King Jehu - Biography

Chart of the Kings King Jehu - Biography God's Judgment Regarding King Jehu
Previous King: Jehoram   Next King: Jehoahaz


God Calls Jehu to be King
Jehu Seizes the Throne
God's Judgment on Ahab's Heirs
Jehu Eliminates the Baal Cult


King Jehu, the tenth king of the separate kingdom of Israel, was raised to power by God's action, for the specific purpose of exterminating evil King Ahab's heirs, as Elijah had prophesied following the scandal of Naboth's vineyard. In this he took strong and decisive action, even going beyond God's requirement by also eliminating Ahab's chief legacy, the cult of Baal worship.

For this obedience, Jehu was rewarded with the longest dynasty in Israel's history — 5 generations long.

Jehu enjoys the distinction of being the only king of Israel to receive a generally positive evaluation in God's judgment. After Israel and Judah separated, every king of Israel except Jehu was committed to evil. By contrast, Judah had six kings who were wholeheartedly committed to the LORD, and two others who, like Jehu, did right some of the time and evil at other times.

During Jehu's 28 years as king, the legacy of 9 consecutive evil kings began to yield its fruit. National security suffered as Syria began significant encroachment of Israel's eastern trans-Jordan territory.

Where to read Jehu's story: 2 Kings 9 - 10

God Calls Jehu to be King

King Jehoram had declared war on Ramoth Gilead, continuing the campaign begun by his father, King Ahab. Jehoram had been badly wounded, and retired to his palace in Jezreel to recuperate. Meanwhile, all his military commanders remained at Ramoth, on Israel's border, about 40 miles east of Jezreel.

The prophet Elisha, acting under God's instruction, sent one of his students to King Jehoram's army commander, Jehu, with the message that the LORD was making Jehu king, and that his first act as king was to fulfill Elijah's prophecy by destroying all heirs of the evil King Ahab, including Israel's current king, Jehoram.

The student prophet found Jehu in a meeting with other army officers and asked for a private interview. He anointed Jehu's head with oil, a ceremony common when assigning someone a position, and passed on the LORD's message. Then, per Elisha's instructions, he fled, “like a madman,” according to Jehu's associates.

The other officers pressed Jehu to reveal the secret message. When he did, they immediately gave him their full support, obviously dissatisfied with the administration of King Jehoram. Jehu asked them to keep the issue secret while he took immediate action to seize the throne.

Source: 2 Kings 9:1-15

Jehu Seizes the Throne

Jehu left by chariot for Jezreel, where King Jehoram was recuperating from a battle injury. When Jehu's chariot was seen by the lookout, the king assumed he must be bringing an urgent message from the battle front. So he sent a rider to meet the chariot and bring him advance word of the charioteer's business. The rider questioned Jehu, but not wanting to give Jehoram any advantage, Jehu refused to allow him to return any message to the city. When the rider failed to return, Jehoram sent a second rider, with the same result.

By this time Jehu was close enough to the city that the lookout recognized him by his furious driving style. Jehoram, sensing a crisis and puzzled by the curious behavior of his riders, decided to meet Jehu himself. Providentially, King Ahaziah of neighboring Judah, also a descendent of King Ahab, was visiting Jehoram, allowing Jehu to kill two evil birds with one stone. He joined Jehoram, each king in his own chariot.

When Jehoram asked Jehu the nature of the crisis, Jehu announced his intentions, drew his bow, and killed Jehoram with his first shot. Seeing this, Ahaziah fled. Jehu gave chase and mortally wounded Ahaziah, who managed to escape but soon died.

Source: 2 Kings 9:16-29

God's Judgment on Ahab's Heirs

Immediately Jehu set out on the LORD's assignment to exterminate King Ahab's heirs. As he entered the city of Jezreel, Jehoram's mother, Ahab's widow Jezebel, shouted a taunt from a high window in her palace. Jehu called up, asking Jezebel's attendants if they would support his conspiracy. Immediately a few of them appeared at the window. Jehu ordered them to throw her out the window. She died on impact. Later, Jehu sent servants to bury her, but they found only a few of her bones, her body having been eaten by dogs in fulfillment of Elijah's prophecy after she had innocent Naboth framed and killed.

Ahab's heirs were at a royal school in Samaria. Jehu wrote a letter to their guardians, saying their father the king was dead. They should choose the best of his sons, make him king, arm him, and prepare to defend him, since Jehu was coming to kill them all. Realizing their hopeless situation, they sent Jehu a message of submission. He demanded that they kill the heirs and present him with proof of their deed. This they did, and so Jehu not only eliminated Ahab's heirs, he also secured the loyalty of their former guardians.

Around the same time Jehu came upon a group of princes, heirs of Judah's King Ahaziah, who were visiting Israel, apparently on a sightseeing tour with the king's party. In keeping with God's instructions, he killed these, who were also heirs of Ahab.

Source: 2 Kings 9:30 - 10:17

Jehu Eliminates the Baal Cult

Jehu had eliminated Ahab's heirs; now he was determined to eliminate his evil legacy — the cult of Baal worship. He secured the aid of his friend Jehonadab, and the two of them constructed an elaborate and devious scheme.

Jehu announced that he intended to sponsor a bigger and better Baal worship than Ahab ever had, and his innovations were to be inaugurated at a huge festival. Priests of Baal who failed to attend were threatened with capital punishment, and when roll was taken, not one was absent. These priests were marked with special robes made for the occasion. Jehu then ordered the priests to assure that no one who worshipped the LORD was present — only priests of Baal. This done, Jehu escorted the priests inside the shrine.

While Jehu officiated over the sacrifice, his 80 co-conspirators surrounded the building. At his signal, they entered and began the slaughter; not one priest escaped. They then demolished the shrine and desecrated altars and implements, converting the site into a garbage dump.

The LORD rewarded Jehu's obedience with the promise that four more generations of his descendents would be his heirs as king of Israel. This was the longest line of kings in Israel's history. By contrast, every king of Judah was from the line of King David.

Even though he destroyed Baal worship, Jehu never took action against the golden calf cult established by King Jeroboam. Even so, Jehu enjoys the distinction of being the only king of the separate kingdom of Israel applauded by God for his obedience.

Source: 2 Kings 10:15-31
Hosted by Alan's Gleanings