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Monday, June 25 2012

The Valley Of Jezreel

"Jezreel" is the English rendering of the Hebrew word, pronounced yiz-reh-ale (very similar in pronunciation to "Israel" in Hebrew), which means God will sow. There are two towns named Jezreel recorded in the Scriptures. One was in the south, in the tribal territory of Judah (Joshua 15:1,56). The other, the subject of this study, was located in the north-central area of the land of Israel. Just as another town in that region, Megiddo, gave its name to a part of the great nearby plain ("the valley of Armageddon"), so too Jezreel gave its name to a section of the same valley - the valley of Jezreel (see the map below).

Jezreel is first mentioned in the time that the Israelites had entered the "promised land" and were designating tribal territories. The "children of Joseph" were having difficulty overcoming the Canaanites in the open valley, where their chariots could operate, whereas the wooded area of the town that overlooked the valley was militarily attainable because the chariots could not as easily be used there.

The Ruins of Jezreel

"17:14 And the children of Joseph [see Jacob's Blessing Of Ephraim And Manasseh] spake unto Joshua [see From Moses And Aaron To Joshua and Eleazar], saying, Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, forasmuch as the LORD hath blessed me hitherto?

17:15 And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.

17:16 And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites [see A Biography Of Abraham: From Ur To Canaan and A History Of Jerusalem: Jebus Of Canaan; also The Sin Of Canaan] that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel.

17:17 And Joshua spake unto the house of Joseph, even to Ephraim and to Manasseh, saying, Thou art a great people, and hast great power: thou shalt not have one lot only: 17:18 But the mountain shall be thine; for it is a wood, and thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine: for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong." (Joshua 17:14-18 KJV)

The LORD fought for the Israelites when they were obedient to Him, but whenever they because unfaithful, the LORD permitted the Canaanites and other non-Israelite people to become strong. Much of the book of Judges is about the "deliverers" that the LORD eventually empowered to lead the defence of Israel. Among the best-known of the "Judges" was Gideon who fought "the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east" in "the valley of Jezreel."

"6:33 Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel. 6:34 But the spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet [see Gideon's Trumpets]; and Abiezer was gathered after him. 6:35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered after him: and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.

6:36 And Gideon said unto God [see also Appearances Of The LORD God], If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, 6:37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. 6:38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.

6:39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. 6:40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground." (Judges 6:33-40 KJV)

David and Abigail

Although King David much more often lived and fought in the south, there were times, particularly during the civil war between David and Saul (see The Civil War Kings) that David resorted to the north, in the valley area between Carmel, on the Mediterranean seacoast, and inland Jezreel. It was during one of those times that David encountered Abigail of Carmel, who he married after she became a widow, and "Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of them his wives."

"25:36 And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken: wherefore she told him nothing, less or more, until the morning light. 25:37 But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. 25:38 And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died.

25:39 And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the LORD, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil: for the LORD hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head.

And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife. 25:40 And when the servants of David were come to Abigail to Carmel, they spake unto her, saying, David sent us unto thee, to take thee to him to wife.

25:41 And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord. 25:42 And Abigail hasted, and arose, and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her; and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife. 25:43 David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of them his wives [see The Wives Of King David].

25:44 But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim." (1 Samuel 25:36-44 KJV)

It was also during the civil war time between David and Saul that the kingdom of Israel was effectively split into north and south, just as it became permanently after the apostate reign of David's son and successor Solomon (see A History Of Jerusalem: The Glory Of Solomon and Rehoboam's Answer). For a time, Jezreel became foreign territory to David, while he reigned in the south, at Hebron.

"2:1 And it came to pass after this, that David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?

And the LORD said unto him, Go up.

And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron [see A Biography Of Abraham: Mamre in Hebron and Why Bethlehem, Hebron And Jerusalem?].

2:2 So David went up thither, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail Nabal's wife the Carmelite. 2:3 And his men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household: and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron. 2:4 And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah [see Where Is The Messiah's Royal Line?; also The Crease Of Israel].

