II Kings 11

 

            The Revolution in Judah after the Revolution in Israel

                              The Reign of Athaliah (vs. 1-3)

 

On learning the death of Ahaziah (ch. 9:27), Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel,

the queen-mother, murders all her grandchildren (except the youngest, Joash, who is

secreted by his aunt, Jehosheba) and seizes the kingdom. No resistance is made to her,

and she retains the sole authority for six years. The worship of Baal, introduced by

Jehoram into Judah, and supported by Ahaziah (ch. 8:27), is maintained by her (v. 18).

 

1  “And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead,” –

(On Athaliah, see the comment upon ch. 8:18.) She was married to Jehoram, son

of Jehoshaphat, probably in the lifetime of his father, to cement the alliance

concluded between Ahab and Jehoshaphat against the Syrians (I Kings 22:2-4).

She inherited much of her mother Jezebel’s character, obtained an unlimited

ascendancy over her husband, Jehoram, and kept her son Ahaziah in leading-strings.

It was unquestionably through her influence that Jehoram was prevailed upon to

introduce the Baal-worship into Judah (ch. 8:18; II Chronicles 21:5,11), and Ahaziah

prevailed upon to maintain it (ch. 8:27; II Chronicles 22:3, “He also walked in the

ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counselor to do wickedly”).

On the death of Ahaziah, she found her position seriously imperiled. The crown

would have passed naturally to one of her grandchildren, the eldest of the sons of

Ahaziah. She would have lost her position of gebirah, or queen mother, which

would have passed to the widow of Ahaziah, the mother of the new sovereign. If

she did not at once lose all influence, at any rate a counter-influence to hers

would have been established; and this might well have been that of the high

priest, who was closely connected by marriage with the royal family. Under

these circumstances, she took the bold resolution described in the next

clause – “she arose and destroyed the seed royal.” She issued her orders,

and had all the members of the house of David on whom she could lay her

hands put to death. The royal house had already been greatly depleted by

Jehoram’s murder of his brothers (II Chronicles 21:4), by Arab marauders

(Ibid. v.17), and by Jehu’s murder of the “brethren of Ahaziah (ch.10:14);

but it is clear that Ahaziah had left several sons behind him, and some of his

“brethren” had also, in all probability, left issue. There may also have been many

other descendants of David in Judah, belonging to other branches of the house than

that of Rehoboam.  Athaliah, no doubt, endeavored to make a clean sweep, and get

rid of them all.

 

2  “But Jehosheba (“Jehoshabeath,” – II Chronicles22:11; “Josabethe,” Josephus)

–“The daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah” - halfsister, according to

Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:7. § 1), the daughter of Joram by a secondary wife, not by

Athaliah — “took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the

king’s sons which were slain;”  As aunt of the royal children, Jehosheba would

have free entrance into the palace, and liberty to visit all the apartments. She did

not dare openly to oppose Athaliah’s will, but contrived secretly to save one of

the intended victims, the smallest of them, an infant of a year old – (Josephus).

His tender age, probably, moved her compassion, and induced her to select him

from the rest -  “and they hid him: even him and his nurse,” - The order in

the Hebrew is, “even him and his nurse, and they hid him,” which clears the sense.

Jehosheba stole away Joash and his nurse, and they, i.e. Jehosheba and the nurse

together, hid him between them – “in the bedchamber” -  rather, in the chamber

of mattresses — a room in the palace where mattresses, and perhaps coverlets,

were stored.  There is usually such a room in an Oriental palace, which is only

used as a store-chamber, and not as a dwelling-room – “from Athaliah, so that

he was not slain.”  Athaliah’s servants may not have been very anxious to carry

out her cruel orders to the uttermost, and may have made no very careful search.

 

3  “And he was with her — he, i.e. Joash, was with her, i.e. Jehosheba, his aunt —

hid in the house of the Lord” -  i.e. the temple. We learn from II Chronicles 22:11

that Jehosheba was married to Jehoiada, the high priest, and would thus have ready

access to the temple. We must suppose that, after a few days’ concealment in the

“chamber of mattresses,” Jehosheba found an opportunity of transferring him, with

his nurse, to a chamber in the temple, where he was thenceforward nourished and

brought up. There were various chambers in the temple used for secular purposes,

as we learn from I Kings 6:5-8 and Nehemiah 13:5-9 – “six years.”  (compare

v. 21 and II Chronicles 24:1). “And Athaliah did reign over the land.”  It is

difficult to realize all that this implies. It cannot mean less than that for six years

