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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal.
Athaliah, as wife of Joram and mother of Ahaziah, had guided both the internal and the external policy of the Jewish kingdom; she had procured the establishmeut of the worship of Baal in Judaea 2 Kings 8:18, 2 Kings 8:27, and had maintained a close alliance with the sister kingdom 2 Kings 8:29; 2 Kings 10:13. The revolution effected by Jehu touched her nearly. It struck away from her the support of her relatives; it isolated her religious system, severing the communication with Phoenicia; and the death of Ahaziah deprived her of her legal status in Judaea, which was that of queen-mother (the 1 Kings 15:13 note), and trausferred that position to the chief wife of her deceased son. Athaliah, instead of yielding to the storm, or merely standing on the defensive, resolved to become the assailant, and strike before any plans could be formed against her. In the absence of her son, hers was probably the chief anthority at Jerusalem. She used it to command the immediate destruction of all the family of David, already thinned by previous massacres 2 Kings 10:14; 2 Chronicles 21:4, 2 Chronicles 21:17, and then seized the throne.
2But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king's sons which were slain; and they hid him, even him and his nurse, in the bedchamber from Athaliah, so that he was not slain.
Jehosheba ... sister of Ahaziah - "Half-sister," according to Josephus - daughter of Joram, not by Athaliah, but by another wife. She was married to Jehoiada the high priest, and was thus in a position to save and conceal her nephew, Joash, who was only one year old (compare 2 Kings 11:3, 2 Kings 11:21).
In the bedchamber - literally, "in the chamber of mattresses" - probabIy a store-room in the palace in which mattresses were kept.
3And he was with her hid in the house of the LORD six years. And Athaliah did reign over the land.
And Athaliah did reign over the land - In these words the writer dismisses the entire reign of Athaliah, whereof he scorns to speak. We gather incidentally from 2 Kings 12:5-12, compared with 2 Chronicles 24:7, that Athaliah used her power to establish the exclusive worship of BaaI through the kingdom of Judah, and to crush that of Yahweh. She stopped the temple service, gave over the sacred vessels of the sanctuary to the use of the Baal priests, and employed the temple itself as a quarry from which materials might be taken for the construction of a great temple to Baal, which rose in the immediate neighborhood.
4And the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers over hundreds, with the captains and the guard, and brought them to him into the house of the LORD, and made a covenant with them, and took an oath of them in the house of the LORD, and shewed them the king's son.
See the marginal reference.
The captains - The word used here and in 2 Kings 11:19, הא־כרי ha-kârı̂y, designates a certain part of the royal guard, probably that which in the earlier times was known under the name of Cherethites 1 Kings 1:38. Others see in the term an ethnic name - "Carians," who seem certainly to have been much inclined to take service as mercenaries from an early date. Render the whole passage thus - "And in the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the centurions of the Carians and the guardsmen (literally, 'runners, ' 2 Kings 10:25), etc."
5And he commanded them, saying, This is the thing that ye shall do; A third part of you that enter in on the sabbath shall even be keepers of the watch of the king's house;
Five divisions of the guard under their five captains are distinguished here. Three of the five divisions "enter in" on the Sabbath; the other two "go forth" on the Sabbath 2 Kings 11:7. By the former phrase seems to be meant the mounting guard at the royal palace (the "king's house," where Athaliah then was); by the latter the serving of escort to the sovereign beyond the palace bounds. Jehoiada orders that of those whose business it would be to guard the palace on the ensuing Sabbath, one company or cohort should perform that task in the ordinary way, while another should watch the gate of Sur - or better, "the gate of the foundation" 2 Chronicles 23:5 - that by which the palace was usually quitted for the temple, and a third should watch another of the palace gates, called "the gate of the guard" (see 2 Kings 11:19). The two companies whose proper business it would be to serve as the royal escort beyond the palace walls, he orders to enter the temple, and surround the person of the young king.
6And a third part shall be at the gate of Sur; and a third part at the gate behind the guard: so shall ye keep the watch of the house, that it be not broken down.
That it be not broken down - The one word in the original text of which this is a translation occurs nowhere else; and its meaning is very doubtful.
