Athaliah’s rule as queen of Judah

Chapter 11

Athaliah’s rule as queen of Judah

v1 King Ahaziah’s mother Athaliah heard about the death of her son. So she ordered people to kill all the royal family. v2 But Jehosheba, who was King Jehoram’s daughter and Ahaziah’s sister, rescued Joash the son of Ahaziah. She took him away from among the royal princes before Athaliah murdered them. Jehosheba hid Joash and his nurse in a bedroom, away from Athaliah. So nobody killed him. v3For 6 years Jehosheba hid him and his nurse in the *Lord’s *temple. Meanwhile Athaliah ruled over the country.

God had promised David that his family would continue to rule *Judah. Athaliah wanted to kill all the royal family so that she could rule the country. Athaliah intended to oppose God. She *worshipped *Baal.

Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. And Athaliah was the sister of the kings of *Israel called Ahaziah and Joram. Athaliah was the widow of King Jehoram of *Judah. And she was very wicked, like the other members of Ahab’s family.

Jehu had ended the rule of Ahab’s family over *Israel. But he did not control *Judah, although he had killed its king. That king was Ahaziah, who was Athaliah’s son. So Athaliah continued the wicked rule of Ahab’s family in *Judah.

Athaliah ordered her soldiers to kill everyone who had a right to become king. They obeyed her, and many people died.

However, Jehoram’s daughter, the wife of the chief priest Jehoiada, rescued Joash. She was Joash’s aunt. She hid him in the *temple. There were many small rooms by the yards that surrounded the *temple. And Joash’s nurse could look after him secretly there. So Jehosheba provided special protection for the young prince. She hid Joash as Moses’ parents had hidden Moses (Exodus 2:1-10). It should not surprise us that Joash later repaired the *temple. It was a special place for him. This story shows us how God prepares people for the future.

Joash becomes king of *Judah

v4 In the 7th year, Jehoiada asked some officers to come. They each commanded 100 soldiers. He also asked the Carites (the people that protected the royal family) to come. And he also asked the guards to come. He told them to come to the *Lord’s *temple. He made an agreement with them. He arranged for them to make a serious promise at the *Lord’s *temple. Then he showed the king’s son to them.v5 He gave them these orders. ‘This is what you must do on the *Sabbath. When you come on duty, you must divide yourselves into three groups. One group must guard the royal palace. v6 One group must guard the gate called the Sur gate. The other group must stand behind the other guards that are guarding the gate. [They are the ones who guard the *temple.] v7 Two groups usually go off duty on the *Sabbath. Instead, they must guard the *temple for the king. v8 Surround the king. You must each have your weapons (military arms) in your hands. You must kill anyone that comes near you. Stay close to the king wherever he goes.’

v9 Each leader of 100 men did what Jehoiada the priest ordered. Each one brought his men to Jehoiada the priest. The men that were going on duty were there. And some were going off duty on the *Sabbath. They were there too. v10 Then he gave to the officers the *spears and *shields that had belonged to King David. These were in the *temple of the *Lord. v11 The guards, with military arms in their hands, surrounded the king. They were near the *altar and the *temple. They stood from the south side to the north side of the *temple.

v12 Then Jehoiada brought out the king’s son. He put the crown on him. Jehoiada gave Joash a copy of the *covenant. Then he declared that Joash was king. And then he poured *olive oil on Joash. The people clapped their hands. They shouted, ‘We pray that the king will live for a long time!’

Athaliah ruled for 6 years. Jehu had made the people in *Israel stop *worshipping *Baal. He had removed from *Israel the things that people used in that *worship. But Athaliah established the *worship of *Baal in *Judah. All this time, Joash was hiding in the *temple.

Jehoiada led the revolution against Athaliah. He was the right person to do that. Jehoiada was the chief priest. His wife was the former King Jehoram’s daughter. Jehoiada made secret plans with the leaders of the army. He arranged the *rebellion to happen on the *Sabbath, when there were more soldiers on duty. Some soldiers were on duty in the new week. They began their work in the morning. The other soldiers did not stop their work until the evening.

