Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Seventy sons, as he had many wives. Gedeon had 70. (Calmet) — Grand-children might also be included. (Du Hamel) — But this is not necessary. (Calmet) — City, Hebrew, “of Jezrahel,” a word which has probably been substituted instead of “Israel,” which is more conformable to the Septuagint and Vulgate. Those who adhere to the Hebrew pretend that the princes had all fled from Jezrahel. — Children. This is the sense generally given to Nutritios Achab, which literally signifies, “nursing-fathers (preceptors, counsellors, &c.) of Achab,” ver. 5. The king’s children were perhaps educated in the most noble families, (ver. 6.) and in the best cities, 2 Paralipomenon xi. 23. Isaias (xlix. 23.) foretelling the happiness of the Israelites after the captivity, says, that kings and queens will nurse them.
Ver. 3. Master. Jehu would lead them into a snare, and insultingly challenges them to battle, shewing how little he feared their power. (Calmet) — He speaks ironically. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 8. Morning, that all the people might see them. (Calmet) — Jehu did not choose to admit the Samaritans into the city during the night. (Menochius)
Ver. 9. Just executioners of the divine wrath. (Du Hamel) — You know what is right. (Menochius) — You are now in the same predicament with myself. (Haydock) — All the chief men had thus rendered themselves odious to the people, who could not choose them for leaders. He captiously infers, from his astonishing success, (Calmet) that his conduct is pleasing to God. (Menochius) — All the people seeing that so many had armed (Tirinus) against the house of Achab, might conclude that what they did was just. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. Chief men, probably including those perfidious wretches, who had so basely betrayed their trust, and slain the 70 sons of Achab, “the nobles of the kingdom, his kinsmen, and friends.” (Chaldean; Arabic) — Friends. Some copies of the Septuagint have connoisseurs, or magicians, Leviticus xix. 31. — Priests, princes of the court (2 Kings viii. 18.) and those who offered sacrifice to idols, (Calmet) being of Achab’s descendants. (Menochius) — He afterwards inveigled all the priests of Baal, to their entire ruin, ver. 19. (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Cabin. Hebrew Beth-heked, (Haydock) a term which the Septuagint do not translate. It means, “house of tying,” as the sheep were tied to be shorn. (Menochius) — Eusebius places it in the great plain, 15 miles from Legion. (Calmet) — It was not a despicable hut, (Haydock) but like the houses where Nabal and Absalom shore their sheep, 1 Kings xxv., &c. (Tirinus)
Ver. 13. Brethren. The Arabs had destroyed all his brothers by the same mother; (2 Paralipomenon xxii. 1.) but these were near relations, and they durst not deny the fact. (Menochius) — In 2 Paralipomenon xxii. 8., they are styled princes of Juda, and sons of the brethren of Ochozias. Jehu must have used surprising diligence (Calmet) and secrecy (Haydock) to prevent the many important transactions and changes which had lately taken place from being known at Jerusalem, or even at Beth-heked, ver. 12., which was so little distant from Samaria. (Calmet) — Queen. The wife of Joram, or the children of Jezabel, (Menochius) with whom they were connected by affinity and friendship, to their great detriment. (Haydock)
Ver. 14. Alive. That they might not attempt to defend themselves, (Menochius) as they might hope that Jehu would, at least, spare their lives. (Haydock) — Of them, as they were in some degree related to Achab, (Menochius) or might endeavour to obstruct his dominion. (Tirinus)
Ver. 15. Jonadab, a holy personage, Jeremias xxxv. 6. The Rechabites were a sort of religious, descended from Jethro and the Cinites. (Calmet) — They dwelt in the country, and fed sheep, &c., Numbers x. 29. (Tirinus) — John of Jerus.[Jerusalem?] (c. 25.) says that Jonadab was a disciple of Eliseus, and followed his institute in all things, except continency. (Menochius) — Blessed him, wishing his peace and prosperity. (Menochius) — It is not clear whether Jehu or Jonadab pronounced this blessing. (Haydock) — Heart. Art thou friendly to my cause? — Thy hand, in sign of concord, and to help him up into his chariot. (Calmet) — It was of great consequence to obtain the approbation of a man (Haydock) who must have been so revered by the people. (Menochius) — Jehu acted with the utmost policy. (Haydock)
Ver. 18. I will worship him more. Jehu sinned in thus pretending to worship Baal, and causing sacrifices to be offered to him: because evil in not to be done, that good may come of it, Romans iii. 8. (Challoner) (Worthington) — St. Jerome, &c., excuse him from mortal sin, as his intention was good. (Tirinus) — If he had not thus dissembled, he could not have so effectually destroyed the adorers of Baal, who would have concealed themselves. But God rewarded his zeal, and not his falsehood. (Calmet) — He might speak ironically; though Theodoret, &c., admit a lie. (Menochius)
Ver. 19. Servants. The number had greatly decreased under Joram. (Menochius)
Ver. 20. Proclaim. Literally, “sanctify (Hebrew) a prohibition” to work, or to be absent, (Calmet) “and they proclaimed it.“
Ver. 21. Other. Literally, “from top to top.” Hebrew, “from mouth to mouth,” (Haydock) like a vessel brimfull. (Calmet) — Every corner was filled. All the priests and prophets made their appearance, through zeal to re-establish the honour of their idol, and for fear of death. (Menochius)
Ver. 22. Wardrobe, of vestments used in the service of Baal. The worship chiefly consisted in such outward pomp. The priests were probably adorned like those at the pillars of Hercules, who were from the same country. Sil. Ital. iii., velantur corpora lino, &c.
