Monday, May 5, 2014

Second Kings: Anniversary! And Murder Most Foul!

Well, this is a rather special episode. Not particularly for content, but because this blog has achieved a milestone: one full year! Yes, May 5 is the anniversary of my very first post in this blog. And here we are, 80 posts later, and only a little over a third of the way through this tome. So thank you to everyone who’s been keeping up so far! And now, let’s jump back in.

We’re in the midst of Second Kings. The next story we’ll relate happens shortly after where we left off the last time. Jehoram, the king of Judah dies and leaves the throne to his son Ahaziah. Joram is still king of Israel, and Hazael the king of Syria is still running about attacking Israel. So Ahaziah and Joram team up to fight the Syrians, and Joram is wounded in the process. Joram goes to the city of Jezreel to recover, while his army remains in the field.

This is the scene as Elisha intervenes in politics once again. This time he sends one of his servants to find the commander of Joram’s army, a fellow named Jehu who is also the son of Jehosaphat (which makes him the uncle of Ahaziah, the king of Judah). Got that? This guy is the servant of one king, and the uncle to another, which is important because he’s about to do them like Uncle Scar on Elisha’s say-so.

Elisha’s servant, on Elisha’s orders, finds Jehu and takes him aside.

2 Kings 9:6 So he arose and went into the house. And the young man poured the oil on his head, saying to him, ‘Thus says Yahweh, the god of Israel, I anoint you king over the people of Yahweh, over Israel. 7 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 Yahweh. 8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel.’”

There’s a little more to the speech, but you get the gist from there. Some random kid shows up claiming to speak for God and tells Jehu that he’s king now and needs to kill his master the current king. And his whole family. Because of stuff Ahab did. And rather than saying “What are you, a lunatic?!” Jehu just says “Sure thing!” and immediately commences a murder spree.

He starts by gathering up his men and going to Jezreel where king Joram of Israel is recovering from his wounds and king Ahaziah of Judah is visiting. After telling his king that is mother Jezebel is a whore, Jehu shoots him down. Then, for good measure, Jehu has his men shoot down his own nephew Ahaziah.

Then, after murdering both kings, Jehu heads back to the palace where he orders the servants to toss Jezebel out a window, which they do. Then he has his horses trample her to death. Following this, he then sends orders to the people in Samaria who are fostering Ahab’s remaining sons, demanding that they prove they are with him by murdering the boys. Which they do. He also kills all of the remaining officers, allies, and priests who served the old king’s family. Oh, and forty-two member of his own family who he met on the road because they had been coming to visit Jezebel and her family.

So with the political purging done, it was time for the religious purges. Jehu sends out a proclamation to all the priests and followers of Baal that he’s going to make a huge sacrifice to their god. He gathers them all together in their temple under that pretense, then slaughters every last one of them and burns the temple to the ground.

Now, finally, God apparently has a personal word for Jehu rather than talking through people claiming to talk for him.

2 Kings 10:30 And Yahweh said to Jehu, ‘Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.’”

Yeah. Murder of an entire family line is what is in God’s heart. What a lovely being.

From here we get a few more generations of kings in both Israel and Judah, mostly “doing what is evil in the sight of God.” Some more political coups, and wars… pretty dull stuff, actually, at least in the way it’s all presented. Things turn briefly interesting, in an entirely inane sort of way, when we come to the death of Elisha.

At this time, Joash is king of Israel, and as usual, Israel is at war with Syria. He goes to visit and consult with Elisha, who is sick abed. Inevitably, stupidity ensues.

2 Kings 13:15 And Elisha said to him ‘Take a bow and arrows.’ So he took a bow and arrows. 16 Then he said to the king of Israel ‘Draw the bow,’ and he dre it. And Elisha laid his hands on the kings hands. 17 And he said ‘Open the window eastward,’ and he opened it. Then Elisha said ‘Shoot,’ and he shot. And he said ‘Yahweh’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria! For you shall fight the Syrians in Aphek until you have made an end of the them.’ 18 And he said ‘Take the arrows,’ and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel ‘Strike the ground with them.’ And he struck three times and stopped. 19 Then the man of God was angry with him and said ‘You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.’”

How dumb is that? Seriously? Another one of Elisha’s little arbitrary made-up-on-the-fly rituals? And he gets angry at Joash for not doing it right because he didn’t guess the arbitrary number rattling around in our prophet’s little head for how many times to strike the floor?

“Hey, do this stupid thing. No, you FOOL! You guessed wrong, and now you won’t get the result that you didn’t even know was the point of my stupid ritual!”

And then Elisha died. So after a few high notes in the middle of his career, he goes out on a wave of whimsical idiocy.

But anyway, as Elisha checks out, so shall we for the day. And here’s to another year of Biblical fun!

No comments:

Post a Comment