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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
2 Kings 11

 

 

Verse 1

ATHALIAH’S USURPATION, 2 Kings 11:1-3.

1. Destroyed all the seed royal — The ferocious Athaliah, a worthy daughter of the bloody Jezebel, acted at Jerusalem as queen mother, (see 1 Kings 15:10; 1 Kings 15:13, notes,) and probably exercised her royal functions during her son’s absence in Jezreel. As soon as she heard of Ahaziah’s death she resolved to usurp his throne, and, in perfect accordance with her own savage character, and the notions of the time as to making a throne secure, she secured the death, as she supposed, of all her grandchildren, and all the royal family who might claim a title to the throne. Her great authority and influence, as queen mother, explains the apparent ease with which she seems to have accomplished her purpose.


Verse 2

2. Sister of Ahaziah — Probably a half sister, being Joram’s daughter by another wife than Athaliah. She was the wife of Jehoiada the priest, (2 Chronicles 22:11,) and this fact explains how he came to be hid in the temple.

The bed-chamber — “The bed-chamber in the temple, in which Jehosheba hid Joash, does not seem to mean a lodging chamber, but a chamber used as a repository for beds. I am indebted to Sir John Chardin for this thought, which seems to be a just one; for the original words signify a chamber of beds, and the expression differs from that which is used when a lodging chamber is meant. He supposes that place is meant where beds are kept; for in the East, and particularly in Persia and Turkey, beds are not raised from the ground with bed posts, a canopy, and curtains, people lie on the ground. In the evening they spread out a mattress or two of cotton, very light, of which they have several in great houses, and a room on purpose for them.” — Harmer’s Observations.


Verse 3

3. Hid in the house of the Lord six years — Jehosheba’s husband being high priest, this concealment of her nephew Joash was the more safe.


Verse 4

FALL OF ATHALIAH, AND ELEVATION OF JOASH TO THE THRONE, 2 Kings 11:4-21.

4. The seventh year — The seventh year of Joash’s age. Compare 2 Kings 11:21.

Rulers over hundreds — Their names are given in 2 Chronicles 23:1-2, together with the statement that the Levites out of all the cities of Judah, and the chief fathers of Israel, were gathered together at Jerusalem. These rulers of hundreds were probably officers of the army, having charge of a hundred men.

Captains and the guard — Gesenius renders these words, executioners and runners; which composed an important part of the bodyguard of the king. Others explain the word rendered captains, כרי Carians, that is, the men of Caria, in Asia Minor, who, like the Cretans, were wont to serve as lifeguards to the ancient Asiatic rulers. See on Cherethites and Pelethites. 2 Samuel 8:18.

Made a covenant… took an oath — These expressions explain each other. Jehoiada made a covenant with them by binding them under a solemn oath to help him carry out his plans of ruining Athaliah, and setting the youthful Joash on the throne. The high priest was wise enough to know that in carrying out a plan of so vast moment he must have the confidence and support of all the men of power. Athaliah’s regency was doubtless oppressive and unpopular, and the leading minds of the kingdom were glad to have it come to an end.


Verse 5

5. This is the thing that ye shall do — This description (2 Kings 11:5-14) of the arrangement of the Levite guards is obscure, and some parts of it difficult to harmonize with the parallel and fuller account in 2 Chronicles 23:4-13. The difficulty comes from our ignorance of some of the terms employed. The gate of Sur and the gate behind the guard are matters of conjecture, on which it is needless to posit a decided opinion. But so long as these gates are unknown, there must rest an obscurity upon the whole passage. We attempt merely to point out what seems to be the most natural and plausible meaning of the words.

You that enter in on the sabbath — Those Levites whose turn to enter upon their week of service in the temple came on the particular Sabbath here indicated. The different kinds of service in which they were employed are described in 1 Chronicles 9:17-33, from which passage it appears that a large body of the Levites were constantly required in the temple, and that they relieved each other by turns, one company entering in on the Sabbath when another company, having filled their week, went forth. 2 Kings 11:7. “By choosing the Sabbath day,” says Wordsworth, “and by retaining those of the Levitical course whose turn it was to retire from its allotted service, Jehoiada doubled the number of the official forces of the temple without exciting suspicion.”

Shall even be keepers of the watch of the king’s house — The king’s house must certainly mean the royal palace, from which there was a magnificent passageway leading up to the house of the Lord. 1 Kings 10:5, note. A third part of the Levites here specified, instead of entering the temple as usual, were to stay outside, and guard this way to the royal residence, lest some satellite of Athaliah should discover or interrupt the plot. They are the ones who in 2 Chronicles 23:5 are to be at the king’s house.


Verse 6

6. Gate of Sur — The same, doubtless, as the gate of the foundation, or gate of Yesod, in Chronicles. The exact locality of this gate cannot be decided, for it is nowhere mentioned again; but the most plausible supposition is, that it was the main entrance into the inner court of the temple.