Baalism was triumphant in Judah — the temple was allowed to fall into decay

(ch. 12:5) — a temple to Baal was erected in Jerusalem itself, to supersede the

temple of Jehovah (v.18), and a high priest appointed to be a rival to the successor

of Aaron. Whether persecution was indulged in, as under Jehoram (II Chronicles

21:11), is uncertain; but the servants of Jehovah were at any rate under a cloud,

slighted, contemned, held as of small account. Perhaps we may conclude, from

the position occupied by Jehoiada, and from the powers which he was able to

exercise when he determined on revolt (v. 4; II Chronicles 23:1-2), that

Athaliah, during her six years’ reign, was to some extent held in check by a

Jehovistic party, which she knew to exist, and which she did not dare

openly to defy. Thus she left Jehoiada (apparently) in possession of the

temple, of its treasures and its armory (v. 10); she allowed the temple

service to continue (II Chronicles 23:4-7); she permitted the priests and

the Levites to serve in their regular “courses” (Ibid. v. 8); she let

the fortress of the eastern city — for the temple was always a fortress —

remain in her enemies’ hands. Still, the time was evidently one “of trouble,

and of rebuke, and blasphemy” the oppressed worshippers of Jehovah were

greatly discontented; and the nation generally was ripe for a counterrevolution,

so soon as the signal was given by an authority whom they could trust.

 

 

 

 

                        The Conspiracy of Jehoiada (vs. 4-16)

 

After waiting, impatiently we may be sure, for six long years, and seeing the young

prince grow from an infant to a boy of seven years of age, Jehoiada deemed that the

time was come to venture on an effort. It was necessary for him to make his

arrangements beforehand with great care. His first step was to sound the

captains of the royal guard. To these men, five in number (IIChronicles 23:1),

he sent secretly, and invited them to confer with him in the temple on important

business. Finding them well disposed to adopt his views, he revealed to them the

fact that Joash had escaped the massacre of Ahaziah’s sons, and was still living,

even allowing them to see him. The result of the interview was that they put

themselves at Jehoiada’s disposal, and agreed to take their orders from him (v. 4).

Jehoiada then proceeded to his second step. Either distrusting the body-guard

which the captains commanded, or regarding it as insufficient in numbers, he gave

them orders to visit the various cities of Judea, and collect from them a strong

force of Levites and other trusty persons, and bring them to Jerusalem (II

Chronicles 23:2), where he would give them their orders. This was done

successfully, and, as it would seem, without in any way rousing the suspicions of

Athaliah. A day was fixed for proclaiming Joash king; the guard and the Levites

were skillfully disposed about the temple and the palace; the king was brought up,

crowned, anointed, and saluted as monarch, with noisy acclamations (v. 12). The

noise was heard in the palace, and Athaliah went forth, with a few attendants, to

inquire the reason of it. Following the sound, she came to the temple, and entered it,

when she saw what was going on, and cried out, “Treason! Treason!” By Jehoiada’s

order the guards seized her, conducted her out of the temple, and slew her (vs. 13-16).

 

4  “And the seventh year — literally, and in the seventh year; i.e. in the course

of it — Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers over hundreds, with the captains

and the guard,” -  rather, the captains over hundreds (or, centurions) of the

Carites and the guard (see the Revised Version). The “Carites,” here first named,

are generally regarded as identical with the Cherethites of earlier times (II Samuel

8:18; I Kings 1:38; I Chronicles 18:17). They were undoubtedly a particular

portion of the royal guard, and may, perhaps, as many suppose, have been

“Caftan” mercenaries, though we have no other evidence that the Carians

had adopted the mercenary life so early as the time of Athaliah. Still, as

their devotion to it had passed into a proverb when Archilochus wrote

(B.C. 700-660), it is quite possible that they had begun the practice a

century or two earlier. When Jehoiada is said to have “sent and fetched”

the centurions, we must understand that he secretly invited them, and that

they consented to come. He could not possibly have any authority over

them, so as to require their attendance. The names of the five centurions,

together with their fathers’ names, were put on record by the writer in

II Chronicles 23:1), whose account of the revolution is in many respects fuller than

that in Kings – “and brought them to him into the house of the Lord — as the

safest place for an interview which had to be kept secret from the queen — and

made a covenant with them, and took an oath of them in the house of the

Lord,” -  We can easily understand that the soldiers, who had been willing to

serve Athaliah under the notion that the house of David was extinct, might waver

in their allegiance so soon as they heard that a scion of the old royal stock

survived, and could be produced at a moment’s notice. Their traditions would

attach them to David and his seed, not to the house of Ahab – “and showed

them the king’s son.”  Having bound the centurions by a solemn covenant to

the cause of the young king, Jehoiada introduced them into his presence. He

had, no doubt, previously sworn them to secrecy.

