II Chronicles 23
This chapter records first those careful preparations of Jehoiada which
eventuated in the safe proclaiming of Joash king (vs. 1-11); then the
tragic demonstration and tragic end of Athaliah (vs. 12-15); and lastly,
the beneficent action of Jehoiada over people and king, to the complete
restoration of the worship and temple-services of the true God (vs. 16-21).
The chapter is very closely paralleled by II Kings 11:4-21; while
the characteristic and to be expected differences on the part of our text are
very conspicuous. These will be noted as they occur. While each compiler
so definitely keeps on that side of the line which answers the main purpose
of his history, in the abundant material common to both, and to which both
resorted, all harmonizes still with the supposed objects of the two works
1 "And in the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and took
the captains of hundreds, Azariah the son of Jeroham, and Ishmael
the son of Jehohanan, and Azariah the son of Obed, and Maaseiah
the son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat the son of Zichri, into covenant
with him." Jehoiada strengthened himself (see our note, ch. 12:1; 13:7).
He nerved himself with courage, and that courage which
results from conviction of duty and of ripe time to achieve it. The captains
of hundreds (or, centurions of the royal guards) are not mentioned in the
parallel by name, but the significant mention there (II Kings 11:5-7) of
five detachments (three “third parts,” plus “two parts” of another body)
tally with the number five, who are here mentioned by name. The five
detachments probably summed up a force of nominally five hundred. It is
interesting to note how often high religious enterprises have been due to
the trusting mutual co-operation of very few to begin with, and them
awakened and led by one. Of no one of these five named here is anything
known more to his honor than this — that his name is here recorded. It is
said with the most perfect simplicity of even Hebrew language, that he
took them with him in covenant.
2 "And they went about in
the cities of Judah,
and the chief of the fathers of
is sure to signalize. The fathers
phrase made it dear, above the narrowness of the distinctive appellation
3 "And all the congregation made a covenant with the king in the
house of God. And he said unto them, Behold, the king’s son shall
reign, as the LORD hath said of the sons of David." All the congregation;
i.e. all who have been mentioned in vs. 1-2; for so the parallel makes plain.
Made a covenant. This was the second wider and more embracing covenant.
This covenant is between all the gathered representatives and the young king,
Jehoiada no doubt putting all things into shape. And he said unto them,
Behold, the king’s son shall reign. The he is Jehoiada, as of course. In view
of the last clause of v. 4 — in the parallel, “Jehoiada showed them the king’s son “
— the likelier rendering of our text here is, Behold the king’s son; he shall reign,
as, etc. As the Lord hath said of the sons of David (see ch. 6:16; 7:18; II Samuel
7:12; I Kings 2:4; 9:5). The hereditary nature of the monarchy (II Samuel 7.),
pervaded ever by the spirit of the covenant, is evidently glanced at. It is probable
that the existence of Joash was news to those to whom Jehoiada, as the parallel
has it, “showed… the king’s son,” so that double significance lies in the word
4 "This is the thing that ye shall do; A third part of you entering on
the sabbath, of the priests and of the Levites, shall be porters of the
doors;” - The first thing that is to be observed is the distinct and repeated
mention of the Levites, as those on whom the critical and onerous service
that came of Jehoiada’s resolution was devolved, while the parallel does
not so much as mention them. It may next be noted that our first and
second verses state the part that “the captains of hundreds” were called to
perform in collecting the requisite number of Levites from the provincial
abide close by our own text alone, nothing in the description of our vs. 4-10
occasions material difficulty, even when the perplexity, which is
considerable, does enter, on consulting and endeavoring to reconcile the
parallel, it is with extreme probability due to our not making sufficient
allowance for the fact that the matter of the two accounts does not so
much offer itself for reconciliation as for concurrent acceptance. We have
now to follow the description of our own text. Of you entering on the
sabbath; i.e. of you who enter on your period of duty on such a sabbath.
See v. 8, the “men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that
were to go out on the sabbath.” This alludes, as the next clause definitely
says, to the weekly courses of the Levites, as described in I Chronicles
9:25; chapters 24 and 25 — the incoming and outgoing companies. Porters
of the doors; i.e. “keepers of the doors of the temple” (I Chronicles 9:19).
This may correspond with the middle clause of v. 6 in the parallel.
5 "And a third part shall be at the king’s house; and a third part at the
gate of the foundation: and all the people shall be in the courts of the house
of the LORD." A third part… at the king’s house. It seems impossible to
refer this to the royal palace, as some suppose from v. 19 in the parallel.
It probably designates the place where the child had been living in
concealment. This portion of the description appears to correspond with
the last clause of v. 5 in the parallel. At the gate of the foundation. The
Hebrew text here is יְסוד (Exodus 29:12; Leviticus 4:7; Habakkuk 3:13);
in the parallel סוּר, a name only found there, and unintelligible —
probably a corruption of the other word. The gate of the foundation is
supposed to have stood at that corner of the area which was strengthened
by additional works, where was the ravine separating Moriah
and the hill to the south. All the people. Evidently the miscellaneous
outside people are not here intended, who were not entrusted with the
secret and the surprise that was to be, but the same all the people as are
unmistakably designated in v. 10; i.e. all who were appointed to officiate.
The last clause in each of vs. 5, 6, 7 in the parallel go strongly to confirm
the position that “the king’s house” so far does not intend the royal palace,
but such part of the house of the Lord as had been, and then still was,
“about the king” (v. 7, parallel); in order to keep watch ‘about the king,’
they were set to keep watch of a certain part of “the house of the Lord.”
6 "But let none come into the house of the LORD, save the priests,
and they that minister of the Levites; they shall go in, for they are
holy: but all the people shall keep the watch of the LORD.
But let none come… save the priests. Through this little chink
we get some light confirmatory of the concurrent jurisdiction of the
account in the parallel The express caution of this clause shows that there
were others about, and others officiating, beside the Levites, who only
have been mentioned hitherto in our text, except under the most generic
designation (as before, so again in last clause of this verse) of “all the
people.” The last clause of this verse may cover the contents of v. 7 in
the parallel. The distinction between “the courts of the house of the Lord”
(v. 5), and “the house of the Lord” (here) is, of course, quite apparent.
