“Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’” -2 Samuel 12:9-10
2 Kings chapter 10 continues the story of Jehu’s extermination of the house of Ahab and Jezebel. We’re given an almost hopeful picture: Jehu comes closer than any Israelite king to truly following the LORD. However, Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin – that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and Dan. Whether or not these calves were disobedient of the first commandment, they certainly were violating the second.
By the end of today’s reading, we’ll be about 120 years into this two-kingdom experiment for the people of the LORD. The longest-reigning dynasty in the Northern Kingdom has just been upended by Jehu. While it had survived three successions, it still only lasted 44 turbulent years. Comparatively, the Davidic dynasty had sustained its throne in Jerusalem for over two centuries.
But the sword in David’s house was only lying dormant, and it springs to life in chapter 11. Yesterday we read that Jehu had ended the king of Judah’s life, and today the king’s mother takes the throne for herself. She is Athaliah, a daughter of Ahab in both body and spirit. She ruthlessly exterminates the royal house, save one son of Ahaziah: Joash (or Jehoash), who is hidden by his aunt and a faithful priest.
I’m going to close by addressing a potential point of frustration with all these names. First, there are many times when people are referred here by two different names. Joash and Jehoash are an example, as are Joram and Jehoram, and tomorrow you’ll run into Uzziah, also known as Azariah.
There are also multiple occurrences of certain names: Azariah reigns first in Israel, and then sixty years later another Azariah reigns in Judah; there is also an Ahaziah in each kingdom, and two named Joash who even reign simultaneously for a time. Tomorrow, you’ll run into a second Ben-Hadad in Syria, and a second Jeroboam.
Remember that you’re reading the actual histories of actual kingdoms. It can be difficult to keep track of it all. Very soon, unfortunately, one of these parallel histories will be brought to a close.
Our verse for this week is Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
2 Kings 10 through 12. Now let’s read it!
2 Kings 10 - 12
10:1 Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria, to the rulers of the city, to the elders, and to the guardians of the sons of Ahab, saying, “Now then, as soon as this letter comes to you, seeing your master's sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, fortified cities also, and weapons, select the best and fittest of your master's sons and set him on his father's throne and fight for your master's house.” But they were exceedingly afraid and said, “Behold, the two kings could not stand before him. How then can we stand?” So he who was over the palace, and he who was over the city, together with the elders and the guardians, sent to Jehu, saying, “We are your servants, and we will do all that you tell us. We will not make anyone king. Do whatever is good in your eyes.” Then he wrote to them a second letter, saying, “If you are on my side, and if you are ready to obey me, take the heads of your master's sons and come to me at Jezreel tomorrow at this time.” Now the king's sons, seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, who were bringing them up. And as soon as the letter came to them, they took the king's sons and slaughtered them, seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets and sent them to him at Jezreel. When the messenger came and told him, “They have brought the heads of the king's sons,” he said, “Lay them in two heaps at the entrance of the gate until the morning.” Then in the morning, when he went out, he stood and said to all the people, “You are innocent. It was I who conspired against my master and killed him, but who struck down all these? Know then that there shall fall to the earth nothing of the word of the LORD, which the LORD spoke concerning the house of Ahab, for the LORD has done what he said by his servant Elijah.” So Jehu struck down all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, all his great men and his close friends and his priests, until he left him none remaining.
Then he set out and went to Samaria. On the way, when he was at Beth-eked of the Shepherds, Jehu met the relatives of Ahaziah king of Judah, and he said, “Who are you?” And they answered, “We are the relatives of Ahaziah, and we came down to visit the royal princes and the sons of the queen mother.” He said, “Take them alive.” And they took them alive and slaughtered them at the pit of Beth-eked, forty-two persons, and he spared none of them.
And when he departed from there, he met Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him. And he greeted him and said to him, “Is your heart true to my heart as mine is to yours?” And Jehonadab answered, “It is.” Jehu said, “If it is, give me your hand.” So he gave him his hand. And Jehu took him up with him into the chariot. And he said, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD.” So he had him ride in his chariot. And when he came to Samaria, he struck down all who remained to Ahab in Samaria, till he had wiped them out, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke to Elijah.
Then Jehu assembled all the people and said to them, “Ahab served Baal a little, but Jehu will serve him much. Now therefore call to me all the prophets of Baal, all his worshipers and all his priests. Let none be missing, for I have a great sacrifice to offer to Baal. Whoever is missing shall not live.” But Jehu did it with cunning in order to destroy the worshipers of Baal. And Jehu ordered, “Sanctify a solemn assembly for Baal.” So they proclaimed it. And Jehu sent throughout all Israel, and all the worshipers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left who did not come. And they entered the house of Baal, and the house of Baal was filled from one end to the other. He said to him who was in charge of the wardrobe, “Bring out the vestments for all the worshipers of Baal.” So he brought out the vestments for them. Then Jehu went into the house of Baal with Jehonadab the son of Rechab, and he said to the worshipers of Baal, “Search, and see that there is no servant of the LORD here among you, but only the worshipers of Baal.” Then they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings.
