Jehu has been anointed as Israel’s new king and he had swept in with a vengeance, killing Joram, the king of Israel, and Ahaziah, the king of Judah, along with many of their relatives. Remember, at Ahab’s death, his son Ahaziah had become king and upon his death, his brother Joram became king since Ahaziah had no sons. The slaughter is nowhere near over, though.
“Ahab had seventy sons living in the city of Samaria. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria, to the elders and officials of the city, and to the guardians of King Ahab’s sons. He said, ‘The king’s sons are with you, and you have at your disposal chariots, horses, a fortified city, and weapons. As soon as you receive this letter, select the best qualified of your master’s sons to be your king, and prepare to fight for Ahab’s dynasty’" (II Kings 10:1-3, NLT).
“Prepare to fight for Ahab’s dynasty.” Jehu had been leading Israel’s army and obviously had their backing as he set about his coup. Now he sends a letter to a bunch of “elders and officials,” men who aren’t warriors, and tells them in essence, “Give it your best shot because we’re coming after you.” The effect was exactly what Jehu anticipated.
“They were paralyzed with fear and said, ‘We’ve seen that two kings couldn’t stand against this man! What can we do?’ So the palace and city administrators, together with the elders and the guardians of the king’s sons, sent this message to Jehu: ‘We are your servants and will do anything you tell us. We will not make anyone king; do whatever you think is best.’
Jehu responded with a second letter: ‘If you are on my side and are going to obey me, bring the heads of your master’s sons to me at Jezreel by this time tomorrow.’ When the letter arrived, the leaders killed all seventy of the king’s sons. They placed their heads in baskets and presented them to Jehu at Jezreel” (II Kings 10:4-6a, 7).
The next morning Jehu addressed the people: “‘You can be sure that the message of the Lord that was spoken concerning Ahab’s family will not fail. The Lord declared through his servant Elijah that this would happen.’ Then Jehu killed all who were left of Ahab’s relatives living in Jezreel and all his important officials, his personal friends, and his priests. So Ahab was left without a single survivor” (II Kings 10:10-11).
“Then Jehu set out for Samaria. When Jehu arrived in Samaria, he killed everyone who was left there from Ahab’s family, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah” (II Kings 10:12a, 17).
“Then Jehu called a meeting of all the people of the city and said to them, ‘Ahab’s worship of Baal was nothing compared to the way I will worship him! Therefore, summon all the prophets and worshipers of Baal, and call together all his priests. See to it that every one of them comes, for I am going to offer a great sacrifice to Baal. Anyone who fails to come will be put to death.’ But Jehu’s cunning plan was to destroy all the worshipers of Baal.
Then Jehu ordered, ‘Prepare a solemn assembly to worship Baal!’ So they did. He sent messengers throughout all Israel summoning those who worshiped Baal. They all came – not a single one remained behind – and they filled the temple of Baal from one end to the other. He commanded his guards and officers, ‘Go in and kill all of them. Don’t let a single one escape!’
So they killed them all with their swords, and the guards and officers dragged their bodies outside. Then Jehu’s men went into the innermost fortress of the temple of Baal. They dragged out the sacred pillar used in the worship of Baal and burned it. They smashed the sacred pillar and wrecked the temple of Baal, converting it into a public toilet, as it remains to this day” (II Kings 10:18-21, 25b-27).
“Converting it into a public toilet.” If that doesn’t make a statement, I don’t know what does! Jehu got serious about tearing down the mess Ahab’s dynasty had built up in Israel. Maybe at last Israel would have a king who would honor the Lord.