2 Kings 9-10
More than two centuries before the prophet Habakkuk struggled to understand how God could use the wicked Babylonians to accomplish his good purposes (Habakkuk 1), a man named Jehu rose to power over Israel and carried out deeds that were similarly God-ordained yet incredibly brutal. We first hear of Jehu while the prophet Elijah is listening for God’s voice in the cave at Horeb (1 Kings 19:16-17). There God tells Elijah to anoint Hazael as king over Aram, Jehu as king over Israel, and Elisha as the prophet to succeed him. Together these three men would carry out God’s judgment upon the wicked in Israel. Elijah then found Elisha and anointed him as prophet, and sometime later Elisha carried out the rest of God’s commands to anoint Hazael and Jehu (2 Kings 8:7-15; 2 Kings 9:6-10). This was completed as King Joram of Israel was at Jezreel recovering from wounds suffered in a battle with the Arameans at Ramoth-gilead. While he was there, King Ahaziah of Judah came to visit him, and Elisha sent one of his disciples to Ramoth-gilead to anoint Jehu, commander of Israel’s forces, as king of Israel. Jehu and his men then headed for Jezreel, and Joram and Ahaziah went out in their chariots to meet him. Jehu suddenly shot Joram with an arrow and killed him, and Ahaziah fled toward Beth-haggan in his chariot. Jehu and his men overtook Ahaziah at the ascent of Gur (likely the pass between Beth-haggan and Gur) and shot him with an arrow. At this point it appears that Ahaziah (or his chariot driver) must have reversed direction–perhaps desperately passing back through Jehu and his men–and headed for Megiddo, but Ahaziah later died there. After this Jehu returned to Jezreel and convinced the royal eunuchs to throw Jezebel out of the palace window to her death. Jehu then wrote to the officials of Samaria, warning them that they must prove their loyalty to him by sending him the heads of Joram’s seventy sons. Fearing Jehu’s power, the officials complied. Later Jehu traveled to Samaria, and along the way he met forty-two of Ahaziah’s family who were on their way to greet Joram’s family in Jezreel. Jehu and his men slaughtered all forty-two relatives at Beth-eked of the Shepherds, an uncertain location that must have been located somewhere along the road from Samaria to Beth-haggan. After Jehu arrived in Samaria, he and his men killed the rest of Ahab’s family. Later they slaughtered many prophets of Baal as well.