7 "And the Levites shall compass the king round about, every man
with his weapons in his hand; and whosoever else cometh into the
house, he shall be put to death: but be ye with the king when he
cometh in, and when he goeth out." And the Levites shall compass the king.
The matter of v. 8 in the parallel suggests nothing inconsistent with the express
mention of the Levites here, but rather that the word “Levites” is desiderated
there, and its significance perhaps accidentally overlooked, when the writer
of Kings was using the original authorities and sources of his history.
8 "So the Levites and all
Jehoiada the priest had commanded, and took every man his men
that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that were to go out
on the sabbath: for Jehoiada the priest dismissed not the courses."
All Judah; i.e. all those of
been honored with summons to join in this great and solemn enterprise.
Dismissed not the courses; i.e. the provincial Levites cooperated with the
9 "Moreover Jehoiada the priest delivered to the captains of hundreds
spears, and bucklers, and shields, that had been king David’s, which were
in the house of God." Shields… King David’s … in the house of God.
Some think these may have been the shields of gold that King David took
from the servants of Hadadezer (II Samuel 8:7, 11).
10 "And he set all the people, every man having his weapon in his
hand, from the right side of the temple to the left side of the
temple, along by the altar and the temple, by the king round about."
All the people; i.e., again, all those, not being Levites and
priests, who had been trusted to assist. The parallel (v. 11) summarizes
them under the name the guard. It may be just noted, in passing, that,
while the Hebrew text has in both places “shoulder,” i.e. for the “side” of
this verse, and the “corner” of the parallel, the Revised Version has
harmonized the rendering, electing the rendering side. From the right side
of the temple to the left side. This is equivalent to saying, those
composing the guard were placed on the south and north sides. Along by
the altar. This was the altar of burnt offerings in front of the porch, and
close by which the young “king stood at his pillar,” or on his pedestal
(v. 13), the rows of the guard bristling with weapons before and behind
and round about him.
11 "Then they brought out the king’s son, and put upon him the crown,
and gave him the testimony, and made him king. And Jehoiada and
his sons anointed him, and said, God save the king." Then they brought out.
The parallel (v. 12) has, “he brought out,” etc. The last clause of our verse
harmonizes even this simple point, indicating that the “they” designates
“Jehoiada and his sons;” of which group Jehoiada himself was, of course,
the greatest part. It will be noted that it is not said from what exact place Joash
was brought out. Put upon him the crown and… the testimony. It is quite
unnecessary, at any rate, to suppose that the testimony, as well as the crown,
was put on the head of Joash. It may be taken for granted that the testimony
was put into his hands (Deuteronomy 17:18-20; 31:24-29). If something new
and so out of the way as resting the testimony (i.e. the book of the Law) on the
head were purported, it is likely that a distincter point would have been
made of it. God save the king! Hebrew, יחְיִ הַמֶּלֶך: “Let the king live!”
(I Samuel 10:24; II Samuel 16:16; I Kings 1:25, 31, 34, 39).
The Constituents of Success (vs. 1-11)
It was no light work that Jehoiada had in hand. He had need to “strengthen
himself,” as we are told that he did (v. 1). To effect a revolution in a
kingdom is either a very guilty or a very noble deed. It can only be justified
by the most grave conditions and by a reasonable prospect of success.
When, as on this occasion, it is imperatively demanded, and when, as now,
it is boldly and effectively accomplished, a very great work of patriotism
and philanthropy is wrought; and it is not only man who is served, but God
also. On the other hand, to undertake such an achievement without
adequate cause and without sufficient means, is to plunge a country into
civil strife and to ensure the spilling of much blood and the desolation of
many homes. Jehoiada succeeded in his great undertaking, and his success
was due to many things. These things are the constant constituents of
prosperity everywhere. They are:
exaltation; he was concerned that the purpose of God was not being
fulfilled, and he was desirous of acting in such a way that the will of God
should be done in the land, “as the Lord hath said” (v. 3). Men often
carry a purpose into execution because they are animated by a strong,
energizing ambition; but they may also be quickened and sustained by a
nobler end. They may be charged with a commission from God; they may
be filled with a sense of what they owe to Him. And a profound persuasion
that God has called us to execute a certain work has again and again
proved a most powerful inspiration. (Such is this work of trying to
share the Pulpit Commentary on the Internet - CY - 2016)
(OR LEADERS). Jehoiada had made up his mind that the thing was now
to be done; “The king’s son shall reign,” he said. And he went about the
work of the restoration of the royal house of David with the firmness of
fearlessness. He took a commanding tone, knowing that the moment of
revolution is not the time for divided counsels. “This is the thing that ye
shall do,” he said (v. 4); they did “according to all things Jehoiada…
commanded” (v. 8). Had there been any hesitancy on his part, any lack of
decision or resolution, the attempt might have broken down. In perilous
times, when great issues are at stake, we must not object to, but rather
admire and sustain, the vigor and the determination of our leader.
Ø the military (v. 1),
Ø the ecclesiastics (v. 2), and
Ø the people (v. 3).
We should invite all to help on whose willingness and fidelity we can
wanted to make the most effective arrangement of those who were to act
at the critical moment, but he would not have any violation of sacred law
under any circumstances (v. 6). It is our bounden duty to neglect no
measures that are likely to work toward the desired end; but in all our
arrangements, with this in view, we must stop at the point of disobedience
to the Divine Word. Even success itself, however ardently we may desire
it, and however devotedly we may have been pursuing it, must be
renounced if it cannot be won without the sacrifice of conscience. It is
often bought too dearly; and the price is always too high when it includes
even the small change of conscientious scruples.
outworking and execution of the most sagacious measures (vs. 3-10).
Caution, perhaps secrecy, up to a certain hour; then openness and even
daring will win the prize.
The Coronation of Joash (vs. 1-11)
Ø Jehoiada’s covenant with the captains. (v. 1.)
o The time. In the seventh year of Joash’s life, when Jehoiada felt that
matters were ripe for a revolution. Six years of Athaliah as queen had
put the people out of love with her person and practices. Even those
about her court were becoming intolerant of her tyrannies and idolatries.
