The Word Made Fresh
1In the seventh year of Athaliah’s reign, the priest Jehoiada summoned his courage and made an agreement with the battalion commanders – Azariah son of Jeroham, Ishmael son of Jehohanan, Azariah son of Obed, Maaseiah son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat son of Zichri. 2They summoned the Levites from the towns of Judah along with the heads of families of Israel and they met in Jerusalem. 3They gathered in God’s temple and made an agreement together. Jehoiada said, “Here is the king’s son! He should be king, according to the promise the LORD made concerning David’s successors. 4So, this is what you should do: a third of you priests and Levites who have the sabbath duty shall be gatekeepers. 5A third of you shall be stationed at the king’s palace, and a third of you will be at the Foundation Gate. The people will gather in the courtyards of the LORD’s temple. 6Do not allow anyone to enter the temple except priests and the Levites scheduled to be on duty. They may enter the temple because they are set apart, but the people must not enter. 7The Levites shall surround the king, weapons in hand, and whoever tries to enter the temple will be killed. You must stay with the king wherever he comes and goes.”
8The Levites and family heads of Judah did as Jehoiada said. On the sabbath they each brought the ones who were on the sabbath duty roster, plus the ones who were coming off duty; Jehoiada didn’t dismiss any of them. 9Jehoiada distributed to the officers the spears and shields, both large and small, that had belonged to king David and were stored in God’s temple. 10He appointed all the people as the king’s guards with weapons in their hands around the altar and the temple from the south side to the north. 11Then he brought out the king’s son, placed the crown on his head, and gave him a copy of the covenant with God. As Jehoiada and his sons anointed him they shouted, “Long live the king!”
12Athalia heard the commotion of the people running and praising the king, and she entered the LORD’s temple where the people had gathered. 13She saw the king standing at his station at the entrance with the officers and trumpeters beside him and all the people shouting and blowing trumpets while the singers and musicians led the celebration. Athaliah tore her clothes and screamed, “Treason! Treason!”
14Then Jehoiada told the captains who commanded the army, “Bring her out surrounded by soldiers. Anyone who follows her must be put to death! But do not put her to death in the LORD’s house!”
15So they took hold of her and dragged her to the entrance of the horse gate at the king’s palace, and they killed her there. 16Jehoiada made a pact with the people and the king that they would be the LORD’s people. 17Then they all marched to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They broke the altars and statues in pieces and killed Mattan, Baal’s priest, in front of the altars.
18Jehoiada assigned to the Levitical priests the care of the LORD’s temple, as they had been organized by David. They were to care for the building and offer burnt offerings to the LORD as Moses had written, with joy and singing as David had ordered. 19He placed gatekeepers at the entrances to the LORD’s house so that no one who was ritually impure could enter. 20He gathered all the people, with the officers, family heads and governors and brought the king down from the LORD’s temple and marched through the upper gate to the king’s house where they set the king on the royal throne. 21All the people rejoiced. Then the city was peaceful after Athaliah had been put to death.
1-7: After 6 years Jehoiada decides it is time to act along with some of the army commanders with whom I am sure he has been plotting for some time. He arms the Levites, makes them swear allegiance to seven-year-old Joash, stations them at strategic points around the temple compound, and orders them to protect the king at all costs.
8-11: Jehoiada does not dismiss the Levites and priests who are coming off duty, but arms them, too. They provide a shield of protection around Joash as Jehoiada brings him out, puts the crown on his head, and hands him a scroll containing the covenant, the Law of Moses (only a priest would have thought of that). They all holler, “Long live the king!”
12-15: They holler loud enough for Athaliah to hear. When she comes out to see what’s happening, she realizes the plot and screams “Treason!” Jehoiada has her promptly put to death but is careful not to do it in the temple itself.
16-21: Jehoiada leads the people in making a covenant to be the LORD’s people, and they all go to the temple of Baal and tear it apart with their bare hands. Did you know there was a temple of Baal in Jerusalem? It hasn’t been mentioned before, but then Athaliah, being Ahab’s and Jezebel’s daughter, is a worshiper of Baal, and she undoubtedly is the one responsible for the building of it during her six years of ruling Judah. Jehoiada reinstitutes the proper worship of the LORD in the temple. Then he installs Joash on the throne in the palace. And all the people say, “Hurrah,” and nobody makes any noise at all over the death of Athaliah. She must have been some piece of work.
Back and forth the people go between gods – Baal and the LORD. Hilltop shrines are torn down, but constantly reappear, and Athalia has the nerve to build a temple of Baal in Jerusalem! The rulers of Judah are sometimes good and sometimes bad, but it is obvious that a slow decline has been in progress for some time. And all because Solomon’s son Rehoboam would not agree to lighten the burden of the people, leading Jeroboam to rebel and establish the rival kingdom of Israel with its capital at Samaria (see 2 Chronicles 10).