Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Yehu's Necessary Violence

Having eliminated Kings Achazyah of Yehuda (Judea) and Yehoram (Jehoram) of Israel, Yehu (Jehu) orders the decapitation of all of Yehoram’s descendants and piled their heads up in front of the city gates in Melachim B (Kings II) 10:8.  The gruesome scene, as well as the violence that follows in wiping out the heirs of Achazyah and the priests of the Ba’al idol, are a stinging indictment of the people.  It does not seem that the ordinary citizens of Israel and Yehuda were chafing under the rule of their kings or coerced into worshipping the Ba’al.  The fact that there was even a need for such displays of violence shows that the carrot (Eliyahu’s earlier demonstration on Mount Carmel that there is only one God) was not sufficient.  There had to be a stick, a credible fear of danger for those who worshipped the Ba’al, to turn people back to proper observance.

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