Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
4 Kings (2 Kings) 9:1
Anointing of Jehu by Command of Elisha. - While the Israelitish army was at Ramoth, Elisha executed the last of the commissions which Elijah had received at Horeb (Kg1 19:16), by sending a pupil of the prophets into the camp to anoint Jehu the commander-in-chief of the army as king, and to announce to him, in the name of Jehovah, that he would be king over Israel; and to charge him to exterminate the house of Ahab.
Kg2 9:1-3 contain the instructions which Elisha gave to the pupil of the prophets. השׁמן פּך as in Sa1 10:1. יהוּא שׁם ראה, look round there for Jehu. וגו הקמתו, let him (bid him) rise up from the midst of his brethren, i.e., of his comrades in arms. בּחדר חדר: the true meaning is, "into the innermost chamber" (see at Kg1 20:30). Kg2 9:3 contains only the leading points of the commission to Jehu, the full particulars are communicated in the account of the fulfilment in Kg2 9:6. "And flee, and thou shalt not wait." Elisha gave him this command, not to protect him from danger on the part of the secret adherents of Ahab (Theodoret, Cler.), but to prevent all further discussions, or "that he might not mix himself up with other affairs" (Seb. Schmidt).
"And the young man, the servant of the prophet, went." The second נער has the article in the construct state, contrary to the rule (vid., Ges. 110, 2, b.).
After the communication of the fact that he had a word to Jehu, the latter rose up and went with him into the house, i.e., into the interior of the house, in the court of which the captains were sitting together. There the pupil of the prophets poured oil upon Jehu's head, and announced to him that Jehovah had anointed him king for Israel, and that he was to smite, i.e., exterminate, the house of Ahab, to avenge upon it the blood of the prophets (vid., Kg1 18:4; Kg1 19:10).
Kg2 9:8-10 are simply a repetition of the threat in Kg1 21:21-23. For יז בּחלק, see at Kg1 21:23.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 9:11
Jehu's Conspiracy against Joram. - Kg2 9:11. When Jehu came out again to his comrades in arms, after the departure of the pupil of the prophets, they inquired השׁלום, i.e., "is it all well? why did this madman come to thee?" not because they were afraid that he might have done him some injury (Ewald), or that he might have brought some evil tidings (Thenius), but simply because they conjectured that he had brought some important news. They called the prophet משׁגּע, a madman, in derision, with reference to the ecstatic utterances of the prophets when in a state of holy inspiration. Jehu answered evasively, "Ye know the man and his muttering," i.e., ye know that he is mad and says nothing rational. שׂיה includes both meditating and speaking.
They were not contented with this answer, however, but said שׁקר, i.e., thou dost not speak truth. Jehu thereupon informed them that he had anointed him king over Israel in the name of Jehovah.
After hearing this, they took quickly every man his garment, laid it under hi upon the steps, blew the trumpet, and proclaimed him king. The clothes, which consisted simply of a large piece of cloth for wrapping round the body (see at Kg1 11:29), they spread out in the place of carpets upon the steps, which served as a throne, to do homage to Jehu. For these signs of homage compare Mat 21:7 and Wetstein, N. Test. ad h. l. The difficult words המּעלות אל־גּרם, as to the meaning of which the early translators have done nothing but guess, can hardly be rendered in any other way than that proposed by Kimchi (lib. rad.), super ipsosmet gradus, upon the steps themselves = upon the bare steps; גּרם being taken according to Chaldee usage like the Hebrew עצם in the sense of substantia rei, whereas the rendering given by Lud. de Dieu, after the Arabic jarm, sectio - super aliquem e gradibus, is without analogy in Hebrew usage (vid., L. de Dieu ad h. l., and Ges. Thes. p. 303).
