The Second Book of Kings
2-Kings. Chapter 11.
Athaliah and Jehoash.
2 Kings 11
[2-Kings 11:1] When
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
Athaliah was the daughter of King Ahab of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and
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
the daughter of King Joram,
sister of Ahaziah,
the son of Ahaziah,
and stole him away from among the
sons who were being murdered; and they hid him and his nurse in the bedroom,
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
[2-Kings 11:3] So he was hidden with
her in the house of the LORD for six years, while
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
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
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
1 In the seventh year Jehoiada
strengthened himself, and made a covenant with the captains of hundreds:
the son of Jeroham,
Ishmael the son of Jehohanan,
the son of Obed,
the son of Adaiah,
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).
16 Moreover the LORD stirred up against
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
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.
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
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".
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
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
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 #
Yet a third Commentary (Radak) says it means the royal garments and adornments
symbols of monarchy.
[2-Kings 11:13] Now when
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.
(Antiquities 7:2,3) tells us:
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
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
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
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
[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
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
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!