Besides, six years had transformed the babe Jehoshabeath had rescued
into a boy, a miniature king, who would much more easily and
effectually arrest the popular imagination than an infant in arms. And,
finally, Jehoiada had himself had leisure to watch the current of the
times, to learn the temper and disposition of the people, to test the
characters of those upon whose aid he must rely, to acquaint himself
with all that would need to be done, and generally to mature his plans.
In the seventh year he judged that the hour had struck for an attempt
to liberate the country from the yoke of Athaliah, and to restore the
crown of David to its rightful heir. Many projects otherwise promising
are lost by being launched forth prematurely, and many fail through
want of “striking while the iron is hot” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).
o The persons. Jehoiada called to his aid five centurions of the queen’s
body-guard, whom he probably knew to be disaffected towards the
queen and favorable to a change in the government (II Kings 11:4), and
whose names are given:
§ Azariah, “whom Jehovah aids;” the son of Jeroham,
“who is loved;”
§ Ishmael, “whom God hears,” the son of Jehohanan, “Jehovah
§ Azariah, the son of Obed, “worshipping;”
§ Maaseiah, “work of Jehovah,” the son of Adaiah, “whom
Jehovah adorns;” and
§ Elishaphat, “whom God judges,” the son of Zichri, “famous;”
— all men of renown; good, if their characters were reflected in
their names; capable, as their civil rank showed.
o The object. To depose Athaliah — trebly lawful, because, as a usurper,
she had climbed into the throne by bloodshed and violence, and had
therefore no just title to the scepter; because, as a wicked ruler, her
longer continuance in power would damage the best interests, and even
endanger the existence of the state; and because, so long as she wore
the crown, the real heir to the throne was defrauded of his rights.
Whether, in the first instance, Jehoiada mentioned the existence of
Joash is doubtful.
Ø The nation’s covenant with the king.
o The representatives of the people summoned. The captains to whom
was entrusted went about (v. 2), no doubt privately in
and invited all the Levites and heads of fathers’ houses in every city to
o The people’s representatives convened. In obedience to the high
priest’s call, those invited by his messengers came. The congregation
consisted of the priests and Levites, the heads of fathers’ houses, and
the captains of the guards, with their men (?).
o The people’s legitimate sovereign produced. The meeting was held
in the temple court. At the proper moment Joash was produced (v. 3;
II Kings 11:4), and the story of his preservation rehearsed.
o The people’s duty pointed out. Skillfully done by Jehoiada, who simply
said, “Behold, the king’s son shall reign, as the Lord hath said of the
sons of David;” it was an intimation that the crown belonged to Joash
by Divine appointment, and a hint to them to see that Jehovah’s
promise to their ancestor should not fail.
o The people’s assent given. The effect of Jehoiada’s action in producing
Joash and in citing the Messianic promise (II Samuel 7:12-13) was
electrical. With one heart and voice the people pledged themselves to
the revolution, to depose Athaliah and to crown Joash.
Ø The arrangements for the coup d’etat.
o The disposition of the priests and Levites. These should be divided into
two main bodies, those who entered on their temple duties (v. 4;
II Kings 11:5) on the sabbath (the day fixed for the revolution), and
those who retired from them (v. 8; II Kings 11:7). The former should
again divide themselves into three companies. Of these, the first should
act as "porters of the doors,” or “keepers of the thresholds,” i.e. were
to mount guard at the gates of the temple (compare I Chronicles 9:19);
the second should stand “at the king’s house,” which may have been
the apartments or cloister in which Joash was concealed (Keil), but
more probably signified the palace (v. 15), the approach from which
to the temple it was desirable to guard; the third should take up a
position “at the gate of the foundation,” or “the gate Jesod” —
whether a temple gate (Stanley, Keil) or a palace gate (Bertheau)
is uncertain. (On the discrepancies between these appointments and
those in Kings, consult the Exposition.) The latter, i.e. the priests and
Levites retiring from duty, should act as the king’s body-guard when he
entered into and departed from the temple. This work should be deputed
to them alone, since they only as “holy” persons could pass into the
temple. As their duty would be to ensure the safety of the king’s person,
they would be armed — “every man with his weapons in his
hand.” To them also should be entrusted the task of seeing that no
unauthorized person came within the precincts of the sacred edifice,
and of executing judgment on such as without warrant did.
o The disposition of the people. These should be stationed in the court
in which stood the brazen altar of Solomon.
o The disposition of the “captains of hundreds” and their men. These,
whom the Chronicler does not overlook while assigning the principal
part in the forthcoming ceremony to the priests and Levites, should be
employed to preserve order amongst the people, and guard against the
possibility of attack from any of the queen’s party who might become
cognizant of what was going on.
Ø The carrying out of the above arrangements. When the sabbath fixed
execution of the plot arrived, “the Levites and all the men of
did according to all things that Jehoiada had commanded.” Each priest,
with his assistant Levites, went to his appointed place — those that entered
on their temple duties to their different guards, as above explained; those
that retired from service, instead of departing to their homes — “for
Jehoiada dismissed not the courses” — to the new work of guarding the
king’s person, also as above explained. The former mounted guard at the
temple gates, the latter assumed their places inside the temple (inner) court,
“from the right side of the house to the left side of the house, along by the
altar and the temple,” so as to be “by the king round about.” The people
generally stood in the outer court, the centurions and their hundreds
forming a circle round the inner court, between it and the people, so as to
prevent any unauthorized person from passing within the house.
Ø The arming of the captains. “Jehoiada delivered to them the spears,
bucklers, and shields, that had been King David’s, which were in the
house of God” (v. 9). These were intended for themselves and their men
(Berthean), either because they had come into the temple unarmed (Keil),
having left their weapons in the palace on leaving duty (Bahr), or because
Jehoiada wished David’s crown to be won back by David’s weapons
(Ewald, Stanley), or perhaps he judged that, as the work they were about
to be employed in was God’s, so the weapons they should use should also
Ø The production of the boy-prince. When everything was ready, Joash,
encompassed by armed Levites, marched from the priest’s house into the
temple court, and took up his station at one of the pillars leading into the
inner court (v.13; II Kings 11:14), so as to be seen by the priests and
Levites in the inner, and the captains and people in the outer court.
