The consequences of Jehoram’s marriage to Athaliah can be seen in the history of the people, which we have before us in these chapters. These are consequences that cannot be undone. In the genealogy of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 1 three names are missing: Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah (Mt 1:8). This are the three generations born out of Athaliah.
1 - 9 Ahaziah King of Judah
1 Then the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah, his youngest son, king in his place, for the band of men who came with the Arabs to the camp had slain all the older [sons]. So Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign. 2 Ahaziah [was] twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah, the granddaughter of Omri. 3 He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother was his counselor to do wickedly. 4 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. 5 He also walked according to their counsel, and went with Jehoram the son of Ahab king of Israel to wage war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth-gilead. But the Arameans wounded Joram. 6 So he returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which they had inflicted on him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Aram. And Ahaziah, the son of Jehoram king of Judah, went down to see Jehoram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick. 7 Now the destruction of Ahaziah was from God, in that he went to Joram. For when he came, he went out with Jehoram against Jehu the son of Nimshi, whom the LORD had anointed to cut off the house of Ahab. 8 It came about when Jehu was executing judgment on the house of Ahab, he found the princes of Judah and the sons of Ahaziah’s brothers ministering to Ahaziah, and slew them. 9 He also sought Ahaziah, and they caught him while he was hiding in Samaria; they brought him to Jehu, put him to death and buried him. For they said, “He is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart.” So there was no one of the house of Ahaziah to retain the power of the kingdom.
When Jehoram died, the inhabitants of Jerusalem make the youngest son of Jehoram, Ahaziah, king in his place (verse 1). He is the only candidate. His older brothers were all killed by the band that came with the Arabs (2Chr 21:16-17).
Three times there has been a slaughter of members of the royal family, the royal house of David. First Jehoram killed all his brothers after he himself had taken the reign into his own hands as the eldest son (2Chr 21:4). Then all the sons of Jehoram are murdered by Philistines and Arabs (2Chr 21:16-17). Only Ahaziah – in the previous chapter he is called Jehoahaz – the youngest son, remains, which is repeated here. The third slaughter we see later in this chapter. There the brothers of Joash are murdered, a murder that only Joash escapes from (verses 10-11). This means three slaughters with one exception each. This is because of the lamp God promised to always keep burning in the house of David.
The age of Ahaziah mentioned here (verse 2) is a transcription error. His father Jehoram is forty when he dies (2Chr 21:20). Then Ahaziah can hardly be forty-two. In the same history in 2 Kings it says that he is twenty-two when he becomes king (2Kgs 8:26). He reigns for only one year. During that one year his wicked mother, whose name is mentioned here, Athaliah, is his counselor (verse 3). Then nothing good can come.
Athaliah is the daughter of Ahab (2Chr 21:6). The fact that she is called “the granddaughter of Omri” here, shows all the more the malice of her performance, in which there is no respect for the LORD at all. Omri is the father of Ahab and the founder of a wicked reign that through his son has developed further in wickedness. He is the inventor of a religion without God that has been practiced by Ahab, as the prophet Micaiah tells the people (Mic 6:16a). Athaliah is a fervent supporter of Omri’s statutes and very diligent in performing those statutes.
Ahaziah, through his upbringing, is completely imbued with the wicked atmosphere of the house of Ahab. During his upbringing he was given all the elements to allow him to continue on his evil path. It has deformed his mind. When he is in power, his mother does not stop giving him instructions. On the contrary, she smells the power. Not only his mother, but also the members of Ahab’s house give him evil advice (verse 4). Everything they whisper to him is to his ruin. For example, Ahaziah has been surrounded by evil people who let him tumble down on the way of and to destruction.
On their advice, Ahaziah commits himself to his uncle Jehoram in his fight against the Syrians (verse 5). Following this advice leads to his destruction (verse 4). Jehoram is wounded in the fight against the Syrians, in which he is defeated (verse 6). Jehoram then goes to Jezreel to heal. When Ahaziah hears about it, he visits him. When Jehoram is restored, Ahaziah connects again with Jehoram, now to meet Jehu together with him (verse 7).
