2 Kings 11:1
When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to annihilate all the royal heirs.
Jehoiada and JoashAlexander Maclaren2 Kings 11:1
Athaliah's UsurpationJ. Orr 2 Kings 11:1-3
The Preservation and Coronation of JoashC.H. Irwin 2 Kings 11:1-16
AthaliahJ. Parker, D. D.2 Kings 11:1-21
Malign SuccessionChristian Commonwealth2 Kings 11:1-21
The History of AthaliahDavid Thomas, D. D.2 Kings 11:1-21
The History of AthaliahD. Thomas 2 Kings 11:1-21

This is a touching story of hymen wickedness and of God's overruling and preserving power. Three principal personages come before us here, from each of whom something may be learned.

I. ATHALIAH AND HER WORK. Athaliah's life-work was a Work of destruction. She did much harm. She did no good. A daughter of Ahab and Jezebel (sometimes called a daughter of Omri, whose granddaughter she was), she had inherited all the evil propensities of her parents. She destroyed her own husband, Jehoram King of Judah. We read of him that "he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife: and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord" (2 Chronicles 21:6). She destroyed also her son Ahaziah. We read of him that "he also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counselor to do wickedly. Wherefore he did evil in the sight of the Lord like the house of Ahab; for they were his counselors after the death of his father to his destruction (2 Chronicles 21:3, 4). And now she completes her destructive career by putting to death her grandchildren, the seed royal of the kingdom. There are many women like Athaliah, whose life-work is a work of destruction. What harm one wicked woman can do! Some corrupt the morals of others. Some, by their evil-speaking and slander, do what they can to destroy the reputation and good name of their neighbors. The Jezebels and Athaliahs of Scripture story have their parallels in the Queen Marys, the Pompadours, the Medicis, and the Maintenons of more modern times.

II. JEHOSHEBA AND HER WORK. Jehosheba's work was a work of preservation. She too was a king's daughter. But she had not been corrupted by the wickedness of the court. She was the wife of Jehoiada the priest - a good wife of a good man. She rescued Joash from Athaliah's massacre, and kept him hid in the priests' apartments in the temple. There he was hid for six years, until the time that, as a boy-king, he was called to the throne. If there are Athaliahs in the world still, there are also Jehoshebas. If there are women of cruelty, there are also women of sympathetic and. compassionate spirit. If there are women who are corrupters of others, how many there are who by their own pure life and conduct have been the preservers of public purity and morality! If one wicked woman can do much harm, one pure-minded Christian woman can do a vast amount of good. What an amount of quiet beneficence is being carried on by Christian women throughout the world at the present day! What a vast number of ladies who visit and minister to the poor! What a vast number of ladies who, in hospitals and in private houses, devote themselves to the noble work of nursing the sick I How many are engaged in instructing the young in our Sunday schools! How many have gone forth as missionaries to heathen lands! Woman's work in the Christian Church, and in the cause of charity and philanthropy, seems to be increasing every year.

III. JEHOIADA AND HIS WORK. Jehoiada's work was of a twofold nature. His work was both destroying and preserving. He destroyed idolatry. He put an end to Athaliah's reign and life. He did not believe in the policy of non-resistance. He believed in doing his utmost to overthrow even the power of the reigning queen, when that power was wickedly obtained, and exercised in an evil way, dishonoring to God and injurious to the interests of the nation. Like many another reformer, he incurred the charge of disloyalty and treason. But there are many things that need to be destroyed. And who can overestimate the harm done by a wicked ruler? But Jehoiada was no mere revolutionist. He did not rebel against Athaliah for revolution's sake. He did not put an end to her reign because of his antipathy to governments. He would have agreed with St. Paul that the powers that be are ordained of God." He set up another king in her place, and, in place of the idolatry which she had sanctioned, he set up the worship of the true God. We see in the whole narrative the overruling providence of God. Athaliah thought she would make her power secure by her holocaust of young princes. But man proposes, and God disposes. We see also the use of human instrumentality. God works by means. He used Jehosheba to preserve the young life which in the end was the means, in Jehoiada's hand, of overthrowing the wicked power of Athaliah. - C.H.I.

And when Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, saw that her son was dead.
The blackest names in the long roll of the world's infamy are those of kings and queens, and amongst them Athaliah is not the least abhorrent. In this woman's life, as here sketched, we have —

I. HEREDITARY DEPRAVITY. We find in this woman, Athaliah, the infernal tendencies of her father and her mother, Ahab and Jezebel. Though they had been swept as monsters from the earth, their hellish spirit lived and worked in this their daughter. We have an immortality in others, as well as in ourselves. In this fact we are reminded —

1. That the moral qualities of parents may become physical tendencies in the children. The man who voluntarily contracts habits of falsehood, dishonesty, profanity, incontinence, drunkenness, and general intemperance, transmits these to his children as physical tendencies.