And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabeshgilead were they that buried Saul. 2:5 And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabeshgilead, and said unto them, Blessed be ye of the LORD, that ye have showed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him. 2:6 And now the LORD show kindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness, because ye have done this thing. 2:7 Therefore now let your hands be strengthened, and be ye valiant: for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah have anointed me king over them.

2:8 But Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul's host, took Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim; 2:9 And made him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel.

2:10 Ishbosheth Saul's son was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David. 2:11 And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months." (2 Samuel 2:1-11 KJV)

Jezreel is perhaps most well-known due to the infamous Ahab and Jezebel. After a confrontation with Jezebel's priests of Baal at Carmel, Elijah "ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel." Ahab was in a chariot, but the miraculous heavy rain in the valley apparently slowed it.

Map Of Jezreel

"18:20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. 18:21 And Elijah [see The Prophets: Elijah; also Moses And Elijah At The Feast Of Tabernacles] came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word." (1 Kings 18:20-21 KJV)

"18:36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice [see also The Blood Of Bulls And Goats], that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 18:37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.

18:38 Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

18:39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.

18:40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

18:41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. 18:42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, 18:43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. 18:44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.

18:45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.

18:46 And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel." (1 Kings 18:36-46 KJV)

Jezebel's murder of Naboth, a man in Jezreel, for the property (see The Boundary Law) in which Naboth had a vineyard, was the final straw of Jezebel's wickedness.

A Vineyard

"21:1 And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria [see Ahab Of Israel and The Capitals Of Israel]. 21:2 And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money.

21:3 And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.

21:4 And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.

21:5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?

21:6 And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard.

21:7 And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.

21:8 So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth. 21:9 And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: 21:10 And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.

21:11 And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them. 21:12 They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people. 21:13 And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died. 21:14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.

21:15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead. 21:16 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it." (1 Kings 21:1-16 KJV)

The LORD then sent Elijah to pronounce the Judgment of the LORD upon Ahab and Jezebel.

Elijah Confronts Ahab and Jezebel

"21:17 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 21:18 Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel [see Who Has A Spirit Of Confrontation?], which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it. 21:19 And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.

21:20 And Ahab said to Elijah, hast thou found me, O mine enemy?

And he answered, I have found thee; because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD. 21:21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, 21:22 And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.

21:23 And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.

21:24 Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.

21:25 But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. 21:26 And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel." (1 Kings 21:17-26 KJV)

After the LORD had taken Elijah away into retirement (see Where Did Elijah Go?), the prophet Elisha was given to complete the tasks given to Elijah, before beginning his own ministry. Among those tasks were the election of a new king, Jehu, who would also be given the task of obliterating the house of Ahab and Jezebel.

"9:1 And Elisha the prophet [see The Prophets: Elisha] called one of the children of the prophets, and said unto him, Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramothgilead: 9:2 And when thou comest thither, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and carry him to an inner chamber; 9:3 Then take the box of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus saith the LORD, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee, and tarry not.

9:4 So the young man, even the young man the prophet, went to Ramothgilead. 9:5 And when he came, behold, the captains of the host were sitting; and he said, I have an errand to thee, O captain.

And Jehu said, Unto which of all us?

And he said, To thee, O captain.

9:6 And he arose, and went into the house; and he poured the oil on his head, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I have anointed thee king over the people of the LORD, even over Israel. 9:7 And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel. 9:8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel: 9:9 And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah: 9:10 And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door, and fled." (2 Kings 9:1-10 KJV)

Ahab was killed in battle (see Ahab Of Israel), after which Jehu began the wrathful task that had been assigned to him by the LORD.

The Death Of Jezebel

"9:21 And Joram said, Make ready. And his chariot was made ready. And Joram king of Israel [see Joram Of Israel] and Ahaziah king of Judah [see Ahaziah Of Judah] went out, each in his chariot, and they went out against Jehu, and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite. 9:22 And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu?

And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?

9:23 And Joram turned his hands, and fled, and said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, O Ahaziah. 9:24 And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms, and the arrow went out at his heart, and he sunk down in his chariot. 9:25 Then said Jehu to Bidkar his captain, Take up, and cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite: for remember how that, when I and thou rode together after Ahab his father, the LORD laid this burden upon him; 9:26 Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, saith the LORD; and I will requite thee in this plat, saith the LORD. Now therefore take and cast him into the plat of ground, according to the word of the LORD.

