DESTINATION DOOM

What would my family tree look like if my grandmother decided to kill all the babies?  We will meet a mother who foreshadows the horrors of modern news reports.  Destiny for Ahaziah was not for glory, but rather to become part of the winds of change in Israel and Judah.  He had been a survivor of the Arabian raid, but other events would further change Judah.

And the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah his youngest son king in his stead: for the band of men that came with the Arabians to the camp had slain all the eldest. So Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah reigned.  Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Athaliah the daughter of Omri.  He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly.  Wherefore he did evil in the sight of the LORD like the house of Ahab: for they were his counsellors after the death of his father to his destruction.  He walked also after their counsel, and went with Jehoram the son of Ahab king of Israel to war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramothgilead: and the Syrians smote Joram.  2 Chronicles 22:1-5

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:  Ahaziah of Judah was king of Judah, and the son of Jehoram and Athaliah, the daughter (or possibly sister) of king Ahab of Israel. He is also called Jehoahaz (2 Chronicles 21:17; 25:23).

You may remember the name Jehoahaz from the previous chapter, so now you see that this is the same person.  There is enough confusion when kings of Judah and Israel have the same names.  The status of Athaliah is also questioned, so bear with us as we unwind this tale!

And he returned to be healed in Jezreel because of the wounds which were given him at Ramah, when he fought with Hazael king of Syria. And Azariah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Jehoram the son of Ahab at Jezreel, because he was sick.  And the destruction of Ahaziah was of God by coming to Joram: for when he was come, he went out with Jehoram against Jehu the son of Nimshi, whom the LORD had anointed to cut off the house of Ahab.  And it came to pass, that, when Jehu was executing judgment upon the house of Ahab, and found the princes of Judah, and the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah, that ministered to Ahaziah, he slew them.  And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, (for he was hid in Samaria,) and brought him to Jehu: and when they had slain him, they buried him: Because, said they, he is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart. So the house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom.  2 Chronicles 22:6-9

From the book of Kings we may recall the furious ride of Jehu who wrought judgment by slaying the evil leaders of Israel.  He also found Ahaziah visiting his relative the king of Israel he too was targeted.  He was permitted a proper burial as a son of a righteous king, but he had strayed and become an enemy of God.  His mother took the affairs of Judah into her own hands. 

But when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah.  But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons that were slain, and put him and his nurse in a bedchamber. 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 slew him not.  And he was with them hid in the house of God six years: and Athaliah reigned over the land.  2 Chronicles 22:10-12

Athaliah would kill her own grandchildren to become the sole ruler of Judah.  One son, Joash, is hidden from her madness by a daughter of the king.  The wife of a priest hid the boy from Athaliah in the temple for the six years that Athaliah reigned.  

And in the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and took the captains of hundreds, Azariah the son of Jeroham, and Ishmael the son of Jehohanan, and Azariah the son of Obed, and Maaseiah the son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat the son of Zichri, into covenant with him.  And they went about in Judah, and gathered the Levites out of all the cities of Judah, and the chief of the fathers of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem.  And all the congregation made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he said unto them, Behold, the king’s son shall reign, as the LORD hath said of the sons of David.  2 Chronicles 23:1-3

Now the priest Jehoida assumed a military role and formed a force of warriors.  He gathered support among the priests and people to honor God’s intent for the house of David to rule.  Athaliah could not be considered to be a son of David.  Jehoida issued instructions to his allies.

This is the thing that ye shall do; A third part of you entering on the sabbath, of the priests and of the Levites, shall be porters of the doors;  And a third part shall be at the king’s house; and a third part at the gate of the foundation: and all the people shall be in the courts of the house of the LORD.  But let none come into the house of the LORD, save the priests, and they that minister of the Levites; they shall go in, for they are holy: but all the people shall keep the watch of the LORD.  And the Levites shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand; and whosoever else cometh into the house, he shall be put to death: but be ye with the king when he cometh in, and when he goeth out.  2 Chronicles 23:4-7

The normal operation of the Temple excluded most from the inner areas.  The people were alerted to help guard against possible invasion by those loyal to the queen.  It was all fairly normal for them to be excluded from the holy areas, but the precaution would protect special proceedings to come.  The young king would be closely guarded.

So the Levites and all Judah did according to all things that Jehoiada the priest had commanded, and took every man his men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that were to go out on the sabbath: for Jehoiada the priest dismissed not the courses.   Moreover Jehoiada the priest delivered to the captains of hundreds spears, and bucklers, and shields, that had been king David’s, which were in the house of God.  And he set all the people, every man having his weapon in his hand, from the right side of the temple to the left side of the temple, along by the altar and the temple, by the king round about.  Then they brought out the king’s son, and put upon him the crown, and gave him the testimony, and made him king. And Jehoiada and his sons anointed him, and said, God save the king.  2 Chronicles 23:8-11

From within the temple weapons were available from the treasures of David.  Thus the guards would have weapons without alerting anyone to the unusual events shaping up.  Armed guards were positioned and the king was safely brought in under full guard.  The young king was anointed by the priests as David his ancestor had been.  The celebration soon reached the queen’s ears. She indulged a practice previously neglected by going to church to learn what was going on. 

Now when Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and praising the king, she came to the people into the house of the LORD:  And she looked, and, behold, the king stood at his pillar at the entering in, and the princes and the trumpets by the king: and all the people of the land rejoiced, and sounded with trumpets, also the singers with instruments of musick, and such as taught to sing praise. Then Athaliah rent her clothes, and said, Treason, Treason.  Then Jehoiada the priest brought out the captains of hundreds that were set over the host, and said unto them, Have her forth of the ranges: and whoso followeth her, let him be slain with the sword. For the priest said, Slay her not in the house of the LORD.  So they laid hands on her; and when she was come to the entering of the horse gate by the king’s house, they slew her there.  2 Chronicles 23:12-15

A queen who murdered her own family is not in a good position to cry “treason”.  She and her followers were removed from the temple before she was slain.  The idolatry that mislead them was also destroyed.

And Jehoiada made a covenant between him, and between all the people, and between the king, that they should be the LORD’s people.  Then all the people went to the house of Baal, and brake it down, and brake his altars and his images in pieces, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars.  Also Jehoiada appointed the offices of the house of the LORD by the hand of the priests the Levites, whom David had distributed in the house of the LORD, to offer the burnt offerings of the LORD, as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, as it was ordained by David.  And he set the porters at the gates of the house of the LORD, that none which was unclean in any thing should enter in.  And he took the captains of hundreds, and the nobles, and the governors of the people, and all the people of the land, and brought down the king from the house of the LORD: and they came through the high gate into the king’s house, and set the king upon the throne of the kingdom.  And all the people of the land rejoiced: and the city was quiet, after that they had slain Athaliah with the sword.  2 Chronicles 23:16-21

Jehoida the priest cleansed the land and established a covenant with the people to serve god as in David’s day.  They restored the Levites as guards to keep the temple holy.  Now the king was established to rule in his own house, and moved to that location.  There was change for good in Judah, which restored peace to Jerusalem.

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