2 Kings 11:1
And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal.
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(1) And when Athaliah . . . saw.—Rather, Now Athaliah . . . had seen. (The and, which the common Hebrew text inserts before the verb, is merely a mistaken repetition of the last letter of Ahaziah. Many MSS. omit it.)

As to Athaliah and her evil influence on her husband Jehoram, see 2Kings 8:18; 2Kings 8:26-27. By her ambition and her cruelty she now shows herself a worthy daughter of Jezebel.

Her son.—Ahaziah (2Kings 9:27). The history of the Judæan monarchy is resumed from that point.

Destroyed all the seed royal.—“The seed of the kingdom” (see margin) means all who might set up claims to the succession. Ahaziah’s brothers had been slain by the Arabs (2Chronicles 21:17); and his “kinsmen” by Jehu (2Kings 10:14). Those whom Athaliah slew would be for the most part Ahaziah’s own sons, though other relatives are not excluded by the term.

2 Kings


2 Kings 11:1 - 2 Kings 11:16

The king of Judah has been killed, his alliance with the king of Israel having involved him in the latter’s fate. Jehu had also murdered ‘the brethren of Ahaziah,’ forty-two in number. Next, Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah and a daughter of Ahab, killed all the males of the royal family, and planted herself on the throne. She had Jezebel’s force of character, unscrupulousness and disregard of human life. She was a tigress of a woman, and, no doubt, her six year’s usurpation was stained with blood and with the nameless abominations of Baal worship. Never had the kingdom of Judah been at a lower ebb. One infant was all that was left of David’s descendants. The whole promises of God seemed to depend for fulfilment on one little, feeble life. The tree had been cut down, and there was but this one sucker pushing forth a tiny shoot from ‘the root of Jesse.’

We have in the passage, first, the six years of hiding in the temple. It is a pathetic picture, that of the infant rescued by his brave aunt from the blood-bath, and stowed away in the storeroom where the mats and cushions which served for beds were kept when not in use, watched over by two loving and courageous women, and taught infantile lessons by the husband of his aunt, Jehoiada the high priest. Many must have been aware of his existence, and there must have been loyal guarding of the secret, or Athaliah’s sword would have been reddened with the baby’s blood. Like the child Samuel, he had the Temple for his home, and his first impressions would be of daily sacrifices and white-robed priests. It was a better school for him than if he had been in the palace close by. The opening flower would have been soon besmirched there, but in the holy calm of the Temple courts it unfolded unstained. A Christian home should breathe the same atmosphere as surrounded Joash, and it, too, should be a temple, where holy peace rules, and where the first impressions printed on plastic little minds are of God and His service.

We have next the disclosure and coronation of the boy king. The narrative here has to be supplemented from that in 2 Chronicles 23:1 - 2 Chronicles 23:21, which does not contradict that in this passage, as is often said, but completes it. It informs us that before the final scene in the Temple, Jehoiada had in Jerusalem assembled a large force of Levites and of the ‘heads of the fathers’ houses’ from all the kingdom. That statement implies that the revolution was mainly religious in its motive, and was national in its extent. Obviously Jehoiada would have been courting destruction for Joash and himself unless he had made sure of a strong backing before he hoisted the standard of the house of David. There must, therefore, have been long preparation and much stir; and all the while the foreign woman was sitting in the palace, close by the Temple, and not a whisper reached her. Evidently she had no party in Judah, and held her own only by her indomitable will and by the help of foreign troops. Anybody who remembers how the Austrians in Italy were shunned, will understand how Athaliah heard nothing of the plot that was rapidly developing a stone’s throw from her isolated throne. Strange delusion, to covet such a seat, yet no stranger than many another mistaking of serpents for fish, into which we fall!

Jehoiada’s caution was as great as his daring. He does not appear to have given the Levites and elders any inkling of his purpose till he had them safe in the Temple, and then he opened his mind, swore them to stand by him, and ‘showed them the king’s son.’ What a scene that would be-the seven-year-old child there among all these strange men, the joyful surprise flashing in their eyes, the exultation of the faithful women that had watched him so lovingly, the stern facing of the dangers ahead. Most of the assembly must have thought that none of David’s house remained, and that thought would have had much to do with their submitting to Athaliah’s usurpation. Now that they saw the true heir, they could not hesitate to risk their lives to set him on his throne. Show a man his true king, and many a tyranny submitted to before becomes at once intolerable. The boy Joash makes Athaliah look very ugly.