Jehu is the man anointed by the LORD to exterminate the house of Ahab. The history of Jehu is described in 2 Kings 9-10. Ahaziah will be dragged into ruin because of his ties with Ahab’s house. He has bound himself to a wicked man and will share in the judgment of that wicked man. This is a warning to us that we do not engage in religious wickedness. If we do, we will share in the plagues that have been predicted about it (Rev 18:4).
That Ahaziah goes with Jehoram is “from God”. We see here that God is above the events. He uses the self-willed actions of man to carry out His intentions. Thus He brings together the object of His anger and the means of the exercise of His anger. First of all, Jehu executes judgment on the house of Ahab (verse 8). Then he goes in search of Ahazia, who hides in Samaria (verse 9). Because of the good memory of Jehoshaphat his (grand)son Ahaziah gets a place in the grave.
The final line states that after Ahaziah’s death no direct succession is possible, because there is nobody in his house who is powerful enough to reign. This notice is the introduction to the next section, in which we are told that there is still a successor, but one that is not yet able to reign (verses 10-12).
The end of Ahaziah as described (verse 9), does not resemble the way Ahaziah ends according to the historiography in 2 Kings (2Kgs 9:27). These are two different stories. The key is that the chronicler, writing after the exile, does not write about the city of Samaria, but about the entire landscape of Samaria. We must first read the story of 2 Kings and then the story in 2 Chronicles.
10 - 12 Slaughter by Athaliah; Joash Saved
10 Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she rose and destroyed all the royal offspring of the house of Judah. 11 But Jehoshabeath the king’s daughter took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons who were being put to death, and placed him and his nurse in the bedroom. So Jehoshabeath, the daughter of King Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest (for she was the sister of Ahaziah), hid him from Athaliah so that she would not put him to death. 12 He was hidden with them in the house of God six years while Athaliah reigned over the land.
When Ahaziah is dead, Athaliah kills “all the royal offspring of the house of Judah” (verse 1). The murderousness of Athaliah must have focused mainly on the sons of her son Ahaziah. After all, there is not much else to eradicate, given the two previous slaughters. That she is out to kill even her own grandchildren, proves once again that she is a daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. She wants to have the power herself and strengthen herself against Jehu to avenge himself against him. All this is the result of the marriage connection Jehoshaphat arranged between his son and the daughter of Ahab (2Chr 18:1).
Then the miracle of God’s grace happens. He has Joash, who is a baby, rescued by his aunt Jehoshabeath (verse 11). Jehoshabeath is a daughter of Jehoram, but of another mother. She is a special woman. Twice she is referred to as the daughter of the king, while she is also “the wife of Jehoiada the priest”. We can say that she is a ‘royal-priestly’ woman. It gives her a great dignity which makes her far superior to the pretentious person Athaliah. Jehoshabeath is out for salvation, Athaliah is out for destruction. Jehoshabeath serves God’s people, Athaliah serves herself.
There is another God-fearing woman who, together with Jehoshabeath, withstands the wicked woman Athaliah. That is the nurse of Joash. Joash is still so little, that the nurse has to come along to feed and care for him in secret. What an important task this unknown woman, whose name we do not even know, gets!
Joash is raised in the temple for six years (verse 12). Like Samuel, from his earliest existence he has been in a place where God is present more than anywhere else, and he is formed by the atmosphere that prevails there. Unlike Samuel, Joash lives six years in the deepest secrecy of the temple. No one knows that there is another descendant of David’s house alive. The thought that there is no one left of David’s house must be a great trial for the faithful for six years.
Joash passed through death, as it were, because he is kept hidden. The time of the apparition comes and then he starts to reign, along with Jehoiada, the priest. Here we see a reference to the kingdom of peace. After being hidden with God, the Lord Jesus appears to establish His kingdom of peace (Col 3:3-4). Moses is also hidden for a time (Exo 2:2).
While Joash is hidden, Athaliah, the daughter of Jezebel, reigns over the house of David. She is connected in name with God’s people, but she is essentially a great enemy of God. We see that in the great Babylon of whom she is a picture. From Babylon we read that she sits as queen and rules over God’s people (Revelation 17-18). Babylon does not tolerate opposition and does not live in the lack of the beloved (Rev 18:7). But it will not always remain like that.