Ø The coronation of the heir to the throne. Jehoiada (with the people
assenting) placed upon the brow of Joash the royal diadem, “probably a
band studded with jewels — the first direct example of a coronation”
Ø 5. The delivering to him of the testimony. Not the insignia regia, i.e. the
regalia of the kingdom (Clericus), or the phylacteries of Deuteronomy
6:8 (Grotius), or Samuel’s laws of the kingdom (I Samuel 8:10); but
the Law of Moses, often called the “testimony” (Exodus 25:16; 27:21;
Numbers 9:15; 10:11; 17:4), which was now presented to the young
king in the form of a roll, to indicate that his life and government both
should be regulated by its precepts (Deuteronomy 17:18-20). (As
all our lives are! - CY - 2016)
Ø The anointing of the new sovereign. Done by Jehoiada and his sons, this
symbolized Joash’s consecration to a theocratic or holy office, that of
ruling over Jehovah’s people. So Saul (I Samuel 10:1) and David
(ibid. ch. 16:11-13) were anointed by Samuel, Solomon by Zadok the
priest (I Kings 1:39), and Jehu by Elisha’s messenger (II Kings 9:6).
Ø The acclamation of the people. When the coronation ceremony ended,
the people clapped their hands (II Kings 11:12) in expression of their
joy (Psalm 47:1), and shouted, as their wont was at coronations, “God
save the king!” or, “Let the king live!” (I Samuel 10:24; II Samuel
Ø It is not always wrong for ministers of religion to take part in politics.
Ø There are times when rebellion against the powers that be is a solemn duty.
Ø Neither God’s house nor God’s day can be put to a better use than to set
a crown upon the head of God’s anointed.
Ø In Church and state alike each man has his own place and work.
Ø Kings may expect their thrones to be stable if these are erected on the
good will of their subjects.
Ø No sovereign can rule well who takes not the Law of God for his guide.
Ø A great and good man in troubled times is invaluable to Church or state.
Ø What could Judah have done without Jehoiada?
Ø No man can miss the destiny God has in store for him.
12 "Now when Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and
praising the king, she came to the people into the house of the
LORD:" When Athaliah heard the noise. The parallel (II Kings
11:13-16) shows only two differences of any noteworthiness, and these
will come under notice next verse. The noise; Hebrew, the voice; i.e. no
doubt the voices of the people. Praising. The Hebrew is the piel participle;
our corresponding phrase would be, “singing out the praises of the king,”
i.e. not any personal praises, but such as the cries of “Long live the king!”
or, as our Authorized Version has it, “God save the king!”
13 "And she looked, and, behold, the king stood at his pillar at the
entering in, and the princes and the trumpets by the king: and all
the people of the land rejoiced, and sounded with trumpets, also
the singers with instruments of musick, and such as taught to sing
praise. Then Athaliah rent her clothes, and said, Treason, Treason."
At his pillar (see note on v. 10). At the entering in. The
parallel (II Kings 11:14) has “as the manner was” (מִּשְׁפָּט vice
בַּמָּבוא). The reading in the parallel is quite explainable by such references
as ch. 34:31; II Kings 23:3). Such as taught. Piel participle of יָדַע; the
meaning here probably being not literally the teaching confraternity as
such, but the leaders, and in particular those who were appointed on this
occasion to lead. Treason! קֶשֶׁר; interesting references are II Samuel 15:12;
I Kings 16:20; Isaiah 8:12; Jeremiah 11:9; Ezekiel 22:25. The idea of the
word is conspiracy, and Athaliah’s eye read this at once, and not less
promptly, that it amounted to treason to her.
14 "Then Jehoiada the priest brought out the captains of hundreds that
were set over the host, and said unto them, Have her forth of the
ranges: and whoso followeth her, let him be slain with the sword.
For the priest said, Slay her not in the house of the LORD.
15 So they laid hands on her; and when she was come to the entering
of the horse gate by the king’s house, they slew her there."
Brought out, וַיּוצֵא, for “commanded” in the parallel, וַיְצּו;
and this is probably right, the Hebrew in our text probably a clerical or
copyist’s error. The ranges; שְׂדֵרות. This word is found only in three
other places, viz. twice in the parallel (its vs. 8, 15), Revised Version
“ranks,” and in I Kings 6:9, where it is rendered in the Authorized
Version “the boards,” but in the Revised Version “the planks,” and margin
“rows.” The ranges are commonly supposed to mean the ranks or rows of
soldiers. The Vulgate (septa templi) has understood them to mean the
precincts of the temple. The indications of the remarkable but not
uncommon prepositional expression, אֶל־מִבֵּית, (enjoying the analogy of
ether compounded prepositional expressions, as אֶל־מִחוּצ אֶל־מִגֶּגֶנ,)
favours the idea that Jehoiada said, Have her forth from inside “the house
of the Lord” (v. 12), to within your ranks, and there take care to make a
way for her, no one with immature zeal following to slay her there, at the
jeopardy of his own life, for under no case let her be slain in the house of
The Fall of Athaliah (vs. 12-15)
Ø An unusual sound. Secretly as the coronation of Joash had been
conducted, Athaliah’s quick ear caught the noise of trampling feet,
clapping hands, and shouting voices that issued from the temple on the
other side of the Tyropoean valley. Guilty consciences, of sovereigns, as of
common sinners, are prone to be startled by strange sounds (Job 18:11-12);
compare ‘Macbeth’ (act 2. sc. 2), “I have done the deed: didst thou not hear
Ø An unexpected sight. Mustering her guards, Athaliah proceeded from
her palace across the bridge that spanned the valley, and entered the temple
court, when a most unwelcome spectacle met her gaze, a boy standing on a
raised platform in front of the inner court, probably the brazen scaffold of
Solomon (ch. 6:13), his head encircled with a diadem, his
hand grasping a roll of parchment as if it were a scepter; beside him
Jehoiada the priest, the princes of the people, the Levitical trumpeters;
and around him all the people of the land, rejoicing and singing.
