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This chapter relates how that Joash the son of Ahaziah, king of Judah, being hid and preserved, when his grandmother murdered all the seed royal, after six years was produced, ( 2 Kings 11:1-3), when Jehoiada the priest set a sufficient guard about him, and the king’s house, and anointed him king, ( 2 Kings 11:4-12), and Athaliah his grandmother, who had reigned six years, was put to death by the order of the priest, ( 2 Kings 10:13-16), and then a covenant was made between the Lord, and the king, and the people, and between the king and the people; and he was placed on the throne, to the satisfaction of the people, and the quiet thereof, ( 2 Kings 10:17-21).
Ver. 1 . And when Athaiah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead , etc.] Who was the daughter of Ahab, and granddaughter of Omri ( 2 Kings 8:18,26), she arose, and destroyed all the seed royal ; that were left, for many had been slain already; the sons of Jehoshaphat, the brothers of Joram, were slain by him, ( 2 Chronicles 21:4) and all Joram’s sons, excepting Ahaziah, were slain by the Arabians, ( 2 Chronicles 22:1), and the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah were slain by Jehu, ( 2 Kings 11:8), these therefore seem to be the children of Ahaziah, the grandchildren of this brutish woman, whom she massacred out of her ambition of rule and government, which perhaps she was intrusted with while her son went to visit Joram king of Israel; other reasons are by some assigned, but this seems to be the chief. For the same reason Laodice, who had six sons by Ariarathes king of the Cappadocians, poisoned five of them; the youngest escaping her hands, was murdered by the people f121 , as this woman also was.
Ver. 2 . But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram , etc.] Not by Athaliah, but another woman; for an high priest, as her husband was, would not have married the daughter of such an idolatrous woman, nor would she have married her to him: sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons which were slain : among whom he lay; either being cast there by the murderer, or her associates, supposed to be dead, or by his nurse, that he might be thought to be so, who acquainting his aunt with it, went and privately took him away: and they hid him, even him and his nurse, in the bedchamber from Athaliah, so that he was not slain ; that is, Jehosheba and her husband hid him and his nurse in a bedchamber; or “chamber of beds” f122 , in which there were more beds than one; one of the chambers of the priests and Levites in the temple, that is, which were adjoining to it; for into the sanctuary itself it was not usual to bring beds f123 ; wherefore the house of the Lord , in the next verse, must be understood largely as including all the appendages of it.
Ver. 3 . And he was with her hid in the house of the Lord six years , etc.] In the temple; not in the holy of holies, as Jarchi, but in a chamber of the priests and Levites, of which there were several in a temple, as Kimchi, and others; and the husband of Jehosheba, being high priest, had one of them for his own use; and here the child was hid six years, so that he was but a year old when he was first taken and preserved, for he was made king when seven years of age, ( 2 Kings 11:21), and Athaliah did reign over the land ; the only instance we hear of a woman reigning in Israel, and this was not by right, but by usurpation; and so, according to the Jewish canons, a woman might not rule; which thus runs f124 , they do not set a woman in the kingdom, as it is said, ( Deuteronomy 17:15), “a king over them”, not a queen; and so, in all places of power and authority in Israel, they put in them none but a man.
Ver. 4 . And the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers over hundreds, with the captains and the guard , etc.] This was the husband of Jehosheba, who was high priest, ( 2 Chronicles 22:11) these rulers over hundreds were not those appointed over the people for civil affairs, as by the advice of Jethro, but over the priests and Levites in their courses; five of whom are mentioned by name, and were employed in gathering together the Levites, and the chief of the fathers, throughout all the cities of Judah, ( 2 Chronicles 23:1,2), and the “captains” here are the heads of the fathers there, who were the heads of the courses they were sent to gather; and the “guard”, those of the late king, whom Athaliah had turned out of their post, and took in others in their room, unless rather the temple guard is meant: and brought them to him into the house of the Lord ; the temple, that part of it where was the court of the priests and Levites: and made a covenant with them ; to join with him, assist him, and stand by him in the restoration of the king, and the reformation of the kingdom: and took an oath of them in the house of the Lord ; to keep secrecy, and be faithful to him: and showed them the king’s son ; for the truth of which he could produce his wife, the sister of the late king, and also the nurse of this child with him.