9:27 But when Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled by the way of the garden house. And Jehu followed after him, and said, Smite him also in the chariot. And they did so at the going up to Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megiddo, and died there. 9:28 And his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his sepulchre with his fathers in the city of David. 9:29 And in the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab began Ahaziah to reign over Judah." (2 Kings 9:21-29 KJV)

The end of Jezebel, at Jezreel, was no less horrendous.

"9:30 And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window. 9:31 And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?

9:32 And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, Who is on my side? who? And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs. 9:33 And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trode her under foot.

9:34 And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a king's daughter. 9:35 And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands. 9:36 Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel: 9:37 And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel." (2 Kings 9:30-37 KJV)

Jehu then completed the sentence that Ahab and Jezebel had brought upon themselves. "So Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his kinsfolks, and his priests, until he left him none remaining."

The Ruins of Jezreel

"10:1 And Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to them that brought up Ahab's children, saying, 10:2 Now as soon as this letter cometh to you, seeing your master's sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, a fenced city also, and armour; 10:3 Look even out the best and meetest of your master's sons, and set him on his father's throne, and fight for your master's house.

10:4 But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, Behold, two kings stood not before him: how then shall we stand?

10:5 And he that was over the house, and he that was over the city, the elders also, and the bringers up of the children, sent to Jehu, saying, We are thy servants, and will do all that thou shalt bid us; we will not make any king: do thou that which is good in thine eyes.

10:6 Then he wrote a letter the second time to them, saying, If ye be mine, and if ye will hearken unto my voice, take ye the heads of the men your master's sons, and come to me to Jezreel by to morrow this time.

Now the king's sons, being seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, which brought them up. 10:7 And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king's sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent him them to Jezreel. 10:8 And there came a messenger, and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king's sons.

And he said, Lay ye them in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning.

10:9 And it came to pass in the morning, that he went out, and stood, and said to all the people, Ye be righteous: behold, I conspired against my master, and slew him: but who slew all these? 10:10 Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the LORD, which the LORD spake concerning the house of Ahab: for the LORD hath done that which he spake by his servant Elijah. 10:11 So Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his kinsfolks, and his priests, until he left him none remaining." (2 Kings 10:1-11 KJV)

Fact Finder: Did the Messiah frequently travel through Samaria?
See Crossing Samaria


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This Day In History, June 25

253: Pope Cornelius was beheaded at Centumcellae.

524: The Franks defeated the Burgundians at the Battle of Vezeronce.

841: Charles the Bald and Louis the German defeated Lothar at Fontenay.

1080: A council of bishops at Brixen declared Pope Gregory to be deposed and Archbishop Guibert as antipope Clement III (see Antipopes).

1530: The Augsburg Confession, the official Lutheran statement of faith, written by Melanchthon and endorsed by Luther, was presented.

1580: The Book of Concord, a collection of doctrinal standards of the Lutheran Church, was first published.

1741: Maria Theresa of Austria was crowned Queen of Hungary.

1870: Queen Isabella of Spain abdicated in favor of Alfonso XII.

1876: At the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Sioux Indians led by Chief Crazy Horse defeated the U.S. 7th Cavalry led by George Custer. Custer died along with his company of 264 men in what was known as "Custer's Last Stand."

1938: Gaelic scholar Douglas Hyde was inaugurated as the first President of the Irish Republic.

1945: The Charter of the United Nations was unanimously adopted.

1948: After Soviet forces in East Germany cut off overland access to West Berlin, U.S. and British planes began the "Berlin Airlift" which lasted until September 30 1949.

1950: North Korea invaded South Korea, beginning the Korean War.

1975: Mozambique became independent after 477 years of Portuguese rule.

1991: Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from Yugoslavia.

1997: An unmanned cargo ship crashed into the Russian space station Mir, causing extensive damage to the station but causing no injury to the 2 Russian cosmonauts and 1 U.S. astronaut aboard.

1997: Jacques-Yves Cousteau died at age 87. The French oceanographer was the co-inventor of SCUBA (an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) diving tanks and the producer of many popular books and television productions.





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