2 Kings 11
The revolution in the kingdom of Israel was soon perfected in Jehu's
settlement; we must now enquire into the affairs of the kingdom of
Judah, which lost its head (such as it was) at the same time, and by
the same hand, as Israel lost its head; but things continued longer
there in distraction than in Israel, yet, after some years, they were
brought into a good posture, as we find in this chapter.
I. Athaliah usurps the government and destroys all the seed-royal,
2 Kings 11:1.
II. Joash, a child of a year old, is wonderfully preserved,
2 Kings 11:2,3.
III. At six years' end he is produced, and, by the agency of Jehoiada,
2 Kings 11:4-12.
IV. Athaliah is slain,
2 Kings 11:13-16.
V. Both the civil and religious interests of the kingdom are well
settled in the hands of Joash,
2 Kings 11:17-21.
And thus, after some interruption, things returned with advantage into
the old channel.
|The Death of Athaliah.
||B. C. 878.|
1 And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was
dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal.
2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah,
took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the
king's sons which were slain; and they hid him, even him and
his nurse, in the bedchamber from Athaliah, so that he was not
3 And he was with her hid in the house of the LORD six years.
And Athaliah did reign over the land.
God had assured David of the continuance of his family, which is called
his ordaining a lamp for his anointed; and this cannot but
appear a great thing, now that we have read of the utter extirpation of
so many royal families, one after another. Now here we have David's
promised lamp almost extinguished and yet wonderfully preserved.
I. It was almost extinguished by the barbarous malice of Athaliah, the
queen-mother, who, when she heard that her son Ahaziah was slain by
Jehu, arose and destroyed all the seed-royal
(2 Kings 11:1),
all that she knew to be akin to the crown. Her husband Jehoram had
slain all his brethren the sons of Jehoshaphat,
2 Chronicles 21:4.
The Arabians had slain all Jehoram's sons except Ahaziah,
2 Chronicles 22:1.
Jehu had slain all their sons
(2 Chronicles 22:8)
and Ahaziah himself. Surely never was royal blood so profusely shed.
Happy the men of inferior birth, who live below envy and emulation!
But, as if all this were but a small matter, Athaliah destroyed all
that were left of the seed-royal. It was strange that one of the tender
sex could be so barbarous, that one who had been herself a king's
daughter, a king's wife, and a king's mother, could be so barbarous to
a royal family, and a family into which she was herself ingrafted; but
she did it,
1. From a spirit of ambition. She thirsted after rule, and thought she
could not get to it any other way. That none might reign with her, she
slew even the infants and sucklings that might have reigned after her.
For fear of a competitor, not any must be reserved for a successor.
2. From a spirit of revenge and rage against God. The house of Ahab
being utterly destroyed, and her son Ahaziah among the rest, because he
was akin to it, she resolved, as it were, by way of reprisal, to
destroy the house of David, and cut off his line, in defiance of God's
promise to perpetuate it--a foolish attempt and fruitless, for who can
disannul what God hath purposed? Grandmothers have been thought more
fond of their grandchildren than they were of their own; yet Ahaziah's
own mother is the wilful murderer of Ahaziah own sons, and in their
infancy too, when she was obliged, above any other, to nurse them and
take care of them. Well might she be called Athaliah, that wicked
(2 Chronicles 24:7),
Jezebel's own daughter; yet herein God was righteous, and visited the
iniquity of Joram and Ahaziah, those degenerate branches of David's
house, upon their children.
II. It was wonderfully preserved by the pious care of one of Joram's
daughters (who was wife to Jehoiada the priest), who stole away one of
the king's sons, Joash by name, and hid him,
2 Kings 11:2,3.
This was a brand plucked out of the fire; what number were slain we are
not told, but, it seems, this being a child in the nurse's arms was not
missed, or not enquired after, or at least no found. The person that
delivered him was his own aunt, the daughter of wicked Joram; for God
will raise up protectors for those whom he will have protected. The
place of his safety was the house of the Lord, one of the chambers
belonging to the temple, a place Athaliah seldom troubled. His aunt, by
bringing him hither, put him under God's special protection, and so hid
him by faith, as Moses was hidden. Now were David's words made good to
one of his seed
In the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me. With good
reason did this Joash, when he grew up, set himself to repair the house
of the Lord, for it had been a sanctuary to him. Now was the promise
made to David bound up in one life, and yet it did not fail. Thus to
the son of David will God, according to his promise, secure a spiritual
seed, which, though sometimes reduced to a small number, brought very
low, and seemingly lost, will be perpetuated to the end of time, hidden
sometimes and unseen, but hidden in God's pavilion and unhurt. It was a
special providence that Joram, though a king, a wicked king, married
his daughter to Jehoiada a priest, a godly priest. Some perhaps thought
it a disparagement to the royal family to marry a daughter to a
clergyman, but it proved a happy marriage, and the saving of the royal
family from ruin; for Jehoiada's interest in the temple gave her
an opportunity to preserve the child, and her interest in the royal
family gave him an opportunity to set him on the throne. See the
wisdom and care of Providence, and how it prepares for what it designs;
and see what blessings those lay up in store for their families that
marry their children to those that are wise and good.
