Fausset's Bible Dictionary


1. Son of Hanani who reproved Asa (2Ch_16:7-9) of Judah; prophetically denounced Baasha for all the evil he did in the sight of Jehovah, like the house of Jeroboam, and for killing "him" (the last representative of Jeroboam): 1Ki_16:7; 1Ki_15:27-29; 1Ki_14:10-14. Though Baasha thus fulfilled the word of Jehovah by Ahijah, yet as not this but his own bloody minded ambition was his motive; he should be punished (Hos_1:4). His following Jeroboam's sins showed that his destruction of Jeroboam's house was not from zeal for God. Thirty years later Jehu reproved Jehoshaphat, "shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from the Lord," etc. (2Ch_19:2-3). Jehoshaphat's "acts, first and last, were written in the book of Jehu" (2Ch_20:34).

2. Son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi, from whom, as better known, Jehu is sometimes called "son of Nimshi." In youth he had ridden behind Ahab as one of his guards, when that bad king went down to Jezreel to take possession of the vineyard obtained by false accusation and murder, and treasured in memory Elijah's prophecy again st him on that occasion, "in the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood even thine" (1Ki_21:19). Bidkar (Bar ("son of") Dakar) was then his comrade in the king's guard; and it was a striking retribution that these two witnesses of Ahab's sin should be the executioners of God's righteous vengeance. Jehovah had directed Elijah at Horeb to anoint him as future king, a commission which the prophet executed through his successor Elisha, whose ministry was the continuation of his own. The impulsive vehemence of his character betrayed itself even at a distance in his "furious" driving, which was notorious (2Ki_9:20 margin).

During the absence at Jezreel, owing to wounds, of Jehoram king of Israel, Jehu as commander in chief was holding Ramoth Gilead against Hazael and the Syrians, when a pupil of the prophets, sent by Elisha, suddenly appeared amidst the captains assembled in the court, saying "I have an errand to thee, O captain"; Jehu went into the innermost of the surrounding chambers, and there the young prophet in the name of Jehovah God of Israel anointed him with the sacred oil (Josephus, Ant. 9:6, section 1) as Israel's king, and commissioned him to avenge the blood of Jehovah's prophets and servants (1Ki_18:4; 1Ki_19:10) on Ahab's whole house. On going out Jehu was asked," Wherefore came this mad (Jer_29:26; Joh_10:20; Act_26:24) fellow to thee?" Jehu replied, "Ye know the man and his muttering" (ecstatic utterances), i.e., that he says nothing rational.

But the captains elicited from Jehu the truth; then, fired with enthusiasm and weary of the reigning dynasty, they made an extempore throne of the bore steps of the staircase, spreading their outer wrappers (beged) as the carpet, to do homage to Jehu (Mat_21:7-8), and proclaimed with sound of trumpets, "Jehu is king." The prophet's few words sufficed to act on Jehu's excitable, impetuous, and ambitious character. Without a prayer for guidance, and without further precaution, Jehu set out on a journey of 30 miles, crossing the Jordan with a band of horsemen, and Bidkar whom he had made captain of the host, and being himself the first messenger of the revolution to Jezreel, having secured that none else should leave Ramoth Gilead. One messenger on horseback after another, sent out by Joram, asked "Is it peace?" and received the reply "What hast thou to do with peace?" i.e., trouble not thyself about peace: "follow me."

At last Joram himself, with Ahaziah, each in his chariot, went forth. To Joram's inquiry Jehu replied, "What peace so long as the whoredoms (spiritual) of thy mother Jezebel, and her witchcrafts (usually associated with idolatry), are so many?" (Deu_18:10, etc.) On Joram turning to flee Jehu drove an arrow through the back and shoulders, so as to come out at his heart, and made Bidkar cast the body upon Naboth's ground, "as Jehovah laid this burden (pronounced this prophetic threat; massa) upon him," for "the blood of Naboth and of his sons" (this passage supplies the latter particular, which 1Ki_21:13-14 omits as being a matter of course, Ahab's object being to cut off all heirs to the confiscated vineyard). Jehu smote Ahaziah too.

Fleeing by the way of the garden house (Hebrew: Bethgan, Engannim) he first hid in Samaria where his lives were (2Ki_10:3), moreover Samaria was the direct road from Jezreel to Jerusalem; then was brought to Jehu, and was mortally wounded in his chariot at the ascent to Gur by Ibleam, so that when he got on to Megiddo he died there (2Ch_22:8-9; 2Ki_9:27). On Jehu's approach to Jezreel, Jezebel in oriental fashion painted her eyebrows and eyelashes with black antimony, to heighten the splendour of the dark eyes, and so to present an imposing appearance to Jehu and die as a queen; not to charm him, for she compared him to "Zimri who slew his master," and warned him that the same fate awaited him as overtook Zimri. Without deigning to answer her Jehu desired the eunuchs to throw her down. After eating and drinking, when Jehu commanded her burial, her skull, palms, and feet were all that the ravenous dogs had left of her carcass, in fulfillment of 1Ki_21:23.