Now Jehu had stationed eighty men outside and said, “The man who allows any of those whom I give into your hands to escape shall forfeit his life.” So as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, Jehu said to the guard and to the officers, “Go in and strike them down; let not a man escape.” So when they put them to the sword, the guard and the officers cast them out and went into the inner room of the house of Baal, and they brought out the pillar that was in the house of Baal and burned it. And they demolished the pillar of Baal, and demolished the house of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day.
Thus Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel. But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin—that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan. And the LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin.
In those days the LORD began to cut off parts of Israel. Hazael defeated them throughout the territory of Israel: from the Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the Valley of the Arnon, that is, Gilead and Bashan. Now the rest of the acts of Jehu and all that he did, and all his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? So Jehu slept with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son reigned in his place. The time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty-eight years.
11:1 Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal family. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the king's sons who were being put to death, and she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus they hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not put to death. And he remained with her six years, hidden in the house of the LORD, while Athaliah reigned over the land.
But in the seventh year Jehoiada sent and brought the captains of the Carites and of the guards, and had them come to him in the house of the LORD. And he made a covenant with them and put them under oath in the house of the LORD, and he showed them the king's son. And he commanded them, “This is the thing that you shall do: one third of you, those who come off duty on the Sabbath and guard the king's house (another third being at the gate Sur and a third at the gate behind the guards) shall guard the palace. And the two divisions of you, which come on duty in force on the Sabbath and guard the house of the LORD on behalf of the king, shall surround the king, each with his weapons in his hand. And whoever approaches the ranks is to be put to death. Be with the king when he goes out and when he comes in.”
The captains did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded, and they each brought his men who were to go off duty on the Sabbath, with those who were to come on duty on the Sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest. And the priest gave to the captains the spears and shields that had been King David's, which were in the house of the LORD. And the guards stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, from the south side of the house to the north side of the house, around the altar and the house on behalf of the king. Then he brought out the king's son and put the crown on him and gave him the testimony. And they proclaimed him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, “Long live the king!”
When Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she went into the house of the LORD to the people. And when she looked, there was the king standing by the pillar, according to the custom, and the captains and the trumpeters beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets. And Athaliah tore her clothes and cried, “Treason! Treason!” Then Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains who were set over the army, “Bring her out between the ranks, and put to death with the sword anyone who follows her.” For the priest said, “Let her not be put to death in the house of the LORD.” So they laid hands on her; and she went through the horses' entrance to the king's house, and there she was put to death.
And Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and people, that they should be the LORD's people, and also between the king and the people. Then all the people of the land went to the house of Baal and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest posted watchmen over the house of the LORD. And he took the captains, the Carites, the guards, and all the people of the land, and they brought the king down from the house of the LORD, marching through the gate of the guards to the king's house. And he took his seat on the throne of the kings. So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet after Athaliah had been put to death with the sword at the king's house.
Jehoash was seven years old when he began to reign.
12:1 In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all his days, because Jehoiada the priest instructed him. Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away; the people continued to sacrifice and make offerings on the high places.
Jehoash said to the priests, “All the money of the holy things that is brought into the house of the LORD, the money for which each man is assessed—the money from the assessment of persons—and the money that a man's heart prompts him to bring into the house of the LORD, let the priests take, each from his donor, and let them repair the house wherever any need of repairs is discovered.” But by the twenty-third year of King Jehoash, the priests had made no repairs on the house. Therefore King Jehoash summoned Jehoiada the priest and the other priests and said to them, “Why are you not repairing the house? Now therefore take no more money from your donors, but hand it over for the repair of the house.” So the priests agreed that they should take no more money from the people, and that they should not repair the house.
Then Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in the lid of it and set it beside the altar on the right side as one entered the house of the LORD. And the priests who guarded the threshold put in it all the money that was brought into the house of the LORD. And whenever they saw that there was much money in the chest, the king's secretary and the high priest came up and they bagged and counted the money that was found in the house of the LORD. Then they would give the money that was weighed out into the hands of the workmen who had the oversight of the house of the LORD. And they paid it out to the carpenters and the builders who worked on the house of the LORD, and to the masons and the stonecutters, as well as to buy timber and quarried stone for making repairs on the house of the LORD, and for any outlay for the repairs of the house. But there were not made for the house of the LORD basins of silver, snuffers, bowls, trumpets, or any vessels of gold, or of silver, from the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, for that was given to the workmen who were repairing the house of the LORD with it. And they did not ask for an accounting from the men into whose hand they delivered the money to pay out to the workmen, for they dealt honestly. The money from the guilt offerings and the money from the sin offerings was not brought into the house of the LORD; it belonged to the priests.
At that time Hazael king of Syria went up and fought against Gath and took it. But when Hazael set his face to go up against Jerusalem, Jehoash king of Judah took all the sacred gifts that Jehoshaphat and Jehoram and Ahaziah his fathers, the kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own sacred gifts, and all the gold that was found in the treasuries of the house of the LORD and of the king's house, and sent these to Hazael king of Syria. Then Hazael went away from Jerusalem.
Now the rest of the acts of Joash and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? His servants arose and made a conspiracy and struck down Joash in the house of Millo, on the way that goes down to Silla. It was Jozacar the son of Shimeath and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, who struck him down, so that he died. And they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Amaziah his son reigned in his place.