2 Kings 11:5
And he commanded them, saying, This is the thing that you shall do; A third part of you that enter in on the sabbath shall even be keepers of the watch of the king's house;
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(5, 6) Three companies of the guards to be stationed at the three approaches to the palace.

(5) A third part of you . . . king’s house.—Rather, the third of you who come in on the Sabbath shall keep the ward of the king’s house. (Reading w‘shām‘rû, as in 2Kings 11:7.) The troops of the royal guard regularly succeeded each other on duty just as they do in modern European capitals. That the Sabbath was the day on which they relieved each other is known only from this passage; but the priestly and Levitical guilds did the same, and their organisation in many ways resembled that of an army.

The watch of the king’s house.—There were two places to be occupied for the success of the present movement—viz., the royal palace and the Temple, “the king’s house” and “the house of the Lord.” In the former was Athaliah, the usurping queen, whose movements must be closely watched, and whose adherents must be prevented from occupying and defending the palace; in the latter, the young heir to the throne, who must be protected from attack. That “the king’s house” here means the palace proper is evident from 2Kings 11:16; 2Kings 11:19, and, indeed, from the whole narrative. The LXX. adds, “at the entry” (ἐν τῷ πυλῶνι)—i.e., the grand entrance to the palace itself. This is at least a correct gloss, and may be part of the original text.

2 Kings 11:5-6. A third part of you — Of the Levites, who were distributed into twenty-four courses, to minister in turns, each course consisting of about a thousand men for a week. That enter in, &c. — That come into the temple to attend your ministry. Shall be keepers of the king’s house — Of that part which led to the king’s palace, which Athaliah now possessed. A third part shall be at the gate of Sur — The chief gate of the temple, called the high gate, 2 Kings 15:35; the foundation gate, 2 Chronicles 23:5; the east gate, Jeremiah 19:2; the middle gate, Jeremiah 39:3; and the gate of entrance, Ezekiel 40:15. A third part at the gate behind the guard — Either, 1st, The king’s guard: or, 2d, The guard of the temple; this gate was in the south side. So shall ye keep, &c. — So you shall guard all the gates or entrances into the temple, that neither Athaliah nor any of her soldiers may break in.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.Five divisions of the guard under their five captains are distinguished here. Three of the five divisions "enter in" on the Sabbath; the other two "go forth" on the Sabbath 2 Kings 11:7. By the former phrase seems to be meant the mounting guard at the royal palace (the "king's house," where Athaliah then was); by the latter the serving of escort to the sovereign beyond the palace bounds. Jehoiada orders that of those whose business it would be to guard the palace on the ensuing Sabbath, one company or cohort should perform that task in the ordinary way, while another should watch the gate of Sur - or better, "the gate of the foundation" 2 Chronicles 23:5 - that by which the palace was usually quitted for the temple, and a third should watch another of the palace gates, called "the gate of the guard" (see 2 Kings 11:19). The two companies whose proper business it would be to serve as the royal escort beyond the palace walls, he orders to enter the temple, and surround the person of the young king.2Ki 11:4-12. He Is Made King.

4. the seventh year—namely, of the reign of Athaliah, and the rescue of Jehoash.

Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers, &c.—He could scarcely have obtained such a general convocation except at the time, or on pretext, of a public and solemn festival. Having revealed to them the secret of the young king's preservation and entered into a covenant with them for the overthrow of the tyrant, he then arranged with them the plan and time of carrying their plot into execution (see on [336]2Ch 22:10-23:21). The conduct of Jehoiada, who acted the leading and chief part in this conspiracy, admits of an easy and full justification; for, while Athaliah was a usurper, and belonged to a race destined by divine denunciation to destruction, even his own wife had a better and stronger claim to the throne; the sovereignty of Judah had been divinely appropriated to the family of David, and therefore the young prince on whom it was proposed to confer the crown, possessed an inherent right to it, of which a usurper could not deprive him. Moreover, Jehoiada was most probably the high priest, whose official duty it was to watch over the due execution of God's laws, and who in his present movement, was encouraged and aided by the countenance and support of the chief authorities, both civil and ecclesiastical, in the country. In addition to all these considerations, he seems to have been directed by an impulse of the Divine Spirit, through the counsels and exhortations of the prophets of the time.

