2 Chronicles 23


Athaliah Overthrown

        • On this chapter, ESV Study Bible notes, “This is drawn mainly from 2 Kings 11:4-20, with numerous changes to reflect the Chronicler’s particular concerns.”

      • Then, in the 7th year of Athaliah’s reign, Jehoiada summoned his courage and made a covenant with the officers of the units of hundreds: Jeroham’s son Azariah, Jehohanan’s son Ishmael, Obed’s son Azariah, Adaiah’s son Maaseiah, and Zikri’s son Elishaphat. They traveled throughout Judah and assembled the Levites from all the cities of Judah and the heads of the families of Israel.

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “This is the Chronicler’s addition, mentioning the role of the Levites and the heads of fathers’ houses, as well as military figures, in the uprising…”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible adds, “This episode in the history of Judah illustrates the power behind the priesthood. The power of the priest extending into the political realm is similar to the degree of power and privilege afforded priests in other ancient New Eastern societies. Priests have land holdings and assets, and the emotional support of the people. Jehoiada is also Joram’s son-in-law and so is connected by marriage to the royal line.”

      • When they came to Jerusalem, the whole assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. Jehoiada said to them, “The king’s son will rule, just as Yahweh said concerning David’s descendants. This is what you are to do: A third of you priests and Levites who are going on duty on the Sabbath are to guard the doors. Another third of you are to be stationed at the king’s house, and another third at the Foundation Gate. Everyone else will stay in the courtyards of Yahweh’s house. No one is to enter Yahweh’s house except the priests and the Levites who are on duty. They may enter because they are consecrated. All the others should carry out their assigned service to Yahweh. The Levites must surround the king, each with a weapon in hand. Whoever tries to enter the house must be killed. You must accompany the king wherever he goes.”

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “The assembly was the representative body of the leaders of people. Wise kings sought the advice and support of this body in their undertakings…The covenant with the king probably included the arrangements under which Joash would rule, including Jehoiada’s supervisory regency until Joash reached adulthood (see 24:4). The Chronicler’s addition [Let him reign, as the Lord spoke concerning the sons of David] affirms that the coup was in keeping with God’s promise to preserve David’s line…”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “The most logical time for the coup was at the changing of the Temple guard, when there would be large movements of people. A third of the guards were coming on duty; they were stationed in three locations to perform their regular duties and to watch for any activity from the palace. The remainder of the armed force was stationed in the courtyards of the Lord’s Temple, providing a human wall to protect the king. Because only the priests and Levites on duty may enter the Temple, the Levites were required to prevent anyone else from doing so.”

      • The Levites and all the men of Judah did just as Jehoiada the priest had ordered. The officers each brought their men, those who were reporting for duty that Sabbath, as well as those who were going off duty. Jehoiada didn’t dismiss the divisions. Jehoiada the priest gave the officers of the units of hundreds King David’s spears and large and small shields which were kept in God’s house. He stationed the men at their posts, each with his weapon in his hand. They lined up from the south side of the house to the north side of the house, around the altar and the house, surrounding the king. Jehoiada and his sons led out the king’s son, placed the crown on him, and presented him with the testimony. Jehoiada proclaimed him king, anointed him, and shouted, “Long live the king!”

        • Translators disagree on what is meant by “the testimony” that Joash is presented with due to obscure Hebrew:

          • NET Bible says, “The Hebrew word…(ʿedut) normally means ‘witness’ or ‘testimony.’ Here it probably refers to some tangible symbol of kingship, perhaps a piece of jewelry such as an amulet or neck chain (see the discussion in M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings [AB], 128). Some suggest that a document is in view, perhaps a copy of the royal protocol or of the stipulations of the Davidic covenant (see HALOT 790-91 s.v.).”

        • ESV Study Bible explains the latter option, “Along with his coronation and anointing, Joash is presented with the testimony, which several interpreters understand to be the terms of his covenant with the assembly (v. 3), while others think it was a copy of the laws of God (perhaps the book of Deuteronomy) as specified in Deut 17:18…”

      • When Athaliah heard the noise of the troops, the guards, and those praising the king, she joined the crowd at Yahweh’s house. She looked, and there was the king, standing by his pillar at the entrance. The officers and trumpeters stood beside the king and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets while the musicians with their musical instruments were leading the celebration. Athaliah tore her clothes and screamed, “Treason, treason!” Then Jehoiada the priest sent out the officers of the units of hundreds, who were in charge of the army, and ordered them, “Take her out between the ranks and put anyone who follows her to death with the sword.” The priest gave this order because he had said, “Don’t execute her in Yahweh’s house.” They seized her and took her into the precincts of the king’s house through the horses’ gate and executed her there.

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “The pillar is probably either Boaz or Jachin, the pillars at the temple entrance…The Chronicler has added the reference to the singers with their musical instruments leading in the celebration, who are evidently Levites (see 1 Chron 23:5; 25:6). Athaliah’s cry of Treason shows that, as well as being blind to her own position as a violent usurper, she had no inkling that any of the house of David had survived. Jehoiada’s instruction to remove her from the temple precincts for execution in order to avoid defiling the sacred site any more…”

        • Guzik remarks, “For the usurper queen mother this was a horrifying sight. For six years she ruled because she believed there were no legitimate claimants to the throne of David. Now she sees that one son of Ahaziah – Joash, her own grandson – escaped her murderous intent.” On her charge of treason, he continues, “The charge was not unfounded. This was treason against her government, but it was a well-founded and godly treason against a tyrannical, wicked ruler.”

Jehoiada’s Reforms

      • Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself, the king, and the people, that they would be Yahweh’s people. Then all the people went to the house of Baal and tore it down. They smashed his altars and idols to pieces and killed Mattan, the priest of Baal, at the altars. Then Jehoiada put the priests in charge of the house of Yahweh, the Levites whom David had assigned to Yahweh’s house. They were responsible for offering burnt offerings to Yahweh with rejoicing and song, as it is written in the Law of Moses and as ordained by David. He stationed gatekeepers at the gates of Yahweh’s house so that no one who was unclean in any way could enter. He summoned all the officers of the units of hundreds, the nobles, the rulers of the people, and all the people of the land, and then he led the king down from the house of Yahweh. They entered the king’s house through the Upper Gate and seated the king on the throne of the kingdom. All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was peaceful, because Athaliah had been executed.

        • ESV Study Bible says, “The climax of these dramatic events is the ceremony of covenant renewal led by Jehoiada, in which the high priest, king, and people commit themselves afresh to be the Lord’s people…Effectively, this meant the reaffirmation of the Law of Moses as the rule for the kingdom and the removal of pagan practices and cultic personnel. The temple of Baal in Jerusalem may have been built for Athaliah as part of the marriage alliance with the northern kingdom, much as Solomon had provided shrines for his foreign wives (1 Kings 11:7-8). Verses 18b-19 of 2 Chronicles 23 are the Chronicler’s addition, affirming that, as part of the covenant renewal, temple worship was also brought into proper conformity with the stipulations of Moses and David.”

        • HCSB adds, “Athaliah was the granddaughter of the Phoenician king of Tyre, and the daughter of Ahab. It is no wonder that she had permitted the worship of Baal in Jerusalem…perhaps hoping that it would replace worship of the Lord.”

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