Jehoiada’s plans are somewhat difficult to understand, owing to our ignorance of the details as to the usual arrangements of the guards of the palace, but the general drift of them is plain enough. The main thing was to secure the person of the king, and, for that purpose, the two companies of priests who were relieved on the Sabbath were for once kept on duty, and their numbers augmented by the company that would, in the ordinary course, have relieved them. This augmented force was so disposed as, first, to secure the Temple from attack; and, second, to ‘compass the king’-in his chamber, that is. We learn from 2 Chronicles that it consisted of priests and Levites, and some would see in that statement a tampering with the account in this passage, in the interests of a later conception of the sanctity of the Temple and of the priestly order. Our narrative is said to make the foreign mercenaries of the palace guard the persons referred to; but surely that cannot be maintained in the face of the plain statement of 2 Kings 11:7, that they kept the watch of the Temple, for that was the office of the priests. Besides, how should foreign soldiers have needed to be armed from the Temple armoury? And is it probable on the face of it that the palace guard, who were Athaliah’s men, and therefore antagonistic to Joash, and Baal worshippers, should have been gained over to his side, or should have been the guards of the house of Jehovah? If, however, we understand that these guards were Levites, all is plain, and the arming of them with ‘the spears and shields that had been king David’s ‘ becomes intelligible, and would rouse them to enthusiasm and daring.

Not till all these dispositions for the boy king’s safety, and for preventing an assault on the Temple, had been carried out, did the prudent Jehoiada venture to bring Joash out from his place of concealment. Note that in 2 Kings 11:12 he is not called ‘the king,’ as in the previous verses, but, as in 2 Kings 11:4, ‘the king’s son.’ He was king by right, but not technically, till he had been presented to, and accepted by, the representatives of the people, had had ‘the testimony’ placed in his hands, and been anointed by the high-priest. So ‘they made him king.’ The three parts of the ceremony were all significant. The delivering of ‘the testimony’ {the Book of the Law- Deuteronomy 17:18 - Deuteronomy 17:19} taught him that he was no despot to rule by his own pleasure and for his own glory, but the viceroy of the true King of Judah, and himself subject to law. The people’s making him king taught him and them that a true royalty rules over willing subjects, and both guarded the rights of the nation and set limits to the power of the ruler. The priest’s anointing witnessed to the divine appointment of the monarch and the divine endowment with fitness for his office. Would that these truths were more recognised and felt by all rulers! What a different thing the page of history would be!

The vigilance of the tigress had been eluded, and Athaliah had a rude awakening. But she had her mother’s courage, and as soon as she heard in the palace the shouts, she dashed to the Temple, alone as she was, and fronted the crowd. The sight might have made the boldest quail. Who was that child standing in the royal place? Where had he come from? How had he been hidden all these years? What was all this frenzy of rejoicing, this blare of trumpets, these ranks of grim men with weapons in their hands? The stunning truth fell on her; but, though she felt that all was lost, not a whit did she blench, but fronted them all as proudly as ever. One cannot but admire the dauntless woman, ‘magnificent in sin.’ But her cry of ‘Treason! treason!’ brought none to her side. As she stood solitary there, she must have felt that her day was over, and that nothing remained but to die like a queen. Proudly as ever, she passed down the ranks and not a face looked pity on her, nor a voice blessed her. She was reaping what she had sown, and she who had killed without compunction the innocents who stood between her and her ambitions, was pitilessly slain, and all the land rejoiced at her death.

So ended the all but bloodless revolution which crushed Baal worship in Judah. It had been begun by Elijah and Elisha, but it was completed by a high priest. It was religious even more than political. It was a national movement, though Jehoiada’s courage and wisdom engineered it to its triumph. It teaches us how God watches over His purposes and their instruments when they seem nearest to failure, for one poor infant was all that was left of the seed of David; and how, therefore, we are never to despair, even in the darkest hour, of the fulfilment of His promises. It teaches us how much one brave, good man and woman can do to change the whole face of things, and how often there needs but one man to direct and voice the thoughts and acts of the silent multitude, and to light a fire that consumes evil.

2 Kings 11:1. And destroyed all the seed royal — All of the royal family that had not been cut off by Jehu and others, except one, mentioned 2 Kings 11:2. To this wickedness she was impelled by many motives: 1st, By rage to see Ahab’s family destroyed, which made her resolve that the family of David should share the same fate. 2d, By ambition and desire of rule, to make way for which many persons have destroyed their nearest relations. 3d, By her zeal for idolatry and the worship of Baal, which she intended to establish, and to which she knew the house of David were implacable enemies. 4th, By a regard to her own defence, that, by getting into the throne, which she could not do without destroying the royal family, she might secure herself from Jehu’s fury, who, she understood, was resolved utterly to destroy all the branches of Ahab’s house, of which she was one. Possibly those whom she slew were Jehoram’s children by another wife. This was the fruit of Jehoshaphat’s marrying his son to a daughter of that idolatrous house of Ahab: and this dreadful judgment God permitted to come upon him and his, to show how much he abhors all such affinities. “The consideration of the fate,” says Dr. Dodd, “which attended these royal families, is sufficient to make one thankful to God for having been born of meaner parentage. The whole offspring of Jeroboam, Baasha, and Ahab, was cut off for their idolatry; and the kings of Judah, having contracted an affinity with the house of Ahab, and being by them seduced into the same crime, were so destroyed, by three successive massacres, that there was but one left: for first Jehoram slew all his brethren, then Jehu all his brother’s children, and now Athaliah destroys all the rest that her executioners can meet with.”

