By Jon Kauffman
The Old Testament is a history and record of God revealing himself to mankind. Sometimes one prophet will interpret an event to be a command from God and another will have a different take on the situation as shown with Elisha and Hosea.
In 2 Kings 9 Elisha through a young member of the prophetic guild commands Jehu to destroy the evil King Ahab’s son, King Joram, and to become the new king of Israel. (842 BC)
Then the prophet poured the olive oil on his head and said to him, “This is what the Lord God of Israel has said, ‘I have designated you as king over the Lord’s people Israel. 7 You will destroy the family of your master Ahab. I will get revenge against Jezebel for the shed blood of my servants the prophets and for the shed blood of all the Lord’s servants] 8 Ahab’s entire family will die. I will cut off every last male belonging to Ahab in Israel, including even the weak and incapacitated. 9 I will make Ahab’s dynasty like those of Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah. 10 Dogs will devour Jezebel on the plot of ground in Jezreel; she will not be buried.’” Then he opened the door and ran away. 2 Kings 9:7-10 NET
Jezebel with the help of King Ahab had stolen the vineyard of Naboth of Jezreel.
Jehu kills King Joram, kills Jezebel, and becomes Israel’s new King.
A short time later (755 BC?) the prophet Hosea predicts punishment to the dynasty of Jehu for his murders.
3 So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim. Then she conceived and gave birth to a son for him. 4 Then the Lord said to Hosea “Name him ‘Jezreel,’ because in a little while I will punish the dynasty of Jehu on account of the bloodshed in the valley of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. 5 At that time, I will destroy the military power of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.” Hosea 1:3-5 NET.
Changes in how circumstances are viewed as coming from God can be seen in the differences between how the 2 Samuel author and the 1 Chronicles author interpret the census of David.
In 2 Samuel 24 (written about 960 BC) the LORD incites David to take a census. In 1 Chronicles 21 (written about 450 BC), Satan incites David to take a census. Early authors of the Old Testament seem more likely to attribute events to God. Later authors begin to attribute evil events to Satan.
In earlier books of the New Testament violence is more acceptable than it is shown to be in later books of the Old Testament as God continues to reveal his true nature.
Moses was a man of God. Jesus changed the teaching of Moses.
Moses:23 But if there is serious injury, then you will give a life for a life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. Exodus 21: 23-25. NET
Jesus: 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Matthew 5:38,39 NIV
Did God really order Joshua to kill women and children? Or did the people attribute their war-making to God in a similar way as American Christians 1. often claim that God is on our side in war? If Joshua killed and wiped out everyone, why did these same people’s descendants show up later in the Old Testament?
At the time of Joshua, it was common for military rulers to claim to have wiped out every man, woman, and child of their enemy to show their greatness. Often, in fact, the battle could have been a narrow victory where many soldiers escaped and no noncombatant men, women, and children were killed, and yet the military leader claimed a great victory. This was especially prevalent among the Egyptian pharaohs.
According to the film “Patterns of Evidence, The Exodus,” in 1208 BC, the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah had a stele built to commorate his military victories. One of peoples Merneptah claims to have conquered is Israel. The Stele says “Israel is laid waste, His seed is no more.” Pharoah Merneptah claims to have totally destroyed Isreal, but obviously Israel is still very much alive today. 2.
Perhaps cultures changed greatly between the time of Moses and the time of Jesus and people were much more open to the nonviolent teaching of Jesus at the time Jesus lived as compared to the time of Moses.
God sent Jesus at exactly the right time when people could accept his teaching. Rome created an Empire with roads and shipping routes that gave Christianity a chance to spread quickly over the Middle East and Europe.
In conclusion, 2 Kings 9 does not justify violence on the part of Christians today.
Copyright © 2021 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.
1. The War Prayer by Mark Twain
2. Documentary Review: Patterns of Evidence, The Exodus
3. Merneptah Stele, Wikipedia
Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate
Jesus and the Roman Centurion, Matthew 8:5-13