Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Athaliah: the only Queen of Judah

I'm reading through Kings. I finished 1 Kings and I'm up to chapter 12 of 2 Kings. It is taking me a long time. I am not super-spiritual and I'm not super-smart and the going is slow.

There were quite a few kings of Israel. The history behind them all is daunting, never mind simply keeping the names and family lines straight. Without context it's hard to keep it all from running together. Oh well, I've got to read through the first time, don't I, and then I'll have context for the second time, and so on.

In chapter 11 we meet Athaliah. She was Queen Regent for 6 years over Judah. She was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel and she was just as zealous that Baal worship be re-instated as the official worship as her mother had been. BibleGateway has a summary of her life, titled "The Woman Who Was a Notorious Murderess"

Athaliah, as depicted in
Antoine Dufour’s Vie des femmes célèbres, c. 1505;
in the Dobrée Museum, Nantes, France.
Giraudon/Art Resource, New York
Why was she a murderess? She killed all who could lay claim to the throne, even grandchildren. Well, almost all.

"And Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal seed." (2 Kings 11:1)

The Bible Gateway summary is interesting and good, and it's not long. Here are a few excerpts from Bible Gateway's life of Athaliah.

--She was the granddaughter of Omri, 6th king of Israel, “who waded through slaughter to a throne he never inherited.”
--After reigning for eight years Jehoram died, unmourned, of a predicted incurable disease. While he reigned, he was dominated by Athaliah who had the stronger character of the two, and who, having inherited from her evil mother strength of will and fanatical devotion to the worship of Baal, made Judah idolatrous.
--After putting to death her young grandsons, Athaliah reigned for six years, and was the only woman to reign as queen of Judah.
--The daughter of a king, wife of a king, mother of a king, she is now queen.
--During her reign part of the Temple of Jehovah was pulled down and the material used in the building of a temple of Baal.
--Unknown to Athaliah as she set out to massacre all her grandsons, the youngest was hid from the orgy of destruction.
--Athaliah was left in a horse-path, to be trampled upon. Like her mother she died a queen, but without a hand to help her or an eye to pity her.

"So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet after Athaliah had been put to death with the sword at the king's house." (2 Kings 11:20)

I took two things away from my reading this morning. One is, like Jezebel, Athaliah was a near-perfect fulfillment of the curse of Eve and the promise that God made in the Garden:

"Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (Genesis 3:16b). Both Jezebel and Athaliah sought power from and not submission to their husbands and thereby did not submit to God. They both ruled over their husbands and their husbands let them. Abandoning one part of God's best (Ephesians 5:22) will inevitably lead to abandoning more parts of God's word and then all parts. Both women, left to their sinful desires, fully served Baal and not God.

Secondly, Athaliah sought to wipe out the line of David. You want to know what satan is like? Like this: he kills babies without a second thought. Just as satan tried to wipe out Noah's line, which remained perfect in his generations, (Genesis 6:9), and as Herod tried to wipe out the babe Christ in the massacre of the Innocents (Matthew 2:16–18), Athaliah tried to wipe out the Davidic line. However, the Word of God will never be undone by man nor women!

"The previous deaths of Jehoram's brothers and Ahaziah's brothers and relatives (2 Kings 10:12-14, 2 Chron 21:17, 21:14), left only her grandchildren for Athaliah to put to death to destroy the Davidic line. Though the LORD had promised that the House of David would rule over Israel and Judah forever, Athaliah's purge brought it to the brink of extinction." (source MacArthur Study Bible).

Only one little grandbaby was left of the Davidic line, it all came down to one child. And Jehosheba, Ahaziah's sister, hid Joash and did so successfully for 6 years until Athaliah was ignominiously killed. The LORD is mighty to protect and is perfect to fulfill His word.

In the midst of all that murder and plotting and Baal-worship, the ultimate glory of the passage for me today is that the Lord is will fulfill what He says He will fulfill, no matter what machinations satan and man throw in His way.

"The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. You, O Lord, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever." (Psalm 12:6-7a)

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For Further Reading-

Bible Study Tools: Athaliah

Bible Hub Topical Study: Athaliah

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