The Second Book of Kings
Chapter Eleven

2-Kings. Chapter 11.

2-Kings ch. 11.

Athaliah and Jehoash.


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2 Kings 11

[2-Kings 11:1] When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs.

Up until now we have reading the History of the Northern Kingdom of Israel of the Ten Tribes. We now return to Judah in the south centered on Jerusalem and the Temple.

Athaliah was the daughter of King Ahab of  the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Queen Jezebel.
Her marriage to Jehoram (Joram) symbolized an alliance between Israel and Judah.
Her son Ahaziah was made king of Judah. While visiting Joram of Israel he was killed by Jehu.
In discussing the encounter between Jezebel and Jehu [2-Kings 9:30-31] we saw that Jezebel may have had a contingent intention
of seducing Jehu. Even though Jehu had killed the son of Jezebel this should not be dismissed. We see here how Athaliah
disregards her own biological survival interests and kills her own grandchildren.  Athaliah was the daughter of Jezebel.
A popular saying goes, "Like mother, like daughter".
Rashi says that Athaliah used poison to kill the boys.

 [2-Kings 11:2]  But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king's sons who were being murdered; and they hid him and his nurse in the bedroom, from Athaliah, so that he was not killed.

Only the male descendants were considered legitimate heirs to the monarchy. Jehosheba had therefore been spared. Josephus says Jehosheba was the sister of Ahaziah but from another woman and not the daughter of Athaliah.

The name "Jehosheba" (Yehoshava" in Modern Hebrew)  means "God Saves" or the Salvation of the ALMIGHTY.
The name is a variant of  "Elisheva" which is rendered in English as Elizabeth.
Daat Mikra understands Jehosheba to have been the wife of Jehoiada the High Priest.

 [2-Kings 11:3] So he was hidden with her in the house of the LORD for six years, while Athaliah reigned over the land.

The Holy Temple was actually a group of large courtyards centered around the Altar and a building known as the Holy of Holies. The walls of these courtyards comprised administrative blocs, store rooms,  and apartments for various purposes. These complexes could involve edifices of two or even three stories.
There was plenty of room to live in them and hide someone in them.
Even now visitors to the Temple Mount may be surprised to find on the site of the Holy Temple various buildings including public toilets and a school for boys. Arab boys play football on the Temple Mount! Jews however are not allowed to pray there. Every Jewish visitor is only allowed to go up to the Temple mount after his name has been checked against a computer registry. He will be accompanied by an Israel Policeman and an Arab official from the Wakf (Muslim Police Force). If he even looks like he wants to pray the overweight  Arab Wakf thug with the typical threatening demean is liable to hysterically shout at him, as happened to me. If the Jew actually does say some word of prayer the policeman will escort him away. His name will then be registered in a police file and he will not be allowed to go up to the Mount again.

This is what happens in the State of Israel in the year 2010!

The Coming Day of Reckoning is Announced!

[2-Kings 11:4] In the seventh year Jehoiada sent and brought the captains of hundreds of the bodyguards and the escorts 'and brought them into the house of the LORD to him. And he made a covenant with them and took an oath from them in the house of the LORD, and showed them the king's son.

bodyguards: Hebrew "Cari". Modern Commentators suggest these were foreigners. It has been proposed that the Cari were Cretan mercenaries or Carians from southwest Anatolia (present-day Turkey) since we know that Carian served in the Egyptian army  of Psametik-1 in the 600s BCE ("Olam HaTanak").

On the other hand,
The word "Cari" can also connote strength. Yehonatan and Rashi understand "Cari" to mean "warriors".
The word "car" can also mean a fat sheep or a battering-ram.

"the escorts": Hebrew "ratsim" literally "runners".

[2-Kings 11:5] Then he commanded them, saying, 'This is what you shall do: One-third of you who come on duty on the Sabbath shall be keeping watch over the king's house,

[2-Kings 11:6] one-third shall be at the gate of Sur, and one-third at the gate behind the escorts. You shall keep the watch of the house, lest it be broken down.

[2-Kings 11:7] The two contingents of you who go off duty on the Sabbath shall keep the watch of the house of the LORD for the king.

[2-Kings 11:8]  But you shall surround the king on all sides, every man with his weapons in his hand; and whoever comes within range, let him be put to death. You are to be with the king as he goes out and as he comes in.'

This event is better understood by looking at the parallel passages in the Book of Chronicles:
2-Chronciles 23:
1 In the seventh year
Jehoiada strengthened himself, and made a covenant with the captains of hundreds: Azariah the son of Jeroham, Ishmael the son of Jehohanan, Azariah the son of Obed, Maaseiah the son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat the son of Zichri. 2 And they went throughout Judah and gathered the Levites from all the cities of Judah, and the chief fathers of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem.
3 Then all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he said to them, 'Behold, the king's son shall reign, as the LORD has said of the sons of David. 4 This is what you shall do: One-third of you entering on the Sabbath, of the priests and the Levites, shall be keeping watch over the doors; 5 one-third shall be at the king's house; and one-third at the Gate of the Foundation. All the people shall be in the courts of the house of the LORD. 6 But let no one come into the house of the LORD except the priests and those of the Levites who serve. They may go in, for they are holy; but all the people shall keep the watch of the LORD. 7 And the Levites shall surround the king on all sides, every man with his weapons in his hand; and whoever comes into the house, let him be put to death. You are to be with the king when he comes in and when he goes out.'

