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fate; but we should remark that the prophecy of Elisha was literally fulfilled in every respect.
Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. It is supposed, that those who had the care of the young princes fled with them from Jezreel to that city, thinking they would be safest in the capital: but it appears*, that Jehu wrote letters to the rulers of that place, saying, 66 as you have your master's sons with you, also chariots and horses, and are in a fenced city, set up one of them for a king, and fight for your master's house;" these letters were ironical: for he could not suppose they would venture, in the present situation of affairs, to set up one of Ahab's sons in competition with him who was proceeding, with so much impetuosity, to destroy the house of Ahab; those to whom these letters were addressed were greatly intimidated, and returned him for answer, that they would do that which was good in his eyes;" on which he wrote them a second letter, requiring them to bring the heads of their master's sons to him in Jezreel; they were easily induced, for their own safety, to become themselves the executioners of the young princes; "those who have been false to their Gon, are soon persuaded to be false to their friends; and they accordingly slew them all, and sent their heads in baskets to Jezreel, which Jehu commanded to be laid in two heaps at the entering of the gate, till the morning; when, addressing himself to the rulers of Jezreel, he justified, from their action, his own treatment of the other persons in Ahab's family; for if the guardians of the young princes were blameless for killing so many persons by his order, surely he was not to be condemned for what he had done by Divine commund. Jehu then proceeded to slay the rest of Ahab's house,
* 2 Kings, chap. x.
till he left none remaining in Jezreel: pursuing his way to Samaria, he met some of the brethren of Ahaziah, amounting to forty persons, who were going to visit the children of the king and the queen of Israel; these he killed also, for they were justly included in the destruction of this wicked race, as their father had entered into so intimate an alliance with Ahab's family, and imitated him in some of his worst crimes: they are supposed to have been some of Athaliah's relations.
Jehu next resolved to cut off all the worshippers of Baal; for this purpose he caused a solemn assembly to be called, and commanded every one to attend, saying, "Ahab served Baal a little, but I will serve him much.” When they were all collected in the idol's temple, he gave orders to eighty men who were without, to put them, without reserve, to the sword; they then brake down the image, and destroyed the house.
Jonadah the son of Rechab was a pious good man, who lived a retired life; being well acquainted with the prophecies against Ahab's house, he imputed Jehu's conduct to zeal for the LORD, and on this account he went to meet him, and gave him countenance.
Jehu seems to have been so intoxicated with the power which Gon had put into his hands, that he did not stay to consider. So he could but establish himself on the throne, to which the destruction of Ahab's race and Baal's worshippers was necessary, he regarded not by what means; and it must be acknowledged, that his behaviour to the latter was treacherous and false; neither was he commissioned to cut them off in that manner; for, as he was king, he might have caused false worshippers to be put to death by the hands of justice, in a regular way, especially as he would have been defended from opposition by Divine power.
Jehu was a man of a furious temper, and as such, a proper instrument for the execution of Divine vengeance; if Israel had continued faithful to the LORD, or would have hearkened to the warnings of the prophets, this violent man would never have had the power to oppress them but as they were obdurate, it pleased GoD to raise him for their chastisement.
* That the world might learn, and Jehu himself remember, that Ahab's race was devoted to destruction for their sins, he received the approbation of the LORD, for the punctual execution of the Divine command, with a promise that his family should continue on the throne for four generations: it might have been expected, that this would have encouraged Jehu to propagate the worship of the LORD, but he retained the worship of the golden calves; for these abominations he was punished with an unquiet reign, and his subjects were afflicted for their sins by Hazael, the cruel king of Syria, who turned his arms against them, and is supposed, at this time, to have practised some of those barbarities predicted by the prophet Elisha.
Jehu is thought to have defended his country from its invaders with great spirit and skill; but the records of his reign, which are said to have been written in the chronicles of the kings of Israel, are lost; therefore it is impossible to obtain farther particulars of him.
It is easy to distinguish the faults in Jehu's conduct. They cannot be imputed to the command of GOD, as he certainly might have destroyed the family of Ahab, assisted as he was by Almighty power, without employing either deceit or treachery; he might also have secured his own prosperity, if his behaviour had been thoroughly
* * Kings, x.
consistent with his duty as king of Israel, and servant of the LORD JEHOVAH.
THE REIGN OF ATHALIAH QUEEN OF JUDAH.
From 2 Chron. Chap. xxii, xxiii.
AND when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose, and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah.
But Jehoshabeath the daughter of the king took Joash, the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king's sons that were slain, and put him and his nurse in a bed-chamber. So Jehoshabeath the daughter of king Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest (for she was the sister of Ahaziah) hid him from Athaliah, so that she slew him not.
And he was with her hid in the house of the LORD six years. And Athaliah did reign over the land.
And the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers over hundreds, with the captains and the guard, and brought them to him into the house of the LORD, and made a covenant with them, and took an oath of them in the house of the LORD, and shewed them the king's son.
And he commanded them, saying, This is the thing that ye shall do; a third part of you that enter it on the sabbath shall even be keepers of the watch of the king's house;
And a third part shall be at the gate of Sur; and a third part at the gate behind the guard; so shall ye keep the watch of the house, that it be not broken down.
And two parts of all you that go forth on the sabbath,
even they shall keep the watch of the house of the LORD about the king.
And ye shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand; and he that cometh within the ranges, let him be slain. And be ye with the king as he goeth out, and as he cometh in.
And the captains over the hundreds did according to all things that Jehoiada the priest commanded: and they took every man his men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that should go out on the sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest.
And to the captains over hundreds did the priest give king David's spears and shields, that were in the temple of the LoRd.
And the guard stood every man with his weapons in his hand, round about the king, from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple, along by the altar and the temple.
And he brought forth the king's son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said GoD save the king.
And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she came to the people into the temple of the LORD.
And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar, as the manner was, and the princes and the trumpeters by the king, and all the people of the land rejoiced and blew with trumpets. And Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, Treason, treason.
But Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the host, and said unto them, Have her forth without the ranges; and him that followeth her kill with the sword. For the priest had said, Let her not be slain in the house of the LORD.