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God’s preservation of a legitimate king 11:1-12
Athaliah was the mother of the Judean king Ahaziah, whom Jehu assassinated (2 Kings 9:27-29). She was a daughter of Ahab and Jezebel and the sister of the Israelite kings Ahaziah and Joram, who had succeeded Ahab. She was the wife of the Judean king Jehoram, who had died of intestinal disease (2 Chronicles 21:18-19). Raiding Philistines and Arabians had killed her other sons besides Ahaziah (2 Chronicles 21:17).
Athaliah proceeded to assassinate all potential successors to the throne, totally disregarding God’s will that David’s descendants were to rule Judah (2 Samuel 7:16).
"It was one of the many attempts Satan made to exterminate the male offspring to make the coming One, the promised Savior, the seed of the woman, impossible. Had he succeeded through Athaliah in the destruction of the royal seed of David, the promise made to David would have become impossible." [Note: Gaebelein, 1:330.]
Jehosheba was a daughter of Athaliah’s husband, King Jehoram. She may not have been Athaliah’s own daughter, but was the half-sister of King Ahaziah of Judah, and the wife of the high priest in Judah, Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 22:11). [Note: Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 9:7:1.] She hid Jehoash (Joash), as Jochebed had hidden Moses (Exodus 2). According to Josephus, Jehosheba hid Jehoash in a room used to store spare furniture and mattresses. [Note: Ibid.]
The Carites (another spelling of Cherethites; cf. 2 Samuel 8:18; et al.) were special guards. The other guards (2 Kings 11:4) were priests and Levites (2 Chronicles 23:4).
When the high priest crowned Jehoash (Joash), who was then seven years old, he gave him a copy of the Mosaic Law consistent with what the Law required (Deuteronomy 17:18-19). This is the basis for the British custom of presenting the new king or queen of England with a copy of the Bible during the coronation ceremony. [Note: Wiseman, p. 233.]
2. Athaliah’s evil reign in Judah 11:1-20
Queen Athaliah usurped the throne of Judah. She was not a descendant of David. She was one of the 20 rulers of Judah, however. She was Judah’s only reigning queen and the strongest Baal advocate among Judah’s rulers.
God’s judgment of the usurper 11:13-20
Though Athaliah claimed that Jehoash’s coronation was treasonous, she was the one guilty of treason. Jehoash was a legitimate heir to the throne of Judah, but Athaliah was not since she was not a descendant of David, but had married into Judah’s royal family. She evidently wanted to bring Judah under Israel’s authority. Out of disrespect, the people executed her near the gate where the horses entered the palace (not the city; cf. 2 Chronicles 24:20-22). Like her mother she died a violent death among horses, the instruments of warfare (cf. 2 Kings 9:30-37).
The covenant Jehoiada led the people in adopting was a fresh commitment to the Mosaic Law (2 Kings 11:17; cf. Deuteronomy 27-30; Joshua 24; 2 Samuel 5:3; 2 Kings 23:1-3). He also destroyed the temple of Baal (2 Kings 11:18) and killed the idolatrous priests in front of the Baal altars. Mattan was a common Phoenician name, but an Israelite with the same name appears in 2 Kings 24:17, so this priest may have been Phoenician or Israelite. [Note: J. Skinner, I and II Kings, p. 341; Cogan and Tadmor, p. 130.] All of this showed contempt for the pagan worshippers’ false belief that their temple area was a sacred sanctuary. The result of this return to Yahweh was joy and peace in Jerusalem (2 Kings 11:20).
As Jezebel had promoted Baalism in Israel, so her daughter did in Judah. During Athaliah’s six-year reign (841-835 B.C.) Baalism gained its most secure foothold in the Southern Kingdom. It was never as influential in Judah as it was in Israel, however, because of the stronger commitment to Yahweh that existed in the Southern Kingdom.
Athaliah’s history is still another proof that those who disregard God’s Word and will bring God’s discipline on themselves and on those they lead.
Jehoash’s contributions 11:21-12:3
Jehoash was the youngest king to mount Judah’s throne. He began reigning at age seven and ruled for 40 years (835-796 B.C.). His father was Ahaziah, the most recent male ruler of Judah, and his grandmother was Athaliah.
Jehoash followed the Law of Moses and ruled well as long as his mentor Jehoiada, the high priest, lived. However when Jehoiada died, evidently shortly after Jehoash’s temple repairs were complete (2 Chronicles 24:15), the king began to follow the advice of certain Judean officials who led him into unfaithfulness to Yahweh. He stubbornly refused the warnings God sent him by prophets (2 Chronicles 24:17-19) and by Zechariah, who had replaced his father as high priest (2 Chronicles 24:20-22). He even executed Zechariah. In the earlier years of his reign he was faithful to God, except that he allowed the high places of worship to remain in Judah (cf. Deuteronomy 12:2-7; Deuteronomy 12:13-14).
3. Jehoash’s good reign in Judah 11:21-12:21
With the beginning of Jehoash’s reign, Judah began to enjoy over 100 years of consecutive leadership by four men whom the writer of Kings judged good. None of these four (Jehoash, Amaziah, Azariah, and Jotham) was as good for Judah as Asa and Jehoshaphat had been, or as Hezekiah or Josiah would be. Nevertheless, together they provided the longest continuous span of God-approved leadership in Judah’s history.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Kings 11". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
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