In Hosea 1:4, the house of Jehu is condemned for the "blood of Jezreel". This has caused quite a bit of confusion because it appears to be in direct contradiction with the Lord having commended Jehu for obediently killing all the descendants of the house of Ahab (2 Kings 10:30), a task which was carried out by Jehu in Jezreel.

I think that these two passages might be reconciled if we consider 2 Kings 10:12-14. These verses immediately follow the statement that "Jehu killed all who remained of the house of Ahab" (v11). So then Jehu leaves Jezreel and heads for Samaria but while he is on his way, he encounters Ahaziah's relatives at "Beth-eked of the shepherds" and he slaughters them there.

In the online searching that I did, it appears to me that Beth-eked is still a part of Jezreel. If this is the case, then I think that this passage could provide a reasonable explanation as to why Hosea condemned the house of Jehu. He exceeded the command to kill the house of Ahab by also killing the relatives of Ahaziah. However, the validity of this argument hinges on the geography of Beth-eked and whether it could be considered part of Jezreel.

Do you think this succeeds in reconciling the apparent contradiction?

3 Answers 3


The situation is a bit more complex that the OP portrays. It can best explained by what happened in two other similar cases:


Assyria was used to punish and ultimately destroy the northern kingdom of Israel

  • Isa 10:5, 6 - “Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath! I send him against a godless nation, I dispatch him against a people who anger me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets.

However, we also read this:

  • Isa 10:12 - So when the Lord has completed all His work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, He will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for the fruit of his arrogant heart and the proud look in his eyes.
  • Isa 30:31 - For Assyria will be shattered at the voice of the LORD; He will strike them with His scepter.

That is, the LORD used a proud and arrogant nation to punish and destroy northern Israel and then destroyed Assyria.


There was a similar situation with Babylon which God used to punish Judah for her sins:

  • Jer 36:31 - And I will punish him and his offspring and his servants for their iniquity. I will bring upon them and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem and upon the people of Judah all the disaster that I have pronounced against them, but they would not hear.’”
  • Zech 10:3 - “My anger is hot against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the LORD of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah, and will make them like his majestic steed in battle. (See also Zech 1:4.)
  • Eze 4:6 - And when you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah. Forty days I assign you, a day for each year.

Again, we also see God then dealing with the wicked nation that he allowed to punish Judah:

  • Jer 51:44 - I will punish Bel in Babylon and make him spew out what he has swallowed. The nations will no longer stream to him. And the wall of Babylon will fall.
  • Jer 25:12 - “But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the LORD, “and will make it desolate forever.
  • Jer 51:6 - “Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the LORD’s vengeance; he will repay her what she deserves.
  • Isa 47:6 - For I was angry with my chosen people and punished them by letting them fall into your hands. But you, Babylon, showed them no mercy. You oppressed even the elderly.


The same idea is true of Jehu who was asked to destroy the royal line of Ahab:

  • 2 Kings 9:6-10 - “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you king over the LORD’s people Israel. And you are to strike down the house of your master Ahab, so that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets and the blood of all the servants of the LORD shed by the hand of Jezebel. The whole house of Ahab will perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every male, both slave and free, in Israel. I will make the house of Ahab like the houses of Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah. And on the plot of ground at Jezreel the dogs will devour Jezebel, and there will be no one to bury her.’ ”

However, Jehu was rather over-enthusiastic and indiscriminate in his slaughtering. His dynasty lasted until the fourth generation and the last of his descendants was assassinated about 90 years later. This fulfilled the prophecy of Hosea 1.

  • A very interesting parallel to how God used wicked Assyria and Babylon as an instrument to carry out his judgement. Thanks for your contribution!
    – Seth
    Commented Feb 29 at 5:07

That Jehu's line lost its throne because of the massacre at Jezreel is quite clear in Hosea's prophecy:

Hosea 1

4 And the Lord said to him, “Name him Jezreel, for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”

This was Hosea's first prophecy. Not only would God take the kingdom from Jehu's descendants, but Jezreel itself is to be place of a decisive battle. How, then, are we too account for God's seeming approval of Jehu's treatment of the house of Ahab in 2 Kings 10:30:

Because you have done well what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in my heart, your sons to the fourth generation shall sit upon the throne of Israel.

