The First Jehu Debate
by Farrell Till
In March 2001, Leonard Jayawardena and I began a debate on the Jehu problem in which he tried to resolve the inconsistency between 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4 by arguing that the "son of the prophets" who anointed Jehu king did not issue a command in 2 Kings 9:6-10 for Jehu to destroy the house of Ahab but had merely prophesied that he would. As readers of that first debate will see, Jayawardena's position quickly became untenable, so he dropped out of the debate. Over two years later, he contacted me to say that he had since taken a different position in the Jehu matter and would like to defend it in a resumption of our debate. I informed him that I couldn't work up much enthusiasm for debating someone who would just change positions whenever he encountered difficulties defending them rather than admit that they were incorrect.
The matter stayed like this until someone earlier this year called my attention to an article on the secular web in which Mr. Jayawardena had presented his new position. The person who notified me wondered if there was any way to reply to this "solution" to the problem. I read the article, noticed immediately that it was riddled with illogical arguments--or rather assertions--and so I contacted Mr. Jayawardena to request permission to reply point by point to his article, which contained a copyright notice at the end. He granted permission with the request that he be permitted to give his side to the other debate in order to correct what he considered some misrepresentations on my part. The material quoted in blue print below is his account of what had happened in the other debate.
Many readers of this will be aware of the earlier debate between Mr. Farrell Till (FT) and myself [sic] on the Jehu issue, which ended unfinished somewhere in 2001. FT has requested me to issue a statement explaining why the debate ended as it did for inclusion in the introduction to a reply to my recently-published article on The Secular Web entitled "Solution to the Jehu Problem."
Actually, Mr. Jayawardena complained that I had misrepresented his reasons for quitting the first debate, and so I told him that I would be glad to publish any statement that he would like to make to present his side of that issue. This, then, is his version of why he dropped out of that debate.
My last e-mail to FT's "midwest" address kept getting returned with the message "undeliverable." I tried several times more to upload my e-mail with the same result, whereupon I gave up.
Although I did change my e-mail address because of problems that I was having with Midwest Internet after it was purchased by Earthlink, I have always been accessible at my Errancy list to anyone who wanted to contact me. Mr. Jayawardena possibly didn't know that.
By that time, the debate had reached somewhat of an impasse and was getting rather tedious, which made it that much easier to give up.
This is apparently Mr. Jayawardena's way of saying that he found his "solution" to the Jehu problem untenable.
Sometime later, my computer went out of order twice due to corrosion and I disposed of it. Anyway, I owed FT an explanation and so it was remiss of me not to have made further effort to contact him and explain my situation (for which I have now tendered my apology to him).
Then somewhere in 2003, my interest having revived, I tried to contact FT with a view to inviting him to resume the debate--on the same address, if I recall correctly--but, believe me, that time, too, the address did not work!
No, it wouldn't have worked, because I had changed my old Midwest address.
Then I successfully contacted him on another address and tried to explain what had happened, but, to my dismay, FT, ever the skeptic, got the wrong end of the stick and declined to resume the debate. He accused me of "running away" because I was "being defeated" and said I might "disappear" again if the debate was resumed. The truth, however, was different.
As I recall that exchange, which I have been unable to find in my e-mail files, Mr. Jayawardena said that he wanted to resume the debate with the presentation of a different solution to the problem. I saw this as a typical tactic in which someone defending an inerrancy view abandons a prior "solution" to present another one, so I couldn't work up much enthusiasm for resuming a debate without someone who was probably going to go back to the drawing board to look for different solutions whenever he found his present position untenable.
The readers who followed the last debate will recall that in my earlier solution I interpreted 2 Kings 9:4-10 rather unconventionally as just a prophecy, not a command, as FT did. I did so because (a) I thought the grammar of the passage (perfect tense) admitted of the interpretation as a prophecy and (b) 2 Kings 8:12, which seemed to be a parallel, suggested this idea. I interpreted 2 Kings 10:30 as God rewarding Jehu for serving justice and society by removing the evil of the house of Ahab from Israel, though he had not been commanded to do so. However, since Jehu massacred the house of Ahab out of selfish motives, i.e. to usurp the throne of Israel, his personal culpability for the crime of the massacre of the house of Ahab remained, so the condemnation in Hosea 1:4 was not a contradiction. I also interpreted 2 Kings 10:30 as a postponed punishment of the house of Jehu for that crime.