Next he directed the rulers of the city, and the elders or magistrates, and the tutors of Ahab's 70 sons (including grandsons) at Samaria, to send him the heads of the 70 in baskets to Jezreel. Jehu in the morning went out of the city gate before the two heaps of heads, and addressing the assembled people, as if they were slain without his interfering, he attributed their slaughter to Jehovah's decree, in order to justify his conspiracy in the eyes of the people. So the people offered no resistance when he proceeded to slay all the survivors of Ahab's house at Jezreel, "all his great men, his acquaintances (or adherents), and court priests." Then he set out for Samaria.

On his way, at the house of shepherds binding sheep to shear them (where the shepherds used to meet on the road from Jezreel to Samaria), he caused 42 brethren of Ahaziah, who were about to visit their royal relations, Joram's sons and his mother Jezebel's sons, to be slain at the cistern of the binding or shearing house. Ahaziah's actual brothers had been carried off by the Arabs, etc., "so that there was never a son left Jehoram save Jehoahaz," Ahaziah (2Ch_21:17); his "brethren" then mean his stepbrother's, Joram's sons by concubines, and his nephews or cousins. Next, Jehu met and took with him the ascetic held in universal repute, in order to have his countenance in the wholesale slaughter by subtlety of Baal's worshippers which followed, and so to stand well with the people. Jehu said, "come, see my zeal for the Lord"; but it was really zeal for self, which he was glad to find capable of bearing a religious color.

When God's work fell in with his own ambition he did it with his wonted impetuosity. But if his had been real zeal for the Lord he would have rooted out the calf worship, Jeroboam's state policy, as well as Baal worship (2Ch_10:29). His haste was not real faith (Isa_28:16); his religious zeal was the blaze of natural impetuosity soon going out (Mat_25:8). When religious principle required self sacrifice, then he chose the praise of men not that of God (2Ki_10:31; Joh_12:43). The Baal worshippers upheld Ahab's dynasty; by killing them he got rid of political opponents, and gained to his side the worshippers of Jehovah. Religion was with him but a tool to serve his ends (1Ti_6:5). The assuming of Baal vestments by that full assembly (as was usual at the time of worship) in Ahab's grand temple (1Ki_16:32) seemed at the time politic, but proved the seal of the wearers' destruction.

"As soon as he (the priest; not Jehu, as Smith's Bible Dictionary) had made an end of offering the burnt offering," Jehu gave the word for their slaughter. "The city of Baal," to which next the guard and captains went, was the temple citadel, the true temple house; thence they brought the wooden standing columns or statues (matseebot assessors of Baal, worshipped with him), and burnt them, and broke in pieces the central column of Baal himself, a conical stone. Jehovah rewarded this removal of Baal idolatry, and execution of the divine vengeance on Ahab's house, by promising Jehu, "thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel." Among them was Jeroboam II, the most prosperous of the Israelite kings; and the dynasty lasted the longest of all that ruled the northern kingdom.

But this religious reformation, a fruit of Elijah's and Elisha's labours, through Jehu's "not taking heed to walk in the law of Jehovah with all his heart," went only half way. So, Israel's day of grace now commencing to wane, Jehovah began to cut Israel short, Hazael smiting them from Jordan eastward. Jehu and Hazael are mentioned on "the black obelisk"; Jehu (Jahua) is called "son of Omri" (Khumri), a natural mistake for the Assyrians to make, as knowing Omri to have formed a powerful dynasty and as knowing Samaria by the name "the house of Omri."

Jehu at this time, according to the inscription, sent gold and silver tribute to Shalmaneser I Stern, ruthless, impetuous, yet a master of profound dissimulation (as in his consummate hypocrisy toward the Baal worshippers), he never discovered that wholeheartedness for God is the truest policy, and that blood shed in external obedience to God's command, where yet the motive is self, brings guilt on the blood shedder: Hos_1:4, "I will avenge the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu," though temporarily he was rewarded for his measure of outward obedience. Zachariah his great grandson, the fourth from Jehu, after a six months' reign, was slain by Shallum (2Ki_15:8-12). Jehu's paying tribute to Assyria to secure the throne which God gave him accords with his half believing character, using all means secular or religious to gain his end. He died and was buried in Samaria after a 28 years' reign.

3. 1Ch_2:38.

4. 1Ch_4:35-43. 1Ch_4:5. The Antothite, i.e. of Anathoth (1Ch_12:1-3).


Taken from: Fausset's Bible Dictionary by Andrew Robert Fausset (1821-1910)