The Cycle of Sin Continues

30 When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it. And she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out of the window. 31 And as Jehu entered the gate, she said, “Is it peace, you Zimri, murderer of your master?” 32 And he lifted up his face to the window and said, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked out at him. 33 He said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down. And some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, and they trampled on her. 34 Then he went in and ate and drank. And he said, “See now to this cursed woman and bury her, for she is a king’s daughter.” 35 But when they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. 36 When they came back and told him, he said, “This is the word of the Lord, which he spoke by his servant Elijah the Tishbite: ‘In the territory of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel, 37 and the corpse of Jezebel shall be as dung on the face of the field in the territory of Jezreel, so that no one can say, This is Jezebel.’” 2 Kings 9:30-37 ESV

Having killed King Jehoram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah, Jehu returned to the summer palace in Jezreel, because there still remained one last piece of unfinished business. Ahaziah’s mother, Jezebel, was still alive and well, and Jehu knew that as long as she remained so, she would continue to have a devastating influence over the kingdom of Israel. She had proven herself to be resilient and stubbornly opposed to any attempt to restore the worship of Yahweh in Israel. Not only was she committed to her false gods, but she willing to do anything to maintain her vise-like grip on the kingdom over which her husband once ruled.

By the time Jehu showed up, Jezebel had been informed of her son’s death. And in an obvious effort to disguise any sign of sorrow that might be mistaken for weakness, Jezebel “painted her eyes and adorned her head” (2 Kings 9:30 ESV). She got dressed in her royal robes and presented herself at the window of the palace. It seems likely that she believed herself to be the rightful heir to her son’s throne and hoped to convince the crowds gathered outside her window that she was still in charge. She called out to Jehu, “Is it peace, you Zimri, murderer of your master?” (2 Kings 9:31 ESV). This statement was meant to put Jehu in his place, comparing him to another former traitor, who 44 years earlier had assassinated King Elah of Israel. Whether she realized it or not, this was an apt comparison, because Zimri had been used by God to fulfill His judgment upon the house of another wayward and wicked king.

There has been a recurring cycle of sin and judgment taking place throughout the books of 1st and 2nd Kings. It had all begun with Jeroboam, whom God had placed over the northern kingdom of Israel after He divided Solomon’s kingdom in half. But Jeroboam proved to be a wicked king who led the ten northern tribes into idolatry. As a result, God swore that He would punish Jeroboam and his descendants for their unfaithfulness.

“I will bring harm upon the house of Jeroboam and will cut off from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will burn up the house of Jeroboam, as a man burns up dung until it is all gone. Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat, for the Lord has spoken it.” – 1 Kings 14:10-11 ESV

Eventually, Jeroboam died and his son, Nadab, ascended to the throne of Israel. But he proved to be just as wicked as his father, continuing to encourage the Israelites to worship false gods. So, God raised up Baasha, who killed Nadab and crowned himself the king of Israel.

“as soon as he was king, he killed all the house of Jeroboam. He left to the house of Jeroboam not one that breathed, until he had destroyed it, according to the word of the Lord… – 1 Kings 15:29 ESV

But nothing changed. Baasha kept the legacy of Jeroboam alive and well, promoting idolatry and apostasy among the ten northern tribes of Israel. So, God was forced to deliver another message of judgment against the reigning king of Israel. This time, it had to do with Baasha.

“Since I exalted you out of the dust and made you leader over my people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam and have made my people Israel to sin, provoking me to anger with their sins, behold, I will utterly sweep away Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Anyone belonging to Baasha who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the field the birds of the heavens shall eat.” – 1 Kings 16:2-4 ESV

The pattern continues. God removes one king for his rebellion and replaces him with another who demonstrates the same stubborn penchant for doing things his own way. Baasha had been given an opportunity to lead the people back to God, but had failed to do so. Eventually, he died and his son, Elah became the king of Israel. This is where Zimri comes into the story.

Zimri came in and struck him down and killed him, in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place. When he began to reign, as soon as he had seated himself on his throne, he struck down all the house of Baasha. He did not leave him a single male of his relatives or his friends. Thus Zimri destroyed all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the Lord… – 1 Kings 16:10-12 ESV

And now, years later, here was Jezebel making an unfavorable comparison between Jehu and this former traitor and usurper to the throne. But little did she realize that Jehu, like Zimri, was acting on behalf of God Almighty. He had been anointed by the prophet of God and given divine instructions to bring judgment against the house of Ahab.

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, I anoint you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel. And you shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah. And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and none shall bury her.” – 2 Kings 9:6-10 ESV

The next rotation in the cycle of sin and judgment was about to come full circle. Jezebel stood in the window of her palace, her makeup freshly applied and her royal gown glistening in the sunlight. But she could not disguise the darkness that lurked within. She may have looked like a queen and she probably believed in her heart that she deserved to be queen. But God had other plans for Jezebel.

Down in the courtyard, still seated in his chariot, Jehu cried out, “Who is on my side? Who?” (2 Kings 9:32 ESV). At the sound of his voice, several servants peered out the window to see who it was who was speaking. Then they heard him shout, “Throw her down” (2 Kings 9:33 ESV). And without a moment’s hesitation, they grabbed the well-adorned queen and threw her from the upper-story window of the palace. These lowly servants could see that the tide had turned and their queen had lost her power. So, when commanded to choose sides, they had not trouble making their decision. They cast their votes by casting Jezebel to the courtyard below. And the author provides a graphic description of her ignominious end:

…some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, and they trampled on her.” – 2 Kings 9:33 ESV

His gruesome assignment completed, Jehu calmly entered the palace and sat down to a meal. When he finally gave the order for Jezebel’s body to be given a decent burial, all they found was her skull, feet, and the palms of her hand. In keeping with God’s prophecy, wild scavenging dogs had picked her corpse apart, leaving little left to be buried. For more than 30 years this woman had used her power and influence to shape the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel. Jezebel had fiercely promoted and defended her false gods, choosing to do everything in her power to eliminate the worship of Yahweh from Israel. But just as her 450 prophets had failed to defeat Elijah, the prophet of God, Jezebel had failed in her quest to dethrone Yahweh as the God of Israel.

She was dead, but Yahweh was alive and well. Even a seemingly ceaseless cycle of apostate kings could not thwart the will of God. They could abandon Him, but He was not going away. He remained committed to the covenant He had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And even if His chosen people refused to fulfill their end of the covenant agreement, He would do what He had promised to do.

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

 

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