Icons of the Bible: Queen Athaliah - Wicked Queen of Judah

Updated: Sep 8


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Queen Athaliah


Who was Athaliah in the Bible?

Athaliah, whose name means “afflicted by God,” was queen of Judah from 841–835 BC and the only female monarch to sit on David’s throne in biblical history. Athaliah was the daughter of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel of Israel, and she married Jehoram, the eldest son of Judah’s King Jehoshophat. Her time as queen is nestled amid centuries of evil monarchs who reigned over Judah and Israel. An avid Baal zealot, Athaliah rivaled the wickedness of the kings who came before and after her. Her story can be found in 2 Kings 11 and 2 Chronicles 22–23.


Athaliah’s husband, Jehoram, was king of Judah until his death in 841 BC. Unlike his father, Jehoram was a wicked king. Athaliah’s son, Ahaziah, at the age of 22, ascended to the throne, and proved himself just as evil as his father (2 Kings 8:18, 25–27). Athaliah counseled her son in his devilish schemes (2 Chronicles 22:3). Ahaziah served as king of Judah for less than one year, for he was assassinated along with Israel’s ailing king, Joram. Their assassin was Jehu, who had originally been a commander in King Ahab’s army (2 Kings 9:5, 25). The prophet Elisha had anointed Jehu as the new king of Israel and commissioned him as an instrument of the Lord to carry out God’s judgment on King Ahab and his entire idolatrous family (1 Kings 19:1–17; 2 Kings 9:1–13). Jehu’s mission of ending Ahab’s dynasty included putting Jezebel and her sons to death. Ahaziah happened to be visiting Joram when Jehu arrived to assassinate Joram, and Ahaziah was killed, too.


When Athaliah received word that her son was dead, she seized the opportunity to usurp the throne by murdering Ahaziah’s sons—her own grandsons—thus eradicating the entire royal family so she could take the throne. Unbeknownst to Athaliah, a single grandchild escaped the massacre. Jehosheba, the baby’s aunt and the wife of the high priest Jehoiada, took the infant Joash and hid him and his nurse in a bedroom. Joash was later smuggled out of the castle and taken to the temple, where he remained hidden for six years while Queen Athaliah reigned over the land (2 Kings 11:1–3).


As queen, Athaliah used her influence to further establish Baal worship in Judah, installing priests and building altars for her idol in the very temple of the Lord (2 Kings 11:18; 2 Chronicles 24:7). In this way Athaliah followed the footsteps of her mother, Jezebel.." from the article: Who was Athaliah in the Bible?


Lessons from the Reign of Athaliah

"..Lessons from the Reign of Athaliah Steve Keddie Sermon Page 2 of 6 September 2012 Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done…”5 (2 Kings 8:16-18). He killed all of his brothers and other princes to secure his place on the throne (2 Chronicles 21:.4). He “…made high places (for idol worship) in the mountains of Judah, … caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit harlotry, and led Judah astray” (2 Chronicles 21:11). c) Athaliah’s influence on her son After the death of her husband, her son Ahaziah became king. But again, now as Queen Mother, we see that her evil influence continued to play a part. Like his father, Ahaziah “…walked in the way of the house of Ahab, for his mother (Athaliah) advised him to do wickedly..” (2 Chronicles 22:3). d) Athaliah’s usurping of the throne Following Ahaziah’s death, Athaliah usurped6 the throne (2 Kings 11:1-3). In the process, she had all of the royal heirs destroyed (2 Chronicles 22:10). This most likely meant that among those she had killed were her own grandchildren. Only one was spared, the child Joash7 , secreted away with his nurse and hidden for six years by his aunt Jehosheba8 in the “house of the Lord” (2 Kings 11:2-3). e) Athaliah’s final day In the seventh year, Jehoiada the priest organised a “coup” to restore the throne to its rightful heir, Joash. Jehoiada made a covenant with the “captains of hundreds9 ”, the bodyguards, escorts and Levites. He showed them the child Joash, and made plans for the coronation (2 Kings 11:4-8; 2 Chronicles 23:1-7). On the Sabbath, at the changing of the guard, the plan was put into action, and Joash was crowned King (2 Kings 11:9-12; 2 Chronicles 23:8-11). Athaliah heard the noise of the coronation and the people running to praise the new king, When she came to the Temple and saw what had happened, she tore her clothes and shouted, “Treason! Treason!” (2 Kings 11:13-14; 2 Chronicles 23:12-13). She was escorted out of the Temple, and subsequently killed (2 Kings 11:15-16; 2 Chronicles 23:14-15). For the rest of this lesson, I want us to briefly consider four lessons that we can draw from this historical event. 2) Our influence on others Unless we live our lives as hermits away from the rest of humanity, people with whom we have contact will be influenced to some extent by us. Our attitudes, our behaviour, and the things we say not only affect us (and will be a factor on Judgement Day - Romans 2:6-11), but will affect the lives of other people as well. The question is this; will their lives be blessed and enriched as a result of.." from the article: Lessons from the Reign of Athaliah


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