 

5   “And he commanded them, saying, This is the thing that ye shall do;” –

It is evident, from IIChronicles and from Josephus, that a considerable interval of

time separates the events of v. 5 from those of v. 4. The immediate arrangement

made between Jehoiada and the centurions was that they should “go throughout

 the whole land” (Josephus, ‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:7. § 2), visit “all the cities of Judah

(II Chronicles 23:2), and gather out of them a strong force of Levites and priests

(Josephus), together with a certain number of other representative Israelites, which

force they should bring with them to Jerusalem, and place at his disposal.

To accomplish this must have taken some weeks. When the force had

arrived, Jehoiada summoned it to meet him in the courts of the temple, and

swore it to a similar covenant to that which he had made with the

centurions. He then bided his time, completed his arrangements, utilized

the store of arms laid up in the temple armory (v. 10), and finally gave

two charges — one to the centurions, which is given here (vs. 5-8), and

the other to the force collected from the cities of Judah, which is given in

in II Chronicles 23:4-7. The orders given to the two forces were very similar,

but not identical – “A third part of you that enter in on the Sabbath” - The

royal body-guard consisted of five divisions, each probably of a hundred men,

and each commanded by its own captain (Ibid. v.1). It was usual on the sabbath

for three divisions out of the five to mount guard at the royal palace, while two

were engaged outside, keeping order in the city, and especially at the temple. We

do not know the ordinary disposition of the guard, either inside or outside the palace.

On this occasion Jehoiada commanded that the palace-guard should be disposed

as follows: one division at the palace proper, in the courts and halls and antechambers;

a second at one of the issues from the palace, known as “the gate of Sur;” and a

third at an issue called “the gate of the guard,” which was certainly towards the

east, where the palace fronted the temple. The object was to secure the palace, but

not to prevent the queen from leaving it – “shall even be keepers of the watch

of the king’s house;” -  i.e. of the royal palace.

 

6  “And a third part shall be at the gate of Sur;” -  The “gate of Sur” is not

elsewhere mentioned. It seems to be called in II Chronicles 23:5) “the gate of the

 foundation” (dwOsy] r["c") instead of “the gate of Sur” (rWs r["v"), as here —

the one reading having evidently arisen out of the other by a corruption. We must

understand one of the palace gates, but which of them is uncertain – “and a third

part at the gate behind the guard:” -  called in v. 19 “the gate of the guard,”

and shown there to have been on the east side of the palace, where it faced the

temple, and abutted on the Tyropoeon“so shall ye keep the watch of the

house i.e., of the “king’s house,” or palace, which is contrasted with the

“house of the Lord” of the next verse — that it be not broken down.”

 

7  “And two parts of all you that go forth on the Sabbath,”  -  Three-fifths of

the guard having been disposed of about the palace, there remained only two-fifths,

or two “companies” (margin of Authorized Version). These Jehoiada commanded

to enter the temple and protect the young king – “even they shall keep the

watch of the house of the Lord about the king.”  According to II Chronicles

23:7, the great body of the Levites gathered from the cities of Judah was also to be

in the temple, and to assist in the protection of the monarch.

 

8  “And ye shall compass the king round about; every man with his weapons

in his hand:” - The guard was to take up a position, partly in front of the king, and

partly behind him; interposing themselves between his person and any danger, and

at the same time extending themselves across the entire court of the temple (v. 11)

from one wall to the other.  They were, of course, to have their weapons in their

hands, ready for use - “and he that cometh within the ranges, let him be slain:”

-  rather, within the ranks. The order was that if any one entered the temple, and

attempted to break through the ranks of the guard, either in front of the king or

behind him, he should instantly be put to death. No attempt of the kind was

made; and so the order remained a dead letter – “and be ye with the king

as he goeth out and as he cometh in.” -  accompany him, i.e. in all his

movements — let him never for a moment stray outside your ranks — continue to

surround him whithersoever he goes. Boys are restless, and curiosity would lead the

young prince to move from place to place in order to see what was going on.

 

9  “And the captains over the hundreds -  i.e., the five

centurions of the guard, Azariah the son of Jeroham, Azariah the son of

Obed, Ishmael, Maaseiah, and Eli-shaphatdid according to all things

that Jehoiada the priest commanded:” -  The secular arm placed itself

entirely at the disposal of the spirituality, and was content for once to be

subordinate – “and they took every man his men that were to come in on

the sabbath, with them that should go out on the sabbath, and came

to Jehoiada the priest.”  The position of Jehoiada as high priest (“the

priest” always means “high priest”) had not been previously mentioned,

probably because it was presumed to be known. The Chronicler, writing

much later, gives Jehoiada the title on the first occasion that he mentions

him (II Chronicles 22:11). When it is said that all the captains took

their men and came to Jehoiada,” the intention is to mark their exact

obedience to the orders given them. Strictly speaking, only two out of the

five actually appeared before Jehoiada on the day of the execution of his project,

two divisions only having been summoned to come to the temple (v. 7). The other

three took up the positions assigned them in and about the royal palace.

