The Word Made Fresh
1The people of Jerusalem crowned Jehoram’s youngest son Ahaziah as the successor to the throne of Judah. All of Jehoram’s older sons had been killed by the raiders who invaded their camp with the Arabs. 2Ahaziah was forty-two years old when he was crowned, and he reigned for one year in Jerusalem. His mother was Athaliah, King Omri’s granddaughter. 3He also followed King Ahab’s ways because his mother influenced him. 4He did evil things in the LORD’s judgment, just as Ahab’s family had done, because after the death of his father they were his advisors, to his detriment. 5He took their advice when he joined with Jehoram son of King Ahab of Israel to go to war against King Hazael of Aram at Ramoth-Gilead. The Arameans wounded Jehoram, 6and he returned to Jezreel to recover from his wounds. Ahaziah son of King Jehoram of Judah visited Jehoram son of Ahab at Jezreel.
7God had decided that Ahaziah’s downfall would happen when he visited Jehoram, and when he got there, he went out with Jehoram to meet Jehu son of Nimshi whom the LORD had sent to end Ahab’s family’s dynasty. 8So, Jehu carried out God’s judgment on the family of Ahab, and he also killed the sons of Ahaziah’s brothers who were accompanying Ahaziah. 9Ahaziah hid in Samaria, but was captured and brought to Jehu, and was put to death. They buried him because he was Jehoshaphat’s grandson who had followed the LORD whole-heartedly. The family of Ahaziah had no one then who was able to rule the kingdom of Judah.
When Ahaziah’s mother Athaliah learned that her son was dead, she conspired to eliminate the royal family of the kingdom of Judah. 11However, the king’s daughter Jehoshabeath hid Joash, Ahaziah’s son, and saved him from being killed by separating him from the king’s other children and hiding him and his nurse in a bedroom. And that is how Ahaziah’s sister Jehoshabeath, who was a daughter of King Jehoram and wife of the priest Jehoiada, saved Joash from Athaliah. 12He remained with Jehoiada’s family for six years, hidden in God’s temple while Athaliah ruled Judah.
1-6: We learn now that the raid on Jerusalem in which Jehoram’s sons were carried away actually resulted in their deaths. Only the youngest son is left, Ahaziah (he is called Jehoahaz earlier, at 2 Chronicles 21:17. Ahaziah is a form of the same name – JehoAHAZ = AHAZiah – or perhaps Ahaziah is the name he assumes at his coronation). He cannot have been 42 years old when he came to the throne, as that would make him older than his father! The earlier account (2 Kings 8:26) says that he is 22 years old at the time of his coronation, which is more likely. In any case, both accounts have him ruling but a single year. His mother Athaliah is the daughter of King Ahab of Israel and wields a heavy influence over Ahaziah. He follows the counsel of her connections in Samaria, and his rule is therefore judged to be an evil one. He is persuaded to go with Ahab’s son Joram (Jehoram), king of Israel in Samaria, to fight against the Arameans at Ramoth-Gilead. This is the same battleground in which Ahab had been killed (18:28-34). Joram is wounded and withdraws to Jezreel to recover, and Ahaziah goes to visit him. Apparently this second attempt to retake Ramoth-gilead is also a failure.
7-9: Ahaziah’s visit to Jezreel proves to be his downfall. This story is told more colorfully in 2 Kings 9:17-28, how Jehu charges madly toward Jezreel, kills Joram and chases Ahaziah until he wounds him, too. Ahaziah escapes to Megiddo but dies from his wounds. Officials from Jerusalem come and recover his body and give him a state burial as an honor to his grandfather, Jehoshaphat. Being only 23 years old (following the 2 Kings reckoning of his age), he has no son able to take the throne. Who will rule over Judah?
10-12: Why, Athaliah, of course, the Queen Mother. She moves quickly to get rid of the entire royal family of Judah, the house of David. She is, remember, a daughter of King Ahab of Israel. Ahaziah’s daughter rescues his son Joash and hides him away (Ahaziah is only 23, so Jehoshabeath is more probably his sister). She herself is apparently no threat to Athaliah because she cannot be considered an heir to the throne, and perhaps also because she turns out to be the wife of the chief priest Jehoiada. They manage to hide Joash for six years. The priest Jehoiada will turn out to be the real power in the kingdom.
The kingdom of Judah is gradually falling apart. There will be other good kings who are faithful to the LORD, but the damage was done ‘way back in Solomon’s reign when he married many foreign women and began to worship their gods (1 Kings 11:1-8). Yes, there were good kings after Solomon, but we have seen over and over how the “hilltop shrines,” centers of worship of other gods, were never completely done away with. If the LORD is not on the throne of our lives, disaster will ultimately follow – maybe generations later! “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”