Jehoiada told the soldiers to protect the young king and he told them to guard the *temple. When all the guards were on duty, Jehoiada brought out Joash, the king. He put the crown on King Joash. He gave the book to the king. The book showed what the king must do (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). Jehoiada poured *olive oil on him. That act showed that the king had received God’s Spirit. The people clapped their hands and they greeted the king.

v13 Queen Athaliah heard the noise that the guards and the people made. She hurried to the *Lord’s *temple, where the guards were. v14 She looked, and there was the new king. He was standing by a column at the *temple’s entrance. That was the custom. The officers and musicians surrounded him. All the people were happy. They blew trumpets (instruments that make a loud, clear sound). Athaliah tore her clothes and she shouted, ‘Treason! Treason!’ (Treason is a crime. It means *rebellion against one’s country. Or it means that someone has murdered its ruler.)

v15 Jehoiada the priest did not want to kill Athaliah in the *Lord’s *temple. So he told the officers [who each commanded 100 soldiers in the army] to lead her out between the guards. ‘Kill anyone that tries to rescue her,’ he added. v16 The officers seized Athaliah and they took her to the palace. Then they killed her at the Horse Gate.

Athaliah heard the noise. She came to see what the matter was. She saw Joash, who was then the king. He was only a little boy. But he was wearing the royal crown. And he was standing by the *temple’s columns (1 Kings 7:15-22). The purpose of those columns was to remind the people about their relationship with God. The names of the columns were Jakin and Boaz. The first name means that God established their nation. And the other name means that God gave strength to their nation. The passage mentions that it became traditional for a new king to stand by one of these columns. Athaliah saw this. And then she knew clearly what had happened. Joash had become king. And her own rule had ended.

Athaliah tore her clothes. In that way, she showed that she was very angry. She tried to persuade people to support her. She said that the priest and the people were guilty of treason. (That is, the crime when someone starts a *rebellion against the ruler of a country.) But really, it was Athaliah who was guilty of treason. She had made herself the ruler of *Judah and she had murdered the rest of the royal family. And it was Joash who had the right to be *Judah’s king.

Athaliah then tried to escape back to the palace. She tried to pass through the lines of soldiers.

Jehoiada ordered the soldiers not to kill her in the *temple. He was the chief priest. So he would not allow anything to happen in the *temple that might affect its sacred state. In particular, he did not want Athaliah to die there during the happy ceremony to appoint Joash king. So the guards took her out of the *temple. They killed her in the area round the palace. They did it near the Horse Gate.

v17 Jehoiada made a *covenant between the *Lord and the king and the people. They promised that they would be the *Lord’s people. Also, Jehoiada made a *covenant between the king and the people.v18 All the people went to the *temple of *Baal. And they pulled it down. They broke the *altars and *idols into pieces. They killed Mattan, the priest of *Baal, in front of the *altars.

Then Jehoiada the priest put guards on duty at the *Lord’s *temple. v19 Jehoiada then went with the officers that each commanded 100 soldiers. He also took with him those people that protected the royal family. And he took the guards and all the people. They all took Joash from the *Lord’s *temple. They went into the palace. They went through the gate of the guards. The king then sat on the royal seat.v20 All the people were happy. The city was quiet now, because Athaliah was dead. Someone had killed her with a sword at the palace.

v21 Joash was 7 years old when he began to rule.

Jehoiada made a *covenant between the king, the people and the *Lord. The king and people promised to stop *worshipping *Baal. Instead, they would serve the *Lord. Then Jehoiada made a *covenant between the king and the people. The king promised to rule in the manner that God’s law ordered. And the people promised to obey the king. Then the people pulled down the *temple of *Baal, and they pulled down its *altars and *idols. Mattan the priest refused to make people stop *worshipping *Baal. So the people killed him. At last they took the king to his palace and he began his rule.

This was a great revolution. Jehoiada’s purpose was not just to appoint the proper person to be king. He also set out to mend the people’s relationship with God. Jehoiada destroyed their wrong religion. And he made them promise to serve God, and to obey his law. Those changes should remind Christians about the changes that they should make in their own lives. Paul told Christians to remove the wrong desires that they had. That was because they were now new people (Colossians 3:5-11). Those changes were necessary because of their new relationship with God.