The gate behind the guard — To this corresponds porters of the doors, in Chronicles. The guard, according to 2 Kings 11:11, stood round about the king, and extended from the right to the left side of the temple, by the altar and temple, and the gate behind the guard would seem to be some well-known side or rear entrance into the court of the temple, from which an attack or annoyance might be expected. It is also likely that some of these might stand as porters of the doors of the temple, gate-keepers of the Lord’s house, whose position would naturally be behind the guard that encompassed the king.

So shall ye keep the watch of the house — That is, all the three divisions just mentioned, by being stationed as described, shall guard all the approaches to the house of the Lord.

That it be not broken down — The Hebrew for this sentence is all in one word, מסח, a defence; a driving off. This body of Levites were to serve as a defensive watch — a company of sentinels set to drive away all that might presume to interfere with the plans of the high priest Jehoiada.


Verse 7

7. Two parts of all you that go forth on the sabbath — Those who went forth on the Sabbath were the course of Levites who were relieved on that day from their term of temple service by the coming in of another course. Instead of departing from the temple and returning home, as usual they were to form themselves into two parts or divisions, (literally, hands,) and to be the immediate bodyguard of the youthful king. Their particular duty is more fully given in 2 Kings 11:8, and they are identical with the guard mentioned in 2 Kings 11:11.


Verse 8

8. The ranges — Ranks of armed men.


Verse 9

9. Every man his men — That is, each captain took charge of the band of Levites committed to his command by Jehoiada.


Verse 10

10. King David’s spears and shields — The trophies and relics of David’s many wars. These had been preserved as treasures in the temple. It would have excited suspicion if the captains and the Levites had entered the temple armed; hence they were supplied with the arms that were kept in the temple.


Verse 11

11. From the right corner of the temple to the left — This means, doubtless, that a rank or several ranks of armed Levites were stationed in a semicircle in front of the temple, extending from one side to the other. The king, whom they encompassed, probably occupied a position by one of the pillars, Jachin and Boaz, in front of the temple. 1 Kings 7:21.

By the altar and the temple — Literally, to the altar and the house. Their ranks extended not only in a semicircular form around the king from one side of the temple to the other, but also reached to the altar of burnt offerings in the midst of the court, and to other parts of the temple also, besides the right and left corners. Chronicles adds, that besides these armed Levites with their officers, a multitude of the people were in the courts of the temple.


Verse 12

12. He brought forth the king’s son — The youthful Joash, now seven years old, having been for six of these years hid in the temple. 2 Kings 11:3.

And put the crown upon him — In the ceremony of crowning and anointing, Jehoiada, the high priest, officiated.

Gave him the testimony — The laws of Moses, from which he might read and learn all the days of his life. Compare Deuteronomy 17:18-19.

God save the king — Compare 1 Samuel 10:24. note.


Verse 14

14. The king stood by a pillar — Probably, as we have suggested above, (note on 2 Kings 11:11,) by one of the great pillars, Jachin and Boaz, which supported the front of the temple. By the side of one of these pillars Jehoiada had erected a platform something like that on which Solomon stood when he dedicated the temple; (2 Chronicles 6:13;) and upon such platform the young king would stand in full view of all the people in the court. Gesenius and others take עמוד, pillar, in the sense of platform, but this is unnecessary, and the word, though of frequent occurrence, has nowhere else such a meaning.


Verse 15

15. Without the ranges — See 2 Kings 11:8.

Him that followeth her — That is, him that presumes to take her part and defend her.

Not be slain in… house of the Lord — The high priest would not have the temple stained with human blood.


Verse 16

16. The way by the which the horses came into the king’s house — The Chronicles calls the place “the entering of the horse gate, by the king’s house.” Some have inclined to identify this with “the horse gate” of Nehemiah 3:28, and Jeremiah 31:40. Its location is unknown, but seems to have been somewhere near the palace. Perhaps the design of slaying her at the entrance to the royal stables was, that, like her mother Jezebel, she might be also trampled under foot by horses. Compare 2 Kings 9:33.


Verse 17

17. Jehoiada made a covenant — Having succeeded thus far in reforming the kingdom, he would next renew the covenant with Jehovah. He made, in fact, two covenants: first, between the Lord and the king and the people, which involved their returning as a nation from Baal worship to the obedience and worship of the Lord; secondly, between the king also and the people, which involved that they would sacredly regard the duties and respect each party owed the other. The king must rule righteously, the people cheerfully obey.


Verse 18

18. Went into the house of Baal — So firmly had the worship of Baal fastened itself upon the whole Israelitish nation that Jerusalem, as well as Samaria, had its temple to this god. Jehu destroyed the Baal worship in Samaria, (compare 2 Kings 10:18-28;) Jehoiada and his adherents that in Jerusalem.

Appointed officers over the house of the Lord — Reorganized the temple service, which had been partially interrupted and disturbed by the revolution effected in the kingdom.


Verse 19

19. Gate of the guard — Called “the high gate” in Chronicles, but, like the horse gate, difficult to identify with any known locality. It was probably a gate leading toward the palace, and here called “gate of the guard” from being the one guarded by that division of Levites mentioned in 2 Kings 11:5.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 11:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-kings-11.html. 1874-1909.

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Thursday, December 5th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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