7And two parts of all you that go forth on the sabbath, even they shall keep the watch of the house of the LORD about the king.
8And ye shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand: and he that cometh within the ranges, let him be slain: and be ye with the king as he goeth out and as he cometh in.
Within the ranges - Rather, "within the ranks." If anyone tried to break through the soldiers' ranks to the king, or even to disturb their order, he was to be immediately slain.
9And the captains over the hundreds did according to all things that Jehoiada the priest commanded: and they took every man his men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that should go out on the sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest.
10And to the captains over hundreds did the priest give king David's spears and shields, that were in the temple of the LORD.
11And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, round about the king, from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple, along by the altar and the temple.
From the right corner ... - Rather, "from the right side of the temple buildings to the left side" - i. e., right across the temple court from the one side to the other, by the altar of burnt offerings, etc. This altar stood exactly in front of the temple-porch. Here the king was stationed; and before him and behind him, ("round about" him) stood the soldiers, drawn up several ranks deep across the entire court, just in front of the sacred building.
12And he brought forth the king's son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save the king.
The testimony - i. e., "The Book of the Law" which was kept in the ark of the covenant (Dent. 31:26). This Jehoiada placed ou the king's head at the moment of coronation, perhaps to indicate that the king was not to be above, but under, the direction of the Law of his country.
13And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she came to the people into the temple of the LORD.
14And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar, as the manner was, and the princes and the trumpeters by the king, and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets: and Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, Treason, Treason.
By a pillar - Rather, "upon the pillar" probably a sort of stand, or pulpit, raised on a pillar. Under the later monarchy the Jewish king seems to have had a special place assigned him in the temple-court, from which on occasions he addressed the people (marginal references).
15But Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the host, and said unto them, Have her forth without the ranges: and him that followeth her kill with the sword. For the priest had said, Let her not be slain in the house of the LORD.
Have her forth without the ranges - Rather, "Conduct her out between your ranks." Guard her, i. e., on all sides, that the people may not fall upon her and kill her as she passes through the court, thereby polluting the temple.
16And they laid hands on her; and she went by the way by the which the horses came into the king's house: and there was she slain.
And they laid hands on her - Most modern critics render - "and they gave her space," i. e., they cleared a way for her, and allowed her to walk out of the temple not only unharmed but untonched.
17And Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people, that they should be the LORD'S people; between the king also and the people.
A covenant - Rather, "the covenant," which either was already an established part of a coronation (marginal reference "k"), or at least became such afterward.
18And all the people of the land went into the house of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the LORD.
A temple had been built to Baal at Jerusalem itself by Athaliah, Ahaziah, or Jehoram. According to Josephus, it was constructed in the reign of Jehoram. Its exact position is uncertain.
Images - The word used here is not the same as in 2 Kings 10:26, but a word which implies likeness. The Phoenicians had fashioned images, besides their unfashioned pillar-idols.
The priest appointed ... - The temple worship having been discontinued during Athaliah's rule, it devolved on Jehoiada now to re-establish it (see marginal reference). He had already summoned the Levites out of all the cities of Judah 2 Chronicles 23:2, and had made use of them in the events of the day. He therefore proceeded at once to assign the custody of the temple to a particular course, before conducting the young king to the palace.
19And he took the rulers over hundreds, and the captains, and the guard, and all the people of the land; and they brought down the king from the house of the LORD, and came by the way of the gate of the guard to the king's house. And he sat on the throne of the kings.
They conducted the king down from the temple hill, across the valley of the Tyropoeum, and up the opposite hill to the royal palace, entering it not by the "horse-gate" 2 Kings 11:16, where Athaliah had just been slain, but by the "gate of the guard" 2 Kings 11:6, which was probably the main gate of the palace on the eastern side (see 2 Chronicles 23:20).
20And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet: and they slew Athaliah with the sword beside the king's house.
They slew Athaliah with the sword - This is one of the many little repetitions which mark the manner of the writer, and which generally contain some little point which has not been mentioned before (compare 2 Kings 11:16).
21Seven years old was Jehoash when he began to reign.