Athaliah, wife of Jehoram

Daughter of Israel's king Ahab and Jezebel, granddaughter of Omri (2Ki 8:26), wife of Jehoram, and mother of Ahaziah. Her marriage with Jehoram, king of Judah, initiated an alliance between the northern and southern kingdoms, and implied the superiority of Israel. After a short one year reign, her son Ahaziah died at the hand of Jehu during the “Prophetic Revolution” (2Ki 8:25 - 10:36) against the worship of Baal:

“For the sons of `Atalyah, 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 on the Ba`alim.” (2Ch 24:7, HNV)

To retain the power she enjoyed as queen-mother, Athaliah usurped the Judean throne upon the death of her son Ahaziah. Fanatically devoted to Baalism, she summarily executed all members of the house of David (2Ki 11:1), which involved the massacre of her very own grandchildren. Only the youngest of Ahaziah's children survived, the baby Joash, whom Jehoiada the high priest hid away.

“But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king's sons who were being murdered, and put him and his nurse in a bedroom. So Jehoshabeath, the daughter of King Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest (for she was the sister of Ahaziah), hid him from Athaliah so that she did not kill him.” (2Ch 22:11, NKJV)

Athaliah ruled the land for six years, until Jehoiada the high priest organized a righteous alliance to overthrow her. In the seventh year, he gathered the captains of hundreds, the Levites, and the Elders of the land together in Jerusalem:

“Then all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he said to them, Behold, the king's son shall reign, as the LORD has said of the sons of David.” (2Ch 23:3, NKJV)

Joash was installed upon the throne, the crown placed upon his head, he was given the Testimony (a copy of the Law of Moses), anointed by Jehoiada, and declared as king. All the people rejoiced and cried “Long live the king!”

When Athaliah heard the noise of the trumpeters and singers praising the king, and saw him standing by his pillar at the entrance of the Temple, she tore her clothes and cried “Treason, Treason!” Jehoiada gave command, and she was carried off outside the Temple compound by the guard to the kings house, and there she was put to death. Thus, one of the most dramatic moments in messianic history came to a providential end. The house of David had briefly been reduced to a single heir — Joash. With the execution of wicked queen Athaliah, the enemy's plan to destroy the messianic line was thwarted.