Studying the bible is always good. For years, I have been studying the bible and I found it wonderful
In the Holy Bible which is the reference point of the writer, the prophet says God said, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” (Isa. 45:7).
The question that would readily come to mind of anyone who has encountered evil before and perhaps have read something like this from the bible would be “why? Why Lord?? Don’t you see how the evil people have corrupted the world and perverse every damn thing???”
This article is not designed to answer all those questions and many more that may originate out of the depth of the heart of a reader, but I would say God created both – evil and good – so that we shall know what good really is.
How do I mean? Sometimes we misconstrue good for evil, but when evil comes in its real form then we shall know that what we have been viewing as evil has been wrong all this while and we shall change our orientations, appreciating what we have abinitio ignored and termed evil.
During the first millennium bible students know that tides of things changed in the land of Israel according to what the bible says, and what they were enjoying and unity before they couldn’t enjoy again as the nation split into two, Northern and Southern Kingdoms. As we know that the Northern Kingdom is more populous so to say than the Southern Kingdom.
The Southern Kingdom enjoyed on a relative basis peace because of their leaderships and because they were still following the Mosaic Laws unlike the Northern Kingdom who does not enjoy God as she ought to because of her leaders.
Thus, the Northern Kingdom has more pronounced Prophets than the Southern Kingdom because God used that to balance what they have missed in forsaking his given laws.
However, after the demise of Rehoboam the son of King Solomon, his children saw those of the Northern Kingdom as the same, thus, they started parleying with them.
This relationship continues during the days of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah (Southern Kingdom) and Ahab the King of Israel (Northern Kingdom) and they decided that for their relationship to be more solidified, they needed to have inter-kingdom marriage, the inter-kingdom marriage would not do with those who have no name in the land, because they believed there would be inter-marriage with them all this while.
Their inter-marriage would be between their children so that others would know that they are the same and they do not need to be separated from one another as the earlier incident has forced that to happen.
Everything was solidified and the son of Jehoshaphat married one of the daughters of King Ahab.
May I say this before continuing that the wife of King Ahab was Jezebel from Ethbaal
“And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.” (1 Ki 16:31)
This woman, jezebel influenced her husband negatively by pushing him to be worshipping Baal the gods of her country. This development God was not happy with.
It was the daughter of this woman called Athaliah that one of the heirs of Jehoshaphat got married to. The bible says, “behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, as is the mother, so is her daughter.” (Eze 16:44) This was the story of what happened in Judah after this young woman was married to by one of the sons of King Jehoshaphat called Jehoram, she started pushing him to go against the laws of the Lord and to be worshippers of the gods of her mother, Baal.
This woman’s hubby wouldn’t live long as he died and his son, Ahaziah, assumes position in his stead. What Athaliah did for her hubby the same he did for her son, Ahaziah the king because she was his counselor.
“Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Athaliah the daughter of Omri.
“He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly.” (2 Ch 22:2-3)
Ahaziah maintains the family’s friendships with the king of Israel and it happens that the time for God’s vengeance has clicked as he raised up Jehu to avenge the words that have been spoken against the family on King Ahab’s house and Jezebel.
King Ahaziah was in Samaria when the judgement was to be carried out and he was not exempted of the judgment as he was killed by Jehu.
After his death, his mother, Athaliah, did the least expected as she ordered for the killing of her grandchildren and those that may have access to the throne, those that may aspire to get to the throne.
After the killing of those children Athaliah assumes the position of rulership in the land, and this is considered an aberration in the land, because apart from being a woman, she was not of the lineage of king David that God has made covenant with.
The Woman Called Athaliah
We can see about three people mentioned Athaliah in the King James version of the bible, one of them was said to belong to the tribe of Benjamin in 1 Chronicles 8:26. However the Athaliah that I want to focus on in this write up was the mother of Ahaziah the King of Judah. Her story can be found in the book of second Kings 11 and second Chronicles 22:10 to 23:21.
(a) Meaning of the Name
Athaliah in Hebrew is written as “עתליהוּ עתליה”, Romanized form is ‛ăthalyâh ‛ăthalyâhû (pronounced as ath-al-yaw', ath-al-yaw'-hoo) which means Jah has constrained.
Online Wikipedia says, Athaliah in Hebrew is עֲתַלְיָה, ʻAtalya; in Greek it is Γοθολία; and in Latin it is Athalia. While Biblestudytools.com says the name means “whom Yahweh has afflicted”
(b) Time of Existence
She perhaps was given birth to in the year 877 BC by Jezebel to Ahab when he was yet to become a king. His father then has been the paramount ruler over Israel. Two years after he became the paramount ruler histories of the land of Ethbaal says jezebel’s father also killed the King and assume the position of Kingship over Tyre.
According to F.M Cross’s sequence of events Tyrian kings as calculated from the second century BC (lost) records of Menander of Ephesus, Ithobaal killed Phelles and became king of Tyre in 878 BC two years after Omri became the paramount ruler over Israel. It was assumed that the marriage between Ahab and Jezebel may have taken place in the first year of Ithobaal’s reign since both were not born as heirs to the throne of the kingship of their lands, then Athaliah would have been given birth to the following year, 877 BC at the earliest. This means she would be 36 years old when her son became King in 841 BC, because the bible says Ahaziah was 22 years old then (2 Ki. 8:26). This shows that she was 14 years old when she gave birth to him. This again points us to the common event in middle east even till now which is the child marriage.