2. That the evil moral qualities of parents, reappearing in their children in the form of physical tendencies, is no complete justification for the children's wickedness. This is clear(1) From the fact that God has endowed all with sufficient force to control all physical tendencies.(2) From the personal consciousness of every sinner.(3) From the Divine Word as found in the Scriptures. "Whatsoever good thing any man doeth the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free." "He that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. The fact of hereditary depravity reminds us —

3. That the way to raise the human race is to improve their moral qualities. In this woman's life we see —

II. OUTWITTED WICKEDNESS. No doubt this woman, who thought she had destroyed all the "seed royal," considered she had made her way to the throne clear and secure. For six long years she had no conception that one had escaped her bloody purpose. Now it was revealed to her, and her disappointment maddens her with vengeance, and excites the desperate cry, "Treason, treason!" It is ever so. "He disappointeth the devices of the crafty. History abounds with the examples of the bafflement of wrong. The conduct of Joseph's brethren, Ahithophel, Sanballat, Haman, and the Jewish Sanhedrim in relation to Christ, are instances. Craftiness uses lies as concealment and defence, but the eternal law of Providence makes them snares. In this woman's life we see —

III. JUST RETRIBUTION. Those who plot the destruction of others often fall themselves. Here is(1) A terrible retribution.(2) A prompt retribution. It came on her there before she passed into the other world. Retribution is going on now and here. There is(3) A retribution administered by wicked men. God punishes the wicked by the wicked. The whole history of the world is an illustration of this. Truly "the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment. Though his excellency mount up to the heavens and his head reach unto the clouds, yet he shall perish for ever Yea he shall be chased away as a vision of the night."

(David Thomas, D. D.)

Christian Commonwealth.
A wicked mother left behind her a wicked daughter. What else could be expected but that the demoniac Jezebel should be reflected and repeated, so far as character and conduct were concerned, in her daughter Athaliah? How very often such a malign succession is seen! Henry VIII. was terribly given to executing any of his subjects who opposed him. His elder daughter, Queen Mary, led the awful persecution against Protestants in which so many martyrs were burned, including Bishops Ridley, Hooper, Latimer, and Archbishop Cranmer. Had she had a gentler father her disposition might have been more merciful.

(Christian Commonwealth.)

Observe a very strong peculiarity in human nature, as shown in the conduct of Athaliah. She went into the temple and saw the young Joash with a crown upon his head, and she shrieked out, "Treason, treason!" Poor innocent Athaliah! Who would not pity so gentle a dove, with a breast of feathers and a cruel dart rankling in it. Sweet woman, gentle loving creature, injured queen — her hands were perfectly clean; she was the victim of a cruel stratagem; she was outwitted by heads longer than hers; she, poor unsuspecting soul, had been brought into this condition, and all she could do was to cry in injured helplessness, "Treason, treason!" How moral we become under some circumstances! How very righteous we stand up to be under certain provocations! Who could but pity poor Athaliah, who had nursed her grandchildren with a wolf's care? We do this very self-same thing very often in our own lives. Where is the man who does not suppose that he has a right to do wrong? But let other people do wrong, and then hear him. Given a religious sect of any name whatsoever, that has the domination of any neighbourhood, and the probability is that that religious sect will use its supremacy somewhat mischievously in certain circumstances. It will not let anybody who opposes its tenets have an acre of ground in that neighbourhood, nor will it allow any sect that opposes its principles to build a church there. No, it takes a righteous view of the circumstances; it will not trifle with its responsibilities; it can allow no encroachment; it is charged with the spirit of stewardship, and must be faithful to its sacred obligations. So it cants and whines, whatever its name be: if it be the name we bear religiously so much the worse. We speak of no particular sect, or of any sect that may be placed in such peculiar circumstances as to claim the domination and supremacy in any neighbourhood. Now let any member of that sect leave that particular locality and go to live under a different set of circumstances, and apply for a furlong of ground, or for a house that he may occupy as tenant; then let it be found that his religious convictions are a bar to his entrance upon the enjoyment of local properties and liberties, he will call "Persecution, persecution!" How well it befits his lips. The very man who in one district persecuted to the death those who opposed him removes to another locality where a screw is applied to his own joints, and he cries out, "Persecution — persecution!" It is Athaliah's old trick, and will have Athaliah's poor reward. See how the cry of the wicked is unheeded. She was a woman, and by so much had a claim upon the sympathy of the strong. No man's heart went out towards her in loyal reverence. With what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged. With what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again. "As I have done," said a sufferer of old, "to others, so the Lord hath requited me." Though hand join in hand, yet the wicked shall not go unpunished. If you are treating any of your family, your wife or husband or child, with base cruelty, it will surely come home to you some other day.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

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