Jehu Slaughters Ahab’s Decendants

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Seventy sons who were descendants of Ahab lived in Samaria, the capital of Israel. Jehu planned to execute every relative who could possibly succeed Ahab. He wrote letters to the officials of Jezreel inviting them to select a king from Ahab’s sons to fight against him in a contest to determine who had the right to the throne. They refused as they realized they were no match for Jehu.

He then sent a second letter demanding the rulers and guardians in Samaria to deliver the seventy sons’ heads to Jezreel by the next day, and these terms were promptly met. He had these heads stacked at the gate to discourage any counter revolution.

Jehu had wiped out Ahab’s heirs in Samaria and Jezreel, which God approved. However, he also executed all of Ahab’s close friends and priests which God did not approve and for which He later judged Jehu’s own dynasty. He simply got carried away in his zeal and killed many innocent people who could have helped him be a more effective king.

As Jehu was traveling south, he encountered a large caravan of travelers who identified themselves as members of Ahaziah’s family. Unaware of Jehu’s coup they were easy prey for his forces. Jehu killed all forty-two in this group.


Jehu went beyond the Lord’s command when he killed innocent people. The prophet Hosea later announced punishment upon Jehu’s dynasty for this senseless slaughter (Hosea 1:4-5). It is always wrong to use God or the Bible to condone oppression and accomplish our own agenda.

II Kings 10:1-17 (English Standard Version)

Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria, to the rulers of the city, to the elders, and to the guardians of the sons of Ahab, saying, "Now then, as soon as this letter comes to you, seeing your master's sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, fortified cities also, and weapons, select the best and fittest of your master's sons and set him on his father's throne and fight for your master's house." But they were exceedingly afraid and said, "Behold, the two kings could not stand before him. How then can we stand?" So he who was over the palace, and he who was over the city, together with the elders and the guardians, sent to Jehu, saying, "We are your servants, and we will do all that you tell us. We will not make anyone king. Do whatever is good in your eyes." Then he wrote to them a second letter, saying, "If you are on my side, and if you are ready to obey me, take the heads of your master's sons and come to me at Jezreel tomorrow at this time." Now the king's sons, seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, who were bringing them up. And as soon as the letter came to them, they took the king's sons and slaughtered them, seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets and sent them to him at Jezreel. When the messenger came and told him, "They have brought the heads of the king's sons," he said, "Lay them in two heaps at the entrance of the gate until the morning." Then in the morning, when he went out, he stood and said to all the people, "You are innocent. It was I who conspired against my master and killed him, but who struck down all these? Know then that there shall fall to the earth nothing of the word of the LORD, which the LORD spoke concerning the house of Ahab, for the LORD has done what he said by his servant Elijah." So Jehu struck down all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, all his great men and his close friends and his priests, until he left him none remaining. Then he set out and went to Samaria. On the way, when he was at Beth- eked of the Shepherds, Jehu met the relatives of Ahaziah king of Judah, and he said, "Who are you?" And they answered, "We are the relatives of Ahaziah, and we came down to visit the royal princes and the sons of the queen mother." He said, "Take them alive." And they took them alive and slaughtered them at the pit of Beth-eked, forty-two persons, and he spared none of them. And when he departed from there, he met Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him. And he greeted him and said to him, "Is your heart true to my heart as mine is to yours?" And Jehonadab answered, "It is." Jehu said, "If it is, give me your hand." So he gave him his hand. And Jehu took him up with him into the chariot. And he said, "Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD." So he had him ride in his chariot. And when he came to Samaria, he struck down all who remained to Ahab in Samaria, till he had wiped them out, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke to Elijah.

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