(Note: The objection raised by Thenius, that it is only in combination with personal pronouns that the Chaldaic גרם signifies self either in the Chaldee or Samaritan versions, is proved to be unfounded by לגרם in Job 1:3 (Targ.). Still less can the actual circumstances be adduced as an objection, since there is no evidence to support the assertion that there was no staircase in front of the house. The perfectly un-Hebraic conjecture המּעלות אל־גּרם, "as a figure (or representation) of the necessary ascent" (Thenius), has not the smallest support in the Vulgate rendering, ad similitudinem tribunalis.)
The meaning is, that without looking for a suitable place on which to erect a throne, they laid their clothes upon the bare steps, or the staircase of the house in which they were assembled, and set him thereon to proclaim him king.
Thus Jehu conspired against Joram, who (as is related again in the circumstantial clause which follows from היה ויורם to ארם מלך; cf. Kg2 8:28-29) had been keeping guard at Ramoth in Gilead, i.e., had defended this city against the attacks of Hazael, and had returned to Jezreel to be healed of the wounds which he had received; and said, "If it is your wish (נפשׁכם), let no fugitive go from the city, to announce it in Jezreel (viz., what had taken place, the conspiracy or the proclamation of Jehu as king)." It is evident from this, that the Israelites were in possession of the city of Ramoth, and were defending it against the attacks of the Syrians, so that שׁמר in Kg2 9:14 cannot be understood as relating to the siege of Ramoth. The Chethb לגּיד for להגּיד is not to be altered according to the Keri, as there are many examples to be found of syncope in cases of this kind (vid., Olshausen, Lehrb. d. Hebr. Spr. p. 140).
4 Kings (2 Kings) 9:16
Slaying of the Two Kings, Joram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah. - Kg2 9:16. Jehu drove without delay to Jezreel, where Joram was lying sick, and Ahaziah had come upon a visit to him.
As the horsemen, who were sent to meet him on the announcement of the watchman upon the tower at Jezreel that a troop was approaching, joined the followers of Jehu, and eventually the watchman, looking down from the tower, thought that he could discover the driving of Jehu in the approaching troop, Joram and Ahaziah mounted their chariots to drive and meet him, and came upon him by the portion of the ground of Naboth the Jezreelite. The second שׁפעת in Kg2 9:17 is a rarer form of the absolute state (see Ges. 80, 2, Anm. 2, and Ewald, 173, d.). - וּלשׁלום מה־לּך: "what hast thou to do with peace?" i.e., to trouble thyself about it. אל־אחרי סב: "turn behind me," sc. to follow me. כם המּנהג: "the driving is like the driving of Jehu; for he drives like a madman." בּשׁגּעון, in insania, i.e., in actual fact in praecipitatione (Vatabl.). "The portion of Naboth" is the vineyard of Naboth mentioned in 1 Kings 21, which formed only one portion of the gardens of the king's palace.
To Joram's inquiry, "Is it peace, Jehu?" the latter replied, "What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her many witchcrafts continue?" The notion of continuance is implied in עד (see Ewald, 217, e.); זנוּנים is spiritual whoredom, i.e., idolatry. כּשׁפים, incantationes magicae, then witchcrafts generally, which were usually associated with idolatry (cf. Deu 18:10.).
Joram detecting the conspiracy from this reply, turned round (ידיו יהפך as in Kg1 22:34) and fled, calling out to Ahaziah מרמה, "deceit," i.e., we are deceived, in actual fact betrayed.
But Jehu seized the bow (בּקּשׁת ידו מלּא, lit., filled his hand with the bow), and shot Joram "between his arms," i.e., in his back between the shoulders in an oblique direction, so that the arrow came out at his heart, and Joram sank down in his chariot.
