Our reading today begins with Jehu finishing the job he started in the last chapter. And Jehu attacks the task head-on. The letter he sends to the guardians of the sons (and likely grandsons, too) of Ahab is a challenge. He is daring them to come fight for the throne of Ahab (vv. 2-3). He is testing to see whose side they are on. But since Jehu had already eliminated Jehoram and Ahaziah, they were afraid of him and they pledge their loyalty to him (vv. 4-5), which they prove by killing all of Ahab’s sons (v. 7). Jehu then promises to finish the job and fulfill the word of the Lord (vv. 10-11, 17). To do so, he also kills the relatives of Ahaziah, who was of Ahab’s house (v.14).
The “son of Rechab” that Jehu meets (v. 15) is part of an ascetic group that lived in relative isolation (see Jeremiah 35). The zeal Jehu has for the Lord will lead him to wipe out the prophets of Baal. To do so, Jehu tricks them into coming together to sacrifice to Baal (vv. 18-19). He invites all the Baal worshipers in Israel (v. 21). And he has them all killed (vv. 24-27). However, Jehu still did not worship YHWH according to His commandments (v. 29, 31). Yet God offers Him a reward for obedience (v. 30). And we see that YHWH continues to shrink the land of Israel (v. 32). He is taking back the land He gave them. God gives over all of the lands east of the Jordan (v. 33). And Jehu dies, yielding the throne to his son Jehoahaz (v. 35).
Chapter 11 begins by telling us that Athaliah (the “queen mother” from 10:13) seeks Judah’s power for herself after the death of Ahaziah (11:1). She reigns (v. 3) not knowing that her grandson Joash has been hidden (v. 2). After six years, Jehoiada the priest seeks to put the Davidic dynasty back on the throne (vv. 4-11). Note that the “Carites” (v. 4) are the “Cherethites”, who served as David’s and Solomon’s personal mercenary guard (see 2 Sam 8:18, 15:18, 20:7, 1 Kings 1:38). Jehoiada is trying to return Judah to what it was under David. After protecting Joash sufficiently, Jehoiada crowns him as king of Judah (v. 12), and has Athaliah executed (v. 16). In verse 17, the Davidic Covenant is reestablished with the people of Judah. Note that they are “the Lord’s people.” And like in the Northern Kingdom, Baal worship is ended in Judah (v. 18).
Verse 21 (12:1 in the Hebrew text, for obvious reasons) begins the reign of Joash (Jehoash is an alternate spelling). We see that Jehoiada the priest advised Joash throughout his reign, leading him to do “what was right in the eyes of the Lord all his days” (v. 2). Jehoiada tried to make Joash like David. However, the people were still permitted by the king to worship God in the high places (v. 3). The king did not just have a responsibility to be personally obedient, he was supposed to lead God’s people into obedience.
Joash’s campaign to raise money for the fixing of the Temple (v. 5) reveals that the Temple of Solomon had fallen into disrepair. We see in verse 7 that this is due as much to neglect and apathy on the part of the priesthood as the people. In verse 13, we see that the building itself was the focus, and that there were not enough funds to remake all the furnishings. What riches the king did have were used to pay off Hazael to buy peace for Judah (v. 18). Joash was no David. We see that every “son” of David thus far is not the “greater” Son that God promised. We see in verse 20 that Joash is murdered. We will see the rest of his story when we get to 2 Chronicles 24.