 

 

10  “And to the captains over hundreds did the priest give King David’s

spears and shields, that were in the temple of the Lord.”  We hear of David

carrying with him to Jerusalem the “shields of gold,” i.e. shields ornamented with

gold, which he took from the servants of Hadadezer (II Samuel 8:7); but otherwise

we are not told of his establishing an armory. Solomon made six hundred shields

of solid gold, and laid them up in the house of the forest of Lebanon (I Kings

10:17); but these were carried off by Sheshonk, when he invaded Judaea in the

reign of Rehoboam (Ibid. ch. 14:26). Rehoboam, in their place, made three

hundred brazen shields (Ibid. v. 27), which, however, were deposited in the

guard-chamber of the royal palace. Of spears collected by David, and laid up

in the temple, we know nothing beyond the present passage.

 

11  “And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, round

about the king, from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the

temple,” -  “Corner” is a wrong word used in this connection. The Hebrew ãt,k;

is literally, “shoulder,” and must mean here, not “corner,” but “side”.  The guard

was drawn up right across the temple court from wall to wall, probably in several

ranks, both before and behind the king (see v. 8) – “along by the altar” - The

“altar” intended is, of course, the altar of burnt offering, which stood in the great

court, a little way from the porch, right in front of it; not the altar of incense, which

was inside the sanctuary. No one, it must be remembered, was ever allowed to

enter inside the sanctuary but the priests and officiating Levites (II Chronicles 23:6)

- “and the temple.”  “The temple” is here the sanctuary, as in the passage of

Chronicles just quoted.  The guard occupied a position at the upper end of the

court, immediately in front of the altar and the temple porch.

 

12  “And he i.e. Jehoiadabrought forth the king’s son,”  - produced him,

i.e., from the chamber or chambers where he had been concealed hitherto. (On the

temple chambers, see Nehemiah 13:4-9.) – “And put the crown upon him,” –

That the Israelite kings actually wore crowns appears from II Samuel 1:10 and

I Chronicles 20:2. The crown was probably a band of gold, either plain or set with

jewels (Zechariah 9:16), fastened behind with a riband. It receives here the same

name that is given to the high priest’s diadem in Exodus 29:6 and 39:30 – “and

gave him the testimony;” -  The words “gave him” are not in the original, and

are superfluous. What is meant plainly is that the high priest laid on the young king’s

head a copy of the Law, or of some essential portion of it, perhaps the Decalogue,

which is often called “the testimony” (Exodus 16:34; 25:16, 21). The object

apparently was to show that the king was to rule by law, not arbitrarily — that

he was to be, as “not above, but beneath, the law of his country” (‘Jewish Church,

’ vol. 2. p. 397). The ceremony seems to have been a new one, and is indicative

of the gradual curtailment of the regal power under the later monarchy – “and they

made him king, and anointed him;”  -  A change is made from the singular to the

plural, because, as we learn from II Chronicles 23:11, Jehoiada and his sons

anointed him.” We have had no mention of the anointing of a new monarch in

Judah since the time of Solomon (I Kings 1:39). It may, however, have been the

usual practice – “and they i.e. the people — all who were present — clapped

their hands” — an ordinary sign of joy (see Psalm 47:1; 98:8; Isaiah 55:12;

Nahum 3:19) — “and said, God save the king.” - literally, long live the king!

(compare I Samuel 10:24; II Samuel 16:16; I Kings 1:25,39).

 

13  “And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard” - (compare I Kings

1:41-45, where the noise accompanying the coronation of Solomon was heard to

an equal distance) – “and of the people, she came to the people into the

temple of the Lord.”  It was not her habit to enter the temple on the sabbath,

or on any other day; but, hearing the noise, she hurried across from the palace to

learn its cause. It would seem that she was still unsuspicious of danger, and brought

no guards with her, nor any large body of attendants.

