Jehu (Hebrew: יֵהוּא Yehu, meaning "Yahu is He"; Akkadian: Ia-ú-a; Latin: Iehu) was the tenth king of the northern Kingdom of Israel since Jeroboam I, noted for exterminating the house of Ahab. He was the son of Jehoshaphat,[1] grandson of Nimshi, and possibly great-grandson of Omri.[2] His reign lasted for 28 years.

The tribute of "Jehu of the people of the land of Omri" (Akkadian: 𒅀𒌑𒀀 𒈥 𒄷𒌝𒊑𒄿) as depicted on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III
King of Northern Israel
Reignc. 841–814 BCE
CoronationRamoth-Gilead, Israel
PredecessorJehoram of Israel
SuccessorJehoahaz of Israel
Diedc. 814 BCE
IssueJehoahaz of Israel

William F. Albright has dated his reign to 842–815 BCE, while E. R. Thiele offers the dates 841–814 BCE.[3] The principal source for the events of his reign comes from 2 Kings 9–10.

Proclamation as kingEdit

The reign of Jehu's predecessor, Jehoram, was marked by the Battle of Ramoth-Gilead against the army of the Arameans. Jehoram was wounded and returned to Jezreel to recover. He was attended by Ahaziah, king of Judah, who was also his nephew. The writer of the Book of Kings tells that when the captains of the Israelite army were assembled away from the king's eyes, the prophet Elisha sent one of his students to the gathering. Elisha's student led Jehu away from the others, anointed him king in an inner chamber, and then departed.[4] Jehu's companions asked where he had been. When told, they enthusiastically blew their trumpets and proclaimed him their king.[5]

Jezreel and the deaths of Jehoram and JezebelEdit

With a chosen band, proceeded to Jezreel. King Jehoram tried to flee, but Jehu fired an arrow which pierced his heart. King Ahaziah managed to escape, but was mortally wounded, and died shortly after in Megiddo.[5]

The author of Kings tells that Jehu secretly entered the city without resistance. He saw Jehoram's mother, Jezebel, watching him with contempt from a palace window. Jehu commanded the palace eunuchs to throw her from the window. Jezebel was killed, and Jehu drove his chariot over her body. Her servants later came to bury her, only to find that dogs had eaten all but her hands, feet, and skull.

Now master of Jezreel, Jehu wrote to command the chief men in Samaria to hunt down and kill all of the royal princes. They did as ordered, and the next day they piled the seventy heads in two heaps outside the city gate, as Jehu commanded. Ahab's entire family was slain. Shortly afterwards, Jehu encountered the "brothers of Ahaziah" (since the brothers of Ahaziah had previously been taken away and probably killed by the Philistines,[6] these must have been relatives of Ahaziah in a broader sense, like nephews and cousins) at "Beth-eked of the shepherds". He then slaughtered all of them at "the pit of Beth-eked", forty-two men in total.

Jehu's act was to honour the God of Israel since Jehoram's mother, Jezebel, had allowed pagan temples to exist in the kingdom (which is forbidden in the Law of Moses). The biblical account frequently invokes the "avenging the blood of Naboth",[7] whose vineyard Ahab, Jehoram's father, had taken by force.[8] Jehoram's defeat at Ramoth-Gilead gave them an opportunity to throw off his burdensome rule.

Following Jehu's slaughter of the Omrides, he met Jehonadab the Rechabite, who joined him in his chariot. They entered the capital together. This indicates that at least at the beginning of his reign, Jehu was supported by the pro-Yahweh faction.[citation needed] Once in control of Samaria, he deceptively invited the worshippers of Baal to a ceremony and later, trapped and killed them.[9] After that, he destroyed their idols and their temple and turned it into a latrine.[10]

Other than Jehu's bloody seizure of power and his tolerance for the golden calves at Dan and Bethel, little else is known of his reign. He was hard pressed by Hazael, king of the Arameans, who defeated his armies "throughout all of the territories of Israel" beyond the Jordan river, in the lands of Gilead, Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh.[11]

This suggests that Jehu offered tribute to Shalmaneser III, as depicted on his Black Obelisk, in order to gain a powerful ally against the Arameans. Bit-Khumri was used by Tiglath-pileser III for the non-Omride kings Pekah (733) & Hoshea (732),[12] hence House/Land/Kingdom of Omri could apply to later Israelite kings not necessarily descended from Omri.