A third part of you; either,

1. A third part of you, (i.e. of the whole number, including those

that come in and those

that go out on the sabbath,) even

they that enter in on the sabbath;

and so the two other third parts were to consist of those that went out on the sabbath, as some gather from 2 Kings 11:6,7. Or rather,

2. A third part only of those that enter in on the sabbath, who seem to be plainly divided into three thirds here, and 2 Kings 11:6, as those that went forth on the sabbath are expressly distributed into two parts, 2 Kings 11:7. That enter in on the sabbath, i.e. that come into the temple on the sabbath day. For the understanding of this matter, you must know that the Levites were, in and from David’s time, distributed into twenty-four courses, which were to do the work of the temple successively, and by turns; each course consisting of about a thousand men for his week; of which see 1Ch 23 1Ch 24.

The watch of the king’s house; either,

1. Of that bed-chamber where the king now was. But it is unlikely, and without example, either that one bed-chamber, or the temple, or any part of it, should be called the king’s house. And besides, the king’s person is secured by other persons, 2 Kings 11:7. Or rather,

2. Of that part which leadeth to the king’s palace, which Athaliah now possessed, and whence they might expect opposition. And he commanded them, saying, this is the thing that ye shall do,.... These were the rulers over hundreds among the priests and Levites, and which he, as high priest, could command, and whom he could convene without suspicion, being such as he had a connection with, and were unarmed men: and for the better understanding of what follows, it should be observed, that the priests, in the times of David, were divided into twenty four courses, which were by turns to serve a week in the temple; the course that came in entered when the sabbath began, and that which went out went out when it ended, and each course consisted of a thousand men: now with respect to both these courses, both that which went in and that which went out, Jehoiada gave them the following charge:

a third part of you that enter in on the sabbath; on the beginning of it, to do duty in the temple the week following:

shall even be keepers of the watch of the king's house, which, according to some, was that part of the temple where the king was hid and brought up, supposed to be the north part of it: or rather these were set at the north gate of the temple, which led to the royal palace, lest any should rush out of that, and kill the king.

And he commanded them, saying, This is the thing that ye shall do; A third part of {e} you that enter in on the sabbath shall {f} even be keepers of the watch of the king's house;

(e) Of the Levites, who had charge of the keeping of the temple, and kept watch by course.

(f) That no one should come on them, while they were crowning the king.

5. And he commanded them] The two things to be provided for were the safety of the young king’s person when it should be known to Athaliah and her party that he was alive, and the guarding of the royal palace, so that no personal troop of Athaliah’s might make an attack on the king’s party, and at the proper moment the palace might be seized and the king brought to it and set on the throne. These duties Jehoiada deputed to the five captains whom he had taken into his confidence. Three bodies of men, presumably each under a captain, are to watch the palace at different points, while two other bodies are to be in charge of the house of the Lord about the king. It is not without interest to observe that this fivefold division of the guards corresponds to the number of the captains selected, though they and their number are only mentioned in the narrative of 2 Chronicles. We see from this, that although we may not, at this distance of time, be able to make clear every detail of the two stories, they fit here very remarkably into each other.

a third part of you that enter [R.V. come] in on the sabbath] Those who are to take part in the work that is planned are to be the guards who enter on their duty on the Sabbath, and those who are going off duty. As the words are addressed to the captains over hundreds the ‘of you’ must apply to the soldiers under their command. But it is perfectly intelligible that a somewhat similar arrangement of the Levites might also be made, and that they should take their part in work of restoring the king. From the narrative in 2 Chronicles we see that the priests and Levites were arranged in 3 divisions, one of which was to have the duty of porters, as it seems, at the doors of the temple, another to be at the king’s house, and the third at the gate of the foundation. On this last position see below. Thus, as in the case of the purely military arrangement, the larger number of the priestly and Levitical body was to serve near the royal palace. We note also from Chronicles that the occasion of some feast was arranged as the time for carrying out the plan. For it is said that ‘all the people shall be in the courts of the house of the Lord’.

shall even be keepers of the watch of the king’s house] R.V. omits ‘even’. The LXX. adds ‘at the doorway’ in the end of this clause. No doubt they would be stationed so as to prevent any one from the palace coming forth, without their consent, to interfere with the proceedings at the temple.Verse 5. - And he commanded them, saying, This is the thing that ye shall do. It is evident, from 2 Chronicles and from Josephus, that a considerable interval of time separates the events of ver. 5 from those of ver. 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" (2 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 (ver. 10), and finally gave two charges - one to the centurions, which is given here (vers. 5-8), and the other to the force collected from the cities of Judah, which is given in Chronicles (2 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 (2 Chronicles 23:1). 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. Conclusion of the history of Jehu's reign. The length of his reign is not given till the end in this instance (2 Kings 10:36), contrary to the usual custom in our books, because his ascent of the throne is not expressly mentioned in what precedes; but the general character of his reign is given in immediate connection with the account of his anointing and of the extermination of Ahab's dynasty.
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