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Story of the Bible by  Jesse Lyman Hurlbut
Table of Contents


 

 

JEHU, THE FURIOUS DRIVER OF HIS CHARIOT

II Kings viii: 7 to 15; ix: 1, to x: 36.

[404]

Y OU remember that when the Lord came to the prophet Elijah at Mount Horeb in the wilderness (see Story 78), the Lord gave to Elijah a command to anoint or call Hazael to be king of Syria, and Jehu to be king of Israel. But to prepare the way for these changes of rule a long time was needed, and Elijah was taken home to heaven before these men were called to be kings.

The time to call these men had now come, and Elisha undertook the work that had been left to him by Elijah. He went to Damascus, the chief city of Syria: and Ben-hadad, the king of Syria, heard that the great prophet of Israel had come, for the fame of Elisha's deeds had made his name known through all those lands.

At that time King Ben-hadad was ill; and he sent one of his chief princes, whose name was Hazael, to ask Elisha whether he would be well again. Hazael came to meet Elisha with a rich present, which loaded forty camels, and he spoke to Elisha with great respect, saying, "Your son, Ben-hadad, king of Syria, has sent me to you to ask, 'Shall I become well again from this sickness?' "

And Elisha said to Hazael, "You may tell Ben-hadad that he will get well; nevertheless, the Lord has shown me that he will surely die."

Then Elisha looked steadily upon Hazael's face, until Hazael felt ashamed, and Elisha wept as he looked upon him. Hazael said to him, "Why does my lord weep?" "I weep, said Elisha, "because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel. You will take their castles, and set them on fire; you will kill their young men, and you will destroy their children."

[406] Hazael was surprised at this, and said, "I am nothing but a dog; and how can I do such great things?"

And Elisha answered him, "The Lord has shown me that you shall be king over Syria."

Then Hazael went to King Ben-hadad, and said to him, "the man of God told me that you will surely be well from your sickness."

And on the next day Hazael took the cover from the bed, and dipped it in water, and pressed it tightly over Ben-hadad's face, so that he died; and Hazael reigned in his place as king of Syria. As soon as Hazael became king, he made war upon the Israelites; and a battle was fought at Ramoth-gilead, the same place where King Ahab had been slain more than ten years before. In this battle Jehoram, the king of Israel, was wounded; and he was taken to Jezreel, beside the great plain of Esdraelon, there to recover from his wounds. Ahaziah, who was at that time king of Judah, and who was a nephew of Jehoram, went to Jezreel to visit him while he was ill from his wounds.

By this time Elisha, the prophet, had returned from his visit to Syria. He knew that the time had now come to finish the work in Israel left to him by Elijah; and he called one of the sons of the prophets to him, and said, "Rise up, and go to the camp at Ramoth-gilead; and take with you this little bottle of oil. And when you reach Ramoth-gilead, find one of the captains of the army, Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi; and lead him into a room alone, and pour the oil on his head, and say, 'Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed you as king over Israel.' When you have done this, come back to me at once without waiting."

Then the young man, who was a prophet like Elisha, took the bottle of oil in his hand and went to Ramoth-gilead. In the camp of Israel he found the captains of the army sitting together. He came suddenly among them, and said, "O captain, I have an errand to you."

And Jehu, one of the captains, said to him, "To which one of us is your errand?"

He said to Jehu, "My errand is to you alone, O captain."

Then Jehu went with the young prophet into the house; and he poured the oil on his head, and said, "Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, 'I have anointed you as king over my people Israel. And you shall destroy the family of Ahab, because they destroyed [407] the prophets of the Lord. And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin. And the wild dogs shall eat Jezebel in the city of Jezreel, and there shall be no one to bury her.' "

And after he had said this, the prophet opened the door, and went away as suddenly as he had come. Jehu came back to the other captains, and sat down again. One of the captains said to him, "Is all well? Why did this wild fellow call you out?"

Jehu said to them, "You know the man, and you know what he said to me."

"No, no," they all said, "we do not know. Tell us what he said."

Then Jehu told them what the prophet had said, and that he had anointed him as king. This pleased all the captains. At once they took off their outer garments, and spread them as a carpet on the stairs of the house, and at the head of the stairs they placed Jehu; and they blew the trumpets and called out to the army, "Jehu is the king!"

Jehu said to the captains, "Do not let any one go out of the camp to bear word to Jehoram. I will go myself."

Then Jehu made ready his chariot, and rode swiftly toward Jezreel, his company riding after him. The watchman on the tower at Jezreel saw him coming, and he called out to King Jehoram, "I see a company coming toward the city."