4 And the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers
over hundreds, with the captains and the guard, and brought them
to him into the house of the LORD, and made a covenant with them,
and took an oath of them in the house of the LORD, and showed
them the king's son.
5 And he commanded them, saying, This is the thing that ye
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;
6 And a third part shall be at the gate of Sur; and a third
part at the gate behind the guard: so shall ye keep the watch of
the house, that it be not broken down.
7 And two parts of all you that go forth on the sabbath, even
they shall keep the watch of the house of the LORD about the
8 And ye shall compass the king round about, every man with his
weapons in his hand: and he that cometh within the ranges, let
him be slain: and be ye with the king as he goeth out and as he
9 And the captains over the hundreds did according to all
things that Jehoiada the priest commanded: and they took every
man his men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that
should go out on the sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest.
10 And to the captains over hundreds did the priest give king
David's spears and shields, that were in the temple of the
11 And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand,
round about the king, from the right corner of the temple to the
left corner of the temple, along by the altar and the temple.
12 And he brought forth the king's son, and put the crown upon
him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and
anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save
Six years Athaliah tyrannised. We have not a particular account of her
reign; no doubt it was of a piece with the beginning. While Jehu was
extirpating the worship of Baal in Israel, she was establishing it in
Judah, as appears,
2 Chronicles 24:7.
The court and kingdom of Judah had been debauched by their alliance
with the house of Ahab, and now one of that house is a curse and a
plague to both: sinful friendships speed no better. All this while,
Joash lay hid, entitled to a crown and intended for it, and yet buried
alive in obscurity. Though the sons and heirs of heaven are now hidden,
the world knows them not
(1 John 3:1),
yet the time is fixed when they shall appear in glory, as Joash in his
seventh year; by that time he was ready to be shown, not a babe, but,
having served his first apprenticeship to life and arrived at his first
climacterical year, he had taken a good step towards manhood; by that
time the people had grown weary of Athaliah's tyranny and ripe for a
revolution. How that revolution was effected we are here told.
I. The manager of this great affair was Jehoiada the priest, probably
the high priest, or at least the sagan (as the Jews called him)
or suffragan to the high priest. By his birth and office he was a man
in authority, whom the people were bound by the law to observe and
obey, especially when there was no rightful king upon the throne,
By marriage he was allied to the royal family, and, if all the
seed-royal were destroyed, his wife, as daughter to Joram, had a better
title to the crown than Athaliah had. By his eminent gifts and graces
he was fitted to serve his country, and better service he could not do
it than to free it from Athaliah's usurpation; and we have reason to
think he did not make this attempt till he had first asked counsel of
God and known his mind, either by prophets or Urim, perhaps by
II. The management was very discreet and as became so wise and good a
man as Jehoiada was.
1. He concerted the matter with the rulers of hundreds and the
captains, the men in office, ecclesiastical, civil, and military;
he got them to him to the temple, consulted with them, laid before them
the grievances they at present laboured under, gave them an oath of
secresy, and, finding them free and forward to join with him, showed
them the king's son
(2 Kings 11:4),
and so well satisfied were they with his fidelity that they saw no
reason to suspect an imposition. We may well think what a pleasing
surprise it was to the good people among them, who feared that the
house and lineage of David were quite cut off, to find such a spark as
this in the embers.
2. He posted the priests and Levites, who were more immediately under
his direction, in the several avenues to the temple, to keep the guard,
putting them under the command of the rulers of hundreds,
2 Kings 11:9.
David had divided the priests into courses, which waited by turns.
Every sabbath-day morning a new company came into waiting, but the
company of the foregoing week did not go out of waiting till the
sabbath evening, so that on the sabbath day, when double service was to
be done, there was a double number to do it, both those that were to
come in and those that were to go out. These Jehoiada employed to
attend on this great occasion; he armed them out of the magazines of
the temple with David's spears and shields, either his own or those he
had taken from his enemies, which he devoted to God's honour,
2 Kings 11:10.
If they were old and unfashionable, yet those that used them might, by
their being David's, be reminded of God's covenant with him, which they
were now acting in the defence of. Two things they were ordered to
(1.) To protect the young king from being insulted; they must keep
the watch of the king's house
(2 Kings 11:5),
compass the king, and be with him
(2 Kings 11:8),
to guard him from Athaliah's partizans, for still there were those that
thirsted after royal blood.