Ver. 24. Life. These 80 were stationed at the doors, while the rest slaughtered the unhappy idolaters, (Menochius) who were all by themselves, like the reprobate separated from the elect, at the last day. (Haydock)
Ver. 25. Soldiers. Hebrew, “runners, (or foot-guards, 3 Kings i. 5,) and chief officers,” Exodus xiv. 7. — Out. Hebrew, “cast out” their carcasses, or “rushed out (themselves) into the city,” which was styled “the temple of Baal;” or “penetrated into the fortress” and inmost recesses of that structure. (Osiander.) — We read of such a fortress, Judges ix. 46. (Haydock) — In every city where there was a temple of Baal, the fabric and idols were demolished. (Salien)
Ver. 27. A jakes, or necessary [latrine]. (Haydock) — See 1 Esdras vi. 11., and Daniel ii. 5.
Ver. 29. Dan. This wicked policy, which was designed to prevent his subjects from submitting again to the kings of Juda, proved his ruin.
Ver. 30. Generation. So Joachaz, Joas, Jeroboam II, and Zacharias, succeeded to the throne. This small temporal reward he obtained for the little good which he had done; while, on the other hand, he was punished for his manifold transgressions. Osee (i. 4,) reproaches him even for the blood which he had spilt in Jezrahel; for, though Achab and Joram were guilty, was Jehu innocent? Can this murder of Ochozias be justified? (Calmet) — “What advantage was it to him that he received some little transitory reward of a temporal kingdom, for his obedience in exterminating the house of Achab; which he indeed exhibited to gratify his own lust of dominion?” (St Augustine, contra mend. ii. c. 2.) This holy doctor observes, that moral good works are thus rewarded. (Worthington)
Ver. 32. Weary. Hebrew, “to retrench or destroy.” Hazael took occasion, from the absence of Jehu (Calmet) from Galaad, and the disturbances on the west of the Jordan, to dismember the provinces on the east, and to commit the horrid ravages foretold by Eliseus, chap. viii. 12. (Haydock)
Ver. 33. Aroer. See Josue xiii. 25. This was a most severe scourge, (Menochius) as all the eastern tribes were lost to Israel. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Jehu destroyeth the house of Achab: abolisheth the worship of Baal, and killeth the worshippers: but sticks to the calves of Jeroboam. Israel is afflicted by the Syrians.