 

14   “And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar,” -  rather, on

the pillar, or on the raised platform. The king’s proper place in the temple

seems to have been a raised standing-place (dWM["h;, from dmo[;, to stand) in

front of the entrance to the sanctuary, which made him very conspicuous (compare

ch. 23:3; II Chronicles 23:13, and 34:31) - “as the manner was i.e. as was

the usual practice when kings visited the temple — and the princes i.e. the

centurions or captains of the guard — and the trumpeters by the king — the

officials whose business it was to blow the trumpet at a coronation (see II Samuel

15:10; I Kings 1:39) — and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew

with trumpets:” -  i.e. the people who had been admitted into the great court

to witness the coronation. Some rumor of what was about to occur had got abroad,

and many of the people had provided themselves with trumpets.  The temple court

was crowded with spectators, and they too took part in the celebration, and themselves

prolonged the trumpet-blast, blended with the musical instruments of the temple service

- “and Athaliah rent her clothes,” – Athaliah took in all with a single glance. She

saw that the fatal hour was come. With a strong hand she rent her royal robes, partly

in horror, partly in despair; for the single glance which she had cast around was

sufficient to show her that all was lost – “and cried, Treason! Treason.” -  or,

conspiracy! conspiracy!  The cry was scarcely an appeal for help,  as Josephus

makes it (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:7. § 3), but rather an instinctive utterance, without distinct

aim or object, wrung from her under the circumstances. It fell dead on the assembly.

 

15  “But Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains — literally, princes

of the hundreds, the officers of the host,” -  the commanders, i.e., of the small

“army” assembled in the temple court — “and said unto them, Have her forth

without the ranges:” - rather, have her forth, or conduct her out between your

 ranks. The object was probably to preserve her from suffering violence at the

hands of any of the people within the temple precincts, which Jehoiada desired to

preserve free from pollution – “and him that followeth her kill with the sword.”

-  i.e. if any come after her out of the temple, to attempt a rescue, slay them with the

sword. The order, given aloud, was sufficient to deter persons from making the

attempt. “For the priest had said, Let her not be slain in the house of the

Lord.”  Jehoiada had previously given an order that her execution should take

place outside the temple.

 

16  “And they laid hands on her; and she went by the way by the which

the horses came into the king’s house:” – Some understand that they formed

two lines and let her pass out and proceed toward the palace untouched –

Josephus makes Athaliah pass out of the temple by the east gate, and descend

into the Kedron valley. He says she was put to death “at the gate of the king’s

mules,” but does not mark the locality. The gate intended can scarcely be the

“horse gate” of Nehemiah 3:28, which was in the eastern wall, and north of the

temple. It was probably a gate on the western side of the Tyropoeon valley, giving

entrance to the stables of the palace (compare II Chronicles 23:15, and see below,

v. 20) – “and there was she slain.” -  “with the sword”-  (Ibid.). A single blow

from one of the guardsmen probably sufficed.

 

 

                        Further Doings of Jehoiada (vs. 17-21)

 

The king being at present a mere puppet in his hands, Jehoiada had to determine the

next steps which were necessary to be taken. These, in his judgment, were three.

 

  • A solemn covenant must be made between the king and the people; and

            another between the king, the people, and God the latter pledging

            the king and people to maintain the worship of Jehovah, and never

             again to apostatize; the former pledging the king to govern according to

            law, and the people to remain faithful to Him.

 

  • The temple of Baal, erected in Jerusalem at the instance of Athaliah,

            must be destroyed.

 

  • The king must be removed from the temple and installed in the palace of

            his ancestors. A brief account of these proceedings concludes the present

            chapter.

 

17  “And Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the

people,” -  In the original it is “made the covenant;” and the meaning is that the

high priest renewed the old covenant understood to exist between king and people

on the one hand and God on the other, that they would be faithful to God and God

to them — that they would maintain His worship, and that He would continue His

protection (see Exodus 19:5-8; 24:3-8; 34:10-28). The apostasy of Jehoram,

Ahaziah, and Athaliah was regarded as having put an end to the old covenant, and

therefore it was solemnly remade or renewed – “that they should be the Lord’s

people;” -  (compare Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 4:20; 9:29; 32:9) -  [I recommend

Deuteronomy ch. 32 v. 9 – God’s Inheritance by Arthur Pink – this web site – CY –

2011] - “between the king also and the people.”  The terms of this covenant are

nowhere distinctly stated, but we can only suppose them to have expressed in words

the intention of that novel act, the imposition of “the testimony” upon the head of the

king at the time of his coronation (see the comment upon v. 12).

 

18   “And all the people of the land i.e. all those who had come up to Jerusalem

from the various cities of Judah to help Jehoiada (IIChronicles 23:2) — went into the

house of Baal,” -  According to Josephus, “the house of Baal” here mentioned was

built by Jehoram and Athaliah in the reign of the former (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:7. § 4), But, if

this was the case, it is rather strange that the writer of Chronicles, who enumerates so

many of the evil acts of Jehoram (II Chronicles 21:4, 6, 11), does not mention it.