Ø An unrestrained cry. Whether or not Athaliah recognized in Joash one
of Ahaziah’s sons, whom she fancied she had murdered six years before,
she had no difficulty in comprehending the situation. A usurper herself, she
perfectly understood the scene she beheld to mean revolution. Rending her
garments in horror at the spectacle (II Kings 6:30; Ezra 9:3), and
perhaps in involuntary acknowledgment that the hour of her overthrow had
struck (I Samuel 15:27-28; I Kings 11:30), she likewise rent the
air with a shriek of “Treason! treason!” (compare II Kings 9:23).
Ø A charge to the captains.
o Concerning the queen. To arrest her, to lead her beyond the precincts
of the temple, to put her to death. Sudden and peremptory, this order
was absolutely necessary. Divine justice and public safety alike
demanded Athaliah’s blood. A murderess herself (ch. 22:10), her life
was forfeit to the law (Genesis 9:6). An idolatress of the rankest type,
she had incurred the sentence, “I will cast your carcases upon the
carcasses of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you” (Leviticus
26:30). A conspiratress, so long as she was spared the life of Joash
was not secure.
o Concerning her adherents. That they also should be put to the sword.
To follow Athaliah, defend her person or champion her cause, was to
be guilty of leze majesty (injured majesty) against Joash, and indeed
against Jehovah, whose vicegerent Joash was.
Ø Its execution by the captains.
o They hurried the unhappy queen beyond the precincts of the temple,
that the holy place might not be polluted with human blood.
o They conducted her forth to the vicinity of the king’s stables, the
people opening their ranks and making way for her to pass.
o They slew her there, within sight of the palace she had usurped and
of the temple she had desecrated. As by violence she had climbed
into the throne, by violence she was hurled from it. As she had lived
so doubtless she died, in unbelief and sin — a victim at once of
popular fury and Divine retribution (Proverbs 11:31).
Ø That the way of transgressors is hard. (Proverbs 13:15)
Ø That the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)
Ø That they who take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Ø That verily there is a God who judgeth in the earth. (Psalm 58:11)
Ø That with what measure one metes it shall be measured to him
again. (Matthew 7:2)
16 "And Jehoiada made a covenant between him, and between all the
people, and between the king, that they should be the LORD’s people."
Between him. The Revised Version reads “himself,” which is
the evident meaning. The parallel leaves out, however, mention of Jehoiada
as party to the covenant, viewing him rather as the promoter of it.
The Basis of National Prosperity (v. 16)
Jehoiada knew that it would be of very little use to be rid of one ruler and
to place another on the throne unless the nation itself could be bound in
strong bonds to Jehovah, its true and almighty Sovereign. Hence the action
he took as here described.
outgrowing that of all other countries; nor an army and navy such as no
other nation can equip; nor a full national bank; nor an extensive and
extending territory. A country may have any or even all of these things, and
yet be declining in strength and on the road to utter weakness and decay.
The foundation of a people’s strength is in the possession of the .Divine
favor. And this because:
Ø God will grant his Divine blessing to those that seek Him.
Ø And because God “loves righteousness and hates iniquity,” whether in
the individual man or in the nation; and it is in “the fear of the Lord” that
all moral and spiritual integrity rests as in its very root and source. That
people, therefore, which would live and thrive must be a people seeking
God’s face and acting in accordance with His will. Then will it enjoy His
blessing — that favor and succor with which it cannot fail to prosper,
without which it is bound to fall.
of the dynastic revolution to make it an occasion for entering into a solemn
covenant “between all the people and between the king, that they should be
the Lord’s people.” The time was suitable for this renewal of their
covenant with God. He himself, a priest of the Lord, had headed, indeed
had originated and effected, the overthrow of the old idolatrous regime;
the young king was to be placed on the throne as a worshipper of Jehovah,
and now they might pledge themselves, in the most solemn and binding
form, to be loyal to that Divine Lord whose, indeed, they were by a
thousand ties. It was wisely and worthily done. Acts of national
acknowledgment of God must need be rare. But it is open to Churches, to
families, and especially to individual men, to renew their vows of
attachment to their Divine Lord; to affirm to themselves or to declare to
their friends and neighbors that they are “the Lord’s people.” It is right
and wise to employ any and every favorable opportunity of doing this.
Such opportunity is found in:
Ø The time when the soul returns to God from the far country of indifference
and disloyalty, and realizes that it is admitted to the Father’s home.
Ø The time when the spirit is recalled from a temporary lapse, and again
recognizes the supreme claims of a Divine Redeemer.
Ø When we meet one another at the table of the Lord, and there are vividly
reminded of the supreme fact that He “gave Himself for us” unto shame
Ø On the reception of any special, personal, or domestic mercies at the
kind hand of our heavenly Father.
17 "Then all the people went to the house of Baal, and brake it down,
and brake his altars and his images in pieces, and slew Mattan the
priest of Baal before the altars." The house of Baal. It becomes plain that
some building had been actually reared alongside, so to say, of the very temple
itself, for Baal. Slew Mattan (Deuteronomy 13:6, 9). Brake… his images; Hebrew,
צְלָמָיו; this is the more pronounced word, distinguished from מַצְּבות.
18 "Also Jehoiada appointed the offices of the house of the LORD by
the hand of the priests the Levites, whom David had distributed in
the house of the LORD, to offer the burnt offerings of the LORD,
as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with
singing, as it was ordained by David." Jehoiada appointed; i.e.
reappointed or restored. The offices; פְקֻדות. Numbers 3:32, 36; 4:16; 16:29;
I Chronicles 23:11; 24:3, 19; 26:30; here ch. 17:14; 23:18; 24:11; 26:11; see
also Psalm 109:8; Isaiah 10:3 (compare Job 10:12). The priests.
