Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote and sent letters to Samaria, to the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to those who reared Ahab’s sons, saying: Now as soon as this letter comes to you, since your master’s sons are with you, and you have chariots and horses, a fortified city also, and weapons, choose the best qualified of your master’s sons, set him on his father’s throne, and fight for your master’s house. But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, “Look, two kings could not stand up to him; how then can we stand?” And he who was in charge of the house, and he who was in charge of the city, the elders also, and those who reared the sons, sent to Jehu, saying, “We are your servants, we will do all you tell us; but we will not make anyone king. Do what is good in your sight.” Then he wrote a second letter to them, saying: If you are for me and will obey my voice, take the heads of the men, your master’s sons, and come to me at Jezreel by this time tomorrow. Now the king’s sons, seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, who were rearing them. So it was, when the letter came to them, that they took the king’s sons and slaughtered seventy persons, put their heads in baskets and sent them to him at Jezreel. Then a messenger came and told him, saying, “They have brought the heads of the king’s sons.” And he said, “Lay them in two heaps at the entrance of the gate until morning.” So it was, in the morning, that he went out and stood, and said to all the people, “You are righteous. Indeed I conspired against my master and killed him; but who killed all these? Know now that nothing shall fall to the earth of the word of the Lord which the Lord spoke concerning the house of Ahab; for the Lord has done what He spoke by His servant Elijah.” So Jehu killed all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men and his close acquaintances and his priests, until he left him none remaining. (2 Kings 10:1-11)
Two Heaps Of Heads
It would seem incredulous to approach a city and see two piles of heads near the gates. Seventy heads piled up as a testimony for all to see. Dead eyes staring into nothing. Blood covering everything. Mouths gapped open in stone silence. Jehu made certain that all would see the lineage of Ahab the king as destroyed. His ploy had worked almost too well for the city of Samaria. Ahab had died much earlier by the hand of a lone archer whose arrow mortally wounded the king. Both kings of Israel and Judah were dead (Joram and Ahaziah). Jezebel, wife of Ahab, had met her horrible death. Jehu begins the annihilation of the house of Ahab by writing letters to the elders of Samaria and Jezreel. His first letter taunted them to put someone on the throne so he could come and kill them. Having the intended impact with the elders expression of cowardice Jehu writes a second letter telling the leaders to deliver the heads of Herod’s sons to him by the next day – and they were to deliver the heads themselves. Knowing they had no choice, the leaders gathered the seventy sons of Ahab, killed them and delivered their heads in baskets to Jehu. They chose not to go themselves.
Jehu gathered the severed heads and placed them in two heaps by the city gates. In the morning, the king came out and asked who could have done such a thing. He was only playing the role of a despot who had other plans for the house of Ahab. One thing Jehu did get right was the fulfillment of the word of God concerning all the evil that came from the house of Ahab. There was not a king (or queen) that caused more evil to fall upon the land than Ahab and Jezebel. Through the prophet Elijah the Lord had told the people that judgment was coming to the family of Ahab. Seventy heads piled in two groups before the gate of the city was vivid proof the word of the Lord was true. Jehu would later kill the forty-two brothers of king Ahaziah and then kill all who remained to Ahab in Samaria until he had destroyed them all. This was again according to the word of the Lord which He had spoken through Elijah.
This is a terrible story to read. The reason the story is important is how God reveals His own character. Taking seventy men and cutting their heads off is as repugnant to our senses as can be imagined. Slaughtering forty-two brothers and then wiping out a whole household of people staggers the imagination. There is no telling the savagery of the bloodletting those few days. One could only imagine the headlines in the modern liberal media and outcry of the world. Why the story? What purpose would the Holy Spirit have in preserving the story of seventy heads piled before the city gates? It all comes down to truth. Jehu is not the main character in the story but Jehovah God. There is a seed of truth that has always been a challenge for man since the beginning of time. God’s word is absolute and His character is absolute righteousness.
This is not about the death of hundreds of people in some random act of violence. The judgment of the Lord is sure, complete and just in every way. Ahab’s house was a lineage of immense evil and the Lord God will not endure the forces of Satan to endure. In one way or another judgment will come. What happened to the house of Ahab was a fulfillment of the words of Elijah because he foretold the word of God would be accomplished. That principle has not changed. There is a lot of immorality in the world and evil men have risen up seeking to destroy righteousness. Darkness can never overtake light. Satan has already been judged and his wickedness has been defeated. God will punish those who rebel against Him because everyone who rejects the Lord God is rebelling against His will. Judgment will come. Those seventy heads of Ahab’s sons are a testimony not to Jehu but to the sovereign word of the Lord. A great day is coming. Are you ready? Now that is a great story.