Ahab had seventy sons still living in Samaria. Jehu wrote letters addressed to the officers of Jezreel, the city elders, and those in charge of Ahab's sons, and posted them to Samaria.
The letters read:
Pick the best and most capable of your master's sons and put him on the throne. Prepare to fight for your master's position.
They were absolutely terrified at the letter. They said, "Two kings have already been wiped out by him; what hope do we have?"
So they sent the warden of the palace, the mayor of the city, the elders, and the guardians to Jehu with this message: "We are your servants. Whatever you say, we'll do. We're not making anyone king here. You're in charge - do what you think best."
Then Jehu wrote a second letter: If you are on my side and are willing to follow my orders, here's what you do: Decapitate the sons of your master and bring the heads to me by this time tomorrow in Jezreel.
When they got the letter, they took the king's sons and killed all seventy. Then they put the heads in baskets and sent them to Jehu in Jezreel.
A messenger reported to Jehu: "They've delivered the heads of the king's sons." He said, "Stack them in two piles at the city gate until morning."
In the morning Jehu came out, stood before the people, and addressed them formally: "Do you realize that this very day you are participants in God's righteous workings? True, I am the one who conspired against my master and assassinated him. But who, do you suppose, is responsible for this pile of skulls?
Know this for certain: Not a single syllable that God spoke in judgment on the family of Ahab is canceled; you're seeing it with your own eyes - God doing what, through Elijah, he said he'd do."
Then Jehu proceeded to kill everyone who had anything to do with Ahab's family in Jezreel - leaders, friends, priests. He wiped out the entire lot.
That done, he brushed himself off and set out for Samaria. Along the way, at Beth Eked (Binding House) of the Shepherds,
he met up with some relatives of Ahaziah king of Judah. Jehu said, "Who are you?" They said, "We're relatives of Ahaziah and we've come down to a reunion of the royal family."
"Grab them!" ordered Jehu. They were taken and then massacred at the well of Beth Eked. Forty-two of them - no survivors.
He went on from there and came upon Jehonadab the Recabite who was on his way to meet him. Greeting him, he said, "Are we together and of one mind in this?" Jehonadab said, "We are - count on me." "Then give me your hand," said Jehu. They shook hands on it and Jehonadab stepped up into the chariot with Jehu.
"Come along with me," said Jehu, "and witness my zeal for God." Together they proceeded in the chariot.
When they arrived in Samaria, Jehu massacred everyone left in Samaria who was in any way connected with Ahab - a mass execution, just as God had told Elijah.
Next, Jehu got all the people together and addressed them: Ahab served Baal small-time; Jehu will serve him big-time.
"Get all the prophets of Baal here - everyone who served him, all his priests. Get everyone here; don't leave anyone out. I have a great sacrifice to offer Baal. If you don't show up, you won't live to tell about it." (Jehu was lying, of course. He planned to destroy all the worshipers of Baal.)
Jehu ordered, "Make preparation for a holy convocation for Baal." They did and posted the date.
Jehu then summoned everyone in Israel. They came in droves - every worshiper of Baal in the country. Nobody stayed home. They came and packed the temple of Baal to capacity.
Jehu directed the keeper of the wardrobe, "Get robes for all the servants of Baal." He brought out their robes.
Jehu and Jehonadab the Recabite now entered the temple of Baal and said, "Double-check and make sure that there are no worshipers of God in here; only Baal-worshipers are allowed."
Then they launched the worship, making the sacrifices and burnt offerings. Meanwhile, Jehu had stationed eighty men outside with orders: "Don't let a single person escape; if you do, it's your life for his life."
When Jehu had finished with the sacrificial solemnities, he signaled to the officers and guards, "Enter and kill! No survivors!"
They hauled out the sacred phallic stone from the temple of Baal and pulverized it.
They smashed the Baal altars and tore down the Baal temple. It's been a public toilet ever since.
And that's the story of Jehu's wasting of Baal in Israel.
But for all that, Jehu didn't turn back from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, the sins that had dragged Israel into a life of sin - the golden calves in Bethel and Dan stayed.
God commended Jehu: "You did well to do what I saw was best. You did what I ordered against the family of Ahab. As reward, your sons will occupy the throne of Israel for four generations."
Even then, though, Jehu wasn't careful to walk in God's ways and honor the God of Israel from an undivided heart. He didn't turn back from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into a life of sin.
It was about this time that God began to shrink Israel. Hazael hacked away at the borders of Israel
from the Jordan to the east - all the territory of Gilead, Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh from Aroer near the Brook Arnon. In effect, all Gilead and Bashan.
The rest of the life and times of Jehu, his accomplishments and fame, are written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
Jehu died and was buried in the family plot in Samaria. His son Jehoahaz was the next king.
Jehu ruled Israel from Samaria for twenty-eight years.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)