Ver. 5 . And he commanded them, saying, this is the thing that ye shall do , etc.] These were the rulers over hundreds among the priests and Levites, and which he, as high priest, could command, and whom he could convene without suspicion, being such as he had a connection with, and were unarmed men: and for the better understanding of what follows, it should be observed, that the priests, in the times of David, were divided into twenty four courses, which were by turns to serve a week in the temple; the course that came in entered when the sabbath began, and that which went out went out when it ended, and each course consisted of a thousand men: now with respect to both these courses, both that which went in and that which went out, Jehoiada gave them the following charge: a third part of you that enter in on the sabbath ; on the beginning of it, to do duty in the temple the week following: shall even be keepers of the watch of the king’s house , which, according to some, was that part of the temple where the king was hid and brought up, supposed to be the north part of it: or rather these were set at the north gate of the temple, which led to the royal palace, lest any should rush out of that, and kill the king.
Ver. 6 . And a third part shall be at the gate of Sur , etc.] Generally thought by the Jews to be the eastern gate, so called, as they say, because such as were defiled were bid to depart, or go back, as this word signifies, and not enter the temple; it is called “the gate of the foundation”, ( 2 Chronicles 23:5) because, according to Ben Gersom, here the foundation of the sanctuary was first laid; it is said to have five other names besides these: and a third part at the gate behind the guard ; the temple guard, which had a captain of them, ( Acts 4:1) this gate is supposed to be the same with “sippim”, or the threshold gate, ( 2 Chronicles 23:4 *marg.) and to be the southern one: so shall ye keep the watch of the house, that it be not broken down ; guard the temple, that none break or rush into it, of Athaliah’s party.
Ver. 7 . And two parts of all you that go forth on the sabbath , etc.] The course that went out of service at the end of the sabbath; these were not suffered, not any of them, to go into the country, but were detained for the present purpose, and divided into two parts: even they shall keep the watch of the house of the Lord about the king , these were placed in the temple where the king was, or where he should be brought forth, and be a guard on his right and left; this interpretation seems to be agreeably to the order of the text here, and is the sense of Jarchi; but there is this objection to it, that, by such a distribution of both courses, no provision is made for the services of the temple; wherefore Dr. Lightfoot divides them into six parts, each into three, one third of the course that came in for service, the other to keep the watch at the king’s house, and the other third at the gate Sur; and the course that went out, one third of them was placed at the gate behind the guard, and the other two to keep the watch of the house for the king’s safety; but according to the account in ( 2 Chronicles 23:4,5), there were but three ranks or orders of them in all; wherefore the sense of Kimchi, Ben Gersom, and Abarbinel, seems most agreeable, that the first consisted of those that went in on the sabbath, not of all, but half of them, the other half being employed in the service of the sanctuary; and the other two of the course that went out, even all of them, they being entirely at leisure, who were divided into two parts, and disposed of as above.
Ver. 8 . And ye shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand , etc.] Afterwards given them, ( 2 Kings 11:10), and he that cometh within the ranges, let him be slain ; any strange man that was not of them, that came into the ranks in which they were formed, was to be put to death as a spy, who might go and inform the queen what was doing; according to Jarchi, the word for “ranges” signifies the place through which the king went from his own house to the house of God f127 ; and here it seems the guards were placed: and be ye with the king as he goeth out and as he cometh in when brought forth to be crowned and anointed, and returned again.
