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The Blue Letter Bible

David Guzik :: Study Guide for 2 Kings 11

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The Young King Joash

A. The preservation of Joash.

1. (2 Kings 11:1-3) The queen mother reigns over Judah.

When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were being murdered; and they hid him and his nurse in the bedroom, from Athaliah, so that he was not killed. So he was hidden with her in the house of the LORD for six years, while Athaliah reigned over the land.

a. When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead: Ahaziah was executed by Jehu, as recorded in 2 Kings 9:27-29. She used the occasion of her son’s death to take power for herself, and she reigned over the land for six years.

i. We remember that Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, and was given to King Jehoram of Judah as a bride. She was a bad influence on both her husband (Jehoram of Judah) and her son (King Ahaziah of Judah).

b. And destroyed all the royal heirs: Athaliah was from the family of Ahab, and Jehu had completely destroyed all of Ahab’s descendants in Israel. Now, after Jehu’s coup, Athaliah tried to save something for Ahab’s family by trying to eliminate the house of David in Judah.

i. “How dreadful is the lust of reigning! It destroys all the charities of life; and turns fathers, mothers, brothers, and children, into the most ferocious savages!” (Clarke)

ii. Years before, the king of Judah — Jehoshaphat — married his son to this daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, hoping to make an alliance with those wicked and apostate leaders. “And this was the fruit of Jehoshaphat’s marrying his son to a daughter of that idolatrous and wicked house of Ahab, even the extirpation of all his posterity but one.” (Poole)

iii. “No character in history, sacred or secular, stands out blacker or more hideous than this daughter-in-law of the godly Jehoshaphat.” (Knapp)

c. But Jehosheba: This little-known woman had an important place in God’s plan of the ages. Through her courage and ingenuity, she preserved the royal line of David through which the Messiah would come. Evil people like Athaliah will begin their work, but God can always raise up a Jehosheba.

i. “Thus evil always breaks down. It is extremely clever, it calculates on all the changes, and seems to leave no unguarded place; but with unvarying regularity it fails somewhere to cover up its tracks, or to insure its victory.” (Morgan)

ii. 2 Chronicles 22:11 tells us that Jehosheba was the wife of Jehoiada, the high priest. Yet, “It is not likely that Jehosheba was the daughter of Athaliah; she was a sister, we find, to Ahaziah the son of Athaliah, but probably by a different mother.” (Clarke)

d. He was hidden with her in the house of the LORD for six years: Though Ahaziah was a bad king who made evil alliances, he was still a descendant of David and the successor of his royal line. For the sake of David, God remembered His promise and spared this one young survivor to the massacre of Athaliah. The line of David was almost extinguished and continued only in the presence of a small boy, but God preserved that flickering flame.

i. “Josephus (Antiquities 9.7.1) says that the bedroom where the child and his nurse hid was a room where spare furniture and mattresses were stored.” (Wiseman)

ii. Like the boy Samuel, Joash grew up in the temple. Like Samuel, he probably found little ways to help the priests, whatever could be done without attracting too much attention.

2. (2 Kings 11:4-11) Jehoiada plans to reveal the hidden heir to the throne.

In the seventh year Jehoiada sent and brought the captains of hundreds — of the bodyguards and the escorts — and brought them into the house of the LORD to him. And he made a covenant with them and took an oath from them in the house of the LORD, and showed them the king’s son. Then he commanded them, saying, “This is what you shall do: One-third of you who come on duty on the Sabbath shall be keeping watch over the king’s house, one-third shall be at the gate of Sur, and one-third at the gate behind the escorts. You shall keep the watch of the house, lest it be broken down. The two contingents of you who go off duty on the Sabbath shall keep the watch of the house of the LORD for the king. But you shall surround the king on all sides, every man with his weapons in his hand; and whoever comes within range, let him be put to death. You are to be with the king as he goes out and as he comes in.” So the captains of the hundreds did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded. Each of them took his men who were to be on duty on the Sabbath, with those who were going off duty on the Sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest. And the priest gave the captains of hundreds the spears and shields which had belonged to King David, that were in the temple of the LORD. Then the escorts stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, all around the king, from the right side of the temple to the left side of the temple, by the altar and the house.

a. Jehoiada sent and brought captains: Jehoiada was a godly man who was concerned with restoring the throne of David to the line of David, and taking it away from this daughter of Ahab and Jezebel.

b. On the Sabbath: Jehoiada chose the Sabbath for the day of the coup because that was the day when the guards changed their shifts, and they could assemble two groups of guards at the temple at the same time without attracting attention.

c. He made a covenant with them and took an oath from them in the house of the LORD: From the place where the oath was made and the context of the oath, we learn that the worship of the true God was not dead in Judah. These captains and bodyguards and escorts could respond to their responsibility before the LORD.

d. And showed them the king’s son: This was a dramatic moment. For six years everyone believed there were no more surviving heirs of David’s royal line, and there was no legitimate ruler to displace the wicked Athaliah. The secret had to be secure, because the king’s son would be immediately killed if his existence were revealed. The captains and bodyguards and escorts must have been shocked by the sight of this six-year-old heir to the throne.

i. One reason Athaliah was able to reign for six years was that no one knew any alternative. Many people live under the reign of Satan because they don’t really know there is a legitimate king ready to take reign in their lives.

e. The priest gave the captains of hundreds the spears and shields which had belonged to King David, that were in the temple of the LORD: It was fitting for these soldiers who would set the heir of David’s royal line back on the throne of Judah to use these weapons which had belonged to King David.

3. (2 Kings 11:12) Joash is crowned and received as king.

