The founder of the fifth dynasty of the kingdom of Israel, the son of Jehoshaphat,1 and grandson of Nimshi. During the progress of a war against the Syrians, who were becoming more and more troublesome to Israel, in a battle at Ramoth-gilead Jehoram, the king of Israel, had been wounded; and leaving his army there, had returned to Jezreel, where his ally, Ahaziah, king of Judah, had also gone on a visit of sympathy with him.2 The commanders, being left in charge of the conduct of the war, met in council; and while engaged in their deliberations, a messenger from Elisha appeared in the camp, and taking Jehu from the council, led him into a secret chamber, and there anointed him king over Israel, and immediately retired and disappeared.3
On being interrogated by his companions as to the object of this mysterious visitor, he informed them of what had been done and immediately they blew their trumpets and proclaimed him king.4 He then with a chosen band set forth with all speed to Jezreel, where, with his own hand, he slew Jehoram, shooting him through the heart with an arrow.5 The king of Judah, when trying to escape, was fatally wounded by one of Jehu's soldiers at Beth-gan. On entering the city, Jehu commanded the eunuchs of the royal palace to cast down Jezebel into the street, where her mangled body was trodden under foot by the horses.
Jehu was now master of Jezreel, whence he communicated with the persons in authority in Samaria the capital, commanding them to appear before him on the morrow with the heads of all the royal princes of Samaria. Accordingly on the morrow seventy heads were piled up in two heaps at his gate. At "the shearing-house"6 other forty-two connected with the house of Ahab were put to death.7
As Jehu rode on toward Samaria, he met Jehonadab, whom he took into his chariot, and they entered the capital together. For the pretended purpose of inaugurating anew the worship of Baal, he called all the Baalites of Israel together at Samaria. The chief sacrifice was offered, as if in the excess of his zeal, by Jehu himself. As soon as it was ascertained that all, and none but, the worshipers of Baal were there, the signal was given to eighty trusted guards, and they massacred them all.8 They then destroyed the temple of Baal, and made it a draught house.9
Notwithstanding all this apparent zeal for the worship of Yahweh, Jehu yet tolerated the worship of the golden calves at Dan and Bethel. For this the divine displeasure rested upon him, and his kingdom suffered disaster in war with the Syrians.10 He died after a reign of twenty-eight years, and was buried in Samaria; his son Jehoahaz succeeded him.11 His name is the first of the Israelite kings which appears in the Assyrian monuments.
- Easton, M.G. (1897). Easton's Bible Dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.
This article incorporates text from Easton’s Bible Dictionary (1897) by M.G. Easton, which is in the public domain.