(2.) To preserve the holy temple from being profaned by the concourse
of people that would come together on this occasion
(2 Kings 11:6):
Keep the watch of the house, that it be neither broken through
nor broken down, and so strangers should crowd in, or such as were
unclean. He was not so zealous for the projected revolution as to
forget his religion. In times of the greatest hurry care must be
taken, Ne detrimentum capiat ecclesia--That the holy things
of God be not trenched upon. It is observable that Jehoiada
appointed to each his place as well as his work
(2 Kings 11:6,7),
for good order contributes very much to the expediting and
accomplishing of any great enterprise. Let every man know, and keep,
and make good, his post, and then the work will be done quickly.
3. When the guards were fixed, then the king was brought forth,
2 Kings 11:12.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion! for even in thy holy
mountain thy king appears, a child indeed, but not such a one as brings
a woe upon the land, for he is the son of nobles, the son of David
a child indeed, but he had a good guardian, and, which was better, a
good God, to go to. Jehoiada, without delay, proceeded to the
coronation of this young king; for, though he was not yet capable of
despatching business, he would be growing up towards it by degrees.
This was done with great solemnity,
2 Kings 11:12.
(1.) In token of his being invested with kingly power, he put the
crown upon him, though it was yet too large and heavy for his head.
The regalia, it is probable, were kept in the temple, and so the crown
was ready at hand.
(2.) In token of his obligation to govern by law, and to make the word
of God his rule, he gave him the testimony, put into his hand a Bible,
in which he must read all the days of his life,
(3.) In token of his receiving the Spirit, to qualify him for this
great work to which he before was called, he anointed him. Though
notice is taken of the anointing of the kings only in case of
interruption, as here, and in Solomon's case, yet I know not but the
ceremony might be used for all their kings, at least those of the house
of David, because their royalty was typical of Christ's, who was to be
anointed above his fellows, above all the sons of David.
(4.) In token of the people's acceptance of him and subjection to his
government, they clapped their hands for joy, and expressed their
hearty good wishes to him: Let the king live; and thus they made
him king, made him their king, consented to, and concurred with, the
divine appointment. They had reason to rejoice in the period now put to
Athaliah's tyranny, and the prospect they had of the restoration and
establishment of religion by a king under the tuition of so good a man
as Jehoiada. They had reason to bid him welcome to the crown whose
right it was, and to pray, Let him live, concerning him who came
to them as life from the dead and in whom the house of David was to
live. With such acclamations of 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 deposed. Hosanna, blessed is he that
comes: clap hands, and say, "Let King Jesus live, for ever live and
reign, in my soul, and in all the world;" it is promised
He shall live, and prayer shall be made for him, and his
13 And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the
people, she came to the people into the temple of the LORD.
14 And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar, as
the manner was, and the princes and the trumpeters by the king,
and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets:
and Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, Treason, Treason.
15 But Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the
hundreds, the officers of the host, and said unto them, Have her
forth without the ranges: and him that followeth her kill with
the sword. For the priest had said, Let her not be slain in the
house of the LORD.
16 And they laid hands on her; and she went by the way by the
which the horses came into the king's house: and there was she
We may suppose it was designed when they had finished the solemnity of
the king's inauguration, to pay a visit to Athaliah, and call her to an
account for her murders, usurpation, and tyranny; but, like her mother
Jezebel, she saved them the labour, went out to meet them, and hastened
her own destruction.
1. Hearing the noise, she came in a fright to see what was the matter,
2 Kings 11:13.
Jehoiada and his friends began in silence, but now that they found
their strength, they proclaimed what they were doing. It seems,
Athaliah was little regarded, else she would have had intelligence
brought her of this daring attempt before with her own ears she heard
the noise; had the design been discovered before it was perfected, it
might have been quashed, but now it was too late. When she heard the
noise it was strange that she was so ill advised as to come herself,
and, for aught that appears, to come alone. Surely she was not so
neglected as to have none to go for her, or none to go with her, but
she was wretchedly infatuated by the transport both of fear and
indignation she was in. Whom God will destroy he befools.
2. Seeing what was done she cried out for help. She saw the king's
place by the pillar possessed by one to whom the princes and people did
(2 Kings 11:14)
and had reason to conclude her power at an end, which she knew was
usurped; this made her rend her clothes, like one distracted, and cry,
"Treason! treason! Come and help against the traitors." Josephus adds
that she cried to have him killed that possessed the king's place. What
was now doing was the highest justice, yet it was branded as the
highest crime; she herself was the greatest traitor, and yet was first
and loudest in crying Treason! treason! Those that are themselves most
guilty are commonly most forward to reproach others.