There should, no doubt, be found the conjunction “and” after this word
and before “the Levites,” whom David had distributed (so I Chronicles
24:1-19; 25:8-31). In the Law of Moses (Numbers 18:1-7). With rejoicing
… singing… David (1 Chronicles 23:5; 25:1-2, 5-7; and our ch. 29:25-30).
19 "And he set the porters at the gates of the house of the LORD, that
none which was unclean in any thing should enter in."
The porters (I Chronicles 26:1-12).
20 "And he took the captains of hundreds, and the nobles, and the
governors of the people, and all the people of the land, and brought
down the king from the house of the LORD: and they came
through the high gate into the king’s house, and set the king upon
the throne of the kingdom. 21"And all the people of the land rejoiced:
and the city was quiet, after that they had slain Athaliah with the sword."
The high gate. There is some doubt as to what this gate was, whether the temple
gate of ch. 27:3, the chief gate of the outer court, or whether it was merely a
palace gate, and not identified also with the precincts of the temple. It is called
in the parallel “the gate of the guard.”
The Time of Action, after Six Years’ Waiting (vs. 1-21)
In the first verse of this chapter, so full of the indications of the ruling
providence of God, alike in His raising up a priest like Jehoiada, and in the
marriage alliance which Jehoiada had formed with the sister of the king, we
are told that this priest “strengthened himself,” or took courage, and
proceeded also therewith to take measures to bring the hidden heir to the
throne to light, and to place on his head the crown. It is not necessary to
understand this to imply that courage had been lacking to him before for
this work, but that, till the time was ripe, he had not girded himself to the
enterprise. We may notice:
is a hard task. Possibly simply the infancy and youngest childhood of Joash
advised that waiting. How could the scene have been made one-half as
effective as it was while Joash was but an infant? But there may have been
other reasons, and some of them easily imaginable, in the state and temper
of the kingdom, for the delay. Six years, at any rate, did he “rest, and the
seventh” he rose up to work — six years, not one of which was free from
anxiety and danger. Many a time must he have turned over the whole
matter in thought, and prayed over it, and with his God-fearing wife
developed the plan till now the seventh year came.
Churchman, he is a good example. By concerting methods of proceeding
with ever-widening circles of co-operation (the captains of hundreds, the
Levites, the chiefs of the fathers, etc., vs. 1-2), he obviates the danger
and almost the possibility of any breakdown; he gains sympathy; he gives
to enthusiasm its natural springs, and to public spirit legitimate impulse,
and so carries all to a successful issue.
DISTINCTNESS AND DIRECTNESS WITH WHICH THE PRINCIPLE
AND SANCTION OF RELIGION WERE INTRODUCED INTO THE
WHOLE PROCEEDING. The meeting (“congregation”) gathered in the
house of the Lord. The meeting made a “covenant” with the king there —
he challenging it, evidently. And the priest, faithful to his knowledge, and
faithful to his own faith, lays down distinctly the common ground and the
sacred bond of their co-operation: “Behold, the king’s son shall reign, as
the Lord hath said of the sons of David” (v. 3).
GOD WAS GUARDED AGAINST ANY ACCIDENTAL
PROFANATION. The priests and Levites on the one hand, and the people
on the other hand, all had their places and work assigned to them, with
every precaution and warning (vs. 6-10).
FEATURE — AN ALMOST SACRAMENTAL CELEBRATION — OF
THE TESTIMONY LAID UPON THE KING. Whether, as some think,
that with the crown of gold, the testimony, the book of the Law, was for a
moment rested upon his head — the better crown by far of the two — or
whether it was put into his hands, is very immaterial. The act was a most
suggestive one, and a most impressive one, and one which, to the end of
the life of Joash, now so young, might well be a memory of real religious
usefulness. We do not read of any previous instance of the kind. It may be
that it was thought of as a remembrancer specially suited to the very tender
age of the young king.
FOR EVER. The voice of priest and people was one now. And the voice
of these was also one with the voice of God. And too surely, even if it
were the first time, for “so long a time,” the voice of fear and of conscience
spoke at one, from the lips of the doomed woman Athaliah.
ALL THE PEOPLE AND THE KING. These vows were in the shape,
apparently, of a covenant — the contracting parties being the priest in the
name of the Lord his God on the one side, and on the other the people and
the king (v. 16). Are we not forcibly reminded here how right it is and
how needful that the servants of God, in the sense of being public ministers
of His truth, of religion, of the Church, should feel it their solemn duty not
only to give instruction and the best of it, but to make earnest appeal to
the people, and from time to time urge and lovingly challenge them to
decision in matters of their religious life?
BEGUN, THE PEACE OF THE LAND ENGAGED IN THAT WORK,
AND THE GLADNESS OF THE WHOLE PEOPLE IN IT.
Sin Surprised at its Failure (vs. 11-21)
The success of this revolution, so long prepared and so admirably accomplished
by Jehoiada, involved the ruin of one “wicked woman” (ch. 24:7). It was inevitable
that Athaliah must perish; here we have the account of her fall. We have before us:
came upon Athaliah with surprise. The twelfth verse describes the action of
one that is both astonished and alarmed, who takes hasty measures to learn
what is happening, and to provide for her own interests. Suddenly and
unexpectedly the blow fell upon her head. She was pursuing her evil
course, reckoning on future years of power and possession, and in the very
midst of her iniquity judgment overtook and overthrew her. How
continually does this happen, though it may be on a smaller scale and in
humbler spheres! Sin appears to succeed, holds up its head in triumph for a
while, defies all justice, human and Divine; then suddenly the ground opens
beneath its feet, and it is swallowed up. Its temporary success is only an
incident in its abortive career; it is a stage on its way to failure and
humiliation. The foolish man does not understand this; he thinks it is a
proof that God is afar off or is quite indifferent; he takes it as a sign that he
may safely disregard the solemn warnings of God’s Word. But he is
foolish; he does not understand the course of things. “When the wicked
spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is
that they shall be destroyed for ever” (Psalm 92:7; see also Psalm 73:2-20).
We may be surprised and pained at the prosperity of the wicked,
at the enthronement of the bloody and the selfish. Where is God’s
righteousness? where is the penalty of sin, we ask. Wait, and we shall see.