1 And *Achab had seventy sons in Samaria: so Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, to the chief men of the city, and to the ancients, and to them that brought up Ahab’s children, saying: 2 As soon as you receive these letters, ye that have your master’s sons, and chariots, and horses, and fenced cities, and armour, 3 Choose the best, and him that shall please you most of your master’s sons, and set him on his father’s throne, and fight for the house of your master. 4 But they were exceedingly afraid, and said: Behold two kings could not stand before him, and how shall we be able to resist? 5 Therefore they that were over the king’s house, and the rulers of the city, and the ancients, and the bringers up of the children, sent to Jehu, saying: We are thy servants: whatsoever thou shalt command us we will do; we will not make us a king: do thou all that pleaseth thee. 6 And he wrote letters the second time to them, saying: If you be mine, and will obey me, take the heads of the sons of your master, and come to me to Jezrahel by to-morrow at this time. Now the king’s sons, being seventy men, were brought up with the chief men of the city. 7 And when the letters came to them, they took the king’s sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent them to him to Jezrahel. 8 And a messenger came, and told him, saying: They have brought the heads of the king’s sons. And he said: Lay ye them in two heaps by the entering in of the gate until the morning. 9 And when it was light, he went out, and standing, said to all the people: You are just: if I conspired against my master, and slew him: who hath slain all these? 10 *See therefore now that there hath not fallen to the ground any of the words of the Lord, which the Lord spoke concerning the house of Achab; and the Lord hath done that which he spoke in the hand of his servant Elias. 11 So Jehu slew all that were left of the house of Achab in Jezrahel, and all his chief men, and his friends, and his priests, till there were no remains left of him. 12 And he arose, and went to Samaria: and when he was come to the shepherds’ cabin in the way, 13 He met with the brethren of Ochozias, king of Juda, and he said to them: Who are you? And they answered: We are the brethren of Ochozias, and are come down to salute the sons of the king, and the sons of the queen. 14 And he said: Take them alive. And they took them alive, and killed them at the pit by the cabin, two and forty men, and he left not any of them. 15 And when he was departed thence, he found Jonadab, the son of Rechab, coming to meet him, and he blessed him. And he said to him: Is thy heart right as my heart is with thy heart? And Jonadab said: It is. If it be, said he, give me thy hand. He gave him his hand. And he lifted him up to him into the chariot, 16 And he said to him: Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord. So he made him ride in his chariot, 17 And brought him into Samaria. And he slew all that were left of Achab, in Samaria, to a man, according to the word of the Lord which he spoke by Elias. 18 And Jehu gathered together all the people, and said to them: *Achab worshipped Baal a little, but I will worship him more. 19 Now therefore call to me all the prophets of Baal, and all his servants, and all his priests: let none be wanting, for I have a great sacrifice to offer to Baal: whosoever shall be wanting, shall not live. Now Jehu did this craftily, that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal. 20 And he said: Proclaim a festival for Baal. And he called, 21 And he sent into all the borders of Israel; and all the servants of Baal came: there was not one left that did not come. And they went into the temple of Baal: and the house of Baal was filled, from one end to the other. 22 And he said to them that were over the wardrobe: Bring forth garments for all the servants of Baal. And they brought them forth garments. 23 And Jehu, and Jonadab, the son of Rechab, went to the temple of Baal, and said to the worshippers of Baal: Search, and see that there be not any with you of the servants of the Lord, but that there be the servants of Baal only. 24 And they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt-offerings: but Jehu had prepared him fourscore men without, and said to them: If any of the men escape, whom I have brought into your hands, he that letteth him go, shall answer life for life. 25 And it came to pass, when the burnt-offering was ended, that Jehu commanded his soldiers and captains, saying: Go in, and kill them, let none escape. And the soldiers and captains slew them with the edge of the sword, and cast them out: and they went into the city of the temple of Baal, 26 And brought the statue out of Baal’s temple, and burnt it, 27 And broke it in pieces. They destroyed also the temple of Baal, and made a jakes in its place unto this day. 28 So Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel: 29 But yet he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nabat, who made Israel to sin, nor did he forsake the golden calves that were in Bethel, and Dan. 30 And the Lord said to Jehu: Because thou hast diligently executed that which was right and pleasing in my eyes, and hast done to the house of Achab according to all that was in my heart: *thy children shall sit upon the throne of Israel to the fourth generation. 31 But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel to sin. 32 In those days the Lord began to be weary of Israel: and Hazael ravaged them in all the coasts of Israel, 33 From the Jordan eastward, all the land of Galaad, and Gad, and Ruben, and Manasses, from Aroer, which is upon the torrent Arnon, and Galaad, and Basan. 34 But the rest of the acts of Jehu, and all that he did, and his strength, are they not written in the Book of the words of the days of the kings of Israel? 35 And Jehu slept with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria: and Joachaz, his son, reigned in his stead. 36 And the time that Jehu reigned over Israel, in Samaria, was eight and twenty years. ____________________ * 1: Year of the World 3120, Year before Christ 884. 10: 3 Kings xxi. 19. 18: 3 Kings xvi. 31. 30: 4 Kings xv. 12.