2 Kings 11 Study Notes


11:1-15:38 This section covers the reigns of four good kings: Joash, Amaziah, Azariah, and Jotham. All four of these kings receive some positive appraisal. The first three started well but ended badly. However, their collective piety brought about a third period of prosperity, power, and blessing. To the past great periods, (1) of David and Solomon and (2) of Ahab and Jehoshaphat, would be added the age of Jeroboam II and Azariah (aka Uzziah of Judah, 2Ch 26). Once again God would use the military and economic might of Israel to bring blessing to a repentant Judah. This was the last age of wealth and international power for the Israelites. The two remaining revivals led only to partial religious renewal and no serious resumption of world-class political power. While the revival had begun by Joash’s twenty-third year (ca 812 BC), the significant resurgence of Israelite power and wealth began twenty years later with the victories of Jehoash, grandson of Jehu, over the Arameans.

11:1-21 Athaliah was first introduced in 8:26 as Omri’s granddaughter and mother of Ahaziah. Three factors enabled her to seize the throne: the respect for the queen mother, the religious and moral corruption of the last two Davidic kings, and the presence of Baal worshipers in Judah. However, there were three weaknesses that could destroy her: Personal loyalty to Athaliah did not extend far from Jerusalem and was weak even there; many Levites remained loyal to Yahweh; and Jehu’s massacres halted support for Athaliah from the north. Athaliah murdered all the males of the royal house in an attempt to eliminate legitimate, Davidic competition. After the other disasters that had struck the royal family (9:27; 10:13-14), most of those victims were her own descendants. On a cosmic scale, this was a step in the conflict between good and evil since it attacked God’s plan to bring forgiveness for sin through the line of David.

11:2-3 Jehosheba, sister of Ahaziah and wife of Jehoiada the priest (2Ch 22:11), saved one of Ahaziah’s sons and his wet nurse from the slaughter and hid them in the Lord’s temple. . . Athaliah apparently was not secure enough to exterminate worship of the Lord from the country or the capital.

11:4 After six years Jehoiada the priest devised and implemented a plan for mobilizing the forces loyal to David. The revolutionaries included the Carites. Since the name is foreign without any typical Hebrew extensions, they were probably foreign mercenaries. The ease of the revolution suggested that there was a large reservoir of loyalty to the Davidic dynasty. Jehoiada bound his conspirators together by a solemn oath of loyalty to the young heir to the throne, probably an oath in the name of the Lord.

11:5-9 Jehoiada gathered his forces and executed the palace coup. The Hebrew terms for the Sur gate and the Foundation Gate (2Ch 23:5) are so similar that one is almost certainly a textual error for the other. The units involved in these preparations were placed in position for protecting the young Davidic heir.

11:10-11 It is ironic, and perhaps providential, that some of the weapons that made the palace coup possible were weapons left in the Lord’s temple because Athaliah was never able to destroy that center of opposition. These weapons dated back to King David’s time. Once again, the Levites and others loyal to the Lord played a crucial role in preserving the faith.

11:12 Young Joash was enthroned by the conspirators. The best symbol of the royal theology behind the Davidic dynasty was the testimony, the king’s personal copy of the covenant that was prepared by the Levites (Dt 17:18). However, some see this as a physical symbol of royal status, perhaps a royal armband (2Sm 1:10). The theologically proper enthronement also demanded the presence of a high priest (see the role of Abiathar with Adonijah; 1Kg 1:7) and the bestowal of the crown.

11:13-14a The word pillar may designate a traditional place where the king was publicly recognized or perhaps a traditional place of covenant renewal (23:3). If this portico of the Lord’s temple was also a hall of pillars (1Kg 7:6; the words “portico” and “hall” used in this verse can be the same Hebrew word), then this pillar could have been one of the pillars in that area. Otherwise one of the great bronze pillars was intended.

11:14b-16 Instead of withdrawing to gather support, Athaliah tried to halt the ceremony. She was removed from the sacred precincts and executed. This clearly evidenced her lack of support.

11:17 The public coronation of the young king before all the people began with a covenant renewal. The nation did not just choose a king; the people renewed their covenant relationship with God. Every enthronement of a new king theoretically involved a covenant renewal since a treaty of loyalty was normally renewed every time a new king ascended the throne.

11:18 A natural step in obedience to the covenant was the destruction of the temple of Baal. Killing the priest of Baal at the altar was an insulting desecration of that altar.

11:19-20 The public coronation ended with taking the young king to the palace, where he was placed on the throne.