The end will come before long. The shameless usurper, man or woman,
will perish; the guilty empire will be overthrown. Suddenly or gradually
their fate will fall upon them. “How are they brought into desolation, as in
a moment!” (ibid. v. 19) Nor is it only the man or woman that rises to
eminence and to a great estate who will prove the truth of this. Any one
who hardens himself against God stands in the most serious danger
of being “suddenly destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1)
like the guilty woman at
the greatest excitement raised and felt on this occasion. Everything
contributed to kindle popular feeling and to raise it to its highest point.
When they surrounded the little child and anointed him with the sacred oil,
and put the crown on his young head and cried, “God save the king!” we
may be sure that the emotion which on some supreme occasions fills and
fires a multitude of people, was then as intense as it could be (see v. 13);
but Jehoiada held it under a wise control. And when Athaliah appeared,
and when they looked at her, and remembered what she had done and what
a blight and a curse she had been to the land, they might well have slain her
on the spot. But the priest of Jehovah would not have the sacred place
profaned with her blood, and he stayed their hand; they conducted her
beyond the sacred precincts, and not till then did they inflict justice upon
her. Feeling should never rise too high to be controlled by our judgment,
especially strong feeling against any individual, man or woman. If we let
our feelings carry our judgment along with them, we shall be sure to do
that which we shall afterwards regret and which may be quite irreparable.
Nor is any man at liberty to say that he is constitutionally impulsive and
cannot control himself. It may be a more difficult duty in some natures than
it is in others; but it is every man’s serious and sacred obligation to rule his
own spirit, to maintain a mastery over his affections and his impulses and
his resentments. This is to be the excellent result of daily discipline, of
strenuous endeavor, of constant prayer.
the house of Baal, and brake it down,” etc. (v. 17). As a rule, the way in
which we serve Christ wisely and permanently is the act of construction, of
building up. Better to:
Ø sow a seed than to pluck up a root;
Ø to raise a Christian sanctuary than to knock down a heathen temple;
Ø to implant thoughts of reverence and love than to rebuke and wither
the profane word or the evil habit.
But there is a time to plant and also to pluck up; a time to kill as well as to heal;
a time to break down as well as to build up (Ecclesiastes 3:2-3). There are:
Ø evil and hurtful people to be put out of the room,
Ø pernicious books and papers to be put into the fire,
Ø ruinous institutions to be suppressed by the strong hand of law,
Ø deadly practices to be sternly forbidden.
There is a time when the destructive hand is the organ of the will of
The Close of a Revolution (vs. 16-21)
this verse points to two covenant transactions.
Ø Between Jehovah and the king and people.
o In this the priest Jehoiada acted as Jehovah’s representative —
symbolizing the greater High Priest over the house of God, who
in the new and better covenant of grace is to sinful men the Image
of the invisible God (Hebrews 1:3; 3:1; 4:14; 5:5).
o Of this the object was that they, Joash and his subjects, should be
Jehovah’s people, observing His worship and keeping His
commandments, and that He should be their God, defending them
against their adversaries, and bestowing on them:
§ temporal and spiritual,
§ individual and national prosperity.
This was the substance of the covenant Jehovah had made with
the nation at Sinai (Exodus 19:3-6; Deuteronomy 5:2; 26:17-18),
and is the tenor of God’s covenant with His people in the gospel
Ø Between the king and the people.
o On his side that he would govern in accordance with the testimony put
into his hand that day; and
o on their side that they would be loyal to the throne on which he sat.
This covenant is implicitly involved in all relationships of king and
subjects. An unjust and tyrannical ruler ipso facto (by the fact
itself) violates the contract between himself and his people, and to
that extent absolves them from allegiance to his authority. Piety in
the sovereign and loyalty in the people are the two best supports
of an earthly throne.
without delay on a crusade against the false worship which had been
introduced and patronized by Athaliah.
by Jehoram to please Athaliah
(ch. 21:11; Josephus, ‘
similar edifice had been constructed in
of Jezebel (I Kings 16:32). Most
likely it stood on
alongside of the temple, if not within its outer court (Thenius, Bertheau),
rather than on a different elevation (Bahr). Its proximity to the temple would
account for its having become so soon a prey to popular fury, as when
building its vicinity to the temple suggested the idea of tearing down the
temple walls for stones to construct it (ch. 24:7). Now a day of Nemesis
had dawned for it, as similar days had already overtaken its builders. Its
walls and pillars, altars and images, were shattered in pieces. Compare
of the Roman Catholic edifices in
sermon by Knox. “The congregation [in the
was still undispersed, when a priest came in, went up to the altar, opened
the tabernacle, and prepared to say Mass. A boy who was present said
something insolent. The priest struck him; and the boy, snatching up a
stone, flung it at the crucifix, which fell broken to the ground. The common
instinct shot through the gathered crowd; altar, ornaments, images, in a few
moments lay in ruins on the chancel floor. The saints were flung from their
niches, the storied windows dashed in atoms. Then the cry rose,’ To the
Greyfriars!’ and in an hour or two the poor monks, started from their
noonday dinner, were adrift upon the world, and their homes going up
in smoke and flame into the sky” (Froude’s ‘History of England,’ vol. 6.
pp. 228-229). “For a day or two after Knox preached his famous sermon,
the besom of destruction was exceedingly busy in and about the fair city.
Somebody — perhaps Knox himself — had remarked that ‘if the nests were
pulled down the rooks would fly away;’ and so all hands were laid to the
nests. Popular fury raged uncontrollably. The monasteries and chapels which
had given stately adornment to the city and its environs were reduced to ruins,
only the bare and broken walls remaining, and most of these gaunt wrecks
speedily disappeared” (Fittis’s ‘ Ecclesiastical Annals of Perth,’ 1885, p. 81).
Ø The priest of Baal slain. Mattan the “priestling” (the Targum), having
attempted to lead the people astray, had incurred the penalty of death
(Deuteronomy 13:9), which was summarily inflicted, perhaps as Moses
had directed, by stoning him beside the altars at which he had served.
