An ethical dilemma in Hosea (part 3)


This is part of a series. I recommend starting with the first installment.

In the first part we laid out the dilemma that Hosea presents. The accounts in 2 Kings 9:6-10 and 2 Kings 10:30 when compared to a prophecy made by Hosea (1:4) suggests that God commanded an act be done, praised the act and then threatened punishment for that same act. In the last post we examined one of the claims that Jehu exceeded what God had commanded. In this post we will examine another aspect to that claim.

The second related premise is that Jehu exceeded his mandate when he killed Ahaziah the king of Judah. The AiG article suggests this when they write that Jehu “even went so far as to kill King Ahaziah of Judah”.

An article on Ligonier also makes this claim (emphasis added).

In 2 Kings 10:12–14, we read that (Jehu) put to death the relatives of King Ahaziah of Judah who were on their way to visit the king at Jezreel. Ahaziah, of course, had met a deserved end at the hands of Jehu for his own idolatry and friendship with Israel (8:25–29; 9:27–28). But the Lord never told Jehu to destroy the family and friends of Judah’s king. Jehu took things too far, showing that he was not motivated solely by a desire to accomplish God’s will with respect to Ahab’s descendants. The prophet Hosea declared that Jehu’s house would eventually fall as a punishment for this bloodshed at Jezreel (Hos. 1:4–5). (link)

It is true that we don’t have text that explicitly shows that God asked Jehu to kill Ahaziah the king of Judah. But if we examine other texts we can present a reasonable case that Jehu killing Ahaziah was right in the eyes of God as well.

We will start by examining who Ahaziah was. Ahaziah was the son of Jehoram and Athaliah. Jehoram was the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Asa and a king of Judah (2 Chron 22:1). Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab (2 Kings 8:26; 2 Chronicles 22:2). Their marriage was arranged as Jehoram’s father, Jehoshaphat, wanted an alliance with Ahab, the king of Israel (2 Chronicles 18:1; 21:4-7). Ahaziah brought the evil ways of Ahab over to Judah, being heavily influenced by his mother (2 Kings 8:27).

As king of Judah, Ahaziah joined forces with Jehoram, king of Israel and the son of Ahab, who was engaged in battle with Hazael of Syria. Ahaziah was there when Jehoram was wounded in battle. He was also there in Jezreel on that fateful day when the wounded king of Israel would be killed by Jehu (2 Kings 8:28-29). He sealed his fate further, when he rode into battle with Jehoram against Jehu’s army in Jezreel (2 Kings 9:21).

In reading through what the Lord told Elijah would happen after Jehu was anointed king, we learn that God had intended to punish all those aligned with the house of Ahab (1 Kings 19:15-18). Specifically, Elijah was told that “all that escaped from the sword of Hazael would die by the sword of Jehu”. When Ahaziah joined forces with Jehoram against Syria he survived being on the battlefield and thus escaped “the sword of Hazael”. When Jehu brought his forces against Jehoram, Ahaziah again aligned himself with the king of Israel. In doing so he chose to interfere with what God was doing and was thus destined to die by “the sword of Jehu”. After confronting Jehu in battle, Ahaziah fled, but was pursued and killed (2 Kings 9:27). Ahaziah’s choices, to align with Ahab’s son, led to his own destruction.

In 2 Chronicles, we find a favorable report of Jehu’s actions.

God brought about Ahaziah’s downfall after he chose to visit Joram. When Ahaziah arrived, he went out with Joram to meet Jehu son of Nimshi, whom the Lord had commissioned to wipe out Ahab’s family. While Jehu was dishing out punishment on Ahab’s family, he discovered the officials of Judah and the sons of Ahaziah’s relatives who were serving Ahaziah and killed them. He looked for Ahaziah, who was captured while hiding in Samaria. They brought him to Jehu and then executed him. (2 Chronicles 22:7-9 emphasis added)

As we saw, Jehu knew about the prophecy and the desire of the Lord, as it was told to Elijah (2 Kings 10:10). He would have reasonably concluded that anyone aligned with the house of Ahab and who had participated in the battle with Syria was included in the command that Elisha gave him.

If we examine the second part of the claim (in the Ligonier article), we find that Jehu did not go after the friends and family of Ahaziah. Rather he intercepted them when they were on their way to visit and support the house of Ahab.

On the way (to Samaria)… 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.” (2 Kings 10:12-13)

It was only after this group traveling into the northern kingdom announced their alliance with the house of Ahab that they were killed.

With all of this information, it can be argued that Jehu was justified in killing Ahaziah and the rest of his family and friends after they chose to align themselves with the house of Ahab. Therefore Ahaziah’s death, as well as those related to him, was also right in the eyes of the Lord and part of what was foretold by Elijah and Elisha and later praised by God (cmp Matthew Henry who agrees). These acts then could not be what the Lord, through Hosea, condemned.

[to be continued]

1 thought on “An ethical dilemma in Hosea (part 3)

  1. Was doing some more reading about this topic and found this entry and thought I would catalog it as a comment.

    Interpreting the Minor Prophets by Robert Chisholm also proposes the killing of Ahaziah as the solution.

    On the surface the Lord’s condemnation of the “massacre at Jezreel” (v.4) is puzzling. After all, the Lord instigated, approved of, and rewarded Jehu’s destruction of Jezebel and of Ahab’s descendants (1 Kings 21:17-24; 2 Kings 9:6-10; 10:30). The execution of Baal’s prophets and priests was also consistent with God’s will (2 Kings 10:18-28; cf. 1 Kings 18:40). Hosea 1:4, then, cannot have these acts in view but rather refers to Jehu’s needless slaughter of Ahaziah, king of Judah, and forty-two of his relatives (2 Kings 9:27-28; 10:12-14). Though Ahaziah’s death was attributed to divine providence (2 Chron. 22:7), Jehu’s attack on the house of David was unauthorized by the Lord.

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