Those who take the time to review that original debate will see that Mr. Jayawardena was unable to sustain those positions. As for Jayawardena's claim that Jehu usurped the throne, if he will go back and read 2 Kings 9:4-10, he will see that this text clearly says that Yahweh had anointed Jehu king "over the people of Yahweh," so if Mr. Jayawardena is going to reject the plain language of this text, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that he would devote a lengthy article to a denial of plain language in Hosea 1:4.
Reference to the last part of the debate on TSR will confirm that the debate ended with FT and I [sic] defending our respective interpretations of 2 Kings 9:4-10, with neither side conceding to the other. In other words, the debate ended in a stalemate, so FT's accusations were unjustified.
The debate started in March 2001, and soon ended with silence on Mr. Jayawardena's end with no contact from him for two years, so I think I was justified in assuming that he had quit.
Actually, until the second half of 2003 I still believed my earlier solution to be correct. Then while preparing a note preparatory to inviting FT to resume the debate, I suddenly realized, on comparing 2 Kings 10:29-31 with Exodus 20:3-5, that Jehu was being warned of future judgement not for his destruction of the house of Ahab, but for his idolatry (this is explained in detail in my article). This in turn necessitated a review of my interpretation of Hosea 1:4-5, which eventually resulted in the solution given in my article.
In other words, Mr. Jayawardena had switched horses in midstream, just as I have noted in my replies to his new "solution." Those who review the first debate will see that he was cocksure that his first position was right, and now we will see him expressing the same certitude about his new position. We will also see below that he has even requested that I post the notice of another revision that he has made in his latest position. Such vacillation as this certainly doesn't instill much confidence in his apologetic skills.
It was then, too, that I realized the utter impossibility of applying the phrase "the blood of Jezreel" to the destruction of the house of Ahab by Jehu (my reasons explained in detail in the article).
Readers will see that I have dismantled in great detail the "reasons" that he has presented in support of his new position.
This is a very telling comment. It shows that Mr. Jayawardena is determined to find some way--apparently just any way--to "explain" away the discrepancy in 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4. As readers go through my point-by-point replies to his latest position in the Jehu matter, they will see that he has failed again, just as badly as before.
Please note that, since the publication of my new solution to the Jehu problem on TSW, I have simplified and fine-tuned my interpretation of Hosea 1:4-5 as follows while keeping the basic solution the same:
In other words, Mr. Jayawardena has modified his position again, and just calling the modifications "fine-tun[ing]" won't change that. Will he make another change after he has seen my replies? Only time will tell.
Gomer's first son is named Jezreel to signify that God will break Israel's military power in a decisive battle in the Valley of Jezreel, which must have taken place about three years before the exile of the northern kingdom in 721 B.C. Israel's defeat in this battle in turn will serve as a sign of God's judgement of the children of Israel for idolatry, which, for Hosea, consists of two elements: the judgement of the royal house and the judgement of the nation as a whole. This follows the pattern found in 1 Kings 14:14-16 and Amos 7:8-11, in which the judgement of the royal house is coupled with the judgement of the nation in general. I will expand on this new understanding in a future post.
I do not now think--as some commentators do--that the meaning of the name Jezreel ("God sows") has any significance in Hosea 1:4-5 because (a) the text itself does not relate the meaning of the name to what it is supposed to symbolize (unlike, e.g. Isaiah 8:1-4); and (b) the name Jezreel refers to a geographical location in which a decisive battle is to take place and so it is not necessary to see any further signification in the meaning of the name itself. However, the meaning of the name is used in a positive sense in Hosea 2:22-23.
A word play between "Israel" and "Jezreel" is suggested by the sentence "And on that day, I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel" (Hosea 1:5), which strengthens my view that Jezreel symbolises God's dealings with the nation Israel and Israel alone.
As the need arises in my detailed replies, I will link readers back to this section to let them see how this "revision" altered his new position that he seemed typically sure of in his original copy posted on the Secular Web. I think that these links will show readers that when Mr. Jayawardena sees weaknesses in his "solutions" to the Jehu problem, he just alters his position accordingly.
The phrase "the blood of Jezreel" still means what I say it means in my article.
Readers will see that the "new" meaning that he assigned to this phrase is too unlikely to be credible.
Go to Part One of the replies to Jayawardena's latest article