Jehu's Reign

Having exterminated every member and friend of the house of Ahab, Jehu decided to rid the land of the priests of Baal. Proclaiming a solemn festival to be held in honor of Baal, Jehu ordered all the prophets and priests of the idol to appear at the celebration. When they had all gathered, the false prophets and priests were suddenly attacked by eighty warriors and slain to the last man. Then all the idols and temples of Baal were destroyed and razed to the ground. Thus every trace of Jezebel's influence was wiped out, and Jehu's reign was now securely established. Yet, this did not mean that Jehu was a faithful servant of the one and only G‑d. He, too, was influenced by political reasons to maintain the worship of the calves in Bethel and Dan, and thus Jehu followed in the footsteps of Jeroboam.

Through this inconsistency Jehu lost many of his friends, among others the prophet Jonah who had once anointed him. The prophet foretold to Jehu that in recognition of his good deeds in behalf of G‑d's words he and three of his progeny would rule over Israel; but that they would eventually share the fate of the house of Jeroboam and Ahab. Even his own reign would never be a happy and enjoyable one. Indeed Jehu was never able to rest, but had to fight continually against various attacks, especially from the Syrian King Hazael. The latter had invaded the territories of Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh on the eastern side of the Jordan, and Jehu was unable to recover these important territories. Jehu died after a reign of twenty-eight years and was succeeded by his son Jehoahaz.

Jehoahaz

This weak and evil son of Jehu did everything that was bad in the eyes of G‑d and committed all the sins of which Jeroboam had been guilty. For these transgressions G‑d punished him and the people of Israel by delivering them still more into the hands of the powerful King of Syria. During this unfortunate reign, Hazael's oppression and cruel rule over Israel reached its height. He maltreated the people and harassed them with perpetual attacks. In despair Jehoahaz turned to G‑d and prayed for His help against the oppressors. G‑d accepted his prayer and sent a helper to His people in distress, in the person of the king's own son Joash, who delivered them out of the hands of Hazael.

Jehoahaz reigned for seventeen years and after his death he was succeeded by his son Joash.

Joash

Joash's personality was much stronger than his father's. Although he, too, was guilty of maintaining the worship of the calves, he was a faithful friend of the prophet Elisha.

Elisha's Death

For over sixty-five years Elisha stood at the head of the prophets of his time, among whom was the prophet Jonah. Elisha saw many kings reign and fall in Judah and Israel. Fearlessly, like his master the prophet Elijah, he fulfilled his divine mission until his last day came.

As he was lying ill, King Joash of Israel came to his bedside and wept. "My father, my father, the chariot and horsemen of Israel!" the king cried.

Elisha's last prophecy was an encouraging one. He told the king that he would defeat Syria three times, and that the people of Israel would then see better and happier days.

Elisha's predictions were soon realized. Joash defeated the Syrians in three successive battles and recovered the eastern provinces which his father had lost.

The friendship and alliance which had been maintained with the southern kingdom of Judah since the days of Omri, were broken during this reign. When Joash made war upon Amaziah, King of Judah, he was successful again. At Beth-Shemesh he completely defeated Amaziah's army and took the king prisoner. He then marched unopposed on Jerusalem, broke down its walls, and plundered the Temple of all its treasures. Laden with spoils, Joash returned to Samaria, where he later released the King of Judah and other hostages.

Joash's reign was only one year shorter than that of his father. After his death he was succeeded by his son, Jeroboam II.