And he brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, and gave him the Testimony; they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, “Long live the king!”

a. He brought out the king’s son: First the king’s son had to be revealed. No one could support him and he could not take his rightful throne until he was brought out before the people.

b. Put the crown on him: Next the king’s son had to be crowned. This was the public and official recognition of him as king.

c. And gave him the Testimony: The king’s son had to come with the Word of God. Joash appeared before the people holding the scrolls of God’s Word.

i. Deuteronomy 17:18 says that the king should have his own copy of the Scriptures. “This is the basis for the British custom of presenting the monarch with a copy of the Bible during the coronation service.” (Wiseman)

d. They made him king: The king’s son had to be received. He had the royal right to impose his reign, but he instead allowed his rule to be received.

e. And anointed him: The king’s son could never fulfill his office without a divine anointing.

f. They clapped their hands and said, “Long live the king”: The king’s son received praise once he was recognized as their king.

i. We can and should follow the same pattern in our reception of Jesus Christ, the true king’s son.

ii. “Is not the spiritual condition of too many children of God represented by the condition of the Temple, during the early years of the life of Joash? The king was within its precincts, the rightful heir of the crown and defender of the worship of Jehovah; but as a matter of fact, the crown was on the head of the usurper Athaliah, who was exercising a cruel and sanguinary tyranny. The king was limited to a chamber, and the majority of the priests, with all the people, had not even heard of his existence. There needs to be an anointing, an enthroning, a determination that He shall exercise his power over the entire Temple of our Being.” (Meyer)

B. The death of the Queen Mother Athaliah.

1. (2 Kings 11:13-14) Joash, the rightful heir, is revealed to Athaliah.

Now when Athaliah heard the noise of the escorts and the people, she came to the people in the temple of the LORD. When she looked, there was the king standing by a pillar according to custom; and the leaders and the trumpeters were by the king. All the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets. So Athaliah tore her clothes and cried out, “Treason! Treason!”

a. When she looked, there was the king: 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.

b. All the people of the land were rejoicing: They were obviously weary of the wicked reign of Athaliah.

c. Treason! Treason: 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.

2. (2 Kings 11:15-16) Jehoiada commands the execution of Athaliah and her supporters.

And Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the army, and said to them, “Take her outside under guard, and slay with the sword whoever follows her.” For the priest had said, “Do not let her be killed in the house of the LORD.” So they seized her; and she went by way of the horses’ entrance into the king’s house, and there she was killed.

a. Take her outside under guard, and slay with the sword whoever follows her: This was both righteous and prudent. It was a just sentence against this woman who had murdered so many, and prudent precautions were taken so she could not mount a resistance.

b. Do not let her be killed in the house of the LORD: As a priest, Jehoiada had a great concern for the sanctity and reputation of the temple. Yet in the place where horses entered the king’s house, and there she was killed.

i. “Thus Athaliah, the most infamous queen of Judah, died at the hands of her executioners, much as did her mother, Jezebel, queen of Israel.” (Patterson and Austel)

3. (2 Kings 11:17) Jehoiada establishes a new covenant.

Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD, the king, and the people, that they should be the LORD’s people, and also between the king and the people.

a. That they should be the LORD’s people: The covenant was between the LORD and the king and the people. They re-committed themselves to honor, obey, and serve God.

b. And also between the king and the people: This shows that God intends that both kings and citizens have mutual obligations towards the other. Neither have absolute rights over or against the other.

4. (2 Kings 11:18-21) The reforms of Joash.

And all the people of the land went to the temple of Baal, and tore it down. They thoroughly broke in pieces its altars and images, and killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the LORD. Then he took the captains of hundreds, the bodyguards, the escorts, and all the people of the land; and they brought the king down from the house of the LORD, and went by way of the gate of the escorts to the king’s house. Then he sat on the throne of the kings. So all the people of the land rejoiced; and the city was quiet, for they had slain Athaliah with the sword in the king’s house. Jehoash was seven years old when he became king.

a. And all the people of the land went to the temple of Baal, and tore it down: In 2 Kings 10, Jehu supervised the destruction of the temple of Baal in Samaria. Here the temple of Baal in Jerusalem was destroyed, and appropriately destroyed by the people of the land.

i. They didn’t stop at destroying the building itself; they went on to destroy both the sacred objects dedicated to Baal and to kill Mattan the priest of Baal.

ii. One reason the people resented this worship of Baal in Jerusalem so much was because Athaliah had directed that sacred objects from the temple of the LORD be put into the temple of Baal: For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken into the house of God, and had also presented all the dedicated things of the house of the LORD to the Baals (2 Chronicles 24:7).

b. Then he sat on the throne of the kings: After more than six dark years, the rightful king of Judah once again ruled over his grateful people.

©2018 David Guzik — No distribution beyond personal use without permission


  1. Clarke, Adam "Clarke's Commentary: The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments with a Commentary and Critical Notes" Volume 2 (Joshua-Esther) (New York: Eaton and Mains, 1827)
  2. Knapp, Christopher "The Kings of Judah and Israel" (New York: Loizeaux Brothers, 1956)
  3. Meyer, F.B. "Our Daily Homily: Samuel-Job" Volume 2 (Westwood, New Jersey: Revell, 1966)
  4. Morgan, G. Campbell "Searchlights from the Word" (New York: Revell, 1926)
  5. Patterson, Richard D. and Austel, Hermann J. "1 & 2 Kings: The Expositor's Bible Commentary" Volume 4 (1 Kings-Job) (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1992)
  6. Poole, Matthew "A Commentary on the Holy Bible" Volume 1 (Genesis-Job) (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968)
  7. Wiseman, Donald J. "1 and 2 Kings: An Introduction and Commentary" Volume 9 (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries) (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1993)

Updated: August 2022

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