In simplified terms: The priests (Cohens) and Levites served in the Temple. They worked in shifts: One group served for a week or so and then another group took over. In addition there were those amongst them who were wont to simply "hang out" in and near the Temple area to be close to it and in case there might be need of them.  At the time when the shifts were to be changed a large number of Levites could therefore converge on the Temple area without arousing suspicion.

Athaliah was one wicked woman. She had murdered her own grandchildren and seized control of the Kingdom.
Athaliah (daughter of Jezebel and Ahab of Israel) had been the wife of King Joram of Judah. She was the mother of King Ahaziah and during his rule had been active in establishing Baal-worship in Judah.

Due to their wickedness disasters had come on Judah during the reign of Joram (Jehoram).
2-Chronicles 21:
16 Moreover the LORD stirred up against
Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines and the Arabians who were near the Ethiopians. 17 And they came up into Judah and invaded it, and carried away all the possessions that were found in the king's house, and also his sons and his wives, so that there was not a son left to him except Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons.

Jehoahaz is another name for Ahaziah. The rest of the sons were killed. These other sons had been quite wicked and had participated with their mother, Athaliah, in desecrating the Temple and establishing Baal-worship. "Baal" was both the name of one single god and also a term applied to lesser gods who in some way could also be considered an incarnation of the main one.

2-Chronicles 24:
7 For the sons of
Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken into the house of God, and had also presented all the dedicated things of the house of the LORD to the Baals.

Athaliah had seen her sons, the adherents of baal, killed by Ethiopians [Cushites not necessarily from Ethiopia] and then Ahaziah her remaining son had come to power. It could be that Ahaziah (like most of the Kings of Judah and Israel) had contradictory attitudes concerning worship of the Almighty and idolatry. While conniving with the practices of his mother he may nevertheless have left the raising of his sons in the hand of the Cohens and Levites. This would explain why Athaliah tried to kill them all. She was of Tyrian-Phoenician-Canaanite stock and these had no compunctions about sacrificing their own children.

[ As an example of pagan cruelty to their own families:

Some Australian Aborigine groups had the practice of killing and eating every second child and forcing the other children to partake of the 'feast".
Roheim tells us of 'the custom of raping Aboriginal children, eating every second child and making the older children also eat them. Mothers regularly forced their children to eat their newborn siblings in the belief that the strength of the first child would be doubled by such a procedure. Sometimes the fetus would be pulled out by the head, roasted and eaten by the mother and the children and sometimes a big boy would be killed by the father by being beaten on the head and given to the mother to eat'.

In the Kingdom of Israel the attempted institution of baal-worship had ended in failure. Jehu had stopped it and massacred the officiates.
The Commentary "Olan HaTanak" suggests that baal-worshipping refugees had fled to Judah and been taken in by Athaliah. A resurgence of baalism resulted.

The Cohens and Levites in Judah were the most dedicated to the worship of the Almighty and Athaliah was threatening this worship and everything they believed in.
Now they were told that the legitimate heir to the throne had been kept alive and was to be found on the grounds of the Temple itself under the protection of the High Priest.

A Day of Reckoning was coming.

[2-Kings 11:9]  So the captains of the hundreds did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded. Each of them took his men who were to be on duty on the Sabbath, with those who were going off duty on the Sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest.

The ceremony at the Temple that we are now discussing took place on the Sabbath. It involved a kind of Changing of the Guards with one group going out and another coming in. 
The changeover apparently involved both the Royal guards as well as the officiating Cohens and Levites. When the changeover took place two sets of both groups would have been present. Jehoiada the Priest arranged that both those going out and those coming in should join him in establishing the rightful heir as monarch over the Kingdom of Judah.

"The Captains of the Hundreds" were the officials in charge of the Royal Garrison. Josephus says there were five of these meaning assumedly that there were 5 watches of 100 men each. One group was coming and another going it and therefore double the usual number. That gives us a 1000 men.

You will remember that already on their way of Egypt, travelling through the Wilderness, Moses had divided the Israelites into groups of ten, hundreds, and thousands with officials over each one (Deuteronomy 1:15). The Anglo-Saxon hosts who invaded and conquered England were also organized in the same way.