The present narrative shows that the temple was in, or very near, Jerusalem; but there

is nothing to fix the site of it – “and brake it down — Josephus says they “razed it to

the ground”  — “his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly,” –

It was common among the heathen to have several altars in one temple, and not

uncommon to have several images even of the same god, especially if he was a god

worshipped under different forms, as Baal was (whence the word “Baalim”). The

Baalim of this temple are mentioned in II Chronicles 24:7 – “and slew Mattan the

priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest i.e. Jehoiadaappointed

officers over the house of the Lord.”  The parallel passage - II Chronicles 23:

18-19 –  explains this statement.  We are there told that Jehoiada appointed the

 offices of the house of the Lord by the hand of the priests the Levites... 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. And he set the

porters at the gates of the house of the Lord, that none which was unclean in

 anything should enter in.” During Athaliah’s reign the temple service had ceased;

breaches had been broken in the outer walls; and neither the priests nor the porters

had served in their regular order; there had been no morning or evening sacrifice,

and no antiphonal psalm-singing. Jehoiada re-established the regular courses and

the worship.

 

19  “And he took the rulers — literally, princes over hundreds i.e. the

five centurions of II Chronicles 23:2 — and the captains — rather, and the

Carites (see the comment on v. 4) — and the guard i.e. the “runners,” the

other division of the guard — and all the people of the land — those who had

flocked to his standard either originally (II Chronicles 23:2) or since — and they

brought down the king from the house of the Lord,” -  They escorted Joash

from the temple to the palace, first bringing him down into the valley of the

Tyropoeon, (we have had this name -the ravine of the Tyropoean either means

"the valley of the cheese makers" or "the valley of the Tyrians" which might have

been the Phoenician the section of the city in ancient times – CY – 2011) and

then conducting him up the opposite, or western hill, on which the palace

stood – “and came by the way of the gate of the guard to the king’s

house.”  The “gate of the guard” is probably that called in v. 6 “the gate

behind the guard.” We may presume that it was the main entrance to the

palace on the eastern side. “And he sat on the throne of the kings.” Not till

he had placed Joash on the royal throne of his ancestors, in the great throne-

room of the palace, was Jehoiada content with the work of the day.

 

 

20  “And all the people of the land rejoiced,” -  “All the people of

the land” has here, perhaps, a wider signification than in vs. 18-19.

The whole land was content with the revolution that had taken place. No

opposition showed itself. and none that dared to show itself,  (ch.12:1-16;

II Chronicles 23:1-21; 24:1-14), until after the death of the high priest

Jehoiada, which was later than the twenty-third year of Joash“and the city

- i.e. Jerusalemwas in quiet: and they slew — it might he translated, when

 they had slain Athaliah with the sword beside the king’s house.” The

intention of the writer is to connect the period of tranquility with the removal

 of  Athaliah, and therefore to point her out as the cause of disturbance

 previously.

 

21  “Seven years old was Jehoash — or, Joash when he began to reign.”

(comp. vs. 3-4 and II Chronicles 24:1). The clause would be better placed at the

beginning of the next chapter.

 

 

                                    ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

                                    A Look at Athaliah and Jezebel,

                        the Wicked Daughter and the Wicked Mother

 

It has often been noted that, while women are, as a general rule, better than men,

in the cases where they enter upon evil courses their wickedness exceeds that of their

male associates.  Wicked women are more thorough-going than wicked men, more

bloody, more daring, more unscrupulous. In Athatiah we have a sort of repetition

 of Jezebel — a second picture on the same lines — the picture of a fierce, ambitious,

utterly unscrupulous woman, occupying much the same station as her mother, equally

powerful, equally unsparing, and equally remorseless. Both women are represented as:

 

  • DEVOTEES OF THE SAME SENSUOUS AND IMMORAL CULT.

            Jezebel introduces the Baal and Ashtoreth worship into Israel; Athaliah

            into Judah. Each defiles the capitol of her adopted country with a temple to

            Baal — a temple where images of Baal are set up, altars erected to him,

            and sacrifices offered to him. Each brings with her into her new home the

            Baal priesthood, and installs it in power.

 

  • BOTH ARE OPEN ANTAGONISTS OF JEHOVAH. Jezebel persecutes

      the Jehovistic prophets, slaying as many as she can, and threatening the life

            even of Elijah (I Kings 18:4; 19:2). Athaliah stops the temple-worship

            at Jerusalem, has breaches made in the temple walls, and gives to Baal the

            offerings which properly belong to Jehovah (II Chronicles 24:7).