Ver. 9 . And the captains over the hundreds did according to all things that Jehoiada the priest commanded , etc.] Of whom (see 2 Kings 11:4) and they took every man his men ; everyone his hundred: that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that should go out on the sabbath ; both the courses, of which (see 2 Kings 11:5,7) and came to Jehoiada the priest ; with the said courses, at least as many of them as were to be employed in the present service.
Ver. 10 . And to the captains over hundreds did the priest give King David’s spears and shields, that were in the temple of the Lord .] Such as he had taken in war from his enemies, and had dedicated for the service of the temple, to defend it on occasion, and laid up there; those the priests gave to the captains, to arm their men with, who came unarmed, and so unsuspected, and in this way might be armed without being seen and known.
Ver. 11 . And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, round about the king , etc.] As ordered, ( 2 Kings 11:8) from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple from the northeast to the southeast: along by the altar and the temple : the altar of burnt offering, which stood in the court.
Ver. 12 . And he brought forth the king’s son , etc.] Out of the apartment in the temple where he had been brought up: and put the crown upon him ; the crown royal, which seems to have been kept in the temple: and gave him the testimony ; the book of the law, which he was to read in all his days, and according to it govern the people; and which was a testimony of the will of God both to him and them: Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it of royal garments put upon him: and they made him king, and anointed him ; proclaimed and declared him king, and anointed him, for the confirmation of it, because of the pretension Athaliah made to the kingdom; otherwise, as the Jewish writers say, the son of a king was not anointed; and hence, they say, it was, that Solomon was anointed, because of the claim of Adonijah: and they clapped their hands ; in token of joy: and said, God save the king ; or, “let the king live”; or, “may he prosper”, as the Targum; may health and prosperity attend him in his government. In ( 2 Chronicles 23:11), it is said; “Jehoiada and his sons anointed him”, and said those words; among whom must be Zechariah, whom this king afterwards slew, which was an instance of great ingratitude, ( Chronicles 24:20-22).
Ver. 13 . And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard, and of the people , etc.] Their acclamations and shouts at the coronation of the king; for by this time the people had some knowledge of the affair, and ran, and came flocking to see the new king, and express their joy on this occasion, and whom they greatly praised, ( 2 Chronicles 23:12) she came to the people into the temple of the Lord ; the outward court, where the people were assembled; and she seems to come alone, unattended, in great surprise and consternation, and was admitted to pass the guards, being the queen, and alone, and perhaps by the particular order of Jehoiada, though contrary to the general orders he gave, ( 2 Kings 11:8).
Ver. 14 . And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar, as the manner was , etc.] Of kings, when they came into the temple on any occasion, civil or religious, therefore it is called his pillar, ( 2 Chronicles 23:13 2 Kings 23:3 2 Chronicles 34:1), some think this was the brazen scaffold erected by Solomon, ( 2 Chronicles 6:13), though Vitringa and Bishop Patrick suppose it to be the post of the east gate of the inner court, from ( Ezekiel 46:2), according to Jacob Leo f129 , this was the royal throne in the court of the Israelites, near the high or upper gate, on a marble pillar, where the kings of the house of David sat, when they came into the sanctuary to see the Lord in the second temple; this throne was like an high tower, standing upon two pillars, each twenty cubits high, and their circumference twelve; here sat Joash, and Hezekiah, and Josiah; however, Athaliah saw Jehoash with the crown on his head, and in the place where kings used to sit or stand: and the princes and the trumpeters by the king ; the rulers of the courses of the priests, and the Levites, blowing the trumpets: and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets ; it is added, in ( 2 Chronicles 23:13) that the singers played also on musical instruments; that were then and there assembled: and Athaliah rent her clothes ; through grief, and as one almost distracted: and cried, treason, treason! to try if she could get any to take her part, and seize on the new king, and those that set him up.
