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Summary: Jewish Scriptural context for understanding Jesus' entry into Jerusalem

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The reign of King David was coming to an end. To put it plainly he was old. He was definitely tired. The first half of his life was spent building a kingdom; the second half of his life was spent trying to hold that kingdom together. God had promised that David would never lose his throne, and as long as his descendants were loyal to David’s God, a son of David would always sit on a throne in Jerusalem. Now, David was ready to retire. Old, beaten, ready for rest, he decided to leave his kingdom to his son Solomon. Solomon was not David’s first born son. That son died trying to steal the throne away from David. First Kings says:

King David said, "Summon the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah, son of Jehoiada." So they came to the king, and he said, "Take my officials with you. Put my son Solomon on my mule, and take him to Gihon. Have the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan anoint him king of Israel there. Then blow the ram's horn and say, 'Long live King Solomon!' Follow him back here when he comes to sit on my throne. He will be king in place of me. I have appointed him to be the leader of Israel and Judah." (1 Kings 1:32-35)

Solomon became king, riding to his anointing on a donkey. Hold on to the that image: David’s immediate descendant, the heir to the throne of Israel, is riding to his coronation on a donkey.

When Solomon died, the Kingdom of Israel split into the Kingdom of Israel in the North and the Kingdom of Judah in the south. The Bible has very little good to say about any of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Immediately after the split between north and south, the northern kingdom sought to establish its own holy place to rival that of Jerusalem. Samaria was established as that religious and political center.

About 150 years after Solomon’s death, King Ahab became king of Israel, along with his wife Jezebel. The two rulers systematically set out on a program of eliminating worshipers of the Lord and implementing the worship of Baal. Those who worshiped the Lord, the God of Israel and Judah were hunted down and killed. Prophets and Priest of the Lord were executed. This, of course, led to the famous showdown between the Prophet Elijah and the Priests of Baal. Elijah won the contest, the priests of Baal were killed by the people, but Ahab and Jezebel were still on the throne and they were still dangerous. Moreover, they were more bitter toward anyone who worshiped the Lord. So the Lord chose a new king.

The prophet Elisha called one of the disciples of the prophets. He said, "Put on your belt. Take this flask of olive oil, and go to Ramoth Gilead. When you arrive there, look for Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat and grandson of Nimshi. Go inside, and have him get up and leave his companions. Take him into an inner room. Take the flask of oil, pour it on his head, and say, 'This is what the LORD says: I have anointed you king of Israel.' Then open the door and leave immediately." The young man, the servant of the prophet, went to Ramoth Gilead. When he arrived there, the army's generals were sitting together. He said, "I have something to tell you, General." Jehu asked, "Which one of us?" He answered, "You, General!" Jehu got up and went into the house. The prophet poured olive oil on his head and told him, "This is what the LORD God of Israel says: I have anointed you king of the LORD's people, king of Israel. You will destroy the family of your master Ahab. Then he opened the door and left. Jehu came out to his master's officials. One of them asked him, "Is everything alright? Why did this lunatic come to you?" He answered, "You know the man and the kind of things he says." They said, "That's not an answer. Please tell us." Jehu replied, "We talked for a while, and he said to me, 'This is what the LORD says: I have anointed you king of Israel.'" Then each one of them immediately took off his coat and laid it on the stairs below him. They blew a ram's horn and said, "Jehu is king!" (2 Kings 9:1-13)


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