The answer may lie in the difference between Elisha's intended instruction to Ahab and the instructions actually delivered to Jehu by Elisha's assistant. In 1 Kings 9 Elisha tells his assistant:

look for Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi. Enter and take him away from his companions and bring him into an inner chamber. 3 From the flask you have, pour oil on his head, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and flee without delay.”

Elisha's instructions echo those given by God to Samuel when he anointed David to be king during Saul's reign. The death of Saul and Jonathan would not be done by David, but by the Philistines. There may be a hint as to what God intended in Elijah's prophecy of 1 Kings 19:17 "Anyone who escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill." Although David was already anointed, Saul remained king until he was killed by the Philistines. Elisha's assistant, however, went well beyond merely anointing Jehu and declaring him king:

6 The prophet’s aide poured the oil on his head and said, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anoint you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel. 7 You shall destroy the house of Ahab your master; thus will I avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the other servants of the Lord shed by Jezebel. 8 The whole house of Ahab shall perish.

The question then becomes whether, based on Elisha's aide's exceeding the prophet's instructions, Jehu not only did "all that was in God's heart" toward Ahab's house, but went far beyond this by his actions in and around Jezreel. I think the answer to this question is yes. God certainly wanted Jehu to become king. But when Elisha's aide told him to carry out a mass slaughter as an act of vengeance, this went too far. As a result, Jehu killed all of sons and many grandsons of Ahab, and also murdered Ahab's wife, Jezebel. In the process, he also ordered the deaths of King Ahaziah of Judah (2 Kings 9:27) and his relatives (2 Kings 10:13). Yet Ezekiel 18:20 teaches: "Only the one who sins shall die. The son shall not be charged with the guilt of his father." Jehu had to pay the price for this violation of God's law several generations later, when his dynasty was destroyed.

Conclusion: Yes, the killing of Ahaziah and his people was one of the reasons Jehu was punished. But he also went farther than he should have in destroying Ahab's entire extended family, which was not what Elisha had instructed. Exactly how far God intended him to go in this is clouded by the fact that Elisha's aide conveyed a different message to Jehu than Elisha had instructed. It is possible that Jehu should have followed the example of the future King David when he was anointed by Samuel during the reign of Saul. God dealt with Saul in His own time, but Jehu took matters into his own hands and - unlike David - committed regicide. Although God approved of bringing an end to the rule of Ahab's house, Jehu's dynasty could not survive long on the foundation of regicide and mass murder.

Addendum: It should be noted that the killing of Ahaziah of Judah and his kinsmen had extremely negative implications for Judah as well as Israel: He was the son of Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, who had married the king of Judah (the names here get very confusing because both Israel and Judah had kings named Jehoram/Joram and Ahaziah during this period). After Jehu killed her her son, as well as her mother and several other relatives, 2 Kings 11 reports:

1 When Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, saw that her son was dead, she began to kill off the whole royal family... Athaliah ruled as queen over the land.

Her reign was marked by a revival of Ba'al worship and - six years later - a bloody coup against her orchestrated by the high priest of YHWH.

  • A very thorough and thoughtful answer, Dan. Thank you.
    – Seth
    Commented Feb 29 at 5:05

I am ping ponging off Dan Fefferman’s and Dottard’s beautiful answers, and in response to the OP’s question. It seems intriguingly possible that Jehu far exceeded God’s intended purpose. He is held responsible in that he should have known better, despite any addition Elisha’s servant may or may not have made.

There are similar Scriptural examples of God’s judgement on people and nations for ruthlessly going beyond His discipline, as Dottard noted in Is 47:6.

Additionally there is:

I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they went too far with the punishment. Zach 1:15 NIV


Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath! I send him against a godless nation, I dispatch him against a people who anger me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets. But this is not what he intends, this is not what he has in mind; his purpose is to destroy Is 10:5-7 NIV

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