The destruction of the house of Ahab is commended by the author of 2 Kings as a form of divine punishment. Yahweh even rewards Jehu for being a willing executor of divine judgement by allowing four generations of kings to sit on the throne of Israel (2 Kings 10:30), and Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Jereboam II, Zachariah all descendants of Jehu ruled Israel for a total of 102 years (including the reign of Jehu). Nonetheless, according to the Book of Hosea, the House of Jehu was still punished by God through the hands of the Assyrians for Jehu's massacre at Jezreel.[13]

Black ObeliskEdit

Jehu of the House of Omri bows before the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III, The Black Obelisk.

Aside from the Hebrew Scriptures, Jehu appears in Assyrian documents, notably in the Black Obelisk where he is depicted as kissing the ground in front of Shalmaneser III and presenting a gift (maddattu ša Ia-ú-a...kaspu mâdu "tribute of Jehu...much silver"). In the Assyrian documents, he is simply referred to as "son of Omri"[14][15] (Akkadian: mār Ḫumri, possibly expressing his having been the ruler of 'the House of Omri,' a later Assyrian designation for the Kingdom of Israel). This tribute is dated 841 BCE.[16] It is the earliest preserved depiction of an Israelite.

According to the Obelisk, Jehu severed his alliances with Phoenicia and Judah, and became subject to Assyria.

Tel Dan SteleEdit

The author of the Tel Dan Stele (found in 1993 and 1994) claimed to have slain both Ahaziah of Judah (who was visiting Jehoram) and Jehoram. The most likely author of this monument is Hazael of the Arameans.

Sources and notesEdit

  1. ^ Jehu's father was not the roughly contemporaneous King Jehoshaphat of Judah, whose own father was King Asa of Judah. "Generally Jehu is described as the son only of Nimshi, possibly because Nimshi was more prominent or to avoid confusing him with the King of Judah (R’Wolf)". Scherman, Nosson, ed., "I–II Kings", The Prophets, 297, 2006. See (2 Kings 9:2)
  2. ^ Amitai Baruchi-Unna, Jehuites, Ahabites, and Omrides: Blood Kinship and Bloodshed, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 41.1 (2017) pp. 3-21
  3. ^ Edwin Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, (1st ed.; New York: Macmillan, 1951; 2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965; 3rd ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan/Kregel, 1983). ISBN 0-8254-3825-X, ISBN 9780825438257
  4. ^ 2 Kings 9:5–9:6
  5. ^ a b Driscoll, James F. "Jehu." Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 7 Jan. 2014
  6. ^ 2 Chronicles 21:17
  7. ^ 2 Kings 9:21-9:26
  8. ^ 1 Kings 21:4
  9. ^ 2 Kings 10:19–10:25
  10. ^ 2 Kings 10:27
  11. ^ 2 Kings 10:32
  12. ^ Kitchen, K A (2003) The Reliability of the Old Testament, Cambridge, Eerdmans, p. 24
  13. ^ Hosea 1:4–1:5
  14. ^ Cuneiform Parallels to the Old Testament - Robert William Rogers
  15. ^ Bezold, Carl; King, L. W. (1889). Catalogue of the Cuneiform Tablets in the Kouyunjik Collection of the British Museum. British Museum Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan. ISBN 1145519350.
  16. ^ Millard, Alan (1997) Discoveries from Bible Times, Oxford, Lion, p. 121

External linksEdit

House of Jehoshaphat
Contemporary King of Judah: Ahaziah, Athaliah, Jehoash/Joash
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Israel
841–814 BCE
Succeeded by

See alsoEdit