 

  • BOTH WERE MURDERESSES. Jezebel, of Naboth (iKings 21:8-14)

      and of the Jehovistic prophets (i Kings 18:4); Athaliah, of “all the seed

       royal of the house of Judah (II Chronicles 22:10).

 

  • BOTH WERE EAGER TO GRASP AND WIELD SOVEREIGN POWER.

      Jezebel governs Ahab (I Kings 21:25), uses his signet (Ibid. v. 8), orders

      executions (Ibid. 18:4; 21:10), and the like. Athaliah governs Jehoram

      (ch. 8:18) and Ahaziah (II Chronicles 22:3), and then seizes the royal power,

      and actually rules Judaea (here – v. 3).  Athaliah is, on the whole, the bolder

      of the two, and the more unscrupulous; since to destroy the entire seed royal,

      including several of her own grandchildren, was a more atrocious and

      unnatural deed than any committed by Jezebel; and the actual assumption of

      the royal name and power, in spite of her sex, was a more audacious

      proceeding than any on which her mother ventured. But her audacity verged

      on rashness, which cannot be said of Jezebel She brought her fate upon

      herself; Jezebel succumbed to an inevitable stroke of adverse fortune. There

      was weakness in Athaliah’s half-measures after she became queen, in her

      suffering Jehoiada to retain so much liberty and so much power, and still

      greater weakness in her unsuspiciousness. We cannot imagine Jezebel, if she

      had ever been actual queen, allowing herself to be put down in the way that

            Athaliah was. She would at least have made a fight for her life, instead of

            walking straight into a trap, which was what Athaliah did. Athaliah’s folly at

            the last can only be accounted for by an infatuation, which may have been

            a Divine judgment on her.

 

 

            Jehoiada, an Example of a Faithful and Wise High Priest

                             Under Trying Circumstances.

 

The history of the Jewish kingdom from the time of Saul to the Captivity furnishes

but few examples of remarkable high priests. Zadok and Abiathar were personages

of some importance in the time of David, and left behind them a name for zeal and

fidelity; but otherwise no man of eminence had arisen among the high priests until

Jehoiada. This may be partly accounted for by the fact that the high priesthood was

hereditary, not elective; but still more by the nature of the office, which was not

such as to bring its holder into historical prominence in quiet times. Jehoiada’s

opportunity for distinction arose from the difficult circumstances in which he was

placed  (compare Esther 4:14).  Holding the office of high priest when the throne

was usurped and religion outraged by Athaliah, it devolved on him to rescue

Church and state alike from peril, and to counter-work the wicked schemes of an

enemy both bold and unscrupulous. He could not prevent the destruction of the

royal stock by Athaliah, which was a crime so unnatural that none could have

anticipated it; but he did what he could. (When I first came to Hopkinsville

in 1966, I remember hearing a message by a black preacher, over the radio,

about the woman who anointed Jesus for the burying – [Mark 14:3-9] –

Jesus commended her – “She hath done what she could”would to God

you and I would do “what we could” and like David, serve our own generation.

– CY – 2011)   At the peril of his life he saved one prince, concealed him from

prying eyes, protected him, brought him up secretly, and did not allow his existence

to be even suspected. In faith and patience he waited till the infant had become a

boy of an age to interest people, and till Athaliah had lost the affections of all classes

of her subjects. He then organized a counter-revolution to the one effected by

Athaliah, with the greatest prudence, caution, and sagacity. It would have been easy

to gather partisans and raise a revolt; but Jehoiada shrank from the horrors of a civil

war, and from the risk of losing his precious charge by a stray shot or a chance

sword-thrust. He therefore set to work to detach Athaliah’s supporters from her

cause by the peaceful method of persuasion. First he gained over the captains of

her guard, then through them the rank-and-file, finally the “chief fathers” of Israel

in the various cities (II Chronicles 23:2). Doubting the sufficiency of this force, he

farther summoned to his aid a large body of Levites. And all this he did so secretly

as to create no alarm, to arouse no suspicion. When the time for action came, he

made his arrangements with the most consummate skill. He could not, indeed, have

foreseen that Athaliah would so play into his hand, as she did, by coming within the

temple walls with few or no attendants; but he had taken his measures in such a way

as to make failure impossible, and to reduce to a minimum the probability of tumult

or armed resistance. It was an indication of extraordinary prudence and political

wisdom to be able to effect a complete revolution, both in Church and state, at the

cost of two lives, both of them clearly forfeit by the Law of Moses. Up to this time,

Jehoiada’s wisdom had been chiefly conspicuous. Henceforth it is his fidelity that

draws our admiration. Aiming at nothing for himself, his first thought is for the

honor of God, and therefore he renews the Mosaic covenant; his next for the

welfare of his country, and therefore he makes king and people mutually swear to

each other; his third for the honor of true religion, and therefore he destroys the

temple of Baal, and inaugurates afresh the Jehovistic service.   The after-life of

Jehoiada is less remarkable (ch. 12:2-16; II Chronicles 24:2-14), but not

unworthy of his earlier reputation.

