2 Kings 10:30, The Slaughter of Jezreel

The LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.”

//Religion is often evoked as a means of providing meaning to life’s mysteries. We find a $100 bill on the street? God knew we needed the money. We lose that $100 bill later? God took it back to test us. Whether in reward or punishment, “God” is the explanation assumed when none other exists.

Bible writers were not immune to this tendency, either. Consider the house of Jehu, king of Israel. Jehu’s claim to fame may be his slaughter of the house of Ahab, in Jezreel. Jehu demanded that the elders and officials in Jezreel bring to him the heads of the seventy children of king Ahab. In fear, Jezreel followed Jehu’s orders, and Jehu dumped the seventy heads at the city gate, to serve as evidence that God was against Ahab. Then Jehu went and slaughtered everyone in Jezreel that remained of the house of Ahab.

Jehu’s descendents continued to reign after his death for four more generations: Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Jereboam II, and Zachariah. But then Shallum, son of Jabesh, “conspired against Zachariah, and smote him before the people, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.”

Now, the book of Kings sees this continued kingship through the decedents of Jehu as evidence of God’s approval. Read again today’s verse; Jehu did what was right, so God rewarded him. But the prophet Hosea sees the same event, the slaughter of Jezreel, in a different light. Hosea sees the abrupt end of Jehu’s kingship four generations later, and of Israel itself, as evidence that God disapproved of Jehu:

Hosea 1:4, Then the LORD said to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel.

So, did God approve or disapprove of Jehu? Did God indicate his approval through reward or his disapproval through destruction? Different points of view render different conclusions.

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