house of Ahab” clearly refers to the dynasty of Ahab, which was more properly the dynasty of Omri, Ahab’s father. The revelation here goes back to Ahab and not Omri almost assuredly because of the attack of Ahab and Jezebel on the servants of Yahweh.
“lord.” The word “lord” in this verse is a grammatical plural, “lords” but it is referring to one lord and is translated that way in the versions. It sometimes happens in Hebrew that a singular word like “lord” is pluralized, and that is done for different reasons, such as emphasis or to magnify the person, although the reasons may not be immediately apparent.
“so that I avenge the blood of my servants.” God “avenges” his servants, He does not take “revenge.” To “avenge” is to serve the ends of justice and the motive is to vindicate the victim or visit merited justice upon the wrongdoer. To take “revenge” is to get satisfaction for an offense, to pay back someone who is thought to have done wrong or harm, and thus “revenge” may well overstep true justice.(top)
“who pisses against a wall.” A crass idiom and cultural way of referring to the men.
“him who is slave or free in Israel.” The same phrase is used in 1 Kings 14:10 and 1 Kings 21:21 (see commentary on 1 Kings 14:10).(top)
“I will make the house of Ahab like.” The “house” of Ahab refers to the dynasty of Ahab, although it was actually the dynasty of Omri, who started it. It is called the “house (dynasty) of Ahab” because Ahab was the most prominent king in the dynasty. Here in 2 Kings 9:9, the prophet Elisha prophesies that the dynasty of Ahab would be like the dynasty of Jeroboam and the dynasty of Baasha, which were both totally killed off. The house of Ahab lasted for four kings and was killed off by Jehu. The “house” (dynasty) of Ahab consisted of Ahab’s father Omri (1 Kings 16:23, to 1 Kings 16:26), Ahab (1 Kings 16:26, 29, to 1 Kings 22:40), Ahab’s son Ahaziah (1 Kings 22:51, to 2 Kings 2:17), and Ahaziah’s younger brother Joram (also spelled “Jehoram,” who became king because Ahaziah had no sons) (2 Kings 2:17, to 2 Kings 9:22). The dynasty of Omri/Ahab was killed off by Jehu (2 Kings 9:24, 30-33; 10:4-7, 11, 17).
“house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat.” The “house of Jeroboam” was the dynasty of Jeroboam I, the first king of Israel, which lasted for only two kings and consisted of Jeroboam himself (1 Kings 12:20, to 1 Kings 14:20), then Nadab his son (1 Kings 14:20; 15:25, to 1 Kings 15:28). The dynasty of Jeroboam was killed off by Baasha (1 Kings 15:27-30).
“house of Baasha the son of Ahijah.” The “house of Baasha” was the dynasty of Baasha, which lasted for only two kings and consisted of Baasha (1 Kings 15:28, 33, to 1 Kings 16:6), then Elah his son (1 Kings 16:6, 8, to 1 Kings 16:10). The dynasty of Baasha was killed off by Zimri who was a chariot commander under Elah (1 Kings 16:11).(top)
“As for Jezebel, the dogs will eat her.” In a culture where family ties were strong and family tombs common, to not have anyone bury your dead body was considered a terrible curse. In fact, many people believed (falsely, but it was a very widely held belief) that a proper burial was important for a comfortable existence in the afterlife. Thus the threat of not being buried but having one’s dead body eaten by animals, birds, and vermin was a horrifying threat of unspeakable loneliness and rejection, both on this earth and in the afterlife (see commentary on Jer. 14:16).(top)
“lord.” The Hebrew is a grammatical plural, “lords.” Jehu’s “lord” was Jehoram, king of Israel.
“Is it peace?” This is an idiom, meaning, “Is all well.” Ironically, the word “peace” is throughout this chapter, but the chapter is about war and bloodshed, there is no “peace.” The word “shalom,” the Hebrew word translated “peace” but more accurately refers to wholeness, wellness, or prosperity (which things usually result in “peace” or being peaceful) occurs nine times in this chapter (2 Kings 9:11, 17, 18 (2x), 2 Kings 9:19 (2x), 2 Kings 9:22 (2x) and 2 Kings 9:31).(top)
“This is what Yahweh says: I have anointed you king over Israel.” The context of this seems like Jehu is trying to play down what the prophet said. He did not walk out and tell the other commanders, “I am king.” Apparently, Jehu was still trying to wrap his head around what the prophet said and did, but the other commanders immediately recognized the need for his leadership and his ability and pronounced him king right then and there.(top)
“cloak.” The Hebrew uses a general word for a piece of clothing, but it would have almost certainly been the cloak or outer garment that the men laid down.
“shofar.” The ram’s horn trumpet, not the metal trumpet.(top)
“Joram.” The Hebrew text goes back and forth in the spelling of the king's name, and gives no reason for it. Here in 2 Kings 9:14 he is called Joram, but in 2 Kings 9:15 he is “Jehoram” in the Hebrew text, but the English text spells it “Joram” for clarity.(top)
“Joram.” The Hebrew text uses his longer name here: Jehoram.
“your desire.” The Hebrew uses “soul” (nephesh) as “desire” here.
[For more on nephesh being used for a desire of the mind or a thought, see Appendix 7, “Usages of ‘Soul.’”]
“to go to tell it in Jezreel.” At this time, both King Joram and Queen Jezebel were in Jezreel, and if they heard about Jehu they would form a quick response.(top)
“rode in a chariot and went to Jezreel.” This would not be an easy ride. Down from the Golan Heights, across the Jordan River, and into the plain of central Israel.
