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King of Israel
The tribute of "Jehu son of Omri" as depicted on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III
Reign c. 841–814 BC
Coronation Ramoth-Gilead, Israel
Predecessor Jehoram of Israel
Successor Jehoahaz of Israel
Father Jehoshaphat
Died c. 815 BC
Burial Samaria, Kingdom of Israel
Religion Judaism

Jehu (; Hebrew: יֵהוּא, Modern Yehu Tiberian Yēhû, meaning "Jehovah is He"; Latin: Hieu) was the tenth king of Israel since Jeroboam I, noted for exterminating the house of Ahab at the instruction of Yahweh.[1] He was the son of Jehoshaphat,[2] and grandson of Nimshi.

William F. Albright has dated his reign to 842–815 BC, while E. R. Thiele offers the dates 841–814 BC.[3] The principal source for the events of his reign comes from 2 Kings 9-10.


  • Proclamation as king 1
  • Jezreel and the deaths of Jehoram and Jezebel 2
  • Black Obelisk 3
  • Tel Dan Stele 4
  • Sources and Notes 5

Proclamation as king

The reign of Jehu's predecessor, Jehoram, was marked by the Battle of Ramoth-Gilead against the army of the Arameans. Jehoram was wounded and returned to Jezreel to recover. He was attended by Ahaziah, king of Judah, who was also his nephew. The writer of the Book of Kings tells that when the captains of the Israelite army were assembled away from the king's eyes, the prophet Elisha sent one of his students to the gathering. Elisha's student led Jehu away from the others, anointed him king in an inner chamber, and then departed (2 Kings 9:5-6). Jehu's companions asked where he had been. When told, they enthusiastically blew their trumpets and proclaimed him their king.[4]

Jezreel and the deaths of Jehoram and Jezebel

With a chosen band, Jehu proceeded to Jezreel. King Jehoram tried to flee, but Jehu fired an arrow which struck him in the heart. King Ahaziah managed to escape, but was mortally wounded, and died shortly after in Megiddo.[4]

The author of Kings tells that Jehu entered the city without resistance. He saw Jehoram's mother, Jezebel, watching him with contempt from a palace window. Jehu commanded the palace eunuchs to throw her from the window. Jezebel was killed, and Jehu drove his chariot over her body. Her servants later came to bury her, only to find that dogs had eaten all but her hands, feet, and skull.[5]

Jehu, depicted in Guillaume Rouillé's Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum

Now master of Jezreel, Jehu wrote to command the chief men in Samaria to hunt down and kill all of the royal princes. They did as ordered, and the next day he found seventy heads piled in two heaps outside the city gate. Ahab's entire family was slain.[5] Shortly afterwards, Jehu encountered the "brothers of Ahaziah" at "the shearing-house". He slaughtered another forty-two people related to the Omrides.[4]

Jehu's genocidal act was allegedly to honour the God of Israel since Jehoram's mother, Jezebel, had allowed pagan temples to exist in the kingdom. The biblical account frequently invokes the "avenging the blood of Naboth" (9:21,25,26), whose vineyard Ahab, Jehoram's father, had taken by force (1 Kings 21:4). Jehoram's defeat at Ramoth-Gilead gave them an opportunity to throw off his burdensome rule.

Following Jehu's slaughter of the Omrides, he met Jehonadab the Rechabite, who joined him in his chariot. They entered the capital together. This indicates that at least at the beginning of his reign, Jehu was supported by the pro-Jehovah faction. Once in control of Samaria, he summoned the worshippers of Baal and killed them (2 Kings 10:19-25). He then destroyed their temple and banned the practice of foreign religions. (10:27).

Other than Jehu's bloody seizure of power and his tolerance for the golden calves at Dan and Bethel, little else is known of his reign. He was hard pressed by Hazael, king of the Arameans, who defeated his armies "throughout all of the territories of Israel" beyond the Jordan river, in the lands of Gilead, Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh (10:32f).

This suggests that Jehu offered tribute to Shalmaneser III, as depicted on his Black Obelisk, in order to gain a powerful ally against the Arameans. Foreign alliances would also help validate his rebellion against King Jehoram. Bit-Khumri was used by Tiglath-pileser III for the non-Omride kings Pekah (733) & Hoshea (732),[6] hence House/Land/Kingdom of Omri could apply to later Israelite kings not necessarily descended from Omri.

The prophet Hosea wrote in Hosea 1:4-5 that Israel was conquered by Assyria as a punishment allowed by God for the massacre of the Israelite dynasty of King Ahab carried out by Jehu at Jezreel.

Black Obelisk

Aside from the Hebrew Scriptures, Jehu appears in Assyrian documents, notably in the Black Obelisk where he is depicted as kissing the ground in front of Shalmaneser III. In the Assyrian documents he is simply referred to as "son of Omri" (The House of Omri being an Assyrian name for the Kingdom of Israel). This tribute is dated 841 BC.[7] It is the earliest preserved depiction of an Israelite.

According to the Obelisk, Jehu severed his alliances with Phoenicia and Judah, and became subject to Assyria.

Tel Dan Stele

The author of the Tel Dan Stele (found in 1993 and 1994) claimed to have slain both Ahaziah of Judah (who was visiting Jehoram) and Jehoram. The most likely author of this monument is Hazael of the Arameans.

Sources and Notes

  1. ^ Meaning of Jehu - History and Origin - Meaning of "Jehu" - Hebrew name -
  2. ^ Jehu’s father was not the roughly contemporaneous King Jehoshaphat of Judah, whose own father was King Asa of Judah. “Generally Jehu is described as the son only of Nimshi, possibly because Nimshi was more prominent or to avoid confusing him with the King of Judah (R’Wolf)”. Scherman, Nosson, ed., “I-II Kings”, The Prophets, 297, 2006. See (2 Kings 9:2)
  3. ^ Edwin Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, (1st ed.; New York: Macmillan, 1951; 2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965; 3rd ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan/Kregel, 1983). ISBN 0-8254-3825-X, 9780825438257
  4. ^ a b c Driscoll, James F. "Jehu." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 7 Jan. 2014
  5. ^ a b "The Dynasty & Judgment on Ahab's House" - Historical Discovery - Old Testamemt.
  6. ^ Kitchen, K A (2003) The Reliability of the Old Testament, Cambridge, Eerdmans, p24
  7. ^ Millard, Alan (1997) Discoveries from Bible Times, Oxford, Lion, p121
House of Jehoshaphat
Contemporary King of Judah: Ahaziah, Athaliah, Jehoash/Joash
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Israel
841 BC – 814 BC
Succeeded by
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