JEHU (Hebr. Yehu; Assyr. Ya-u-a: LXX. lou; Josephus, leous): Tenth king of Israel, a usurper, successor of Joram whom he slew. His dates, according to the old chronology, are 884-856 B.C.; according to Kamphausen, 843-815; according to Köhler, 881-853 B.C.; and according to Curtis (DB, i. 401), 842-815 B.C. The Books of Kings (I, xix. 16-17; ( II, ix.-x,) give a detailed account of the manner in which Jehu gained his throne, rooted out the house of Ahab, and exterminated the worship of Baal. The statement (II Kings x. 32-34) that during the reign of Jehu Hazael of Damascus took possession of the whole of the country east of the Jordan is to be understood of the whole of Bashan and Gilead. The rest of the recital, as well as I Kings xx. 22, and probably II Kings iii. 4-27, vi. 24-vii. 17 is derived from a special North-Israelitic source, both old and valuable.

Jehu was a leader in Joram's army and, during the battle with the Armeans at Ramoth-gilead, had the chief command. As one day he was taking with his captains, a youth appeared, gave him a message from the prophet Elisha, anointed him king over Israel, and hastened away. Jehu then regarded himself as Yahweh's appointed instrument to execute justice upon Ahab ? ? ? He had the gates of the city guarded so that no news could reach Joram, and then hastened with a troop toward Jezreel. After two messengers despatched by Joram had been detained, Joram and his friend Ahaziah went to meet Jehu. In answer to the question whether he brought good news, he replied with the sinister remark that nothing could be good as long as the heathenish practises of Jezebel continued, and then sent an arrow through the heart of the fleeing Joram. Jehu ordered the dead body to be thrown into the neighboring field of Naboth, and then entered Jezreel. Jezebel, by his command, was hurled from the window at which she stood and mocked. The nobles, who felt no disposition to risk anything for the house of Ahab, submitted to Jehu, and he ordered them to appear before him the next day with the heads of the seventy princes who were in Samaria. He declared, hypocritically, that he was innocent of the death of the princes, which had been accomplished by the will of God in fulfilment of the words of Elisha, and then proceeded to slay all the relations of Ahab as well as his officials, friends and priests. Thereupon he advanced against Samaria. On his way thither, he slew forty-two princes of the house of David, who were on their way to Jezreel to visit their kindred (II Kings x. 12-14). Jehu openly sided with the party which would not tolerate the worship of Baal and proceeded to do all in his power to extirpate it.

All that is known of the subsequent twenty-eight years of Jehu's reign is that he fought unsuccessfully against the Arameans under Hazael (II Kings x. 32), who ascended the throne of Damascus about the same time as Jehu became king of Israel (II Kings viii. 7-15) and by the same means--regicide. The misfortune in this war with Syria is ascribed (II Kings x. 31) to Jehu's protection of the calf-worship in Israel, although the continuance of his dynasty for four generations is regarded as a reward for rooting out Baal-worship.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: The sources are I Kings xix. 16-17; II Kings ix.-x.; II Chron. xxii. 7-9. The literature is given under AHAB (q.v.). Consult also: C. F. Burney, Noka on the Hebrew Text of . . . Kings, Oxford, 1903; DB, ii, 564-566; EB, ii. 2355-2357; JE, vii, 88-89.


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