Ver. 15 . But Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the host , etc.] Of the priests and Levites: and said unto them, have her forth without the ranges ; the ranks of the guards, which were at the gate leading to the palace, or rather “within” them f130 ; the meaning is, that he ordered her to be had out of the court of the temple, and be put within their ranks, and enclosed by them, that her blood might not be shed in the temple, and yet not escape them: and him that followeth her, kill with the sword : that takes her part, and offers to help and assist her, passing through the ranks after her, dispatch him at once: for the priest had said, let her not be slain in the house of the Lord : that it might not be defiled with her blood; by which it appears that the guards had orders concerning her before, should she come to the temple, (see Kings 11:13).
Ver. 16 . And they laid hands on her , etc.] Or rather, “set a place for her”, as the Targum; so Jarchi and Kimchi; made a space, opened a way for her to come out of the temple into their ranks, that she might be there taken and slain, and not in the temple: and she went by the way by the which the horses came into the king’s house ; either the high road in which the horses and carriages went to the palace, or the way to the king’s stables near the palace: and there was she slain; they let her go so far, which was far enough from the temple, and then they slew her.
Ver. 17 . And Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the people, that they should be the Lord’s people , etc.] Renewed the covenant between the Lord on the one part, and the king and the people on the other; assuring them, that as God had declared that he would be their God, he would yet be their God to bless and protect them, they continuing in obedience to him; and obliging them to promise that they would serve the Lord their God, and him only, and root out all idolatry from the land, and restore, and continue in, the pure worship of God: between the king also and the people ; he promising, on his part, that he would govern them according to the law of God, and protect them in their rights and properties, privileges and liberties; and they, on their part, that they would honour and obey him, and be his faithful subjects. In ( Chronicles 23:16) Jehoiada is said to make this covenant between him, etc. which may be understood of the Lord; or if of himself, the meaning is, that it was made between him, the king and people, and the Lord.
Ver. 18 . And all the people of the land , etc.] That were at Jerusalem, and the parts adjacent, that came from the country, hearing what was done: went into the house of Baal; a temple of his Athaliah had built, either in Jerusalem, or near it; perhaps on the mount of Olives, called the mount of corruption, ( 2 Kings 23:13) from the idolatry there committed: and brake it down, his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly ; made an entire destruction of them all, temple, altars, the images of Baal and other deities: and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altar ; either as he was sacrificing, or that he might be a sacrifice, or where he had fled for refuge: and the priest appointed officers over the house of the Lord ; priests to offer sacrifices, Levites to sing the praises of God, porters at the door of the temple, and watches in it, and restored the courses of the priests, and everything to its proper order, which had been neglected, or had ceased, during the usurpation of Athaliah; (see 2 Chronicles 23:18,19).
Ver. 19 . And he took the rulers over hundreds, and the captains, and the guard , etc.] Of which ( 2 Kings 11:4) and all the people of the land; as many as were assembled together on this occasion: and they brought down the king from the house of the Lord ; the temple, which was built on an eminence: and came by the way of the gate to the king’s house ; the gate of the royal palace, where the king’s guards were placed, and did their duty: and he sat on the throne of the kings: where the kings of Judah used to sit, and this finished the formality of his being made king.
Ver. 20 . And all the people of the land rejoiced , etc.] That one of the house of David was set upon the throne, which they might fear was extinct, as it very near was; the lamp of David was almost quenched, only this single life left, from whom a line of kings proceeded, and the King Messiah; the promise of God cannot fail (see <19D211> Psalm 132:11,17), this occasioned great joy: and the city was quiet : was very easy at, yea, pleased with, the dethroning and death of Athaliah; there was no tumult on account thereof, nor such disturbances as she occasioned in her life: and they slew Athaliah with the sword beside the king’s house ; as related in ( 2 Kings 11:16) where she was buried, or what became of her carcass, is not said; some have thought she was cast into the brook Kidron, because Josephus says Jehoiada ordered her to be had into that valley, and there slain.
Ver. 21 . Seven years old was Jehoash when he began to reign .] Being a year old when his father was killed and having been hid six years in the temple.