 

 

                        God’s Judgments Frequently Fall in this Life,

  Though Sometimes They are Deferred to the Life Beyond the Grave.

 

The Athaliahs and Mattans of history seldom come to a good end. Though the wicked

man be often seen in prosperity, though he “flourishes as a green bay tree,” (Psalm

37:35) yet it is not often that he continues flourishing to the close of his days, or dies in

comfort, peace, and happiness. The psalmist was satisfied when he saw “the end’

of the man whose long-continued prosperity had vexed and grieved him (Ibid. ch.

73:2-22). Heathen wisdom bade men “never to pronounce any one happy before

his death,” since in human life changes were of continual occurrence, and the higher a

man’s exaltation above his fellows at a given time, the lower was likely to be his

depression and degradation at another. The rationale of the matter seems to be:

 

  • GOD HAS ATTACHED PENALTIES TO VICE IN THE WAY OF

            NATURAL CONSEQUENCE, WHICH TAKE EFFECT IF TIME BE

            ALLOWED. Tyrants lay up for themselves a constantly increasing amount

            of hatred and resentment, which naturally bursts forth and sweeps them

            away after a while; e.g. Hipparchus, Tarquin, Dionysius, Caligula, Nero.

            Drunkards, gluttons, and profligate persons destroy their health. Reckless

            spendthrifts reduce themselves to poverty and want. Unfaithfulness strips

            men of their friends, and leaves them weak and defenseless against their

            adversaries. The prosperity of the wicked is naturally but for a time — give

            them the full term of human life, and, before they die, their sin will, to a

            certainty, find them out, and they will cease to prosper.

 

  • GOD DOES, ON OCCASION, VISIT HIGH-PLACED,

            PROSPEROUS SINNERS WITH SUDDEN, SIGNAL PUNISHMENTS

            DEALT BY HIS OWN HAND. Scripture gives us a certain number of

            examples, as those of the Pharaoh of the Exodus, Saul, Jezebel,

            Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod Agrippa, and the like, whose

            afflictions are distinctly declared to have been sent upon them by God

            Himself in the way of punishment. While, no doubt, great caution is

            necessary in applying the principle thus indicated to other persons in

            history, and especially to living persons, we need not shrink from some

            application of it. God speaks to us in history, not only in his Word. When

            selfish usurpers, who have deluged whole continents in blood, and

            sacrificed tens or hundreds of thousands of lives to gratify their ambition,

            are cast down from their thrones, and die in exile or banishment, it is

            impossible not to see His hand in the occurrences, executing judgment.

            When an Arius, bent on the disruption of the Church, and

            seemingly at the point of triumph, expires silently in the night, or a

            Galerius, the most cruel of persecutors, perishes in most horrible agonies,

            there is no want of charity or of reverence in once more recognizing his

            finger interposed to save has Church or to avenge his martyred ones.

            “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment;

            and some men they follow after” (I Timothy 5:24); and, when the

            judgment falls, it would be willful blindness on our part not to recognize it.

            We must be cautious, and remember that those on whom the tower in

            Siloam fell, and slew them, were not sinners above the other dwellers in

            Jerusalem (Luke 13:4); but, if it was God’s vengeance that destroyed the

            cities of the plain, (Sodom and Gomorrah) and that visited Nadab and

            Abihu, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, Sihon and Og, Balaam, Adonizedek

            and his brother kings, Eglon, Sisera, Zebah, Zalmunna, Abimelech, Agag,

            Doeg, Shimei, Jezebel, Haman, Ananias, Sapphira, Herod Agrippa,

            Elymas, so we may be sure that it has fallen on hundreds of others whose

            names do not occur in Scripture, coming suddenly upon them, and cutting

            them off in their iniquities, generally when neither they nor others were in

            the least expecting it. God is still, as He has ever been, “the great, the

            mighty God, the Lord of hosts, great in counsel and mighty in work;

            His eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men, to give every

             one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings”

            (Jeremiah 32:18-19). Either in this life or in the life to come He will

            execute vengeance upon evil-doers. Well for them if it is in this life, and

            if they so escape the dreadful lot of those “to whom is reserved the

            BLACKNESS OF DARKNESS FOR EVER.”(Jude 1:13).

 

 

 

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