Judgment on the House of Ahab & The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

Jezebel should have listened to You a long time ago and 1 You would have let her live, because I know that You don’t want to kill anyone, but if they’re evil they gotta go because You 2 don’t like evilness.

“And Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria.  And Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to them that brought up Ahab’s children, saying,

The vicinity of the Valley of Megiddo (Jezreel/Esdrelon many significant historical battles.

* Thutmose III of Egypt fought Syrian forces – 1468 B.C.

* Joshua defeated the King of Megiddo – Josh 12:21.

* Deborah and Barak defeated the Kings of Canaan – Jdg 5:19.

* Gideon defeated the Midianites – Jdg 7.

* Saul was defeated by the Philistines – 1 Sam 28-31.

* Ahaziah, king of Judah, died there – 2 Kgs 9:27.

* King Josiah was slain in a battle against Pharaoh Neco of Egypt – 2 Kgs 23:29-30; 2 Chr 35:20-27.

Now as soon as this letter cometh to you, seeing your master’s sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, a fenced city also, and armour;

Look even out the best and meetest of your master’s sons, and set him on his father’s throne, and fight for your master’s house” (2 Kgs 10:1-3).

But they were afraid and didn’t think they would prevail, but those that were over the house, the city, and the elders also, said to him, 

“We are thy servants, and will do all that thou shalt bid us; we will not make any king: do thou that which is good in thine eyes.

Then he wrote a letter the second time to them, saying, If ye be mine, and if ye will hearken unto my voice, take ye the heads of the men your master’s sons, and come to me to Jezreel by to morrow this time. Now the king’s sons, being seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, which brought them up.

And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king’s sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent him them to Jezreel.

And there came a messenger, and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king’s sons. And he said, Lay ye them in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning.

And it came to pass in the morning, that he went out, and stood, and said to all the people, Ye be righteous: behold, I conspired against my master, and slew him: but who slew all these?

Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the Lord, which theLord spake concerning the house of Ahab: for the Lord hath done that which he spake by his servant Elijah” (2 Kgs 10:5-10).

So Jehu killed everyone that lived in Jezreel and then went to Samaria.  While he was at the shearing house he met the brothers of Ahaziah king of Judah and asked who they were and they told him and said they were going down to salute the children of the king and queen.

“And he said, Take them alive. And they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of the shearing house, even two and forty men; neither left he any of them” (2 Kgs 10:14).

Jehu left and as he was traveling as the son of Rechab, Jehonadabo, came to meet him, and Jehu asked,

Ancient Watcher Tower in the West Bank (Samaria)
Excavated agricultural watchtower, which guarded an irrigated farm near Nazareth (where Jesus was raised) in the 1st century A.D.

These towers:

* Built by individual families to safeguard valuable plots of farmland.

* Were once a common sight along the hills of ancient Galilee, Samaria, and Judea.

Many contained inner rooms used for shelter, storage, and possible wine cellars.

In the tower Galilee, most watchtowers appear to have been solid, used only for guarding crops and perhaps storing stones for building.

Although many can still be found in Judea and Samaria, Galilean watchtowers are increasingly rare.

“Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot.

And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord. So they made him ride in his chariot.

And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the Lord, which he spake to Elijah.

And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much.

Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtilty, to the intent that he might destroy the worshipers of Baal.

And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it” (2 Kgs 10:15-20).

Jehu then called for all the worshipers of Baal to meet at the house of Baal and the amount of people filled it.

“And he said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshipers of Baal. And he brought them forth vestments.

The Temple of Baal in Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra is a city of ruins in south-central Syria (less than 100 miles from the Iraqi border!). It was inhabited by various groups–Aramaeans, Persians, Romans, Arabs, Ottomans, among others.

And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshipers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the Lord, but the worshipers of Baal only.

And when they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, Jehu appointed fourscore men without, and said, If any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escape, he that letteth him go, his life shall be for the life of him.

And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal.

And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them.

And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day.

One of the Many Baal Statues
Baal, also rendered Baʿal is a North-West Semitic title and honorific meaning “master” or “lord” that is used for various gods who were patrons of cities in the Levant and Asia Minor, cognate to Akkadian Bēlu.

A Baalist or Baalite means a worshiper of Baal.

“Baal” may refer to any god and even to human officials.

In some texts it is used for Hadad, a god of thunderstorms, fertility and agriculture, and the lord of Heaven.

Since only priests were allowed to utter his divine name, Hadad,

Ba‛al was commonly used.

Nevertheless, few if any biblical uses of “Baal” refer to Hadad, the lord over the assembly of gods on the holy mount of Heaven; most refer to a variety of local spirit-deities worshiped as cult images, each called Baal and regarded in the Hebrew Bible in that context as a “false god”.

Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.

Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan.

And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.

But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of  3 Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.

In those days the Lord began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel;

From Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan.

Now the rest of the acts of Jehu, and all that he did, and all his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

And Jehu slept with his fathers: and they buried him in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son reigned in his stead.

And the time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty and eight years” (2 Kgs 10:22-36).

Jehu,was the tenth king of Israel since Jeroboam I, noted for exterminating the house of Ahab at the instruction of Yahweh. He was the son of Jehoshaphat, and grandson of Nimshi.

William F. Albright has dated his reign to 842–815 B.C., while E. R. Thiele offers the dates 841–814 B.C.

The principal source for the events of his reign comes from 2 Kgs 9-10.

1 “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ez 33:11).

2 “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate” (Prov 8:13).

“Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish Judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph” (Amos 5:15).

3 Jeroboam was the first king of northern Israel and conspired against Solomon, but failed.  During his time there was constant war between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. 

On the 15th day of the 8th month he proclaimed a holiday where he went to Bethel and sacrificed on the altar to the golden calf.

Jehu/The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

The “Black Obelisk” of Shalmaneser III (reigned 858-824 BC) is a black limestone Assyrian bas-relief sculpture from Nimrud (ancient Calah, fortress city defending Nineveh), in northern Iraq.

Height: 197.85 cm.

Width: 45.08 cm.

It is currently displayed in the British Museum.

It records the military exploits of Shalmaneser which include taking tribute from Jehu son of Omri? See next picture.

In 841 B.C. Jehu became king of the northern kingdom by means of a bloody coup (2 Kgs 9-10).

He moved to rid Israel of Baal worship, but this did not end idolatry, for Jehu continued to worship the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.

No sooner had Jehu established his rule than he found himself forced to pay homage to Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria (an event not mentioned in the Bible but recorded in several inscriptions by Shalmaneser).

The most interesting record is the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser, discovered by Englishman Sir Henry Layard in Calah, Iraq, in 1846.

This obelisk provides both a written and a pictorial record of the kings who paid tribute to Assyria.

It depicts Jehu, on his hands and knees with his nose and chin toward the ground, before Shalmaneser.  Behind Jehu (on the other three sides of the obelisk) are 13 Israelite emissaries bearing tribute.

The inscription reads, “I received the tribute of Jehu of the House of Omri (i.e., lsrael): silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden goblet, golden cups, golden buckets, tin, a staff of the king’s hand, (and) javelins (?).”

All 14 of the Israelites pictured are bearded, with long hair and pointed caps. Each wears a belted tunic with fringe at the bottom.

In addition, each of the 13 porters wears a mantle or cloak over the tunic, which extends over the shoulders and is fringed or tasseled down the front on both sides.

Jehu is not wearing the outer garment, possibly as a sign of  humiliation before Shalmaneser.

The Obelisk of Shalmaneser provides the only known surviving likeness of a king of Israel or Judah.