Compare the murder of Zechariah by Joash’s minions in the later years of
his reign (ch. 24:20).
Ø Irregularities corrected. The offices of the house of the Lord with
reference to burnt offerings were arranged in accordance with the
prescriptions of the Law of Moses. No worship was acceptable under the
Hebrew economy that did not adhere to the regulations of that divinely
inspired ritual; no worship is acceptable under the gospel dispensation that
departs from the rubric laid down by Jesus in His sermon at the well -
“God is a spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit
and in truth.” (John 4:24).
Ø Impurities prevented. Watchers were established at the temple gates,
that none should enter in who were in any respect unclean, i.e.
ceremonially defiled. Under the Law such persons were separated from the
congregation (Numbers 19:20; Leviticus 11:24; 22:5), and, until
they were purified, could take no part in the solemnities of Divine worship.
The truth therein symbolized was that worship derives its quality from the
character of the worshipper. An unclean Israelite could not render
acceptable worship to a God holy as Jehovah was. Not until an atonement
had been offered for his trespass by the officiating priest, and his body had
been washed in pure water, could he take his place in the congregation of
them who had a right to draw near to Jehovah. And neither can any render
acceptable worship under the gospel who do not do so on the basis of an
atonement offered for them by the great High Priest over the house of
God, and with the Heaven-inspired emotions of a renewed life, “with
hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and bodies washed with pure
water” (Hebrews 10:19-22).
Ø Joy superadded. That the service of Jehovah was designed to be a
perennial fount of joy for Jehovah’s people was understood and proclaimed
by Moses (Deuteronomy 33:29). Until David’s time this was not so
widely apprehended as might have been expected. The second king of
Jehovah should ever be accompanied with gladness (Psalm 5:11; 32:11;
68:3; 89:15-16; 100:1-2); and in order to express this idea, with the
concurrence and approval of the captains of the host, he “separated to the
service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, those who
should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals”
(I Chronicles 25:1). During the reigns of Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah this
part of the Divine service had been discontinued. When Joash acceded to
the throne it was restored. So should Christians always serve God “with
singing and rejoicing;” and this they will do in proportion as they are filled
with that Spirit of which the fruit is joy (Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:18-19;
Philippians 4:4; I Thessalonians 5:16; I John 1:4).
Ø Led by the priest. Having completed his arrangements for the restoration
of the temple service, Jehoiada proceeded with what was still needful to
perfect the revolution. Lifting the boy-king from the platform, he led him
forth from the temple down the causeway which conducted towards the
Ø Escorted by the people. As the crowd a little before had opened its ranks
to let Athaliah pass to her destruction, so now it opens them again to let
the young sovereign march to his regal residence. Probably preceded by the
centurions, the princes, and the heads of fathers’ houses, as in the temple
he had been encompassed by the Levites, he is followed by the people of
Ø Conducted through the upper gate. This, called, “the gate of the guard”
(II Kings 11:19), was not a temple door (Keil), but an entrance into the
palace (Bertheau), perhaps the principal one, through which the royal
guards were accustomed to pass. It was fitting that David’s heir should
publicly take possession of David’s house.
Ø Set upon the throne. This the natural termination of the ceremony. Joash
was established upon the throne of the kingdom, the throne of his fathers,
the throne which derived its authority from JEHOVAH ALONE!
Ø The country was glad — that the queen was slain. Her government had
been a usurpation and a curse. Nobody lamented her. If she had a funeral,
those who bore her to her last resting-place gave vent to their emotions,
not in sobs, but in songs. If they shed tears above her sepulcher, these were
tears of joy, not of grief. A terrible commentary on any one’s life, that
one’s contemporaries, whether equals or dependents, are glad to be rid of
one — to see one’s career ended, one’s breath stopped, and one’s carcass
huddled out of sight!
Ø The city was quiet — though the queen was slain. No one dreamed of
drawing a sword to avenge her assassination. Those who knew her best,
who had most frequent opportunities of studying her character and
observing her behavior, had nothing to say in excuse of her faults or
in commiseration of her fate. The consciences of her people were satisfied
that she had deserved her doom. Perhaps the pious among them added,
“So let all thine enemies perish, O Jehovah” (Judges 5:31).
Ø That the secret of all true prosperity, for Church or state, for society or
for the individual, is:
o piety towards GOD and
o rectitude towards man.
Ø That true religion can admit of no compromise with false religion, but
must aim at its extermination.
Ø That in all matters of faith and practice, doctrine and duty, ritual and
worship, the will of God, not the opinion of man, is the supreme rule.
Ø That THE ENEMY most requiring to be guarded against by God’s
worshippers is SIN!
Ø That the King’s house for Christians is not the material temples in which
they worship, but their own hearts, in which Christ desires to be
enthroned. “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my
Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our
abode with him.” (John 14:23)
Ø That it is legitimate to rejoice over the destruction of the enemies of
God and His people (Proverbs 11:10).
First Purity, then Peace (v. 21)
“And the city was quiet, after that they had slain Athaliah with the sword.”
We can conceive of many occasions when the “slaying of a woman with
the sword” should not and would not lead to quietude, but to unrest, to
turbulence, and to strife. But this “wicked woman,” Athaliah, was the
impersonation of usurpation and of idolatry. To slay her was to “put away
the evil thing” from above and from the midst of the people of God. It was
an act of purgation, of cleansing of the nation’s conscience. It was a
spiritual upheaval, throwing off a heavy weight that rested on the spirit of
obedience. It was an act of excision, cutting off the guilty “right hand” that
the “whole body” might be saved. (Matthew 5:30) If there be in the way of
our conscientious adhesion to the cause, and engagement in the service, of
Christ any such obstacle as was this Athaliah
to the people of
no half-measures will suffice. The evil, whatever it be, must be slain with
the sword, must be “done to death,” must be relentlessly rooted out; then,
and not till then, will there be quiet through all the region of the soul. We
may find this Athaliah of ours in:
consequently a disloyal practice in which we do not believe.
cherished, but which we know to be guilty.
while Jesus Christ is honored and obeyed.
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