Bible Readings for October 29th
In yesterday’s meditation, we began discussing the way the biblical authors use repetition to lace their narratives with rich, complex meaning. In 2 Kings 10, the biblical author uses yet more repetition to evaluate the reign of Jehu.
To begin, Jehu stages an event for all the worshipers, prophets, and priests of Baal that recalls the showdown of the gods on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18. There, Elijah had also summoned all the priests of Baal and Asherah into a single place and also, in the sight of Ahab, had slaughtered them all (1 Kgs. 18:40). Here in 2 Kings 10, Jehu not only destroys the whole household of Ahab, but he also destroys the remaining priesthood of Baal that Ahab had introduced into Israel (1 Kgs. 16:31), and Yahweh commends Jehu for this (2 Kgs. 10:30). As far as these comparisons go, we are meant to see Jehu as a figure who does right in the eyes of Yahweh by opposing the house of Ahab, just as Elijah had done.
But if we notice that this chapter features other repeated stories as well, we will see that Jehu is more than merely anti-Ahab—rather, he follows tragically in the footsteps of Gideon (the judge of Israel) and of Gideon’s son Abimelech. Gideon had done many good things for Yahweh, only to apostatize at the end of his life. Where Gideon had set up an ephod that all Israel worshiped (Judg. 8:27), Jehu here re-establishes the golden calf worship of Jeroboam (2 Kgs. 10:29). Then, where Gideon’s son Abimelech killed the seventy other sons of his father (Judg. 9:5), here Jehu kills the seventy sons of Ahab (2 Kgs. 10:7). Now, Jehu executes the seventy sons of Ahab because of the word of Yahweh—not because of treachery, as with Abimelech’s murders—but the overall repetition of patterns from the stories of Gideon and Abimelech helps us to underscore a pattern from their lives that Jehu follows: we have here a leader who does some good things but turns in the wrong direction toward the end of his life.
These comparisons do not contradict the straightforward meanings of the stories, but rather they enhance and enrich them. Together, these stories demonstrate that Israel simply cannot escape the patterns of their flawed leaders and rulers, no matter whether they are led by patriarchs, judges, or kings. The same glimmers of hope are snuffed out again and again by the same besetting sins.
Ultimately, these comparisons and analogies underscore Israel’s need for a better savior—one whose good accomplishments could escape the disqualifying sins that had ensnared Israel again and again. Jesus, then, is the fulfillment of Old Testament types and shadows. Where Israel failed, Jesus succeeded, and where Israel succeeded in limited ways and for limited times, Jesus accomplished something both better and everlasting.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.