[Illustration]

JEHU DRIVING HIS CHARIOT TO MEET KING JEHORAM

Jehoram thought that they were bearing news of the war with the Syrians. He sent out a man on horseback to meet the company. The man came, and said, "Is all well?"

Jehu answered him, "What difference is it to you? Come after me."

Then the man turned, and joined Jehu's company; and so did another man whom Jehoram sent when the first man did not return. And the watchman called out to Jehoram again, "Two men have gone out to meet the company that is drawing near, but they have not come back; and the man at the head drives like Jehu, the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously."

Then Jehoram became anxious; he sent for his chariot, and went out to meet Jehu; and with him went Ahaziah, the king of Judah, each in his own chariot. It came to pass that they met Jehu in the very place which had been the vineyard of Naboth; the same [408] place where Ahab had met Elijah, when that same Jehu was standing behind Ahab in his chariot. (See Story 80.) As Jehoram drew near to Jehu, he called to him, "Is all well, Jehu?"

"Can anything be well," answered Jehu, "as long as your mother Jezebel lives, with all her wickedness?"

When Jehoram heard this he saw that Jehu was his enemy. He cried out to King Ahaziah, and turned his chariot, and fled. But he was too late, for Jehu drew his bow with all his strength and sent an arrow to his heart. Jehoram fell down dead in his chariot. Then Jehu said to Bidkar, whom he had made his chief captain, "Take away the body of Jehoram, and throw it into the field where the body of Naboth was thrown. Do you remember how, when you and I were riding in the chariot behind Ahab, his father, the Lord said, 'I have seen the blood of Naboth on this spot, and the punishment of Ahab and his sons shall be in this place?' "

When Ahaziah, the king of Judah, saw Jehoram fall, he, too, turned and fled. But Jehu pursued him, and ordered his followers to kill him. So Ahaziah, the son of Jehoshaphat, and grandson of Ahab (for his mother, Athalish, was a daughter of Jezebel), he also died at the hand of Jehu. His servants took the body of Ahaziah to Jerusalem, and buried it there.

When Jehu rode into the city of Jezreel Queen Jezebel knew that her end had come; but she met it boldly, like a queen. She put on her royal robes, and a crown upon her head, and sat by the window, waiting for Jehu to come. As he drew near, she called out to him, "Good day to you, Jehu, you who are like Zimri, the murderer of your master!"

You have read of Zimri, who slew King Elah, and was himself burned in his palace seven days after. (See Story 76). Jehu looked up to the window, and called out, "Who is on my side? Who?"


[Illustration]

JEZEBEL CALLS FROM THE WINDOW TO JEHU

And some men looked out to him, and he said, "Throw her out of the window."

They threw her down, and her blood was spattered on the wall and on the horses. King Jehu came into the palace, and sat down as master, and ate and drank. Then he said, "Take up the body of that wicked woman, Jezebel, and bury her, for, though wicked, she was the daughter of a king."

But when they looked on the pavement there was nothing left [410] of her except her skull, and the bones of her feet and her hands, for the wild dogs of the city had eaten her body; and thus the wicked life of Jezebel came to an end, and the word of the Lord by the prophet Elijah came to pass. And Jehu slew all the sons of Ahab, and their children with them, so that not one of Ahab's family was left alive. When Jehu saw that he was safe and strong on the throne, he sent out a message to all the worshippers of Baal, the idol which Jezebel and the house of Ahab had brought into Israel. This message was, "Ahab served Baal a little, but Jehu will serve him much. Now, let all the priests of Baal meet in the temple of Baal in Samaria."

They came by hundreds, hoping that Jehu would be their friend as Ahab and his family had been. But when they were all in the temple, he brought an army of his soldiers, and placed them on guard around it; and when no one could escape, he gave the order, "Go into the temple and kill all the priests of Baal; let not one get away alive."

And this was done in a cruel manner. He killed all the prophets and priests of Baal, and tore down the temple of Baal in Samaria.

But though Jehu broke up the worship of Baal, he did not worship the Lord God of Israel as he should. He continued to serve the golden calves which Jeroboam had set up long before at Bethel and at Dan. (See Story 75). And the Lord sent a prophet to Jehu, who said to him, "Because you have done my will in destroying the house of Ahab, and in destroying those that worshipped Baal, your children to the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel."

On account of the many sins of the people of Israel the Lord began in the days of Jehu to take away the land of the Ten Tribes. Hazael, the new king of Syria, made war on Jehu, and conquered all the land on the east of the Jordan, from the brook Amon to the land of Bashan in the north; so all that was left of Israel was the country on the west of Jordan, from Bethel northward to Dan.


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