Athaliah, daughter of Jezebel and mother of King Ahaziah, was even more wicked than her mother.
How far would you go to get your way? What if your children or grandchildren were keeping you from achieving your dream? Would you be willing to murder them?
I hope not. I usually try to find some connection to each of the women we study, but I’m having a hard time with today’s woman. Remember back when we talked about Jezebel and we thought she was bad? Well, she’s nothing compared to her daughter Athaliah, one truly evil woman.
Athaliah in the Bible
We first meet Athaliah in 2 Kings 8:27 when her son Ahaziah took over as king. We’re told he was the son of Johoram and his mother’s name was Athaliah. And that’s followed by the telling phrase of, “And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the the sight of the Lord, like the house of Ahab.”
In case that wasn’t clear enough, we can head over to 2 Chronicles 22 where verse 3 says about Ahaziah, “He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother advised him to do wickedly.”
But that’s not all. In 2 Chronicles 21 where we learn about Ahaziah’s father Johoram’s reign, we’re told that “He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for he had the daughter of Ahab as a wife; and he did evil in the sight of the Lord.”
So not only did she train up her son to be evil, but before that, she was heavily influencing Johoram, her husband in her evil ways. In fact, as soon as Johoram was established as king, he went so far as to kill his brothers so they wouldn’t be a threat. Jehoram, with Athaliah by his side, was an evil king who reigned for eight years then died of sickness.
Then his son Ahaziah reigned for a year before he was killed.
Athaliah Murders Children and Grandchildren
When Athaliah heard that her son was dead, she did what any mother would do. She killed off all the royal heirs, including her grandchildren, so that she might seize the throne. But unbeknownst to her, Jehoshaba found baby Joash and hid him in the temple for six years while Athaliah reigned as Queen.
When Joash was seven-years-old, Jehoiada, the priest who was hiding him, called together all the Levites and brought them to Jerusalem along with the captains of hundreds. He positioned the captains and their men as guards around the temple. Then he brought out Joash and crowned him and anointed him king. And the people rejoiced.
When Athaliah heard the cheers, she rushed to the temple and saw the new king with the leaders standing beside him and the musicians playing trumpets, singing praises, and yelling, “Long live the king!”
Athaliah tore her clothes and screamed, “Treason! Treason!” But no one cared. Jehoida called the captains and gave orders to take her outside to kill her, for he didn’t want to do it in the house of the Lord. So they seized her and they killed her in the entrance of the Horse Gate into the the king’s house. In the end, her death was much like her mother. Jezebel’s body was eaten by dogs and Athaliah’s was trampled by horses.
We have one last mention of Athaliah in 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.”
Do you think God wanted to make sure we knew just how evil Athaliah was?
What Can We Learn From Athaliah?
Athaliah reigned as queen of Judah for six years. She was the only woman to rule as queen of Judah. She was a daughter of a king, wife of a king, and mother of a king. In each of her roles, she was instrumental in promoting Bael worship and striving to eliminate any seed in the line of David. She was a woman obsessed with power, willing to murder anyone who got in her way.
I usually try to give us a takeaway and show how we have something in common with the women we study, but I really hope there’s no one listening who can relate to this wicked queen.
I’m sure, though, there are some women who have your eyes on a goal and are fixated on reaching that goal. Perhaps, like Athaliah, you feel handicapped by being a woman in a man’s world, so you think you have to be more aggressive and do whatever you have to do, trampling over everyone else, to reach your goal.
Oh, ladies, there’s nothing wrong with chasing dreams, but please consider the cost. Is it worth it to gain the prize if you lose your loved ones in the process? You may not actually murder, but you can still do damage by the way you treat others.
We’re all leaving a legacy of some kind. Good or bad, no matter who we are, we are impacting others around us. Oh that we might leave a positive influence and not be used as an example of what not to be.
Are all these kings and queens giving you a headache, trying to keep up with all of them? Each one, good or bad, left their mark. As you go about your daily business ask yourself, if someone were to write a one or two sentence summary of your life, what would they include? What impact are you having on those around you?
Lord God, how it must break your heart to see the evil in men’s hearts. While we may not be guilty of murder, we have certainly entertained pride in our hearts and evil thoughts. Forgive us when we lose sight of You and focus only on our selfish gains. Help redirect us to more healthy dreams. Open our eyes to what it is You have us to do rather than what we want to do. We love You. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Athaliah Bible Study
2 Kings 8, 11
2 Chronicles 21, 22, 24
Bible Study Review
- Who was Athaliah’s husband?
- How many years did Athaliah reign as Queen?
- Who succeeded Athaliah on the throne of Judah?
Thoughts to Ponder
- How does the Bible let us know the influence a parent had on a child?
- How did the people feel about Athaliah as queen?
- What might have happened if Jehoshaba had not rescued and hid Joash?
- Have you ever trampled over other people in an affect to achieve success?
- Have you ever compromised your values to get what you wanted?
- Are you in any way like Athaliah?
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