In roughly 841 B.C., the commander of Israels army, Jehu the
son of Jehoshaphat, was anointed king over the northern kingdom and was instructed by the Lord to
strike down the house of Ahab and cut off from Ahab all the males in Israel,
both bond and free (2 Kings 9:6-10). After receiving this command from the Lord via one of
the sons of the prophets, Jehu began his assassination of Ahabs family. He
started by slaying Ahabs son, Joram (also known as Jehoram), who was ruling Israel at the
time Jehu was anointed king. He then proceeded to kill Ahaziah (the king of Judah and grandson of
Jezebel9:27-29) and forty-two of Ahaziahs brethren (10:12-14). Later, he slew (or had
others slay) Jezebel (the mother of Joram and former wife of the deceased Ahab9:30-37), all
seventy sons of Ahab who were living in Samaria, and all who remained to Ahab in
Samaria (10:1-10,17), and all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel,
including all his great men and his close acquaintances, and his priests (10:11).
Jehus final stop was at the temple of Baal where, upon gathering all the Baal-worshipping
leaders of Israel into the temple, he locked them up and had them massacred (10:18-27).
After Jehu had carried out his orders to obliterate all males from the house of Ahab, the Lord
said to him, Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight, and have done to
the house of Ahab all that was in My heart, your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the
fourth generation (10:30). Jehu had taken the most thorough means of suppressing the
idolatry in Israel, and thus was granted protection on his throne, along with his sons after him
unto the fourth generation. The following chapters of 2 Kings indicate that the Lord
was true to His word (as always; cf. Titus 1:2). Although the reigns of Jehus sons were
described as kings who did evil in the sight of Yahweh, the Lord allowed them to reign
to the fourth generation in order to fulfill His promise to Jehu.
Several years after the above events took place, the prophet Hosea expressed words that many
skeptics have claimed are in opposition to what is stated in 2 Kings 9-10. When Gomer, Hosea
s wife, bore a son, Hosea declared that the Lord said, Call his name Jezreel, for in a
little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, and bring an end to the
kingdom of the house of Israel (1:4). Those trying to discredit the Bibles integrity
argue that Hosea put himself into obvious disagreement with the inspired writer of 2
Kings, who thought that Jehu had done all that was in Gods heart. Skeptics claim
that the author of 2 Kings heaped praise on Jehu for the Jezreel massacre, but Hosea contradicted
him when he said that Lord would avenge the blood of Jezreel and end the reign of the house of
Jehu in Israel.
What can be said about this obvious disagreement? Are these two passages
harmonious, or is this a legitimate contradiction that should cause all Bible believers to reject
the book that has been tried and tested for hundreds of years?
First, we cannot be 100% certain that Hosea 1:4 is referring to the events in 2 Kings 9-10.
Although nearly all skeptics and Bible commentators link the two passages together, it must be
understood that just because 2 Kings 9-10 is the only place in the Old Testament that describes
suitable events located at Jezreel, it does not mean that Hosea must have been referring to those
events. The honest student of Gods Word has to admit that Hosea may have been referring to
Jehus sons who reigned after him. Perhaps his sons performed serious atrocities in Jezreel
that are not recorded in 2 Kings. One cannot be certain that Hosea was indeed referring to the
events recorded in 2 Kings 10. Having made such a disclaimer, it is my position that these two
passages should be linked, and thus the alleged contradiction raised by skeptics deserves
an adequate explanation: How could God tell Jehu to destroy the house of Ahab, and then later
condemn him (his house) through the words of Hosea for having done so?
The answer really is quite simple. As Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe observed: God
praised Jehu for obeying Him in destroying the house of Ahab, but condemned Jehu for his sinful
motive in shedding their blood (1992, p. 194). Skeptics are fond of citing 2 Kings 10:30 to
support their position, but they often conveniently overlook verses 29 and 31, which state:
Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that
is, form the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan.... Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of
the Lord God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who
had made Israel sin. Jehu obeyed Gods command to strike down the house of
Ahab and utterly exterminate his descendents (2 Kings 9:7-8; 10:30), but he did not obey God
in all that he did. The passage in 2 Kings 10:29-31 indicates that even though Jehu had done what
God commanded, he did so out of a carnal zeal that was tainted with protective
self-interest (Archer, 1982, p. 208). It seems obvious that since Jehu followed in the
footsteps of Israels first wicked king by worshipping false gods and not walking according
to Gods law, he did not destroy Ahabs descendents out of any devotion to the Lord.
Furthermore, in commentating on Jehus actions, biblical scholar Gleason Archer noted:
The important principle set forth in Hosea 1:4 was that when blood is shed, even in
the service of God and in obedience to His command, blood-guiltiness attaches to Gods agent
himself if his motive was tainted with carnal self-interest rather than by a sincere concern for
the purity of the faith and the preservation of Gods truth (such as, for example, animated
Elijah when he had the 450 prophets of Baal put to death after the contest with them on Mount
Carmel) [p. 209].
Considering Jehus actions by examining the motives behind those actions solves the
alleged contradiction. Jehus failure to obey Gods commands and depart from the sins of
Jeroboam reveals that he would have equally disobeyed the other commands as well, had it been
contrary to his own desires. The story of Jehus conquest teaches a great lesson, which
Albert Barnes acknowledged in his commentary on Hosea: [I]f we do what is the will of God
for any end of our own, for anything except God, we do, in fact, our own will, not
Gods. Indeed, just as the apostle Paul taught in his discourse on love
motives matter (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)!
Archer, Gleason L. (1982), An Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI:
Barnes, Albert (1997), Barnes Notes (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Geisler, Norman L. and Thomas A. Howe (1992), When Critics Ask: A Comprehensive Handbook on
Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books).
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