Jehu (king)

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Jehu throws himself before Shalmaneser III. low. Figure on the black obelisk

Jehu was king of Israel approx. 841– ​​approx. 814 BC. Chr.


The Hebrew personal name יֵהוּא jehû ' "Jehu" is an identifying nominal sentence name, consisting of subject and predicate. The subject (and at the same time theophoric element) is " YHWH ", the predicate is the personal pronounהוּא hû ' , German ' he ' . The name can therefore be translated as "YHWH is he". It can be understood as a kind of creed ("YHWH it is / YHWH is that"). The Septuagint gives the name as Ιου Iu , the Vulgate as Hieu . The Assyrian form of the name is Jaua .

The biblical Jehu

According to biblical tradition, Jehu served as a colonel in the army of the northern kingdom. He was anointed king by Elisha , a student of the prophet Elijah , during the reign of Joram , when he was involved in a dispute with Hazael of Aram (Damascus) . The takeover of power by Jehu succeeded through the support of the military and led to the overthrow of the Omrid dynasty .

Jehu is once called "son of Jehoshaphat and grandson of Nimschi" ( 2 Kings 9 : 2-14  EU ). In other notes he is only referred to as the "son of Nimschi" ( 1 Kings 19.16  EU ; 2 Chr 22.7  EU ).

Overthrow of the Omrid dynasty

According to the biblical narrative , Jehu first sent a message to the rulers and elders of the city of Jezreel , in which he said: "Whoever is the best of the sons of your Lord shall be put on the throne of his father and fight for the house." 2 Kings 10.2–3  EU ). The elders of Jezreel then proclaimed their loyalty to Jehu. According to the declaration of loyalty, Jehu demanded the murder of 70 members of the Omrid dynasty and the surrender of their heads in Jezreel ( 2 Kings 10 : 4–6  EU ). The requirement was met. Jehu now stepped before the people and announced that he “had not rebelled against the Lord, but that it was the will and the deed of the people” ( 2 Kings 10 :EU ). Therefore, Jehu also killed the rest of the relatives of the Ahab house in Jezreel ( 2 Kings 10.11  EU ). When he was on his way to Samaria afterwards , he met 42 brothers of Ahaziah and had them murdered as well ( 2 Kings 10 : 13-14  EU ). When they arrived in Samaria, the rest of the Ahab family was killed by Jehu ( 2 Kings 10.17  EU ).

Jehu kills the kings Joram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah

Joram and Ahaziah waged a war against Hazael of Damascus off Ramot-Gilead . The war was lost and Joram was brought to Jezreel injured ( 2 Chr 22.5–6  EU ). Ahaziah came to him to see the type of injury ( 2 Kings 8:29  EU ). Jehu also moved to Jezreel for both of them ( 2 Kings 9.16  EU ). Joram assessed the appointment of Jehu as the new king ( 2 Kings 9,6  EU ) as usurpation and betrayal. In the subsequent attempt to escape he was killed by Jehu ( 2 Kings 9 : 23–24  EU ). When Ahaziah saw this, he fled to Samaria, but was defeated by Jehu's troops. After the arrest, Ahaziah was brought to Jehu in Megiddo ( 2 Kings 9.27  EU / 2 Chr 22.8-9  EU ) and killed there by him. Jehu also had the mother of kings Ahaziah and Joram, Jezebel , killed by throwing her out of the window ( 2 Kings 9:33  EU ).

Killing the Baal priests

Jehu pretended to be a Baal follower and had a festival proclaimed in honor of this god. The Baal priests gathered in the temple of their god. Jehu supported the celebrations but made sure that only the Baal priests were in the temple. After all Baal priests were present, Jehu's troops killed all Baal followers in the temple during the celebrations ( 2 Kings 10.18–24  EU ).

Nevertheless, the Book of Kings reports that Jehu tolerated the worship of the golden calf in Dan and Bethel ( 2 Kings 10.31  EU ).

Other mentions

The Bible describes Jehu as a king loyal to YHWH. He was succeeded by his son Jehoahaz . Until 750 BC The descendants of Jehu ruled for four generations, as prophesied to him in 2 Kings 10:30  EU .

While Jehu's government is judged mostly positively in the King's Books , about 100 years after Jehu the prophet Hosea looks critically at the “blood guilt of Jezreel” ( Hos 1,4  EU ), which must be atoned for.

Extra-biblical mentions

Two extra-biblical mentions provide source material about Jehu's reign, a third source deals with events in which Jehu was involved according to the biblical description.

Tel Dan inscription

The Tel Dan inscription is a fragment of a stele from the 9th century BC. BC, which describes the victory of an Aramaic king over his enemies. Most likely this ruler is Hazael. In contrast to the biblical account, however, it is stated that Hazael himself killed King Joram from the house of Omri and King Ahaziah from the house of David along with 70 leaders. However, the names of the kings have only survived in fragments; Jehu himself is not mentioned. At most it can be assumed that he was mentioned in the following lines. The report on the killing of the 70 military leaders and the extermination of a royal dynasty appears in a different context in a royal report from Zakkur.

Annals of Shalmaneser III.

After his campaign report for his 18th year of reign, Shalmaneser III attacked . Hazael of Aram-Damascus 841 BC Chr., Caused him great damage, but could not defeat him. He then moved further south to Hauran , where he also wreaked havoc. Then he turned to the west and apparently crossed Israel to get to the mountains of Ba'lira'si (= Carmel), where he received "tribute from the Tyrians, the Sidonians and from Jehu, the son of Omri".

Black Obelisk Shalmaneser III.

The black obelisk of the Assyrian ruler Shalmaneser III. shows on one of its 20 reliefs the tribute payment of an Israelite king. According to the accompanying inscription, it is Jehu. However, he is described as a descendant of the Omrid dynasty ("Jehu, son of Omri"), which he destroyed according to the biblical report.

Historical reconstruction

Assyrian support in Jehu's takeover

Jehu took a heavy toll on the Assyrians as a result of coming to power . Astour and Ahlström have from the simultaneity of the campaign Shalmaneser III. concluded with the fall of the Omrids that the Jehu Revolution is to be viewed as a direct consequence of the Assyrian expansion. At that time it was not an attack from Aram Damascus, but the campaign of Shalmaneser III.

Later destruction by Aram Damascus

After 838 BC The Assyrian pressure on Syria-Palestine eased and Hazael of Aram-Damascus was able to take revenge for the breach of the alliance by attacking Israel, destroying a large part of the armed forces and occupying large parts of Transjordan.

See also


Individual evidence

  1. Hans Rechenmacher : Old Hebrew names, Münster 2012, p. 44.101.109.
  2. ^ Texts from the environment of the Old Testament , supplementary volume 1, Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh 2003, p. 133.
  3. Inscription in: TUAT Volume 1, p. 365f.
  4. Inscription in: TUAT Volume 1, p. 362f.
  5. Hos 10:14; Astour, "Assyrian invasion," 386-7; Ahlström, History , 593-6.