She assumed the position of leadership of Judah in 841 after the death of her son, the position which she held on to till her death in 835 BC.
(c) Answering Some Questions about Her
There are some bible scholars and students who are not satisfied with some of the points raised on the woman and they have continued to look at some things from other angles which is essentially good for education and learning. Herein, I shall try and answer two of the raised questions about her.
(i) Was she Daughter or Sister of Ahab?
Some scholars have been thinking that she may likely be a sister to Ahab and daughter to Omri because of some bible correlations.
“Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Athaliah the daughter of Omri.” (2 Ch 22:2 & 2 Ki 8:26)
In this books of the bible Athaliah is referred to as the daughter of Omri. However, online Wikipedia says that “the Hebrew word "daughter" (bath) can mean daughter, granddaughter, or any female descendant, in the same way that ben can mean son, grandson, or any male descendant. Accordingly, some modern versions translate that Athaliah was a "granddaughter" of Omri”.
“And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the LORD, as did the house of Ahab: for he was the son in law of the house of Ahab.” (2 Ki. 8:27)
The word son in law here is written in Hebrew as “חתן”, Romanized form is châthân (phonetic spelling is khaw-thawn') which could mean bridegroom or husband. This shows that she was related to the house by marriage
The books of 2 Kings 8:18 and 2 Chronicles 21:6 says Athaliah was Ahab’s daughter.
“And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab: for the daughter of Ahab was his wife: and he did evil in the sight of the LORD.” (2 Ki 8:18)
However, the Syriac version of the 2 Chronicles 21:6 says "sister of Ahab" instead of daughter. This cannot be wholly relied on to say that she was Ahab’s sister, because other chapters show her as the grand daughter to Omri.
Those who claimed that Athaliah may be Ahab’s sister based their assertions on the Syriac translation of 2 Chronicles 21:6, but other chapters of the book of the bible if married together shows how she has been related to Omri and Ahab.
(ii) Was She the one who Murdered her Grandchildren?
Womeninthebible.net thought there were some people who have re-written the bible and presented Athaliah in a bad light after all. They also posited that she may likely not be the one who murdered her grandchildren to assume the position.
However, assuming she wasn’t the one who murdered her grandchildren, after that (the killing of her grandchildren) has been done, the sensible thing for a sensible person who is not craving for power is to look for someone of the lineage of David to hand over the power to after all she got there by marriage she was not the daughter of David neither Jehoshaphat nor Rehoboam.
(d) Before Becoming Judah’s Ruler
Jehoram ascended the throne when he was 32 years old, then married to Athaliah and the first thing he did was killing his six siblings and some people who were devout to the worship of Yahweh.
“Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself, and slew all his brethren with the sword, and divers also of the princes of Israel.” (2 Ch 21:4)
It stands to reason that he wouldn’t have orchestrated this alone without the support of her wife, the Queen, knowing full well afterwards that she was instrumental in the misdeeds and misrule of her son after her husband’s death.
“He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly.” (2 Ch 22:3)
(e) How She got to the Throne
When Athaliah saw that her son has been killed after a year of rulership over Israel and that her other siblings have been killed by Jehu in the name of Yahweh, she ordered for the killing of anyone who may have access to the throne and became the Queen in 841 BC.
“And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal.” (2 Ki 11:1)
She held on to this position for six years, before the heir who has been kept by Jehosheba and Jehoiada was announced to the public and crowned king of the land.
After doing this, she asks that she be proclaimed ruler of the land the position she has all the while be eyeing.
She was however in the oblivion that Jehosheba one of the princess had hidden one of the heirs who though was a neonate then and had been nurturing her in conjunction with her husband. This they did for 6 years, during the time when she was still ruling the land.
“But 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.
“And he was with her hid in the house of the LORD six years. And Athaliah did reign over the land.” (2 Ki 11:2-3)
(g) Her End
W. Shaw Caldecott while talking on her death says that she has been living in the royal place all the while and when there was noise associated with the coronation of the king, she rushed out of the palace to go and see for herself what was happening. Josephus says her guards were prevented from following her or they may take some excuses not to follow her to the temple, perhaps having been privy to what was going on before the time, for the senior guards would likely have informed them before.
She glanced into the temple and saw a young boy with crown on his head and holding the Mosaic Law in another hand, she cried treason, treason and was allowed to get to the door of the temple before he was killed for, they do not want to desecrate the temple with her blood.
The bible says she was a wicked woman in other accounts because of how she has infiltrated the land with idol worship. “For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the LORD did they bestow upon Baalim.” (2 Ch. 24:7) No one could be more wicked than someone who desecrates the house of God, for such a one wouldn’t be afraid of anyone since he or she wasn’t afraid of God. Her wickedness transcends the time she assumes the position of authority by force. The bible says, “can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” (Jer. 13:23) an evil person would continue to be evil and wicked, but they can only do that for a while not forever, God allows them to do that for a while to show his children what “good” means and what “evil” means since they have failed to know the difference.
© 2020 OLUSEGUN
OLUSEGUN (author) from NIGERIA on February 07, 2020:
Cheryl E Preston, thanks a million. We hope to reach the world with Godly Hubs.
Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on February 06, 2020:
Not many people address this woman. Thank you for this detailed explanation.