1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Jehu
JEHU, son of Jehoshaphat and grandson of Nimshi, in the Bible, a general of Ahab and Jehoram, and, later, king of Israel. Ahaziah son of Jehoram of Judah and Jehoram brother of Ahaziah of Israel had taken joint action against the Aramaeans of Damascus who were attacking Ramoth-Gilead under Hazael. Jehoram had returned wounded to his palace at Jezreel, whither Ahaziah had come down to visit him. Jehu, meanwhile, remained at the seat of war, and the prophet Elisha sent a messenger to anoint him king. The general at once acknowledged the call, “drove furiously” to Jezreel, and, having slain both kings, proceeded to exterminate the whole of the royal family (2 Kings ix., x.). A similar fate befell the royal princes of Judah (see Athaliah), and thus, for a time at least, the new king must have had complete control over the two kingdoms (cf. 2 Chron. xxii. 9). Israelite historians viewed these events as a great religious revolution inspired by Elijah and initiated by Elisha, as the overthrow of the worship of Baal, and as a retribution for the cruel murder of Naboth the Jezreelite (see Jezebel). A vivid description is given of the destruction of the prophets of Baal at the temple in Samaria (2 Kings x. 27; contrast iii. 2). While Jehu was supported by the Rechabites in his reforming zeal, a similar revolt against Baalism in Judah is ascribed to the priest Jehoiada (see Joash). In the tragedies of the period it seems clear that Elisha’s interest in both Jehu and the Syrian Hazael (2 Kings viii. 7 sqq.) had some political significance, and in opposition to the “Deuteronomic” the commendation in 2 Kings x. 28 sqq., Hosea’s denunciation (i. 4) indicates the judgment which was passed upon Jehu’s bloodshed in other circles.
In the course of an expedition against Hazael in 842 Shalmaneser II. of Assyria received tribute of silver and gold from Ya-u-a son of Omri, Tyre and Sidon; another attack followed in 839. For some years after this Assyria was unable to interfere, and war broke out between Damascus and Israel. The Israelite story, which may perhaps be supplemented from Judaean sources (see Joash), records a great loss of territory on the east of the Jordan (2 Kings x. 32 seq.). Under Jehu’s successor Jehoahaz there was continual war with Hazael and his son Benhadad, but relief was obtained by his grandson Joash, and the land recovered complete independence under Jeroboam.
Jehu is also the name of a prophet of the time of Baasha and Jehoshaphat (1 Kings xvi.; 2 Chron. xix., xx.). (S. A. C.)
- I.e. either descendant of, or from the same district as, Omri (see Hogg, Ency. Bib. col. 2291). The Assyrian king’s sculpture, depicting the embassy and its gifts, is the so-called “black obelisk” now in the British Museum (Nimroud Central Gallery, No. 98; Guide to Bab. and Ass. Antiq., 1900, p. 24 seq., pl. ii.).