3. Jehoiada gave orders to put her to death as an idolater, a usurper,
and an enemy to the public peace. Care was taken,
(1.) That she should not be killed in the temple, or any of the courts
of it, in reverence to that holy place, which must not be stained with
the blood of any human sacrifice, though ever so justly offered.
(2.) That whoever appeared for her should die with her: "Him that
follows her, to protect or rescue her, any of her attendants that
resolve to adhere to her and will not come into the interests of their
rightful sovereign, kill with the sword, but not unless they
follow her now,"
2 Kings 11:15.
According to these orders, she endeavouring to make her escape the back
way to the palace, through the stalls, they pursued her, and there
2 Kings 11:16.
So let thy enemies perish, O Lord! thus give the bloody harlot
blood to drink, for she is worthy.
17 And Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king
and the people, that they should be the LORD's people; between
the king also and the people.
18 And all the people of the land went into the house of Baal,
and brake it down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces
thoroughly, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars.
And the priest appointed officers over the house of the LORD.
19 And he took the rulers over hundreds, and the captains, and
the guard, and all the people of the land; and they brought down
the king from the house of the LORD, and came by the way of the
gate of the guard to the king's house. And he sat on the throne
of the kings.
20 And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in
quiet: and they slew Athaliah with the sword beside the king's
21 Seven years old was Jehoash when he began to reign.
Jehoiada had now got over the harlot part of his work, when, by the
death of Athaliah, the young prince had his way to the throne cleared
of all opposition. He had now to improve his advantages for the
perfecting of the revolution and the settling of the government. Two
things we have an account of here:--
I. The good foundations he laid, by an original contract,
2 Kings 11:17.
Now that prince and people were together in God's house, as it should
seem before they stirred, Jehoiada took care that they should jointly
covenant with God, and mutually covenant with each other, that they
might rightly understand their duty both to God and to one another, and
be firmly bound to it.
1. He endeavoured to settle and secure the interests of religion among
them, by a covenant between them and God. King and people would then
cleave most firmly to each other when both had joined themselves to the
Lord. God had already, on his part, promised to be their God (Jehoiada
could show them that in the book of the testimony); now the king and
people on their part must covenant and agree that they will be the
Lord's people: in this covenant, the king stands upon the same
level with his subjects and is as much bound as any of them to serve
the Lord. By this engagement they renounced Baal, whom many of them had
worshipped, and resigned themselves to God's government. It is well
with a people when all the changes that pass over them help to revive,
strengthen, and advance the interests of religion among them. And those
are likely to prosper who set out in the world under fresh and sensible
obligations to God and their duty. By our bonds to God the bonds of
every relation are strengthened. They first gave themselves to the
Lord, and then to us,
2 Corinthians 8:5.
2. He then settled both the coronation-oath and the oath of allegiance,
the pacta conventa--covenant, between the king and the people,
by which the king was obliged to govern according to law and to protect
his subjects, and they were obliged, while he did so, to obey him and
to bear faith and true allegiance to him. Covenants are of use both to
remind us of and to bind us to those duties which are already binding
on us. It is good, in all relations, for the parties to understand one
another fully, particularly in that between prince and subject, that
the one may understand the limits of his power and prerogative, the
other those of his liberty and property; and never may the ancient
landmarks which our fathers have set before them be removed.
II. The good beginnings he raised on those foundations.
1. Pursuant to their covenant with God they immediately abolished
idolatry, which the preceding kings, in compliance with the house of
Ahab, had introduced
(2 Kings 11:18):
All the people of the land, the mob, got together, to show their
zeal against idolatry; and every one, now that they were so well
headed, would lend a hand to pull down Baal's temple, his altars, and
his images. All his worshippers, it should seem, deserted him; only his
priest Mattan stuck to his altar. Though all men forsook Baal, he would
not, and there he was slain, the best sacrifice that ever was offered
upon that altar. Having destroyed Baal's temple, they appointed
officers over the house of God, to see that the service of God
was regularly performed by the proper persons, in due time, and
according to the institutional manner.
2. Pursuant to their covenant with one another they expressed a mutual
readiness to and satisfaction in each other.
(1.) The king was brought in state to the royal palace, and sat there
on the throne of judgment, the thrones of the house of David
(2 Kings 11:19),
ready to receive petitions and appeals, which he would refer it to
Jehoiada to give answers to and to give judgment upon.
(2.) The people rejoiced, and Jerusalem was in quiet
(2 Kings 11:20),
and Josephus says they kept a feast of joy many days, making good
When it goes well with the righteous the city rejoices, and when the
wicked perish there is shouting.