Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 23

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The drama in today’s Scripture reading is rich and vivid. Keeping all the names in order is a challenge, even for some who have been immersed in the Scriptures for years. Yet, the reminder that God is sovereign is more important than remembering the individual names. Never forget that the LORD is Almighty, and we can be assured His plans and purposes will not fail.

Background (2 Chronicles 22)

The kingdom of Judah endured years of sorrow, for the kings of that nation turned from the LORD and followed in the wicked ways of the kings of Israel (the northern kingdom). When Athaliah, the wife of Jehoram and the daughter of Ahab, learned her son King Ahaziah was slain (2 Chronicles 22:8-10), she moved to make herself queen. She slew all of the “seed royal of the house of Judah” and secured the throne of Judah for herself (2 Chronicles 22:10).

Providentially, however, one son of the king survived the murderous rampage of the queen for “Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons that were slain, and put him and his nurse in a bedchamber” (2 Chronicles 22:11). Only an infant at the time, Joash was hidden in the Temple for six years, while his wicked grandmother, “Athaliah reigned over the land” (2 Chronicles 22:12).

2 Chronicles 23


Queen Athaliah ruled Judah for six years, not knowing Joash, the surviving son of Ahaziah and rightful heir to the throne, was hiding in the Temple, growing up under the care and tutelage of Jehoiada, the high priest (2 Chronicles 22:1). In the seventh year of Athaliah’s reign, Jehoiada determined it was time to establish young Joash as king of Judah (2 Chronicles 23:1).

Jehoiada chose five centurions (“captains of hundreds”) to draft a trusted troop of men to challenge the queen and crown Joash as king (2 Chronicles 23:2). Those men went throughout Judah and invited Levites and leaders of the kingdom to gather in Jerusalem. With Jehoiada presiding, the leaders of Judah gathered and “made a covenant” that recognized Joash as the rightful king and heir to his father’s throne (2 Chronicles 23:3).

A Righteous Insurrection (2 Chronicles 23:4-9)

Gathering to crown young Joash king were the Levites (for they represented the priestly order), fathers of households, and soldiers charged with securing the Temple and protecting the young prince.

The soldiers were divided into three groups: one-third were assigned to the Temple, a third to stand guard at the palace, and another third to guard the gate called the Foundation (2 Chronicles 23:4-5). They were charged with protecting the king and ensuring that no one hostile would enter the Temple or be a threat to Joash (2 Chronicles 23:6). Bearing weapons were also the Levites who encircled the young king and were ordered to kill any who approached him (2 Chronicles 23:7). (Verse 9 affords us insight into the times for there were “spears, and bucklers (i.e., small shields), and shields stored in the Temple that dated to the days of David, 2 Chronicles 23:9).

She rent her robes and shouted, “Treason, Treason” (23:13).

The Crowning of a King (2 Chronicles 23:10-15)

With armed men staged at every approach to the Temple (2 Chronicles 23:10), the young Joash was brought into a circle of the Levites, where he was crowned and anointed as king of Judah (2 Chronicles 23:11). Hearing men shouting, “God save the king,” and others “running and praising the king,” Queen Athaliah entered the Temple.

The Queen “looked, and behold the king stood at his pillar.” Seeing the people shouting, sounding trumpets, and singing (2 Chronicles 23:13)., she rent her robes and shouted, “Treason, Treason” (2 Chronicles 23:13). Then, Jehoiada, the chief priest, ordered her removed from the Temple, and any who followed her to be killed (2 Chronicles 23:14). “So they laid hands on [the queen]; and when she was come to the entering of the horse gate by the king’s house, they slew her there” (2 Chronicles 23:15).


A Revival in Judah (2 Chronicles 23:16-17)

With the wicked queen Athaliah dead and the seven-year-old Joash crowned king (24:1), Jehoiada, the priest, established a covenant with the LORD between himself, the people, and the king (2 Chronicles 23:16). The people then destroyed the temple to Baal, his altars, and images in Judah. They also “slew Mattan the priest of Baal” (2 Chronicles 23:17).


Returning to the Law and Commandments (2 Chronicles 23:18–21)

With the queen dead and Joash crowned as king, the priest Jehoiada reinstituted the offices and orders of the priests and revived the sacrifices and “offerings of the Lord, as it is written in the law of Moses” (2 Chronicles 23:18). Singers were appointed. Porters were assigned to guard the entrances to the Temple (2 Chronicles 23:18-19). As the young king’s mentor and counselor, Jehoiada and the leaders of Judah brought Joash to the palace and “set the king upon the throne of the kingdom” (2 Chronicles 23:21).

“So they laid hands on [the queen]...and slew her there” (23:15).

Closing thoughts

I close with a reminder of where the recent troubles in Judah began. The sorrows that haunted the nation can be traced to King Jehoshaphat’s compromise with Ahab, the wicked king of Israel. King Jehoshaphat allowed his son (Jehoram) to marry Athaliah, a heathen, idol-worshipping woman of Ahab’s lineage. Though arguably politically expedient, that marriage set in motion events that brought trouble, sorrow, and death upon Judah as a nation.  

With Queen Athaliah’s death and Joash installed as king under the tutelage of the priest Jehoiada, the wicked were no longer in power. With the rightful heir on the throne, “all the people of the land rejoiced: and the city was quiet” (2 Chronicles 23:21).

I close with a proverb of Solomon that is especially applicable to our day and world: 

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: But when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” (Proverbs 29:2)

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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