11:1-12 Athaliah destroyed all she knew to be akin to the crown. Jehoash, one of the king's sons, was hid. Now was the promise made to David bound up in one life only, and yet it did not fail. Thus to the Son of David, the Lord, according to his promise, will secure a spiritual seed, hidden sometimes, and unseen, but hidden in God's pavilion, and unhurt. Six years Athaliah tyrannized. Then the king was brought forward. A child indeed, but he had a good guardian, and, what was better, a good God to go to With such joy and satisfaction must the kingdom of Christ be welcomed into our hearts, when his throne is set up there, and Satan the usurper is cast out. Say, Let the King, even Jesus, live, for ever live and reign in my soul, and in all the world.Athaliah, as wife of Joram and mother of Ahaziah, had guided both the internal and the external policy of the Jewish kingdom; she had procured the establishmeut of the worship of Baal in Judaea 2 Kings 8:18, 2 Kings 8:27, and had maintained a close alliance with the sister kingdom 2 Kings 8:29; 2 Kings 10:13. The revolution effected by Jehu touched her nearly. It struck away from her the support of her relatives; it isolated her religious system, severing the communication with Phoenicia; and the death of Ahaziah deprived her of her legal status in Judaea, which was that of queen-mother (the 1 Kings 15:13 note), and trausferred that position to the chief wife of her deceased son. Athaliah, instead of yielding to the storm, or merely standing on the defensive, resolved to become the assailant, and strike before any plans could be formed against her. In the absence of her son, hers was probably the chief anthority at Jerusalem. She used it to command the immediate destruction of all the family of David, already thinned by previous massacres 2 Kings 10:14; 2 Chronicles 21:4, 2 Chronicles 21:17, and then seized the throne. CHAPTER 11

2Ki 11:1-3. Jehoash Saved from Athaliah's Massacre.

1. Athaliah—(See on [335]2Ch 22:2). She had possessed great influence over her son, who, by her counsels, had ruled in the spirit of the house of Ahab.

destroyed all the seed royal—all connected with the royal family who might have urged a claim to the throne, and who had escaped the murderous hands of Jehu (2Ch 21:2-4; 22:1; 2Ki 10:13, 14). This massacre she was incited to perpetrate—partly from a determination not to let David's family outlive hers; partly as a measure of self-defense to secure herself against the violence of Jehu, who was bent on destroying the whole of Ahab's posterity to which she belonged (2Ki 8:18-26); but chiefly from personal ambition to rule, and a desire to establish the worship of Baal. Such was the sad fruit of the unequal alliance between the son of the pious Jehoshaphat and a daughter of the idolatrous and wicked house of Ahab.Athaliah destroyeth all the royal family: only Joash escapeth; is hid six years in the house of God, 2 Kings 11:1-3. Jehoiada, giving order to the captains, in the seventh year anointeth him king, 2 Kings 11:4-12. Athaliah is slain, 2 Kings 11:13-16. The covenant is renewed between God, the king, and the people; and Baal’s worship is destroyed: the king is set on his throne, 2 Kings 11:17-21.

i.e. All of the royal family left after those slaughters, 2 Chronicles 21:2,4 22:1 2 Kings 10:13,14, except one, as the next verse limits and explains it. This she did, partly, out of rage at the extirpation of her family, resolving that David’s family should not outlive liers; partly, from ambition and desire of rule, for which many persons have destroyed their nearest relations; partly, from the zeal which she had for idolatry, and the worship of Baal, which she intended to establish, to which she knew the house of David were implacable enemies; and partly, in her own defence, that she might secure herself from Jehu’s fury, who was commanded by God, and resolved in himself, utterly to destroy all the branches of Ahab’s family, whereof she was one, 2 Kings 8:18,26; for had she not done this, she suspected that either the king or people of Judah would have delivered her up to Jehu upon his demand. Possibly those whom she slew were Joram’s children by another wife; of which See Poole "2 Kings 1:2". And this was the fruit of Jehoshaphat’s marrying his son to a daughter of that idolatrous and wicked house of Ahab, even the extirpation of all his posterity but one. And this dreadful judgment God permitted, and inflicted upon him and his, to show how much he abhors all such sinful and unequal affinities.

