2 Kings 9-11
She’s back! I thought we’d seen the last of Jezebel…. In chapter 9, Elisha anoints Jehu as King of Israel and sends him the message that Yahweh instructs him to “avenge the murder of my prophets and all the Lord’s servants who were killed by Jezebel. The entire family of Ahab must be wiped out. I will destroy every one of his male descendants, slave and free alike, anywhere in Israel.” (7-10 NLT) Well that’s pretty clear; Yahweh’s intent on punishing the innocent again. Jehu starts by shooting King Joram (son of Ahab and Jezebel) in the back, and tossing the body onto the same plot of land that Ahab stole from Naboth back in 1 Kings 21. I guess that’s biblical justice. One down. Next, King Ahaziah of Judah. Two down.
When Jezebel hears that Jehu is coming, she puts on her makeup and fixes her hair (v 30). Is this the reason that conservative Christians so closely associate makeup with loose morals? But her staff (eunuchs) know which side their bread is buttered on, and they easily give her up to Jehu’s men by throwing her out the window where she is trampled and then eaten by scavengers, fulfilling another prophesy (1 Kings 9:9-10). Three down.
But the killing has just started. Jehu plots to have all 70 of Ahab’s sons killed and their heads brought to him. Jehu follows that up with killing “all who were left of Ahab’s relatives living in Jezreel and all his important officials, his personal friends, and his priests.” Mission accomplished.
But there’s more! He runs across 42 relatives of King Ahaziah who were going to visit, so he knocks them off, too. (Ahaziah was either a grandson or nephew of Ahab, since the bible is confused about whether Ahaziah’s mother, Athaliah, was Ahab’s sister or daughter).
Are we done yet? Nope. For the grand finale, Jehu uses deceit to gather all the prophets of Baal. (Wait, didn’t they all die back in 1 Kings 18:40?) Well anyway, he traps them inside the temple, and then murders them, destroys the temple, and turns it into a latrine (v 27).
NOW are we done? Apparently not. Jehu was supposed to destroy all traces of Baal worship in Israel, but he forgot one last task – he didn’t “destroy the gold calves at Bethel and Dan, with which Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to sin.” (v 28). And because of this one oversight, Yahweh gives him only a B+ on his assignment and begins to reduce the size of Israel’s territory by allowing invading kings to capture land.
Oh fudge! I thought Ahab’s relatives were all dead by now, didn’t you? But no, now we get to the wicked queen – just like in fairy tales. When Athaliah learns that her son Ahaziah is dead, she murders the rest of the royal family and becomes Queen. But her sister Jehosheba hides Ahaziah’s infant son away and spares him. Ok then –if these three are alive then by definition all of Ahab’s family is not dead and Jehu failed on his mission. WTF?
When the little boy Joash turns 7, the palace priest stages a coup by bringing him to the temple and crowning him King. Athaliah sees it and calls ‘treason’, but the guards haul her out of the temple and kill her on the palace grounds. Heaven forbid that they should kill her on temple property. (What, Yahweh would object???) So now Joash is king, the priest destroys the temple of Baal and all its contents (what, again?) These Old Testament stories remind me of video games, where every critter or object that you destroy just keeps regenerating and popping up somewhere else. And one last point – can you believe this story is marketed to children???