Jehu then commanded his aide-de-camp (שׁלישׁ, see at Sa2 23:8) Bidkar to cast the slain man into the field of Naboth the Jezreelite, and said, "For remember how we, I and thou, both rode (or drove) behind his father Ahab, and Jehovah pronounced this threat upon him." ואתּה אני are accusatives, written with a looser connection for ואותך אתי, as the apposition רכבים shows: literally, think of me and thee, the riders. The olden translators were misled by אני, and therefore transposed זכר into the first person, and Thenius naturally follows them. צמדים רכבים, riding in pairs. This is the rendering adopted by most of the commentators, although it might be taken, as it is by Kimchi and Bochart, as signifying the two persons who are carried in the same chariot. משּׂא, a burden, then a prophetic utterance of a threatening nature (see the Comm. on Nah 1:1). For the connection of the clauses וגו ויהוה, see Ewald, 338, a. In Kg2 9:26 Jehu quotes the word of God concerning Ahab in Kg1 21:19 so far as the substance is concerned, to show that he is merely the agent employed in executing it. "Truly (אם־לא, a particle used in an oath) the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons have I seen yesterday, saith the Lord, and upon this field will I requite him." The slaying of the sons of Naboth is not expressly mentioned in Kg1 21:13, "because it was so usual a thing, that the historian might leave it out as a matter of course" (J. D. Mich., Ewald). It necessarily followed, however, from the fact that Naboth's field was confiscated (see at Kg1 21:14).
When Ahaziah saw this, he fled by the way to the garden-house, but was smitten, i.e., mortally wounded, by Jehu at the height of Gur near Jibleam, so that as he was flying still farther to Megiddo he died, and was carried as a corpse by his servants to Jerusalem, and buried there. After הכּהוּ, "and him also, smite him," we must supply ויּכּהוּ, "and they smote him," which has probably only dropped out through a copyist's error. The way by which Ahaziah fled, and the place where he was mortally wounded, cannot be exactly determined, as the situation of the localities named has not yet been ascertained. The "garden-house" (הגּן בּית הגּ) cannot have formed a portion of the royal gardens, but must have stood at some distance from the city of Jezreel, as Ahaziah went away by the road thither, and was not wounded till he reached the height of Gur near Jibleam. מעלה־גוּר, the ascent or eminence of Gur, is defined by Jibleam. Now, as Ahaziah fled from Jezreel to Megiddo past Jibleam, Thenius thinks that Jibleam must have been situated between Jezreel and Megiddo. But between Jezreel and Megiddo there is only the plain of Jezreel or Esdrelom, in which we cannot suppose that there was any such eminence as that of Gur. Moreover Jibleam or Bileam (Ch1 6:55, see at Jos 17:11) was probably to the south of Jenin, where the old name בּלעם has been preserved in the well of Arab. bl'mh, Belameh, near Beled Sheik Manssr, which is half an hour's journey off. And it is quite possible to bring this situation of Jibleam into harmony with the account before us. For instance, it is a priori probable that Ahaziah would take the road to Samaria when he fled from Jezreel, not only because his father's brothers were there (Kg2 10:13), but also because it was the most direct road to Jerusalem; and he might easily be pursued by Jehu and his company to the height of Gur near Jibleam before they overtook him, since the distance from Jezreel (Zern) to Jenin is only two hours and a half (Rob. Pal. iii. p. 828), and the height of Gur might very well be an eminence which he would pass on the road to Jibleam. But the wounded king may afterwards have altered the direction of his flight for the purpose of escaping to Megiddo, probably because he thought that he should be in greater safety there than he would be in Samaria.
(Note: In Ch2 22:8-9, the account of the slaying of Ahaziah and his brethren (Kg2 10:12.) is condensed into one brief statement, and then afterwards it is stated with regard to Ahaziah, that "Jehu sought him, and they seized him when he was hiding in Samaria, and brought him to Jehu and slew him, "from which it appears that Ahaziah escaped to Samaria. From the brevity of these accounts it is impossible to reconcile the discrepancy with perfect certainty. On the one hand, our account, which is only limited to the main fact, does not preclude the possibility that Ahaziah really escaped to Samaria, and was there overtaken by Jehu's followers, and then brought back to Jehu, and wounded upon the height of Gur near Jibleam, whence he fled to Megiddo, where he breathed out his life. On the other hand, in the perfectly summary account in the Chronicles, בשׁמרון מתחבּא והוּא may be understood as referring to the attempt to escape to Samaria and hide himself there, and may be reconciled with the assumption that he was seized upon the way to Samaria, and when overtaken by Jehu was mortally wounded.)
