2 Kings 10

Jehu's Zeal


Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria (2 Kings 10:1).

Samaria was the capital city of Israel, so it is no surprise that the royal household would be located there. First Kings 16:24 indicates that Omri bought the hill of Samaria, and excavations have confirmed settlement from his time until the city was conquered by the Assyrians in 723 BC. The city continued to be occupied during the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian periods, and it reached the peak of its greatness and splendor during the Roman period.


When the letter came, they slaughtered the king’s seventy sons and put their heads in baskets (2 Kings 10:7).

Beheading was a certain way to ensure someone’s death (cf. 2 Sam 4:8; 2 Sam 16:9), and it was a practice depicted regularly by the Assyrians on their battle reliefs. This relief, which celebrates the Assyrian victory over the Egyptian king Taharka at Memphis in 667 BC, was recovered from the north palace of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh. It was photographed at the British Museum.

Judgment at the Well

So they took them alive and killed them at the well of Beth-eked, forty-two men (2 Kings 10:14).

The forty-two members of the Judahite royal family that were executed by Jehu should be compared with the forty-two young men from Bethel who were mauled by she-bears at the behest of Elisha (2 Kgs 2:23-25). The identical numbers (and the explicit mentioning of their loyalty to the house of Ahab and Jezebel—2 Kgs 10:13) underscores that Jehu’s slaughter of Judah’s royal family was the continuation of Elijah’s decreed judgment on the house of Ahab. Shown here is a well on the plain near Tel Dothan.

Ceremonial Garments

He said to him who was over the garments, “Bring the garments for all the worshipers of Baal” (2 Kings 10:22).

This interesting command reveals that special garments were used by the worshipers of Baal, at least in this context, and that the special garments were stored at the temple. The relief shown here depicts priestesses involved in a religious ceremony. They seem to also be wearing special, identical robes that include a head covering. This relief comes from the King’s Gate Processional Entry at Carchemish. It was photographed at the Ankara Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

Israelite Shrines

Then they went into the inner room of the house of Baal (2 Kings 10:25).

The “inner room” refers to the holy of holies of Baal’s temple in Samaria. The best-preserved Israelite shrine is at Arad, a fortress in the eastern Negev. Archaeologists have debated the dating of its various strata, but it appears to have been destroyed in the cultic reforms of Hezekiah. Although it is relatively small, the shrine includes a courtyard with an altar for burnt offering, a holy place, and a niche in the back (a “holy of holies”) where two standing stones and two incense altars were discovered.

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