“had come down.” From Jerusalem to Jezreel was down in elevation.(top)
“on the tower in Jezreel.” This watchman would be on the east tower (or northeast corner tower) looking down the Harod Valley toward the Jordan River. Looking in that direction he could see Jehu coming up the valley from the east.
“Is it peace?” An idiom (cp. 2 Kings 9:11).(top)
“but he is not coming back.” The messenger was coming back, but as part of Jehu’s men.(top)
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“furiously.” Or perhaps, “in a crazy way.”(top)
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“Is it peace?” See commentary on 2 Kings 9:11.
“the prostitutions.” Jehu is referring to the idolatries of Jezebel. Jezebel’s many idols, and her enlistment of demons to do her evil work, which was her “witchcraft” (or “sorceries”), assured that there would be no peace in Israel for anyone who loved the true God.(top)
|2Ki 9:23||- (top)|
“Jehu drew his bow with his full strength.” The Hebrew text is idiomatic: “Jehu filled his hand with the bow.” The phrase means that Jehu took the bow and shot at Joram, whom he hit in the middle of the back. The arrow had enough force to go through King Joram’s robes and on through his heart, resulting in almost instant death.(top)
“pronouncement.” The Hebrew word can also mean “burden.” The word of the Lord can be a burden to the prophet, and then, when it is spoken, can be a burden to the people. It might have been more clear in English to say “burdensome message” instead of “burden,” but the Hebrew word is “burden.”
[For more information on “burden,” see commentary on Malachi 1:1.](top)
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“Ahaziah the king of Judah.” Both Joram and Ahaziah are mentioned on the Tel Dan Stele, which is a fragmentary Aramaic inscription on three pieces of basalt stone found in excavations of an Iron Age gate at Dan. The largest piece, 14.5 x 10 inches, was found in 1993. Two smaller pieces were found in 1994.
The inscription on the stele is an extraordinary parallel to the biblical narrative. Although the personal names of the kings of Judah and Israel are fragmentary, their titles are complete. The Aramean king (Hazael) boasts of killing both Jehoram…the king of Israel and Ahaziahu …of the House of David. The name of both kings are fragmentary: “[Jeho]ram son of [Ahab]” and “[Ahaz]iah son of [Jehoram]” (Heb. [יהורם] יהו בר[אחז] ,[אחאב] רם בר[יהו]. Although it was Jehu who actually killed these two kings, it is not without some justification that Hazael the king of Syria could take responsibility for the killing. Hazael’s successful attacks against Israel (2 Kings 10:32-33) allowed him to set up this stele and make his boast, and it was due to his fighting at Ramoth-gilead that Jehu had the opportunity to kill the kings. On the other hand, it was customary for ancient kings to greatly exaggerate what they accomplished, and this is an example of that.
Archaeological evidence, the language of the inscription, and the stele’s content help date the inscription to just after the purge of Jehu in 841 BC. At this time the king of Aram (Syria) could claim a victory over both the king of Israel (Joram) and the house of David (represented by King Ahaziah). Like the Moabite Stone, the Tel Dan Inscription takes on added significance since it mentions the house of David, furnishing extra-biblical evidence for the existence of the Davidic Dynasty.
“he fled.” So Ahaziah is fleeing south toward Samaria from the Jezreel Valley.
“Beth-haggan.” The word means “House of the Garden.” It is modern Jenin in the West Bank.
“Kill him too!” The Hebrew text is just “him too,” but it is in the context of killing the house of Ahab. Elijah had foretold the destruction of the house of Ahab, and the house of Ahab was tied by marriage to the house of Ahaziah. King Ahaziah of Judah had married Athaliah, who was a granddaughter of Omri and daughter of Ahab, kings of Israel, and thus some of Ahaziah’s sons were also related by blood to the house of Ahab, which was foretold to be destroyed (cp. 2 Kings 9:9).
“and he fled to Megiddo.” Once struck by the arrow, Ahaziah turned west and got to Megiddo where he could get help and protection, but he died there.(top)
“with his fathers.” Ahaziah’s ancestors were still in the tomb. It was not considered that they left.
[For more on the dead being dead and not alive in any form, see Appendix 4, “The Dead are Dead.”](top)
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“When Jehu came to Jezreel.” It is likely that Jehu chased Ahaziah and then returned to Jezreel.(top)
“As Jehu entered the gate.” It is not known whether this is the outer gate to the city or some unlocated inner gate.
“Zimri.” Jezebel’s calling Jehu by the name “Zimri” is the figure of speech antonomasia, “name change,” where a person is called by a name other than his or her own name in order to import characteristics from that other person. Zimri killed the king to be king, but then only reigned for seven days (1 Kings 16:8-15). Jezebel called Jehu “Zimri” in an attempt to scare him into not killing her because of the implied threat of being killed soon himself. For more on antonomasia, see commentary on Matthew 17:10.
“of his lord.” The Hebrew is a grammatical plural, “lords,” but the plural is used for emphasis. Zimri killed his lord, the king, and Jezebel wanted Jehu to remember that.(top)
“eunuchs.” The word can mean “official,” but here it likely does mean eunuch, since eunuchs were used to guard the royal women.(top)
“some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall and on the horses.” For some of the blood to splatter on the horses Jehu had to be close to where Jezebel fell.(top)
“cursed woman.” The “curse” is likely referring to Elijah’s prophecy about her (1 Kings 21:23).(top)
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“the word of Yahweh that he spoke by his servant Elijah.” See 1 Kings 21:23.(top)
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