- In Kg2 9:29 we are told once more in which year of Joram's reign Ahaziah became king. The discrepancy between "the eleventh year" here and "the twelfth year" in Kg2 8:25 may be most simply explained, on the supposition that there was a difference in the way of reckoning the commencement of the years of Joram's reign.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 9:30
Death of Jezebel. - Kg2 9:30. When Jehu came to Jezreel and Jezebel heard of it, "she put her eyes into lead polish (i.e., painted them with it), and beautified her head and placed herself at the window." פּוּך is a very favourite eye-paint with Oriental women even to the present day. It is prepared from antimony ore (Arab. khl, Cohol or Stibium of the Arabs), which when pounded yields a black powder with a metallic brilliancy, which was laid upon the eyebrows and eyelashes either in a dry state as a black powder, or moistened generally with oil and made into an ointment, which is applied with a fine smooth eye-pencil of the thickness of an ordinary goose-quill, made either of wood, metal, or ivory. The way to use it was to hold the central portion of the pencil horizontally between the eyelids, and then draw it out between them, twisting it round all the while, so that the edges of the eyelids were blackened all round; and the object was to heighten the splendour of the dark southern eye, and give it, so to speak, a more deeply glowing fire, and to impart a youthful appearance to the whole of the eyelashes even in extreme old age. Rosellini found jars with eye-paint of this kind in the early Egyptian graves (vid., Hille, ber den Gebrauch u. die Zusammensetzung der oriental. Augenschminke: Deutsch. morg. Ztsch. v. p. 236ff.). - Jezebel did this that she might present an imposing appearance to Jehu and die as a queen; not to allure him by her charms (Ewald, after Ephr. Syr.). For (Kg2 9:31) when Jehu entered the palace gate, she cried out to him, "Is it peace, thou Zimri, murderer of his lord?" She addressed Jehu as Zimri the murderer of the king, to point to the fate which Jehu would bring upon himself by the murder of the king, as Zimri had already done (vid., Kg1 16:10-18).
4 Kings (2 Kings) 9:32
But Jehu did not deign to answer the worthless woman; he simply looked up to the window and inquired: "Who is (holds) with me? who?" Then two, three chamberlains looked out (of the side windows), and by Jehu's command threw the proud queen out of the window, so that some of her blood spirted upon the wall and the horses (of Jehu), and Jehu trampled her down, driving over her with his horses and chariot.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 9:34
Jehu thereupon entered the palace, ate and drank, and then said to his men: "Look for this cursed woman and bury her, for she is a king's daughter." הארוּרה, the woman smitten by the curse of God.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 9:35
But when they went to bury her, they found nothing but her skull, the two feet, and the two hollow hands. The rest had been eaten by the dogs and dragged away. When this was reported to Jehu, he said: "This is the word of the Lord, which He spake by His servant Elijah," etc. (Kg1 21:23), i.e., this has been done in fulfilment of the word of the Lord. Kg2 9:37 is also to be regarded as a continuation of the prophecy of Elijah quoted by Jehu (and not as a closing remark of the historian, as Luther supposes), although what Jehu says here does not occur verbatim in Kg1 21:23, but Jehu has simply expanded rather freely the meaning of that prophecy. והית (Chethb) is the older form of the 3rd pers. fem. Kal, which is only retained here and there (vid., Ewald, 194, a.). אשׁר is a conjunction (see Ewald, 337, a.): "that men may not be able to say, This is Jezebel," i.e., that they may no more be able to recognise Jezebel.