And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead,.... Who was the daughter of Ahab, and granddaughter of Omri 2 Kings 8:18, she arose:

and destroyed all the seed royal; that were left, for many had been slain already; the sons of Jehoshaphat, the brothers of Joram, were slain by him, 2 Chronicles 21:4 and all Joram's sons, excepting Ahaziah, were slain by the Arabians, 2 Chronicles 22:1, and the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah were slain by Jehu, 2 Kings 11:8, these therefore seem to be the children of Ahaziah, the grandchildren of this brutish woman, whom she massacred out of her ambition of rule and government, which perhaps she was intrusted with while her son went to visit Joram king of Israel; other reasons are by some assigned, but this seems to be the chief. For the same reason Laodice, who had six sons by Ariarathes king of the Cappadocians, poisoned five of them; the youngest escaping her hands, was murdered by the people (x), as this woman also was.

(x) Justin. e Trogo, l. 37. c. 1.

And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the {a} seed royal.

(a) Meaning, all the posterity of Jehoshaphat, to whom the kingdom belonged: thus God used the cruelty of this woman to destroy the family of Ahab.

Ch. 2 Kings 11:1-3. Athaliah, having slain all the seed royal of Judah, except Joash, usurps the throne for six years (2 Chronicles 22:10-12)

1. And [R.V. Now] when Athaliah] Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, and became the wife of Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat.

she arose and destroyed] The verb here rendered ‘arose’ is often joined with another verb to give the notion of ‘setting earnestly about’ any business. Thus in Exodus 32:1 it is used ‘Up make us gods’, and in 1 Kings 14:2Arise and disguise thyself’, also 1 Chronicles 22:19Arise therefore and build ye the sanctuary’. See too Genesis 37:35 ‘And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him’.

all the seed royal] i.e. All those that remained after the destruction wrought by Jehu on the brethren of Ahaziah (see above 2 Kings 10:4). Judah, as well as Israel, seems at this date to have had no lack of families in the royal houses. Those whom Athaliah slew were of course the male members of the royal family.

Verse 1. - And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead. (On Athaliah, see the comment upon 2 Kings 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 (1 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 (2 Kings 8:18; 2 Chronicles 2:5, 11), and Ahaziah prevailed upon to maintain it (2 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 22:3, "He also Talked 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 (2 Chronicles 21:4), by Arab marauders (2 Chronicles 21:17), and by Jehu's murder of the "brethren of Ahaziah" (2 Kings 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 Kings 11:1The Government of Athaliah (cf. 2 Chronicles 22:10-12). After the death of Ahaziah of Judah, his mother Athaliah, a daughter of Ahab and Jezebel (see at 2 Kings 8:18 and 2 Kings 8:26), seized upon the government, by putting to death all the king's descendants with the exception of Joash, a son of Ahaziah of only a year old, who had been secretly carried off from the midst of the royal children, who were put to death, by Jehosheba, his father's sister, the wife of the high priest Jehoiada, and was first of all hidden with his nurse in the bed-chamber, and afterwards kept concealed from Athaliah for six years in the high priest's house. The ו before ראתה is no doubt original, the subject, Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah, being placed at the head absolutely, and a circumstantial clause introduced with וראתה: "Athaliah, when she saw that, etc., rose up." המּמלכה כּל־זרע, all the royal seed, i.e., all the sons and relations of Ahaziah, who could put in any claim to succeed to the throne. At the same time there were hardly any other direct descendants of the royal family in existence beside the sons of Ahaziah, since the elder brothers of Ahaziah had been carried away by the Arabs and put to death, and the rest of the closer blood-relations of the male sex had been slain by Jehu (see at 2 Kings 10:13). - Jehosheba (יהושׁבע, in the Chronicles יהושׁבעת), the wife of the high priest Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 22:11), was a daughter of king Joram and a sister of Ahaziah, but she was most likely not a daughter of Athaliah, as this worshipper of Baal would hardly have allowed her own daughter to marry the high priest, but had been born to Joram by a wife of the second rank. ממותים (Chethb), generally a substantive, mortes (Jeremiah 16:4; Ezekiel 28:8), here an adjective: slain or set apart for death. The Keri מוּמתים is the participle Hophal, as in 2 Chronicles 22:11. הם בּחדר is to be taken in connection with תּגנב: she stole him (took him away secretly) from the rest of the king's sons, who were about to be put to death, into the chamber of the beds, i.e., not the children's bed-room, but a room in the palace where the beds (mattresses and counterpanes) were kept, for which in the East there is a special room that is not used as a dwelling-room (see Chardin in Harm. Beobb. iii. p. 357). This was the place in which at first it was easiest to conceal the child and its nurse. ויּסתּרוּ, "they (Jehosheba and the nurse) concealed him," is not to be altered into ותּסתּירהוּ after the Chronicles, as Thenius maintains. The masculine is used in the place of the feminine, as is frequently the case. Afterwards he was concealed with her (with Jehosheba) in the house of Jehovah, i.e., in the home of the high-priest in one of the buildings of the court of the temple.
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