Bible Commentary: 2 Kings 9:14-37 and Related

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Bible Commentary

2 Kings 9:14-37 and Related

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Jehu Kills Joram, Ahaziah and Jezebel

While Ahaziah was visiting the injured Joram in Jezreel, where he was recuperating, Jehu and his men pressed furiously toward the city. Joram and Ahaziah went out to meet him on the property of Naboth (whose vineyard Ahab and Jezebel had stolen by murdering him, 1 Kings 21:1-16). Jehu killed Joram and had Ahaziah, who tried to escape, tracked down, brought back and killed as well (2 Kings 9:24-27; 2 Chronicles 22:9). Jehu also killed the princes of Judah (verse 8).

At first it may seem like Jehu was going overboard in killing the king of Judah and the royal princes there. But it should be remembered that King Ahaziah of Judah was the grandson of Ahab. Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, had contaminated the royal family of David with Ahab's lineage and idolatrous influence, and Jehu was being used to destroy it in Judah as well as in Israel.

When Jezebel heard that Jehu had come to Jezreel, she "put paint on her eyes and adorned her head," obviously with the intent of seducing him (2 Kings 9:30). But Jehu did not fall for it, and Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied that Israel and Judah's future enemies would not fall for such conduct either (Jeremiah 4:30; Ezekiel 23:40), though in the latter case the enemies do go ahead and have improper relations with them, taking advantage of their willingness (verse 44).

Some believe that these passages prohibit Christians from using makeup. Although the use of makeup clearly would be wrong if used for an improper purpose, these passages do not condemn its use in general. Note that it says, figuratively, in Ezekiel 23:40 that Israel and Judah adorned themselves with ornaments, painted their eyes, and washed themselves for them, i.e., powerful men they sent for. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with washing—we are supposed to do that. The problem is that the use of jewelry and makeup and the washing were being done "for them"—that is, with the intent of seduction. Israel, like Jezebel, was prostituting herself to buy favor with a conqueror. The motive is condemned here, not the mere act of washing—nor the act of wearing jewelry or applying cosmetics. (Note also that even today, ancient Egypt remains famous for its use of cosmetics. Even the lower classes in Egypt wore makeup—both men and women. And yet God says nothing at all about makeup in the extremely detailed statutes He gave when Israel left Egypt.)

Jehu ordered those in the palace who decided to follow him at this point to throw Jezebel down from the wall, "and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, and he trampled her underfoot." Later, when they wanted to bury her, they found only "her skull and the feet and the palms of her hands" (2 Kings 9:33-35). Jehu realized that Elisha's prophecy regarding Jezebel had been fulfilled precisely (verses 36-37; 1 Kings 21:23-24). Although this punishment might sound cruel, let's not forget the Bible's evaluation of Ahab and Jezebel's deeds and character: "But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up" (verse 25). Jezebel was so evil that Christ uses her name to symbolize spiritual corruption (see Revelation 2:20). Remember also that she had mercilessly slaughtered God's prophets (1 Kings 18:3-4); now their blood was being avenged (2 Kings 9:7). We should always be mindful of the fact that God will repay the wicked (see Deuteronomy 7:9-10).