Terry Marvin Blodgett wrote a thesis for his Doctor of Philosophy on the 'Phonological Similarities In Germanic and Hebrew' (Utah 1981). In this work he shows how linguistic changes occurred by about 500 b.c.e. in Germanic that resulted in a change in how words were sounded and an addition to the vocabulary amounting to about one-third of the total number of words. Blodgett attributes the changes to an incursion of foreigners whom he identifies as Hebrews.  He shows how the sound changes are the same as those employed in Hebrew and how many words in Germanic tongues are similar to or identical with Hebrew ones. Blodgett also discusses archaeological and historical evidence affirming his claims and adduces a few examples of a social or anthropological nature. One of the examples quoted by Blodgett is derived from 'Black's Law Dictionary' by Henry C. Black (1968).  In regards to the Franks, Danes, English and Continental Saxons, Black said that 'ten freeholders with their families ....were all knit together  in one society, and bound to the king for the peaceable behaviour of each other. In each of these societies there was one chief or principal person, who, from his office, was called  `teothing-man', now `tithing-man'.' The ten families were part of  a 'hundred' each 'hundred' being governed by a high constable. Each hundred was divided into two groups of fifty. An indefinite number of hundreds made a 'shire' governed by a 'sherif'.
This arrangement was especially noticeable amongst the Saxons. This organizational-pattern had been known amongst the Israelites being instituted by Moses himself:  'So I took the chief men of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes' (Deuteronomy 1:15).

[2-Kings 11:10]  And the priest gave the captains of hundreds the spears and shields which had belonged to King David, that were in the temple of the LORD.

[2-Kings 11:11]  Then the escorts stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, all around the king, from the right side of the temple to the left side of the temple, by the altar and the house.

[2-Kings 11:12]  And he brought out the king's son, put the crown on him, and gave him the Testimony; they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, 'Long live the king!'

Testimony in Hebrew "Adoot" meaning "Witness". One opinion says this was a miniature Scroll of the Torah. The Kings of Israel were commanded to write a Torah Scroll of their own and always carry one with them (Deuteronomy 17:18). The Torah Scrolls we use today are very large and cumbersome. It is however possible to write smaller versions and these exist, see Aryeh Kaplan, "A Handbook of Jewish Thought", 7:42 n.89.

Another opinion (Daat Mikra) says it may have been the testimony about the Rights of the King written by Samuel,
cf. #Then Samuel explained to the people the behavior of royalty, and wrote it in a book and laid it up before the LORD # (1-Samuel 10:25).

Yet a third Commentary (Radak) says it means the royal garments and adornments symbols of monarchy.
[2-Kings 11:13] Now when Athaliah heard the noise of the escorts and the people, she came to the people in the temple of the LORD.

The Palace was close by the Temple Precincts.
Josephus (Antiquities 7:2,3) tells us:

#2 ....
Jehoiada also opened that armory which David had made in the temple, and distributed to the captains of hundreds, as also to the priests and Levites, all the spears and quivers, and what kind of weapons soever it contained, and set them armed in a circle round about the temple, so as to touch one another's hands, and by that means excluding those from entering that ought not to enter. So they brought the child into the midst of them, and put on him the royal crown, and Jehoiada anointed him with the oil, and made him king; and the multitude rejoiced, and made a noise, and cried, "God save the king!"

#3. When
Athaliah unexpectedly heard the tumult and the acclamations, she was greatly disturbed in her mind, and suddenly issued out of the royal palace with her own army; and when she was come to the temple, the. priests received her; but as for those that stood round about the temple, as they were ordered by the high priest to do, they hindered the armed inert that followed her from going in. But when Athaliah saw the child standing upon a pillar, with the royal crown upon his head, she rent her clothes, and cried out vehemently, and commanded [her guards] to kill him that had laid snares for her, and endeavored to deprive her of the government. But Jehoiada called for the captains of hundreds, and commanded them to bring Athaliah to the valley of Cedron, and slay her there, for he would not have the temple defiled with the punishments of this pernicious woman; and he gave order, that if any one came near to help her, he should be slain also; wherefore those that had the charge of her slaughter took hold of her, and led her to the gate of the king's mules, arid slew her there. #

[2-Kings 11:14]  When she looked, there was the king standing by a pillar according to custom; and the leaders and the trumpeters were by the king. All the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets. So Athaliah tore her clothes and cried out, 'Treason! Treason!'

[2-Kings 11:15] And
Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the army, and said to them, 'Take her outside under guard, and slay with the sword whoever follows her.' For the priest had said, 'Do not let her be killed in the house of the LORD.'

[2-Kings 11:16] So they seized her; and she went by way of the horses' entrance into the king's house, and there she was killed.

[2-Kings 11:17] Then
Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD, the king, and the people, that they should be the LORD's people, and also between the king and the people.

[2-Kings 11:18] And all the people of the land went to the temple of Baal, and tore it down. They thoroughly broke in pieces its altars and images, and killed
Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the LORD.

[2-Kings 11:19] Then he took the captains of hundreds, the bodyguards, the escorts, and all the people of the land; and they brought the king down from the house of the LORD, and went by way of the gate of the escorts to the king's house. Then he sat on the throne of the kings.

[2-Kings 11:20] So all the people of the land rejoiced; and the city was quiet, for they had slain
Athaliah with the sword in the king's house.

[2-Kings 11:21]
Jehoash was seven years old when he became king.

To be Continued!

After the Death of Solomon:
The Divided Kingdom

The Divided Kingdom
Source of Map:

2-Kings ch.10
2-Kings Contents
2-Kings ch.12